Feliz Navidad!

5 Aug

Hellloooo from Taebaek!

So for those of you that didn’t hear, I moved!   Here is a picture of me bidding a fond farewell to Goyang at the City Fountain.

Farewell Picture in Front of Goyang Fountain

Farewell Picture in Front of Goyang Fountain

The trip from Goyang to Taebaek was six hours by train.  The trip was standing room only most of the way.  Near the end I got to sit down and promptly fell asleep with my head on the shoulder of the man next to me.  He seemed to be okay with it and I was happy to nap.  So things worked out great!  I found my new companion and now we are assigned to the ghost town named Taebaek!

Here is some background on why my new city is something of a ghost town.

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Ghost Town Taebaek

Back in the day, Taebaek was a bustling coal town of about 300,000.  The Taebaek mountain range runs along the east coast of Korea.  The Taebaek mountains are home to Korea’s richest coal deposits and have provided Korea with coal for the past centuries.  However, in the late 90’s, the Korean Government decided that it didn’t want to use coal any more.  It put a moratorium on coal mining in the mountains.  In about three or four years the population plummeted from 300,000 to the 50,000 that live here today.  That’s a big jump.  People basically just boarded up shop and left town as soon as they could.  They left behind stores full of stuff.  There are buildings with furniture and goods in them but no one around.  Whole sections of town are just empty, and nobody really talks about them. Here is a picture of one of those streets.  Nobody is ever there and it looks like it has since the 90’s.

Right now the city is in the midst of rebuilding.  They are trying to revitalize and bring new industries to the city.  They want to put the infrastructure that they invested in to good use.   Right now, the big focus is sports and tourism.  Since it’s up in the mountains, a lot of people come to enjoy the cooler weather and hiking.  Taebaek also built a huge sports center, and has tournaments for soccer, volleyball, handball, fencing and taekwondo.  I actually stopped by the taekwondo tournament today!  It was awesome. Here is a picture.

Taebaek Stadium

Taebaek Stadium

So when the city scaled back, a lot of the church members left too.  The branch fell to about 15-20 active members (3 families).  The branch has been struggling ever since.  We want to encourage the people that are here and help them keep their branch alive and if possible, make it grow!  We have  been doing all we can to strengthen the members of the branch.  We want them to be prepared for a new branch president that will take over in the next couple months.

My new companion is Elder Leavitt.  He’s from Mesa, AZ and loves volleyball and airplanes.  Obviously, we are getting along great!  He’s only one transfer older than me and is serving as the District leader.  So he is going to be great to work and study with.

One fun fact about Taebaek. . .  the unofficial theme song is apparently Feliz Navidad.  Yes, the Mexican Christmas song is playing ALL the time out here.  It’s weird.  But I like it. We’ll see how that is four months from now.

Anyway, here are some pictures. Sorry it took so long to get caught up with the photos.

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The thickest Yew Tree in Korea

Taebaek City from Our Apartment

Taebaek City from Our Apartment

Taebaek City

Taebaek City

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Does it look like a good place to you?

I’m excited to keep serving and learning.  It’s an amazing opportunity.  I am loving every second of it. Keep smiling. Give somebody a hug this week. Love everyone. I love you all.

Ian

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4 Responses to “Feliz Navidad!”

  1. Mike Shepherd August 6, 2013 at 4:00 am #

    You are officially the man! Will you be teaching ghosts, because we kind of have the work for the dead covered. Great pictures!

  2. Brent Hinrichsen August 6, 2013 at 4:23 am #

    Thanks for your great example Ian. Love and appreciate you. Work hard, play hard!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. The Dunning-Kruger Effect | Elder Ian Mills - September 17, 2013

    […] from this week.  Taebaek is becoming a six missionary area again.  Remember I told you about the History of the Church in Taebaek.  I mentioned Taebaek’s mining heyday?  Back in the golden years when there were a lot of […]

  2. Wedding Planners R Us | Elder Ian Mills - December 10, 2013

    […] to Christmas music 24/7!  Just one more thing.  Do you remember, that post from last summer,  HERE,  when I said that the locals were playing “Feliz Navidad” over the public loud speakers and […]

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