The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in South Korea

We desperately needed a down day today, and with it being Sunday it was the perfect opportunity. Except…

Day 4 South Korea Family Travel Journal
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in South Korea

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Korea is an hour away by Subway. Fortunately, our branch services don’t start until 12:10pm so we had plenty of time to loaf around before heading out of our apartment at 11. We sort of enjoyed the morning with some pastries we picked up yesterday on our grocery shopping adventure.

Ranking: #stinkydiaper

Paris Baguette Cafe
21-65 Songdo-dong
Yeonsu-gu, Incheon
Phone: 032-858-0189
Hours: Sunday thru Saturday 7am – 12am

We picked up a few sausage pastries, a toasted sandwich filled with egg and wrapped in bacon and a scone filled with cream.

Paris Baguette Cafe in Korea
Don’t put pickles in my eggs

The pastries are beautiful and elegant, but the egg sandwich was egg salad, and not scrambled eggs as I had originally presumed. And it had pickles in it. The scone was not filled with cream, but instead a substance that resembled Crisco in texture, and tasted like nothing I want to eat again. These pastries were Paris meets Korea.

To get to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in South Korea we first have to get to the Techopark Subway station which means traversing through the entirety of Triple Street Shopping Mall. It’s not walking through the little woods like we did in Kyoto, Japan, but it’s a huge distraction with four little ones. During the distraction we saw another American dressed in Sunday best who also happened to be attending the same branch, and has been living in Korea for the past year working at the Global Campus. We were relieved to find Scott, and he gave us gads of guidance and insight.

Triple Street Umbrella Roofline in Korea
Triple Street Roofline

Up until now we’d been purchasing daily tickets on the Subway, instead of opting for a Transportation Card or T-card. The benefit for a T-card is that you can preload it with fares, and you don’t have to return it after your Subway trip. Gabriel went to the station mart to purchase one and the vendor sold him two T-cards loaded with 10,000 ₩ and we were on our way. After we scanned our cards and went through the turnstiles, we were stopped by a station agent who was carrying a handheld device and wanted to scan our cards again.

It turns out we were sold one adult card, and one student card. It seems like an easy fix – go back to the mart and swap out the cards, pay the difference. Instead, we just spent the next hour in the Subway while the station agent yelled scathingly at the vendor in Korean, brought Gabriel back and forth through the turnstiles a handful of times without any idea why, and then finally got us a new card. We had no idea what was going on. 

Ping pong at the Subway in Korea
Where else would you play ping pong except the subway terminals?

During the time Gabriel was sorting out this mess, I learned so much about our new friend Scott. His wife and two young children have not only taught at the Global campus in Korea but also in Russia and in Ecuador. We were fascinated as we discussed living full time working and exploring in other countries.

Gymnastics at the Subway in Korea
No, I’m not going to waltz with you but thanks for asking.

Finally we got on the Subway and took the 20 minute ride to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in South Korea in Incheon. The subway stop for the church is at the city center in Incheon and we are learning just how vast and large the network of cities are in South Korea. The subway stop had art installations including a white square with a dirty mop on it; it had cheerleaders practicing triangle formations on a stage inside the subway; it was three giant staircases underground.

Dirty Mop Art in Subway in Korea

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in South Korea is located just across the street from the Subway station in the upper floors inside a simple box building. The classrooms are all pretty plain, and couldn’t be distinguished as a church per se, but the chapel was identical to any other larger ward building around the world. The pews were covered in a light mint green and the pulpit was no different.

The Church of Jesus Christ
of Latter Day Saints in South Korea
Songdo Branch

The Songdo Branch is part of the military district, but we did not have any military members in the branch. It was composed of students at the Global Campus, one faculty member (now two), and two families that work in Korea at Samsung and as a lawyer in the city. The branch overlaps with the Sunday School hour with the Korean ward so the Primary is integrated. In the Songdo Branch, Scott’s Family is actually the only family with young children. Even though they are away for the summer our children will gain the benefits of having a primary to attend.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in South Korea
I’m hoping we can read this by the end of our sojourn

Primary at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in South Korea at the Songdo Branch is conducted in both English and Korean, and both age groups have teachers that speak English, so the class is taught is taught in both languages. The Primary president also speaks perfect English having lived in the States for nearly a decade. All the songs are sung in Korean with the exception of “I Am a Child of God“.

We are so excited for this opportunity.

I sat in on Eclair’s class today. She was feeling a little shy, and we were really late so we were only able to sit in for a few minutes. One of the things completely unrelated to church we learned today in Korea is that they count your age a little differently. It has something to do with the month you were born, but essentially you count years that you’ve lived, not birthdays you’ve had. So in Korea our children are one year older than we would consider them in the States.

Eclair’s class had three other children in it. A boy and a girl her age, and a girl a few years older. The younger girl introduced herself in perfect English. I think she and Eclair will be great friends!

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in South Korea
Pin me!

Because the primary is integrated, Sacrament service is the second meeting. I counted 19 people in our Sacrament service. Six of those people were our family. Five of those people were attending a short five week course at the Global campus. That left 9 regular members of the ward, plus the three in Scott’s family who were on vacation for a few weeks. So in total The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in South Korea Songdo Branch has about 12 regular members who attend on a weekly basis. When the regular semester gets out in a few weeks, it will be even smaller as everyone travels abroad for the summer. It will definitely be an interesting experience.

At The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in South Korea, one boy administers the sacrament, row by row. Even with all the extra members, Sacrament ended up taking up 5 minutes of the service. There was one youth speaker and one adult speaker and you can imagine we got out a little early. I imagine our kids are old enough to be asked to speak a few times this summer. They are going to love it and they are going to grow so much this summer!

Every Sunday the branch gathers together after Sacrament for a potluck in the gym. Today we had a potato bar. The best part about it was that the kids were able to overcome their shyness and converse with several of the other members, particularly Johnny and Ate. They are both students at the Global Campus; Johnny is from Utah studying at Suny Korea, and Ate is from the Island of Tonga studying at the University of Utah. The Branch President got out a few basketballs and volleyballs for the kids to play with, and for the next hour we chatted with the members, ate, and learned a lot about these expats living in Korea.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in South Korea
This is how to do church

My only complaint is how grabby the people we encountered today were with Molasses. Today, the count was seven grabby people, seven, between the two subway rides and church; that brings the total to 23 in three days.

After returning home from church we watched some more She-Ra and Scott came over to chat with us some more about food, children’s activities and living in South Korea. We haven’t discovered anything! They have petting zoos with hedgehogs and raccoons! Every single apartment complex, the giant high rises we see everywhere, has a different and unique indoor playground on the bottom level open to the public. And we need to be eating kimbop, Korean’s version of sushi.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in South Korea
There were four in the bed, and the little one said: “Roll Over!”

This is going to a great summer!


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