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Saturday, September 26, 2009

I promised it and here it is! Sorry that the quality is not the best, but I havent quite worked out why the HD footage from our camera looks so ...... not HD! Anyway, here it is! Hope you love it as much as we did .... and do!

video

I was going to upload a whole heap of photos and explain them - but the pictures explain themselves. We have a WONDERFUL international brotherhood! And, there is no better place to experience that than at an international convention! So, there is about 40 pictures in this slideshow, so if you have time and the desire - have a look!




I added a few photos that are really special!


Do you remember this issue of the WT magazine? Do you notice anything different about it? This couple are from a country where the work is restricted and the WT magazine is banned. But, as you can see, the good news still gets there. We have it so good here in Australia! Lets continue to pray for those who face restrictions.


You might remember me talking in a few of my posts about brothers who refuse military service and as a result face jail terms. This will put a face to that! Both of these brothers will be going to prison in about six months. Please continue to pray for them. If any of you would like to contact them and send them messages, I would be happy to pass on their details and they would be delighter to receive your messages. We all look abit teary in this photo because this is one of the many occasions that we had a cry together! The brother on the left (Soo Min) and I exchanged lapel cards.


I mentioned in my previous posting that there were brothers and sisters 'assigned' to our hotel to make sure that we were ok. This is all of them. The blue bow ties were to help us to recognize them. They were so helpful!



The local brothers were so warm and used every opportunity to thank us and make us feel welcome. It was so very emotional!


The Sunday night of the convention, the local Incheon English Congregation hosted us for a night of hospitality. They showed us a film about the neutrality issue in Korea, played some music for us and we had some experiences related. It was so wonderful! In addition to some of the Australian brothers, there were some from Guam and .... somewhere else in Micronesia. Such a nice evening.

I want to upload some video footage from after the final prayer. It was the most amazing experience. There were the new Kingdom Songs being played over the speakers and everyone was waving and crying and hugging - it was a moment we both will NEVER forget! Anyway, I have to work out how I can do it without it taking three hours to upload ..... so stay tuned!

After that, I will get going with Japan. But, as for Korea, aside from the video, thats all folks.

Friday, September 25, 2009

We went to Korea Bethel and that was amazing - such a beautiful place! I cant remember how many people live there. The day we went, there were 2000 visiting, so it was a SUPER-quick tour! One of the main things that has stuck with me from Korea relates to Conscientious Objection to military service. Every male Jehovahs Witness in Korea who objects to military service (unless there are special circumstances) will be tried and sentanced to 1.5 years in Prison (used to be 3 years, has been reduced).


Over the years, the treatment in prison has slightly been improved. I wont go into details because it makes me cry. But, the picture above shows one of the torturing devices that were created to make the brothers compromise. It is basically an upright "coffin" - they were not allowed to lay down, were not allowed to sleep....


These are the current figures for those incarcerated. Right now, there are 527 of our brothers in prison, 100 are on Trial and 56 have been charged and await trial. This is 85% of all the witnesses worldwide who are in prison for conscientious objection. A total of over 14,000 brothers have been imprisoned over the years and 5 have died due to mistreatment.

Over the years, the media interest in the issue has increased and in 2000, the UN Court of Human Rights requested that an alternative civilian service be provided for Jehovahs Witnesses in Korea. At present, this request has not been met.

So, back to the tour of Bethel - it was really amazing!
Right at the end, we finished in the Bethel Home (i.e. where they live and eat) and we were directed towards these 'woods.' The sight was just beautiful. It was at the top of a small hill, there were about 500 there having refreshments in national dress of where they came from. There were Kingdom Songs being played by an orchestra. I closed my eyes, and the scene was exactly like the scene on page 35 of the bh book. It was just amazing.



Sorry, but none of the photos we took could quite capture the scene.


The guy in the middle is our new best friend Steve. He was so amazing! He was one of the local brothers that were assigned to our hotel purely to help us. And, help us he did! So, we thought we would try to help him by introducing and photographing him with five australian single sisters! LOL!

Then we were taken on a brief city of Seoul.

Our first stop was the folk museam. And, there was a massive group of people. As it turns out, they were all of the delegates from Indonesia who were also in town for the convention. It was all very emotional.





Nearby, there was a palace that we visited. I cant remember the name but it had alot of G's and K's in the name. Again, it was a rainy and overcast day (I LOVE PHOTOSHOP!)

We were taken to this tourist shopping strip which was VERY Korean (except for the Starbucks). And, then the heavens opened up. Fortunately, we went upstairs to a tea place and got some EXCELLENT shots of the street (I LOVE PHOTOSHOP!)
Have to go..... seeyou all soon! Did I mention that this is Day 2 of our trip???? Man, there is alot to go. Hopefully, I am able to keep you interested!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

I have bowed to pressure and finally edited some of the photos .... I have completed Korea, so only Japan and Thailand to go. Here they are...

When we came out of customs in Seoul, there were about .... a hundred I guess. They were clapping, holding banners, gave everyone a flower welcoming us. Our friend Lucy, who went to a convention in the US, told us about this welcome and says she gets teary whenever she even thinks about it. So, we knew SOMETHING was going to happen. But, it was all VERY overwhelming. Just the START of the Korean OUTSTANDING hospitality! All of the Sisters were in the traditional dress (Han-bok). It was a VERY memorable evening! Our plane got in at about 10 at night and the word on the street was that there had been brothers at the airport since 8am that morning welcoming all of the delegates from the 25 countries represented.
We met these girls while we were lining up for the flight from Tokyo to Seoul. They were Japanese (not with the tour group and not witnesses). Kylie was practising her quasi-Japanese and they were very sweet. We met up with them after we arrived in Korea. They couldnt understand what was happening and why there were so many people welcoming. We tried to explain, but they were Japanese and had to take photos. We invited them to the convention and hoped they would come.

We had a free day in Seoul before our group tour started. So, here are some shots of what we saw! It was a very overcast day, so the photos turned out very drab (thats why I LOVE Photoshop!)

Sampling local street cusine (might I add, we didnt get sick due to food once!)

This was quite a cool place we visited! We caught a cable car up to the top of a mountain at the edge of town (or, what WE thought was the edge of town) to a lookout. The city you can see beyond is city we didnt know existed! Seoul was such a MASSIVE city! Anyway, at this lookout, couples prfess their love to each other, write their name on a lock, lock their padlock to the barrier and throw the key over the edge. Apparently, they will always be together after following this ritual......
Our friends (also from Melbourne) arrived and we spent heaps of time with them (Belinda and Emmanuel).


We went for a tour of Korea Bethel. Here are the stats for Korea. Its pretty amazing! More than 30% are regular pioneers.
Im getting tired now, so Ill finish later! Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Well .... not quite yet!

We spent five nights in Phuket (which was great - photos are coming ..... I promise!) and now we are on our way home. We had an overnight flight from Bangkok, slept literally 15 minutes and then spent the day in Tokyo today. We are both absolutely WRECKED out of our mind and and we are waiting for our long back home. There is so much I didnt tell you about. Our tour, especially, was done at lightening speed and I wont remember things until we have photos and film footage (we have four 4 gig memory cards from one camera, two 2 gig cards from the other and five hours of video footage to sort through.

One thing I will tell you about briefly from Thailand was that we rode an elephant! It was VERY exciting! Ill try to upload the video when we get home!

So, we should be back in Melbourne tomorrow morning (sorry, i dont even know what day it is!) Hopefully, we are able to sleep on the flight tonight!

Missing you all.....

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Sorry it has been so long since the last post.

Our last 2 hotels have not had Internet (that I could find with Japanese signs everywhere). We stayed in 2 different hotels that were in absolutely amazing countryside settings (I cant tell you where they were, because all of the place names are melding into one big unpronounceable Japanese name). In both of them, there was Onsen which is so relaxing.

We went to Japan Bethel a few days ago and yesterday, we went to Tokyo DisneySea (next to DisneyLand). We had an AMAZING day, and we hadnt planned it, so we LOVED it! And, now, we are at the airport waiting to go to Thailand. We desprately are in need or relaxation! Both Kylie and I have been sick and run down (I guess thats why we have those Assembly parts about vacations......) but we are looking forward to being in Thailand. So, Phases 1 and 2 of our trip are complete and Phase 3 is upon us now.

We posted back our third parcel today, so we have room in our suitcase for Thailand items (Judy - can you send the details of your tailor).

Thanks for all your comments! We miss you all and cant wait to upload some photos! Im looking forward to this years Australian Idol. I just checked who got through to the Top 12 and it should be a good year (yes, I know, I am sad........)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Hi there again! This update will be short and sweet.

Today was such an amazing day!

We went to some temples, some shrines and the Gion Geisha district and tonight, we were met by some of the local Japanese brothers and taken out for tea. After dinner, we took our local guides to a Geisha show in the Gion District. Again, we experienced the warm fellowship and the amazing culture. It was great.

We are off to Kanazawa tomorrow (unfortunately, not on the bullet train) so will write about our travels soon.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

We were so sad that the convention finished! But, we didnt have time to be emoitonal for long because our tour schedule is VERY hectic!

The period of time immediately after the convention was great! The applause went for literally about 15 minutes, the tears were freely flowing and nobody wanted to leave. But, leave we had to as the convention was being handed back about one hour after the concluding prayer. The stage had been disassembled within ten minutes...... and everyone spilled out onto the concourse.

There was one brother i met whom I will never forget. His name is Kim SuMin. I had met him in the lobby of our hotel. After exchanging greetings, he told me that he was going to prison over the neutrality issue in six months as every young male Jehovahs Witness in Korea does. This literally made me cry. Which made him cry. Which made Kylie cry. Which is making me cry just thinking about it. Anyway, he found me after the convention and again .... MORE TEARS...... you get my drift.

CAPS LOCK IS NOT WORKING - SORRY, I AM NOT YELLING AT YOU......

ANYWAY, WE ARE IN KYOTO NOW. WE JUST LEFT OSAKA TODAY AND ON THE WAY, WE WENT PAST KOBE. OUR TOUR IS HECTIC! DONT KNOW HOW I AM GOING TO DO IT! MISSING YOU ALL!
 
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