One of the challenges that I have struggled the most with since moving to Sokcho is feeling like we don't really participate in church. We only attend sacrament meeting and then stick around for lunch after that and since our branch is so small, we don't have extra meetings. Since March 17th is the "birthday" of the Relief Society, our district put together a birthday party. It seemed similar to some of the same activities that I've attended in the States but there were some differences as well.
The first difference was that many of the men showed up from the various branches! This was so strange. At all of the Relief Society activities that I've been to there were only a handful of men and most were only there for a few minutes. It was more like a district meeting than a Relief Society meeting. There still were not more than fifty people or so but it was nice to be around so many Saints again.
After the customary talks about the Relief Society program and a talk by a man in the district presidency (I think) talking about how he never had to do dishes or housework for 60 years until his wife broke her arm and about the new-found respect he had for her after having to help her out for 6 weeks while it healed, there was a branch talent show. There was usually one person or group of people from each branch that did a couple of acts apiece. Our branch did three traditional Korean songs. Soren and I were not given very much advanced notice so we didn't participate though I did end up taking on the role of photographer/videographer during their performance. Most of it was on another members camera though I did get one and a half videos and a couple pictures on mine before the battery quit.
Yes, this really is most of our branch! There are only four adults missing plus Soren and I. You will also notice that we have two red headed missionaries right now bringing the count of red heads in the branch and that entire building to three. I'm sure that the Koreans were stunned so see so much red hair in all in one place!
Our Branch President's daughter is visiting for a couple months and speaks English really well. From her I've gathered that the song that they are singing in this video is a traditional fisherman's song. They would sing it while bringing in the nets at the end of the day to keep pace and make the work seem less laborious. Everyone in the audience seemed to enjoy it. All were clapping to keep time and many were singing along by the end. It was really neat to watch.
I couldn't get pictures of the other performances given the lack of a working camera battery but I think that our branch may have had the most crowd involvement. We even had more involvement that he guy that played "Oh Susanna" on the harmonica! :D
The meeting finished of with a yard-sale type fundraiser to help raise money for the district activities. Hyrum somehow left with a container of wooden blocks that someone was selling but gave to him instead. He seems to get free things from Korean quite often though so I really should be too surprised. :) I think that the real steal of the night was the handmade, Korean-style sponge that I got for just under $1! It shaped like awesomeness (read: purple strawberry) but Soren is bound and determined it is an eggplant (less awesome). I would have gotten a picture but, once again, no camera battery.
Basically, it was a good way to spend out Saturday afternoon and evening. Since there were some people that spoke pretty good English, we even got to talk to people. Hyrum also found some friends in a couple girls that wanted to play with his blocks! It was good to feel like I was really taking part in something instead of just showing up.