The Korean Sailors

    “The Korean Sailors,” Ensign, Apr. 1975, 34

    The Korean Sailors

    As I watched the big ship moving majestically up the Willapa River past my home in Raymond, Washington, 12 years ago, I noted an unfamiliar flag and a strange name. Curiosity prompted me to find the flag in the dictionary. It was Korean.

    It was the first, and as far as I know the only, Korean ship to dock in Willapa Harbor to load logs.

    Later that day I noticed a Korean sailor seated on a culvert by our driveway. I felt strangely drawn to him, but I didn’t feel safe talking to sailors that I didn’t know. When I looked out later, he had gone.

    That evening my husband and I were watching television while our children played on the lawn. Suddenly we looked up to see the children in the doorway. Our 13-year-old son had the Korean sailor by the hand and said, “Dad, Mom, I want you to meet Lee. He is a good man.”

    Lee knew little English, but he managed to convey his thoughts to us. He was lonely for his family. His oldest daughter was about the age of our eight-year-old girl. Our son was right: Lee was a good man, and his goodness shone through.

    We welcomed him and his shipmates into our family. Our yard became the scene of many happy games as the Korean sailors played with our children. But Lee was our special guest. He ate several meals with us and we took him clam digging. He took us aboard his ship. He went to Sunday School and sacrament meeting with us.

    He wanted to learn about the gospel, so our married daughter, Betty, invited Lee to bring his friends to a meeting with the missionaries. About a dozen Koreans came. There seemed to be a bond between Lee and us; he could understand quite well, even though he spoke very broken English. He relayed his understanding to the others.

    Betty and her husband had a small bus, so they invited the Koreans to go to the scheduled district conference. Six of them, including Lee, went.

    When they returned, everyone was excited. Five of the Koreans had been baptized! It seems President Don C. Woods knew a little Korean, and he talked to the men between conference sessions. When the five expressed the desire to be baptized, he interviewed them; then, accompanied by many Saints, they went to the nearby river and were baptized. In the afternoon session the new converts were confirmed and given the Aaronic Priesthood.

    We were astounded! Lee expressed his feelings to us. Touching his heart, he said he knew “in here” it was true. He felt the others did, too.

    When the ship sailed, part of our hearts went with it. Lee had become part of our family. Since then we have only seen him twice, but we have exchanged many letters with him, his wife, and his daughters. Lee has remained faithful and his whole family has joined the Church.