From Ken Bush: January in Korea is blustery and cold. And even though I was raised in Idaho, I wasn't really prepared for tracting the Pusan, Korea streets in early 1975. I had been in the country only four months and was struggling with the language and was still getting acclimated to the culture.
My companion and I, along with another set of elders, lived with a kindly Korean woman, who rented us two bedrooms in her upscale home. By Korean standards she was quite wealthy, although there were only five rooms in her house. She was a widow and had a very modest pension benefit from her deceased husband.
In order to supplement her income, she constructed decorative Korean screens, which stood approximately six feet tall and generally consisted of four to six 18-inch panels interconnected to be used for decoration or as room dividers.
It was taxing work to stretch the cloth over the wooden frames and she hired young teenage boys to help her. Because we lived in two of the five rooms in her house, she had to organize a makeshift tent workshop on the flat roof of the house. The three boys who worked for her used a ladder to climb up to their work area early each morning. The cramped quarters were made even more so because they had a small stove setting in one corner to heat the tent as they worked.
Wood is scarce in Korea and the predominant heat source is a cylinder of charcoal called yun-ton. These eight-inch tall charcoal bricks fit nicely in most stoves and burn for an exceptionally long time, usually 12 hours each. They are fairly cheap but the carbon dioxide gas they emit can be deadly.
One particularly cold night that January one of the boys had worked so late that he decided to stay the night in the tent rather than walk the long distance to his home. He reasoned that if he stayed the night he would already be there early the next morning to start work. Unfortunately, he didn't tell the other boys nor our landlady of his plans. There was plenty of yun-ton in the stove and he was certain that he would be warm enough sleeping on the floor of the tent.
The next morning the others found him unconscious, pale and barely breathing. They carried him down to the landlady who was frantic at the thought that this young man may die from carbon dioxide poisoning. The gas, which seeped from the old, flawed stove, had overcome him as he slept.
The four of us elders were studying the scriptures when she pounded on our door. As a greenie I couldn't understand what she was saying but the two senior companions could. I did know that she was extremely upset.
Elder Viasenior, who was in his late twenties and was the other senior elder, asked if I would assist him in giving this young boy a blessing. I agreed but was stunned at the young man's appearance when I saw him on the floor of the landlady's bedroom. I was certain there was little we could do for him. His skin was ashen, his pulse weak and thready. He was barely breathing and unconscious.
I anointed his head with oil in preparation for the blessing Elder Viasenior would give momentarily. Neither of us took the time to explain to the landlady what we were doing or why. And in an effort to streamline the procedure, we did so in English not Korean.
I was shocked to hear Elder Viasenior promise this young man in the blessing that his health would be restored to what it had been previously, that there would be no residual effects from the gas.
Although I didn't say anything to this fine elder at the time, I was certain that he had overstepped his authority by essentially commanding this young man, who was at death's door, to be made well.
The landlady said she would make arrangements to take him to a medical facility and she didn't want us Americans involved in what legal problems she may face. In Korea, she was legally responsible for the safety of these young boys she had hired to work for her.
We returned to our rooms, Elder Viasenior with a calm reassurance and I with a troubled spirit. I didn't know if indeed he did die what fate our landlady may also face.
We tried to continue our preparation for the day. Each companionship had returned to our own rooms. I explained to my senior companion what had happened and how certain I was that this young man would likely die. My faith was weak.
Within 15 minutes a knock on our door jarred us. When I open it, there stood our landlady with this young man! She explained that as she was preparing to take him to get medical attention, he began to rouse and that for the past few minutes he had been drinking some rice water. She said that when he regained consciousness he asked what had been done for him; she explained as best as she could what we did, not knowing what we had actually said in the blessing.
He shook our hands and thanked us. Since he was unconscious and we had performed the ordinance in English, no one but Elder Viasenior and I actually knew the miracle which had occurred. The promise was fulfilled which he had been given. And never again have I doubted the healing power of the priesthood.