Monday, September 16, 2013

What better way to create a lasting relationship than to go to a public bath!

Oh what a week it has been. 
Let's rewind a bit in the grand VCR tape that is my life and see what I've been up to these past six days in Korea.

Tuesday night, we got back to the mission home super late, so all we had to do was sleep. Thank heavens for that. The next morning we had a bunch of meetings. I was hoping that sitting in chairs for hours on end was over and done with in the MTC. I was wrong. But, luckily after meetings we had a delicious lunch in a traditional Korean restaurant--shoes off, sitting on the floor--and then we had our very first experience proselyting! And you know what, it wasn't scary at all! I decided almost immediately that I wasn't going to be nervous sharing the gospel here. I'm already an obvious foreigner, I might as well be the awkward foreigner who talks to everyone. So, all in all, an excellent first time.

Our second exciting experience--the public bath! Our incoming group of missionaries wasted no time in completely immersing ourselves in Korean culture. If we were going to get culture shock, we were at least going to have a fun/weird time doing it. I'm happy to report that the public baths here are so fun!  A little awkward at first, but us sisters all agreed that after spending nine weeks together in the MTC, going to the bath-house together was the perfect way to solidify our relationship for eternity.

Now, the news you've all been waiting new companion! her name is 이지우 자매  or Ee-Ji-Oo Jameh in Romanization or Jeewoo Lee in American pronunciation. I'm not gonna lie, I was super nervous that she wouldn't speak any English and I wouldn't speak any Korean and our whole relationship would be a confusing mess of mumblings and hand gestures, but luckily as soon as she saw me I was greeted with a hug, a flower, and lots and lots of excited words in English!  Yayayayayay! My companion speaks English  and may I say, she is just darling. It makes me a little nervous that I've been two for two on companions though. My later companions will probably be crazy or mean or both.

The area we've been assigned to is 예성 (yesoung) and it's a little city in the very top right corner of our mission. Before I got here, everyone said how 시골 the area was, and since 시골 is the Korean word for country, I was expecting to be living in a little hut in the middle of a rice paddy with only cows and mosquitoes for potential investigators. In other words, i was expecting Western Pennsylvania. However, I must report that the American version of countryside is definitely not the same as the Korean version of countryside.

Korean countryside (n) - exactly like a normal city, except
and more ghetto.
also you can see glimpses of the forest-laden mountains and the real countryside from within the city.
basically, if trees are in eyesight, you live in the Korean countryside.

In addition to this, 이지우 jameh-nim and I are opening this area, which means we have NOTHING.
no food.
no phone.
and no hot water.
Luckily, we at least have food now (and beds! we got beds today!), but the phone and the hot water are still pending. It's kind of the worst, especially when it comes to finding any investigators or making friends with the members because we haven't a phone number to give out, but we're working through it.

Despite our slight inconveniences, this are has already been wonderful and the ward members are just the best. It's weird, ever since I've been in Korea, everything has felt so natural and so normal--not really foreign at all. It wasn't until Sunday, when I was up on the stand, bearing my testimony to my new ward, that I realized why. As I looked out at all these people I'd known for only a few days and as they looked back at me--smiling affectionately and nodding encouragingly every time i said a sentence correctly--it hit me that people are people. 

And I know that seems like such an obvious statement, but truly--people are people.
There is no us and them. Americans and Koreans. Missionaries and members.
There is only us.
The human race. Brothers and sisters. Children of God.
The love God has for His children is the same for all of us and as I looked out at my new ward, I could feel the love God had for them and, through them, I could feel the love God had for me.

Ours is truly a message about love and the sooner we realize that, the sooner we will be willing to serve one another, show kindness toward one another and share the happy message of this gospel with everyone we meet.

All my lovin' I do send to you. :)
Arvanitas Jameh.

Jameh Nim

See the goofy missionaries in the mirror

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