Sunday, October 6, 2013

구도자는 고구마 같습니다.

Note: I've decided to start writing vocab and city names in Korean. If you want to know how to pronounce them, just copy and paste them into GoogleTranslate and it will tell both the definition and the pronunciation. Isn't it just the best? :)   (You all can do that to figure out the title of this letter.  It's like a little game.  Steve and I can't have all the fun.)

This week comes to you in three parts.

Greenie Splits with Sister Jacklin!

Sister Jacklin and I were in the MTC together and now we're in the same zone. She serves in 정주, a city about an hour train ride away from us. There are only six sisters in my zone and all of them, except for Sister Jacklin and me, are Korean, so it's always a good time when we get to go on splits because, since it's such a strange sight to see two American girls wandering around Korea, lots of people stop and talk to us. Back in the MTC, she seemed so old, as I was just coming in and she was already preparing to leave. But out here in the mission field, we're both new and clueless, so we spent an exciting day together trying to find our way and understand Korean. 

Since our split was in 정주, we began the day by visiting one of the members in Sister Jacklin's ward. This member was so nice to us. We were just there to teach her a short, twenty minute lesson, but she kept bringing us out juice to drink and food to eat and pictures of her family to look at and even though we could speak almost zero Korean, she was so patient and sweet to us and would say what words she could in English so that we wouldn't be completely lost. After we shared our little spiritual thought, she ushered us into her car so that she could take us out to lunch (don't worry, going to lunch with her was always part of plan). I wish I could tell you what we ate, but I honestly have no idea. I would call it "Yak Bone Soup." As we were finishing our soup, I suddenly realized what Sister Jacklin and I had achieved. We had successfully taught a lesson and made conversion during Korean! I mean, it was broken Korean with a lot of random English thrown in, but still Korean. We had done it. And we're only greenies! (a greenie is a brand new missionary)

After lunch, the member we were with once again hurried us into her car and began driving us to a mystery location. As she drove, she kept saying "시장! 시장!" and I could only hope that 시장 wasn't Korean for "another restaurant where I'm going to stuff you full of more rice and soup" because I had just eaten a huge bowl of Yak Bone Soup and I did not feel confident in my stomach's ability to hold any more. But luckily, 시장 is the word for "open market," so I was saved from the possibility of puking. However, this lovely member's purpose in stopping at the market was to buy us grapes to take home and eat later. At least, Sister Jacklin and I hoped we were supposed to take. The whole time, we only vaguely understood of what was happening, but we were at least 60% sure that we were supposed to take the grapes.

A Wonderful Lesson with Our Investigator

I think I might have mentioned this in my last letter, but we have investigators! We meet her and her two kids twice a week to teach them 30 minutes of English and 30 minutes of the gospel. I'll just call her Hannah, since that's the English name she's chosen. Anyway, we had intended to teach them the Restoration this week, but since we were running out of time, we switched last minute to the Plan of Salvation. During our lesson, we watched one of the videos from this year's Youth Conference "Stand Ye in Holy Places" DVD--the one on the Plan of Salvation. Oh goodness, what an emotional wreck I was after that video. You should all watch it. But my emotions aside, I think Hannah was really able to feel the Spirit because, believe me, it was there and it was powerful. And that's not all! To end our lesson, Hannah said the prayer--she prayed! For the very first time! In her prayer, she asked God to help her think seriously about our message this weekend and I truly hope she does because even after meeting her only a few times, I want absolutely everything for her and her family. Till now, I never understood what it felt like to have God's love work through me in order to reach another person, but I think I get it now. I think it feels like this.

Farming for Sweet Potatoes

It's harvesting season in Korea and that means lots and lots of 고구마!(sweet potato) For those of you who don't know, sweet potato farming is done in five parts. 

1. Cut and move aside the stems. This is done with a sickle and it is awesome. Words cannot describe how excited I was when the bishop handed me an old timey sickle and was just like, "Get to work."
2. Unearth the potatoes with a shovel. The bishop and the member who owned the farm handled this. It looked absolutely exhausting.
3. Brush off the dirt and set the potatoes in a row. 
4. Gather them all together!
5. Sort the good potatoes from the bad and box them up to be sold.

All in all, I thought the whole process was wonderful. Definitely difficult, but still fun. And since manual labor like this doesn't take too much thought, I had a lot of time to just work and think. And as I thought, I realized: investigators are like sweet potatoes. These sweet potatoes were so precious to their farmer. He had spent all year planting them and caring for them and worrying about them and now they were finished and ready to harvest. And so it is with people--when they hear the gospel for the first time, a seed is planted. Gradually, as this seed grows, the person becomes more susceptible to the truth of the gospel, until one day they just know. They're finally ready. It's time to be harvested. In D&C 4:4, it says,

"For behold the field is white already to harvest; and lo, he that thrusteth in his sickle with his might, the same layeth up in store that he perisheth not, but bringesth salvation to his soul."

People are already ready to hear our message. We just need to go out and harvest them. And yes, it's scary and confusing at first. Like my bishop said to me, "Here's a sickle; get to work." I had no idea what I was doing at first, but at time went on, I figured it out. It's the same with missionary work--I'll figure it out. I just need to keep swinging my sickle.

"For behold the field is white already to harvest."

I have been called to the Korea Daejeon Mission and the field is white.
And do you know what the word "Daejeon" means?

Big Field.

I love you all,
아바냐타스 자매

Sydney and her old timey sickle

She didn't label this picture but she probably got to take these home. 

Sydney thrusting in her sickle

Lots of sweet potatoes

Look closely, that would be a giant brown spider.  Sydney is naming these pictures her "Spider Series"

Looking back towards the city from the sweet potato farm

A cemetery across from the sweet potato farm

"This week all I wanted was pizza. warning: Koreans put corn on their pizza. Whhhyyyy???"
This would be Sydney's caption for this picture. 

I love that the pizza shop is called "Pizza School"
                                         This is the video they showed their investigator "Hannah"


  1. You are truly a special person. I love the world through your eyes.

    1. Who is this so I can let Sydney know where this comment came from?

  2. The Korean phrase at the beginning says "Investigators are like Sweet Potatoes". I love the pictures. We never had pizza at all in Korea in the 80's. I don't know why they would put corn in it either, but at least they have some form of it now. Lanny