Sydney was transferred to Gongju last week and has a new companion. We used to get her letter Sunday night but this didn't come through until 2 am. She sounds like she is doing well. We didn't get any pictures or a separate letter. We usually get a short family letter. I'm sure she is busy and they probably didn't have as much time to write.
안녕하세요! (Hello there)
This email is brought to you by Gongju University, where one only has to walk thirty minutes through the pouring rain in order to use a computer whose only installed browser is Internet Explorer. Are you kidding me. If any of you are reading this on Internet Explorer, than I invite you to calmly shut down your computer and rethink your life.
Someone once told me that living in Korea would be like living in the future. Lies. All lies...
Anyway, remember when I only wrote in lists? Well, I'm pleased to inform you that, this week, the lists are back! Let's begin.
1. Saying Goodbye
I thought saying goodbye to my family was hard, I thought saying goodbye to my MTC district was hard, but then I got to 충주 and had to say goodbye to 오다은, our wonderful little investigator who's planning to be bapitized in a couple of weeks. Worst.goodbye.ever.
My last lesson with her went as usual. She showed us where she was in the Book of Mormon and asked the questions she had about the verses she didn't understand. Did I mention she already marks her Book of Mormon? Did I also mention she's eleven? Gah. I love her.
Anyway, my companion and I had planned to just tell her that I was transferring at the end of the lesson, right before we left. An nice, easy goodbye. No fuss, no tears. But then, the lesson began (the Gospel of Jesus Christ) and we started talking about faith and her baptism and all the wonderful blessing that would come after it and I just started crying. Like, I could not.stop.crying. I think it was one part exhaustion, one part heartbreak, and one part brain-addlement from this gross dust from China that I had been breathing in all day, but I was just so sad that my sweet, little investigator was getting baptized and I wasn't going to even get to be there for it.
Then, of course, 오다은 was like, "Abba, why are you crying?" and I had to vaguely convey through my tears and broken Korean that I was moving to 공주 and was really sad that I was going to miss her baptism, but don't worry, it's okay, I'm just a crazy person, don't look at me. And, of course, this wonderful little girl gave me a hug and assured me that yes, it would be okay, and in her prayer at the end of our lesson she prayed for me.
"Please bless Abba that she can be happy and work hard in 공주. And, Heavenly Father, I promise I will follow your gospel--faith, repentance, baptism, and the Holy Ghost--and I will continue to go to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Also, I love you. Amen."
Then there was more crying. This time, from me and my companion. And after many pictures, hugs, and goodbyes, I left the comfort of 오다은's house for the last time and set off towards home. As 이지우 and I waited for the bus, one last text message came for me. It was from 오다은.
I hope you will be happy. I will think of you and pray for you and miss you very much.
And then, I'm not gonna lie, there was a little bit more crying.
2. My New Companion!
But let's move to the future! My new companion! Her name is 이희원/이예랑. She has two names and I'm still a little confused as to why... Anyway, in all honesty...I love her! She's cute, she's hilarious, and she doesn't speak very much English, but I can already tell that our personalities work together well and that in the Grand Scheme of Things, we were meant to be companions. Our communication is a little confusing at time as it basically consists of Konglish, English phrased into Korean grammar, and lots of crazy hand gestures, but in my few days with her, I swear, I've already spoken (or at least attempted to speak) more Korean than I have my entire mission thus far. If nothing else, I think this transfer will be a big help in the improvement of my language skills. Which is good because, let's face it, I'm not really that good at Korean.
3. My New Area!
공주 is beautiful. It's smaller and more rural that 충주, but from what I've seen already, there's a lots of history here and many fun things to do and see. Hopefully, exciting p-days lay ahead!
Also! Surprise! I actually have two areas--공주 and a brand new city--세정! Like, seriously, this city is brand.new. I went therewith 김수현 (one of the other sisters I live with and the only one who's been in the area for more than three days) in order to meet the few investigators she and her old companion had there and I was completely amazed by the strangeness of it all. Tall gleaming apartment buildings, pristine roads and walkways, and the most glorious bridge I have ever seen...but no people. My companion tells me that lots of people have already bought apartments in 세정, but just haven't moved into them yet because they're waiting until the city first has some shops or some schools orsomething other than apartment buildings and stoplights.
No missionaries actually live there, but my companion and I as well as a companionship of elders who serve in a different area have been given the assignment to visit세정 as often as we can and try to get a branch started. Wish us luck.
4. Opening an Area. Again.
Remember approximately three months ago when I arrived in 충주 with no food, no phone, and no investigators. Well, here's a fun blast from the past because it happened again! Thankfully, this time around we at least have food and beds but the list pretty much ends there. Square one. Oh, how I haven't missed square one.
No phone. No desks. No investigators. No map.
No map?! I don't know how the others sisters accomplished anything the past two transfers without a map, but 이예랑 and I have proved ourselves to be entirely worthless as both of us have almost no sense of direction and cannot seem to function without some sort of visual guide. An issue which became especially problematic yesterday when we attempted to walk home from a members house (we were driven there by another member, so we couldn't just retrace the way we came) and instead found ourselves hiking through the surrounding mountains for the better part of an hour. Luckily it was a beautiful day and we were able to bond as companions as we forged our way up and down leaf-strewn paths. We only found our way out again after a short little prayer and the friendly guidance of the many fellow hikers we met along the way.
Which brings me to my spiritual thought of the week!
(Some missionaries have such skill in flawlessly segueing from their main email to their ending, missionary thought...Ahem...Ana Johnson...Ahem...
I, however, do not.)
"Wherefore, be of good cheer, and do not fear, for I the Lord am with you, and will stand by you; and ye shall bear record of me, even Jesus Christ, that I am the Son of the living God, that I was, that I am, and that I am to come."
This is our message. Even without a map, even without a phone, even when I'm assigned to start a branch in a city without people...this is our message and it is still true.
"Our purpose is to invite others to come unto Christ."
And so that's what I'll do.
I did it in 충주. I'll do it in 공주. And I'll continue to do it wherever I go, forever and ever.
Come unto Christ.