Sunday, March 16, 2014

I Planned This One, I Promise.

Okay, so I realize that my last few emails have been a little, well, lame. In case you couldn't tell, I'm not very good at writing under pressure. But this week will be different because I planned my email today. Are you excited? I am.

Fun Fact About Korea #1 - The Oldest Person Takes the First Bite.

Since Korea is a country all about respecting the elders, tradition states that at every meal no one else may eat until the oldest person starts eating. But since some Korean families follow this rule and some don't, there's always this incredibly awkward moment between the prayer and the eating in which I have no idea what to do. I fidget with my chopsticks. I cross and recross my legs. I stealthily look out of the corner of my eye to see if anyone else has begun to eat yet. Usually I just wait for my companion.Finally, someone takes the first bite and I let out a breath of relief. I cheerily say, "잘먹겠습니다!" ("I will eat well!") and dig in.

All the Asian Languages

This week, while we were teaching our investigator 홍춘영, she repaid us for teaching her English by teaching us some Chinese. If someone could remind me later (and if I ever get good at Korean), I think I want to learn Chinese! It's so fun! When we gave her the Book of Mormon and had her read a few passages out loud, I was absolutely mesmerized by just how cool it sounded. If I ever get the chance to learn another language, Mandarin is at the top of the list.

We also got to go to stake conference this week in Daejeon! Elder Aoyagi from the Seventy came and spoke and I'll admit that as soon as he began speaking, my heart dropped for about four seconds as I realized that I understood literally none of the words that he was saying. Then I realized he was speaking Japanese! It wasn't until the man standing next to him began to translate what he had said into Korean that I realized the ridiculousness of my mini panic attack. Ha. I'm happy to report that even though I don't quite understand Korean yet, I understand more Korean than I understand Japanese! I know that sounds like an obvious statement because I've been here six months now, but I promise that I couldn't say that even three months ago. Yay, progress. ^^

Miraculous Buses

But first, let me explain what it's like waiting for the bus.

First of all, you're out of breath because you've just run at least a full block in a desperate attempt to catch the bus that's rumbling up the road behind you. You think, "I can do it! Just keep running! The stop is right there. Almost...almost..."

It's gone.
It passes the stop without even slowing down, infuriatingly impassive to your freshly crushed hopes and dreams.
But it's okay. You can wait.
Besides, another bus should be along shortly.

But another bus doesn't come shortly. A few seconds turn into a few minutes. A few minutes turn into half an hour. A half an hour skips all other measurements of time and immediately becomes a million years. It's cold, it's dark, and there's no one else around--just you and your companion staring stone-faced, straight ahead. No conversing, no complaining, just silent contemplation of which will come first: the bus or the disintegration of the univesrse.

By the time it finally does arrive (the bus, not the end of the universe) you can't even be happy about it as your ability to feel emotion has long since withered and died. You just get one, sit down, and try to remember what it felt like to have a soul.

Okay, I know this is all a little over-dramatic, but believe me when I say that waiting for the bus has been one the hardest things for me to cope with on my mission. I'm not good at patience.

But I promise there's a purpose behind my dramatics. Now that you understand the soul-shriveling experience that is waiting for the bus, you can more fully understand why my Miracle of the Week was just so miraculous.

Every Wednesday and Friday, my companion and I leave Gongju for our secondary area, Sejong. To get from Gongju to Sejong it takes three buses (I know, right. Sejong Days are a bit of a stuggle for me). On a good day the entire journey takes a little over an hour. On a bad day, two and a half.

This past Friday night we had an appointment in Sejong with our investigator 홍춘영 (aka Modern-Day Mulan). The lesson took waaay longer than we expected (it went really well though! She wants to read the Book of Mormon!) and by the time we finally made it to the bus stop it was 9:20.

Not good.

My companion and I were obviously exhausted, but still living off the joy that comes only with preaching the gospel. We sat down to wait, talking about how great the lesson was.

Two seconds passed.
The bus! Out of the darkness, there it was, like a miracle driving toward us. We hopped on and had a friendly conversation with the bus driver. He said we were lucky because this was the last bus of the night. We knew it wasn't luck.

We sat down to wait for our next bus, sure that we would have to wait a while since it was five minutes past it's scheduled time of arrival. We figured we already missed it.
Two seconds passed.
The bus! Arriving five minutes behind schedule, it came in perfect timing for us. On the ride my companion and I both prayed in gratitude. I silently added, "Just one more. If we could have just one more miracle, Heavenly Father, that would be really awesome."We got off at the Gongju bus terminal and flat-out ran to our bus stop. It wasn't even because we saw the bus coming, we just felt like we should run. We arrived at the stop out of breath, but excited.

We waited two seconds.
Nothing happened.
We waited two more.
We practically dance our way on, we were so happy.

As we walked up the steps to our apartment building, we checked the time. 9:50. We had made in home in thirty mintues. A record. No, not a record. A miracle.

Sister Abba

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