Thanks to everyone who sent a birthday wish. If you sent it past 11 tonight ET, she won't get it until next week but, I think I got everyone's message. I didn't receive any past 11 o'clock. You're going to have to do some translating this week.
First of all, thank you for all the birthday wishes! I haven't had the chance to read any of them yet, but I'm very excited to read and re-read them throughout the week. It's gonna be a good birthday, I can feel it.
Also, I'm really sorry about my lack of email last week. With transfer calls and stressful picture swapping with my roommates, there was just no time for actual words. I'll do better this time, I promise.
Korean Fun Fact #4?
Let's talk music. Here in Korea, we like to stick to the four main music genres: traditional, Disney, K-Pop, and 트로트.
I don't have much experience with traditional Korean (or even Asian) music, but there was this time back in my first area that my companion and I traveled way out into the country to eat dinner with some members and after dinner, the member's youngest daughter played a song for us on the 가야금. The 가야금 is like the Korean version of a dulcimer, only it's enormous. You could honestly use it as a canoe. Anyway, here we were in sweet member's home watching her 11 year-old play this ancient instrument and it was only like my second week in Korea and the autumn sunlight was streaming through the window and the music was so beautiful. And as our member watched her daughter play, her expression contained so much love and joy that it made my eyes well up with tears. Definitely one of my favorite memories in Korea.
Korea knows what's up. I can pretty much hear the entire Frozen soundtrack just by walking around the grocery store. Thank you, Korea. ^^
I really like K-Pop! I promise there are music possibilities beyond and far better than "Gangnam Style!" Just you wait. I'll be listening to a lot of K-Pop when I can back.
Good heavens. 트로트. Where to begin?
It's the kind of music that all the old people listen to and it's awful, but in a this-will-one-day-make-me-
nostalgic-about-Korea kind of way. If I had to describe it, I would say it's like the instrumentation of "The Chicken Dance" paired with the vocals of Fiddler on the Roof only sung in the warbling tones of a 75 year-old. It's the strangest music ever, but the 할머니s and 할아버지s love it. I hear it on the bus and in the market and, most wonderfully, blaring from little radios attached to the front of bicycles as cute, old men ride them around town.
Now, onto the week! First of all, can I just say that I hit my nine month mark this week and I didn't even notice. It wasn't until my companion and I were planning for the next day that I looked at the date and then looked at my calendar and exclaimed, "I'm halfway done!" Wow, that went fast. And I haven't even done anything yet! How can I be halfway done?! Anyway, thoroughly disappointed that I had forgotten my halfway mark, I ate some blueberry cake and went to bed.
This week we met a new investigator, 한순자. She's this cute, little old 할머니 we met at the bus terminal a couple weeks ago. Our conversation kind of went like:
한순자: (to me) American?
Me: Yes, how did you know?
한순자: I could tell just by looking at your face.
Me: Oh, well it's nice to meet you! We're the sister missionaries serving in this area!
Companion: (Korean, Korean, Korean)
한순자: (Korean, Korean, Korean)
Companion: (to 한순자) Well, here's our phone number. If you give us yours, maybe we can visit you sometime.
Me: Oh, uh...yes!
And so we got her number and went to visit her! The part in the middle that I didn't understand was that she's really sad and lonely and her children never visit her because they resent her for the poor education she was able to provide for them. So we offered to visit her and be her friend! And now we are! She's such a sweet little lady and her house is so cool. Well, it's less of a house and more of a rundown shack out in the countryside, but still. I will never get over the sheer fortitude of these ancient Korean women. In their 80s and still using an outhouse like a pro. I hope to one day be so strong.
As we visited with 한순자 and ate lunch with her, it became clear that she was extremely lonely and thus was so happy to have us with her in her home. We sang her a hymn and gave her a message card and asked about her belief in life after death. She said flat-out she doesn't have one. We die and that's the end. We return to the ground from which we came. But then she paused and said something rather interesting. 한순자 told us that years ago her 28-year old daughter had died. Afterwards, she was obviously distraught, but she had a dream about her daughter a few nights later. She said that in the dream she was standing by a rock in a wide wilderness. Her daughter was there and she was so happy to see her. She asked her daughter to come back with her, but her daughter said she couldn't. She told her mom she was really, really busy and there was a lot she needed to learn. And then the dream ended and she woke up.
My companion testified to 한순자 that her dream was very real. That there was life after death. But not only life, but learning and progression and the opportunity to hear and accept the gospel of Jesus Christ.
"For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit."
(1 Peter 4:6)
Oh, how I know for a surety that this gospel is true. There is so much more after death. I know that all who did not have the opportunity to hear or accept this gospel in this life, will be give another chance after this life. I know that there are forces seen and unseen working with me in missionary work and I am ever so grateful for the times that I am absolutely certain I am fulfilling the hopes and happiness's of people beyond the veil. These people are as real and present to me as you are.
Have a splendid week.
Sydney. (Sister Abba)