In a surprise twist, I'm in 정읍! Jeongeup
I honestly thought my companion would be the one to be transferred, but she's set to stay in 공주 for one more transfer. It was hard to leave, but I was ready. Plus, yesterday I got to go back for 현지's (Sunny's) baptism say a proper goodbye to all my Gongju family members. I will miss them dearly, but I think we all knew that it wasn't going to to be forever. I'll go back to Gongju again someday. ^^
But enough about the past, let's talk about 정읍!
1. It's small and 시골. in the countryside Like really small and 시골. Ha. In fact, if I were to rank my three areas on a scale from one to ten on their overall level of "small and 시골"ness, it would look a little like:
Honestly, 충주Chungju had a McDonald's. Not that 시골.
Sure there were a fair amount of mountains, trees, and 할머니s (grandmas)growing cabbage, but there were also historical sites, museums, and a few college campuses.
정읍: Ha. Um, 8? Jeongeup
If you're wondering how Korea's rice crop is going this summer, just let me know. I've got a front row seat. ^^
But, all that aside, I really, really love it here. It's small, quaint, and really quite beautiful. I'm pretty sure every time I've been transferred, my mission president has looked at my picture and been like, "Oh yeah, this girl's from western Pennsylvania. Let's put in her in the 시골 (countryside) again. She'll do just fine." And thus far, I have!
2. If you were to Wikipedia it, you would find that 정읍 has only one claim to fame: maple leaves! Which means that are maple leaf symbols everywhere--on the light posts, on the fences, even maple leaf mascots! (I'll have to take a picture of them. They're only slightly creepy.) Anyway, it's rather exciting. Sometimes I feel like I'm in Canada.
3. The buses here have faces! But only for a month. The city started this special event for Children's Day and made all the city buses look like cartoon characters and then while you ride it plays a continuous loop of Korean children's songs and "Let It Go". I think the natives of 정읍 are a little embarrassed by it (especially the high school students), but I like it!
4. My companion is 이예진 자매님! We were actually in the MTC together, but only for ten days, so we didn't really know each other. She's so cool and she speaks English really well since she learned it while living in Hong Kong when she was little (approximately the same time we were living in Japan. Weird, right?) and then perfected it while at BYU-Idaho last year. It's weird to speak so much English again, but I try to still speak what little Korean I can so I don't lose the small amount of "Korean language" ground I've fought so hard to gain. There are a set of elders serving here as well and since one of them is from New Zealand, they sang me a New Zealand Welcome Song on my first night here. It was quite the experience.
5. And finally, the ward! The ward is wonderful as they always are. This ward is actually really famous in our mission for how many Young Men and Young Women there are in it. It also started when this one girl was baptized a couple years ago and then she referred, like, all of her friends and family members to the missionaries. And then seven people got baptized! Amazing, right? So we have a lot of recent converts to teach and keep active. Ha. I've spent the last six months teaching mostly 10 year-olds and now my primary teaching demographic has switched to primarily 16 year-olds. And you know something I learned about teenagers--they speak way faster than children do and use way more slang. Please continue to pray for my Korean understanding. It's hard to keep up. :L
But let's go back to Sunny's baptism. It was so, so good. Her parents weren't able to make it (ㅠㅠ) but her best friend 가연 did (^^)! Sunny was just so ready to be baptized. Before she went down into the water, 이희원 and I said a prayer with her just like we had with 홍정혜. And then with a quick kiss on the head and a, "Good luck, we love you!" she was baptized just like she had known it was something she needed to do for her whole life. When she came up out of the water 이희워 자매님 and I were there for her just like we'd been there for the past six months, only this time we were laughing and clapping (and maybe even crying a little), saying, "You're the cleanest person in the world! You're the cleanest person in the world!"
And that's how I'll always remember her--my adorable, kind, reverent, little ten-year old friend 현지--as the cleanest person in the world.
Love you all.