Sunday, July 27, 2014


Let's just get right to it then.
The Grumpy 문구 Lady
Do you remember what 문구s are? The craft stores that hold all your hopes and dreams? Well there's this giant 문구 here in 정읍 that is pretty much every missionaries promised land--notebooks, stickers, Japanese fountain pens everywhere you turn. It's paradise except for one tiny problem--the grumpy 문구 lady. Seriously it's like this woman was thought up by Tim Burton--dark, sunken-in eyes, pallid complexion, a frown that droops down to her collar. If life were a cartoon, there would be a rain cloud constantly over her head. I've never met someone so morose in my entire life--in fact her grumpiness would almost be comical if it weren't so terrifying. Some say it's because she hates Mormon missionaries, but on a recent encounter with her my companion and I decided she probably just hates everyone. But then, as we were walking home the other day we saw her waiting at the cross-walk. We 인사's politely and eventually started walking home with her. At first it was terrible, like seeing your least favorite teacher outside of school, but as we walked she told us more about her life and her job. She said she is astounded that missionaries aren't paid, that they live so comfortably making money before their mission and then just leave for a year and a half of unpaid service. She said that she's been working at that same 문구 for 16 years, ten hours almost every day (no wonder she's so sad). She can't understand how we can worry so little about money when it's all she thinks about--how she will live and what she will live on. It was a weird experience, because she was just as snarky and sarcastic as ever, and certainly has no interest in religion, but she showed to us a piece of her secret worried self. It wasn't much, but it's a good start.
An Actual Experience Looking for Less-Actives
"Do You Want to Come to Church Now?" (to the tune of "Do You Want to Build a Snowman?")
Hey, do you want to come to church now?
C'mon it's the Sabbath day.
We never see you anymore,
Come out the door,
It's like you've gone away!
You used to be a bishop
But now you're just
Some unknown inactive guy
Do you want to come to church now?
*really close to the door* You know, we're gonna get in somehow.
Okay, bye....
We like to make our search for less-actives musical. ^^
English Class
"Okay, so today we're going to practice pronunciation. Let's read this sentence together: 'Moses supposes his toeses are roses, but Moses supposes erroneously...'"
And then I started to tap dance. Not really, but it was so funny. Nobody understood it but me, but it was still worth it. I lived my dream.
A Baptismal Date
We have one! Our recent convert 박유진 referred us her friend, SungEun last month. We started teaching her a couple weeks ago and by our second lesson she had read the first seven chapters of the Book of Mormon! This week we met with her again and we talked about the Book of Mormon some more. I asked her if she liked it. She was like, "Yeah! It's fun!" I asked her if she wanted to know if it were true. If Nephi really was a person who lived, not just a story in a book. She said, "Yeah," And this is where I got really excited because that's perhaps one of my favorite questions ever. So we flipped on back to Moroni 10:4-5 and read these wonderful words, "And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost. And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things." Best promise ever, right? So we asked our Sung Eun to pray about it. Then later in the lesson, when the subject of baptism came up, she simply said, "I think I'd like to be baptized." And we were like, "Hey we were thinking the same thing! How about the middle of August?" And so now she's going to pray about that too.
I just want to testify to each of you that the Book of Mormon is true! I know that it can soften our hearts and change lives. It isn't just a story, it's the truth and I know that when we ask God, we personally can understand that truth.
I love you!
아바 자매

Last Monday, we had Family Home Evening with a bunch of youth.  We played my favorite card game ever (Thanks, Sister Pappa), the Diamond Game!

We went with our investigator to the cutest cafe in the country and ate delicious waffles.  And, yes, we are those people who take pictures of food.  

 In other food news, later in the week we went to this "Italian" place with Grace, our Filipino member. The whole restaurant was divided into sections by pastel color. We were in the pink section.  The booths had giant pillows! The whole place reminded me of Madame Umbridge's office.

Sydney and Grace

Monday, July 21, 2014

And the Prisoner Shall Go Free

I just need you all to know that it is hotter than Hades here in this PC 방. How can people spend so much time in here?! I'm suffocatinggggggg. I blame the sheer massiveness of the monitors. Just so you too can know how big they are, here's a picture:

Okay, so it doesn't look as big as I wanted it to, but I swear it's three times as big as my head.
This week is a list week!
1. Last Monday, while waiting for pictures to print at the picture-printing store (yes, they have those) I saw Germany win the World Cup! Go Germany! I'm not going to lie, I really like the World Cup and it was quite exciting to watch them win. They were just so happy! And their hair was so European! It was a nice taste of the rest of the world as I, a girl in Korea, witnessed the joy of Germans winning a trophy in Brazil. It definitely brightened my day.
2. My companion and I discovered EFY music this week. Seriously where has EFY music been my whole mission? We've listened to it non-stop since last Monday and have already memorized the words to all the songs. I forgot what it felt like to sing along to intelligible lyrics! I mean, I love you MoTab but, I can never understand what you're saying.
3. On Tuesday, we had zone conference. It was quite the event as it was in 정읍 (Jeongeupfor the first time ever, President and the APs changed weekly planning (I know, right. They just changed PMG. Is that even allowed?), and one of our youth received a VIP Member Recognition Award for referring so many of her friends to the missionaries (Another thing we just made up. We do as we please over here in Korea). There was one particularly memorable moment at zone conference when Sister Shin, our mission president's wife, was talking about health and wellness. She went around the circle of seated missionaries and, pointing to almost all of the elders, said to them one by one, "No muscles. No muscles, no muscles, no muscles." Bahahaha. I love Sister Shin.
4. Our youth are preparing a fun dance for Youth Conference this month. Boys and girls alike, Koreans love to dance! They've been practicing so hard for weeks and they've nearly perfected it.  I wish I could send you the video, but you'll have to wait. The song is called "Carmelita" and is really popular right now, so go look it up and learn the dance! And then imagine all our Young Men and Young Women dancing it together!
5. My companion and I found an old Korean Book of Mormon this week! Okay, so story about the Book of Mormon in Korean. Originally the translation in Korean was a lot easier to understand, as the words were a lot simpler and the grammar wasn't so ancient-sounding. But since that version wasn't as close to Joseph Smith's original translation, the Church recently re-translated it so it's more exact, but less easy to understand. A lot of the members here still have a really hard time reading the Book of Mormon sometimes, just because the newer translation in Korean is so difficult to understand. In fact, sometimes my companion has to read some verses in English just so she can understand it better. Anyway, I got the chance to look through some of the older version this week and I could read it! It was so exciting because I always get so discouraged when I try to read the scriptures in Korean because it literally feels like I don't know anything more than the alphabet. But I could understand and it really helped me realize just how far I've come.
6. Because all of our youth are trying to go to Youth Conference, but none of their parents are willing to pay for them because almost none of their parents are members we had a sort of garage sale at the church this Saturday in order to raise money for them to go. We gathered what we could and sold trinkets and headbands and clothes. The Young Men President even brought an English version of the sixth Harry Potter book which I may or may not have peeked at a couple of times...We also made a ton of food and sold some of that and then just ate the rest. A lot of the members came and it was so sweet to see their love and support for the youth of the church and their desire for every one of them to go to Youth Conference. They know, and I do too, what a blessing activities like this will be in the lives of these youth and how much their testimonies will grow because of it. I feel like I've taken for granted every time my parents have paid for me to go to EFY or a temple trip or even a mission so I just want to say right now again: "Thank you parents!!! It really has made all the difference in my life. I love you both."
7. Recently I've been studying a lot about the Spirit World, the Plan of Salvation, and the spirit of Elijiah. As we know, the promise in the last chapter of Malachi goes as follows: "Behold I will send you Elijiah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children and the heart of the children to their fathers" (Malachi 4:5-6). I know that this verse is talking about our families, our ancestors in the Spirit World who have accepted the gospel, waiting and praying for us to come to their aid and do their work in the temple, but as I have studied this promise this week, my mind has constantly gone to our Filipino member, Grace, and her waiting ancestors. I finally had the chance this week to tell Grace about all of this and we even worked together on her history, writing down some information about her parents and her grandparents and all her family in the Philippines. I feel as though the spirit of Elijiah has been working through me in behalf of Grace's ancestors. I know they're waiting for her to do their temple work and whenever I think of them it's like they're reminding me, "C'mon Sydney, you're the missionary. Grace can't do this by herself. We need you to help her help us." And then of course I answer them back with good old D&C 128:22, "Brethren, shall we not go on in so great a cause? Go forward and not backward. Courage, brethren; and on, on to the victory! Let your hearts rejoice, and be exceedingly glad. Let the earth break forth into singing. Let the dead speak forth anthems of eternal praise to the King Immanuel, who hath ordained, before the world was, that which would enable us to redeem them out of their prison; for the prisoners shall go free." Which in other words means, "All right. I've got it. You can count on me."
Love, love, love,
Sister Arvanitas

Zone Conference has become a MTC reunion

Bishop, youth who got the award, and President and Sister Shin.

Everyone was looking tired so President Shin made zone and district leaders and the APs do push-ups. Welcome to zone conference.


Wares sold at their garage sale

 They made me put on this pink bandanna and apron, like I was a doll to dress up. But I liked it. ^^

One of our young men modeling the clothes for sale.

 She kept asking me to show her all the stuff off the tables and tell her how much it cost. Then I put this curler in her hair.   I love her because we speak the same amount of Korean. ^^

They used the slang we taught them in English class! We were so proud.

 Em and I aren't the only friends who think matching clothes is cool.

Food for sale at their garage sale.  

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Best Year Ever?

Okay, so I spent like the past twenty minutes of my email time looking at everyone's pictures of the 4th of July, so this may be a bit of a short email. (So many 4th of July pictures! Nicky, the dead cat pictures made me cry with laughter/feel really sick. I love ya, kid.)
But hey, this week I HIT MY YEAR MARK. WHAT.
I wrote down a list of a few of the things that have changed about me in the last year. It includes silly things, like my tolerance for spicy food has grown a ton (Daddy, Thai food when I get back, yes?) and I now think carpets are stupid. Like, why do we need them? They're hard to clean and heated floors are so much better. Also houses in America are absurdly huge. My list also includes some sad things, like the fact that my back, which was once shaped like this  ㅣ    is now kind of shaped like this   ㄱ. I blame the hours upon hours I've spent sitting on the floor. Momma, when I come home I need to go from the airport straight to the chiropractor. And then, of course, there are the more spiritual things: my capacity to love, my testimony of the gospel, my complete assurance that God really is mindful of every one of us. Always.
So, yeah. Even though I've had some bad weeks, it's definitely been a good year. Maybe my best ever . ^^
How to Give a 소개
Nothing else too life-changing happened this week. We did pick up a new investigator though! Our recent convert 박유진 has been bringing her friend to English class for a couple of weeks now and this past week she texted us and was like, "Hey my friend wants to hear the missionary lessons!" And we were like, "Um, what?" That's never happened to me before! Let it be a lesson to all that that is how you give a referral. Don't force your friends to hear the gospel or just give the missionary's a random phone number and tell them to call it. And certainly don't invite the missionaries and a few of your employees to lunch and then tell them that they need to be baptized (been there before. so awkward...). Talk to your friends about the church. Explain that the missionaries are trained to share the church's beliefs and the message of the restored gospel. Ask your friend if they want to know more and if they do text the missionaries and set up a time that you can all meet together. I know this is easier said than done, but please no more awkward lunches. They're not worth it no matter how fancy the restaurant.
구원의 계획
We had a really cool experience after church yesterday. But first, let me explain what it's like after church in Korea. First off, we always eat lunch all together after church is over. It's like a Linger-Longer every week. I'm going to miss that so much. Then after everyone has eaten, we clean up the chairs and tables and vacuum the floor. All the little kids run around like crazy of course. After that the adults and the little kids start to pack up and go home and only the youth remain. This ward is so special because almost all of the youth are the only members in their families and they're all friends, so every weekend they pretty much spend all their time in the church. Once everyone else has gone home after lunch on Sunday, the youth stay in the chapel (which doubles as the cultural hall and is usually just referred to as "that big room upstairs") for hours later just because it's usually the only time they can be all together. Yesterday, while everyone else was playing and talking, we were sitting in the corner with our recent convert, going over the Plan of Salvation. Soon our other recent convert joined us and then a little while later, a couple of the Young Women joined in two. After a little while another of the Young Women joined. Then one of the Young Men. Then the Young Men's president. Finally, the elders noticed and figured they should join too. And what started as a three-person review of the Plan of Salvation turned into an eleven-person discussion on faith, God, marriage, and the Spirit World. We were really able to answers the youths questions, ease their fears, and strengthen their testimonies. It was so cool and definitely a mission memory that I won't soon forget. I wish you could have been there.
And that's all I've got time for!
I'll send pictures now!
I love you!


Hey look, it's the church!

 Did I wear the same outfit on my year mark that I wore on my first day on my mission? You betcha

My companion bought me ice cream on my year mark. ^^

I love this girl!

This is what after church is like.

So my camera has this setting where Pororo (a Korean cartoon character) appears in the front screen so children will look at the camera. I've been doing it to all the kids in my ward. I call it "The Pororo effect."

It also works on elders. ^^

Monday, July 7, 2014

Next Week Will Be Better

It's a good thing we email on P-day or else a lot of these emails would be incredibly depressing. This week was not the best. Most of it came from the fact that it's testing week at the schools so a ton of our appointments cancelled. Not that we had too many to begin with. Also it's hot, this city is tiny, and my only ally in the wilderness, the other 외국인(foreign) missionary transferred and got replaced with a Korean. Now when I don't know what's going on (most of the time) I have no one to share a confused do-you-know-what's-going-on-because-I-don't glance with. Also our dinner appointment cancelled this morning so we have no plan. Again.
I promise I'm not crying.
Anyyyway. Let's talk about something else.
Korean Fun Fact #11: The Rainy Season
The rain started! And it hasn't really stopped since. The rainy season usually goes for the first few weeks of July, but it's not like serious typhoon weather, more like a constant drizzle. I would say this is the reason for my Week of Depression, but I actually love the rain. It makes the air cool and the clouds pretty. I would be totally fine if it kept raining straight into September.
We did have one cool experience this week! (Do I sound more excited when I use exclamation points?)
No, I promise, it was good. Back in January, when my companion first got to this area, she and her companion went  가가호호ing the apartment complex behind the church and someone actually let them in! They chatted and shared a little bit about what missionaries do, asked about her religious history, and so on and so forth. She told them that missionaries always came knocking on her door, but this was the first time she ever let any of them into her house. They got her phone number and gave her a pamphlet, but every time they tried to contact her or visit she was always busy, her husband was sick, her sons were in town, she was too tired, etc. Fast forward five months and I came to 정읍! When I first got here, we left a note on her door and she called back and said that she would be starting a part time job for the month of June, but that we should try to visit again in July. Well, as soon as it hit July, you bet we followed up and called her as soon as possible. And we were able to visit her this week!!
She's this tiny, adorable middle-aged lady who collects rocks. And not like lame rocks, but really cool ones with geodes and what-not (I obviously don't know a whole lot about rocks) on them. They're all mounted on special wooden podiums and they're so fancy! Anyway, we talked some more, she complained to us about her job, and then we gave her a Book of Mormon and asked if we could start teaching her about what we know. She said yes! So hopefully that will work out all right. I like her even though she talks to me like I'm a two year-old. It was a good reminder to me that even though things didn't work out with her five months ago, they're slowly starting to work out now. Missionary work really is just one incredibly long relay race to eternity. And although this week was hard, I feel privileged to be a part of it.
I love you all!
I'll send some pictures now. ^^

Their recent convert

Our recent convert's dad made us homemade 팥빙수 with ice, milk, 미숫가루 mix, red beans, chocolate sauce, and tomatoes.

 But I was still excited to eat it and it was still delicious. I avoided the tomatoes though.

Yay rain!

This dog didn't want to go into her house because it was wet. So she stood on top of it in the rain.

Her name is 투부 and she's the cutest.

My pitiful attempt to celebrate america. (ps. Pappa, thanks for that one time you told everyone in the MTC that I was collecting American flags.^^)

Our Plants
"Modern Day Mulan"  was baptized