Monday, August 25, 2014

Another week gone

Another week gone (said in my best Dumbledore voice). Also, I'm almost at my year-in-the-country mark. Thinking about it kind of makes me start to hyperventilate. SO WEIRD. But anyway, before I begin COURTNEY. I got your package! I love you I love you I love you! I know you said it's supposed to be a makeup bag, but it's too beautiful to ruin with makeup so I'm using it as a scripture case and I love it. And I love you too, so THANK YOU.
Okay. Now.
Korean Fun Fact #12
Produce! We eat a lot of it, but we almost never buy it. Especially fruit. I remember when I first got here and I saw the prices for fruit and I nearly fainted. So expensive. (If Korea is like Japan, fruit is definitely expensive.  I remember paying 25 dollars for a watermelon and 2.50 for one apple.  Sydney was just little then.)But luckily Koreans always eat fruit after dinner so whenever we have an appointment with members we can eat fruit for free! The funnest thing about produce in Korea is that we eat it strictly by season. If it's not in season, you just don't eat it. When I first got here, all we ate were grapes and pears and peaches. It was a delicious way to start off my mission. And then the rest of the year went a little something like this:

September - grapes, pears, peaches
October - pears and APPLES. so many apples.
November - apples, apples, apples. and sometimes still some pears.
December - still apples, but now with tangerines! and persimmons. Fun fact that I didn't know about myself until I got here--I do not like persimmons.
January - tangerines
February - bananas? I don't know, there wasn't much because it was winter. We still ate apples sometimes though.
March - strawberries! and we ate oranges in here somewhere. This was my favorite time of year. I love oranges.
April - 잠외 (sp?). it's this Asian yellow melon and like most melons, i do not find it delicious. but still oranges!
May - these weird berries called 오디. I don't know it in English, but it sounds exactly like the word "where" and so when people would offer them to me I'd be like, "I'm from America." facepalm.
June - tomatoes (Koreans consider tomatoes a fruit and sometimes Korean grandmas would try and make me eat the cherry tomatoes like they were sweet and delicious. I promise I tried my best to always eat them, but sometimes I would just hide them down my shirt instead.) and tiny plums! I never knew, but I love plums! 
July - watermelon, watermelon, watermelon. and still sometimes tomatoes ㅠㅠ  

And now we're back to grapes and peaches. The pears are coming soon. I'm so excited. ^^

The Jehovah's Witnesses
I met them at last! I've been waiting my whole mission for them and finally this week, while Sister Matsen and I were doing companion study, two of them came knocking on our door. They were just two little old grandmas and they were so nice! They saw that we were Mormon missionaries, but they still gave us a pamphlet and tried their best to tell us in English about the kingdom of God. In my head I was kind of like, "But you can say it in Korean! Words about God and His kingdom are definitely one's I understand the best." But they tried their hardest to share their message in our language and I respected them for it. And then we all bowed goodbye and that was that. Though we probably should have given them one of our pamphlets too. Whoops.

A Question From My Mom
Thanks for sending questions Momma! I'll try to answer one every week. This week: what are some differences between the Church in America and the Church in Korea (but obviously not doctrine-wise)? Well, lemme tell you. For one thing, I think members in Korea are so much closer than in America because there are a lot fewer of them and usually the ward you're born into/baptized into is usually the ward you stay in for the rest of your life. And because these members have pretty much know each other since before they can remember, they're really, really close. And the missionaries are no exception. Even though missionaries are obviously temporary in the wards in which they serve, they're still very much members of the ward. Like last week, going on the ward camping trip wasn't a suggestion. It was a command. But I love it! It's like living in a Korean riceball of family and love. Also, every Sunday after church is over, we eat lunch together! That's one tradition I'd like to bring back with me to America.^^

A Miracle With Grace
Friday night we took the bus to the other side of Jeongup in order to visit some less-actives. But since I'm still having trouble finding my way around this place (and obviously my companion doesn't know because she's new) we had to get off at the stop in front of Grace's house, since that was the only one I recognized, even though I'm pretty sure it was nowhere near any of the places our less-actives lived. As usual I really had to pee, so we decided to stop in at Grace's and use her bathroom. Thank heavens she was home. After I used the bathroom, we chatted for a bit and while we were talking our seven o'clock appointment canceled (because her "hip hurt." Random). But it actually turned out to be such a blessing because we were able to talk to Grace for a while about her new calling in the Primary presidency and also just how she's been doing in coming to church in general. We had actually already met with her earlier in the week, but it hadn't gone very well. Even though she's been a member for almost a year, she still doesn't have any testimony of the Book of Mormon or Joseph Smith so we've really been trying to help her with that. Anyway, when we saw her on Friday, the conversation eventually turned itself to the Book of Mormon. 

I asked her, "Grace, do you even know what the Book of Mormon is about? Do you know anything about the story?" 
" it about a guy named Mormon?" 
"Well, maybe like ten pages of it, but in the grand scheme of things, no. No, not really."

And then we began telling her the story of the Book of Mormon. From the very beginning (she liked when we shared 1 Nephi 3:7 so much that she marked it!) all the way up until King Benjamin. So, not very far, but it was a good start. And since we had assigned her the week before to try and read Mosiah 2, but she had forgotten, we decided to read that out loud with her as well. It was so good! And by the end, she was beaming with the a greater understanding of the book we've encouraged her so much to read. One thing about Grace, like so many others that I've met on my mission, is that she loves the Bible. So much. And she should! The Bible is wonderful as it testifies of Jesus Christ and includes many accounts of His life and ministry on the earth. But one thing that makes me so sad is when people's love for the Bible stops them from ever even attempting to read the Book of Mormon because the Book of Mormon has the same purpose: to testify of Jesus Christ. 

As it says in Mormon 7:8-9, "Therefore repent, and be baptized in the name of Jesus, and lay hold upon the gospel of Christ, which shall be set before you, not only in this record but also in the record which shall come unto the Gentiles from the Jews, which record shall come from the Gentiles unto you. For behold, this (the Book of Mormon) is written for the intent that ye may believe that (the Bible); and if ye believe that ye will believe this also; and if ye believe this ye will know concerning your fathers, and also the marvelous work which were wrought by the power of God among them."

Did I use enough italics and bold letters? So read it! Nothing in it takes away from the Bible. It only adds to its witness of our Lord Jesus Christ.

아바 자매

Monday, August 18, 2014

I'm Okay!

FAMILY! And other people too. I'm back! I'm sorry I skipped out on the email last week, but I promise I'm feeling much better now and I'm ready to continue to tell you about my life as a missionary. But first, CONGRATULATIONS ASHLEY AND SHUPE! The wedding looked glorious and it was so fun to see seriously an individual shot of every member of my family. You all looked beautiful. I mean, Ashley obviously looked the most beautiful, but Max was a close second (um, has anyone thought about getting him into modeling? He'd be huge in Korea.)
Also, whatthewhat WELCOME HOME ANA! AND KAREN! And like half of my mission. So many people left this week, it made the rest of us feel nervous and antsy. My trainer dying-called me this week.(dying in the mission field means to finish your mission.  Sister Lee was Syd's first companion in Korea)   Sooo depressing, but we talked in Korean and I finally understood all of her words. It was fun to finally be able to speak to her in the language she worked so hard to help me learn. 엄마...그립다. ㅜ ㅜ
Anway, let's talk about transfers! I have a new companion! AND SHE'S FROM AMERICA. KLASkdfjASOIfdasdfaslkdfj. Can you believe it? I still can't. It's so weird. Like missionary work in Korea has a whole different side that I never even knew about. Her name is Sister Matsen, she's from Arizona (she actually went to the same high school as my college roommate. Weird...), and I knew her in the MTC. Which means we're already friends. Which is kind of wonderful. Also, did I mention she's a 외국인. I feel like I'm not even living the same mission.
To illustrate...
  • People are so much nicer! Like, they go out of their way to help us and make sure we know where we're going and what we're doing.
  • People look at me when I talk now. It's so weird. Since they no longer have a native speaker to rely on, they actually have to listen to my words. And I actually have to listen to theirs. It's so much better all around, really.
  • Everyone speaks so much slower and more deliberately. And I can understand!
  • I feel more involved in missionary work and just in life in general. I feel like a person doing something useful, rather than an obstacle watching other people do something useful.
  • I feel a lot closer to the members and I feel like they're trying to become a lot closer to me.
  • Ward council is slightly more of a challenge now because I have to pay careful attention to all three hours. Just in case something important gets said (which unfortunately it rarely does...).
  • Interacting with other people, like doctors or cashiers or picture printing people (we see them a lot) has become more challenging.
  • I get lost a lot more. Okay, maybe all the time. It's kind of a problem.
  • Apartment announcements. We have PA system in our apartment complex that sometimes garbles out announcements for the whole apartment, but we can legitmately understand none of it because all it sounds like is, "안녕하...아......우........시........이.........드립니다." So hopefully that never ends up being important.
But of course being with a Korean companion has about a billion good things about it too. It's just different. I'm just grateful for the chance to see the other side of things.
Anyway, this week not much happened. The elder in our area got a new greenie companion so we ate with them at the bishop's houseThursday night. The greenie bore his testimony to us and the bishop's family before we left and it was pretty much the best thing ever. Greenies are amazing! When they speak it's just like BAM THE SPIRIT. At dinner that night the bishop also informed us that we would be going on the ward camping trip. We just assumed that there was no way we could go because we needed an investigator to go with us, but the bishop was pretty much like, "No, you're going. Be at the church at 8:40. See you tomorrow." And that was that. It was so fun. We played games and caught crabs and dug for clams and went to the beach. Like, I stood in the ocean and looked towards China. Living in Asia is so cool sometimes.
And then, to top off such a great week of transfers and fun times and change, 박진희 자매님 (Jin Hee Kim? I'm sorry, I don't know how to spell it in English...) came to see me! And Ryan! It was amazing. They stood on a train from 대전 for two hours and came all the way down to tiny, little 정읍 just to see me. It was the craziest thing to see my home people and my mission people mix together. Like an episode of The Twilight Zone. But they came and it was wonderful and we spoke Korean and Sister Kim made sure I was healthy and happy (I am! 자매님 감사합니다!) and then she gave me a bag full of dark chocolate and treats. I LOVE YOU.(Sister Kim is a friend of ours in Pennsylvania.  She is from Sydney's mission area and was kind enough to see Sydney while she was on vacation.)
I just have felt so blessed lately by all the experiences I've had with just incredible human kindness. From  the members caring for me while I was sick to my companions (both past and present) helping me in every way imaginable to my familiy supporting me forever and always. Just wow. I know that God really does show His love for us through other people and that He hears our prayers and answers them always. I'm so grateful to be a part of a family and a Church and a gospel in which I know that I never need feel abandoned or forgotten because I never am.
Thank you all for your love and prayers. Truly.
아바 자매


New District Leader. This transfer is going to be great. ^^

Old Companions.  New Companions. 


 A wasteland of mud!  It was sooo deliciously squishy.

Sister M..... found this shrimp and made me hold it. In this picture i'm saying, "just take it! just take it! this is wriggly and weird!" But I look happy, right?

Me and some of the Young Women.

Remember those pictures of me digging up sweet potatoes from almost a year ago. This was the same thing! Only muddier and we were looking for sea creatures.



 Just a girl in a muddy wasteland, searching for crabs.

The ocean! I saw it!

 If only this were me. Our recent convert, 박유진.

The members kept trying to get us to drink this so we finally did. It tasted like carbonated bacon and it was not delicious.

 Watermelon and OCEAN.

Rice and sunhat.

 AND THIS! THIS HAPPENED! I promise I don't always look this ugly...
Sister Kim and Ryan came to visit!

Monday, August 11, 2014

A Rough Week but lots of Pictures

So this week, Sydney asked us not to share her letter.  She had a really bad week and was really sick.  She did say her companion and the ward took very good care of her but she was in bed for four days.  She didn't feel like writing very uplifting things and it's just been a rough week.  I did pull a few snippets from her letter that she would be okay sharing.  She also did send several pictures.  This is late because my nieces wedding was today!  Have a great week everyone!

 I kept dreaming about who my new companion would be and I was right! Her name is Sister M..... (AN AMERICAN. WAHT????) and she's totally awesome and hard-working and bold and funny and I knew her in the MTC and AMERICAN.

OH YEAH. How about I thought that Ashley's wedding was Saturday and was SO DISAPPOINTED when there were no pictures waiting for me this email

Also pray for me this week because I've never introduced an area to anyone before and I have to for the first time ever and I have a terrible sense of direction. It's gonna be bad. But I'm excited for things to change.

 We went to a "Wicked" cafe! I took about a million of these pictures...

A fun rooftop shopping place!

Seriously, visiting this church was like going to Europe. It was the weirdest thing. I knew so much information about the architecture (thanks daddy) and the stained glass! and yes I did get the irony of being a Mormon missionary in a Buddhist nation admiring the beauty of Catholic church. It was awesome.

 A famous church in Jeunju

 Adorable baby is adorable

 Mountain. Jealous, Nicky? ^^

We went to this seriously beautiful ravine in Nejangsan ( really famous mountain) for youth activity

 Me and the bishop's son. I love this kid. 

Sunday, August 3, 2014

A week in the life.......

I'm so sorry, this is going to be a short one because we're going to 전주(Jeonju) to play today! YAYAYAY! Hopefully I'll have fun pictures to send next week.
And since I'm too lazy to form an actual connected train of thought today, I'm just going to go through my planner and tell y'all about my week. So if you're anyone other than my parents, this email will probably not be very interesting to you...I'm sorry!
FHE with the youth. So much food. So much. The member who made it all kept bringing it out in courses (Daddy)--떡보끼, watermelon, strawberry shakes, 국수(noodles), pizza, 라면. It was insanity. And then we all sat in a big circles and played a bunch of games. Koreans are so good at making up fun games with nothing but their brains. I have so many ideas now for BYU game nights.
We met with our investigator 정준형. Our only boy investigator! He's our age and we teach him a little bit of English and then a lot more of gospel (which is so great). Last week during English we talked about movies we've watched recently. Since the last real movie I watched was The Princess Bride, which I watched the weekend before I entered the MTC, that's what I wrote about and he had to practice his reading comprehension by reading what I wrote. Then, half-jokingly, I gave him the assignment this week to watch The Princess Bride and then write about it in English for me to read when we met him again. I only half-expected him to do it (I mean, honestly, has anyone in this country ever seen The Princess Bride?)but then when we met with him on Tuesday, he had actually watched it! I mean, he hated it, of course, but he watched it! And not only that, but he burned it for me onto a DVD. I had to tell him that missionaries actually couldn't watch movies, so I would have to watch it after my mission, but I was so touched!

Eh, no time...
I went on a split with our sister training leader, Sister King! It was great, she really helped me put my mission into better perspective and be not so panicky about what will happen next. Also we talked about classic Hollywood musicals and she used the word "zeitgeist" in a sentence so it was pretty much the greatest split ever.
We skyped the Philippines! That's a sentence I never thought I'd say.
We 가가호호'd some apartments and this sixteen-year old girl just opened the door and just listened to me ramble on in Korean for like a full fifteen minutes. And then a giant centipede fell from the ceiling and she slammed the door closed with a squeal of fright. Satan...
I'm sorry, no time! But I love you all! And I know so much that this work is good and true and it's what I'm supposed to be doing right now, right here, in the absurdly humid Korean countryside. In a lot of ways, my mission is none of what I thought it was going to be, but I'm starting to realize that it's a lot more of what I needed it to be. I know that God lives and He loves us, not because we're perfect, but because we're His children. I know I've certainly made a lot of mistakes on my mission and I haven't always succeeded when I've wanted to, but I know God still loves me for trying. And I think that might be what I needed to learn the most from my mission--I am not perfect, but God loves me for trying. 
And I love you for trying too.
Sister ABBA.

This happened a couple Sundays ago, but it was so funny. hese are our ward mission leader's kids. They live right next to the church and they brought their dog 투부 over after church was over. They were all trying to get her to come to them, but she would only go to their daughter. It was like that scene in Bewitched. (does anyone know the reference i'm making?) Anyway, then it ended like The Lion King. I just thought it was funny.

 I like to think that this is 정읍's memorial to The Breakfast Club

 Is this why they're called eggplants?

 Caught the elders 전도ing like champions.