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Thursday, December 31, 2009

In Which RoseE's Christmas Box Finally Arrives

RoseE writes:

"Dear Mum and Dad,

No, I haven't snuck on when I'm not supposed to--today is "Half" P-Day, to skip us through the transition from Monday P-Days to Thursday P-Days. So I get to write a proper e-mail. Which is good, because when I left the train station I got a call from the Suseong Elders that my package had, in fact, arrived safely, and that Elder Murray knew what was in it but had torn the customs label off so I would not be allowed to know.

So I waited, with little patience, until district meeting on Wednesday, when he finally showed up and presented me with . . . a letter from Emily. And then, after a glare, the box. Which I opened. Firstly: my stocking*! Mom, no wonder you were freaked when this didn't show up on time. I've never really known you to let stockings out of the house, much less the country. It is safe in my posession, you'll be glad to know. Sister Pak says thank you for the chocolate orange--I whacked and shared mine at the meeting (the whacking scared Sis. Pak a bit), and she still hasn't opened hers.

And then oh, my goodness, y'all DIDN'T.

You did NOT buy me this beautiful purple iPod, which made Elder Murray exclaim, "Is that like the one McCAIN has?" (Apparently Elder McCain also got a 5th Generation Nano for Christmas, and was the envy of every Elder in the mission.) I was visibly shaking when I realized what it was. And it's full of videos! Of my family! And pictures! Of everything that's happened this last year, of EMILY'S WEDDING FINALLY, of last year at camp (I hadn't one camp photo with me out here, or one of Cara, or one of . . .) And Wall-E, which I discovered WHILE district leader Hamilton was hanging over my shoulder ogling the beautiful piece of technology in my hand. I've sworn I won't watch it, and at interviews I'll ask Prez for permission to watch it on the plane home in July. Nobody has yet found out about Wallace and Gromit, though. Jury's still out on that one . . . ]:-)

So I'm going to try to send you some videos through Gmail. Let's see if we can get video contact established.**

I listened to the lecture (part of it) while I was excercising this morning. Pretty cool, Dad. I remember you told me about it way back last year. I'll finish it and gab more later.

But now I have to go try to e-mail some videos. Hang on.


* Each person in our family has a hand-cross-stitched Christmas stocking. Bethe's is specially designed by me.

**I'm going to try to put them on the blogsite. Dunno if that's even possible.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

From President and Sister Jennings 2009/12/16

President and Sister Jennings write:

"Dear Brother and Sister Hadden:

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from the Korea Busan Mission. We pray that God's choicest blessings will be yours.

When the wise men from the East found the young child with his mother, Mary, they brought gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. This began the tradition that we follow today of giving Christmas gifts to our families and friends. The first Christmas gift, however, was not gold, frankincense, or myrrh. It was God's gift of His only begotten Son. He sent His Son into the world to save the world knowing that, unlike the test of Abraham and Isaac, there would be no ram in the thicket to spare His Son, for the Son is the sacrificial Lamb of God without blemish. "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16)

A second great gift of Christmas is seen in the magnificent irony of the Son's descent from His throne on high to a manger in an obscure stable. The path through mortal life of the King of Kings and Lord of Hosts led from that stable to a carpenter's shop to the dusty roads of Judea and Galilee--and finally to a garden called Gethsemane and to a cross on Calvary. Jesus gave the gift of His sacrifice "because of his loving kindness and his long-suffering towards the children of men." (1 Nephi 19:9)

Sister Jennings and I are also mindful of a Christmas gift that you are giving to us and the Korean people this year--the gift of your daughter. Thank you for sharing your precious daughter with us this Christmas. We know how hard it is to be without one of your loved ones at this time of the year. We know that the Lord will bless you for your sacrifice and will, in return, fill you with His Spirit. We pray that His peace and love will abide in your home.

We know that God lives and loves his children throughout the world. We know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Savior of the world. He is our Master, and the living head of His Church in these, the latter days. He lives today and has prepared the way for us to live, to serve, and to return to Him. Your daughter is His emissary to the wonderful people of Korea. She is discovering the same magnificent irony of finding miracles in unexpected places here in the Korea Busan Mission. May Christmas 2009 truly be a memorable one for your family, filled with the miracles of the season.

With love and appreciation,


President and Sister Jennings
Korea Busan Mission"

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

In Which Christmas is Summarized

RoseE writes:

"Dear Mum and Dad,

Once again, aaaaah! Barely a second to write, 'cuz the darn on-train internet cafe disappeared. We went to Changwon today (faraway city) for a housewarming party for Sis. Ogelvie and her companion, who just moved to a new apartment. Lovely. We had a great time. Sisters Corrigan, Musser, and Matthews were also there, the latter two only for a little bit. Sis. Corrigan asked the dangerous question "So what is this Doctor Who* thing about?" and . . . well, it's a good thing she's going home in three weeks, that's all. She'll be able to find out what happens next without coming across Korea to find me and make me tell her more. And plus I always get the scene order mixed up in 'The End of the World." I should ask Bethe to write me a summary.

Sounds like a heckofa Christmas . . . merry chaos, as ever, but that's as is. Ours wound up being spectacular. After a few rounds of Yahtzee and Scrabble with the Tollett kids, we went to member Britta's house for her Christmas Dinner party (think Cara**, but an active member living in Korea. Other than that, pretty much the same person) and then straight to Suseong ward for the Christmas party there. Belly dancing was done . . . with the Elders. It was a lot of fun, and seems to have endeared my to all the Relief Society. Well, whatever works.

Other than Christmas, it's been a quiet second-half-of-the-week, which is good becuase I'm down to four minutes here. Eyes still open for your package. It's been Christmas plus weekend plus not seeing the mail-picking-up Elders all day. I'm not too worried yet. And I got through Christmas only crying twice: once Christmas Eve reading Luke 2 out loud to myself, and once after I hung up the phone***, but I hid in the bathroom and (bless 'em) the Tolletts just get it when the just-off-the-phone sister needs to hide in the bathroom for a bit. It wasn't too bad.

Regarding travel: I make no attempt to deny that having parents in Korea to show around would be all kinds of cool, but Dad's tantalizing offer--going to England# with all y'all afterwards instead--is intriguing as well. And it would be less headache for the mission. And I was pretty resigned to the idea of just going straight home for most of my mission anyhow. So I'm quite open to that idea. And flying 'round the long way to Korea, standby, is probably just unimaginably awful.

Outta time--love you


* Doctor Who: A BBC TV series that started in 1963 and is continuing to be--or is again--a big hit with fans on both sides of the pond, including the Hadden Family.

**Cara: a friend of RoseE's from college who is crazy about shoes.

*** RoseE called on Christmas Eve and we put her on speakerphone (Thanks, Caiti & Jeff!) and talked for nearly an hour. We opened our presents from Korea during the call so RoseE could explain whatever needed explaining, and even got to talk to her companion, Sis. Pak. Some of us cried at the end of the call, (no names mentioned), but only at the end.

#We have plans to go to England in August 2010 to visit a Hadden aunt, and a famous author

Monday, December 21, 2009

In Which RoseE Goes Carolling and Gets Stuck in an Elevator with 4 Other Missionaries

RoseE writes:

"Dear Mum and Dad,

Arrrrgh I hate this slow post office computer--particularly because the one right next to it is top-of-the-line, but Sis. Pak always gets it first. Drat her.

Anyway, business first. Plan is right now for me to call at roughly 11 a.m. my Christmas morning, which would be I think seven o'clock Christmas Eve for all y'all. I think I'll use the calling card from the church land line--Sis. Pak is suggesting I call on our cell and have you call it back, but I seem to remember Prez discouraging that; I'm not sure why. International calling is still a mystery to me. I'll double-check on Wednesday at 'combined zone conference' (mission conferences still being forbidden by the Powers That Be).

So . .. the cold hit. Yep. I heard rumors that Thursday set a new low-temp record for that date in the fine city of Taegu. And where have we foolhardy missionaries been but out and about, with little Korean hymnals in hand, caroling our heads off. We've been caroling, to members' houses and investigators' houses and randomly on the subway (we got kicked out one time--that was fun) and in post offices and elevators and all over. It's been a blast. But with all six of us in the district, elevators have been kind of a problem. Your standard-issue Korean apartment elevator will honk in protest if you load it with too many people, and it gets to decide what constitutes 'too many' on any given day. So when we caroled to the home of the bishop of Jungni Ward (10th floor), we made our exit by all piling into the elevator singing 'We Wish You A Merry Christmas' until the doors closed. Then the doors opened again without actually having gone anywhere, so we pushed the'door close' button and started singing again. But it just opened right back up. We ran through this three or four times, until Elder Murray decided, "We must be too heavy." He stepped out. The doors slid closed, and his good idea quickly became a bad idea as the elevator took off towards the ground floor with Elder Hamilton in it but Elder Murray stranded upstairs. We could hear him banging on the door as we disappeared. We quickly started pushing buttons again, and brought the car to a stop on the seventh floor, whence Elder Murray was sprinting, yelling his head off so he could at least remain within sound, if not within sight, of his companion. I just about collapsed laughing.

So yeah, Christmas continues apace here. We managed to sneak in five minutes (okay, ten) at the military branch's Christmas party, and the Elders get to go to the Tollets' for Christmas Eve dinner, which is nice for them. The Jungni ward Christmas party is at six o'clock Christmas Eve, so no Christmas Eve for me--gonna be working. Oh, well. At least I get to dance.

Yeah, Sister Ii Mi Suk lent us all of her belly dance stuff, so last night we played around with hip scarves and veils a lot. It was so much fun to put on a hip scarf again. It brought back very fun memories, and the comforting assurance that I wasn't always stuck-in-stockings-and-long-brown-skirts Hadden Chamenim . . . that I used to be a very quirky, fun person, and will be so again someday. I felt like Clark Kent combing that one little curl down onto his forehead. I am very boring, but somewhere inside me there is an attention-getter.

Oh, and I'm wearing PANTS today because we're all going ice skating. PAAAAAAAANTS. YAAAAY FOR PANTS.

On the missionary front, we just got loaded up with a bunch of new referals, mostly people's friends, so we've got a lot of work to look forward to. And Sis Jin Mok Hwan, our hairstylist, decided in sacrament meeting yesterday that she needs to start paying tithing so she can go to the temple. She decided this, and whispered it to me. And I just nodded, thinking about how we could have taught her about that for months and it wouldn't have made as much difference as her simple, Spirit-prompted decision in an ordinary sacrament meeting on an ordinary Sunday. We've been worried about her financial situation--single mom running her own business and all, it's no walk in the park--and wondering how to teach the counterintuitive principle that paying tithing is the surest way to become financially stable. I don't know how this is going to work out for her, but I know that it will, 'cuz it's always worked out for me, sometimes in the most bizarre fashions imagineable. The Lord takes care of full-tithe-payers. It's freaky.

So I think that's the news from this abominably slow computer. I'm so excited to talk to you on Friday! Merry Christmas! I love you so much! Why do I always cry when I type this last paragraph, gosh dang . . .


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

In Which Santa Lucia Day Happens by Brute Force and Plans for Christmas Are Made

RoseE writes:

"Dear Mum and Dad,

Well, keep that cold weather the heck away from me! It's been astonishingly nice here in Daegu. I don't think it's gone below freezing or even anywhere near it. We are praying in gratitude every day that the warm stretch holds out, and have armed ourselves with scarves and ear warmers and extra stocking-looking socks and the whole thing, ready to go as soon as the weather breaks.

Despite the warm weather, Santa Lucia still came. But as it's just me, in a houseful of Koreans, with limited baking resources and no time to myself . . . you better believe I did Santa Lucia anyway. I made cookie dough the night before, stonewalling Sis. Pak who kept asking me, "Are you making them for Hyeon Ji? That's a good idea. Or for Son Mi? Why are you making these cookies? Why did we have to make a special trip to get sugar TONIGHT?" And then next morning I got up at five to cut them (with a knife), decorate them (with 1 ancient half-can of sprinkles and a bag of Halloween-colored peanut M&Ms), and bake them (in the oven). My darling roommates were bewildered but in general accepted my gesture of festive goodwill in the spirit in which it was given. They even ate some of the cookies, which was very sporting of them. THEN Sis. Pak and I made a bunch more for investigators and new members, and she had an absolutely grand old time. She'd never decorated cookies before, and thought it was as great idea. We're still spice-hunting for gingerbread men; I've got ginger and cinnamon but other stuff's eluding me, which is sad 'cuz I want to make wassail, too. Sis. Jennings suggested Home Plus, so that's the next stop.

Othe festive pursuits of the season include belly dancing. Yup. I bragged myself into something I now can't brag myself out of, and BOTH wards want me to dance for their Christmas parties. They want the Elders to dance, too, but I don't think it's gonna happen. They're all sports and they'll do any crazy thing they're asked, but last night Sis. Pak tried to learn how to do an undulation (and she's an experienced song-and-dance girl), couldn't manage it and woke up the next morning sore all over. I don't know if the poor elders' abs could take it. So I, who have never choreographed, never performed, never soloed and hasn't practiced in a year, am going to do a solo performance of some choreography I'm making up in the evenings. Well, one way or another, we'll get some laughs out of it.

Ward Christmas parties in Korea are on Christmas day. Really. We've got one the 24th and one the 25th. "Sister Hadden, what do you do in America when you go to Church on Christmas?" "Um . .. we don't go to church on Christmas. If Christmas falls on a Sunday, we drastically reduce church or just cancel it altogether. We stay HOME on Christmas."

The Military branch's annual curriculum order came in and it was full of copies of True to the Faith in Tagalog and French. So I have a new toy. And since the order got processed after I quit at Distribution*, this is not my fault.

Oh, I ate my guts out on sushi this week. One of the members took us to this really nice sushi resterant, where the stuff just kept coming in course arfter course. It was pretty darn mind-boggling. I just about killed myself eating it all . . . particularly as Sis. Pak played the Korean-exclusive "Oh sorry, I don't really like sushi" card and was NO help whatsoever. Rrrrgh.

Progress in missionary work is coming slowly, but still coming. Hyeoh Un faithfully read her scriptures yesterday. And Hyeon Ji, confined to the hospital with sixteen nails in her legs as she recovers from bowleggedness-correcting surgery, is reading, too. (We're big favorites in her leg-injury hospital ward. We always leave with more fruit than we came with.)

Transfers brought our well-beloved Elder Hamilton up to be our District Leader . .. and it was his birthday this week, so on no notice whatsoever we tossed together a surprise party for him, for which I provided a nutella-filled poorly-decorated cake. Anyway, Elder Hamilton's dream is to spend all Christmas season caroling all over Taegu, and hey, we're all game, so that's what we're doing this week. Fun times.

Um . .. I think that's all the big stuff for this week. I didn't keep a list of stuff to write, so I have no idea what to put, really. Rumor has it Sis. Jennings, Sis. Matthews, and maybe even new couple-missionary Sister Bagley could FINALLY come up to hit Seomun market . .. keep your fingers crossed. I'm gonna go play with multimedia now, to find belly dancing music and maybe send some pictures.

I love you! Christmas is awesome! I miss you, but I think the Lord is blessing me because it hasn't quite HIT me yet, you know?, that I'm missing out on Christmas at home for the first time in my life. On the other hand, I'll never have another Mission Christmas, so that's good reason to keep my eyes open and my pen scratching. And hey, I get to call** on Christmas, and I hit my year mark right after and life's pretty good, really.

Love ya much


* RoseE's job before she left for Korea was working as a translator at the church Distribution Center, where all the books and magazines are printed and from where they are sent out.

** Missionaries get to phone home on Mother's Day and Christmas Day.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

In Which RoseE Speaks French and Does Not Get Transferred

RoseE writes:

"Dear Mom and Dad,

Well, the first-off the bat news is that Transfer Calls are in. The blood I painted all over the doorframe* seems to have worked like a charm; no one in our house is transfering. Elder Son Oo Shik, our district leader, is going to be Zone Leader in Shilla, and coming up as his replacement is Elder Hamilton from Haeundae, a dear old friend of mine and fellow English major. The other Taegu district is getting back the not-very-much-loved Elder Kemmerer, but I guess we'll all survive. Other than that, Taegu stays Taegu through the holiday season. I'm exceedingly relieved. When it came right down to it, I really didn't want to go anywhere, not when we've got stuff happening here finally and I still haven't been able to take Sis. Jennings shopping at Seomun Market.

So particulars of this week. The big thing was Abdul, the man from Senegal. We (my team and the Suseong elders' team) visited him and taught him his week. He's an amazing person. We'd got him a Livre de Mormon**, which he was very interested in. He's Muslim, and thus believes so many very true and powerful things: the importance of prophets and scripture, of serving others, of learning truth through revelation. He's studied both the Bible and the Koran extensively, and seemed fairly itching to get into the Book of Mormon. He speaks English quite well and is learning Korean, so we taught him in a mixture of all three of my languages. It felt so good to speak in French again.

The day we taught him was the day before transfer calls. As soon as we left his house, Elder Murray told me, "You can't transfer. This guy needs you. We've got to tell President." And Sister Pak chimed in with, "If you transfer, what are we going to do? I can't teach him by myself!" However, there were only four hours until calls. Elder Murray eventually called Elder McKenna, our Zone Leader, to ask permission to call Elder Aquino, his friend from Pusan, who has a book about Islam that he now wants to borrow, and Elder McKenna promised that he'd call up to the A.P.s to explain why Elder Murray needed such a book (and, incidentally, why I couldn't be transfered). This was a heck of an elaborate scheme, but it seems to have worked.

We also went down to Pusan this week for Sister Pak to take the dreaded Michigan Test*** again. We all went for lunch to Sister Ii In Suk's restaurant, which has moved half a block to a much more visible building (this freaked me out; I know this address! Where the heck did the restaurant go???? Oh, there it is). Sister Ii is still as wonderful as ever. She still has the tree Sister Montgomery gave her last April, and it's still growing. And her deijigukbap is still the best thing I've ever tasted. I've had deijigukbap here in Taegu and it's nothing to write home about, which would explain why you haven't heard about it. And I spent the duration of the test with Sister Musser, from the MTC, and first-transfer roommate Sister Hill, who is officially out of missionary circulation starting today. Gone also is my friend Sister Beckstead. We're losing missionaries fast, and they're starting to be missionaries that I know.

It's been a pretty slow missionary-work week, as it's Exam Time in all the schools so we can't meet with anybody because they're all busy cramming. Next week promises to be better. I'm busy explaining what White Elephant is and pressuring Elder Murray to give me the apple juice concentrate the Tolletts bought for me and gave to him so I can make wassail. Thank you so much for the cookie recipes, by the way; I really wanted them but wasn't going to request them after seeing the price sticker on the birthday package. I'm a greedy enough missionary as it is.

Oh, everybody in Korea thinks that my green cable-knit hat# is the best thing in the world, and at least five times I've been asked where I bought it. Three people have tried to steal it. I may have to staple it to my head.

Okay, I'm going to go mail a passel of letters now and see if I can load your pictures onto Liz . . . Dang Vista on this computer won't do it, so I'm going to switch with Sis. Pak. I love you so much! Really, really, really. And I miss you like crazy. Put some books or something on Bug's head; he's getting waaay too freaking tall.

Love you


* Exodus 12

** French Book of Mormon

***Michigan Test: used by colleges and universities to assess English language ability

# cabled beret knit for RoseE before she left--to match her coat

Monday, December 7, 2009

to Dad, 7 Dec 2009

RoseE writes:

"Dear Dad,

Somehow the second I realized what that tree* was, I knew it had to be your idea. Where did you find it? It's fantastic!

I'm bummed I missed your sacrament meeting talk. I love hearing you speak in church--never blasphemous but always unorthodox. Fortunately, I'm your daughter and get to hear your musings on religion all the time. I just feel sorry for the rest of the ward, who only hear them once in a blue moon when the Bishopric works up the nerve to ask you to speak. Well, sucks to be them.

Friday night was transfer calls. The angel of death passed over our house, and nobody's leaving. Must be because we're keeping the Word of Wisdom**. (Except one of the elders' investigators brought them a coffee bun, and they didn't know what to do with it, so I said I'd eat it and I did. My companion was shocked. But it didn't taste like coffee--the flavor was more gnat than camel, I think I'm gonna be okay. Sisters Linford and Jung Min Hee, my MTC cohorts, are being sent out to the heretofore-elders-only area of Jeju Island. I thought this was a lie when I heard it. Sisters just don't go to Jejudo. But they are. And since flying out there is expensive, they'll probably be there a while and I am not likely to see either of them again until Sis. Linford and I go home in July. It's a sad day, but quite a privilege for them, opening a new sisters' area.

I'm still junior companion. My feelings on this are mixed. Some of them are:

"Yay! Six more weeks of minimal responsibility!"

"Wait . . . seventh transfer and I'm still junior? Sis. Pak Sung Hee and Sister Montgomery were trainers by their fifth."

"Who cares, as long as I get to stay in Taegu?"

"Does President think I'm irresponsible or immature, or what?"

"You ARE irresponsible and immature."

"Well, yes, but I don't want the whole mission knowing that Prez knows that."

"Sister Beckstead didin't go senior until her eighth [transfer], and she ended up being a darn good missionary."

"Yes, but prior to that she'd had several meltdowns and tried to go home. All I've done was tell Prez in one interview that I was kind of lonely."

"Do you WANT to be a senior?"

"No . . . I just don't want to be THAT sister, that's all: the one that's a burden on the mission, that Prez doesn't dare give responsibility to."

"If you were THAT sister, Prez would have sent you to Sister Musser instead of trusting you to handle a fifth transfer with an all-Korean house. And he's threatened to make you train."

"He also threatened Sis. Matthews with that, and she's going home in six weeks, trainee-free."

"Look . . . what's your bottom-line goal on this mission?"

"To be as good a missionary as my father was."

"And how long was he a senior?"

"Like . . . three days, or something."***

"Right. And you've still got four more transfers to become senior in. Twenty-four weeks. You've got plenty of time before that goal comes into jeopardy. So stop fussing, count your blessings, and get back to work."

Yeah, that's pretty well where I am right now.

Three weeks until Christmas! My little tree is displayed proudly above my desk. I tried to decorate it a bit but in the end just decided to stay with the one red ornament, to keep it a simple, unadulterated Charlie Brown Christmas Tree. It makes me unbelievably happy.

I love you! Talk to you in three weeks#.


*For her birthday, we sent her a Charlie Brown Christmas Tree-- one with a few scraggly twigs and some needles falling off. And one red ornament.

**Word of Wisdom: members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have been commanded to abstain from coffee, tea, alcohol and tobacco; this commandment group is referred to as the Word of Wisdom.

*** When it was discovered, two days before he went home, that Todd had never been a senior companion, the mission president made him senior for the last day of his mission.

# Missionaries are allowed to call home at Christmas Day and Mother's Day.

Monday, November 30, 2009

In Which RoseE Has a Birthday and Ages 3 Years in 3 Days

RoseE writes:

"Dear all,

Only time for a very quick rundown.

Thank you so much! My presents are awesome! I took a video of me opening them . . . don't know how you're gonna watch it before July, but it's took, at least. I'll work on getting it into a workable format.

I woke up this morning seven minutes late (the roommates let me sleep in) and as soon as I stirred my three darling Korean roommates started singing Happy Birthday in Korean. Then they sang it in English but forgot the words halfway through. They'd decorated the kitchen with Halloween balloons that said 'Happy' and a poster that said 'Birthday Rose', and had made me a birthday breakfast of all my favorite things: pancakes, bacon, asian pears, mashed potatoes and Healthy Choice chicken soup. (Elder Murray was suppsed to get them gravy mix, but his appointment ran late last night, so now Sis. Pak is mad at him.) I showered, had breakfast, and got chased off the dishes by Sis. Pak Seh Ra, and opened my presents from home. Oh, gosh, Dad, I almost cried at the tree*. Really. That was about the most fantastic present I've ever seen. I'm decorating it with whatever-the-heck, including the ribbons off the presents. (Oh, and my family portrait is now strewn with paper chains made out of old message-card-making supplies.) And Mom . . . SOCKS! Best socks EVER! My gosh, they're phenominal! I love my socks!

So as it was my birthday and P-Day I got to do whatever I wanted, which was go to Seomun market and buy my last Christmas presents. But first we had to pop by the church, because Elder Son Oo Shik called to say that I'd received a package and he'd leave it there for me. And so we went to the church, only to find all the sisters, The Suseong Elders (more came later), a Costco cake with roses on it, some darling little presents (a pretty painted case for my dochang stamp that's got a little stamp pad hooked to it), and the giant Suseong tv with Prince of Egypt and Joseph: King of Dreams (marketed in Korea as 'Prince of Egypt 2'; this caused but a LOT of confusion and miscommunication between Americans and Koreans). So we ordered chicken and ate cake and watched movies. Sounds like the best birthday in the entire freaking world to me.
And as soon as I finish this e-mail we're going over to the Tollets because they asked us to come over and help decorate for Christmas. I nearly fainted when Elder Murray told me this, I was so excited.

Other parties this week: the branch did a communal Thanksgiving with the four or so largest families and all 22 Kyeongbuk Zone missionaries. Well, 21 of our zone and Sister Corrigan, who got sent on the luckiest split in the entire world and escaped Thansgiving-free Ulsan just in the nick of time. Sister Pak Sung Hee ate her very first turkey. But not much of it because she thought the ham was a different kind of turkey and took a lot of that, instead. She also had never considered eating sweet potatoes with marshmallows . . . you eat them with kimchi here. And the tapioca salad just blew her mind entirely. It was really funny to watch. I think every American missionary was near tears with happiness--some elders had their plates six inches deep in food. Really, there were mashed potatoes as far as the eye could see, plates and plates of them. And a non-member family came as well, and brought a pan of ratatouille. They were very impressed that I knew what ratatouille was and were tickled to death that I was so excited about it. And their four-year-old black-haired girl Valerie ran around for the whole meal with the Tollets' youngest, white-blonde-haired four-year-old Kailee. They were very cute.

And I met a man from Senegal on the subway. And my French is much father gone than I thought it was. I sound like a babbling idiot. This is not good.

But other than that, it was a wonderful week of parties galore. There's more news but no time to give it. Suffice to say yesterday I was 23, today I'm 24, and tomorrow I'll start working with Koreans again and will be 25. Also, Bethe's birthday and my birthday happened simultaniously . . . I wasn't planning on this when I requested she be born on some other day.

I love you all so much! Have fun with y'all's non-Charlie-Brown trees! My shoes are whole, my toes are warm, I am swimming in joyous familiar European and Utahean chocolate, and life is very, very good. At least for now. There's always next week.

Oh, and I met Elder Choi Yoon Hwan of the Seventy this week. That happened, too.

Gotta run!


Bug, I promise a letter next week.

* Dad sent her a Charlie Brown Christmas tree: basically one twig with a few needles on it, and one red glass ball ornament, the weight of which makes it bend way over. You can get one just like it at Sears. Go watch A Charlie Brown Christmas if you can't remember what it looks like or what it represents.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

RoseE writes:

"Dear Mum and Dad,

Like, pet mice, or like "OH GAAAAAAHHHH IT'S MICE!!" mice*? How big are the lizards**? Can you sic the lizards on them? I'm sure Soxie's*** being no help at all--not a mouser, really. More ornamental than useful, as far as cats go.

I'm also intrigued by Cuin's lizards' sibling rivalry issues, that they need constant supervision. Hmmmm.

I need to work up a Santa Lucia# scheme. Of course, Santa Lucia Day is after Transfers, so who knows where the heck I'll be, so maybe I shouldn't make too many plans too fast. Both Sis. Pak and I are hoping and praying that we both stay, as we've got a lot of good stuff happening and we want to be around to see how it plays out. And Sis. Jennings keeps promising to come up to Taegu on a P-Day and go shopping at Seomun Market with us, but she hasn't had a P-Day free in two transfers. Hmph.

Oh, I got your package safely this week, and have obediently stuck it under my desk to await my actual birthday, when I will be . . . twenty-five. Just like I am right now. Korean "age" is a strange bird.

So last week the big news was . . . Hyeon Ji got baptized. Yeah. She didn't even have a baptismal date at time of last e-mail. It all happened pretty quickly . . . she decided she wanted to get baptized on Thursday, on which day Sis Pak was on splits in Ulsan (I was with yet another Sis. Pak, Sis. Pak Min Jeong), so we had only part of Friday (most of the day was riding buses back and forth from Ulsan to get MY Sis. Pak home) and all of Saturday (minus everything else we have to do on Saturday, including teaching Hyeoh Un and teaching Jungni ward English class) to get her baptismal service put together and the interview done and everything. Fortunately, the new bishop (he's FANTASTIC) and our ward mission leader (ditto) really pulled through, as did the Spectacular Sister Tollet (chocolate chip cookies), and everything was great in a very short period of time. The time crunch was because in two days Hyeon Ji goes into the hospital for pretty major knee surgery, and will be holed up in there for a good couple of weeks. So she got confirmed at the baptismal service, which is not usual for converts' baptisms (usually they're confirmed in Sacrament meeting the next week). So while she's recuperating we'll teach her the new member lessons and hopefully she'll be off to a good strong start with a brand-new knee and brand-new baptsimal covenants well before the turn of the year.

Hyeon Ji's really shy. But really. It may come from being less than five feet tall (she's a tiny little thing). I was amazed that she worked up the nerve to be baptized, and held onto it when she saw that most of the ward had showed up for her baptismal service (as well as a LOT of missionaries and some members from other wards, as the service was right after stake conference). Her uncle, with whom we've been teaching her, baptized her. This was the fist baptismal service I've been able to watch from 'backstage' . . . . the first baptism I've seen of a sister whom my team has taught. It's a humbling thing. I mean, we just said some stuff, and prayed a bit, and she up and decided to change her whole life AND allow herself to be dunked underwater in front of about a hundred people. Once again, I feel like none of this can really be my doing. I'm still just watching in awe and confusion as the work of the Lord goes on around my head.

And it's continuing to go on. We think that little Hyeoh Un will probably be ready to be baptized in the next couple of weeks . . . we taught her everything, and she's accepted and is living it all. We're mostly waiting for a free Sunday, since the Elders have I think two baptisms already planned. (Cool, huh?) Student Ju Hyeah is also still doing well, and is thinking ahead to her own baptism. And this week we FINALLY managed to meet with a young woman named Ryu Nah Hi, who stayed with an LDS host family while visiting Utah and was impressed with what they lived and believed. We've been trying to meet her for weeks but keep just barely missing her. But she's really eager to learn what we have to teach, and we've got high hopes for her. So yeah, not a dull moment around here. (Except on the bus back from Ulsan, when I got to TAKE A NAP! A NAP! It was GLORIOUS!)

We had dinner at the Tollets' last night (bless this wonderful family) and there were two big bowls of mashed potatoes.

I had three helpings.

Sis. Pak had one and said it was really good, but I don't think she quite gets what I see in them. I've tried to explain gravy several times, but it never quite comes out right.

Anyway, shorter than usual this week, sorry. Everybody's fault but mine, as everything always is, of course. I love you! Happy Thanksgiving! I'd tell you to tape the Macy's Parade, but . . . well, have fun watching it, anyway. The Military Branch is making Thanksgiving Dinner for the entire zone (that's 22 missionaries, most of them hungry American boys and one of them a Korean who has never SEEN turkey. Never. Except on t.v.).

Oh, and it suddenly got warm again. I'm not getting this Korean weather thing.

Love you


* we have mice

**lizards - we are watching her uncle's kids' pets for the holiday

*** our 15-year-old cat

# Santa Lucia Day: a Scandanavian Christmas holiday, December 12

Saturday, November 21, 2009

to Dad 16 Nov 2009

RoseE writes:

"Dear Dad,

Once again, sorry about the stationery. I'm running out of pages on this letter pad--I'll probably grab a new one this week sometimes.

Sister Pak is deeply annoyed on my behalf that I missed both the France trip AND the Disneyworld trip. (But it's okay, because there will be other opportunities, right?) I'm sorry you didn't get to see the rocket launch. Them's the breaks, and it sounds like you had a good time, anyway.

My brief bout of illness seems to be gone, so I haven't yet had to resort to the dreaded hygiene mask. (When I told Melody, of the military branch, that I had a cold, she demanded to know, "Why aren't you wearing a hygiene mask?" to which I responded, "Because they look completely ridiculous!" She laughed and agreed with me.) I can't believe they do that much good anyway--they just cause you to touch your mouth and nose more than you would otherwise.

You'll be glad to know that I am on my way to ride a bike on my mission. We're in Kyeongju, and we're going to rent bicycles to ride around the tombs of the kings of Silla. But I'm wearing pants. I'm not exactly sure what we're going to see or where we're going to end up--everyone I talk to seems to think that someone else is planning this. Oh, well.

Oh, seems like we may be headed for a temple. We'll see what we see. It's pretty dratted cold outside, but I'm well-layered so I hope that someone else will freeze before I do.

I love you!


Monday, November 16, 2009

In Which Winter Sets In and Some Good Missionary Things Happen

RoseE writes:

"Dear Mum and Dad,

Miss you like crazy, as always. I just sent off a box of Christmas Presents, minus Bit's and Bug's (for which I am still looking; they'll be on their way soon, I promise). Getting it there in time for Christmas made me very grateful for Grama Rosie's present. I'd like to express this gratitude to her, but I don't have her mailing address . . . *puppy dog eyes* I'm such a gosh darn high-maintenance missionary, I'm sorry. ;-( That's the last thing I'm requesting, I swear. I'll be good from now on.

35 cents is a good deal on medical care. Good job, Bug.

It's dang cold here, too -- the green coat is out and working, as are my lovely hat and gloves. Everybody likes the hat and says it's maushiitda (stylish) . . . this word keeps throwing me because it sounds too much like the French mauche, ugly.

Well, this week was Pepero day, which is like Valentine's Day would be if Valentine's Day had been invented by the company that makes the conversation hearts. The Pepero company just made it up about twenty years ago to boost sales, but hey, I'm all for giving and receiving chocolate-covered cookie sticks. I'm just a little smug that for once our version is older than their version.

We also had President's interviews this week, at which Prez looked at his paperwork and realized what had come to my attention some weeks ago, vis. that every Korean missionary in Kyongbuk zone is either in my district or my apartment, and that the only American missionary I ever see is Elder Murray. (Elder Murray's pretty cool. His family owns Nightmare Mansion and he wants to grow up to be a conservative radio talk show host.) So Prez asked me how that was going for me. And what could I say? I wanted to come to Korea, and boy, I'm here with a vengeance now. I'd love to feel sorry for myself, but when I do my companion gets hurt and sad, which I would too, if I were in her shoes, which I need to be more often. So staying positive. Learning Korean. Working. Being happy. That's the plan.

It was a pretty big week for missionary work. We Got Through A Door. WE GOT THROUGH A DOOR. You NEVER get through doors when you're doorknocking. I think the stat is 1000 rejections for every invitation to come inside and teach a lesson. But we got through a door. . . and taught the first lesson to three great kids whom I love already while their sweet grandma brought us persimmons. Awwww.

We've got a lot of people we're working with right now. How did this happen? This area was dead six weeks ago. I like this better, really.

Sunday sort of sums up what's been happening lately. Get ready for a name string, 'cuz these were the people I was excited to see at church: Jin Mok Hwan (less-active hairstylist friend), the new move-in recent convert from Taejeon we've been trying to track down, Hyeh Ji (new member/less-active), Ju Hyeah (her non-member best friend), Ii Un Kyeong (new member who's been missing church due to an ongoing fight with cancer) Hyeon Ji (member's niece/our investigator), our ward mission leader (he's missed two weeks; we thought he'd gone less-active), Ii Mi Suk (now sporting stylish headscarves to match her outfits) and the bishop's dog. Now the former bishop's dog, 'cuz the bishop got released and now we have a new bishop, Pyeon Chang Gi, who is one of my favorite members and married to another of my favorite members. And little Ryan Tollett got baptized and there was American junk food for all. And we rejoiced. But we still don't know what the former bishop's dog was doing in sacrament meeting. Welcome to Korea. Welcome to my life.

Today every missionary in creation (not really; just a bunch) got taken out to Kyeong Ju, which was the capital of the kingdom of Silla (read: very, very, VERY old). In the city now, all the buildings have traditional Korean roofs. Even new buildings. They have to build 'em that way; it's a law. Really. We went exploring in another temple . . . again, a sad experience, firstly for the thought of so many people believing that bowing to a statue will make their lives better, and secondly for the jarring collision of religion and commercialism that happens when still-active places of worship become tourist destinations. But the temple that we went to still has some wooden buildings that predate the Japanese invasions of the late 1500s, which is hard to do because the Japanese burned down pretty darn near everything.

In the midst of the pre-Christmas festivities (which I'm trying very hard to not think about missing), if you on Temple Square meet a Sister Durtschi (American), please tell her I say hi.

Love you! Gotta run!


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

In Which RoseE Gets A Good Scare, and We Are Confused By Lots of Korean Names

RoseE writes:

"Dear Mum and Dad,

How will I talk when I get home? Well, strangely enough, probably a lot like Dad. Korean structure puts pauses in a lot of the same places Dad does when he wants to see if anybody's actually listening to him. "I . . . *pausepausepause* want to go see a movie." Koreans do this. "Chonun . . . *think about it* 모모모." Also after conjunctions. "I want to go a movie AND *pause pause pause* eat yangnyeom chicken." And I've discovered that I can't really do normal introductory questions anymore. I can't spit out "So what's your family like? How many brothers and sisters do you have?" It just falls out Korean form: "How does your family become?" I'm sure you'll notice more in a few months.

It shouldn't be getting too much worse for a while, though, because the dreaded Michigan Test is coming up again in December, and since Sis. Pak failed it last time around she's going to take it again. So I'm going to put a lot of my Korean practice on hold and make her speak and listen to English. She improved a lot when she was living with three weigukins*, but she's been with hangukins** pretty much ever since and has started slipping.

Well, inasmuch as we are a united, eternal family, I up'n got sick too. Not bad. Yesterday was lots of sniffling and sneezing, but today it seems to have cleared up. I don't think it's the dreaded H1N1, which everybody is self-diagnosing this week (a couple schools are closed and the hygene masks are EVERYWHERE) . . . just a wrapup to the blissful seven months of healthiness I have thoroughly enjoyed since leaving the Pit of Disease and Death otherwise known as the Provo MTC.

Well, the cold snap hit and then it was gone. The weather's as lovely as it gets. Which is SO weird. Because it was blinkin' freezing for about two days, and we were frantically trying to make sure everyone had enough blankets and that their apartments were well-insulated (Elder Draper, out in the boonies, is looking for a new apartment because their place is colder inside than it is out) . . . and then the cold went away. Gone. Poof. Gorgeous outside.

So . . . missionary work is happening, or something. Hyeoh Un participated in the Primary Sacrament Meeting program yesterday, as did all of less-active Kim Mi Hyang's kids (BOTH their parents came, AGAIN, which is AWESOME). She's nervous about getting baptized, but she has a strong testimony and her mom is completely okay with whatever. And Gu Yeong Eh's niece Hyeon Ji came to church again, and we taught her the third lesson, and checked up on if she'd been reading the Book of Mormon . . . "Well, I got to First Nephi 14," she told us, pulling out her copy and flicking it open. Colors. On almost every page. She's Been Marking Stuff. "I didn't understand this part with the dream about the tree*** that Lehi had, but then later on it explained it really well#, so that was good."

You could have knocked both Sis. Pak and me over with a feather. Nothing blows missionaries away like someone actually, earnestly reading the Book of Mormon. Looking at that book was like Christmas.

So yeah. Hyeon Ji's doing fine.

We ALSO taught the first lesson to our less-active new-member friend Hyei Ji's best friend Ju Hyei (getting mixed up with the names yet?). She's attended church a few times, and told us that she loves Sacrament meeting and feels really good when she goes. She has been GETTING HYEI JI OUT OF BED TO COME TO CHURCH ON SUNDAYS. No, really. Our non-member has been dragging our less-active to church.

We ALSO taught the first lesson to Son Mi, aka Miracle Girl. We met Son Mi on the street two weeks ago with a couple of her friends, said hi, introduced our message, wished 'em a good day, moved on. Then, two days later, we were walking down the street and saw a girl talking on a cell phone. And I was (in my head) like, "Maybe we should talk to her." "Nah, she's on the phone." "But maybe we really, really should." And I hesitated, and looked at her, and she caught my eye and smiled (this DOESN'T happen in Korea) and hung up the phone. It was Son Mi.
Now, y'all know my memory for faces, vis., I have none. I didn't know her from Eve. Didn't recognize her at all. But it was the same girl, that I just randomly felt that I needed to talk to. Or perhaps not so randomly.

Anyway, we invited her to the Halloween party, and she came and helped out and had fun. And this week we made an appointment to teach her, and Sis. Pak made muffins.
We get to the church. She's late. We text. She replies. Sounds like she's not coming.

"Aww," Sis. Pak texts back, "we had a present we wanted to give you."

"Oh, okay," says Son Mi. "I'll be there in half an hour."

Sis Pak looks at her little bag of four muffins and decides that, while it's a fine surprise gift, it's not much to make a special trip for. So she and I went on a mad hunt through the chapel to find something that would be a better present. And what did we find but: A copy of "Stand a Little Taller" in Korean, colored paper, markers, stickers, scissors, tape, and ribbon. And we had a perfect little present waiting when she showed up, to listen earnestly and attentively to the first lesson, at which the Spirit was most decidedly in attendance.

So missionary stuff's goin' darn well in the fine city of Taegu. To quote Independence Day ('cuz it's P-Day and I can do stuff like that), the last couple of days have been REALLY exciting.

So, other news . . . oh, kyool. Gotta tell you about kyool. It is kyool season here in Korea. A kyool looks like an orange or a tangerine, is slightly larger than a golf ball, and is so sweet and lovely and delicious that you can just eat them like candy all day long. Sis Pak and her older sister once ate 250 of them in three days. Their skin turned orange.

Speaking of Sis. Pak, she hit her one-year mark this week, and we all had ribs at TGI Friday's to mark the occasion. (Lunch special. Missionaries are pros at knowing where the good lunch specials are.)

Also speaking of Sis. Pak, I keep forgetting to tell this story but I'll tell it now. A few weeks before Halloween, one night we'd just finished planning and I got up to go use the bathroom. When I came back to our room, I found Sis. Pak standing just inside the door with her very long straight black asian hair combed down over her face.

Three voices started up in my head. One was saying, "Huh. Sister Pak is standing just inside the doorway."

The third said, "Oh, Sis. Pak is trying to scare me. That's a great Halloween idea. I wish I had cool Asian hair like that."

Unfortunately, it was the second voice that got control of my muscles first. So while the first and third voices were like "Wait! Don't!" I screamed my head off and smacked her clean across the face as hard as I could.

She was okay. And I was really, really sorry. And it was all really funny in a horrible kind of way. So yeah. I get to join the ranks of those sister missionaries who have in very fact physically attacked their companions. Lucky me.

Anyway, that's the news over here. We're gonna go watch Prince of Egypt (which Sis. Pak has never seen; some of the elders got permission for a movie day) and I'll write a bunch of letters and life will be good.

Love you! Be Good! Church is True!


*English-speaking companions

** Korean-speaking companions

***1 Nephi 8:4-38

# 1 Nephi 15

Friday, November 6, 2009

to Dad 10/26/09

RoseE writes:

"Dear Dad,

Well, transfer calls are in and I'm staying in Taegu, so you don't have to worry about me getting tsunamied. It would take a heck of a tsunami to get across fifty miles of mountains.

Ken Burns has a new series out? Man, I miss all the good stuff. Right up your alley, too--history of the National Parks.

What you said about change echoed something I was dwelling on back in first transfer. We were studying one morning when we heard the phone ring in the other room. Sis. Hill picked it up--it was Pres. A few minutes later, she appeared in the doorway to announce, in a very somber voice, holding her bathroom tight around her, that her father's cancer had disappeared entirely.

And we all started sobbing.

Not that we were upset that her father had been spared from certain death--quite the opposite. But it was a change. A big, drastic, wrenching change. And change hurts, even when it's good. And I thought about the changes I'm going through. Maybe they're good changes. Maybe I'm becoming a better person. But good or bad, pain and fear are just naturally a part of that. And it's the same for our investigators and less-actives. Coming into the gospel is hard and scary--I forget that a lot, but it's true. This is hard. but like Elder Holland* says, Salvation was never a cheap experience. It's supposed to be hard. If it weren't hard, it would be easy. And what's the point of that?

I love you. Keep being a good dad. Because you really, really are. And don't get cancer.


*Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

to Bit 10/26/09

RoseE writes:

"Dear Bit,

Happy 16th Birthday! I hope this package gets to you in time--though as I'm sending it before Halloween, it might very well show up super early. You never know.

I hope you and Dasha had a great time at the horse show! What was your time on the barrel race? How is the NAC's little orphan mustang doing? Have they named him yet? Who's going to train him?

My friend Sister Beckstead wants to know where your riding teachers come from. She's going home in December, and she's interested in doing some volunteer work with horses. She's an excellent rodeo rider and a great, patient teacher (she's taught me so much about missionary work ) and wants to know how she can get involved. I told her I would ask you.

Not much is happening here. It's starting to get pretty cold. Elder Chai Youn Hwan of the Seventy* is coming to visit us next month before he moves to Japan. I'm saving up to take my district out for Baskin-Robbins ice cream cake on my birthday. The cranes are migrating.

I love you!


*Members of the Quorums of the Seventy are called to proclaim the gospel and build up the Church. They work under the direction of the Twelve Apostles and the leadership of seven brethren who are called to serve as the Presidency of the Seventy. Members of the First and Second Quorums of the Seventy are designated General Authorities, and they may be called to serve anywhere in the world.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Weekly email 11/2/09

RoseE writes:

"Dear Mom and Dad,

Thanks for the updates on Gramma Olsen, and the letter from Bethe. Sorry the video didn't come through. This is probably the fault of this less-than-celestial e-mail server, which refuses to acknowledge that I have space in my inbox despite the fact that I have deleted all but five e-mails and, in truth, have nothing BUT space. Thrice-accursed thing. So if you sent a news-of-the-family this week, I didn't get it, and this is why I am not replying to it.

Life's good here in Korea. It got Very Cold and windy but Very Fast, so we're pulling out the heavy coats and running them to the dry-cleaners' downstairs. I finally found extra blankets on top of the other team's wardrobe, so I am sleeping much more comfortably now. And I got a BOX! Which makes life very happy indeed. I shared the Monster Cookies with the roommates (Sister Pak Se Ra thinks they're about the most delicious thing ever) and (some) of the Reese's with the Halloween party, but the rest of the Reese's and the candy corn are my private stash. I'm trying to eat them slowly . . . failing, but trying. And what was up with the nesting envelopes? Somebody got bored in Sacrament meeting, looks like. I love seeing the Sacrament meeting programs, though. It's great to see what's going on in the strangely-surreal world of Rose Park. I took a video of Sis. Pak opening this box, too, and finding her mouse, but all the dialogue turned out to be in Korean so I'll have to translate it before I can transcribe it. But she was way excited and thanks you a lot, and then proceeded to gloat that her Kiore was bigger than mine and hence its 'hyeong' (older brother). Which is fitting, because she's older than me and thus is my 'onni' and I have to do whatever she says. Not that I don't anyway, being junior companion and all . . . but this is a big deal in Korea, who's older than whom. Or bigger, in the case of knitted mice.

So this week was conducted with an Eye Single to the Glory of the Halloween Party. We had a last-minute wave of help in the form of Elder Son Oo Shik's new companion Elder Murray, whose family owns Nightmare Mansion. No, really. His family are professional haunted-house makers. Having no budget and no time cramped his style a little bit, but he came through with flying colors, as did every other missionary in Taegu, and the thing was an absolute success. The party opened with a dance number to the theme music from 'Bewitched', at the end of which Elder Hansen shot Elder Murray stone dead (he had to be dragged offstage). Then there were party games all over, including sack races (garbage bags we found in the chapel), bobbing for apples (all given to us by members as Chuseok leftovers), a pinata (four balloons, tape, last week's newspaper from our door guard, a bag of flour also found in the chapel, and a candy run to Costco (plus some, but not all, of my Reese's from home)), balloon-stomping competitions (leftovers from the pinata-making) and eating donuts off strings (these had to be purchased fair and square--darn it). I face-painted all evening, doing lots of pumpkins with the orange paint on the inside of the jar lid (a pinata and four other decorative papier-mache pumpkins go through a lot of orange and homemade red/yellow sort-of-orangey pink). The second floor of the chapel was the haunted house. The Zone leaders brought dry ice from Baskin Robbins, and we had a lot of curtains and stuff from a bag of scrap fabric a less-active sister was about to throw out when we visited, and the Elders just had a grand old time jumping out of closets and such. It was great. And lots of people came, members, non-members, less-active members, friends of members, people we'd met on the street two days before . . . AND many of the above came to church the next day.

Yep. Hyeon Ji, the girl we taught the first lesson last week, came to the party AND to church AND we taught her the second lesson. Yaaaay! And our hasn't-been-seen-in-yonks recent convert Hyeh Ji brought her friend Ju Hyeah to church again, and we're going to meet them later on this week. (Hyeh Ji hasn't been coming to church because she doesn't have any friends her age here. I can see this situation working out very well.) And Jin Mok Hwan, our hairdresser friend, has been at church every week for a month. Her fantastic daughter is over-the-moon happy.

One notable absence at church was little Hyeoh Un, who was forbidden to attend by her father because she hadn't done all of her homework on Saturday--she'd gone to a friend's house instead. We called Sunday night to check on her, and she was in a sulk about it. She REALLY wants to go to church. Her conversation with Sis. Pak went something like this:

"So you couldn't come to church today?"

*sigh* "Yeah."

"Awww, that's too bad! But it's important to do your homework, too."

*sigh* "Yeah."

"Can we still come over this week and teach you?"

*no sigh* "YES!"

"Okay. See you on Saturday!"

"Okay! I love you!"

"Love you too!"

I love this kid.

Sunday was Operation: Save Yeongchon Branch*. Yeongchon is a tiny town of no importance a good ways out of Taegu, and as people have been migrating away from it into bigger cities like Taegu and Pusan the branch has shrunk . . . and shrunk . . . and now there are about seven people regularly attending. (The elders are very smug about knowing the names of Every Single Active Member of their unit.) It's in danger of collapse and closure. So we got the whole zone together (some twenty elders, plus we four sisters), fasted and prayed, and went to Yeongchon. One team went and visited less-actives with the branch president, another team knocked doors, and two other teams (self included) did streetboarding all afternoon with the stake presidency. I was with Sis. Ahn Ta Yeon, the new greenie (who is awesome, by the way). And all afternoon we just talked to people. I'm generally scared to death of street prostelyting, and hate doing it, but Sunday it was different. We had a real, concrete goal in mind: find people who are ready to hear about the gospel, and bring them to Yeongchon branch, so that the Church doesn't vanish from this city. We worked hard and gave the Yeongchon elders a lot of contacts to follow up on. All that prayer, fasting, and work can do will be done. And the stake presidency worked with us--got to see that we are working, and working hard, despite the low stats that come from kicking the 30/30 program.

And . . . not much else, really. I've discovered a refreshing beverage made from mixing water, blueberry vineagar, and rice syrup (when apple juice is unobtainable, you start improvising). Sis. I Mi Suk has shaved her head, cutting her hair off herself rather than letting the chemo take it (you go, girl) and she lent me one of her bandannas for my pirate costume for the halloween party. Oh, and the other big news . . . she's lost a lot of weight, what with having cancer and all, and had these bags of clothes that were too big for her. Had. Because she made me take them all. T-shirts from the Japan/Korea world cup, sparkly sweatshirts reading 'Killswitch Engage', a capsleeve that says 'Naughty and Wild Kittens' in HUGE letters (funniest thing in the entire universe to give to a sister missionary--I love it) and . . . a hanbok. No, really. A beautiful yellow hanbok**. I tried like twelve times to refuse it . . . you don't just give people HANBOKS, for crying out loud . . . but she pulled the I'm-older-than-you-and-therefore-the-boss-so-do-what-you're-told card, and the hanbok is now mine. I'm still speechless at the thought.

And now I've officially written a lot. I love you, be good, stay out of trouble, hope you're not dead or dying, thank you for the box, a reciprocal one will be in the mail soon.


*a branch is smaller than a ward, approximately 60 members or less.

**hanbok: traditional South Korean dress. Check the link for hanboks and other fantastical Korean wearing apparel.

To Bit 10/19/09

RoseE writes:

"Dear Bit,

Hi! How's high school treating you? How did you and Dancer do in the barrel racing competition?

I still don't get to ride horses for exercise. :( But I was looking around my tiny apartment, and in a cupboard that was stuck shut (I almost had to pry it open with a chopstick) I found a book about yoga. So now I can do yoga in the mornings, too. It's hard, but fun. But it's getting cold here in Taegu, so the corridor outside my apartment gets dang chilly. You have to do yoga in bare fee, otherwise you slide around and can hurt yourself. Cold feet! I might try to do it inside, but my apartment is so tiny I don't know where I'll find space. Hmmm.

I heard you are taking a class at SLCC*. How's that? I remember Cat did a lot of those when she was in high school. Do you have to take the bus down south to campus every day? Or is it just on Saturdays, or what? What are you learning?

Taegu has an Opera Festival every year, and it's going on right now. One of the elders here, Elder Hansen, was studying to be an opera singer before he came on his mission, so the Stake Young Women are having an activity to learn about opera from him. Then afterwards we're doing a Halloween party. There isn't Halloween in Korea, so the missionaries have to do it themselves. I'm going to be a pirate. Even as a missionary, I refuse to miss dressing up for Halloween.

I love you and miss you! Sugohaseyo! (This means "please work very hard")


*SLCC: local community college, about 3 miles south of the high school.

to Bug, 10/19/09

RoseE writes:

"Dear Bug,

Is it showing yet at home? It's windy and sunny here. I'm at a lake outside a city called Gumi--we and some elders made a special trip out here to spend the day with the branch president and his family. We went up to the oldest temple in Korea to eat PB&Js and see all the leaves changing color. There was also a big bell, the kind you hit from the outside instead of swinging it. Sister Pak wasn't supposed to ring it, but she did anyway, very softly, and it made a big, soft, deep GONG sound that made my bones feel all tickley and itchy. Then we drove down through the rice fields, which are bright, bright yellow because the rice is almost ready to harvest, to this lake, where the elders are fishing. Or trying to. They're not catching anything as far as I can see. It's really windy down here, so we sisters, the branch president's wife, and the kids are hanging out in the car.

This is the last week of the transfer--on Friday night we'll get The Calls telling us who has to move. I think my roommate Sister Ii Yeong Bin will be leaving, because she's been in Taegu a long time. We'll see.

I love you! Don't grow up too fast.


Monday, October 26, 2009


RoseE writes:

"Dear Mum and Dad,

I'm glad to hear that Bug is still alive and cancer-free. This news is joyous to my soul.
(actually the expression on our faces when we found the camera)

If I know Dad, he's getting Bug a wheelchair at Disneyworld so that he can have an extra line shortcut. Maybe one for himself, too, if the coughing gets much worse. Awww, I miss random for-the-heck-of-it Dad trips. We tried to do a random for-the-heck-of-it trip to Pusan today, to hit Nampodong market, but the Zone Leaders said no soap so we proved them wrong by CLEANING OUR APARTMENT but HARDCORE. I've been scrubbing at the kitchen whenever I get a chance (we have a fruit fly issue), but even now, after all that and two hours of intense black-sludge-getting-rinsed-out-of-my-washrag labor, it still needs so much work. The bathroom looks much better, though, thanks to Sis. Pak. Even the broken sink faucet is shiny and sparkly. And I found muffin tins in the gook under the sink, so I can make muffin-shaped muffins now.

All this cleaning was mostly because of the transfer calls. The verdict is in: Sis. Pak and I are staying, so I'm in Taegu at least until the first week of December. Sister Ii Yeong Bin is out, and Sister Pak Se Ra is training the new Korean sister. And we thought it would be a bit traumatic to come in after training day to our tiny grubby apartment in the state it's in. So it's in a better state now. And it's full of food; Sis. Pak got a box this week, not from her family, but from a soon-to-be-baptized investigator from back in Sujeong ward. An enormous box, full of ramen, snacks, and new shoes. Yeah. Everyone thinks that this is a decidedly flirty move, and he is single as far as we know, so perhaps it's a good thing that Sis Pak's staying up here and not getting transfered back down to Pusan . . .

Last night we got to teach the first lesson to Sister Gu Yeong Eh's niece, which was lovely. I like teaching a lot better than prostelyting: I feel energized and positive when teaching, whereas I feel like I want to throw up when prostelyting. Yeah, still scared to death of that. Sigh.

Other news . . . I'm having to remember everything cold-turkey, because I left my 'news' list at home . . . um . . . Well, we're tea
ching Hyeoh Un lesson 4 now, Commandments, and getting her ready to be baptized probably some time in the coming transfer. Between her, and Hyeon Ji (the above-mentioned niece), and the truckload of referals we got from Church Headquarters (we think they're from Temple Square at conference time, 'cuz a bunch of us got a LOT), we've got a lot of work to do. Which is good. I don't like having no work to do; my mind wanders and I get sulky.

Halloweeen's on Saturday, and Sis. Pak and I are putting the Halloween party together. Mad schemes are underway for 'bobbed apples' and a 'sacrace race' (I couldn't correct these because they were just too adorable) and a haunted house on the second floor of the chapel. As we were planning it, we got ourselves pretty well creeped out, so we figure it's gonna be hard to go wrong. Halloween decorations are thin on the ground over here, but we found a bunch of plastic cardboard-y stuff that the remodeling place 'round the corner doesn't want, and I'm brushing up my kleenex-ghost-making skills. More updates to follow.

Um, what else . . . oh, there was a Fireside on Friday night that the Missionaries had nothing to do with as far as planning or implimentation goes, which is quite novel. We did perform "I'll Go Where You Want Me To Go"* and "Called To Serve,"** and Elder Son Oo Shik played "Come, Come, Ye Saints"*** on his okaraina (traditional Korean flute, kind of like the little ceramic turtle-flutes you sometimes see . . . it's got a lovely sound). A girl in another ward who's leaving for the MTC today (serving in Anaheim) was nearly made to perform with us at the last minute, but mercy prevailed, and she was only made to bear her testimony. A good collection of investigators came from all over Taegu, and there was strusel bread from Paris Baguette afterward, so everybody wins.

Um . . . and . . . well, the straps broke on my black shoes this week, so (after several futile repair attempts) I cut'em off and now have a brand new-looking-sort-of pair of shoes. It's variety. They're really standing up to ten months of abuse astonishingly well.

Um, I really think that's most of the news for this week. So I'll quit typing here and go work on picture sending/backup.

. . .

I love you! Which is why I'm teaching you ㅗ, which is O, like the name of the letter. So now you can say 모모, which is Korean for 'bla bla bla' and also conveniently the name of a flying lemur who chatters but cannot talk.
Kiore on the Train to Gumi

Making kimchi at Jin Jang Hi's house

View from the mountain we climbed


** "Called To Serve" LDS Hymns # 249

*** "Come, Come Ye Saints" LDS Hymns #30

to Auntie Cat, 26 October '09

RoseE writes:

"Dear Auntie Cat,

Gosh! You're such a faithful correspondent and I've been simply atrocious about getting back to you. I'm going to work on repenting of that. You are an astonishingly forgiving person.

At any rate, thank you so much for the newsy emails! I love hearing what's going on with you and your family. Is the pipe-and-drum performance season pretty much over, or do you still have gigs into the fall and winter? Have you and Mom yet concocted another plan for one to visit the other sometime soon?

I don't think I told you (but maybe I did and I forgot) that in the small jewelry collection that came with me to Korea is the necklace I made from one of the shells we found out at the beach that one time. It's a white shell with little touches of tan at the edges, and it looks great with dark tops--and as all my blazer-like things are black or gray, I've been wearing it a lot. Cold weather = black jacket = shell necklace. And it's gonna get colder before all's said and done. I'm staying in Taegu (way inland) at least until December, so I'm probably going to get fairly well chilled before either the weather warms up or President transfers me down to Masan on the south coast. But that's okay. I'm from Minnesota. I can take any weather Korea cares to dish out.

In other news, well . . . last night we were given the opportunity (on very short notice . . . this is the kind of surprise I like) to teach our member friend's niece the message of the Restoration. I think that spending an evening talking about Heavenly Father and prophets and apostles and eternal families, with a small fuzzy dog curled up on your lap, to someone who wants to listen, is my new favorite activity. We get so few opportunities to really teach like that, but I think that those experiences are the only things that really give me energy. It's so easy to get really tired and frustrated when you spend all day trying to talk to people who don't want to listen. (Both my companion and I are still scared to death of talking to people on the street, she because she's a Korean woman [Korean women generally don't speak to strangers--it's not polite] and me because I have all the communication skills of a fairly well-trained bottlenose dolphin.) But when we get a chance to teach somebody, suddenly we both feel like a million bucks (well, 1 billion won, in Sister Pak's case) and like all the work is worth it and anything's possible. I wish I could feel like that all the time. I'm working on it. Study more, pray harder, love less selfishly, and work-work-work. They tell me this does wonders.

I love you. Thank you so much for your love and support and prayers, and for all the good you do down south there. You're an amazing, loving, wonderful person, full of faith and energy, and if I could be more like you I would be very well pleased.


Monday, October 19, 2009

Second Box from Korea

We received the box RoseE mentioned in her email earlier today. Here, finally, are the pictures of the contents of the box. Sorry for the blurriness. This camera doesn't do close-ups well.

1) Little red baby booties. Sister Anderson, who serves in the office, is learning to knit and made them for all the younger sisters' trousseaus*. I don't think I have a trousseau.

2) Some "thank-you" New Zealand chocolate from Sister Matthews.

3) Some more Fanta shakers, as per Bug's request.

4) Chalduck Pies. This is the much-talked-of "duck," filled with red bean (I lied: it's more like chocolate) and dipped in chocolate.

5) Pineapple cookies. Joyous to my soul. Not for Dad.**

6) DVDs! Korea is the Tortuga of DVDs. These are MINE and they are PRECIOUS, so if you want to watch them, TAKE GOOD CARE OF THEM OR I WILL KILL YOU!

7) A book, which was a present from Brother Cho Jung Gol when I transferred. (He just got called to the Elder's Quorum Presidency. Yaay!) I can't read it right now, so it's going home.

I'll add the pictures later. Stay tuned.


*I think she means a hope chest. A trousseau is for your honeymoon, containing a traveling suit, a negligee, a swimsuit, etc; a hope chest is for when you get home and set up house. It has things like tablecloths, napkins, quilts, sheets, beeswax candles, silver spoons, and baby layettes and booties. Stuff like that.

**Dad is allergic to pineapple.

to Todd, dated 10/12/09

RoseE writes:

"Dear Dad,

Behold the first page of the "military" section of the stationary pad. I'm going to be in it for a while. Inasmuch as 2 years' military service is required of all Korean men, there's a big "writing-to-your-army-boyfriend" niche. (Sister Jung Min Hee's military boyfriend just Dear Jane'd her . . . or possibly she Dear Johned him; I didn't pry . . . but in honor of the occasion she cut her hair short. It was an admirable gesture of strength and defiance, and she looks great, so we all have high hopes she'll get through this okay.)

I like your mission goals*. I haven't baptized anybody, and probably won't, but we did teach and see baptized Bro Cho Sung Gol, which I think fulfills the requirement. (I've heard both that he's been called as Elder's Quorum 2nd Counselor and that he's gone inactive, both from uncertain sources . . . either way, I'm in Taegu and he's in Pusan, so if he needs help some other missionaries will have to give it.) Senior I think I'll have to be someday, because all those sisters older than me are dying in December, and when that happens, the language will come because it has to. Lofty goals are all well and good, but there's something to be said for just getting the blessings you truly need, and not the ones that "will make people say "Wow--what a great missionary!" when you get home. I don't think I want to be great. Even being good is quite enough to be shooting for right now. We'll see.

I love you.


*Todd's mission goals: 1) perform a baptism; 2) become senior companion; 3) learn the language

The Lord Watches Over Missionaries

RoseE writes:

"Dear Mum and Dad,

STOP THE PRESSES! The camera's back. Yeah. Like, fifth degree miracle (if 1 is a little miracle, on the miracle scale that I made up just right now). It's back, it's fine, it was rescued by the little old man who runs the watch store and Sis Pak (much more in tune with the Spirit than myself) was directed right to him to ask about the camera. On my exact nine-months-out anniversary. MIRACLE in big letters. I'd tell you all about it but I have SEVEN MINUTES to write this e-mail because Gosh Dang Elder Ii Son Gi dragged us all out to Gumi today, which was fun, but not at the expense of my e-mail time. Rrrrgh.

So top of the list: I got a letter bounced back this week sent to a one Madame Felicia Marshall, my punk ex-roommate who seems to have moved. If word should by any chance come to you, through, say, a former roommate who is reading the blog, of where Felicia lives now so I can send her her dang letter, please pass it along.

It up'n got cold! I've gotten out my old cordoroy jacket, and am thinking about running the green coat to the dry cleaners--it's been suitcased for a long time.

Hyeoh Un is working towards getting baptized. Her mom is utterly okay with this, which is very weird to me, because, as we all know, Mormons are a devilcult. But hey, whatever works. Her little brother Dong Oo sat in on our lesson this week, and listened to the whole thing, which is a remarkable feat for a six-year-old to accomplish of his own free will.

We found a less-active member this week who got baptized some twenty years ago and has since become a teacher in another church, and who Bible-bashed us freely for some two solid hours. Sister Pak was a saint through the whole ordeal. It is hard . . . it is SO hard not to fight about doctrine with someone who is trying to provoke you into it. I mean, it's easy for me, 'cuz I can't say much of anything, but hard for Sister Pak, who was made to feel like crap because she doesn't know the Book of Revelation backwards and forwards. But she stayed calm, kept the Spirit, and held to her testimony of the Restoration and the Book of Mormon. That's all we can do. We were both emotionally drained by the time we got out of there, but somehow felt like really good missionaries . . . rejoicing that we were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name, I guess. And rejoicing that the roommates had ice cream and sympathy when we got home.

Okay, Sis. Pak says I've got fifteen minutes more than I thought I had, so that's good. No pictures this week 'cuz I'm e-mailing at the train station where the USB jacks don't work. But I will (VERY SOON) be BACKING UP MY MIRACULOUSLY RETURNED PHOTOS and hopefully sending a copy home for safekeeping. So let me fill in the camera story here.

We were walking past the fateful bus stop where I set the camera down in a moment of abstraction and never saw it again, and the bench where we'd been sitting was being mopped by a little old man. And Sis Pak stopped dead and told me, "You should ask him about your camera." So I did. And then Sis Pak translated what I said, because old people can't understand my Korean. And this little old man grumbled a bit, set down his mop, hobbled across the sidewalk to the watch repair shop where we put money on our bus cards, opened a back cupboard, and . . . there it was. Not a scratch. And he just handed it to me and that was that. Well, that wasn't that . . . there was a lot of gasping and bowing and thanks and screaming and crying and prayer on my part. But the camera and all the pictures are safe. So if Grama wants that $50 back (much thanks to her, by the way) she would be quite justified. I'm refunding Elder Overmeyier the 'sympathy cookie' he gave me. I'd refund y'all sympathy cookies, but . . .

By the bye, I slow-boated a box home about two months ago, so it should be getting in any day. Tell me when it gets through, if you would, please.

I am praying for Great-Grama.*

We do get the Ensign; we'll be okay on that.**

Good luck on Bug's surgery***; please remember that those recovering from surgical procedures are entitled to get their way about everything all the time.

I love you all! I'm gonna go look at pictures now. Oh, and please tell Cat Wilson I've been downright evil about not writing her back, but I'll remedy that next week, 'pon my soul. Oh, and next week's transfer days, so the die will once again be cast.

Today you get to learn the consonant ㅣ, which says E (like the name of the letter). So you can say 미, which is the second syllable of my Korean name.

Love you!


*Rose Olsen, aged 95 3/4, still kickin' and crackin' jokes with the best of them in Montana, but starting to fail.

**General Conference reports, printed in the November Ensign.

**Small Brother has a tumor on the top of his left femur. It is being surgically removed on 10/22.