"Dear Grandma and Grandpa, (with Korean Characters)
One of the things that make Korean so hard is that it is a SOV language. All Languages are classified by how they arrange their sentences' subjects, objects, and verbs. English, Spanish and French are all Subject-Verb-Object languages, the most common kind. In Korean, the verb always comes at the end of the sentence, and it's packed with information. There's the verb itself, and then you tack on syllables to indicate that you want to do this thing, or can't or won't do it, or are in the process of doing it, and when you're doing it, and if the person you're talking about outranks you, and then you wrap the whole thing up with a sentence marker that tells the person you're talking to exactly how much you respect them. So most of your sentences addressed to any particular person will all end with the same sound. Which is why Koreans don't understand why rhyming is such a big deal in English - their language rhymes naturally, all the time. It's really quite pretty.
So add all that information to Joseph Smith's writing style, in which every sentence goes on for half a column and achieves a level of intricacy that makes most professional wordsmiths weep with envy, and you will understand why memorizing the First Vision in Korean is no mean feat. It feels a little like waltzing backwards while standing on your hands. (Not that either waltzing or standing on your hands is permitted at the MTC)
All the Japanese missionaries are endlessly grateful they don't have to learn Korean. We Koreans are all grateful we don't have to learn Finnish. And the Finns get to have Alma 31:18* all to themselves. (I'm just teasing; we love the Finns.) Korean actually makes a lot of sense when you get used to it - much more than English. It's kind of like switching from Windows to Mac. It's so well-organized and user-friendly that it's absolutely incomprehensible when you're used to nothing making sense.
Sorry for the page-long rant on Korean; it's been a long day of studying.
Anyway, Sister Bergeson says she's glad her brother did so well in his talk, and Elder Gygi, when I mentioned the ice cream, launched into Hank** ice-cream stories that would probably have lasted half and hour if our teacher hadn't insisted that he focus.
Focus has become a problem for us lately. We're six weeks in and we're going a little stir crazy. I'm trying to stay on task - my teacher, Brother Thiel (pronounce 'teal', like the color) told us that it's easy to spot the missionaries who goofed off in the MTC once they get to the field. I don't want to carry that stigma. No way. So I'm trying to keep my language goals really high and then meet them. I'm also reading the Book of Mormon in Korean, one painstaking sylable at a time, because I've been assured that missionaries who accomplish this have noticeably better accents and stronger reading skills.
We're expecting two new districts of Americans next Wednesday, and one of Koreans two week after that, so by the time I leave we'll be back up to ten Korean-speaking stisters. Right now the only Korean missionaries in the MTC are the ones who came in with me, and we seem to be very few in number. The Japanese are moving in on our territory in the cafeteria. Hopefully our reinforcements will rectify this situation.
Well, I have now written a very long, if not particularly interesting letter, and it's time for me to go to bed. Love you!
Ha den Cha Mei
It took me nearly a week to get that last letter out, so you get another page to answer your questions. Hopefully you've received the letter on Elder Gygi by the time you get this, and you are hinting to Heather and Hank that they should write to him, since he gets very little mail and deserves much more.
How's language? It's good. We taught in Korean for the first time on Saturday, which was stressful. But we made it through. The whole zone is going to speak only Korean from Wednesday to Saturday this week. Everyone else calls this (Korean Characters), English fast, but I call it super (Korean Characters) Korean, because A. That's what we call it at camp***, so it's what I'm used to, and B. It's too easy for me to cheat with French, and English-and French fast is not a catchy title.
We heard from our very first Twelve this week: Elder Ballard. He talked about his experiences managing PR for the Church during the Romney# campaign, and about what the world doesn't know about us but needs to. He was wearing a gray suit. I've never seen a member of the Twelve in a gray suit. He also told us that Elder Bednar can't conduct music to save his life.
Interesting things about my fellow missionaries...well, Elder Gygi once had a dream about camels that scarred him for life. Elder Kerrigan tried to bear his testimony to a Korean Temple Square sister and ended up asking her if she was handsome, and somebody in our zone can suck a spaghetti noodle up his nose and spit it out of his mouth. I've never looked long enough to find out who. No one in my district.
The Korean sisters, along with our older sisters, are all settled in Korea by now. They took an unbelievable number of strange and wacky pictures before they left.
The food is good. Except for the noodle thing. We have a box of junk food from packages that lives under our bedroom window, and the thing is like the basket of bread that fed the 5000...no matter how much we eat, it's never empty. I am not sure if this counts as a miracle.
Anyway, I will finally mail this letter.
*Alma 31:18 "And again we thank thee, O God, that we are a chosen and a holy people. Amen" This is part of a prayer that a people called the Zoramites said by rote every day from their church. They were a very prideful people, definitely uppity and they treated all those whom they felt to be beneath them accordingly, which included the prophet at that time, Alma. They were very surprised to get their come-uppance little later in the book, but you'll have to read it to find out how.
I'm afraid RoseE is teasing her fellow missionaries here.
** Henry "Hank" Hurren, RoseE's uncle
***Concordia College International Language Camps in Northern Minnesota. Specifically Lac du Bois, http://www.concordialanguagevillages.org/newsite/Languages/french1.php the French Camp that RoseE attended at a camper for 3 years and as a counselor for 5 years.
# Marion G. Romney, member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, died in 1988, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marion_G._Romney