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Sunday, April 26, 2009

4/26/09 RoseE Eats Lots of Deijigukbap and Wears Pants

RoseE writes:

"Dearest Mum,

Okay, first off, Dear Dad. I wrote you a letter last P-Day but mailed it today because my companion did not have any letters to mail and I didn't say anything because I didn't want to make her make a special trip to the post office. (Non-confronational? Me? What would make you think such a thing?) But it's in the mail and I'm writing you another because I got your list of fifty billion questions and I am answering them all to the best of my knowledge.

Okay, end of aside. In logistical news, I am planning to call home on my Mothers' Day, which is your Day-Before-Mothers'-Day. It will probably be either at about two-thirty in the afternoon or about 9:30 at night; we're not sure yet. Please tell me what is going on that day so Sis. Mont and I can plan accordingly.

And . . . there are no pictures today because I forgot my dumb connector cord. I'm sorry!

Anyway, here's the News of Korea. The weather continues to be lovely, although we had our first good downpour of rain. Apparently the entire month of August is going to be like that. Hold onto your hats.

This weekend, the missionaries put on a travelling show. About a month ago, somebody had the idea to do a musical fireside and perform it at several wards in Pusan. The idea was enthusiastically accepted and promptly forgotten about until this week, when we suddenly went into a frenzy of emergency planning. I have spent a LOT of time cutting out and gluing together flyers, programs, and the like. Sister Hill and Sister Pak had to spend hours correcting the time on the flyers their elders had printed out. But it was all completely worth it! Saturday night we performed in Heyoundae ward (once again, spelling? Um?) after tracting and handing out flyers for two solid hours. (Have I mentioned that I'm scared to death of tracting? Absolutely paralyzed. Slam-bang missionary, me.) A lot of members came, and we sang for them, which was nice, and also some inactives with whom Hill and Pak chamenimdur have been working, and . . . one other person. One little grandma in a pink jacket to whom I had given a flyer. I made Sister Pak talk to her, because I couldn't, and just stood there grinning my face off. The little grandma made me eat refreshments. It was funny.

Then on Sunday we performed in Sujeong ward. Remember Sujeong ward? Our struggling little po-dunk ward with so many inactives? WELL. There were more people at our fireside than there had been at Sacrament Meeting. Gu Un Yeong, this DARLING inactive sister that I just love, stood up and bore testimony about Christ being the light of the world and just waxed eloquent on the topic for a good fifteen minutes. And most exciting of all, Kim Seon Yae came! And her husband! And her son! Kim Seon Yae has been meeting with the missionaries since time immemorial, learning English and the gospel, but she's very solidly ensconced in her own church and our predacessors were considering just not meeting with her anymore. But the past two weeks, her husband has come to her lessons with her, and he has so many wonderful questions ... it's easy to see he's paying attention and is interested in what we're teaching. And they and their son came to the fireside! Kim Seon Yae has NEVER come to a church ANYTHING before. She has flat-out refused. But all the members introduced themselves and were so nice (YES!) and she totally made friends with Gu Un Yeong (Hill Chameniem has been trying to introduce these two women since forever) and . . . yaay! And there were other investigators there and other inactives and then after the program everybody just hung out and chatted and met people. I just wanted to scream with satisfaction. We may bring this ward back to life yet. And I was totally just chatting my head off with everybody like I actually speak Korean or something. And then on the subway going home the man sitting next to me just started asking about my Book of Mormon, and I taught him (and the woman sitting on my other side) the first lesson, and got his contact information, and someone else on the other side of the car came over and took the pamphlet I'd pulled out of the Book of Mormon in order to show the pictures. Oh, my blessed gosh, it's like I'm actually a freakin' missionary or something.

No joke: this week at our regular meeting with the Yeonsan Ward Mission Leader, he (the ward mission leader) turned and asked me how I thought the work was going in Yeonsan. And I answered that the work was going well, that with Sister Montgomery in this ward it can't help but be strong and growing and happy and loved, and that she's working her butt off (which she is) to bring the Spirit into people's lives. When I finished saying this, he turned to Sister Montgomery and said (basically; I only caught a little) "Three weeks ago, she couldn't speak Korean. Remember?" Then he looked at me and said, in English, "Miracle."

The other big joy of this week is that I GOT TO WEAR PANTS. The bishop of Heyoundae ward is the custodian of all the church buildings in Pusan (that's his job) and he called us all out to help clean Sujeong and Yeonsan. So on Tuesday, we wore pants ALL DAY, to clean, and then to work on making fireside flyers. And then on Thursday we wore pants all morning to clean. Oh, good gosh, I nearly cried, I was so happy. I love pants.

The other thing I love is telling stories. I am an evil corrupting influence: I have gotten my companion hooked on Doctor Who. While we were cleaning, we didn't have anything to talk or think about really, so I just started telling the first episode. Aaaaaaaand now we're hooked. (I am only telling them at night after planning is done, I swear.) (And on P-Day.) (And we're making gospel parallels.)

This week, we ate deijigukbap three days in a row. This is a very yummy soup -- a broth with pork and vegetables in it, into which you mix gochujang (spicy pepper paste) and the little salty shrimp and some vegetable that looks and tastes just like grass and of course rice. It is very good. We ate it with the Elders on Tuesday, and with the bishop and the other cleaning missionaries on Wednesday, and with the Stake Relief Society Presidency on Thursday. So we're a little deijigukbaped out. Then on Friday we visited the Yeonsan mission leader's inactive wife (who was SO glad to see us, by the way . . . she's so lonely) and she asked me what Korean foods I really like. And the only thing that sprang to mind was . . .

I think I may have doomed us to more deijigukbap in the near future.

Today we CLEANED OUR APARTMENT. That is SO GOOD. And we cleaned out of our fridge all the tupperwares full of leftover food from member meals, so the fridge is not threatening to develop a new and independent civilization anymore. And we got a new toilet seat, because our old one would slip into the toliet if you sat on it and wedge itself in there, so you couldn't sit on it, which is kind of the point of a toilet seat. So we got a new one, and I installed it because I am clever like that, and now we can actually sit on our toilet, which is joyous to our souls.

Also root beer. A member family smuggled some to Sisters Hill and Pak this week. Yaaay!

Maman, I am so sorry you lost your camera. Any hope of recovery? I think I would die without my camera. IN addition to using it to take touristy pictures, I am using it to learn members' names (I take their picture and then make them say their names into the voice memo recorder . . . genius or what?) and using it as a portable map. When we need to find someone's house, we just take a picture of the page it's on in the map book in high-resolution instead of hauling the whole map book around all day. Clever me!

And I've got to go develop some pictures so that I can send them to people so they remember what I look like, which is good. So here endeth the epistle for today, I guess. I love you all! Be good!

Oh, and if you're ever hungry and looking for a quick and easy meal, make a Ramen Cup-of-Noodles, eat the noodles, and then put rice and kimchi in the broth and eat it. Good stuff.

Oh, and I have to tell you about mungus! I keep forgetting. Mungus are stationery stores in Korea. They sell fifty billion kinds of pens, and lots of silly notebooks with melodramatic and often-gramatically-lacking English on them, and all sorts of bizarre and delightful stationery. And it's all dirt-cheap. Mungus are like Disneyland. My new scripture notebook has a different dreamy-looking cartoon girl (often accompanied by butterflies) on every page. I also have a tiny notebook whose cover announces "I Want to stay with you and look at you for a very long time" (capitalization and punctuation as in the original). They are fun.

And THAT's the end. I promise.

Love and all that jazz!!!


Oh, PS: Bethe, apparently they eat whale in Ulsan. I don't know where that is."

Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Long-Lost Letter to Emily

13 April ‘09

Dear Em

Your sparkly card was completely appropriate because all clothes in Korea are sparkly. All of them. Respectable grown-up businessmen wear sparkling neckties. Often pink.

It is so different and scary here. Also different and wonderful. Also the same and scary and wonderful. And everything that I need to do and know and be is all so overwhelming. I feel like I need to learn and do everything at once.

Thankfully, Sister Montgomery is a wonderful companion. She’s very patient and works very hard and genuinely loves the people she’s serving and the work she’s doing. This week has been hard on her because a lot of the people she wanted to teach “punked” us (didn’t show up to appointments, or cancelled them, or in one case just flat-out told us not to come anymore) and I can see it just breaks her heart.

I love your C.S. Lewis reference. In Conference yesterday, Elder Dallin H. Oaks, one of the Apostles, quotes C.S. Lewis about how the history of the world is one long string of people trying (and failing) to find something other than God that will make them happy. I tell ya, C.S. Lewis was a freakin’ genius. So even though right now I think that a day on my couch at home watching Avatar and Heroes would make me happy, I know it wouldn’t. Because God needs me to be working right now, and if I let Him down I will regret it for the rest of the life. Plus I’ll never get to go back to the mokyotang. (You HAVE to try the mokyotang.)

Yes, you are way ahead of me in the BoM – but I am reading steadily, and understanding more all the time, so watch yourself. I really liked your question* – it was something I’d never thought about before. I think the Nephite people had a different leap of faith to take than their counterparts in Jerusalem. They were never going to see His mortal ministry. In fact, it was a leap of faith to believe there even was such a place as Jerusalem, after a few years. The prophets all teach the same gospel, but they teach it according to the needs of their people. The Jews needed to not know Christ’s given name – everybody would have been naming their firstborn son Jesus! They couldn’t know that he was going to be born in such-a-year and be 5’7” and have brown eyes . . . they had to recognized him by the Spirit, not by name. The Nephites needed to learn by faith that what He would do on the other side of the world would matter to them. Different leap of faith. Different people. Same gospel. At least, that’s what I think. The gospel according to RoseE.

Bellatrix is an awesome name for a dog. The soap dispensers here are not possessed, but the maps are, and the ATMs, and the public transporation system’s card-swipers.

And my desk. Poor desk. Oh, and pens.

I need to learn to write smaller. I love you so much!


* I asked why Nephi, etc., knew Jesus’s given name, when the Biblical (Old Testament) prophets were never told His human name, but only His spiritual name, like Emmanuel.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Snail Mail to Todd received 4/22/09

RoseE writes:

"Dear Dad,

I don't know if I've mentioned it, but your letters are the best part of every week. I'm surviving this experience on your advise and your understanding. I keep telling my companion, "Well, my dad says that . . . " and she (and the roommates) always respond, "Yeah, that's exactly right. I wish I'd known that my first transfer."

I know a) that my release is a long way off, and b) that Korea is a long way away, but as I walk around Pusan I keep noting off things I want to show you if you come out here. It'll be so weird to be somewhere where I know the city's public transportation system and general layout better than you do! (I probably don't though. I'm still as lost as lost can be most of the time, and 5,000 [unit of money, I guess] says you're spending your time at work learning the Busan subways and what to see, as well as the whole history of Korea from beginning to end.)

Saturday night I ate a clove of garlic. Just a clove. Raw. With a dip made from some kind of fermented soy sauce. Like it was a vegetable or something. Also, tiny salty shrimp are a condiment here. Like salt. Only shrimpier.

What is North Korea doing? We haven't had any news since we got here. You'd think it would be easy to get news about North Korea when you're living in South Korea, but it is not. Nobody talks about North Korea. It is like South Korea's embarrassing delinquent cousin. So did they launch their ICBM satellite thing, or what?

Here are some things I was glad I knew how to do before I got here:

1. Eat with chopsticks.
2. Use a subway.
3. Walk fast, all day.
4. Parallel the gospel to strange and memorable things.
5. Obtain clean drinking water.
6. Use a map and a compass.
7. Eat spicy things, especially kimchi.
8. Pack light.
9. Explore.
10. Know when and how to bend the rules, and why to keep them.
11. Eat well on $10 a day.

Please tell mom (cuz I forgot to email it) that I am way excited about the hanbok* pattern!!** I keep staring at hanboks in shop windows.

I love you


* hanbok: native dress of Korea, consisting of a floor-length full dress with a high waistline and a short jacket like unto those that Elizabeth Bennet wears in the A&E Pride & Prejudice.

** RoseE was always telling me never to use more than one exclamation point, as it is gramatically incorrect. So she must really be excited about this, putting two here.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Rice In Many Disguises and The Dangers of Sucking on Pens

RoseE writes:

"Dear Everybody:

Bethe: I like potato skins, too. I don't know why they don't eat them. Yes, there are dragons in Korea--I've seen a few on posters and things but I don't know much about them. It has been beautiful in Korea since I got here. This is my first real rainy day, and it is very pretty. It's not stormy, just cool and damp and silver-gray.

They use some Chinese characters here in Korea--they are called hanja here. I don't know if that's what they call them in China. Lots of people have hanja notes on their doors, wishing for good luck in the springtime. This week Sister Montgomery and I were trying to find an apartment building, but we weren't sure if it was the right one because the name on the side of the building was written in hanja! Korean people are so amazing. They can read hanja AND hangul (that's Korean writing) AND roman (English and French--a lot of things are written in French, too). Some of the missionaries have learned a few hanja, but I don't know any. You know a lot more than I do!

I have not had any duck or fish yet, but all down the streets there are little fish stores with tanks of fish (or eels or enormous crabs) sticking out into the street. And there is this stuff that is CALLED duck but is actually rice. It is chewy, like sort of old gummy candy, but you eat it in spicy sauces like tofu. It's like rice tofu, I guess. They also serve it in little balls with sweet red bean paste (called "pot") in the middle. I do not think anybody eats whale here. At least, they have not served me any.

Dad: I am getting your letters! The one you sent before I left the MTC got held up a bit, but I got it last night. Snail mail takes . . . um . . . maybe a week? I have a letter here from Emily postmarked the 10th of April, and I got it a few days ago. It goes to the mission home and then gets sorted by . . . um, some missionary leadership of some kind . . . who give it to us when we and they and the letters happen to be in the same place at the same time. The Korean mail system is great--the Korean Missionaries' mail system leaves something to be desired. But it costs about as much for me to send a letter from Korea to the States as it did for me to send a letter down the block in America, so I'm happy. But yes . . . I love your letters, and keep reading them to everybody because they're just so good and comforting and helpful. Did you get mine yet? I sent it out maybe Tuesday of last week.

Teancum: Rock ON with the fencing! That is SO cool! I bet it's hard and scary to be with new people who have been practicing longer than you, but hang on and be brave. It is so cool. Plus I want to learn the word for 'fencing' so I can tell everybody my little brother does it.

Barney: Whatever. I bet you cried, you just won't admit it. Our district Elders all cried.

Mom: I am now carrying around the hanbok pattern advertisement in my photo album so when I see women wearing them on the subway (this is pretty normal--they're standard garb for weddings) I can explain to them that I love hanboks and am going to make one, which is why I am staring at them.

Thank you so much for taking care of my taxes. I really appreciate it. It is a huge load off my mind.

Oh, Bethe Again: "Doctor Who" in Korean is (maybe) 누구의사님. Or maybe just 덕터후. The first one actually _says_ "Doctor Who" and the second one just sounds like it.

Mom again: Um . . . I'm so tempted to ask for both [emails and snail mail]. I think I like best getting e-mails from you and snail mails from Dad.

Yeah, I was SOOO tired in that picture. I'd been sound asleep on the floor about thirty seconds before it was taken. I'm doing much better now, though; jet lag didn't hit me all that badly. It makes a lot of missionaries sick for weeks. I AM feeling sick, but I will explain why in a minute.

So, news from Korea.

This week, Sister M and I took the whole huge member list for 수정 (Sujeong) ward and organized it by "Gu" (um . . . suburb, maybe?) and "Dong" (neighborhood within a gu . . . some of them are still pretty big). We did this by chopping up the member list, sorting the strips into piles, and copying them out BY HAND on a new list. This took us six and a half hours. Not broken up over several days--just six and a half hours of sitting perfectly still and copying it out. (Ah, Microsoft Excel . . . how little I appreciated you.)

I'm not sure if the pictures are coming through . . . I'll try to send them again, to make sure.
Anyway, the one is of me, after I had broken my pen and sucked on the tip to try to get the ink started again. I turned my lips, teeth, and tongue black and swallowed a lot of ink.

The other one is of my kimbap. Kim is seaweed and bap is rice, and kimbap is what I eat pretty much every day. You can get a triangle like the one here for 700 won . . . maybe 50 cents? It's not like sushi, because all the fillings are cooked. (They make some of it with tuna salad inside . . . yum!) But yeah, I loves da kimbap. I eat it all the time. When I'm not eating duck (made of rice) or any snack crackers (made of rice) or drinking this sweet, thin creamy gray beverage (I think it's similar to rice milk, which I have never had, but it's made of rice and people make it at home) or writing on paper (some of which is made from rice). Or eating chewy moon-pie like things filled with peanut stuff and covered in chocolate, but made predominantly of . . . you guessed it . . . rice).

Yesterday I ate SO much rice. And other stuff. Because after lunch the elders decided they were going to make lunch for us, so they popped back to their apartment to get a truckload of spicy rice (like jambalaya) and ramen (Korean Ramen is better than American ramen). And while they were gone, a member brought us like twenty rolls of kimbap. Enough to feed ten people. So we ate some kimbap, and then we ate some jambalaya, and then we ate some ramen (HUGE bowls of Ramen . . . elder Kim Sur Gi, who made it, gave us these puppy dog eyes of "you don't like my ramen?" when I tried to eat just a little bit, so I ate it all). And then we sisters went to visit a less-active member and her SO CUTE daughter, and they fed us ice cream and tomatoes (yeah, go figure). And THEN we and all the elders went to dinner at a member's house (the same member who fed us hot vegetable juice earlier) and ate kibimbap -- rice with like sprouts and cucumber and gochujang (spicy pepper paste), plus soup, plus roast chicken and potatoes and of course all the usual fixins' of three different kinds of kimchi and the fried vegetable cakes and something that looks like opaque gray jell-o (I haven't worked up the nerve to try it yet) and anchovies and . . .

Oh, dear heavens, I never wanted to eat again. I woke up this morning and I was still full. I couldn't even think about breakfast. I feel like the goose they're making into foie gras . . . because you've got to eat it, you just have to, or you will break the hearts of your sweet members and they will probably go inactive because the missionaries were so rude to them about their food. I'm not exagerating. At all. As Dave Barry says, I swear I am not making this up.

But this week we had a baptism in Sujeong! A teenage boy the Elders have been teaching got baptized . . . bless him. Elder Routson, one of my MTC fellows, got to baptize him. He said the prayer veeeery slowly and carefully . . . but he got it just right. It was really cool. A good number of folks turned up, including some friends of members who are not members themselves (yaay!) and we all stood around the refreshment table and had refreshments. Really. I kept waiting for people to move down the line so I could get some food, and they never did. Everybody just circled the table and ate what was there. So I shouldered my way in and had some strawberries. Then we all went into the gym and played various forms of dodgeball for a couple of hours.

I love Sujeong ward. I love all their faithful active members. Sis. M. and I are resolved to visit every single less-active in this ward if it kills us, which it might, because they are legion. But this ward deserves to be stronger and bigger and happier and healthier than it currently is.

And . . . that's my time. I'll have to try this again next week. Letters are coming for Grandma and Grandpa, Thora, and Emily, though of course when they will get there heaven only knows.

I love you all and I miss you so much. Be wonderful members! Bear your testimonies! Don't go inactive! Love and serve the people in your wards! If the missionaries bring someone to sacrament meeting, just Love That Person to Death, please!

And drink lots of water and always brush your teeth and be careful crossing busy streets.



Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Address Correction

Please note the address correction for RoseE:

Sister RoseE Hadden
Korea Busan Mission
Dong-nae P.O. Box 73
Busan 607-600

Snail Mail from President Jennings dated 4/3/09

President Jennings writes:

"Dear Brother and Sister Hadden,

A few nights ago, Sister Jennings and I had the choice opportunity of meeting your daughter at the airport and welcoming her to Busan. Even though her flight had been very lengthy and she had little chance to sleep, she was still cheerful and smiling.

We have been anticipating her arrival for many months and it was wonderful to finally meet her. We spent two days together and had an opportunity to visit privately together in the Mission Home. We also enjoyed a very spiritual testimony meeting where Sister Hadden bore testimony in the Korean language and expressed her desire to serve the Savior and the Korean people.

Sister Hadden was also able to meet her new companion who is an outstanding missionary and an excellent trainer. We know that they will grow together in service and love as they teach investigators and members in their new area.

Missionary work in the Korea Busan Mission is challenging, but our missionaries find great rewards in serving the Lord here. Sister Hadden will learn much about herself, the gospel, and our Savior as she puts all her heart and strength into this great work.

We are grateful for her willingness and her worthiness to serve. We thank you for preparing her and for sharing her with the Korea Busan Mission. We know that her devoted efforts will richly bless the lives of your family.

We thank you for your support and ask you to write regular encouraging letters to her (Please use this address--Dongnae P.O. Box 73, Busan 607-600. While serving in other areas, mail to this address may be quickly forwarded without additional cost.) We know that as she works with all her heart, might, mind, and strength she will have a most amazing missionary experience. We know you will experience the miracle that is missionary work through your fine daughter and her dilligent efforts.

. . . Sister Jennings and I are honored to stand besides these tremendous young men and women in this sacred calling.

Thank you again for your sacrifice and service. We pray that the Lord will continue to bless you and your family and keep you ever in His watchful care.

Faithfully yours,

Kenneth W. Jennings, Jr.
Korea Busan Mission President"

Blogmom note: Three photos were enclosed, two of which you have already seen; however, I have had little luck in transferring them to digital images, so you'll have to be content with what you have already.

Monday, April 13, 2009

4/13/09 P-Day Email

RoseE writes:

"Dear everybody,

Wow did I have a lot of e-mails today. Thank you! I miss you all so much.

Biggest news of the world is: I saw Cat in Conference! The American missionaries watched the broadcast in English, with swarms of strange Korean snack food and Easter candy from the States. I was watching the choir like a hawk, and then Cat came on and I nearly knocked over the table jumping up and yelling "That's my sister! That's my sister!" I scared the elders half to death, but I don't care. I got to see my sister.

Conference was wonderful and sad. Wonderful, because it was so nice to just sit down and listen to the speakers and think about my own spiritual progression and enjoy hearing the voices of the prophets. We do not have this time in Korea. I have to write a lesson plan in Korean every morning, and that takes my whole study time if not more, so I have not been able to even read the scriptures since I got here. It is hard. I'm trying to find spare seconds to keep going through the new testament and the Book of Mormon in Korean, my two immediate goals. And Jesus the Christ. Man, I want to finish Jesus the Christ. I love that book.

But all my free time this week was eaten by D&C 4. Apparently I was supposed to have shown up knowing D&C 4 in Korean by heart--though I've not yet met a missionary who actually did. So I crammed it down. In a week and a half. The whole thing. Because I want to do something other than memorize D&C 4, so the quicker I get it done the happier I'm going to be.

This was a rough week on the investigator front--most of our scheduled appointments fell through, and one sister that I never got to meet just told us she didn't want us to come anymore. So that was rough. And we invited everybody and their aunt Suzie to conference, and nobody came. *sigh* But on the member front, it was a great week. Pak Eun Keong, an inactive sister who told Sister Hill months ago "I appreciate what you're doing, but I'm not ever going back to church," told us two days ago, "Oh, by the way, I'm coming to church next week." I only saw the end of this miracle, but miracle it certainly was. (Sister Montgomery and Sister Hill were both working in one another's areas last transfer, so they compare notes a lot.) And the members have been feeding us like crazy -- which is good, because I'm still struggling to figure out how to feed myself.

One gentleman from Yeonsan ward took us and our Yeonsan elders to this restaurant where we ate . . . a pig. It was all neatly cut into pieces, but there it was, the whole blessed pig. Including the parts that you just don't eat. We ate. But the craziest part was the rice. They brought the rice out in these stone bowls, absolutely scorching hot. You scoop the rice from the stone bowl into a ceramic one to eat it. And I thought, "Man, they're going to have a heck of a time getting that rice off those stone bowls. I hope they pre-soak them." And then, lo and behold, a waitress came around and poured hot water into each bowl, which I thought was very sensible. We then all put the wooden lids back on our stone bowls and went back to the pig (and the bowls of very spicy, very hot (served boiling) seafood soup). Every now and then someone would take the lid off their stone bowl and scrape some of the soaked-off rice off the side of it. Very considerate, I thought. They'll be easy to wash now.

And then when the pig was done we all ate the hot rice-water. By that time I was beyond caring that I was eating what I'd thought was dishwater, because the soup was so spicy and there was no more drinking water on the table, and I needed Water and Starch and I Didn't Care.

Edibility is all very relative. I have yet to see a Korean eat an apple or a potato with the skin on. They just don't do it. Why on earth would you eat the skin of a potato? Why on erth would you not eat a pig foot?

But everybody is very impressed that I like kimchi. Most Americans assume I am lying about this.

There's a family of recent converts who run a restaurant a few blocks away from the chapel. They are SO sweet. We stopped in to bring them flowers and say hello, and the mom sat us down and gave me a blanket (I don't know why she thought I needed a blanket) and fed us potatoes and strawberries. (We peeled the potatoes.) Saturday night we went to dinner at their restaurant, with like ALL the leadership of Yeonsan ward who'd just got out of priesthood session. It was very Boys' Club; Sister M. and I left early and went home to dye easter eggs with Sisters Hill and Pak Song Hee. Sister Pak had never dyed easter eggs before.

Sis. M's big project is to make a map with all the members of Sujeong ward mapped out on it. This is well-nigh impossible. We need to teach and baptize a postal worker who can help us with locating addresses. Maybe we'll find that one of the inactive members we are trying to find has such a vocation. That would be so nice. We stole from the Sujeong elders a giant map book (you cannot navigate Pusan without a giant map book) to help us in our quest.

Okay, I think I have attached some pictures here. I gave it a shot. Anyway, one's of the room in our apartment where I study and we all sleep. We're lucky enough to have mattresses under our yos (sleeping mats) because we bullied them away from the Elders, who had like nine and were sleeping on stacks of them.

One is the view from the top of the memorial garden I told you about last week. It is So amazing.

Then there's one of the cherry blossom stream thing. I took a lot, but this one captures the colors best.

Then there's me eating pig intestine. Note Sister Pak's cheerfully oblivious grin.

And last but not least, Sister Montgomery (my companion) and Sisters Pak and Hill dyeing Easter eggs last night.

So we'll see if this sends now that it has big huge picture files dragging along behind it.

What do I like most about the Korean people so far? Um . . . I love that they're so willing to be friendly with people who are genuinely interested in them and their country and their language. Even my bad, stuttering Korean will make the halmonis on the subway smile at me and chatter incomprehensibly. And I love visiting the members' houses. Even though I'm scared to death of offending somebody with my inept Korean table manners, I love the feeling in these homes. Somebody's well-used Korean triple combination* is always sitting on a handy shelf. Pictures of Christ and of their families are on the walls. And they just feel . . . safe. Peaceful. A relief. Even to a stranger.

Anyway, P-Day lies ahead, and today we are going to the biggest mall in Asia. So . . . pictures of that next week!

Dad, I am writing you a letter. Emily, you too.

I love you all so, so much. And I miss you. Keep being such good people, and loving the Lord, and praying for me. I need those prayers every day, because missionary work is _so hard_ and I know I can't do it by myself.


* triple combination: The Bible, the Book of Mormon, and the Doctrine and Covenants.

Blogmom Note: I can't get the pictures to download from this computer; I'll have to add them from our home one later.

Monday, April 6, 2009

A Note From President Jennings . . . with Pictures!

President Jennings is the president of the Busan South Korea Mission. His wife also has many responsibilities with the mission. They wrote:
"Brother and Sister Hadden

I am emailing to confirm the safe arrival of Sister Hadden in the Korea Busan Mission. We picked everyone up late Tuesday (no missing luggage!) and Wednesday was a full day of preparation and training. We began with a get-acquainted interview, opening bank accounts, preparing “green card” documentation, and other administrative chores to get everyone set up.

Then the new Elders and Sisters had a training exercise which combined cultural exploration and proselyting activities. Everyone did “soapboxing” on the subway and the group passed out about 100 copies of the Book of Mormon and collected over 35 new contacts! While all this was going on, I was deliberating over companionship and area assignments.

Upon returning to the Mission Home we had a testimony meeting (in Korean) and a magnificent dinner the likes of which they won’t see again for some time. Then I gave a presentation about Korea and my expectations for them and announced companionship assignments. The trainers were all carefully selected and we depended on observation and, of course, inspiration to align the very best teams

Sister Hadden will be trained by Sister Montgomery who is one of the youngest sisters I have ever called as a trainer – and for very good reasons.. She is simply one of our best missionaries and will be a great help to Sister Hadden in getting a great start with the Korean culture and language. Sister Hadden’s first assignment is in the Yeonsan and Sujeong Wards here in Busan (sisters often serve in multiple areas). Both of these are large, active wards in the Busan Stake and Sujeong serves as the Stake Center. Four Sisters live together in that apartment although they are assigned to different Districts. It is an excellent environment for a new Sister Missionary..

Attached is a picture of Sister Jennings and I with Sister Hadden and Sister Montgomery, and one of their group taken upon arrival at the airport. We will also be sending some other photos to you by regular mail.

Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions.

Kenneth W. Jennings, Jr.
Korea Busan Mission

First Contact - 4/6/09

RoseE writes:

"This may have to be in pieces because I am on a coin-operated computer in the lobby of a hospital, and I don't have many coins. So we'll see what happens.

Oh my gosh Korea is the craziest thing I have ever done, including that time I slept in the Chicago airport. Some parts are so fantastic I can't even tell you. Some parts . . . well, I've gone through some kleenex and misplaced a handkerchief. But mostly it's good, and mostly it's hard work.

I must tell you about the mokyotang. The mokyotang is amazing. It is like . . . like Chaska community pool meets Disneyland meets the Garden of Eden. "Mokyotang" is a bath house, and our very first morning here we went to the best one in Pusan. It cost maybe five or six dollars apiece, factoring in the exchange rate which is pretty good right now. (Oh, there we go, the computer took my bill now. Okay.) So . . . the mokyotang. It's like this palatial hotel. In fact, I think it is a hotel. But you go to a desk and pay your money and they give you this little key-bracelet and you go towards the side marked "women" into a locker room full of tiny lockers just for your shoes. Your key opens one. The floors are all bamboo mats. Then you go into a bigger locker room with bigger lockers and into these you put . . . everything else. Everything. Then you grab a tiny pink scrubby-towel, which is for scrubbing and not for any kind of modesty, and hustle blushing into the baths.

Oh, my gosh, the baths.

It's this huuuuuge space. In the middle is a pool curved into a yin/yang shape, and each half is a different temperature. Around the room are all different pools: hot pools, cold pools, foot-bathing pools, pools with yellow sand in them, pools with grape juice in them (really), pools of salt water, rocky tunnel-pools, a lap-swimming pool, saunas, rinsing pools, pools with waterfalls to massage your back . . . there's a space open to the sky, the roof just grass mats, with a hot pool and a cold pool and a bubbly pool and a jasmine pool (it looks radioactive . . . it's really neat) and another sauna. And all the pools are filled from the mouths of statues, frogs and fish and deer. There's even a pool with benches in it, and water running down the benches, and stone game boards in the middle so you can play games or read the news or whatever. And in every pool there is at least one old Korean grandma, as naked as the day she was born, who will occasionally stand up and swing her arms around to slap her torso (this has something to do with positive energy flow, or something) and stare at you not because you are naked but because you are waygukin, white girl. And when you're done playing in all these different pools, including nearly twisting your foot off because you couldn't see the bottom of the yellow-sand-thing pool, you go to this row of low mirrors and sit on a little butt-shaped stool and scrub yourself off with this creamy white soap and your little pink scrubby-towel, and spray off with a sprayer that they have right there, and brush your teeth in the tooth-brushing sink (very sweet Korean toothpaste provided) and rinse off again in the all-around shower (hot or cold, your choice) or with a scoop filled at another just-for-scooping pool, or both, and then you leave the baths and to to this long vanity where they have combs and hair dryers and lotion and conditioner and q-tips, and do your hair, and then you get dressed and go get your shoes out of the little shoe-locker and leave feeling cleaner than you have ever felt in the entire course of your entire life. Oh, my gosh. I think if there were such a bath house in America there would be a huge scandal, but I also think I would go every day anyway.

So after we were clean and had breakfast (they have aloe juice here--aloe juice! With aloe chunks in it! It's so good) and ran some going-to-the-bank kinds of errands, we and the missionaries who were destined to be our trainers RAN (I hate running) to the subway and tracted for hours. It was hard and scary. And then we had lunch of spicy Korean food, over which I started crying, and then we tracted some more and then went back to the mission home, where I started crying again. (Sister Jeung held me and hummed "Poor Wayfarin' Stranger--she doesn't know the words, but she loves the tune) I also fell asleep on the floor in the midst of picture-taking time. Then my new companion, Sister Montgomery, woke me up and took me home.

So . . my awesome suitcase? The wheel broke in transit. So we dragged it to the subway station because no one would let me carry it, seeing as how I couldn't stand up straight for jet lag, and a bunch of stuff broke off it on the way, and I cried on the subway again, and then we walked up a long hill in the middle of Pusan in the middle of the night to our apartment.

We share an apartment with another companionship of sisters, Hill and Pack Song Hee. It is a little apartment in a BIIIG tower, and all four of us sleep on two big mattresses pushed together on the floor. There is a tiny room when you first come in just for your shoes, and you're supposed to wear special, separate sandals in the bathroom. I couldn't figure out why until I realized that the shower has no curtain, so everything just gets wet and there's a drain in the middle of the floor to drain it all. All the sisters are really nice, but I like Sis. Pack Song Hee best. She looks Hawaiian, and not Korean at all. She loves to just tackle people and hug them. And she bought me a treat my second night here, of one of her favorite foods -- pig intestine. Yep. And I ate it. (Sister Montgomery told me that later on Pack Song Hee came to the other two sisters and asked, "Don't they eat that in America? She seemed really surprised." When they admitted that no one in America would ever in a million years dream of eating a piece of pig intestine, she felt sooooo bad and was terrified that she'd made me sick. But she didn't. I'm okay.)

Pusan is . . . overwhelming. We're serving in two wards, and one of the wards is accessed from the subway via a market street. I love this street. There are big tanks of live fish, street vendors frying I-know-not-what, little wrinkled grandmas (Korean grandmas are just everywhere; you can't swing a cat without hitting a Korean grandma) whacking seafood with big carving knives or squatting behind baskets of fresh vegetables, cackling to one another while they wait for someone to buy something. There are stores just full of notebooks and trays of 5000-won sunglasses and knockoff designer purses and t-shirts with nonsensical English printed on them. And it seems like every vendor has a tiny dog.

Three times a week, the missionaries teach English class. This is such a party. A bunch of older Korean folks get together to practice their English with the missionaries. One of them is brother Pack Kun Gi (I'm guessing on the spelling here), who is not a member but directs the stake choir and is just stitch-in-your-side funny. He ran to the piano and played "Baby Elephant Walk" and made Sister M. dance to it. When I introduced myself and said I could belly dance, I immediately sat on the lid of the piano and refused to move until he sat down again.

Everyone gives us these tiny drinkable yogurts that Sis. Hill insists are made of cat's milk. She says this because her trainer told her this and she believed her. I, however, have owned cats, and know better.

Everyone in Korea lives in one of two places: 1. an apartment tower (at least twice as tall as the Church Office Building) or a banjee, which is a little house. Since Pusan was not levelled during the war, the banjee neighborhoods stand as they sprang up, probably some time in the fifteen hundreds. There is no rhyme or reason to them whatsoever. They are stacked on top of one another in all kinds of ways, and run up the sides of mountains like a wave washed them up there and they just stuck, helter-skelter. People keep attempting to map and number them, and keep failing. We went into them to visit a member couple who run a store making vegetable-extract juice as a health food. She gave us cups of hot asian pear juice, which is more savory than sweet. But I drank it.

On Saturday we ended up at this place that Dad would have loved. In fact, the brother that brought us there reminded me strongly of my own Dad. Here's why:

1. Saturday is "get in free day" at the memorial.

2. He said "we'll give you a ride to the bishop's house and stop at the war memorial on the way," and we discovered that the memorial is not like a statue, it is like a huge and beautiful temple/garden that nobody knew was there.

3. As we wandered around it, he told us stories about Korean history that nobody else would ever think to know.

4. About halfway through our time there, he just wandered off and nobody seemed to find this alarming. His wife gave us a ride to the bishop's house.

Anyway, the garden was these three courtyards running up the side of the mountain, each courtyard entered by a big beautiful gate and flanked on either side by pretty buildings or statues erected in honor of those who died in such-and-such a battle against the Japanese and passed through by means of a long flight of wide stone stairs to the next courtyard. At the top there was incense burning and you could see down into the city and over to the next range of mountains. It was so beautiful and so quiet after the incessant bustle of Pusan down below.

Oh, and in Korea, you can get a corn dog covered in sugar and coconut. Really!

Oh, and there are no forks in our apartment so the other day I made French toast with soybean oil and chopsticks.

Oh, and I will never want to eat an American apple again. With apples like these it's no wonder the Koreans don't bother with anything fancier than fruit for dessert. OH MY GOSH they are so good.

Today we went WAAAAY to the other side of the city to see the cherry blossoms. There was this amazing little river just packed with yellow flowers, and the cherry blossom trees arced above it. A bunch of Korean soldiers were there, on time off I guess. We all took our pictures with them, and they took their pictures with us. We passed a school and a bunch of little girls hung out the window to yell to us in English.

My stomach is hesitant to accept Korean food as actual food. It keeps waiting for a "normal" meal. Fortunately yesterday a member family (he American, she Korean) fed us, our roommates, and four elders (eight missionaries on Fast Sunday), chicken fajitas. I nearly cried, but as I need to get more Kleenex I refrained from so doing. I just ate two, with lots of sour cream, and we took a bunch of the chicken home.

I am having a **** of a time remembering anybody's name. All the Koreans are having the same problem with my name. I am writing all the names down everywhere and cramming them at every possible second.

One of our wards is like 95% inactive, and those who are active don't like each other. Ugh. The other ward is AMAZING, and the Relief Society 1st (2nd?) counselor reminds me of Rebecca Dykman. I went on a split to this ward last week, and stood up in Sacrament meeting to introduce myself. As I walked shaking back to my seat, all the sisters on my side of the chapel gave me not-very-discreet thumbs up. Awwww, I love Yeonsan ward.

All the rooms are heated with gas heaters, and when they are not running the rooms get very cold very fast.

I understand hardly anything that anybody says to me. I hope at least that I am cute.

I am so scared of prostelyting I can't even tell you.

We get an hour for e-mail now. Yaaaaay!

I am almost out of time on this computer. I love you so much, and I miss you so much.


Sunday, April 5, 2009

Still No Word

Postage is 94 cents for anything less than 1 ounce going to South Korea.