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.