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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.



1 comment:

  1. RoseE,
    I am trying this again, to see if I can get it actually thru to you.
    I am enjoying your descriptions, very much. You have a flair for writing so that I can see, and understand what was happening. You paint good word pictures. You must have gotten that from Great Gram Olsen--and then perfected it.
    Love, Gramma Rosie