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Friday, May 29, 2009

The Chatty Letter to Emily 5/11/09

RoseE wrote:

"11 May, 2009

Dearest Em,

That skirt sounds fantastic!* I would love a skirt! Did I mention that your black skirt was my favorite all winter? It was the only blessed thing I brought that would keep my legs warm. And have I mentioned also that I no longer have any restrictions on colors I can wear? It seems the last president of the Pusan mission only allowed the sisters to wear black or white. Pres. Jennings lets us wear whatever, as long as it’s missionary-appropriate. The packet of missionary information I got, and which I followed to the letter, reflected in no way what is actually worn or used by the sisters in the field. (When I told Sis. Mong and Hill about the “no jeans” rule I’d been sent, they just stared at me.) So yes, I would love a skirt. I would be so excited to have a skirt.

I wish you were here – every restaurant in Pusan is a hole-in-the-wall Asian restaurant of the kind you like so much. I begin to think that the whole economy is composed of people running soup restaurants out of their front rooms, and then eating at everyone else’s.

Have I also mentioned that I love Jeffry? I love how happy you sound when you write about him. Knowing that he’s out there with you makes me so much less worried, every day.

Have I also mentioned that I love you a ton, and that I love getting letters from you, whether typed or handwritten, and I can’t believe I have such a phenomenal best friend who still wants to talk to me and tell me about her life when I’m half a planet away? If I haven’t mentioned that, please remind me to do so. I really need to get that done.

And my good pen just went missing. Whoop-de-doo.

So today is transfer day, so all the missionaries in the whole mission are meeting up and hanging out before we all go home with our new companion, to work for another six weeks. And in the bustle of helping Sister Montgomery pack and cleaning the apartment for the sister coming in to replace her, I forgot to pack your latest letter with me today. Gaaah! So I can’t respond back to what you said, which is sad. But at least I have some time to write, hanging out in Outback Steakhouse (which is fine dining in Korea) while some American sisters chat and my new companion, old companions, and roommates go shopping.

It’s getting hot. In Korea. And it will get a whole lot worse before it gets better. I’m on the lookout for summer shirts – I keep seeing them, but then we always walk past really fast on our way somewhere else, so I never get to really look. Oh well, I shouldn’t be spending money anyway, and I’ve got enough shirts to last me a good long while.

Anyway, when I finish this letter I’ll have a new companion – cute-as-a-button Sister Pak Ji Yeong. So now it’s time to actually work – Korean all day, every day, having to understand what someone’s asking me to do in a language I barely speak. Here we go. I can do it – a transfer’s only six weeks long, the same as a “half” at camp. No problem. Easy as pie. And if I get lonely, well, I always have Emily-letters. And I’ll make good progress on my goal to read the whole Bible while I’m out here. (I started ith the New Testament and I’m in 1 Corinthians. If I manage to get all the way through Revelation and then swing back from Genesis to Malachi, I will 1. be very pleased with myself 2. be spiritually edified and greatly blessed 3. have nothing else to read. So it’s a complicated question.)

And my good pen’s back! And I just realized I’m writing on this sheet of paper upside-down! Yaaaaay!

I’ve got to wrap this up and get it into the mail. I love you, honey – be happy, be strong, have fun, keep talking to me.


* Note from Emily: I found a skirt that is really comfortable, flattering, and totally mission appropriate, and asked if she wanted one. Seriously, the most comfortable floor-length skirt I’ve ever seen. I wear mine to work at least once a week, and often over the weekend!

Stuff You Wanted to Know About the Book of Mormon

RoseE wrote to her bestest friend, Emily, who is reading the Book of Mormon 1) because she's never read it before, and 2) because RoseE asked her to, and gave her a copy with her (RoseE's) notes in all the margins (which must be a very interesting read indeed!), and 3) to help support RoseE on her mission:

"Dearest Em,

In the interests of Being An Obedient Missionary, I am writing Book of Mormon stuff on separate paper during study time, and I will write chatty gossipy stuff on a card on P-Day when I am supposed to write letters. Time is limited, and typing is not to be had.

Isaiah’s always kind of made my head spin – you’ll note my comments are a bit thin on the ground there. I freely acknowledge that you know a ton more about Isaiah and the Bible in general than I do. And Jacob 5 requires a scorecard to keep track of what’s going on. I’m pretty sure they’re talking about olives. Why they grow in a vineyard, I don’t know. But to the best of my understanding, the olive tree that starts the whole mess represents the House of Israel. And one of the branches that is broken off is Lehi’s family, that is planted in a good spot of ground, and first produced some good fruit and some bad, and then [the bad] overruns the good entirely. And when all the scattered branches get grafted back in is now – the last days, the gathering of Israel, and the other servants in v. 70-72 are the missionaries (at least, that how I read it at this point in my life, because I am one and I like to feel important). I used to know all this stuff, but I’ve forgotten a lot of it. I’m such a punk. At the end of the day, what I learn from Jacob 5 is the following:

1. God is always working, doing everything he can, to help us. He weeps when we make dumb decisions that take us away from him, and just keeps working, helping us to come back.

2. There’s a lot of work to be done out there.

3. We have a limited amount of time in which to do it.

Oh, yaay, you also asked some questions I can give competent answers to. *Whew.* Thank goodness. “Missionary work” is preaching the gospel – telling anyone who is ready to listen about the restoration of the priesthood and the organization of Christ’s Church and having prophets again and the Book of Mormon and all that good stuff. We do service, too, but the gospel is the most valuable thing we have to give and it’s what people need most. Korea is incredibly well-developed and is not in need of wells or hospitals, but they do need (and frantically want to learn) English, so we teach English classes for free four times a week, and the rest of our time we spend sharing the gospel. I remember Sister Copeland had the hardest time explaining to her boss (and her insurance company) about how she was not going on the kind of mission they were thinking of, and that she did actually need to quit because she wasn’t coming back in two week and couldn’t just keep working by phone long-distance. We really devote all of our time and energy to serving the Lord. Really all of it.

And it’s really the hardest, scariest thing I’ve ever had to do. If this weren’t Christ’s true gospel, I would not have had the strength to do it. That I know for certain.

Tracting is the scariest part of this whole mess. We generally just call it “jeundo,” but that’s the Korean word and nobody at home would have a clue what I was talking about. It’s walking up to a stranger of the street and announcing, “Hi. You don’t know me and I can’t speak Korean, but I’m here to tell you that Christ has restored his true Church and given us a way to be with our families forever, and you need to know about it because it will make you happy and God wants you to be happy because he loves you.” Except I don’t generally get past “Hi.” Most people just stick a hand in your face and snap, “You’re done,” and walk away. It really hurts. And it really hurts over and over and over again. I odn’t think you ever get desensitized to someone rejecting your testimony. But then I go talk to the Yoon family, who just got baptized before I got here. The elders met them while jeundoing, and they listened. The father quit drinking. The mother found peace about the fact that she could only have one child. They all got baptized and come to church every week. There is such wonderful sweetness in their home. They’re always smiling. A picture of them with the missionaries who taught them, taken the day they got baptized, sits on proud display in their restaurant they run. It’s all worth it. It really, truly is.

That was a long answer to a short question, if I ever saw one.

The First Lesson is just what we try to teach people first – that God loves them and their families, that he sends us prophets to teach us how to be happy, and that if people reject the prophets’ teachings, God always just waits a while and sends another prophet. And that’s what happened after the death of Christ’s apostles – Christ’s teachings got confused and distorted, and without a prophet with the authority to act in God’s name there was no way to untangle it all. So God and Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph Smith and called him to be a new prophet and restore everything that had been lost. (That’s the First Vision.) And if you don’t believe this crazy story, well, here’s the Book of Mormon. Read it, pray about it. If it’s just another book, we all might as well go home, because we’re wasting our time. But if it’s true, inspired scripture, then Joesph Smith really was a prophet and it’s all the biggest, most exciting new to hit the world in a very, very long time.

And yeah, I did all that in Korean. It was a good night.

As far as Book of Mormon logistics go: They built a boat and sailed to America in 1st Nephi 17 and 18 (we’re teaching a lesson on it today) – Lehi and his whole family. (You’re right; Nephi has a very stiff writing style. He’s not my favorite Book of Mormon writer, Alma and Moroni are more comfortable.) Anyway, once they all get there and settle in, Laman and Lemuel start fighting with Sam and Nephi (big surprise there) so Nephi and his family and anyone else they can get to go with them run away into the wilderness and set up their own settlement.
The descendants of this group are, for simplicity’s sake, called Nephites, and everyone else are called Lamanites. So they’re all the same family, and they came across the ocrean in the same boat, but they grow into two different nations with some serious unresolved sibling issues just festering between them. This is all in 2 Nephi 5, I think, if you need further clarification.

Don’t worry about the Jaredites for right now. You’ll get to them."

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Letter to Emily from 20 April 2009

RoseE wrote:

"Dearest Em,

It is raining in Korea. Probably all over Korea - it’s not a very big country. Sister [Korean characters] and I (Pak Song Hee . . . I meant to write it in roman but in came out in hangul) left our companions practicing music at Yeonsan ward and walked about six blocks up to the university to email. We were both under my umbrella because Elder Kang stole hers. We got pretty drenched on the way back. But now we’re sitting on comfy couches in Yeonsan, listening to the rain and writing. P-Day is a good day for rain. Sis. Beckstead had proposed a taxi for going to our member friend’s farewell party. All in favor. Motion passes.

I totally agree with you about the bathhouse . . . I can’t believe we get away with it! There are missionaries in Tahiti who are forbidden to swim on their beautiful tropical islands . . . aaand the Koreans get to go to the mokyotang whenever they feel like it. Maybe our Area Seventy doesn’t know. Then again, I think he’s a Korean so I don’t think he’d care.

I’m sure by the time you get this, you will have already talked to Jeffry about the abortion thing and gotten the matter worked out.* Korea is a worrisome place for abortions – it’s like getting a cavity filled. Just routine. I went sort of cold with shock when I heard this. In a country where birth control is so easy to access, and where children are so wonderful (seriously . . . Korean kids are so cute. I can’t believe have how cute they are), why on earth . . . how on earth . . . I know I’m in no way qualified to debate constitutional/unconstitutional, especially in a country whose constitution I have never read (Have I read the U.S. Constitution? I can’t remember), but I can’t be okay with casual abortion. So I’m out here working. Because there’s this great commandment called chastity that makes sure children are born into stable, loving families, that they’re blessings instead of disasters. The more I see of the world, the better I understand that commandments are tremendous blessings – that they’re to keep us happy and safe, not just to test our willpower and obedience. Anyway.

So by now you’ll have read about the massive list-copying session. In the course of it, Sis. M and I had the following conversation:

Me: Sister Mony, what does “Samang” mean?

Sis. M: Death.

Me: Oh. Okay. (brief pause) I think this person’s dead.

I handed her the slip where some former missionary has scribbled [Korean characters] next to someone’s name, and she stared at me and cracked up laughing and didn’t stop for a minute and a half. It was the longest break we got that day.

And . . . that’s my paper. I love you! Be safe, be happy, be full of music and life –


* Jeffry and I had a little argument about whether or not he’d come as my date to the Harvard pro-life banquet, and he didn’t want to, and it got a little messy because it’s one of the very few issues where I think the other side is unequivocally WRONG and am unwilling to compromise. Being upset, I wrote to my best friend, because that’s what I do whenever I . . . well, pretty much whenever I experience any sort of emotion at all, come to think of it. She’s right, as always – Jeffry and I worked it out the next day. RoseE knows me too well, methinks.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Email 5/25/09

RoseE writes:

"Dear Mum and Dad,

Isn't Sister Beck great? I love her.

I have learned the following things about Visiting Teaching* while in Korea:
1. It's important. Really freaking important. Without it, you end up with a ward of 350+ inactives who're lonely and miserable but won't go to church because nobody is nice to them there.
2. Missionary Service is in many ways like a really really big visiting teaching program. . . .

I have not yet received the package, but hope to get it at Zone Conference on Wednesday, if I am lucky.

Oh, and EMILY! A long and wonderful letter that I wrote you A MONTH AGO got returned to me this week! So I'm sending it again. I'm really a much better correspondent than I seem, I swear to high heaven.

Yeaaaaay! for new Costco card!! Thank you! The Costco in Pusan is opening in two months!

Teancum and Bethe: I am writing you both letters today, heaven willing, so look for them.

I have taken to not eating between member meals. It makes my life so much easier.

So this week has been really slow, which is really hard. We "dropped" sister Kim Son Yae. Sister Pak decided that Sister Kim just wasn't progressing; she was interested in speaking English with Americans, but not in learning the gospel. And I think Sister Pak is right, but it was still really hard. I really prayed a lot for Sister Kim and her family. I really wanted them to get baptized, and have the gospel, and be HAPPY, gosh darn it. But Sister Kim just didn't want to listen to what we're here to teach, and I can't change her decision no matter how much I pray or work or whatever.

It was really hard.

We have twice more eaten at Crazy Lady's house (Sister Yan Son Yeong), the one who will feed missionaries until they are nearly in tears, partly from physical pain and partly from laughter at the sheer absurdity of it all. Just to indulge me, try a little test as you're reading this: poke your hand into your abdomen. It squishes in a couple of inches, right? This is normal. This is healthy. Now imagine that when you stick your hand into your abdomen, it just pushes back like a rubber ball. There is a solid, resilient mass inside your body that wasn't there two hours ago. If this is the case, you are either suffering from a fairly advanced tumor, in which case you should see a doctor, or you have just had a meal with a member in Korea, and that solid denseness is all the food you just ate, that is taking up space inside your body and pushing all your other organs out of their accustomed places.

Oh, I got to talk to Sister Montgomery on the phone this week, and the first thing she told me was this: "You know how the whole transfer I was trying to remember the Korean word for 'paragraph'? Well, I remembered! It's 'Dalek'**! And I'm never going to forget it ever again!"I just about died laughing.

I'm keeping a list of odd Korean things I need to tell you about, which is good because I always forget them when I'm typing. Thank goodness I spent so much time learning to type fast.

Anyway, odd things:

In restaurants, there's always a box of Kleenex on the table. This is because the soups they serve are so hot and so spicy that your nose starts running.

My roommates are all eating rice and Kimchi for breakfast now. Really. And Sardines.

When you order pizza in Korea, it comes with a little cup of pickles. Really pickles. Not peppers. Pickles. But they're sweet pickles, because dill does not seem to exist here.

I see many tiny fuzzy dogs whose ears and tails are dyed horrendous neon colors, poor things.

When you go to an event in Korea, you don't get a commemorative t-shirt: you get a commemorative sports towel. It's a long, skinny hand towel with the name and date of the event screen-printed on the terrycloth. Weird.

In Korea, IN PUBLIC, dating couples will wear matching shirts. Of the free will of both parties.

McDonald's delivers.

On the bus, if you have to stand, and you have a heavy bag, someone sitting down will take your bag and hold it on their lap until either you or they have to get off.

And buses, school buses, the ubiquitous yellow bluebird buses: haven't seen one.

And . . . I think that is the news from Lake Wobegon this week. I love you all. BE GOOD. Do your visiting teaching. Stay out of trouble. Read your scriptures. Watch Doctor Who. Look both ways before crossing the street. And please tell me who really killed JFK.

I'm kidding about the last one.


*Visiting Teaching: A program of the "Mormon" church where the women of the ward are paired up and assigned 3-6 other women in the ward to keep track of and visit and be there for. The men have a similar program called Home Teaching, but they are assigned 3 or so families to keep track of. When you've got troubles, who ya gonna call? Visiting Teachers! Yesssss!

**Daleks: these are villain robot/organism creatures from the TV series, Dr. Who. They look like giant gold thimbles turned upside down, and they zap you if they decide (arbitrarily) that you don't merit existence.

Letter to Teancum, 5/25/09

RoseE writes:

"Dear Teancum,

Hi, Bug! I sure miss you! Did you have a good time with Dad and Cuin and all them down in St. George? How is fencing going? Is it getting any easier? How is school?

Mom told me that the CTR ring that I gave you broke, and that you were sad about it.* I'm so sorry! But do you want to know a secret? Mine broke, too. In the MTC. It never even made it to Korea. I want to send you a new one, but I can't, because the nearest Distribution Center is in Seoul, at the other end of the country!

Here's what I think you should do. You should have Mom help you pick out a newer, nicer CTR ring in Korean. Mom has my bank information, so I can buy it and it will still be a present from me. Then take a picture of you wearing the new ring, and send it to me so I can see you.

I know how sad it is to lose something you love. Here in Korea, I cannot even wear my English CTR ring. Sisters can only wear one ring, and I decided to wear my claddagh** and leave my CTR at home. It was a really hard choice. Both rings were presents from Mom and Dad, and they're both really special to me. But I will wear both rings again when I come home. That's not very far away! I am already almost 1/3 done!

I got a box at the post office. I am going to fill it up with Korean stuff--books and candy and snacks and things--and send it home so everybody can see some of the weird, cool, cool weirdness I get to live with here in Korea.

I love you so much, But, and I am so glad you are thinking about me. I am glad I get to be your big sister.

Love always,


*Teancum had sworn to wear his adjustable Korean CTR (Choose The Right) ring throughout RoseE's mission, but it fell apart about a month ago, and he was devastated. He didn't want ME to get him a new one, because then it wouldn't be from RoseE. This was her solution to the problem.

** claddagh: Irish family ring showing two hands holding a heart with a crown on it.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Email 5/18/09

RoseE writes:

"Dearest Mum and Dad,

. . .

I will try not to be excited to the point of distraction for my package. I will fail, but I will try.

. . .

So hey, news of the week. It is the first week of my second transfer of my first mission of the rest of my life, or something. Anyway, I am still working in the same wards but with a new companion, Sister Pak Ji Yeon. She trained my friend Sister Jeong Min Hee from the MTC, and then the two trainers switched places so Sister Montgomery is now in Ulsan with Sis. Jeong and Sis. Pak is with me in Pusan. She is a tiny little Korean sister with huge eyes (everyone comments on her eyes; this is a very attractive feature in Korea), and is from Seoul, where she studied acting. Her English is not very good, but it is still better than my Korean. However, she and a bunch of the other Korean missionaries are taking something called the Michigan Test at the end of the transfer, which is an English test they need if they want to study at BYU. Sis. Pak does not want to take it, but she is bound and determined to get a better score than Zone Leader Elder Lee Song Gi, who pressured her into taking the exam in the first place. So she's speaking a lot of English and I'm speaking a lot of Korean, since my two other roommates are also Koreans (Good old Sister Pak Song Hee and her new trainee, Sister Beh whose given name I have forgotten, but it's okay because she is the only Sister Beh I know). This has the potential to be a very lonely situation, but y'all know me -- I curl up with a book and just cease to care. I'm getting a lot more reading done than I did with Sisters Montgomery and Hill in the house, but that's about the biggest difference.

Sister Pak showed up with a freezer-full of pastry dough, a gift from a member in her old area who ran a bakery. I have been having a very good time with this. Since I have no recipes to work with, I'm just making junk up. So far I have made apple tarts, apple-chestnut tarts, apple-vanilla tarts, apple-chestnut tarts with vanilla and orange zest, and crispies glazed with the syrup left over from the last one. Well, sort of glazed. I don't know how to make glaze, so I tried something and ended up with flavored liquid sugar, which is I guess all it needs to be in order to qualify. As you can guess from the ingredient list, I'm just using random leftover junk from our refrigerator, but I want to try working with strawberries, too, since those are handy and (relatively) cheap, and maybe try random experiments with Asian pears or pineapple. Can you make pineapple pie? I'm about to find out. My roommates are all very impressed with my baking skills, but hesitate to eat any of it because they will get fat. Or so they say.

In other news, this week the BYU Wind Symphony performed in the Pusan cultural center, and anybody who was anybody showed up. We missionaries only got to hear the first half, which was sad, but we had to go home at intermission in order to be back in our apartments by nine. BUT at the concert this cultural organization was giving away these books on Korean Culture, and I nabbed them and read them both in two days. (I'm a little book-starved. In addition to these two, since starting my mission I have read Our Heritage, True to the Faith, Jesus the Christ, Our Search for Happiness, The Book of Mormon, The Book of Mormon in Korean up to Jacob 5, the entire New Testament and half the book of Genesis. I've never been able to keep track of my reading so well before.)

Aaaaaaah crap I've got to go. But, um, we ate at crazy ice cream lady's house again, and it's windy in Pusan, and I'm now taking the bus instead of the subway everywhere (new companion thing), and I love you all, and I finally mailed a bunch of letters today so if you're waiting on one it's coming.

I love you!


Friday, May 15, 2009

Snail Mail to Dad dated 5/4/09

Rose writes (in very teeny letters on a 4x6" folded card):

"Dear Dad,

It sounds like you really want to know what life is like in Korea, so I am going to try to tell you. So I'm writing really small, because I can tell a lot if I just have the space and time.

So I wake up every morning to the musical alarm of our two phones and my not-so-musical alarm clock, and crawl off of bed. Bed is three mattresses laid out together on the floor, covered with a couple layers of yoh mats. I share a couple blankets with Sister Pak Song Hee, and our companions share a couple blankets, so we are obedient to the "Companions must not sleep in the same bed" rule. Sort of.

For breakfast, I fish my 2-liter bottle of water (that I boiled the night before) out of the fridge and toss back a multivitamin, usually followed by leftover snack food--rice snacks, or sweet bread that comes free with pizza ordered from the bakery down the street, or Pak Song Hee's birthday brownies. I recently found a brand of milk that doesn't taste like one part buttermilk to three parts water, so I'll be able to eat rice and milk and cinnamon sugar--which no Korean would ever eat in a million years--as soon as I go shopping again.

As ten-thirty (or earlier, usually) I grab my bag and Book of Mormon and kick on some shoes and walk outside. We live on the 8th floor of Ooshi Gwanyon Apartments, a huge complex of fairly ghetto little apartments. On the way out, we bow to the gwalija, who is the little old man who guards the elevator of every apartment complex in Korea. I think they're all the same man. And we walk past the extremely intricate recycling-sorter station (recycling is required by law, and is free, but you have to pay to dispose of non-recyclables) and past the little playground and skating park that belong to our complex, and onto the street.

We walk about two blocks to the Sujeong subway stop (okay, four) past little stores of every description--corner grocery stores, "French" bakeries, pizza places, restaurants with pictures of their dishes posted outside, hair salons (each one has a very 70's-retro-looking barber pole spinning outside), clothing stores with the 'on-sale' racks set up on the street, shoe stores with rows of shoes lining the pavement, little booths that sell cigarettes and subway tags, trucks parked on the curb selling dried fish or strawberries or big glossy Korean apples. We walk down the stairs into the big, clean, modern subway stop, pressing our subway tags (mine is blue and hangs on the buckle of my bag) against little sensors to pay our way through the turnstiles. We get on the train and head, usually, for Busanjin station, where Sujeong ward is. Once we get there, it's apartment-hunting time.

Sujeong ward inactives are our big project right now. We just head out with a giant atlas of Pusan, with sticky notes on it marking where we think inactive members live. This takes us into either a big apartment tower or into a cement-and-corrugated-metal labyrinth (one of which is hiding behind every row of businesses) where we get well and thoroughly lost, looking for house numbers scribbled on the door with a black marker. When we find the right door (for an apartment) or gate (for a house), usually no one is home behind it so we stick hearts all over the door and leave a "we're-thinking-of-you" note and move on. If someone is home (and they don't yell at us through the door to go away, as has happened), we go in, sit down, chat, eat what we are fed (we are always fed something--it's why we never buy lunch), share a spiritual message, pray, and leave. Oh, and when I say "sit down", I mean on the floor. Couches are for setting bags down on.

Evenings are when we usually have something scheduled--teaching appointments, English classes, or Shiksas (meals). Shiksas are often rough, because I'm still uncertain about Korean table manners and sitting on the floor so long just kills your knees. The food itself I manage pretty well--just take small bites so you're always chewing something, finish your rice and your soup (the only things served to you individually), try everything, and pray that someone serves you water (in a little shot-glass of a cup) and leaves the bottle where you can reach it. The soups can get dang spicy. You will probably end up with a bag of leftovers you do not really want to eat, but hey--that's life. And you can eat anything with kimchi and it will taste like kimchi, so that's nice.

So we head home, bone-tired, at about eight in order to be back home at nine precisely. We plan, shower (in the shower-curtain-less bathroom--but I've looked at members' houses' bathrooms and they're all like that), move laundry from the washer onto drying racks or from the racks to the closets, boil water, make brownies, gossip with our roommates, read scriptures (I've finished the entire missionary library, so scriptures are all I've got left), say why we love our companions, pray, and go to sleep.

That's a typical day in Korea. Less frequently, but regularly, life involves things like gukbap(soup) restaurants, stops at the GS25 (like a 7-11--no gasoline, just stuff) to acquire water and Snickers bars (my companion) or kimbap and something I've never had before (me) or an ice cream bar (both). We walk a lot, but we are obliged to eat breathtaking amounts of rice, so no sister missionary has ever, to my knowledge, lost weight in Korea. Maybe the elders do.

I carry my photo album with me everywhere I go. I have not yet met a Korean who wasn't dying to look at all my pictures.

Our other chapel, Yeosan ward, is off of Koejae (Goejae?) station, so hopefully you can look up the Busan subway system and get a sense of the size of our area*. At least, I hope you can, because I don't have one. I do nearly all my travelling underground.

There are all these people in Pusan. They're stacked in apartments twenty high and filling every subway car. There are enough to keep a PC Bary (World-of-Warcraft-playing-place) in business every twenty feet, and to provide custom to a grandma selling groceries every couple of yards. I just can't fathom the monstrous number of people around me. The traffic always rumbles, the streets are always lined with red and yellow advertising banners two stories tall, the subway cars rumble past, and here we are, two frenzied Americans scrambling gracelessly through it all.

I'm out of space** and time.

I love you.


* Busan subway system map.

**I don't know why she wrote this, as she left the whole blank front of the card . . . blank.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Pictures! 5/11/09

RoseE writes:

"Dearest Mum and Dad,

This e-mail is not cooperating, so I am sending you pictures via my gmail account, which I am NOT supposed to do. I'm going straight to Hell for it. But they're good pictures, and myldsmail is just being a pain.

Anyway, the pictures should be as follows:

One is of a folding bike that the elders helped to put together, and I thought of Dad, so I took a picture.

Then there's one of a church in our neighborhood in Sujeong, a prime example of Korean and English just not working very well together.

And some pictures from our day at MeWorld, renamed GhettoWorld, because it is a po-dunk little theme park placed amongst empty lots by the side of the beach, overpriced and undermaintained. But we had fun there anyway. So there's a shot of Sisters Montgomery and Hill on the spinning-everywhere ride (it was a miracle I didn't drop my camera taking this),

one of the Pusan skyline from the top of the drops-you-really-fast ride (I had all the time in the world to take it; the ride stayed up there for a full minute before dropping us),

and one of all four of us roommates on the log flume.

I also took a picture of the warning sign posted at the entrance to every ride; in my opinion, it sums up the mission rules quite admirably. ("Did you pregnant on the ride? You did, didn't you? I can't believe you!")

And there's a photo of Sister Pak Song Hee's birthday party in our half-packed up apartment last night.

The other photo is Small Objects that Now Define My Life. Included is my sunscreen (a gift from a member; this little thing probably cost upwards of ten dollars), my stack of cards of things I need to memorize (and I memorized them, too. So Ha!), my little notebook of bizarre Korean-ness where I keep lists of Stuff, my nifty wooden stamp, my missionary planner, my subway pass, and some sparkly butterfly earrings that were gifts from a wonderful member whose favorite color is black--hence the box.

And I have to go; my e-mail time is cut short today. But I love you!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Snail Mail from President Jennings dated 4/21/09

Your immediate action is required!
What this letter says is that RoseE is going to be having a difficult time in a couple of weeks and NEEDS YOUR LETTERS!
I mean SNAIL MAIL at the address to the right!-->

President Jennings writes:

"Dear Brother and Sister Hadden,

We are so appreciative of the service that your daughter is performing among the people in the Korea Busan Mission. As difficult as it is to believe, she has now been in the country over a month. Her letters home undoubtedly reflect the excitement and challenges of adapting to a new culture, new customs, new foods, and a new language. After one or two months in the country many missionaries hit a period of discouragement and frustration, especially with regard to the Korean language. We are making a greater effort to help them anticipate this period, and we wanted to give you some insight into what your missionary is facing.

The great majority of missionaries in the church serve in their native language or in a language related to English. While these other languages may be challenging, they are not as perplexing and frustrating as languages that are completely unrelated to our own. Those missionaries who serve in their native tongue must learn the discussions, the missionary skills, and how to teach and invite by the Spirit. Those serving in Romance or Germanic languages have the additional challenge of learning a language, but in many cases are able to teach with some facility by the time they have been in the field six months. For the relatively few assigned to teach in completely unrelated languages, the missionary experience is somewhat different. These languages include many of the Asian languages as well as Finnish, Hungarian, and Albanian. Korean is among the more difficult languages to learn for native speakers of English and other Indo-European languages.

Typically a missionary arrives from the MTC well prepared spiritually and in missionary skills. The missionaries assigned to our mission are bright, capable, and motivated. Some are able to teach the first few lessons in Korean before they arrive. When they arrive they generally find that they cannot understand spoken Korean at all. However, with some weeks of listening daily to native speech they begin to understand small amounts of the language. With very diligent study a bright missionary can teach all of the lessons within four months of arrival in the country with little assistance. She is not expected at that point to be able to teach them with any degree of facility, but will have learned vocabulary, sentence structure, and pronunciation. She will be able to teach portions with practice in advance. By six months in the country she will have learned the lessons better, and will be better able to teach. By nine months out some missionaries will be ready to be independent, but more commonly it takes a year to be sufficiently fluent to become a senior companion.*

I think you can appreciate that it can be very frustrating for these young people who come with such faith and motivation to find that they are infants and that it will be a long and difficult struggle to be able to teach effectively. Most missionaries complete their mission far from being truly proficient in Korean. For many, this is the most difficult task they have ever faced, and it is a very different sort of mission from that experienced by their friends and brothers or sisters in many cases.

Miraculously, the Lord gives our missionaries the Gift of Tongues. As they work hard and study with faith they are able to teach the gospel in Korean. They are able to accomplish in months that which takes years for most others. They come to enjoy Korean study and to love Korean culture and Korean people. They realize that they have been blessed greatly and that the Lord really is in charge of His work. More importantly, they have the gifts of the spirit and from their first day in the mission can contribute in many ways to their companionship's efforts with members and investigators.

If you, as parents, receive discouraging letters from your missionary please be encouraging and remind your daughter that the Lord will bless her devotion and sacrifice. Please understand that the progression of missionary service opportunities will be slower here than in other areas of the world and that most effective service will come in the last year of their mission. If you will keep her and these other marvelous men and women in your prayers they will feel your love and will press forward with faith.

We are eager to help them and to encourage and comfort them. They are our companions and we love them. We admire their courage and their faith. We are so blessed to serve with them. If there is ever a question that we can answer, please do not hesitate to call, write, or email us. . .

Thank you for sharing your daughter with us and with our Heavenly Father. May the Lord bless you and your family for this sacrifice.


Kenneth W. Jennings
Korea Busan Mission President"

*companions: All missionaries are paired up with another missionary, with whom they must stay in constant contact during the time they are assigned together. Typically, the companion who has been in the particular mission field the longest is the senior companion and directs their day-to-day activities. The junior companion relies heavily on (his or) her companion's experience and guidance.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Letter to Emily 3/29/09

RoseE wrote to Emily, her bestest friend, before she left for Korea, and Em's only just received it and got the text to me.

"Dearest Em,

With any luck at all I'll get this in the mail while I'm still stateside, though it may end up with a Los Angeles postmark if I have to finish it on plane ride 1. Because we're leaving at the blessed crack of dawn tomorrow morning!!

Your job sounds amazing. I'm so glad you're excited about the company, and that you'll be in such a tight-knit and supportive department. And that you get to wear hot heels! I hate to say it, but there are days when I miss heels a little bit. I have known certain shoe savants too long.

In the lobby of our residence hall there are some boxes, referred to communally as "the Box." The Box is the MTC's shopping extravaganza. Departing sisters leave in the Box things they don't want to take into the field, and other sisters pounce thereon. The Box has been very busy this weekend – I know I've tossed at least five pounds of stuff into it, and fished out two new shirts, a wrap, and an extra stick of deodorant, which does not exist in Korea as such. [Korean characters] (Nai-suh.) (It means 'Nice,' in the slang sense, like, "You got all that stuff for free? Na-i-suh!")

Our last weekend has been crazy. The post office closes at 2 p.m. on Saturdays, so we spent a long time waiting in line so Sisters Copeland and Linford could send home huge boxes of stuff. Then we had to eat a ten-minute lunch and run to our teaching practice with Brother Pak, a very nice, friendly, helpful Korean man who comes every Saturday to help us practice but who is not reading the Book of Mormon because the language is too difficult. I made Sisters Peterson and Ogelvie, the 2 sisters who are here for six more weeks, promise to get him a [Korean characters], Book of Mormon Stories. It's a big, thick picture book of the whole Book of Mormon with much simpler language. Bro. Thiel says the people he taught loved this book. Elder Lallatin bought one for himself, and the whole district fought over who got to read it first. Yeah, we've been here a long time. We get a little crazy.

Our res hall room is pack with half-packed suitcases – walking anywhere is a challenge, taxing our balance and flexibility. In keeping with my heritage as a backpacker's daughter, I have only one suitcase, one carryon, and my shoulder bag, while everyone else has two suitcases plus carryon plus backpack. So they're struggling to make it down to 140 lbs of stuff and I'm sitting pretty on under 90 lbs. I unfortunately keep thinking of the Parable of the Ten Virgins. Yeah, I'm smug. I'm sure I will get humbled the second I set foot in the Incheon Airport.

Today, in continuation of my crazy departure weekend, is Piano Day. Sister Copeland and Elder DeWall from the next district over auditioned this weekend to perform "My Soul Hungered" in one of the big meetings, and got asked to do it for Departure Devotional tonight. But Elder DeWall is also singing a duet with Sister Bergeson in Sacrament meeting, for which Sister Copeland is also playing. So between rehearsals and performances, I'll be hearing music all day today. Nothin' wrong with that.

Holy heck. Tonight is the last night I'll sleep on a mattress on a bed frame for a year and a half.

My parents sent me one last care package before I go, containing, of all wonderful things, a box of peppermint tea. I have been drinking it like crazy. I missed tea. (And that's totally your fault, by the way – I hated herbal teas before you got me hooked on them.*) There is no peppermint tea in Korea – Sisters Lee and Jeong has never tasted it before. So that's coming with me, baggage restrictions be darned. I'm anxious to try barley tea and all the others that the Korean members drink (they're Korean, for gosh sakes – they keep the word of wisdom, but they keep it creatively, kind of like me, so I should fit in just fine), but I do want something familiar to drink when I'm stoned on jet lag and culture shock in a few days. And lack of DearElders. Aaaah, what am I going to do without instant updates from my Emily?

But on the plus side, my letters and pictures and life in general are going to get much more interesting. That's good. And as soon as I use up all these cara-cards I'll get some trippy and hilarious Korean stationery, which will be fun.

I love you and I miss you, and I'll write you from Pusan!


* Note from Emily: BWAHAHAHAHA!!!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

email from President Jennings to RoseE's Grandmother

President Jennings writes:

"Sister Hadden:

I received your letter that you sent through "Dear Elder" today and my wife and I were delighted that you are following Sister Hadden's progress here in Busan Korea. I called her tonight and told her that we received a letter from you and her response was "Oh, no!" We laughed a lot.

Sister Hadden is doing very well. As you indicated, her ability to learn a new language is quite amazing. Korean is much more difficult for native English speakers than are the Indo-Eurpoean languages, but she is well ahead of the curve for new missionaries. Interestingly, in a foreign culture where interactions are based on different verbal and non-verbal signals than we are used to in the West, I don't believe that a person with Asperger Syndrome will have much of a problem. It's all new to everyone here. In any case, I have not seen any evidence of difficulty between companions or with local member relations. I understand that for most people the syndrome wanes considerably as they get older.

. . . Our family was raised in Korea and Singapore where I worked for over 15 years as an attorney specializing in international joint ventures and technology licenses. . . .

We love Sister Hadden and she is already making a remarkable contribution to our mission. I wouldn't worry about her ability to fit in and do her part without any difficulty. After all, the Lord qualifies whom he calls, and she was called to THIS mission by a Prophet of the Lord. What more can we ask?

President & Sister Jennings
Korea Busan Mission

Snail Mail to Grama & Grampa Hadden dated 4/20/09

RoseE writes:

"20 Apr 2009
Dear G & G,

It is the best of times and worst of times out here in Korea. Worst of times because I am surrounded by Elders who are all in comfortable, casual P-Day clothes which they are only supposed to wear if they are doing physical, outdoorsy activities (it's raining outside). And we sisters are faithfully wearing our skirts and stockings. I have not worn pants since the 24th of March. This, however, is my pride talking. I will get blessings for wearing stockings.

And other than my pride issues, Korea is great, Elder Gygi is off in Taejun Mission, so I will never see him again. Of my whole dong: (this is Korean for "same age group" - it's the people you came to Korea with) only two are in my zone. Two more, Elder Green and Elder Kang, were one dong ahead of me, so we were in the MTC together for a while. I miss my district-mates a lot, but I think I will see them next week. It's zone conference or mission conference or some kind of conference. Who knows? I begin to think that Korean is easier to understand than missionary jargon.

Living conditions? Well, our apartment is rather dingy, but it is safe and sanitary for the most part. We have a roach problem, but it is a small problem and they are small roaches. There are traps everywhere and we are keeping the food sealed. We have a very nice washing machine but no dryer - no one in Korea has a dryer. People set up folding racks to dry their clothes on. Shopkeepers often just set these racks of wet rags on the sidewalk. We have an oven, because baked goods are a trademark of American sister missionaries, and a refrigerator FULL of leftover food from member meals. We also have a long, skinny porch/balcony thing mostly full of suitcases, broken furniture, and trash. I am starting a clean-out-the-
gosh-darn-balcony campaign. And I'm out of space. I love you! Thank you for your letters.


Monday, May 4, 2009

Pigu and Kimchichigae 5/4/09

RoseE writes:

"Dearest Mum,

Typing on Korean computers is a haphazard business, so I think we may end up being picture-less again. Sorry!

I will do my best to call that evening. The time change makes my head spin.

So I was in the middle of writing Dad a letter while I waited for Sis. M. to be done e-mailing, and then we sprinted out the door and I left the letter in the photo place where we were. And it's on the other end of town--clear on the other end, way out of our area. So I'm re-writing today, minus the original letter for reference. I'm so sorry!

You'll be happy to know that I am sore, too. Saturday was Sports Conference in Pusan Stake. The whole stake and all the missionaries (including the Andersons, the senior couple who work in the office) went up to this BIG dirt field at, I don't know, a university or something?, and played games all day. Some of it was fun -- like pigu, which is a Korean form of dodgeball that just gets darn crazy and in which I scored the shot to tie the game. Some of it was annoying, like the fact that the t-ball game was organized as "Men's game first, then women's game after if there's time," which of course there wasn't. Dang Confuscian society. T-ball is apparently too manly a sport to let the sisters play it in Korea. But pigu was women-only, and it was dang brutal. And the elders put together a cheering section/chorus line for us, so I forgave them a little bit for not letting me play t-ball. The missionaries all had to run a relay race--I ran my stretch and then stopped caring about who won, because I was dang tired and wanted to go to sleep in the shade.

Oh, the shade was really cool. It was trees. The roof over the spectators' seating was just a frame onto which all these trees had been trained, so it was just this thick leafy roof with some purple flowers left in it from their blooming season a few weeks ago. Neat!

So that was cool.

Last P-Day, we roommates went for a good long shop in Seomeyon, which is the underground mall at a subway stop by our house. I discovered the following things: my feet are too big for Korea (really. There is not a shoe to go on my foot in the whole country. So in a few months when you get a plaintive letter asking for shoes, it's not because I just really miss American shoes -- it will be because my shoes have big holes in them and there are no replacements to be had).

I also got a STAMP! In Korea, everybody has a little wooden stamp that is just their very own, and they use it to stamp letters and bills and official documents and things. So I got one at a little shop where you just tell the shop owner what you want your stamp to say and how you want it arranged, and you pick out a stamper, and then you come back in ten minutes and it's ready to go. My stamp has a fish for a handle and a little magnetic cover, and when it stamps it imprints my English and French names, written in Hangul, circled around the hanja for "History." It's really cool, but I'm not very good at stamping with it yet. Lots of practice.

Tuesday I went on my very first split. I went down to the city of Masan, Southwest of Pusan, and spent a day working with Sister Kim Yoon Ha. This was a good experience -- she was really nice, and we had a good time. But I missed my companion and roommates so much I was close to tears the whole time, and I was nauseous all day from nerves, dehydration, motion sickness (the busses in Masan are INSANE), and kimchichigae, which I had never eaten before. So that was not so good, really.(By the bye, dehydration is a real concern here because the tap water is not safe to drink, so there are no drinking fountains anywhere. This is bothering the heck out of me. There are little water dispensers in banks and post offices, and bottled water can be purchased at every corner store, but I just want a drinking fountain, man. Gosh.)

So when all was said and done, I was glad to get home to Pusan and chill out in Zone Conference, at which I finally got my new missionary tags with my name written in both English and Korean: Sisterer Hadden. Really. I can understand mispelling my last name, but my title? Really? So I'm waiting for new ones and still wearing my MTC tag in the meantime. *sigh*

Yesterday, Sunday, I just sang my brains out. First Sis. M. and I had to sing a duet for a baptismal service. (My insanely-talented soprano roommates are very pleased that I know the alto part to just about everything; it makes last-minute musical numbers easy to do.) Then while the baptizer and baptizee were changing, the ward made us sing again. Really. The bishop took a vote. And then we ran like heck over to our other ward for our last musical fireside, in which we four roommates did a quartet number (again, last minute). It was a lot of fun.

Um, Teancum . . . oh, gosh, I can't remember the name of the website I went to for Doctor Who episodes. Oh, yes, I do. It was It's a huge archive of links to all sorts of shows. Just look under "TV Shows" and "Doctor Who" and you should find a darn good collection.

So . . . I think that's my letter for the week, 'cuz we've got to run eat lunch and then go to MeWorld, which is a) an amusement park we can see from our apartment and b) a very strange name for an amusement park in a Confuscian culture. But then again, UsWorld is not very catchy.

I love you and I'll talk to you on Sunday! Or, for you, Saturday! Dang that international date line!Oh, and your Mothers' Day Present is in the mail but will probably come late. Sorry!

I love you! A lot!