"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.
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.