"Dearest Mum & Dad,
Well, here's the BIG news: Transfers.
The elders are all shuffling around, and one American sister is switching around to take the place of a homeward bound Korean sister, but other than that all the Sisters are staying where they are. Except that sister Pak Je Yeon and I are moving . . . not work areas, but apartments. The elders with whom we were working in Yeonsan are transfering/going home, so we are moving into their old place so the Mission can keep the apartment and we don't have to ride the subway for half an hour to get to the chapel every day. We will be the only missionaries in Yeonsan. And Sujeong, which had two teams of elders, will now have one. We have one investigator in Sujeong, so we're sort of still working there, but we'll spend most of our time in Yeonsan because, hey, we're living there and there's no one else to get the work done.
Elder Lee Song Gi, who is the Yeonsan Elder transferring away, says that the apartment smelled funny when they got there. Um . . .
The whole mission is getting stretched thinner because today THIRTEEN missionaries finished their service and tomorrow THREE are coming. We are down ten missionaries. That's five teams. That's a lot of people. But we still have enough people to have at least one team in every ward, which is good. A ward without missionaries in it scares us.
So I'm staying here in central Pusan for another six weeks. Well, another twelve, because in six weeks Sister Pak is going home, so I will have to stay in Yeonsan or nobody will know what is going on there. So I'll be here until September, at least. Good. More P-Days to try to get to the bathhouse, where I have STILL not gone since my first day. *sniffle*
I had an interesting experience this week: I was discriminated against on basis of race. Yeah. Um . . . odd. For a middle-class white American girl. We (Sister Pak and I, and Elders Hansen and Routson) were less-active hunting one afternoon, and the gwalija (the door guard) of an apartment complex wouldn't let us into his building. When we provided the name and address of the person we wanted to visit, and explained that she was a member of our church, he shook his head and said flat-out that we weren't allowed in. Sister Pak demanded to know if this was the apartment rule: that no one could get on the elevator if they were not personally known to the gwalija. "No," he shot back, "but I won't let 'weigukin' go wandering around the apartments." 'Weigukin' means 'foreigner.' He wouldn't let us in because three of us were white.
Sister Pak, tiny, Bambi-eyed Sister Pak, who is about the cutest human being ever born, proceeded to rip him a new one in rapid-fire Korean, then turn and stalk off with the moral high ground firmly in her control. By the time she made it to the corner, she was shaking, so we all stopped at a grocery store to get some water.
It was . . . a strange experience. I'm still processing it.
Oh, guess what yesterday was? Right . . . it was Father's Day. Guess when I finally managed to find someone in this blessed country who knew the date of Father's Day this year? Last Tuesday. So Daddy, your card is late. I'm sorry! But it's coming, and with a darn good present, too. You'll like it. Unlike your birthday present, which I am going to send mostly because I think it is funny. So happy Father's Day. I miss you like crazy and wish you were here to be in charge of stuff and know everything about everything. The American missionaries here keep asking me, "How do you KNOW all this random stuff? Where the heck did you learn it?" and I shrug my shoulders and smile to think that I am much more like my dad than I ever thought that I was.
Here's Strange Things From Korea for the week:
In Korea, both the handcart and the parasol are alive and well. Every woman in Pusan carries a parasol when it's sunny. They come in a billion colors and you can buy them anywhere. I have not bought one, though Sis. Pak bought me a fan last week, which has proven to be indispensable as the summer starts to heat up. It has cranes on it.
Handcarts are generally full of cardboard. I'm not sure why. But there's always one somewhere, full of cardboard, either pushed or pulled by a Korean grandpa.
And yes, in Korea, just like the newsreel footage of Hong Kong, people do wear surgical masks in public. They are called 'hygene masks.' People make their kids wear them, too. I'm not sure if they're to prevent catching something or to prevent spreading something. Maybe both.
At English class this week, Pak Un Geong, one of our less-actives, actually CAME and hung out with the ward members and it was great! But she was teasing me about how all sister missionaries gain weight, and I just shrugged and smiled and answered, in what I think was perfect Korean, "There is so much love in these wards. And in Korea, where there is love, there is RICE." She laughed and told me, in excellent English, "You understand Korean culture!"
So it seems I've got the culture thing down. It's just the language that's escaping me. But I'm going to work harder on that this transfer, because this transfer I read the entire Old Testament, and so that's done and I'll have all this study time to work on something else. Like . . . Korean. I really should get on that.
Yesterday Elder Routson and I sang at the Halmoni Tree. On the road coming up to Sujeong ward there is this tree, and under the tree are about ten chairs of various kinds, and on a good day every chair is occupied by a Korean grandma, just gossipping in the shade. We always bow to the Halmoni tree as we pass it . . . it's like a rule or something. But yesterday, as we were walking past with the Elders, we stopped and I asked the Halmonis if they would let me take their picture with Elder Routson, since he was going to transfer away. And they laughed and let me. And then Elder Routson asked, "Can we sing?" and I was like, "YEAH! I've been wanting to do that for months!" So we asked if we could sing to them, and then sang "I am a Child of God," the only song we both know (sort of) in Korean. All the Halmonis clapped to keep time for us, and then we gave them all gospel pamphlets. Man, I wanted a picture of all those sweet little grandmas reading our pamphlets in the shade under their Halmoni Tree. It was so adorable.
I ate a bunch of chocolate from my dear families this week. :-) I think, with letters, e-mails, and packages, I am about the most spoiled missionary ever. Every time the Elders hand me my mail, usually with a letter from Dad, one from Em, one from Mom, one from Holly, one from Grandma and Grandpa Hadden . . . they just stare at me like "How the heck do you get all this MAIL?" It's because I only love really really awesome people. I'm just lucky that way.
Urgh, I wish there were more e-mail time!
Bethe, don't get sick, that would be lame. A dragon picture is on its way to you.
Bug: take care of your war wound. My blessed brother can't go fifteen minutes without getting himself hurt . . . .
Cat: Lie down before you hurt yourself. Love you.
Talk to you next week! Much love and all that! I wish you were all here in Korea with me! CHURCH IS TRUE! No, really. It really is. It's crazy, but it's so incredibly really absolutely just flat-out TRUE. My gosh.