"Dearest Mum & Dad,
There was a Hutch Branch* party and I missed it? I missed seeing Megan and Linda? Awww, bites much. Darn it.
So here's the news:
This week Wednesday was Pres's Birthday. In honor of the occasion, Sis Jennings snuck EVERYone in the whole mission (Except the team on Jeju island, poor guys) into the mission office, some of them travelling a couple of hours to get there. When Prez came in we all sang Happy Birthday and did full Korean formal bows, which the Koreans taught us beforehand how to do properly. Three of the Korean sisters were wearing bright red-and-gold hanboks they'd borrowed from members. It looked really cool, and Prez cried and kissed Sis. Jennings, which of course made us all whoop and holler because we're missionaries and are not allowed to see that kind of thing.
So this meeting was officially 'joint zone conference,' because 'President's Birthday Party' is not considered a real missionary meeting, and we are no longer allowed to have 'mission conference' unless a general authority visits. So it was 'joint zone conference.' That's our story and we're sticking to it.
Oh, this is important: before I left Pusan I read an article in a kids' newspaper about a man at the Hershey factory who fell into a vat of chocolate and died. And so I wrote Grandpa Ben about it two weeks ago, but I forgot to put the blessed clipping in the envelope! So can you tell him that's what that letter is about? Thanks.
I got my name cards made today. They're going out in all subsequent letters, complete with genuine Korean typos. It wouldn't be a myongham if it didn't have a typo of some kind.
So the other big event this week was the joint Suseong Ward/Daegu Military Branch activity, of big yard sale, musical program, and dinner. The Koreans most certainly organized it, and only kind of let the Americans know about it at the last minute, which kind of disconcerted the Americans who have not quite figured out how to get along with Koreans yet. Koreans like showing off their kids' accomplishments (two languages, a musical instrument, and a martial art being MINIMUM, and that's of course on top of perfect grades, which are so necessary they're just assumed) so the Korean primary was singing and playing pianos and violins, and the American primary was just primary, which left the Americans feeling embarassed and annoyed and me feeling embarassed and annoyed for everybody concerned. Especially me, because they made the missionaries sing, too. What song? You Raise Me Up. No, really. They made us sing it. It's like the Real Korean National Anthem. We also did another song, just me and Sis. Matt, that actually was church-related and that I felt a lot better about performing in front of my countrymen. And I got to have chili for dinner, and the missionaries could have anything they wanted from the yard sale for free! So I got a fun t-shirt top thing, a gray dress that fits perfectly and looks great but also looks just like what nuns wear in Korea, a lace-up crop top of which Holly would approve and a pin-striped jacket that is actually made out of tight-weave mesh! You can't tell, but it's so much more comfortable to wear than wool or even cotton.
And this morning we went to Palgongsan, a mountain outside of town that houses a large and very old buddhist temple. It was SO beautiful. Trees. Plants. Birds. Two-hundred-year-old buildings. The world's largest statue of Buddha. We were 'handled' (a la Ju Di in Ba Sing Se**) by a tour guide from the Taegu Tourist Board, which was annoying, but he was very willing to take pictures for us. Yeeeeeah, we're tourists on P-day.
When it's not P-Day, of course, it's hotter than Hades. Sis. M. and I have been pounding the pavement looking up less-actives so we can give verified addresses and phone numbers to the ward council and be like "THESE people. Please get someone to home teach them so that we can do, you know, missionary work." We've been hiding under our buchaes (hand fans--how I ever survived without one I don't know) and ducking into post offices to get water and AC when we feel sick.
We've started to teach an older gentleman who lives right around the corner from Jeungni chapel in Lotte Apartments, which are the most expensive apartments I know. They're nice. His name is Gwon Ho U, and he's retired air force. He served on the Enterprise and flew 37 missions. He also wears one silver star on his flight suit--does this make him a general? I'm lacking in vocab for this particular topic. But he's come to church twice now and is making connections with the members, so we have high hopes of being able to teach him and really integrate him into the ward. He's so lonely. His wife's in the hospital, her memory all but gone, and his son, like everyone else's son, lives in Seoul.
Oh, query: did my CD full of pictures make it there intact?*** I sent it a looooong time ago but keep forgetting to check.
That's the news, for my time is short. I love you so much!
*Hutchinson Branch was our little congregation in Glencoe, MN
** a reference to an episode of Avatar where an apparently brain-washed woman named Ju Di very obviously tries to steer Our Heros away from What's Wrong With The Country, Ba Sing Se being the name of the place.
*** Yes, it arrived. Pictures will soon be available on Snapfish. Email me for the account info.