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Monday, September 14, 2009

Toaster Ovens, Transfers and How Powerless We Are in the Face of Adversity

RoseE writes:
"Dear Mum and Dad,

So spoiled today! I'm e-mailing at the mission office, so the whole darn computer's in English! and there was much rejoicing. I might actually get some pictures out this week.

Well, news of the week. I'll start with the happy stuff. This week, Sis. Matthews and I were visiting a bunch of old addresses on the ward list that nobody'd checked on in a long time. There were three on one side of this little stream, and three on the other. We did the three on one side, then looked for the nearest handy bridge. Both bridges were a good hike away in either direction. But the creek was tiny. It barely deserved the title. And there were all these rocks in it.

"We could probably just climb down and cross on the rocks," I joked to Sister Matthews.

"Yep. Probably could," Sister Matthews answered.

We looked at each other.

And then we headed down into the gully.

It turned out to be NOT as short and easy as it looked from up top. We got pretty well prickled in the masses of something that looked like squash or pumpkin plants growing all along the creek. We made it to the water, stripped off our shoes and stockings, and rock-hopped/waded across (it was slimy with green growing stuff, which is an okay kind of slimy that I'm familiar with, not nasty city pollution slimy), put our shoes back on, and started the even longer hike up the other side. Now without the minimal protection of nylons we got even more scratched and prickled, so our legs were covered in little pink slashes by the time we got to the other side. And it had taken longer than we'd meant it to, so we didn't have time to visit anyone anyway. But it was a heck of a lot of fun. Just don't tell Prez.

We also this week celebrated my halfway point and Elder Robb's birthday by going with the entire zone to that wonderland of food known as Vips. Much deliciousness was had. Vips has a little conveyor-belt toaster (an impinger, we used to call it at the theater) for toasting rolls and things if you want to. And Sister Matthews, clever thing that she is, decided to try to toast a piece of salmon in it. Well, that went fine. Worked just great. So she got Sister Ii Yeong Bin in on it, and they put an even bigger piece of salmon through. But when they tried to pick it up, it fell apart and dropped into the internal workings of the toaster. So they were trying frantically to get it out when Elder Son Oh Un came up to see what they were doing, bouncing around them like a puppy in a "Hey, guys! What's goin' on? Can I see?" fashion, with these two poor sisters trying to wave him away so he didn't attract more attention to their plight. Finally the Vips staff figured out something was up, informed the sisters sternly that the toaster was only for bread, and shooed them off. They hustled back to our table and sort of hid until the cluster of staff around the toaster went away and they figured the problem was cleared up.

We had THREE meals with American families this week. It's been some dang good food, man. But the Tollets' house was odd, because their daughter greeted us at the door with "You can keep your shoes on." They'd had some work done in the house, and the floor was still gritty with construction dust. But MAN, that felt wrong, to go into a house wearing your shoes. I wanted to at least tiptoe or something. Ugh.

We met this week with a woman by the name of Ii Mi Suk. She is a member who just went through major surgery battling advanced ovarian cancer. She's doing really well, or as well as you can be doing with ovarian cancer. She's a chatterbox and a jokester, and was so glad to see and gossip with us. Sunday afternoon, we visited her with a member family, and at her request sang "Be Still, My Soul." By the time we finished it, we were all in tears. She took our hands in each of hers, and gripped them tightly, and said in a tear-choked voice that I will never forget, "My life is . . . bottom. But I believe Jesus Christ. So I don't care!"

I feel so helpless most of the time. We missionaries are servants of Jesus Christ, but in the face of so much fear and pain, what can we do? A hymnal, a tissue, a hand to hold, the willingness to walk wherever we're told to go . . . it's all we have. A puny arsenal. But Sister Ii Mi Suk called us servants of Jesus Christ, and clutched our hands and told us she would never forget us. What did we do? What could we have done?

She didn't need us. She needed Jesus Christ, and she has him. I could see the strength and comfort and happiness in her, sick and hurt and frightened as she was. And it gives me a great sense of peace to know that one day, when I do my inevitable battle with breast cancer (It's coming. I know it.), I'll have access to that same source of strength. He helps us through.

Speaking of things that are hard to go through, Thursday night we got The Call. In spite of all our hopes and plans and pleading and prayers, Sister Matthews and I are being split up. Sister Matthews is moving down to Pusan, to serve in Sujeong ward, my old area, as well as Haeundae and Gwangan wards. She was heartbroken. But she's serving with her MTC companion Sister Hawkins, which has softened the blow somewhat. She was so upset she forgot to ask Elder Clark who MY new companion was going to be, but I was so upset I didn't care. I just crawled under my desk and cried for a while, while she called all her friends to say good-bye. An hour later, she learned who I was going to be serving with: Sister Pak Song Hee, my former roommate and first friend in Korea. So that's something. But this will be my third transfer of five living exclusively with Koreans, and this time there will be no Sis. Beckstead and Ogelvie to save me on P-Day. But at least it's Sister Pak Song Hee, if it had to be somebody.

I love you all! Be good!


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