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Monday, October 26, 2009


RoseE writes:

"Dear Mum and Dad,

I'm glad to hear that Bug is still alive and cancer-free. This news is joyous to my soul.
(actually the expression on our faces when we found the camera)

If I know Dad, he's getting Bug a wheelchair at Disneyworld so that he can have an extra line shortcut. Maybe one for himself, too, if the coughing gets much worse. Awww, I miss random for-the-heck-of-it Dad trips. We tried to do a random for-the-heck-of-it trip to Pusan today, to hit Nampodong market, but the Zone Leaders said no soap so we proved them wrong by CLEANING OUR APARTMENT but HARDCORE. I've been scrubbing at the kitchen whenever I get a chance (we have a fruit fly issue), but even now, after all that and two hours of intense black-sludge-getting-rinsed-out-of-my-washrag labor, it still needs so much work. The bathroom looks much better, though, thanks to Sis. Pak. Even the broken sink faucet is shiny and sparkly. And I found muffin tins in the gook under the sink, so I can make muffin-shaped muffins now.

All this cleaning was mostly because of the transfer calls. The verdict is in: Sis. Pak and I are staying, so I'm in Taegu at least until the first week of December. Sister Ii Yeong Bin is out, and Sister Pak Se Ra is training the new Korean sister. And we thought it would be a bit traumatic to come in after training day to our tiny grubby apartment in the state it's in. So it's in a better state now. And it's full of food; Sis. Pak got a box this week, not from her family, but from a soon-to-be-baptized investigator from back in Sujeong ward. An enormous box, full of ramen, snacks, and new shoes. Yeah. Everyone thinks that this is a decidedly flirty move, and he is single as far as we know, so perhaps it's a good thing that Sis Pak's staying up here and not getting transfered back down to Pusan . . .

Last night we got to teach the first lesson to Sister Gu Yeong Eh's niece, which was lovely. I like teaching a lot better than prostelyting: I feel energized and positive when teaching, whereas I feel like I want to throw up when prostelyting. Yeah, still scared to death of that. Sigh.

Other news . . . I'm having to remember everything cold-turkey, because I left my 'news' list at home . . . um . . . Well, we're tea
ching Hyeoh Un lesson 4 now, Commandments, and getting her ready to be baptized probably some time in the coming transfer. Between her, and Hyeon Ji (the above-mentioned niece), and the truckload of referals we got from Church Headquarters (we think they're from Temple Square at conference time, 'cuz a bunch of us got a LOT), we've got a lot of work to do. Which is good. I don't like having no work to do; my mind wanders and I get sulky.

Halloweeen's on Saturday, and Sis. Pak and I are putting the Halloween party together. Mad schemes are underway for 'bobbed apples' and a 'sacrace race' (I couldn't correct these because they were just too adorable) and a haunted house on the second floor of the chapel. As we were planning it, we got ourselves pretty well creeped out, so we figure it's gonna be hard to go wrong. Halloween decorations are thin on the ground over here, but we found a bunch of plastic cardboard-y stuff that the remodeling place 'round the corner doesn't want, and I'm brushing up my kleenex-ghost-making skills. More updates to follow.

Um, what else . . . oh, there was a Fireside on Friday night that the Missionaries had nothing to do with as far as planning or implimentation goes, which is quite novel. We did perform "I'll Go Where You Want Me To Go"* and "Called To Serve,"** and Elder Son Oo Shik played "Come, Come, Ye Saints"*** on his okaraina (traditional Korean flute, kind of like the little ceramic turtle-flutes you sometimes see . . . it's got a lovely sound). A girl in another ward who's leaving for the MTC today (serving in Anaheim) was nearly made to perform with us at the last minute, but mercy prevailed, and she was only made to bear her testimony. A good collection of investigators came from all over Taegu, and there was strusel bread from Paris Baguette afterward, so everybody wins.

Um . . . and . . . well, the straps broke on my black shoes this week, so (after several futile repair attempts) I cut'em off and now have a brand new-looking-sort-of pair of shoes. It's variety. They're really standing up to ten months of abuse astonishingly well.

Um, I really think that's most of the news for this week. So I'll quit typing here and go work on picture sending/backup.

. . .

I love you! Which is why I'm teaching you ㅗ, which is O, like the name of the letter. So now you can say 모모, which is Korean for 'bla bla bla' and also conveniently the name of a flying lemur who chatters but cannot talk.
Kiore on the Train to Gumi

Making kimchi at Jin Jang Hi's house

View from the mountain we climbed


** "Called To Serve" LDS Hymns # 249

*** "Come, Come Ye Saints" LDS Hymns #30

to Auntie Cat, 26 October '09

RoseE writes:

"Dear Auntie Cat,

Gosh! You're such a faithful correspondent and I've been simply atrocious about getting back to you. I'm going to work on repenting of that. You are an astonishingly forgiving person.

At any rate, thank you so much for the newsy emails! I love hearing what's going on with you and your family. Is the pipe-and-drum performance season pretty much over, or do you still have gigs into the fall and winter? Have you and Mom yet concocted another plan for one to visit the other sometime soon?

I don't think I told you (but maybe I did and I forgot) that in the small jewelry collection that came with me to Korea is the necklace I made from one of the shells we found out at the beach that one time. It's a white shell with little touches of tan at the edges, and it looks great with dark tops--and as all my blazer-like things are black or gray, I've been wearing it a lot. Cold weather = black jacket = shell necklace. And it's gonna get colder before all's said and done. I'm staying in Taegu (way inland) at least until December, so I'm probably going to get fairly well chilled before either the weather warms up or President transfers me down to Masan on the south coast. But that's okay. I'm from Minnesota. I can take any weather Korea cares to dish out.

In other news, well . . . last night we were given the opportunity (on very short notice . . . this is the kind of surprise I like) to teach our member friend's niece the message of the Restoration. I think that spending an evening talking about Heavenly Father and prophets and apostles and eternal families, with a small fuzzy dog curled up on your lap, to someone who wants to listen, is my new favorite activity. We get so few opportunities to really teach like that, but I think that those experiences are the only things that really give me energy. It's so easy to get really tired and frustrated when you spend all day trying to talk to people who don't want to listen. (Both my companion and I are still scared to death of talking to people on the street, she because she's a Korean woman [Korean women generally don't speak to strangers--it's not polite] and me because I have all the communication skills of a fairly well-trained bottlenose dolphin.) But when we get a chance to teach somebody, suddenly we both feel like a million bucks (well, 1 billion won, in Sister Pak's case) and like all the work is worth it and anything's possible. I wish I could feel like that all the time. I'm working on it. Study more, pray harder, love less selfishly, and work-work-work. They tell me this does wonders.

I love you. Thank you so much for your love and support and prayers, and for all the good you do down south there. You're an amazing, loving, wonderful person, full of faith and energy, and if I could be more like you I would be very well pleased.


Monday, October 19, 2009

Second Box from Korea

We received the box RoseE mentioned in her email earlier today. Here, finally, are the pictures of the contents of the box. Sorry for the blurriness. This camera doesn't do close-ups well.

1) Little red baby booties. Sister Anderson, who serves in the office, is learning to knit and made them for all the younger sisters' trousseaus*. I don't think I have a trousseau.

2) Some "thank-you" New Zealand chocolate from Sister Matthews.

3) Some more Fanta shakers, as per Bug's request.

4) Chalduck Pies. This is the much-talked-of "duck," filled with red bean (I lied: it's more like chocolate) and dipped in chocolate.

5) Pineapple cookies. Joyous to my soul. Not for Dad.**

6) DVDs! Korea is the Tortuga of DVDs. These are MINE and they are PRECIOUS, so if you want to watch them, TAKE GOOD CARE OF THEM OR I WILL KILL YOU!

7) A book, which was a present from Brother Cho Jung Gol when I transferred. (He just got called to the Elder's Quorum Presidency. Yaay!) I can't read it right now, so it's going home.

I'll add the pictures later. Stay tuned.


*I think she means a hope chest. A trousseau is for your honeymoon, containing a traveling suit, a negligee, a swimsuit, etc; a hope chest is for when you get home and set up house. It has things like tablecloths, napkins, quilts, sheets, beeswax candles, silver spoons, and baby layettes and booties. Stuff like that.

**Dad is allergic to pineapple.

to Todd, dated 10/12/09

RoseE writes:

"Dear Dad,

Behold the first page of the "military" section of the stationary pad. I'm going to be in it for a while. Inasmuch as 2 years' military service is required of all Korean men, there's a big "writing-to-your-army-boyfriend" niche. (Sister Jung Min Hee's military boyfriend just Dear Jane'd her . . . or possibly she Dear Johned him; I didn't pry . . . but in honor of the occasion she cut her hair short. It was an admirable gesture of strength and defiance, and she looks great, so we all have high hopes she'll get through this okay.)

I like your mission goals*. I haven't baptized anybody, and probably won't, but we did teach and see baptized Bro Cho Sung Gol, which I think fulfills the requirement. (I've heard both that he's been called as Elder's Quorum 2nd Counselor and that he's gone inactive, both from uncertain sources . . . either way, I'm in Taegu and he's in Pusan, so if he needs help some other missionaries will have to give it.) Senior I think I'll have to be someday, because all those sisters older than me are dying in December, and when that happens, the language will come because it has to. Lofty goals are all well and good, but there's something to be said for just getting the blessings you truly need, and not the ones that "will make people say "Wow--what a great missionary!" when you get home. I don't think I want to be great. Even being good is quite enough to be shooting for right now. We'll see.

I love you.


*Todd's mission goals: 1) perform a baptism; 2) become senior companion; 3) learn the language

The Lord Watches Over Missionaries

RoseE writes:

"Dear Mum and Dad,

STOP THE PRESSES! The camera's back. Yeah. Like, fifth degree miracle (if 1 is a little miracle, on the miracle scale that I made up just right now). It's back, it's fine, it was rescued by the little old man who runs the watch store and Sis Pak (much more in tune with the Spirit than myself) was directed right to him to ask about the camera. On my exact nine-months-out anniversary. MIRACLE in big letters. I'd tell you all about it but I have SEVEN MINUTES to write this e-mail because Gosh Dang Elder Ii Son Gi dragged us all out to Gumi today, which was fun, but not at the expense of my e-mail time. Rrrrgh.

So top of the list: I got a letter bounced back this week sent to a one Madame Felicia Marshall, my punk ex-roommate who seems to have moved. If word should by any chance come to you, through, say, a former roommate who is reading the blog, of where Felicia lives now so I can send her her dang letter, please pass it along.

It up'n got cold! I've gotten out my old cordoroy jacket, and am thinking about running the green coat to the dry cleaners--it's been suitcased for a long time.

Hyeoh Un is working towards getting baptized. Her mom is utterly okay with this, which is very weird to me, because, as we all know, Mormons are a devilcult. But hey, whatever works. Her little brother Dong Oo sat in on our lesson this week, and listened to the whole thing, which is a remarkable feat for a six-year-old to accomplish of his own free will.

We found a less-active member this week who got baptized some twenty years ago and has since become a teacher in another church, and who Bible-bashed us freely for some two solid hours. Sister Pak was a saint through the whole ordeal. It is hard . . . it is SO hard not to fight about doctrine with someone who is trying to provoke you into it. I mean, it's easy for me, 'cuz I can't say much of anything, but hard for Sister Pak, who was made to feel like crap because she doesn't know the Book of Revelation backwards and forwards. But she stayed calm, kept the Spirit, and held to her testimony of the Restoration and the Book of Mormon. That's all we can do. We were both emotionally drained by the time we got out of there, but somehow felt like really good missionaries . . . rejoicing that we were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name, I guess. And rejoicing that the roommates had ice cream and sympathy when we got home.

Okay, Sis. Pak says I've got fifteen minutes more than I thought I had, so that's good. No pictures this week 'cuz I'm e-mailing at the train station where the USB jacks don't work. But I will (VERY SOON) be BACKING UP MY MIRACULOUSLY RETURNED PHOTOS and hopefully sending a copy home for safekeeping. So let me fill in the camera story here.

We were walking past the fateful bus stop where I set the camera down in a moment of abstraction and never saw it again, and the bench where we'd been sitting was being mopped by a little old man. And Sis Pak stopped dead and told me, "You should ask him about your camera." So I did. And then Sis Pak translated what I said, because old people can't understand my Korean. And this little old man grumbled a bit, set down his mop, hobbled across the sidewalk to the watch repair shop where we put money on our bus cards, opened a back cupboard, and . . . there it was. Not a scratch. And he just handed it to me and that was that. Well, that wasn't that . . . there was a lot of gasping and bowing and thanks and screaming and crying and prayer on my part. But the camera and all the pictures are safe. So if Grama wants that $50 back (much thanks to her, by the way) she would be quite justified. I'm refunding Elder Overmeyier the 'sympathy cookie' he gave me. I'd refund y'all sympathy cookies, but . . .

By the bye, I slow-boated a box home about two months ago, so it should be getting in any day. Tell me when it gets through, if you would, please.

I am praying for Great-Grama.*

We do get the Ensign; we'll be okay on that.**

Good luck on Bug's surgery***; please remember that those recovering from surgical procedures are entitled to get their way about everything all the time.

I love you all! I'm gonna go look at pictures now. Oh, and please tell Cat Wilson I've been downright evil about not writing her back, but I'll remedy that next week, 'pon my soul. Oh, and next week's transfer days, so the die will once again be cast.

Today you get to learn the consonant ㅣ, which says E (like the name of the letter). So you can say 미, which is the second syllable of my Korean name.

Love you!


*Rose Olsen, aged 95 3/4, still kickin' and crackin' jokes with the best of them in Montana, but starting to fail.

**General Conference reports, printed in the November Ensign.

**Small Brother has a tumor on the top of his left femur. It is being surgically removed on 10/22.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Loss of a Camera, Conference Notes

RoseE writes:

"Dear Mom & Dad,

Glad to know that everyone's still alive out there. It was a bit of a freaked-out week last week.
. . .

Well, news of the week. Bad news first. I'd give you all the excruciating details of how this happened, but that would just make me feel awful again, so suffice to say that I lost track of my camera at a critical moment and the odds are now EXTREMELY small that I'm ever going to see it again. When I realized this, I just about fainted. Really. I got all shaky and couldn't talk for about fifteen minutes. My camera. With all of my pictures. The last nine months of my life.
Salvage operations are underway. The backup disk I sent home is safe in your keeping (right?), and the photos I e-mailed home are okay, and I have prints of a few others here with me. I also got a flash drive and am passing it around to the missionaries I've served with, to get copies of THEIR pictures of people and events that we both photographed. So it's not the end of the world--it just really, really felt like it for a while. I used that thing every day. It was how I memorized names and faces, how I navigated, how I copied down things I didn't have time to write by hand (Yeah . . . the granola and muffin recipes are gone, too), and contained my collection of Strange Korean Business and Product Names. And that picture of Elder Robb when he fell asleep on the bus that one time. It's been a very Book-of-Mormon week, when you realize just how precious your records are and how diligent you should be in keeping them. I haven't been as diligent as I should, and now it's coming back to bite me.

I also have to get a new camera. I don't really want to, because a. I loved that camera like my own child and b. I'm not exaaaactly sure about my personal financial situation right now, much less what it's going to be when I get back. My big talk about iPods aside, I'd been hoping not to touch my personal money for a good, long while. But I do need a camera, so I guess I'll just have to (as Cara says) burn that bridge when I come to it, be as economical as I can, and hope things work out.

In better news, this week was General Conference! Which was great except that I'M THE ONLY SISTER MISSIONARY IN TAEGU WHO SPEAKS ENGLISH. Which meant that on Saturday, when none of the American branch showed up for Conference, I had to stay with my companion. Morning session we watched together in English, upstairs with the elders, and afternoon session we watched downstairs, in Korean, with the Stake. Being in a dark room listening to a language you don't speak being spoken by someone who isn't going to require a response from you is not a surefire formula for staying awake. So I started taking notes. To give you some perspective on my life right now, here are my notes on President Packer's* talk--every word I understood, written as fast as I could scribble.

My father dispensation restoration of the gospel. We are children of God. We wear bodies of flesh. Agency. Through the Atonement, we can be clean. Through baptism members of the church receive the Holy Ghost. Physical eyes spiritual eyes. Prez Uchtdorf conference experience Indiana Holy Ghost guidance these words 30 min tree big tree Holy Ghost calling received. Airplane please bless start California through prayer learn time prophet Gift of the Gholy Ghost men and women and children angel not just men little children Christ teaches and guides (scripture reference: my thoughts higher than your thoughts) Please pray Please be clean the Seventy serve his mother China? But one hour during method started last me my mother 30 meters American mission what work? Prayed. Next letter What work time parents were praying experience (scripture reference) feel 4 times older brother pray to mom because of prayer dad how this way (something funny) like Amulek in heart pray They will please don't sent to this world face (scripture reference) We sin Thomas S. Monson LDS Church special testimony received calling through revelation all spirits through revelation authority they through Lord Amen.**

Yeeeah. And that was someone speaking slowly, on a topic I was familiar with. That's basically what Korean sounds like to me right now: lots of words, but no actual meaning.

But Sunday was better. The Americans showed up, and so did Sisters Hill and Corrigan from Masan, so I got to watch the whole thing in English and enjoy the bliss that is the American Branch Between-Session Potluck Lunch and try to get four-year-old Gabe to eat something besides Pretzels. It was fun just spending time with the American branch, getting to know them as Me and not as Sister Matthews' companion, and also not as 'I'd-love-to-chat-but-I'm-technically-serving-in-the-Korean-Ward-So-I-Sould-Really-Go -socialize-with-them." And yikes! Was not Elder Holland's*** talk something else? Elder Holland's on the (very short) list of people I absolutely adore, deeply respect, and am scared to death of.

Also this week we taught Hyeoh Un again. This girl is great. She's retaining a lot of what we teach her (much more than I would have at any age, and she's only ten), and when we asked her if she'd been praying like we taught her, she responded, "Yes--I've been praying for my dad to stop drinking and smoking." We haven't taught her about the Word of Wisdom yet. We're now praying for her dad, too. And we just had a great time at her house, playing with her and her little brother, and singing for their mom, who was laughing her head off at her wonderful crazy kids. She looked like she needed the relief of it. We were able to bring the Spirit into their home, and only good can come of that, for their whole family. We are filled with love and hope concerning them.

Sunday afternoon, after Conference, Sis Pak and I ran into a festival going on along our river. We walked through it, wishing like crazy that it would keep going 'till Monday (but it didn't) and getting an eyeful of all the fun stuff. There was a kabuki puppetry group retelling a Korean folktale (Sis Pak filled me in on the plot) and a woman walking around in a kimono (why, I dunno . . . VERY Japanese/VERY not Korean, and also probably so much less comfortable than a hanbok#) (but it looked cool) and a bunch of cool colorful sculptures in the river and a stage where local dance groups were performing. There were a bunch of traditional Korean drums offstage, but we didn't get to hear them because we had to go to a dinner appointment. Rats. But it was great to see all of the color and energy, all the families out to have fun and spend time together. If I weren't a Saintly Sister Missionary Who Is Always Focused on the Work, I would have even been a bit homesick, for such activities on weekend afternoons with my own family. Ahem.

The members keep giving us fruit. We're drowning in it. Oh, and I made myself a treat this week; last transfer I got a box of Hamburger Helper from one of the weigukin families, and I whipped that up. Without hamburger, of course--with bulgogi. But it was still pretty tasty and I've got lots of leftovers.

On the scripture front, I passed a big hurdle: I finished the book of Alma in Korean. HA! Just in time, too, because at Zone Conference Prez gave us all a new reading challenge--to get through the Book of Mormon in our native language before Christmas, marking specific things like Names of Christ, 'Thus-saith-the-Lord' direct quotes, references to the attributes of Christ, and (my favorite) things that might be construed as a parallel of life in our mission. (Laban fallen to the ground drunken## . . . you see a lot of those around here). I'm having a blast with this, and Sis. Pak and I have a lot of fun discussing it in companion study###. And when I'm done with that for the week, it's back to slogging through Helaman, one unknown word at a time. I made it through Alma, though . . . I'm gonna finish. I'm gonna do it.

So I think that's the news of the week. I'm healthy (although I stepped on a roofing nail@ this morning--through divine providence, I was wearing my wedges so it only damaged the shoe, not the foot) and well content, pretty much, well-fed and I'm now going to go used clothes/camera shopping for the rest of my P-Day. I love you! Dad, you've got a letter coming; couldn't write any last week.


*President Boyd K. Packer, acting president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

**General Conference talks will be available in a week or two online, and I'll pass you the link when they are. It'll be pretty interesting (and probably amusing) to compare RoseE's notes to the actual talk.

*** Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

# hanbok: traditional South Korean dress

## Our Hero, Nephi, and his brothers Laman, Lemuel and Sam, are fleeing Jerusalem with their family about 600 B.C. They are commanded by the Lord to return to the city to obtain the record of the Jews and also a genealogy of their forefathers, engraven upon plates of brass, at that time in the keeping of one Laban, a somewhat imposing Jewish Elder. The brothers collectively ask Laban for the plates several times, even offering to pay in gold. Laban takes the gold but understandably refuses to give them the brass plates. Nephi finally goes into a darkened Jerusalem alone and finds Laban passed out drunk. After having a little argument with the Lord about the 6th commandment wherein the Lord wins, Nephi takes Laban's own sword out of it's scabbard, chops off Laban's head, puts on Laban's clothes and by deception obtains the brass plates which his family uses to keep themselves on the straight and narrow--sort of--for centuries after. See 1 Nephi 3 and 4.

### Companion Study: every morning she and her companion study the scriptures together for an hour.

@RoseE has a history of stepping on (rusty) nails. The first incident was in a Chicago hotel. The nail went into her foot and she had to be rescued by her baby sister, then aged 2. The second time was at a northern Minnesota language camp. The nail again went into her foot, and she had to be taken by van into the nearest town to have it removed and get a tetnus shot.

letter to Todd, early October

RoseE writes:

"Dear Dad,

Will I still be able to give blood when I get home? I know you know. And why do you so thoroughly dislike Oklahoma? We've never lived in any of its border states, so it can't be a border rivalry. But next P-day we're going up to Palgong Mountain with the Tollets from Tulsa, so even if they do know the outcome of the game and I can't win a bet, I can still offhandedly mention that my school beat theirs.

Who puts together the Sacrament Meeting programs*--Brother Landon? It seems like that one** was particularly chosen just to drive you nuts and make you look everybody up. Sacrament programs are not done in Korea, which is inconvenient, because it would be nice to be able to learn names while listening to people give their talks. Oh, well. If the Korean Church has to drop some institutions and practices, it's probably best they ditch the Sacrament program and not something like Primary.*** There are things that matter and things that don't. Sacrament Meeting programs, like Sunday School attendance records, are Don'ts.

Do you know, or can you find, a dish called yang nyeon chicken? (I think that's the romanization.) It's a fried-chicken thing in a lovely sweet, sticky, a little bit spicey, dark red sauce with sesame seeds sprinkled on top. If you're still exploring Korean cooking, this'd be a good one to hunt down. I'd give a lot to know how to make that sauce. If you'd tried it, you would, too.

Love you!


*Sacrament Meeting programs: a printed sheet of paper, folded in half, that outlines the speakers, etc, for Sacrament Meeting on Sunday.

** One Sunday the picture on the front of the Sacrament Meeting program was an old photograph from 1856 or so showing a collecting of Church officials. No names were included. More people that just Todd spent hours looking up the identities of the collection of bearded men.

*** Primary: the Sunday School organization for children ages 3-12.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

RoseE writes:

"Dear Dad,

. . . I went to a baptism . . . of a girl Sister Pak Sung Hee and Sister Hawkins had been teaching. The whole ward was there to support her, and Prez. and Sis. Jennings came--Prez gave one of the talks*. Her mom had been baptized a while before. And I thought, this is how it needs to be. This is the right time, the right way. This is a good day for this wonderful girl. It took months of work and patience and prayer, but it was worth it. A baptism like that is like a temple marriage**.

. . .

I don't want to be ashamed of anything that happens or that I do on my mission. Even the dumb stuff I occasionally do, like jaywalking across the freeway or wading a creek with my skirt hitched up to my knees--yeah, maybe it was dumb, but I'm not ashamed of it. I did none of it selfishly to the harm of others whom I should be protecting. I've heard tell of "baseball baptisms" in Japan and the interminable 30/30 English program*** in Taejean, Seoul, and Seoul West . . . and even in this mission, under the former Mission President, the missionaries were supposed to yell every morning as they left their apartments: "Pusan Sankyobu! Fighting! Let's Do It! One thousand baptisms! Why not?" Pak Ji Yeon still did this, out of habit. (Elder Hansen's personal interpretation of this was "One thousand less-actives! Why not?") President Jennings has ditched the thing entirely in favor of "I love missionary work!" which has the advantage of being quicker off the tongue, at least. So yeah. Busan Sankyobu. Fighting. Let's do it. Our stats are crap but our baptisms are solid. (Sister Kim Yoan Ha, who's serving in Yeonsan now, told me a while back that Bro. Cho Jing Gol had been called as Second Counselor in the Elder's Quorum Presidency#. It's a dang small ward, to give that calling to a convert of 1 month, but the news was pleasing to me. That's the kind of responsibility you've got to stick with, and that makes you get to know the ward but fast.)

We're still working on cleaning up the swarm of once-baptized-and-never-heard-from-agains. Thankfully, the wards just got computers a few months ago that let them update their own CMIS## records, instead of having to send things to Seoul (which never got done, and if it did often got lost in the paperwork shuffle up there). The missionaries are being called on to do a lot of the legwork on this, which is tiresome, but I'm glad to be able to help with it. Forgotten less-active members are like unresolved sins on the conscience of a ward. Missionaries don't want to bring new converts into wards where so many investigators before have just been forgotten. It's beyond my knowledge whose fault any of the paperwork mess really ends up being, but I'm glad it's getting better and not worse--that we're finding those people we can find and re-defining how wards work in Korea. Or at least in Pusan mission.

Bye the bye, I didn't tell you at the time, but I think I found the river you meant when you said the North Koreans got held up in Taegu. Because there's a big, actual river river outside town that I didn't know about until a couple weeks ago. The kind that would actually give a sensible general pause.

Autumn's coming here. I can smell it. The air feels a little different, somehow. I think my only summer in Korea may be over. Gosh, this goes fast. Except the part in the MTC. That stretch was so long, I think I'm still enduring it.

Love ya,


*at an LDS baptism, 2 talks are given by members of the baptizee's choice: one on baptism and one on the gift of the Holy Ghost. These talks are supposed to give guidance and counsel to the new member, and being as they are given by somebody who knows the baptizee, have the added advantage of being able to be tailored personally to him/her.

**Instead of being married "til death do us part", in an LDS temple couples are sealed together for time and all eternity. Temple Marriage

***30/30 English program: for Koreans wishing to learn English, the missionaries would teach them 30 minutes of English if they would listen to 30 minutes of gospel instruction.

#RoseE participated in Brother Cho's baptism last month. There are 2 counselors assigned to the Elder's Quorum president; the Elder's Quorum being "the group of men in the ward ages 18 to about 40. The muscle of the ward. If you have to move or have a roof redone, they are who you call." (from Todd) Second Counselor in the Elder's Quorum Presidency is a calling with a lot of responsibility.

##CMIS I think this is the computer system that the wards use for records.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Korean Holiday

RoseE writes:

"Dear Mum & Dad,

Looks like there's some kind of scramble going on over there, because I don't see an e-mail from all y'all. Maybe it was just a really boring week. Or maybe (as is more likely) my gosh darn e-mail account is bouncing things, despite being all but empty (it refuses to admit that I've got space in here. It's possessed or something).

Anyway, we're doing all right over here. The big news of the week was Sisters' Conference, which happened over Chuseok since we can't really get any missionary work done when Chuseok is going on. (It was eerie. Really. There were moments when I could hear No Cars At All.) Anyway, Thursday afternoon we hopped on the train and went down to Pusan, where we got to go into the mission president's house for the first time since I got here. It was great to see absolutely everybody--Sister Matthews, Sister Montgomery, Sisters Beckstead and Ogelvie, Sister Linford and Sister Jung Min Hee from the MTC, Sister Musser, the legendary Sister "Ace" Acey . . . well, everybody, in fact. There were talks, of course . . . fairly inevitable . . . but there was also Costco pizza (lots of it) and a game of Jeopardy (funniest sight ever: a dozen Korean sister missionaries frantically trying to figure out the meaning of the expression 'trick or treat') and a watching of Errand of Angels, complete with Korean subtitles. This movie is a whole different experience while on a mission. Things that are absolutely true around here: the empty apartment staircases, the awkward appointments, the impossibly endless amounts of just FOOD . . . Things that don't happen in our mission: beds on frames, off the ground (what the heck are they sleeping on?), and silent and solitary two-man apartments. There are some two-man sister houses, but I've only lived in such an arrangement one transfer out of five.

Speaking of sleeping arrangements, we all slept in Prez's living room on a bunch of yos*. Sister Jennings made it clear that she would eat our souls if we stayed up talking past 10:30, so we all faithfully found a spot to lie down on . . . but not a soul of us could sleep until well past midnight. We just lay there, in eerie silence, occasionally sitting up to exchange "You can't sleep, either?" looks with others doing the same. I toss and turn when I can't get to sleep, and since I didn't want to kick Sis. Kim Yoon Ha I tossed and turned the other direction, off the yo and eventually in between the potted plants and the wall, where I finally dozed off for a few hours.

(side note: Sis. Matt's package** came while we were all at the house. I took a video of her opening it, but since the video-sending plan doesn't seem to be working, here's the transcript:

(Scene: The living room of Prez's house. The floor is covered in yos. In the background, Sis. Linford and Sis. Ogelvie, in pajamas, are folding up their prostelyting clothes. In the foreground is Sis. Matthews, wearing an "MTC: Enter to Learn/Go Forth to Serve" t-shirt and a turquoise necklace, with a toothbrush in her mouth and a small cardboard box in her hand.)

Me: Well, it looks like you've got a toothbrush in your mouth. So let's open your box and see what's in it.
Sis. M: holds up her box and looks into the camera) First I wanna say thank you, to the Academy, for, um, this opportunity . . . (starts on the tape)
Me: You know, most people brush their teeth BEFORE coming to the Academy Awards.
Sis.M: Yeah, well, I'm from New Zealand. We do it backwards. (Is discovering that the tape won't come off) Augh!
Me: (veers camera over to Sis Kim Yoon Ha, who is chilling out, sprawled on her back on a yo) This is Sister Kim Yoon Ha. She's on the floor. (Veers back to Sis. M.)
Sis M.: (grabs a pen off the side table) Currently, I have no knife, so also in New Zealand, we use our MacGyver skills . . . (goes after the tape with the pen)
Me: Was MacGyver from New Zealand?
Sis M.: Yep.
Me: Okay.
Sis. M.: He's Maori.
Me: Maori from New Zealand. MaoriGyver.
Sis. M.: MaoriGyver. He's my cousin's uncle's sister's brother's friend.
Me: As is everyone in New Zealand.
Sis M: Yep. You know us too well. (is still having trouble with the tape) Ah, cham. Ah, freak!
Me: Yeah, this is what we call "Murphy Packaging."
Sis. M: Who did this?
Me: Cuz you see, in Ireland, there's this family called the Murphys, and they always use way too much tape on EV-ERY-THING.
Sis M: Is it my family's auntie's siser's cousin's Murphy? There's some Murphys in New Zealand. Except they're Maoris. See, everyone's Mauri. Oh, man! (Abandons the pen and goes back to pulling at the tape) What do I need a ball pen for?
Me: (incomprehensible)
Sis. M: (ditto)
Me: Get it open!
Sis M.: Augh! (Rips off a big strip of tape. The box pops open. Sis Matt squeals and grabs the mouse out.) AAAAAHHH! My Kiore! Is it identical?

Me: (laughing) No, it's different.
Sis M: (screams and tosses it at Sis. Kim Yoon Ha, who shrieks and rolls out of the way, then picks it up and puts it on her shoulder) Waaaaa! I love Kiore! (bows to the camera) Kamsahamnida! (scares Sis Kim Yoon Ha with it again)
Me: And there we end.

So that's how that went down. It was very funny.)

Anyway, in the morning (like 6 a.m.) those as wanted to went to Hoshimchang, the awesome bathhouse. I was 'as wanted,' of course. It was raining, which was pretty cool. The outdoor baths are fun in the rain. Sis. Ogelvie had never been, and came with and had a lot of fun.

Then we got home to fantastic Sis. Jennings breakfast (I cannot tell you how joyful breakfast food is) and, as it was raining, decided to have all our meetings in the morning and play in the afternoon, instead of staggering them as originally planned. So we did Christlike attribute activities (more fun than they sound) until lunchtime, when we packed up bag lunches and went to Haeundae beach for a few hours. We were all wearing matching pink-and-white Sisters Conference t-shirts, so we looked like an elementary school group. But oh, well. We played in the sand and the water and ate good food and took pictures and listened to Pres. Jennings talk about anything (he's like the random information generator. It's like watching Discovery Channel) and generally had a good time. Then we went back to the house, had a testimony meeting, ordered chinese food (NOT like chinese food in America) and watched Horton Hears a Who. Which is all about missionary work. No, really. It's freaky.

By then, it was too late to get back to Taegu, so we four Taegu sisters stayed in the Gupo house with the four (Korean) sisters living there . . . yep, just me and seven Koreans. 9_9. And then we went home.

The Elders, meanwhile, had a full P-Day. Which should have been lot of fun, but wasn't because none of them could decide what to do with it, so they cleaned their apartments and ate at MacDonald's. HA.

So today is not actually P-Day. It's just e-mail and go day. We were going to go up to Palgongsan with the Tollets, but Sis. Tollet is sick so we're just going to sneak up to their apartment and decorate their door to wish Bro. Tollet a happy birthday, and drop off some yooja tea for Sis. Tollet.

We had Chuseok dinner with the Relief Society president and her husband, and also Sis. Li Mi Suk (who is out of the hospital!) and her son. There isn't actually a special 'Chuseok dinner' . . . the only specified food for the season is little balls of duck (the rice stuff) filled with this really good stuff that's like honey and sesame seeds and something else. I likes 'em. The members gave us a nice shampoo gift set (that's what's exchanged at Chuseok: gift sets of food and gift sets of bath products. I've seen people with them on the bus all week), so I'm set on the shampoo front for the duration.

Yesterday we had Sunday lunch with Sis Li Mi Suk, too. She made us absurd amounts of spaghetti, which I ate with shredded radish kimchi (I don't understand how we eat spaghetti without shredded radish kimchi. How do we manage that?) and had fun dressing up in the wigs she'd bought for when her hair starts to go from the chemo. If positive attitude=speedy recovery, this woman has it in the bag.

Anyway, that was the week. It sort of got out of rhythm, with the holiday, and not much work got done. But good times were had, and on we go.

I love you! Be good!


* yo: less than a futon but more than a sleeping bag.

**I sent RoseE a tiny knitted mousie stuffed with lavender petals to be in her photos and to remind her that we love her (it's the lavender and the knitting, I guess). Sister Matthews fell in love with it and asked for her own, since she and RoseE are not companions anymore. So I made one for her, too. That's the box that arrived.