. . . 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.
*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.