Only time for a very quick rundown.
Thank you so much! My presents are awesome! I took a video of me opening them . . . don't know how you're gonna watch it before July, but it's took, at least. I'll work on getting it into a workable format.
I woke up this morning seven minutes late (the roommates let me sleep in) and as soon as I stirred my three darling Korean roommates started singing Happy Birthday in Korean. Then they sang it in English but forgot the words halfway through. They'd decorated the kitchen with Halloween balloons that said 'Happy' and a poster that said 'Birthday Rose', and had made me a birthday breakfast of all my favorite things: pancakes, bacon, asian pears, mashed potatoes and Healthy Choice chicken soup. (Elder Murray was suppsed to get them gravy mix, but his appointment ran late last night, so now Sis. Pak is mad at him.) I showered, had breakfast, and got chased off the dishes by Sis. Pak Seh Ra, and opened my presents from home. Oh, gosh, Dad, I almost cried at the tree*. Really. That was about the most fantastic present I've ever seen. I'm decorating it with whatever-the-heck, including the ribbons off the presents. (Oh, and my family portrait is now strewn with paper chains made out of old message-card-making supplies.) And Mom . . . SOCKS! Best socks EVER! My gosh, they're phenominal! I love my socks!
So as it was my birthday and P-Day I got to do whatever I wanted, which was go to Seomun market and buy my last Christmas presents. But first we had to pop by the church, because Elder Son Oo Shik called to say that I'd received a package and he'd leave it there for me. And so we went to the church, only to find all the sisters, The Suseong Elders (more came later), a Costco cake with roses on it, some darling little presents (a pretty painted case for my dochang stamp that's got a little stamp pad hooked to it), and the giant Suseong tv with Prince of Egypt and Joseph: King of Dreams (marketed in Korea as 'Prince of Egypt 2'; this caused but a LOT of confusion and miscommunication between Americans and Koreans). So we ordered chicken and ate cake and watched movies. Sounds like the best birthday in the entire freaking world to me.
And as soon as I finish this e-mail we're going over to the Tollets because they asked us to come over and help decorate for Christmas. I nearly fainted when Elder Murray told me this, I was so excited.
Other parties this week: the branch did a communal Thanksgiving with the four or so largest families and all 22 Kyeongbuk Zone missionaries. Well, 21 of our zone and Sister Corrigan, who got sent on the luckiest split in the entire world and escaped Thansgiving-free Ulsan just in the nick of time. Sister Pak Sung Hee ate her very first turkey. But not much of it because she thought the ham was a different kind of turkey and took a lot of that, instead. She also had never considered eating sweet potatoes with marshmallows . . . you eat them with kimchi here. And the tapioca salad just blew her mind entirely. It was really funny to watch. I think every American missionary was near tears with happiness--some elders had their plates six inches deep in food. Really, there were mashed potatoes as far as the eye could see, plates and plates of them. And a non-member family came as well, and brought a pan of ratatouille. They were very impressed that I knew what ratatouille was and were tickled to death that I was so excited about it. And their four-year-old black-haired girl Valerie ran around for the whole meal with the Tollets' youngest, white-blonde-haired four-year-old Kailee. They were very cute.
And I met a man from Senegal on the subway. And my French is much father gone than I thought it was. I sound like a babbling idiot. This is not good.
But other than that, it was a wonderful week of parties galore. There's more news but no time to give it. Suffice to say yesterday I was 23, today I'm 24, and tomorrow I'll start working with Koreans again and will be 25. Also, Bethe's birthday and my birthday happened simultaniously . . . I wasn't planning on this when I requested she be born on some other day.
I love you all so much! Have fun with y'all's non-Charlie-Brown trees! My shoes are whole, my toes are warm, I am swimming in joyous familiar European and Utahean chocolate, and life is very, very good. At least for now. There's always next week.
Oh, and I met Elder Choi Yoon Hwan of the Seventy this week. That happened, too.
Bug, I promise a letter next week.
* Dad sent her a Charlie Brown Christmas tree: basically one twig with a few needles on it, and one red glass ball ornament, the weight of which makes it bend way over. You can get one just like it at Sears. Go watch A Charlie Brown Christmas if you can't remember what it looks like or what it represents.