Thanks for the updates on Gramma Olsen, and the letter from Bethe. Sorry the video didn't come through. This is probably the fault of this less-than-celestial e-mail server, which refuses to acknowledge that I have space in my inbox despite the fact that I have deleted all but five e-mails and, in truth, have nothing BUT space. Thrice-accursed thing. So if you sent a news-of-the-family this week, I didn't get it, and this is why I am not replying to it.
Life's good here in Korea. It got Very Cold and windy but Very Fast, so we're pulling out the heavy coats and running them to the dry-cleaners' downstairs. I finally found extra blankets on top of the other team's wardrobe, so I am sleeping much more comfortably now. And I got a BOX! Which makes life very happy indeed. I shared the Monster Cookies with the roommates (Sister Pak Se Ra thinks they're about the most delicious thing ever) and (some) of the Reese's with the Halloween party, but the rest of the Reese's and the candy corn are my private stash. I'm trying to eat them slowly . . . failing, but trying. And what was up with the nesting envelopes? Somebody got bored in Sacrament meeting, looks like. I love seeing the Sacrament meeting programs, though. It's great to see what's going on in the strangely-surreal world of Rose Park. I took a video of Sis. Pak opening this box, too, and finding her mouse, but all the dialogue turned out to be in Korean so I'll have to translate it before I can transcribe it. But she was way excited and thanks you a lot, and then proceeded to gloat that her Kiore was bigger than mine and hence its 'hyeong' (older brother). Which is fitting, because she's older than me and thus is my 'onni' and I have to do whatever she says. Not that I don't anyway, being junior companion and all . . . but this is a big deal in Korea, who's older than whom. Or bigger, in the case of knitted mice.
So this week was conducted with an Eye Single to the Glory of the Halloween Party. We had a last-minute wave of help in the form of Elder Son Oo Shik's new companion Elder Murray, whose family owns Nightmare Mansion. No, really. His family are professional haunted-house makers. Having no budget and no time cramped his style a little bit, but he came through with flying colors, as did every other missionary in Taegu, and the thing was an absolute success. The party opened with a dance number to the theme music from 'Bewitched', at the end of which Elder Hansen shot Elder Murray stone dead (he had to be dragged offstage). Then there were party games all over, including sack races (garbage bags we found in the chapel), bobbing for apples (all given to us by members as Chuseok leftovers), a pinata (four balloons, tape, last week's newspaper from our door guard, a bag of flour also found in the chapel, and a candy run to Costco (plus some, but not all, of my Reese's from home)), balloon-stomping competitions (leftovers from the pinata-making) and eating donuts off strings (these had to be purchased fair and square--darn it). I face-painted all evening, doing lots of pumpkins with the orange paint on the inside of the jar lid (a pinata and four other decorative papier-mache pumpkins go through a lot of orange and homemade red/yellow sort-of-orangey pink). The second floor of the chapel was the haunted house. The Zone leaders brought dry ice from Baskin Robbins, and we had a lot of curtains and stuff from a bag of scrap fabric a less-active sister was about to throw out when we visited, and the Elders just had a grand old time jumping out of closets and such. It was great. And lots of people came, members, non-members, less-active members, friends of members, people we'd met on the street two days before . . . AND many of the above came to church the next day.
Yep. Hyeon Ji, the girl we taught the first lesson last week, came to the party AND to church AND we taught her the second lesson. Yaaaay! And our hasn't-been-seen-in-yonks recent convert Hyeh Ji brought her friend Ju Hyeah to church again, and we're going to meet them later on this week. (Hyeh Ji hasn't been coming to church because she doesn't have any friends her age here. I can see this situation working out very well.) And Jin Mok Hwan, our hairdresser friend, has been at church every week for a month. Her fantastic daughter is over-the-moon happy.
One notable absence at church was little Hyeoh Un, who was forbidden to attend by her father because she hadn't done all of her homework on Saturday--she'd gone to a friend's house instead. We called Sunday night to check on her, and she was in a sulk about it. She REALLY wants to go to church. Her conversation with Sis. Pak went something like this:
"So you couldn't come to church today?"
"Awww, that's too bad! But it's important to do your homework, too."
"Can we still come over this week and teach you?"
*no sigh* "YES!"
"Okay. See you on Saturday!"
"Okay! I love you!"
"Love you too!"
I love this kid.
Sunday was Operation: Save Yeongchon Branch*. Yeongchon is a tiny town of no importance a good ways out of Taegu, and as people have been migrating away from it into bigger cities like Taegu and Pusan the branch has shrunk . . . and shrunk . . . and now there are about seven people regularly attending. (The elders are very smug about knowing the names of Every Single Active Member of their unit.) It's in danger of collapse and closure. So we got the whole zone together (some twenty elders, plus we four sisters), fasted and prayed, and went to Yeongchon. One team went and visited less-actives with the branch president, another team knocked doors, and two other teams (self included) did streetboarding all afternoon with the stake presidency. I was with Sis. Ahn Ta Yeon, the new greenie (who is awesome, by the way). And all afternoon we just talked to people. I'm generally scared to death of street prostelyting, and hate doing it, but Sunday it was different. We had a real, concrete goal in mind: find people who are ready to hear about the gospel, and bring them to Yeongchon branch, so that the Church doesn't vanish from this city. We worked hard and gave the Yeongchon elders a lot of contacts to follow up on. All that prayer, fasting, and work can do will be done. And the stake presidency worked with us--got to see that we are working, and working hard, despite the low stats that come from kicking the 30/30 program.
And . . . not much else, really. I've discovered a refreshing beverage made from mixing water, blueberry vineagar, and rice syrup (when apple juice is unobtainable, you start improvising). Sis. I Mi Suk has shaved her head, cutting her hair off herself rather than letting the chemo take it (you go, girl) and she lent me one of her bandannas for my pirate costume for the halloween party. Oh, and the other big news . . . she's lost a lot of weight, what with having cancer and all, and had these bags of clothes that were too big for her. Had. Because she made me take them all. T-shirts from the Japan/Korea world cup, sparkly sweatshirts reading 'Killswitch Engage', a capsleeve that says 'Naughty and Wild Kittens' in HUGE letters (funniest thing in the entire universe to give to a sister missionary--I love it) and . . . a hanbok. No, really. A beautiful yellow hanbok**. I tried like twelve times to refuse it . . . you don't just give people HANBOKS, for crying out loud . . . but she pulled the I'm-older-than-you-and-therefore-the-boss-so-do-what-you're-told card, and the hanbok is now mine. I'm still speechless at the thought.
And now I've officially written a lot. I love you, be good, stay out of trouble, hope you're not dead or dying, thank you for the box, a reciprocal one will be in the mail soon.
*a branch is smaller than a ward, approximately 60 members or less.
**hanbok: traditional South Korean dress. Check the link for hanboks and other fantastical Korean wearing apparel.