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Thursday, December 31, 2009

In Which RoseE's Christmas Box Finally Arrives

RoseE writes:

"Dear Mum and Dad,

No, I haven't snuck on when I'm not supposed to--today is "Half" P-Day, to skip us through the transition from Monday P-Days to Thursday P-Days. So I get to write a proper e-mail. Which is good, because when I left the train station I got a call from the Suseong Elders that my package had, in fact, arrived safely, and that Elder Murray knew what was in it but had torn the customs label off so I would not be allowed to know.

So I waited, with little patience, until district meeting on Wednesday, when he finally showed up and presented me with . . . a letter from Emily. And then, after a glare, the box. Which I opened. Firstly: my stocking*! Mom, no wonder you were freaked when this didn't show up on time. I've never really known you to let stockings out of the house, much less the country. It is safe in my posession, you'll be glad to know. Sister Pak says thank you for the chocolate orange--I whacked and shared mine at the meeting (the whacking scared Sis. Pak a bit), and she still hasn't opened hers.

And then oh, my goodness, y'all DIDN'T.

You did NOT buy me this beautiful purple iPod, which made Elder Murray exclaim, "Is that like the one McCAIN has?" (Apparently Elder McCain also got a 5th Generation Nano for Christmas, and was the envy of every Elder in the mission.) I was visibly shaking when I realized what it was. And it's full of videos! Of my family! And pictures! Of everything that's happened this last year, of EMILY'S WEDDING FINALLY, of last year at camp (I hadn't one camp photo with me out here, or one of Cara, or one of . . .) And Wall-E, which I discovered WHILE district leader Hamilton was hanging over my shoulder ogling the beautiful piece of technology in my hand. I've sworn I won't watch it, and at interviews I'll ask Prez for permission to watch it on the plane home in July. Nobody has yet found out about Wallace and Gromit, though. Jury's still out on that one . . . ]:-)

So I'm going to try to send you some videos through Gmail. Let's see if we can get video contact established.**

I listened to the lecture (part of it) while I was excercising this morning. Pretty cool, Dad. I remember you told me about it way back last year. I'll finish it and gab more later.

But now I have to go try to e-mail some videos. Hang on.


* Each person in our family has a hand-cross-stitched Christmas stocking. Bethe's is specially designed by me.

**I'm going to try to put them on the blogsite. Dunno if that's even possible.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

From President and Sister Jennings 2009/12/16

President and Sister Jennings write:

"Dear Brother and Sister Hadden:

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from the Korea Busan Mission. We pray that God's choicest blessings will be yours.

When the wise men from the East found the young child with his mother, Mary, they brought gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. This began the tradition that we follow today of giving Christmas gifts to our families and friends. The first Christmas gift, however, was not gold, frankincense, or myrrh. It was God's gift of His only begotten Son. He sent His Son into the world to save the world knowing that, unlike the test of Abraham and Isaac, there would be no ram in the thicket to spare His Son, for the Son is the sacrificial Lamb of God without blemish. "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16)

A second great gift of Christmas is seen in the magnificent irony of the Son's descent from His throne on high to a manger in an obscure stable. The path through mortal life of the King of Kings and Lord of Hosts led from that stable to a carpenter's shop to the dusty roads of Judea and Galilee--and finally to a garden called Gethsemane and to a cross on Calvary. Jesus gave the gift of His sacrifice "because of his loving kindness and his long-suffering towards the children of men." (1 Nephi 19:9)

Sister Jennings and I are also mindful of a Christmas gift that you are giving to us and the Korean people this year--the gift of your daughter. Thank you for sharing your precious daughter with us this Christmas. We know how hard it is to be without one of your loved ones at this time of the year. We know that the Lord will bless you for your sacrifice and will, in return, fill you with His Spirit. We pray that His peace and love will abide in your home.

We know that God lives and loves his children throughout the world. We know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Savior of the world. He is our Master, and the living head of His Church in these, the latter days. He lives today and has prepared the way for us to live, to serve, and to return to Him. Your daughter is His emissary to the wonderful people of Korea. She is discovering the same magnificent irony of finding miracles in unexpected places here in the Korea Busan Mission. May Christmas 2009 truly be a memorable one for your family, filled with the miracles of the season.

With love and appreciation,


President and Sister Jennings
Korea Busan Mission"

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

In Which Christmas is Summarized

RoseE writes:

"Dear Mum and Dad,

Once again, aaaaah! Barely a second to write, 'cuz the darn on-train internet cafe disappeared. We went to Changwon today (faraway city) for a housewarming party for Sis. Ogelvie and her companion, who just moved to a new apartment. Lovely. We had a great time. Sisters Corrigan, Musser, and Matthews were also there, the latter two only for a little bit. Sis. Corrigan asked the dangerous question "So what is this Doctor Who* thing about?" and . . . well, it's a good thing she's going home in three weeks, that's all. She'll be able to find out what happens next without coming across Korea to find me and make me tell her more. And plus I always get the scene order mixed up in 'The End of the World." I should ask Bethe to write me a summary.

Sounds like a heckofa Christmas . . . merry chaos, as ever, but that's as is. Ours wound up being spectacular. After a few rounds of Yahtzee and Scrabble with the Tollett kids, we went to member Britta's house for her Christmas Dinner party (think Cara**, but an active member living in Korea. Other than that, pretty much the same person) and then straight to Suseong ward for the Christmas party there. Belly dancing was done . . . with the Elders. It was a lot of fun, and seems to have endeared my to all the Relief Society. Well, whatever works.

Other than Christmas, it's been a quiet second-half-of-the-week, which is good becuase I'm down to four minutes here. Eyes still open for your package. It's been Christmas plus weekend plus not seeing the mail-picking-up Elders all day. I'm not too worried yet. And I got through Christmas only crying twice: once Christmas Eve reading Luke 2 out loud to myself, and once after I hung up the phone***, but I hid in the bathroom and (bless 'em) the Tolletts just get it when the just-off-the-phone sister needs to hide in the bathroom for a bit. It wasn't too bad.

Regarding travel: I make no attempt to deny that having parents in Korea to show around would be all kinds of cool, but Dad's tantalizing offer--going to England# with all y'all afterwards instead--is intriguing as well. And it would be less headache for the mission. And I was pretty resigned to the idea of just going straight home for most of my mission anyhow. So I'm quite open to that idea. And flying 'round the long way to Korea, standby, is probably just unimaginably awful.

Outta time--love you


* Doctor Who: A BBC TV series that started in 1963 and is continuing to be--or is again--a big hit with fans on both sides of the pond, including the Hadden Family.

**Cara: a friend of RoseE's from college who is crazy about shoes.

*** RoseE called on Christmas Eve and we put her on speakerphone (Thanks, Caiti & Jeff!) and talked for nearly an hour. We opened our presents from Korea during the call so RoseE could explain whatever needed explaining, and even got to talk to her companion, Sis. Pak. Some of us cried at the end of the call, (no names mentioned), but only at the end.

#We have plans to go to England in August 2010 to visit a Hadden aunt, and a famous author

Monday, December 21, 2009

In Which RoseE Goes Carolling and Gets Stuck in an Elevator with 4 Other Missionaries

RoseE writes:

"Dear Mum and Dad,

Arrrrgh I hate this slow post office computer--particularly because the one right next to it is top-of-the-line, but Sis. Pak always gets it first. Drat her.

Anyway, business first. Plan is right now for me to call at roughly 11 a.m. my Christmas morning, which would be I think seven o'clock Christmas Eve for all y'all. I think I'll use the calling card from the church land line--Sis. Pak is suggesting I call on our cell and have you call it back, but I seem to remember Prez discouraging that; I'm not sure why. International calling is still a mystery to me. I'll double-check on Wednesday at 'combined zone conference' (mission conferences still being forbidden by the Powers That Be).

So . .. the cold hit. Yep. I heard rumors that Thursday set a new low-temp record for that date in the fine city of Taegu. And where have we foolhardy missionaries been but out and about, with little Korean hymnals in hand, caroling our heads off. We've been caroling, to members' houses and investigators' houses and randomly on the subway (we got kicked out one time--that was fun) and in post offices and elevators and all over. It's been a blast. But with all six of us in the district, elevators have been kind of a problem. Your standard-issue Korean apartment elevator will honk in protest if you load it with too many people, and it gets to decide what constitutes 'too many' on any given day. So when we caroled to the home of the bishop of Jungni Ward (10th floor), we made our exit by all piling into the elevator singing 'We Wish You A Merry Christmas' until the doors closed. Then the doors opened again without actually having gone anywhere, so we pushed the'door close' button and started singing again. But it just opened right back up. We ran through this three or four times, until Elder Murray decided, "We must be too heavy." He stepped out. The doors slid closed, and his good idea quickly became a bad idea as the elevator took off towards the ground floor with Elder Hamilton in it but Elder Murray stranded upstairs. We could hear him banging on the door as we disappeared. We quickly started pushing buttons again, and brought the car to a stop on the seventh floor, whence Elder Murray was sprinting, yelling his head off so he could at least remain within sound, if not within sight, of his companion. I just about collapsed laughing.

So yeah, Christmas continues apace here. We managed to sneak in five minutes (okay, ten) at the military branch's Christmas party, and the Elders get to go to the Tollets' for Christmas Eve dinner, which is nice for them. The Jungni ward Christmas party is at six o'clock Christmas Eve, so no Christmas Eve for me--gonna be working. Oh, well. At least I get to dance.

Yeah, Sister Ii Mi Suk lent us all of her belly dance stuff, so last night we played around with hip scarves and veils a lot. It was so much fun to put on a hip scarf again. It brought back very fun memories, and the comforting assurance that I wasn't always stuck-in-stockings-and-long-brown-skirts Hadden Chamenim . . . that I used to be a very quirky, fun person, and will be so again someday. I felt like Clark Kent combing that one little curl down onto his forehead. I am very boring, but somewhere inside me there is an attention-getter.

Oh, and I'm wearing PANTS today because we're all going ice skating. PAAAAAAAANTS. YAAAAY FOR PANTS.

On the missionary front, we just got loaded up with a bunch of new referals, mostly people's friends, so we've got a lot of work to look forward to. And Sis Jin Mok Hwan, our hairstylist, decided in sacrament meeting yesterday that she needs to start paying tithing so she can go to the temple. She decided this, and whispered it to me. And I just nodded, thinking about how we could have taught her about that for months and it wouldn't have made as much difference as her simple, Spirit-prompted decision in an ordinary sacrament meeting on an ordinary Sunday. We've been worried about her financial situation--single mom running her own business and all, it's no walk in the park--and wondering how to teach the counterintuitive principle that paying tithing is the surest way to become financially stable. I don't know how this is going to work out for her, but I know that it will, 'cuz it's always worked out for me, sometimes in the most bizarre fashions imagineable. The Lord takes care of full-tithe-payers. It's freaky.

So I think that's the news from this abominably slow computer. I'm so excited to talk to you on Friday! Merry Christmas! I love you so much! Why do I always cry when I type this last paragraph, gosh dang . . .


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

In Which Santa Lucia Day Happens by Brute Force and Plans for Christmas Are Made

RoseE writes:

"Dear Mum and Dad,

Well, keep that cold weather the heck away from me! It's been astonishingly nice here in Daegu. I don't think it's gone below freezing or even anywhere near it. We are praying in gratitude every day that the warm stretch holds out, and have armed ourselves with scarves and ear warmers and extra stocking-looking socks and the whole thing, ready to go as soon as the weather breaks.

Despite the warm weather, Santa Lucia still came. But as it's just me, in a houseful of Koreans, with limited baking resources and no time to myself . . . you better believe I did Santa Lucia anyway. I made cookie dough the night before, stonewalling Sis. Pak who kept asking me, "Are you making them for Hyeon Ji? That's a good idea. Or for Son Mi? Why are you making these cookies? Why did we have to make a special trip to get sugar TONIGHT?" And then next morning I got up at five to cut them (with a knife), decorate them (with 1 ancient half-can of sprinkles and a bag of Halloween-colored peanut M&Ms), and bake them (in the oven). My darling roommates were bewildered but in general accepted my gesture of festive goodwill in the spirit in which it was given. They even ate some of the cookies, which was very sporting of them. THEN Sis. Pak and I made a bunch more for investigators and new members, and she had an absolutely grand old time. She'd never decorated cookies before, and thought it was as great idea. We're still spice-hunting for gingerbread men; I've got ginger and cinnamon but other stuff's eluding me, which is sad 'cuz I want to make wassail, too. Sis. Jennings suggested Home Plus, so that's the next stop.

Othe festive pursuits of the season include belly dancing. Yup. I bragged myself into something I now can't brag myself out of, and BOTH wards want me to dance for their Christmas parties. They want the Elders to dance, too, but I don't think it's gonna happen. They're all sports and they'll do any crazy thing they're asked, but last night Sis. Pak tried to learn how to do an undulation (and she's an experienced song-and-dance girl), couldn't manage it and woke up the next morning sore all over. I don't know if the poor elders' abs could take it. So I, who have never choreographed, never performed, never soloed and hasn't practiced in a year, am going to do a solo performance of some choreography I'm making up in the evenings. Well, one way or another, we'll get some laughs out of it.

Ward Christmas parties in Korea are on Christmas day. Really. We've got one the 24th and one the 25th. "Sister Hadden, what do you do in America when you go to Church on Christmas?" "Um . .. we don't go to church on Christmas. If Christmas falls on a Sunday, we drastically reduce church or just cancel it altogether. We stay HOME on Christmas."

The Military branch's annual curriculum order came in and it was full of copies of True to the Faith in Tagalog and French. So I have a new toy. And since the order got processed after I quit at Distribution*, this is not my fault.

Oh, I ate my guts out on sushi this week. One of the members took us to this really nice sushi resterant, where the stuff just kept coming in course arfter course. It was pretty darn mind-boggling. I just about killed myself eating it all . . . particularly as Sis. Pak played the Korean-exclusive "Oh sorry, I don't really like sushi" card and was NO help whatsoever. Rrrrgh.

Progress in missionary work is coming slowly, but still coming. Hyeoh Un faithfully read her scriptures yesterday. And Hyeon Ji, confined to the hospital with sixteen nails in her legs as she recovers from bowleggedness-correcting surgery, is reading, too. (We're big favorites in her leg-injury hospital ward. We always leave with more fruit than we came with.)

Transfers brought our well-beloved Elder Hamilton up to be our District Leader . .. and it was his birthday this week, so on no notice whatsoever we tossed together a surprise party for him, for which I provided a nutella-filled poorly-decorated cake. Anyway, Elder Hamilton's dream is to spend all Christmas season caroling all over Taegu, and hey, we're all game, so that's what we're doing this week. Fun times.

Um . .. I think that's all the big stuff for this week. I didn't keep a list of stuff to write, so I have no idea what to put, really. Rumor has it Sis. Jennings, Sis. Matthews, and maybe even new couple-missionary Sister Bagley could FINALLY come up to hit Seomun market . .. keep your fingers crossed. I'm gonna go play with multimedia now, to find belly dancing music and maybe send some pictures.

I love you! Christmas is awesome! I miss you, but I think the Lord is blessing me because it hasn't quite HIT me yet, you know?, that I'm missing out on Christmas at home for the first time in my life. On the other hand, I'll never have another Mission Christmas, so that's good reason to keep my eyes open and my pen scratching. And hey, I get to call** on Christmas, and I hit my year mark right after and life's pretty good, really.

Love ya much


* RoseE's job before she left for Korea was working as a translator at the church Distribution Center, where all the books and magazines are printed and from where they are sent out.

** Missionaries get to phone home on Mother's Day and Christmas Day.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

In Which RoseE Speaks French and Does Not Get Transferred

RoseE writes:

"Dear Mom and Dad,

Well, the first-off the bat news is that Transfer Calls are in. The blood I painted all over the doorframe* seems to have worked like a charm; no one in our house is transfering. Elder Son Oo Shik, our district leader, is going to be Zone Leader in Shilla, and coming up as his replacement is Elder Hamilton from Haeundae, a dear old friend of mine and fellow English major. The other Taegu district is getting back the not-very-much-loved Elder Kemmerer, but I guess we'll all survive. Other than that, Taegu stays Taegu through the holiday season. I'm exceedingly relieved. When it came right down to it, I really didn't want to go anywhere, not when we've got stuff happening here finally and I still haven't been able to take Sis. Jennings shopping at Seomun Market.

So particulars of this week. The big thing was Abdul, the man from Senegal. We (my team and the Suseong elders' team) visited him and taught him his week. He's an amazing person. We'd got him a Livre de Mormon**, which he was very interested in. He's Muslim, and thus believes so many very true and powerful things: the importance of prophets and scripture, of serving others, of learning truth through revelation. He's studied both the Bible and the Koran extensively, and seemed fairly itching to get into the Book of Mormon. He speaks English quite well and is learning Korean, so we taught him in a mixture of all three of my languages. It felt so good to speak in French again.

The day we taught him was the day before transfer calls. As soon as we left his house, Elder Murray told me, "You can't transfer. This guy needs you. We've got to tell President." And Sister Pak chimed in with, "If you transfer, what are we going to do? I can't teach him by myself!" However, there were only four hours until calls. Elder Murray eventually called Elder McKenna, our Zone Leader, to ask permission to call Elder Aquino, his friend from Pusan, who has a book about Islam that he now wants to borrow, and Elder McKenna promised that he'd call up to the A.P.s to explain why Elder Murray needed such a book (and, incidentally, why I couldn't be transfered). This was a heck of an elaborate scheme, but it seems to have worked.

We also went down to Pusan this week for Sister Pak to take the dreaded Michigan Test*** again. We all went for lunch to Sister Ii In Suk's restaurant, which has moved half a block to a much more visible building (this freaked me out; I know this address! Where the heck did the restaurant go???? Oh, there it is). Sister Ii is still as wonderful as ever. She still has the tree Sister Montgomery gave her last April, and it's still growing. And her deijigukbap is still the best thing I've ever tasted. I've had deijigukbap here in Taegu and it's nothing to write home about, which would explain why you haven't heard about it. And I spent the duration of the test with Sister Musser, from the MTC, and first-transfer roommate Sister Hill, who is officially out of missionary circulation starting today. Gone also is my friend Sister Beckstead. We're losing missionaries fast, and they're starting to be missionaries that I know.

It's been a pretty slow missionary-work week, as it's Exam Time in all the schools so we can't meet with anybody because they're all busy cramming. Next week promises to be better. I'm busy explaining what White Elephant is and pressuring Elder Murray to give me the apple juice concentrate the Tolletts bought for me and gave to him so I can make wassail. Thank you so much for the cookie recipes, by the way; I really wanted them but wasn't going to request them after seeing the price sticker on the birthday package. I'm a greedy enough missionary as it is.

Oh, everybody in Korea thinks that my green cable-knit hat# is the best thing in the world, and at least five times I've been asked where I bought it. Three people have tried to steal it. I may have to staple it to my head.

Okay, I'm going to go mail a passel of letters now and see if I can load your pictures onto Liz . . . Dang Vista on this computer won't do it, so I'm going to switch with Sis. Pak. I love you so much! Really, really, really. And I miss you like crazy. Put some books or something on Bug's head; he's getting waaay too freaking tall.

Love you


* Exodus 12

** French Book of Mormon

***Michigan Test: used by colleges and universities to assess English language ability

# cabled beret knit for RoseE before she left--to match her coat

Monday, December 7, 2009

to Dad, 7 Dec 2009

RoseE writes:

"Dear Dad,

Somehow the second I realized what that tree* was, I knew it had to be your idea. Where did you find it? It's fantastic!

I'm bummed I missed your sacrament meeting talk. I love hearing you speak in church--never blasphemous but always unorthodox. Fortunately, I'm your daughter and get to hear your musings on religion all the time. I just feel sorry for the rest of the ward, who only hear them once in a blue moon when the Bishopric works up the nerve to ask you to speak. Well, sucks to be them.

Friday night was transfer calls. The angel of death passed over our house, and nobody's leaving. Must be because we're keeping the Word of Wisdom**. (Except one of the elders' investigators brought them a coffee bun, and they didn't know what to do with it, so I said I'd eat it and I did. My companion was shocked. But it didn't taste like coffee--the flavor was more gnat than camel, I think I'm gonna be okay. Sisters Linford and Jung Min Hee, my MTC cohorts, are being sent out to the heretofore-elders-only area of Jeju Island. I thought this was a lie when I heard it. Sisters just don't go to Jejudo. But they are. And since flying out there is expensive, they'll probably be there a while and I am not likely to see either of them again until Sis. Linford and I go home in July. It's a sad day, but quite a privilege for them, opening a new sisters' area.

I'm still junior companion. My feelings on this are mixed. Some of them are:

"Yay! Six more weeks of minimal responsibility!"

"Wait . . . seventh transfer and I'm still junior? Sis. Pak Sung Hee and Sister Montgomery were trainers by their fifth."

"Who cares, as long as I get to stay in Taegu?"

"Does President think I'm irresponsible or immature, or what?"

"You ARE irresponsible and immature."

"Well, yes, but I don't want the whole mission knowing that Prez knows that."

"Sister Beckstead didin't go senior until her eighth [transfer], and she ended up being a darn good missionary."

"Yes, but prior to that she'd had several meltdowns and tried to go home. All I've done was tell Prez in one interview that I was kind of lonely."

"Do you WANT to be a senior?"

"No . . . I just don't want to be THAT sister, that's all: the one that's a burden on the mission, that Prez doesn't dare give responsibility to."

"If you were THAT sister, Prez would have sent you to Sister Musser instead of trusting you to handle a fifth transfer with an all-Korean house. And he's threatened to make you train."

"He also threatened Sis. Matthews with that, and she's going home in six weeks, trainee-free."

"Look . . . what's your bottom-line goal on this mission?"

"To be as good a missionary as my father was."

"And how long was he a senior?"

"Like . . . three days, or something."***

"Right. And you've still got four more transfers to become senior in. Twenty-four weeks. You've got plenty of time before that goal comes into jeopardy. So stop fussing, count your blessings, and get back to work."

Yeah, that's pretty well where I am right now.

Three weeks until Christmas! My little tree is displayed proudly above my desk. I tried to decorate it a bit but in the end just decided to stay with the one red ornament, to keep it a simple, unadulterated Charlie Brown Christmas Tree. It makes me unbelievably happy.

I love you! Talk to you in three weeks#.


*For her birthday, we sent her a Charlie Brown Christmas Tree-- one with a few scraggly twigs and some needles falling off. And one red ornament.

**Word of Wisdom: members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have been commanded to abstain from coffee, tea, alcohol and tobacco; this commandment group is referred to as the Word of Wisdom.

*** When it was discovered, two days before he went home, that Todd had never been a senior companion, the mission president made him senior for the last day of his mission.

# Missionaries are allowed to call home at Christmas Day and Mother's Day.