Wednesday, August 25, 2010
10 July 2010
It's quarter past five in the morning, the day I go home from my mission.
It feels frantic and lively--I can't sleep, my shoulders are killing me (gosh-blamed mattress for the first time in a year).
LATER . . .
So here's what happened.
We made it to Seoul Station only to be greeted by the indomitable Pak twins--Pak Sera and Pak Sung Hee, both dressed in knee-length skirts and normal clothes. Much squealing was indulged in--big news is that Pak Sung Hee is coming to America in September and staying until January to help out and babysit during her older sister's pregnancy. Yaaaay! She called us a van taxi, which transported all the bags, all the elders, and Pak Sera, and we four chameis took a separate taxi to the temple.
Even the taxi driver was blown away when he saw it. You're on a big street in Seoul, right past Hyundai department store, and you take a typical little side street up a hill behind a big, square, more-ominous-than-uplifting Presbyterian church, then veer up a steep little driveway, and the temple just unfolds in front of you like a flower, white and gold and clean and bright. The Seoul temple.
President Ii of the Pusan stake, and his daughter Long-Haired-Sister-Ii's-Little-Sister, were there. As we'd arrived with not enough time to make the 1:30 session, President Ii took us to lunch at a member's bulgogi restaurant around the corner. (Good bulgogi. I ate a lot of kimchi. I was craving it.)
The meal left us with enough time to not quite make the 2:30 session, so we hustled in there like blazes (long pause for checking cameras), got our clothes, changed, dashed into the endowment room, then Sister Kim the temple matron brought it to my attention that my dress was, in fact, on backwards. Shuffle out, switch the dress, shuffle back in. Then I realized we had to pick up translators, so I did the whole thing again. And then there weren't enough translators, so I surrendered mine to Sis. Linford and watched the mea culpa late-starting session in Korean.
Oops, we're almost to the airport. More later.
LATER . . .
In airport. To continue.
So after the session, we were all standing 'round in the celestial room when we were asked to be daughters in some proxy sealings. That was pretty cool. Elder Anderson was witness, and I got to do my batch of names with Pres. Yang Yong Suk and his wife. None of the names we did were names. The father was always XXX, the mother (with one exception) was XXX's Wife, and the daughter was Miss X. Centuries upon centuries, thousands upon thousands of women whose names have vanished into the void so that only their relationships tether them to our reality. And, one by one, they are being wholly and completely saved in the Seoul Korea Temple.
So we didn't get out of our session 'till about five, after which photos and debating were indulged in. I really wanted to have some time to just relax, so I opted to wait at the temple with Sis. Musser, whose brother Woody (really) was coming to meet her. That was a big help, that break time. Kim Yoon Ha, Musser's trainer, turned up while we were waiting (all the returned sisters know the door code for the sisters' dormitory . . . they lived there while at the KMTC) and together we ventured out into the insanity of Seoul. Just to make my travels in Korea complete, we ran for a subway train whose doors were closing, the doors popped back open for us, Kim Yoon Ha stopped dead in the doorway and I got stuck in the door. Awkward, but not painful. And at least I didn't get dragged to death like almost happened to that kid on the bus that one time.
So we made it to a tourists-only market, where we met up with Woody and battle-buddy Josh and all grabbed dinner. Real Korean food, thank you very much. Nengmyeon for me.
We made it back to the temple a smidge after our 9:30 mark--I as afraid we'd miss Sister Copeland, but her stuff was still there and she herself was not yet there. However, there was short-haired Sister Ii (Ii Kyeong Un) from the MTC! Whoa, blast from the past. So we chatted with her until the one and only Sis. Copeland herself showed up, exhausted as usual, her voice a half-octave higher than I remember, like she'd been sucking on a helium balloon.
I managed a decent chunk of sleep until five, when hey! up and no hope of going back to sleep. I padded across to the bathroom, pajamaed and barefoot . . . only to run into most of the sisters of Bangeojin, AND Ii Yeong Hwa, getting ready for the 6 a.m. session. Nothin' like a good impression. :-/ So exercise, shower, dressed and braided, all by 6:30. Sis. Musser and I foraged breakfast at the GS25 around the corner, I got a big (heavy) box from the temple prez to take to his son in Salt Lake, I fretted a bit over whether Jin Mok Hwan were coming or what, and then Sis. Musser and I participated in the 8:00 session. It was so much more sedate, spiritual, uplifting and enjoyable than yesterday's. I had a translation doohickey this time, so I listened to some in English, some in Korean, and some in French. And in the Celestial room, I meditated upon the inlay of a table and thought of something new. Before the mission, I was a table. Over the mission, I got a lot of gauges cut into me. They HURT. But they've been filled with mother-of-pearl--little streaks of divinity, of perfection, swirled into my otherwise-unremarkable self. Not wholly perfect; that would be ostentatious. Just little bits of perfection are perfectly appropriate right now. Really just a plain white table still . . . but worthy to stand in the temple of our God.
When we finished the session, I looked around for Jin Mok Hwan . . . nothin'. Sis. Pak Sung Hee's temple clothes were still in the locker, so I guessed they weren't in a session. We headed back to the chapel and the res, but instead of going straight into the res I just felt like making an appearance around the wooden screen, where lots of people were waiting around in the lobby . . . and there on the sofa were Pak Sung Hee, Jin Mok Hwan, and Jang Shin Yeong (Bishop Pyeon Jang Gi's wife), all there waiting for me.
Sister Jin Mok Hwan received her endowment today. And as I sat with her, she said, "You know I'm here because of you, right? I t was because of what you said. I was so worried I wouldn't get to see you; I kept calling Sister Pak Sung Hee and asking 'What day will she be there? What time?' You made me want to make it here." Or something to that effect. And I just thought, this is a fairy tale. This is a bit from a movie. These things don't happen where I, personally, can watch them. But it did. And after hugs, and laughs, and showering with presents, and pictures, and debates about whether 'heppi en ding' is a Korean or an English expression, Jang Shin Yeong led Jin Mok Hwan into the temple so they could start getting ready for initiatories, and they went behind the wooden screen and I saw them no more.
Sister Jin Mok Hwan is safe inside the temple. And my service was one of the things that helped her get there.
That they be not wasted . . . the people we teach, the months that we give. Gather them to the temple. There can be no sweeter reward for a missionary than to spend Saturday morning outside the temple, watching the saints come in. Sister Han Mal Suk is attending again; we met her. We also met a sister who was a Pusan mission mom back in the day. And to everyone we saw, the tag was a badge of honor. This is a returning missionary, a servant of the Lord, who has worked and wept these eighteen months to bring people here. From every corner, I heard the sweetest of all praise: "You worked hard, Sister Missionary. You worked hard. You took many pains."
Being a returning missionary hanging around the Seoul temple of a Saturday morning is the closest thing to heaven I've ever experienced.
And on the last day of my mission. Heavenly Father can't be beat for dramatic timing.
The time, as it always does, grew short. Elder Anderson having rendezvoused with his parents and Elder Oxborrow departed alone for an earlier flight, we were down to five. Some helpful youth assisted in the lugging of the bags to the Hyundai department store bus stop. And a bus ride later, we're back on old familiar turf: airports. Incheon International Airport. Where you have to reply in Korean to English questions to get people to speak to you in Korean . . . where your one precious skill is nice and quite impressive, but certainly not necessary to your survival like it was this morning.
And now I'm on an airplane, wearing little paper slippers, my stomach full of bibimbap (Korean Air gochujang is 100% un-spicy), four hours left to go in our rather bumpy trans-Pacific flight to Los Angeles.
Oh, and I let my passport slip out of my hand at the ticket counter, and if the gentleman at the next counter hadn't called my attention to it, I would've had a real short trip.
Sunday, July 4, 2010
"Dear Mum and Dad,
Holy cow. It finally came. This is finally it. This is the last e-mail I'll send you from Korea. And a lot of computer time is getting taken up with business stuff, like copying files onto/off of Liz* (she's being passed on to my daughter Sis. Culver, who needs the dictionary more than she needs her American cash, whereas I am in the opposite position), e-mailing our less-active record to Elder Jeong, and generally tying up loose ends.
Oh, speaking of Elder Jeong. Friday night transfer calls were insane. When the APs called, I actually had the audacity to flippantly tell Elder Kim, "Yeah, I know where I'm going . . . not much you could say that's gonna shock me, really." Oh, did I eat those words. 'Cuz here's what happened. Sis. Culver is moving to Jungni ward in Taegu. Just Jungni ward. Just one ward, with one missionary team. Just sisters. Sister Alcazar is staying in her area, but only Hogae, not Bangeojin. So she's moving up to the abandoned Hogae elders' house, which means that our apartment has to be closed up for long-term abandonment. Poor apartment. So the time I have left that isn't writing down important information to pass to Elder Jeong (Elder Jeong's staying in Shinjeong, but his companion, Elder Wells, is moving to Suseong in Taegu) or eating one long string of shiksas** is going to be taken up with cleaning, cleaning, and more cleaning. Really. I scrubbed the laundry room floor last night.
So it's one team per ward now. The training curriculum is getting rehauled, as is scheduling (everything's now running on 'quarters' or 'months' . . . once-a-transfer anything is now a thing of the past). The leadership are going to be subjected to bi-monthly three-day-long leadership training meetings (so long, suckers! Have fun!) which I'm sure Sis. Jennings is thrilled to death to have to cater for. (Not.)
Oh, and Sis. Culver, scissor expert that she is, cut my hair. Since I've been on a mission and am now an adventurous, exciting, fearless person, I told her to go ahead and cut it pretty much exactly the same way it's been since sixth grade. She took this in good humor, and cut in some cool layers that give me a whole bunch of effortless curlyness. Sis. Linford and Alcazar got trimmed, too, so we're all set for the trip home. Well, not Sis. Alcazar. But you know what I mean.
Gaah I can't even remember what we did this week at all! Oh, ward activity. Yup, we played water balloon volleyball in the parking lot with a bunch of the ward kids and parents. It was a ton of fun, and everybody got really wet, but fortunately the rain held off until we were quite done. Sis. Culver had told me that Elder Wells had told her that it was somebody's birthday (not sure who . . . maybe The Kid Who Looks Like Spock) and that I needed to make a cake. Hey, no problem. I like making cakes. So I made a cake. And after the activity it turned out that the cake was for my surprise going-away party. Yep. Elder Wells had me make my own farewell cake AND I WAS STILL SURPRISED. Sis. Culver played it really well. And my going home present was a plain white t-shirt, signed by all the folks. Which is SO awesome. I always wanted something like that. So I'm lugging it around and making people sign it, and I am well pleased. Sister Shin Jeong In drew a swoosh on it, so now it's a knockoff Nike t-shirt. Yaay!
Let's see . . . I had my first pat bing soo*** that I actually liked, at Paris Baguette with Sis. Go Gyeong Ah (the Branch President's wife). And this week we're being taken out for shabu shabu# (my favorite interactive meal concept) and boshimtang (dog soup--Branch prez said I could have samgeitang#* instead. I said he'd better believe I was getting sameitang instead. He's just really proud of his rep as 'The Boshimtang Branch President') (Now I think of it, it kind of blows my mind how much Pres. Pak and Sis. Go are like you two. Really a lot). And dinner tonight at Matt & Charlotte's, assuming that Charlotte doesn't go into labor (she's fairly well at the 'any-minute-now' stage, and is astonishing everyone by how little her very large pregnant belly impedes her from doing anything she dang well feels like doing).
The bags are being packed; last goodbyes are being said. The Seoul temple president, who used to be a couple missionary in Yeonsan ward when I was serving there, asked Prez if he could coerce one of the missionaries going home to Salt Lake to take a couple of books to his son, who's living in Utah. So Elder Kim the AP hesitantly called me to ask if I might possibly by chance be able to sqeeze these books in and still make weight limit . . . and I, being my parents' daughter, said, "Oh, yeah. I'm travelling light, so I've got plenty of space. Not a problem." and Elder Kim was happy.
So . . . we've got to run to a shiksa pretty quick here, and close my Korean bank account, and pick up last useful things like boric acid (we don't seem to have roaches, but nothing like being careful when you're leaving a house abandoned for an unknown stretch of time), and generally say my goodbyes to Korea. We are one hundred percent jangshim opda## (ask Helena), which pleases me, because the less time I have to think about this the better I'm going to take it. Which has always kind of been my style, I realized. This is why I've never attended my own graduation and dislike big weddings. I like to plow through life changes, not wallow in them. Maybe this isn't giving enough reverence to the occasion, but it keeps me moving forward and having fun, which is good.
So we going to Aaron's wedding reception on Saturday?
Love you guys. And, um . . . gosh sakes. See you this weekend.
**shiksa --"meal." The missionaries use this to refer to dinner appointments.
***pat bing soo pat bing soo-- red beans on shaved ice, with various other things done up fancy like a sundae. Pics here: http://www.google.com/images?hl=en&client=firefox-a&hs=6FK&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&q=%ED%8C%A5%EB%B9%99%EC%88%98&um=1&ie=UTF-8&source=og&sa=N&tab=wi
#* sameitang--maybe samgyetang? Chicken soup, but with a whole chicken. http://www.google.com/images?q=%EC%82%BC%EA%B3%84%ED%83%95&oe=utf-8&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a&um=1&ie=UTF-8&source=og&sa=N&hl=en&tab=wi# shabu shabu --this is actually a Japanese thing. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shabu-shabu
## jangshim opda --I'm guessing this is jeongshin opda, basically losing your mind. Like you're so busy you can't think straight.
Many thanks to Helena for the translations and links to images!
Monday, June 28, 2010
"From what I can tell, this is your last P-day. Next week will be a P-week. Yesterday Rose and I received from President Jennings a letter announcing your completion of your mission. Both President Reusch and the Bishop got letters saying the same thing, so you are done. Take a week off. "
"Yaaay! Actually, not that much goofing off planned for this week. Next week is only four days long (Mon-Thurs) and two of those days are P-Days (Mon and Thurs), so goofing off will be heavily indulged in then."
Todd: I remember my last week. I had no fear, I could speak with power to members and investigators alike. Calling to repentance and changelings all I spoke to. You get to do that when you are about to leave this mortal coil. Take advantage of it.
RoseE: Yeah, I'm noticing this . . . last week of your mission, you've got nothing to lose, so stuff just flies out of your mouth without fear of the consequences. It happened at Kim Yoon Eh's house this last week. I think it might make her come to church next week, for the first time in ten years. And even if it's not next week . . . some things are inevitable.
Todd: Friday passed without my feared outcome. I knew that North Korea would lose in the World Cup, but they didn't take their failure out on Seoul, so I think you will survive your mission.
RoseE: Folks around here are worried for the NK soccer team, actually . . . thinking Beloved Leader or whatever we call him might take out his frustration (and humiliation -- from what we hear, he made sure that lots of people in his country were watching as his poor team got their butts whooped 0-7) on the players and that if they do not find themselves a quiet corner of South Africa to live out their lives, they might be living them out in a labor camp.
Todd: Since you will be coming back, what do you have planned?
RoseE: Monday morning, I'm planning a trip to LDS Distribution to beg for my job back. If they give it to me, I will be planning on going to work every day. If not, I have no plans, really. Other than sewing dresses, going to the library, cleaning out e-mail inboxes, and exploring the boxes and boxes of clothes I think I've still got over there.
Todd: Will you stay in the ward or go to a singles ward?
RoseE: Staying in the ward, at least for the time being. I've missed the ward a lot, and until I figure out what the next few months are going to be like (staying in Rose Park/moving elsewhere to chase employment, staying living with all y'all/finding my own place, eventually back to BYU for grad school as soon as those student loans are killed . . . ) I'm gonna stick pretty close to home base.
Todd: Do you want a calling?
RoseE: Yes, please.
Todd: The Bishop has asked for you to speak on the 25th will you be ready?
RoseE: Can do.
Todd: What to you want to do when you get back? I know you are going to Boston, but do you have any locals that you are going to spend all your time with? Do you want to be left alone? Should I find stuff to do?
RoseE: Awwww, dang, I didn't bring my Forbidden List. The Forbidden List has all the stuff I want to do, but I can't remember much of what's on it because I haven't read it because it's Forbidden. (That's why it's called the Forbidden List.) Yes, there are a lot of local folks that I want to spend time with, predominantely the old roommate gang (Serena/Felicia/Laura/Holly/Sarai, the ones who were around a lot just before I left) and my dear friend Cara, who may or may not still be alive (information's thin on the ground over there). But I want to DO stuff, with my family, from whom I have been troublesomely separated for quite some time now. I want to go hiking and see the Church Art Museum again and do fairs and random shopping and movies and Conference downtown and eating American food and eating Korean food and anything else I can get my hands on. I don't want to be left alone. I've been quite alone in my head for a very, very long time, and I've had quite enough of it, thank you kindly.
Though you might wake up the morning of the 11th to find me not in the house . . . I have a vague plan to wake up at like 3:15 a.m., jet lag being as it is and all, and take Isis and go jogging in the park. Just thought I'd warn you, as I know this is not normal behavior for pre-mission me and you might be scared I'd run away or something. Nope--just getting some exercise and hesitantly testing out what being alone feels like. I'm sure I'll find time to organize my thoughts and process this whole experience while those of you who still have real lives are occupied with work and stuff . . . but I don't want to be at loose ends. That's about the worst thing I can imagine now.
Todd: Hugh Nibley* spend a month in Zion National Park when he finished his mission to recoup.
RoseE: I don't like recoup time. I get bored. But I do like Zion National Park. I think. Have I ever been there?
Todd: We have Phoebe with us for the month, and she and Teancum want to hike and camp and we would love to have you along too.
RoseE: Count me in!
Todd: Keep up the pace. Remember: there are only 50,000,000 Koreans left to convert!
RoseE: Ugh . . . don't remind me.
*Hugh Nibley: LDS scholar and friend of the Hadden family; fluent in about 8 languages including some ancient ones that nobody speaks anymore. Here are some links:
Sunday, June 27, 2010
"June 17, 2010
Dear Brother and Sister Hadden,
We are pleased to inform you that Sister Hadden has filled an honorable mission and will return home on 10 Jul 2010. Please know that she has served with great faith and a dedicated heart in this missionary effort. She has been an influence for good and has touched many lives with this glorious message. She has been instrumental in bringing many souls into the church because of her strong testimony and outstanding missionary spirit. She is loved by both missionaries and members with whom she has served. She has done much to further the work of the Lord in this beautiful land of Korea.
Sister Jennings and I have been honored to work with your daughter and have grown to love her very much. You have good reason to be proud of Sister Hadden who has conducted herself nobly and diligently as a representative of the Savior. She has finished well the work and service she undertook many months ago.
It is our hope and prayer that as she returns home she will continue to find joy and fulfillment in service; and that as a result of her mission experience, she might be more prepared for even greater opportunities.
Sister Jennings and I are extremely grateful to you for sharing her with us and with the Korea Busan Mission. She will be greatly missed.
May the Lord continue to bless you and keep you in his watchful care.
Kenneth W. Jennings, Jr.
Busan Mission President"
Monday, June 21, 2010
I think it's technically still Father's Day over there; at least, I hope so.
So Mom sent me fifty billion pictures of the family reunion. On the one hand, I was really sad I couldn't be there when EVERYBODY else was hanging out together, but on the other hand . . . well, I'm one of the oldest cousins, aren't I? Still too young to hang out with the aunts'n'uncles, too old to play with the younger kids who're all the same age or thereabouts. Ah cham. Oh well. At least Will, and not I, gets the stigma of being tallest. It looks like it was an awesome time, though, and I'm glad you had a good time biking up there. You've got to tell me more about this stealth camping thing. It sounds almost as good as sleeping in airports. (see sleepinginairports.com; fun website.)
I FINALLY FINALLY got to do some cool living history stuff this week! It was the Soiburi Festival (Ironworks?) up at Buk Gu Cheong, and we missionaries volunteered at it. I really don't know what they thought they needed us for--they just told us to wander around and be enthusiastic, probably to make it look like there were more weigukins coming to the festival than actually came. We were nominally there as translators, but nobody seemed to need translation. So we just made clay pots, learned to make ddeok with a big old wooden mallet, wove reed circles to put on your head so it doesn't hurt as much to carry heavy stuff up there and it's easier to balance, watched some cool dancing and cooler drumming, dressed up in Choson-dynasty armor (plastic--my medieval sensibilities are appalled), and watched the Hyeahsa, praying to ancestors in general for a successful festival. (Apparently ancestors will do anything for a pig's head.) We also watched lots of blacksmiths doing their stuff, and watched students powering a foot-powered bellows like in Princess Mononoke. Very cool. AND on Sunday Sis. Go Kyeong Ah, the branch president's wife, finally relented and let us hear her play her very awesome Korean traditional lap-harp thing. She has two: a more traditional-style twelve-string one and a modernized 25-string. I took videos on my camera, but they'll have to come home with me 'cuz I didn't have Isobel there to take sendable videos with.
So yep. Seventeen months of searching in vain for a good Korean-history activity space, and my last month one jumps out at me and I get to spend two days hanging out there! And I got a free t-shirt. Except it isn't a t-shirt, it's a senghwal hanbok shirt, nice and cool with frogs to fasten it at the neck. So comfy. Sis. Alcazar is sleeping in hers. I'm wearing mine today to go up and see Seoknam Grotto. Hot as Hades and mosquitoes galore. I don't mind the skeeters, 'cuz I just don't react to the bites anymore, but poor Sis. Alcazar swells up like a balloon at every bite, so we've been experimenting with makeshift screens and netting tents, and taping up the vent in the bathroom 'cuz a lot of them seem to be getting in that way. Better last night.
We had President's interviews on Tues and Sis. Alcazar spent the whole time cutting elders' hair so they'd look spiffy for the mission tour. I got my Death Letter: the "This is when your exit interview is and this is how much money you'll need to get to Seoul and this is what you can do with the time you have after your temple session" letter. Death Letter. That whole last week's still kind of up in the air, since transfers are on Monday but exit interviews aren't 'till Thursday. It's looking now like Sis. Linford and I will just be companions and sleep in the living room for a couple days, and Elders Bocchino and Oxborrow will do something similar and have free run of Bangeojin to Kyeongju to say last goodbyes to everybody.
Sis. Kim Min Kyeong, the investigator who talks really fast, got matched up with Sister Go Kyeong Ah, who also talks really fast, and we had a lesson with a member and the two of them really hit it off and it was fantastic awesome.
We're having a ward activity in two weeks: Water balloon volleyball in the Daehwa River Park. Sis. Culver made a mad-cool collage poster for the occasion, with which everyone is very impressed. Now to get our investigators to come. . .
Sis. Wang Ga Jeong, of whom we had such high hopes, is in a pickle . . . her Buddhist mother-in-law, living in the States, has forbidden her to participate in a Christian church. She reeeeealy wants to come to church, but we're in Korea and Confucius reigns supreme and . . . we're stuck. Dang this woman, whoever she is.
This coming week: splits to Daegu, Zone Conference with Elder Ringwood, District Conference. It's going to go by really fast. It would even if it were a week in the middle of my mission and not my second-to-last week of regular missionary time. Chaos reins. We scramble to get stuff done. Even right now: gotta catch a bus to Kyeonju like NOW. So I love you! Happy Father's Day! See you in gosh-sakes-three-weeks!
"In Korea they're called Dochangs. I'll get him one. If anyone else wants one, let me know. I can get 'em done up with just about anything written in Korean, Chinese, or English. I'll just do his in English, just his name, unless he'd like some characters on there or something in Hangul. So I'll wait a week to see if there are more specific instructions/further orders, and then do 'em all at once. I wanted to get a new one cut for myself anyway.
Really, anybody who wants one. Just tell me what you want written, in what alphabet, arranged how. By next week. I'll get 'em cut.
. . . and since this is all she wrote this week, this is all you are going to get.
So get your requests in today, folks!
Sunday, June 13, 2010
"Dear Mum and Dad,
So we discovered this morning that Monday P-Day means the library, the youth center, and all the other amazingly useful places for e-mailing are now closed to us again. So we're back to Digital Plaza,
The Electronics Store, with dancing girls
the electronics store, trying not to get kicked out. Ah, cham.
We found the doncas restoraunt run by the most awesome Jeong Hyeah Shim, and ate doncas there while chatting with her and her brother and sister. Sis Jeong (aka The Cake Lady) is about the most awsesome person I know. We love her whole family. After English class this week she took us out for jajjangmyeon (except it had octopus in it . . . I didn't know you could get jajjang with octopus. It was SO GOOD) and we bullied her into letting us pay 'cuz she's fed us like three times now. We are excited to start teaching her, but right now isn't good 'cuz she's trying to cram through her cake-baking course and is studying every waking minute except the minutes that she's taking us out to eat. So we're encouraging her through that, and in the meantime are trying to get ward activities happening again so she can come out and meet some ward folks.
Sister Jeong Hyeah Shim aka the Cake Lady
We went to the Daegongwon Rose Festival . . . big feature of this is concerts, too late at night for us to go to them, but we did get to go see the rose gardens for free, which was nice.
We also hit the Daehwa River Water Festival, which was MUCH bigger and featured a lot of things I'm glad I got too see before I left Korea, like Korean traditional wrestling matches and the dragon boat race finals. (Hyundai won.) And just walking around in the sunshine talking to people is so very pleasant. I love Daehwa River.
World Cup: Korea vs. Greece. I didn't get to watch it, but BOY HOWDY did I hear it. We're in our apartment, quietly minding our own business after a hard day's work, and all of a sudden this ROAR resounds from outside, like every person in Ulsan just started screaming at the top of their lungs. Korea scored. We've also been kindly informed by everybody that America tied with Britain, so they're not doing too badly, really, for Americans.
Getting kissed by a drunk guy. An American from North Dakota. He'd been up all night and well into the following day watching US vs UK, and we met him on the street, where he kept us in conversation for a very, very long time, and finished it up by kissing both of us on the hand and cheek. I hope he doesn't remember this later. Elder Bocchino, when he heard of this (and also learned that the drunk guy in question was married; he'd told us so) labeled us both 'homewreckers.' I need that on a t-shirt.
OH, speaking of t-shirts, at the river festival we saw the Mother of All Korean T-Shirts, the Untoppable Wonder. It was being worn by a mom, out with her young family to see the festival. Printed on the t-shirt, in big black letters, was a neat list of every radically offensive epithet you can think of, one for each cultural or social group, just lined up neat as you please. She obviously had NO idea what it said. We almost worked up the nerve to ask her for a picture, but chickened out. Dang it.
Missionary work in general has not been much fun -- a lot of dead-ends and very, very awkward lessons. So no fun peppy news on that front, really, though Song Yeong Ok and Yoon Mi Hyeah are still coming to church, as did a lot of less-active families this week 'cuz it was branch conference. I spent too long gossiping with Sister Jennings. I always do.
Since last e-mailing, I had my last Zone Meeting. Ah, good old Shilla zone. Good folks all, from Shinjeong to Pohang. Zone meeting is presided over by the Zone leaders -- neither Prez nor the APs nor anybody high-ranking or official comes, so it sometimes decends into chaos. Highlights are 'Shilla time', the talent show portion, and the after-meeting game of werewolf while waiting for pizza to arrive. Good times have been had at zone meetings. And then I made the elders sing for a long while, prepping for Elder Ringwood's mission tour in two weeks. Nah, it's not intimidating . . . why would you think that? Silly.
And my photos are now all safely backed up on a flash drive, but I'm just going to keep it here with me and you can see 'em when I get home, though by then you probably won't want to, mission pictures being what they are and all. I'll send a few this week, though, while you're still interested.
And Guess Who called me this week.
Unlisted number registered in my phone. I picked up.
"Yes . . . Who is this?" said a throaty female voice.
"Um . . . I'm Sister Hadden missionary."
"Yes. You served with me."
"Huh? You say I served with you?"
"Yes. Served last year."
"Last year? Did I meet you in Busan?"
"No . . . you were serving with a Maori person ."
"Oh, yes, yes. Sister Matthews. Do you know her?"
"Yes . . . "
Okay, gotta go look up an e-mail address for Sis. Linford and send y'all some pictures of stuff, so until next week!
Friday, June 11, 2010
"While serving in Daegu, I lived in an apartment overlooking the KTX rail line. And every morning, at 6:47, the train rattled past on its way to Seoul. And every morning, at 6:47, I thought, I could be riding that. I could be on my way home right now. All I have to do is give up.
Elders and sisters, all we have to do is quit, and we can go home any seond that we choose. We all know it. We all think about it at some point during our missions, when frustration and disappointment weigh heavy on our shoulders. So why are we still here?
The Lord faced the same decision every morning of his mortal ministry. He had the power to quit any time he chose. No one could have stopped him. Said he, "Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father." Even the nails that affixed him to the cross could not have held him there unless he chose to let them. At any point, he could have changed his mind, hopped down, and gone home, back to his family, and friends, and carpentry business, and good, decent, unremarkable life. He could have left the salvation of mankind to be somebody else's problem. He could have. But he didn't.
We all have the power to lay down our lives--our jobs, educations, friends, families, ambitions, plans, boyfriends, girlfriends, pets, cars, home culture, home language, independence. No man taketh these things from us; we lay them down of ourselves. We have the power to take them again. But every day that we choose to leave them laid aside, we become a little bit more like Him who made the same decision on a much grander scale. And we learn, a little bit, why he made that choice . . . because as we love our companions, investigators, members and friends, so he first loved us, and laid down his life for us.
We lay down our lives that we may, in due course, take them up again.But they are not the same lives we left. They are changed beyond recognition, enriched beyond measure--with greater love, stronger faith, truer freedom, deeper understanding, loftier goals, and a much, much bigger family . . . the people we've taught, and the ones who've taught us.
As I prepare to finally take that long ride on the KTX, I do so with a heart full of gratitude for our Savior, Jesus Christ, through whom we receive this and every opportunity for learning and growth. I'm grateful to have served with all of you in representing the Lord in the Korea Busan Mission. I know the Book of Mormon to be God's OwnTruth. I know this work to be his work--striving to bring all souls, including our own, unto him. I offer this, my testimony, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
Monday, June 7, 2010
It striketh me as it has never before that Mother's Day and your birthday are fairly close together . . . as are Father's Day and Dad's birthday, come to think of it. Not AS close, but still.
So hoping this gets to you in time, Happy Birthday! Your last letter sounded ticked about the new glasses you've been forced into, like needing them made you feel old. Well, I'm younger but I'm certainly catching up--in the course of my mission I've developed bunions and bone spurs, started to go gray at an increasing rate, and aged from 23 to 26 in less than 18 months. My eyes are okay but my feet are in real bad shape. But hey, that's kind of the point, right? If you've got anything left at the end of the race, you didn't run it right. Thus saith Elder Holland (thus roareth Elder Holland, actually, if I know Elder Holland--I've never heard that talk, but you can tell in print when he's raising the rafters and it still makes you want to either run to join Helaman's Army or hide under the bed.) Well-worn things, whether shoes or glasses, are signs of a life well lived. Speaking of which, I've got to take my brown shoes to the cobbler's sometime this week, to be glued back together so they'll survive another two months' work. They're real gosh darn missionary shoes now. Fortunately there's a cobbler's booth right outside our church, so it shouldn't be too much trouble. (Cobbler's shops in Korea are, really and truly, called kudupyeongwon--shoe hospitals.) (I probably already told you that. I forget what I've told you and what I haven't.)
Oh, we saw a Honda outside our apartment today. A Honda! What is a Honda doing in Korea?
Dad's probably double miffed now that you've got two letters and a phone call while he's got nothin'. Tell him to hold his horses; June is coming. I'm really tempted to call stateside again and leave a message on his work voicemail to wish him a happy Father's Day, but I won't. Obedient missionary and all that. I'll think of SOME kind of mischief to do in his name on that day, though; don't worry.
I love you. And don't worry. Thora* wears reading glasses and her husband isn't even out of college yet.
*Thora: RoseE's good friend
**Bisoux: kisses (fr)
Thursday, June 3, 2010
"Dear Mom & Dad,
myldsmail's being obstinate again, and the computer won't read gmail either, so we're back to option 3 so I at least get an e-mail out. Tiresome machine.
So . . . gaaah. What on earth happened this week? Well, we had ZLCM (hamburgers and baked beans . . . joy itself. I nearly killed myself with two pieces of fudge cake a la mode) and then right smack after that Zone Conference (yesterday). It was odd, because your last Zone Conference is supposed to be this big deal, because you give your Samang Marsum (Death Speech) and then everybody sings 'Each Life That Touches Ours For Good' just to make sure you cry, if you didn't cry while giving the actual talk, and you say goodbye to everyone and it's very sad and tragic. Except we're having another zone conference later this transfer, because Elder Ringwood's coming, so although I did give my talk and get sung at and cried, I didn't say goodbye to anyone, 'cuz we're all doing this again in four weeks anyway. So, uh . . . bye, y'all. I'm very lucky things worked out this way . . . as you may know, I heartily dislike dramatic goodbyes. I'd rather have goodbyes done with before I know what's happening.
You may recall that when I gave my farewell talk, though I was well prepared, I had some issues filling the time allotted. Well, that problem's a thing of the past. The trick with Samang Marsums is squeezing them into three minutes, lest you get eaten by the APs for over-extending their meeting. Whatever else I may have done, I'm proud of myself for not going over three minutes. HA.
This week Sunday was the big in-the-middle-of-church event of all watching the Joseph Smith movie together. Though none of our investigators came (gggaaaaah! The big standardized English test was on that Sunday, so at least two people couldn't come because of that [one of them Son Yoo Jin, who answered my call and talked to me again! Yaaaay!] and others were busy or not answering or dang it all), our awesome friend Kim Kyeong Bin's less-active dad came, as did a lot of other less- and semi-active members we weren't expecting to see. Kim Kyeong Bin was just beaming the whole entire time. She was SO excited her dad came to church.
Big discovery this week was a little cafe called Tesoro. We met a woman who works there a few weeks ago, and she gave us her business card, and we've been meaning to find the place for weeks and weeks . . . well, this week we finally managed it, and met her again. Nicest person in the world. We sat at the bar drinking hot chocolate and eating brownies and just chatting for a good hour or so, and I was able to give her a Book of Mormon and a cookie. The name on her business card was Son Hyon Seo, which is what I've been thinking of her as, but now that I reflect, that might be the name of her aunt who owns the new cafe.
We had our first power outage this week. Fortunately it didn't cause too much trouble . . . it was the middle of the morning, and although I was in the middle of a baking project, the oven was already lit and it's gas-powered so there was no problem. Lucky sods, us.
Sis. Culver got to pull out her old skills again and give a haircut to our member friend Charlotte, wife of Matt and mother of Lincoln and as-yet-unnamed. AYU is due at the beginning of July, so it's anybody's guess if I'll get to see him before I go. We're all hoping so. Charlotte's friend Wynne, from Scotland, also came and got a trim, and we got to talk a lot with her (she was very impressed that I was a piper's daughter) and eat tacos. Lots of weigukin food got et this week.
*checks the blog* Wait, you lost the second picture disc? Lost it? AAAAHH, freak. Now I have to make another one, and this one that's supposed to be copying right now is taking for blinking ever; I'll probably have to cancel the job. I may just have to buy a bigger flash drive and back everything up to that, because the CDs are turning into a real headache.
President Pak Yeong Chol, Branch Prez, is threatening us with Boshimtang again. Fortunately, his wife, Go Gyeong Ah, is about my best friend in the whole world now (I taught her Sunday school class for her this week and now she loves me) and has promised to protect me from any bizarre substances her husband might try to make me eat. Yep. I'm all for new experiences, but there are some lines I just do not cross.
It's been another week of bizarre freezing coldness, but sun's finally out (about blessed time -- it's JUNE already, people!) and we're doing another run to the whale museum today, as I am the only Chamei who has yet seen it. I'm wearing a sweater I dug out of the church's random leftover clothes pile with a zipper for a neckline (it's weird . . . show ya later) and am all set to have a great day and a great week, including a possible split to Taegu so save Sister Chon, who's going insane. So . . . I love you! Mom, Happy Birthday! I'm still trying to see what you e-mailed . . . I might have luck and I might not. Rrrgh.
Stay out of trouble
Thursday, May 27, 2010
"Dear Mum and Dad,
Well, big news is TRANSFER CALLS. Friday night. I had my mission map out and pencil ready to keep track of all the moves. Sis. Yoon got the deadly call: they've sent her out to Taegu, my old apartment but not my old area, co-senior with Sister Crowther. It was rough for her, but I knew it was gonna happen. First transfer's always the hardest. Sis. Linford got the call from Prez--she's training. Sis. Ogelvie called me with news of how everybody else was shuffling around and who was training the other two new greenie sisters (Jeong Min Hee, 2nd trainee, and Sis. Musser, 3rd trainee). And the transfers were settled. A slot for everybody and everybody in her slot.
Then our phone rang.
Sis. Culver sat paralyzed in her chair as I answered it.
It was Prez. What the freak? thought I. Who could he possibly make me train? There's no one to train! They're all trained!
False alarm--he's installing me back as Chamei Dep. I've never heard of anyone going two rounds as Chamei dep, and am surprised it wasn't sister Ogelvie instead of me. . . but I think the crux of the matter was the Chamei Dep training binder I wrote at Prez's request a few months ago. Because now he wants me to write a training binder for sister trainers. I must have done a good job. I'm quite flattered. And hey, ZLCM LUNCH TOMORROW!
So that was it. My last transfer call. Well, the last one where my head's on the chopping block. No new companions, areas, district- or zone-mates, or roommates (now that we've met Sis. Linford's greenie, Sis. Alcazar . . . also from California. I'm in an all-weigukin house for the first time in my mission, and they're ALL Californians. Save me). And today begins my last transfer. Today Sis. Pak Sung Hee and Sis. Pak Seh Ra go into That Good Night. And for me, there is no Next Transfer. My new planner covers more time than the rest of my mission covers. I keep swinging back and forth between being excited to go home and forgetting that there IS a home . . . that there's something besides black oblivion outside mission boundaries. I'm confused, and nervous. And wondering if my Korean is as good as it's gonna get . . . I hope not. I'm going to try to speak Korean straight through every working day for the rest of the mission, because living in a house with three other Americans is NOT going to be good for my language skills otherwise. I mean, I'm looking forward to being home, and of course hey, I love airplane rides, and pre-airplane there's the temple and a couple hours to explore Seoul, and a ride on the KTX which is always fun . . . I think it's just getting on the train, that last goodbye to Prez and Mom Jennings, that I'm recoiling from. I think that's going to hurt like death. But hey, before that is Dinner at the Bu, and P-Day in Pusan, and all manner of fun craziness . . . Just that one painful kick and then it will all be over and everything will be okay.
So in other news, this week Sis. Culver and I discovered the wonders of Ulsan Grand Park (seriously, Dad, you have GOT to come to Ulsan Grand Park. You would flip. It's fantastic) and played with a bunch of butterflies and went to the bug museum. I think we're the only foreigners in Ulsan that know about the Grand Park . . . one gentleman we talked to said that he came to the park every other day, all day, for years, and we were the first weigukins he'd ever seen.
Also, politics proceeds apace. There's an election or something going on, and on nearly every major corner there are people in matching shirts doing dance routines to jingles in favor of one candidate or the other. The candatates themselves are riding around in big trucks with their faces plastered all over them, waving and doing nintey-degree bows to everyone they see. For once, we're not the weirdest thing on the streets of Ulsan.
And we got to have dinner this week with a lady who comes to our English class--a divorcee who runs a donkkas restaurant with her brother and handicapped older sister, while raising two teenage kids. She is teaching herself to decorate cakes, and wants to open a bakery next year. She fed us excellently, and happily accepted the brief spiritual message and Liahona we offered in return. I'm excited about her. I hope we can teach her.
This week, instead of the third hour of church, we're watching Joseph Smith: Prophet of the Restoration, which the Bu bootlegged some subtitles onto. So everybody's inviting everybody, and hopefully it will be a good intro to the church for a lot of people. Awesome Katrina and her Also Awesome Friend Renee are coming (we've been doing FHE with them on Monday nights . . . we share a scripture story and they teach us how to play spades. Sis. Culver is winning), as are a lot of less-actives and sort-of investigators. We're excited. I love movies.
And Wednesday Elder/Dr Gibson and Elder/Dr Brown, the missionary health gwallying people, are coming and doing a mission tour, so we're having Zone Conference. AND some time after that, Elder Rockwood (Rookwood? Ravenwood? One's a Seventy, one's a Death Eater, and one's in Indiana Jones, or maybe somebody uses the same name twice somewhere) is coming, so we get two Zone Conferences in my last transfer. Good times.
AND I'm copying all my photos since, um, the last time I copied them (coughNovembercough)* and sending them home, so they'll all be safe and y'all get to see everything while biting your nails to the quick or freaking out over MASH or whatever you're doing to keep yourselves occupied in the remaining time. I'm reading Livre de Mormon, breaking the chewing-on-my-fingers habit, and making boxes for all my scriptures, to keep my fingers busy.
Oh, somebody please pass stuff on to Emily, and hopefully relay stuff back from her, 'cuz e-mail is quicker than letters even if it is only once a week:
How about the week right after Cat's wedding? That's what, 14th of August, right? So 15 or 16 August-ish? And it's still well before my dad's birthday. Sound good? Sound like a plan? Any objections?
Mom, can I still fly? Are there restrictions on my flying? Do I have to buy tickets now? Does JetBlue go to Boston or just to JFK? Is that week impossible to fly on for some reason? Maybe you should just talk to Emily . . . I'm just out here in Korea; I don't know what I'm doing. I am seriously not qualified to plan a week in Boston with my best friend right now, but planning is required, so . . . yeah, just tell her to pick a week, as long as it's not the wedding or Dad's birthday, and I'll be there. I'll figure out the details later.
Okay, gonna make a backup CD quick . . .
Thursday, May 20, 2010
Thank you so much for the drawing! The Enterprise looks great--you're really good at getting the proportions all just right. If you wanted to do another drawing, my companion Sister Culver really likes dogs and puppies--could you draw her a picture of Kotah, if you have time?
Everything there is to know about Star Trek? Jeesh. I think I used to know everything about Star Trek, but it's been a long time, so I've probably forgotten a lot. Dad knows a lot, though, and so does Emily, so I think we'll probably be able to figure out whatever you want to know. What do you mean, Doctor Who is running loco? Did the show get really weird? Weirder? Aww, dang it, that's no fun.
I hope this letter gets to you before the trek. I want to hear all about it--where you went and what you did. I never got to go on a trek when I was in Young Women's . . . I was always at Lac du Bois. And I only did Girl's Camp a couple of times. You're really lucky.
I miss you so much! And I'll see you in not-even-two-months!
Thursday, May 13, 2010
Monday, May 10, 2010
Thank you so much for the dragon! I really like that it's a Korean dragon, so I know you drew it just for me. It makes me feel special and loved. It's now on my bedroom wall, along with the painting of the Tardis*, which is a little battered from four moves now but is still in pretty good shape. It's been with me through almost my whole mission now. Cool, huh?
Mom says that y'all are hiking a lot now. Fun! I'm so jealous. I wish I could come, too. I get to walk a lot, but it's all streets and sidewalks and traffic, not cool hikes up in the mountains. I'd like to get out a bit, especially now, because all the big temples are decorated with hundreds of colored lanterns for Buddha's birthday. It looks really cool. And it's FINALLY gotten warm enough to where being outside is fun. Mostly. Today is really gray and stormy . . . I guess monsoon season is coming again.
I'm so excited to see you in two months! It's coming up really fast . . . one of these weeks I'm going to make it home before my letters. I love you! Have fun with the end of the school year--wow, you're almost a junior already, huh? Crazy!
*tardis: time machine used by Dr. Who shaped like a blue British police box.
Thursday, May 6, 2010
"Dear Mum & Dad,
Just got my e-mail et so this is going to be brief.
Calls: I'm shooting for 7 or 8 a.m. here, which is 4 or 5 pm Saturday for you, I think. If that doesn't work, tell me . . . I can check e-mail once quick tomorrow, just to get the calling thing worked out. Prez is nice this way.
E-mailing from Prez's tv, by the way. He's got internet on his playstation. It's a touch unwieldly, but with 18 sisters e-mailing we're really doing quite well, all things considered. Half the sisters the mission are reading this over my shoulder. They say hi.
Yesterday was childeren's day here in Korea . . . designated legal holiday for parents to spend time with their kids. Because without a legal holiday, it just doesn't get done. Just school from morning to midnight. But yesterday everybody was out in the parks, which was great. The branch was going camping . . . we were supposed to go with them . . . so we got up at quarter to six to go out and meet them for the day, and at 6:08 as we're going out the door (Sis. Culver had her shoes on) the elders called to tell us that the outing was cancelled. I was back in bed before the call was over. Turned out later the outing wasn't actually cancelled and everybody wanted to know where we were. Ugh.
We DID get to go hiking this week with one of our investigators. That was lovely. To be away from all the incessant traffic and pavement and city-ness, in pants, with my hair braided and no stockings or makeup or any gosh darn sister missionary paraphenalia beyond my tag and my testimony. We drank from a natural spring way up the mountain, and bought ice cream from a guy who hikes up there with a backpack full of the stuff every morning. It was fun. I felt a little bit like me again. . . me who could wear pants, and spend time in woods, and get dirty,and light fires and steer canoes and all that stuff I used to be able to do. Good feeling.
And Sis Jin Mok Kwan, the less-active hairstylist from Taegu, is going to the temple to receive her endowments THIS WEEK! Isn't that AWESOME?
This e-mail has now been eaten twice, so I'm going to send it before any more disasters hit. I'll call you! And that will be lovely! And I'll e-mail quick tomorrow to double-check the call times, so if there's a problem, tell me soon.
I love you!
Thursday, April 29, 2010
"Don't you jinx me with your snow! It's finally sunny here. We'll be lucky to get a week of sunshine before monsoon hits at the rate this has been going.
All the hiking* sounds fun. I hope it's still going to be going on come July . . . I want in on this action.
Space camp**? we have space camp in Utah? Is it a day camp or an overnight camp or what? I thought you had to go to Florida or someplace to do Space Camp.
LOL Mom, you are trunkie. This is funny. I haven't got any flight information yet through official channels, but it would seem to be not long in coming. As traumatic as it's all going to be, hey, I love airplane rides. And I've got Wall-E ready for the trip, just hangin' out in some back folder of the iPod. Freak, home at four in the afternoon. I can't go to sleep right away; I'll be whacked for a week. I was thinking going down to the temple would be a good plan--live session would keep me on my feet, so I'd at least only sleep for short stretches at a time. Or just walking downtown . . . I've got a friend in the T2 mission I want to try to find. Or maybe I should just go to bed. I don't know. Now is not the time to think about this.
So . . . camping. The ward is going camping outside Pusan next tues/wed, for Children's Day, and they laid it down with the missionaries that We Are Coming Too, Period. Get Permission. Arrange With Sisters in Pusan to Stay With Them Overnight. So, um . . . guess I'm going camping next week. And THEN this week, at Zone Conference, I get news that Sisters Conference *ahem* the Meeting to Watch the YW Broadcast (Helena will appreciate this: I've decided that in Korean, this meeting is named 자매 않대회) is Thursday, so . . . yep, looks like we'll be spending a lot of time in Pusan next week.
This was a week of Me Being In Charge, which is never a good plan, really, but fortunately some good experiences popped up that kept us out of trouble and chaos. The elders got a call from a woman named Kim Min Yeong, who's actively searching for a religion and has bumped into the missionaries a few times. We got to meet with her this week and it went GREAT. She was genuinely interested in what we were offering, and asked us straight-out if what she'd heard from other churches about Mormons was true. (Like, that we don't let our members eat for a month at a time. Um, no, that's not what you'd call fact.) And she fairly well invited herself to church . . . she's interested in and impressed by how our members live. I'm tentatively hopeful.
Also we went on a great old wild goose chase with the elders for this less-active member who doesn't show up on any records . . . I found his number in an old handwritten list . . . and while the meeting with him himself was extremely weird and in no way useful, it put us in the right spot to meet a young twentysomething man who has been pondering the purpose of life. The elders taught him a LOT, and invited him to all kinds of stuff and gave him a Book of Mormon and got his number and the whole jazz. It was really exciting how you could kind of see his face light up as we talked to him.
AND Son Yoo Jin texted me back! I got y'all's Easter package this week (the sugar eggs are adoreable . . . where in the world did you find a Glinda card?) and all the sympathy kind of set me crying again, and in my cry-y mess I texted Sis Son one more time, just to say that we loved her, and she ANSWERED! She's not blocking our number, not stonewalling us. She's not lost entirely. There's still hope. For this tiny miracle I am immesureably thankful.
We threw Elder Wells a 1-week-late birthday party with a Baskin-Robbins Ice Cream Cake. That was two days ago. I've barely been able to eat anything since. Just 100% not hungry at all, despite my having eaten next to nothing since then. Bizarre.
Oh, and I won a fierce and hour-long battle with our apartment's toilet, armed only with an utterly useless pump-style plastic plunger that spews water everywhere. And after I won, I was conveniently already in the bathroom to take a long, hot, and much-needed shower. The roommates hail me as a hero. My arm hurts. But that toilet now knows who is boss. Called to serve Him, Heav'nly King of Glory . . .
Today we're up at the Kyeongju Museum again, having a proper look-through. None of the elders came . . . one member of each team in the zone had already been a lot . . . so they're hanging out in Hogae doing nothing again. Heh. But Zone Conference was fun. There were tacos. Oh, and apparently Church Headquarters has been assigning missionaries on a map on which our mission is not marked, which would expain why there have been no incoming elders for so blessed long. They're fixing the map.
We saw a heavily pregant young woman this week, wearing a t-shirt that read, in big block letters:
Sis. Culver continues to be a great junior companion and a lot of fun to be around. We both like Pete's Dragon and Ghana chocolate pies. She is scared of spicy things but getting braver, and eats will at shiksas, which is all we ask.
When's Cat getting married***? Do we know?
Hey, if Marjie# hasn't found a boarder by the time I get back, what would you think about me taking that room? It would be a more permanent living arrangement, but still in the ward and just 'round the corner. I hadn't much thought about moving out so quickly, but that would be convenient, possibly. Just bouncing the idea off y'all. I just thought of it today.
Oh, and e-mail me your schedule for next week Sat/Sun so next e-mail I can work out when I should call for Mother's Day##. Hey, it's Mother's Day already!
*hiking: we've been spending Sunday afternoons doing hikes to get Bethe in shape for a Pioneer Trek, wherein she hikes for 3 days pulling a loaded handcart, to give her an idea what her ancestors did to get to the Salt Lake valley.
**space camp: yes, we have it here in Salt Lake. Our fifth grader spent a day pretending to be a First Officer on a Star Trek ship, the Oddessy, dealing with Romulans and the Neutral Zone.
***RoseE's sister Cat is marrying Jeff on 14 August. 2010.
# Marjie: Relief Society President; she has a room to rent.
## Missionaries get to call their families on Christmas and Mother's Day.
Thursday, April 22, 2010
In Which Sister Song Gets Baptized But RoseE Is Still Worried, and P-Day Acitivities Are Discussed Heatedly
Gaaaaaah I want to go to the temple like CRAZY. I'm glad you went. It's good for you. I think it's okay to be trunkie for the temple. Maybe it isn't. I don't know.
I'm really glad I don't have a film crew following me around on my mission. I cannot imagine that they would have a good time. Most of missionary work does not end up being good movie material. Like, at all.
We were going to go to the whaling festival down in Jangsengpo today, but it's raining and we couldn't work up the motivation. This is after the elders spent half the night leaning on us (not even asking us straight-out; just leaning insistently) to go up to Hogae to play the piano for their musical number practice and play werewolf with them. These activites are all well and good, but it is what we did last week, and we have Sis. Culver who has still not seen much fun touristy stuff in Korea and needs to get out and look around. And, of course, Sis. Linford and I are running out of time to see stuff. So there was a squabble and lots of annoyance on both sides, and so even though we're not going to the festival we're still not going up to Hogae, which is sad, 'cuz there are elders from the far reaches of my zone coming with whom I have served and whom I'd like to see again. But that's the way it goes.
Last night, it being Elder Moore's birthday, we all did dinner at Outback Steakhouse. It was after Lunch Special time, which is not good, because Lunch Specials are just what missionaries do, period. But good times were had overall. There was food made with milk, which always makes me happy.
Um . . . looks like this letter is turning into the weekly report, so I'll just go with that and keep writing. So Sister Culver is an absolute champ. She hasn't cried once yet. I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop--I'd cried half a dozen times by this point in-field; where's she getting all this composure from? We're swapping lots of stories and slowly getting her phased into Korean food, and doing lots of wandering around in parks, which I'd always wanted to do but never had a companion be enthused about. But yesterday we walked around a lake with this woman who turned out to be the head nurse of the postnatal care unit of ING hospital, and the day before that we met the SK director who manages Ulsan Grand Park, who showed us around a bit. Fun, huh?
Saturday, Sister Song Yeong Ok got baptized.
I'm amazed she gathered up the courage to do it . . . she's SO shy. I was in a tight-wound bundle of stress all day, mostly vicarious terror on her behalf, so I unfortunately did not have much fun at the baptismal service. But it all went fairly smoothly. Sister Kang Kyeong Jin, an old friend of Sister Song's daughter, gave a talk (this was the by-accident ask, but Sister Ii Kyeong Jin, whom I was supposed to ask, couldn't make it so that ended up okay), and so did President Jennings, who'd come up especially. Sis. Yoon and I did a musical number, but as we weren't able to practice or warm up it was not an unqualified success. That's okay, I hope. Nobody died. And Sister Yoon Mi Hyeah, Sis, Song's daughter, was just glowing with joy and tears the whole time. I'm so excited and happy for them both. But I'm worried, too . . . there are so many people in this world who've gotten baptized and then fallen away from the church, because of sin or neglect or boredom or whatever. So I've now got a head start on worrying if Sis Song's going to stay active, if she's going to keep learning the gospel and progressing and being blessed as she's been these past few months, or if I'm going to check in later and discover that nobody's heard from her family in ages. But that's how Heavenly Father feels, I guess. You never stop worrying about the people that you love. I hadn't expected this. I guess we just work and pray and wait and support one another and hold on. I guess that's what life in this church is all about.
I'm having a hard time hanging onto the morning and evening schedules with Sisters Linford and Culver in the house. I just want to talk to them all the time instead of studying. New challenge. Hold on.
And now we're back to the 'gathering' phase of missionary work, collecting up another load of people to teach in hopes that one or two of them will catch the fire of what we're trying to share with them and progess towards baptism and onwards. And we're back to tracking down less-active members that haven't been seen in ages, reminding them that they had something good in their lives once, even if they've forgotten about it. And we see what happens as the weeks go forward. It's still not pleasant and sunny and springtimey on anything like a regular basis. Just a rather gray, wet spring. They happen.
Oh, we got news yesterday that THERE'S GOING TO BE ANOTHER SISTERS CONFERENCE! Just a little one, to watch the YW General Broadcast. I'm SO excited. I had given up hope of any such thing ever happening again. But I'll get to see all the gang at least one more time, which is tremendously exciting.
Still working hard, I promise. Still practicing Korean and talking to people and doing all that stuff I'm supposed to do, as well as I can do it, which is still not well. But I'm waiting for that thing to hit . . . the thing where you suddenly don't want to go home. I'm not sure if it just hasn't hit yet, or if I'm just trunkie and aught to be ashamed of myself, or if I'm just a positive person and am facing the end of my mission with a good attitude. I suppose we'll see, in due course.
Love you. Stay out of trouble. Have fun hiking with the family and riding bikes and going to the temple and being in Hawaii (Cat) and stuff. This church is true, and I know it, and everything's so much easier and happier because I do.
I'm sorry you haven't managed to see Brigham Young's grave yet. Might want to try a weekday.* If you can wait 'til July, I'll go with you. I like walking. I'm sort of discovering this now, 'cuz Sis. Yoon is not yet used to walking--at least, not in missionary quantities--and I'm suddenly noticing just how far I generally walk in a day. It's a long way.
We went up to Kyeongju again today and spend the afternoon in the Tombs--actually a very pleasant park full of odd-looking steep round hills. There's one excavated tomb sort of renovated into a museum space, so you can walk inside the hill and see how they're put together--one coffin and a box of burial goods in a decent-sized wooden chamber, covered by but tons of rocks and rubble, covered by a thick layer of dirt, covered by grass. I don't know if the other tombs were ever opened. When they opened the one, back in the seventies, they found tons of cool stuff, like a big antlered crown with jade pendants and horse gear with painted designs still intact, so you'd think they'd be curious about the others. I dunno. Knowing what I do of Korean history, I'd guess there's an inventory of all the burial goods stored in some temple somewhere, so no one sees any point in checking. I dunno. History education seems to be different around here. We saw lots of school groups (all in two straight lines, just like Madeline) being lead around by guides, who informed them through megaphones "This tomb is twenty meters tall. How tall is it?" "TWENTY METERS," chorused back the lines of children. Okay, think I, it's twenty meters tall. But who's inside it? Who built it? Why did they build it this way? What did they believe about death? What did they eat for breakfast? I'm sure all this information is somewhere--just nowhere that I, as a missionary, and a foreigner, can get at it. But at least I know now that the tomb is twenty meters tall.
So we played werewolf amongst the tombs--two rounds. I called them both. Elder Bocchino, our district leader, is a werewolf/mafia junkie, and it's hilarious to watch him play--he gets very intense. And it all brings back good ol' camp days,** rounds played around the fire on Aventure Nature campouts with the loons wailing hauntingly in the distance. This is the last P-Day of the transfer, so maybe no more werewolf for a while--but Elder Bacchino's my death d???, so betcha five bucks I'mgoing to be calling another round in the Seoul airport.
Holy cow. I've nearly made it through my first full-senior transfer. Friday's transfer calls, Sat-Sun is Conference, Monday's a working day, Tuesday we'll probably go spend the night in Pusan, Wednesday training day and thursday Transfer Day. I haven't madde it through very gracefully, and we're still baptism-free, but there haven't been too many major disasters, all told. We've hung on. I still can't cook, though.
I miss you. Let's go backpacking or something. I'm finding that my most restful activities on P-Days are either watching movies (rare) or being outside, in pants and sneakers, on pine needles or grass, a little bit dirty. It feels so different from my pavement-skyscrapers-and-stockings life--so much more like who I used to be, only more appreciative of the privilege.
Getting back to Ulsan. I love you--
*He did. The gate was still locked, so we could see the grave but couldn't go up to it.
**Werewolf: (also known as Mafia or Assassin) is a party game modeling a battle between an informed minority and an uninformed majority. See more here.
Thursday, April 15, 2010
"Dear Mom and Dad,
I like e-mails about nothing. They make me happy.
I unfortunately have no nothing to report. It's been action-packed chaos fairly well every day.
Transfer calls came. I'm training again, as are Sisters Ogelvie, Musser, Beh In Yeong, Pak Sung Hee, and Jeong Min Hee . . . all MTC mates, roommates, or companions of former days. I'm staying in Suseong ward, and Sis. Yoon is covering Hogae/Bangeojin with . . . Sister Linford! Sister Linford, back on the mainland from Jejudo and back in my life after a YEAR of no contact.
Conference. Once again, no American sisters to watch conference with so I yelled at the APs (I didn't yell; I requested politely in a stressed fashion) and they let me go on splits with Elder Wells so I could watch it in English while eating too many snack foods. It was GREAT. I LOVE Conference. Was it always this short? I could have sworn it was about four times as long when I was twelve . . .
Sister Song Yeong Ok had her baptismal interview on Monday. We're all set to go.
That morning Sis. Ogelvie called in tears because the APs weren't going to let us come down to Pusan Tuesday to go with the new greenies to the bathhouse at the crack of dawn on Wednesday. She'd fought with them for ten minutes, to no avail. I called the APs and asked politely and earnestly, and we got the permission. YES!
So Tuesday we had a meal appointment miraculously move ahead an hour so we could still attend it while making it down to Pusan on time, which is good because it turned out in the course of the meal that I had asked the Wrong Person to give the talk at the baptism! Gaaaah! Well, hopefully that's not going to be a world-ending disaster. We'll see. And pray.
Tuesday night, down to Pusan. We all slept at the Gupo house with Musser/Beh and their greenies (not so green anymore), on the living room floor. And first thing in the morning we went to Hoshimchang for a lovely hot soak in twelve different kinds of water and jaw-flapping chatting with the six new sisters, all of whom are hyped and raring to go. Heck of a good bunch. Sis. O and I were so glad . . . we've been wanting to take new greenies to Hoshimchang ever since we were greenies, back a LONG time ago. We had awesome breakfast and a great training day . . . once again, lots of fun and hardly stressful at all. Watching newbies eat their first kimchi and pick up live squirming octopi at the Pusan fish market was an absolute riot. Bless 'em, good sports. More food than can possibly be described at dinner, and last of all my new companion is . . . Sister Lindsay Culver of Central California! That's right, my FIRST American Companion since Sister Montgomery, a year ago. She's awesome. She's an outdoorsy hairstylist who likes to read and who has four bison in her backyard. I think we're going to have a great transfer. And Sister Linford and I will probably be here in Pusan together until The End. I have friends again. So much of the stress is suddenly just GONE.
And today we played Werewolf for four hours with most of the elders in the Zone, including new faces/old friends Elders Murray and Oxborrow. Elder Matsuura transfered out to Daegu, but I'll see him on the way home so I'm not too fussed. And who doesn't want to go to Daegu?
I made pancakes this morning and people ate them.
My Korean is better than my companion's for the first time in my mission.
I don't really have a doorstep for somebody to leave a Korean baby girl* on, but if something of the kind happens, I'll keep you informed.
Still cold. That's no fun. Where's the gosh darn sunshine?
Okay, gonna try to send some videos. Sit tight. I love you.