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Thursday, January 7, 2010

In Which It Snows Buckets in Taegu

RoseE writes:

"Dear Mum and Dad,

Videos worked? Yes!!! I will work on getting some more made and out to you. They've got to be pretty short to be sent by e-mail, but I should be able to manage.

So life in Korea this first week of Thursday P-Day . . . well, it's been darn good. We got the heaviest snowfall in ten years here in Taegu, and the city pretty well shut down. Yep. Just can't go anywhere in two inches of snow. And people kept calling us to check if we were all right, as though it were snowing pointy objects or acid or something. And every plan we'd had that day got cancelled, on account of it being too dangerous to travel when there's snow on the ground. I think my tongue is bleeding from being bitten so hard. So we spent a long, snowbound day at Hyeah Ji's house, hanging with her and her friend Ju Hyeah, watching Testaments, teaching lessons, figuring out Book of Mormon reading challenges and talking about baptism dates. Yep . . . Ju Hyeah's getting ready to be baptized.

Also this week . . . we met twice with a woman named Kim Jeong Nam and her daughter (also Kim; weird) Kim Min Jeong. Kim Jeong Nam is a friend of one of the Suseong ward members, who refered them to us saying that Min Jeong was interested in practicing English and that they'd probably listen to the gospel message, too. Not promising, but we thanked her and set up an appointment anyway. And OhMyGoshTheyAreFantastic. FANTASTIC. We taught them both the first lesson and asked them to read the introduction to the Book of Mormon. And when we came back a couple days later, they had read it. Both of them. And knew what it said and could talk about it. And had questions about how the Book of Mormon was structured and what exactly they were reading. And were excited to hear more. Really. And when we taught Min Jeong about the Plan of Salvation (we'd been teaching Jeong Nam, too, but she had to run out to the bank for something so she missed a lot of the lesson) . . . I have never seen anybody so excited about the prospect of living with her family forever. I half-expected her to ask if we could go to the Celestial Kingdom right now. She said she'd come to church on Sunday. And her mom said that what we were teaching them was '신기하다', shingihada, cool, neat, wonderful, amazing. Which it is. I've just never heard anyone say that, really. It was exciting.

Also this week ('this week' is a disorienting concept--when did it start? Last Thursday? Last Monday? What did we do in the interim?) we met with one of the Jungni ward Young Women (her family's awesome--dad's the 2nd counselor in the Stake Presidency and we eat at their house all the time) and her two best friends. One of these friends is a source of great concern for the mom of this family. She (the little girl) lives with her not-really-on-the-parenting-ball dad, her mom having run away to Pusan because of domestic violence. Kim Yeong Lan (the member mom) has decided to all but adopt this girl, and bring her into a healthier home environment as much as possible, including teaching her the gospel. The girl's name is Un Jeong. She's fun and smart and playful and eager to learn, and we're excited to be teaching her.

Also the elders found a woman named Pak Song Hee (yes, same name as my companion) who met with the missionaries a good couple of years ago, and they've started teaching her again. We all went over last night and taught her and her husband about the First Vision and answered some questions that they had.

So yeah. We have work to do! We have people to teach! People are progressing and learning about the gospel! Isn't that AWESOME?

And when we finish e-mailing we're going to the Daegu National Museum--a smaller branch of the really BIG museum in Seoul. And when we finish that we're going to Camp Walker for dinner with the Lambert family, who are delightful (their two teenage daughters have become good friends of mine). So it's going to be nothing but wonderfulness from beginning to end. Except that Sis. Pak has a cold, poor thing. She requires sleeping. Sleeping is important.

Oh, and I went to Ulsan on splits this week. (I told you 'this week' was an odd concept). I got to spend New Years' Day with Sister Corrigan, a lovely girl who's going home (along with EVERYBODY ELSE . . . we're going from 16 sisters in the mission to 10, and only 4 of them Americans) at the end of the transfer. On New Years' Day in Korea you eat Ddeokguk, which is soup made of the chewy not-duck rice stuff, and the eating of this particular soup on his particular day makes you one year older. So now I'm 26. Man, 25 sure went by fast. 24 even faster. How the heck old am I??? But I learned to play Yoonori, which is a very fun Korean board game if you know how to play and a very boring one if you don't. I've played a lot without knowing how--instead of dice, you throw four carved wooden sticks, so as long as you throw the sticks when you're told to you can play forever without ever understanding the rules. But now I understand the rules and it's a lot more fun. Even if Elder Kerrigan beat me three times. Blast him.

And when door-knocking later in the evening, we got invited into a house! Not for our message, really, but because we were sitting on the stairs outside the apartment reading maps while blowing on our fingers to keep them mobile. So the dad invited us in for some hot chocolate and we chatted a lot with his three great daughters and had a lot of fun. And that was a really good feeling. I felt really good about my Korean, too. It's amazing how much better you feel about your Korean when your companion is suddenly a foreigner instead of an actual Korean herself. You feel like you can actually do something.

So that was Ulsan. I once again got in and out of the city without eating any whales. It was a really big bowl of Ddeokguk, though, so I FELT like I'd eaten a whale.

And we had interviews this week, as fun as ever, Sis. Jennings being in rare form telling stories about raising her kids in Korea and using me as a sounding board for various knitting issues I cannot begin to understand. And President assured me that I will not be in 100% Koreans-Only Land forever, but you can never take statements like that really seriously, 'cuz Prez just says anything during interviews. Oh, well. I like talking to Prez anyway.

I love you to an excessive degree! Stay warm and drive safe and be careful--there's snow falling from the sky outside.

Oh, and when I e-mail again it will be my exact and official one-year mark. Nuts, huh?



  1. Kim is the family name. Family name comes first. Not weird!

  2. Oh, I just realized that might be a comment about it being weird that the mother and daughter have the same family name, since women in Korea don't change their names when they get married. That is a bit unusual. Though you can marry someone with the same last name, as long as they aren't from the same family branch.

  3. Sorry about that--I thought that was somebody else's editorial comment, not Sister Hadden's. (Hadn't caught on to the footnote format yet!)