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Thursday, February 11, 2010

In Which RoseE Fights the Flu, A Needle, and Commercialism

RoseE writes:

"Dear Mum and Dad,

So thus it is. I'm glad that Grama had everyone around her, and that the funeral went smoothly with all the folks there assembled. I've been praying, and thinking of Grama every time someone asks me if I'm . . . German? or Russian? You look Russian, maybe. No, Irish, say I. Like my great-grandmother.

Well, this week in life in general. As you probably know from watching my weather, it's been gosh darn well pouring rain. Which suits me fairly well, except when my toes get wet and cold. I've been slowly swinging up from the flu, aided not at all by the well-meaning efforts of the ward sisters. It took nothing less than fast Sunday for me to get any kind of appetite back. Thursday night, we visited a new-member middle school student, whose lovely less-active mom ordered us tangsooyook, which of course I love. But I could hardly eat it. I was trying. I was workin' hard at it. But it felt like eating lead. And then I made the mistake of pleading illness. Never doing that again.

'Cuz there is this traditional Korean home remedy for any and all stomach disorders that involves stabbing a person's finger with a needle and squeezing 'bad' blood out of it. I'd heard about this before from missionaries who had been subjected to it, but never before had I been faced with a woman pulling out the one-time-use-only spring-loaded needle and a box of tissues to catch the blood with, ready to 'bleed' me like an Edwardian fever patient.

Well, my natural defense reaction kicked in, as it always does when it's me vs. the needle: I went really pale, started shaking, responded to any question with a trembling giggle verging on tears, and hung like grim death onto the nearest warm body (Sis Pak Min Jeong). This defense has never before saved me from being stuck, but, thank goodness, it did this time; the needle was put away and I was given instead a couple of pills to swallow. I didn't know what was in the pills. I still don't. It could have been cyanide for all I cared. As long as I avoided that needle without mortally offending our hostess, I was happy to eat 'em like Smarties.

I would like to state for the record that I am perfectly capable of facing injections/blood draws bravely and calmly, when I've a mind to. This was not one of those times.

In other health news, as soon as this 24-hr flu thing lifted off me it hit Sis. Pak, as is life in a companionship, and I got a morning 'in' while she slept it off. I made banana bread. We haven't eaten it yet.

In other chaotic news, Sis. Son Yoo Jin, about whom we're so excited, turned down the invitation to be baptized and then left town for the week, so we're not sure what's going on, exactly. Our friend Katrina from Alabama is going home for a couple of weeks, so we won't be able to teach her. And to top off the mess is a woman named Kim So Jeong. The District President refered us to her. She is the mother of two little ones, aged 3 and 5, and is going through a hard stretch because of a number of medical problems, the biggest being an itchy and painful skin condition whose exact English name I cannot find out from anybody, which is generally managed by a carefully controlled diet, but due to some other internal complaint Sis. Kim can't keep much of anything down. So she's exhausted and in a lot of pain, homebound with her two adorable little snips.

When we visited her, she sat down with us and promptly burst into tears, recounting all of this to the sympathetic Sis. Pak and the bewildered-but-also-sympathetic me. She really needs friends and company, and this we can gladly supply . . . not to teach her very forcefully, but to serve and love her.

That was earlier this week. Yesterday we made an apointment to visit her again, and planned to bring with us a sister from the branch named Ii Yeong Hwa, who is just the nicest soul ever -- think Marjie Carpenter, but Korean. Just fine. So we met up with Sis. Ii a little earlier and had lunch, and went with her to do a Visiting teaching visit to a less-active sister. Still fine, no problem. And as this less-active sister works for NuSkin, Sis Ii ran Sis. Kim's skin problem by her to see if she had any advice on the issue. And Sister Mun offered to come visit when she had time that evening and see what she could do to help. Still fine.

Except what ended up happening was Sister Mun showed up with another brother from the ward in tow, also a NuSkin employee, and our supportive try-to-be-helpful-and-loving-and-make-friends-and-feel-the-Spirit visit became a NuSkin sales pitch. No, really. We were so frustrated and embarassed we nearly cried. In fact, we did, at home, when we called Sister Kim and apologized profusely. And then we called half of Korea trying to get Sister Kim some actual help--she'd ordered medicine from a supplier in Seoul, but her order was held up in the pre-Solar shipping mess, so we got in touch with the Seoul missionaries to find somebody to pick up the medicine from the supplying pharmacy and take it to the bus station and put it on a bus to Ulsan, which apparently you can do, bypassing all the shipping companies entirely. And we managed to make that happen, thank goodness. Saved face a little bit.

So it's been a frustrating week, missionary-wise. I, selfish creature that I am, am not 100% devastated, though, because I got a care package from Emily that was full of chocolate so it's hard for my outlook to be entirely bleak. I'm having a very 'Dad' week--very even-keeled, so much so that I wonder if I'm just an unflappable person or if I'm not as invested in this missionary service thing as I should be. But Sis. Pak, tired and dragging herself out of influenza, is straining to remain calm so it's probably better that I can act as a counterweight to that. That's this week. Who knows what next week will be. Other than Solar, aka Chinese or Lunar New Year. It's causing P-Day to move back to Monday, so I may e-mail again next Monday or next Thursday or both. Not sure yet. I'll get SOMETHING out.

Did my videos come through all right?* I've backed up all the videos on the iPod onto a flash drive, just to make sure that the records are not lost. I've become paranoid about that kind of thing.

Oh, and also last P-Day I got The Call. The one from Sis. Bagley at the mission office, asking which airport you'd like to be flown home to. It scared me to freaking death. Fly WHERE? WHEN? You're asking about this NOW? It's only JANUARY! (February, Sister Hadden. It's February.) (Oh, for dumb!) So that was a little surreal. I'm not quite sure how to react. It was a shock.

Okay, gotta go wreak some more havoc in the great nation of Korea. Tell me if the videos came through and I'll send more. Unless they didn't.

Mom, hang in there; you can only do so much in the face of chaos, but all chaos blows over. It's called the Plan of Salvation, and it applies to reservation systems, too. Everything Will Work Out In the End If You Are Doing Your Best.

Love ya


*from Blogmom: I've got three of the videos on YouTube, links below, and more to follow.

RoseE and Sis's Musser and Matthews sleep over

Last Day in Taegu/Going Shopping

Farewell Dinner at Vips Buffet


  1. I want to see the videos! (They all say private)

  2. Same here! Videos are private! *wails* But I'm glad my care package got through. It contained Tim Tams, which I figured would brighten any missionary's day, but especially my missionary, with her affinity for them.

  3. Re: "RoseE and Sis's Matthews and Musser sleep over at the current Taegu sisters' apartment"--I think RoseE and Sister Park were the current Taegu sisters at the time, yes?

  4. Yay! Although hearing her voice makes me tear up a little. But you didn't hear it from me.

  5. Yeah, it was me and Sis. Pak Sung Hee for Jungni/Suseong, and Sisters Pak Seh Ra and Ahn Ta Yeon for the other two wards. Four Taegu sisters.