Whatever this unsendable Christmas present* might be, to heck with it. Your letter about chasing down the missionaries on the corner was the best and most fantastic thing I ever saw and the best Christmas present in the history of mankind. Do you have any idea -- any idea at all -- what a miracle you were to those two elders? Can you imagine what they wrote in their journals that night, or what they said to their district leaders when they called in that evening to report on their day? "Hi, Elder Pendley. Yeah, yeah, it was great. Listen, you're not gonna BELIEVE what just happened to us. Just listen. This is amazing." They are never, ever going to forget the woman that God sent to comfort them on that cold and discouraging and boring winter evenings. You opened your mouth and turned into a miracle, Emily Ruth Deckenback. I don't know if you can really get how much something like that would mean unless you'd been out here, but take it from me: you were a much-needed miracle sent by God Himself. Thank you so much for following the promptings of the Holy Ghost to help those two elders. Thank you so much.**
In relation to other letters received at exactly the same time, the missionary postal system being what it is and all ~ ~ And missionary letter-writing being what it is and all, as I ran out of P-Day and thus a week has passed since penning the above ~
[Random gushing about our plans for a visit when she gets back.]
Man, Em, I've been so gosh-darn happy this whole gosh-darn week. It's been amazing. Like all the burdens I was carrying - all the stress, the resentment, the discouragement, the frustration - just up'n blew away. I'm as light as a feather. Even Korean suddenly got easy. The language barrier kind of melted. I hope I don't get complacent about this -- when you get complacent you stop studying and then the Lord stops blessing you and it all gets hard again -- but oh, gosh, it is such a RELIEF to be able to TALK, and to UNDERSTAND. It's such a relief to exist, be a part of society again. Like the girl in the story who couldn't speak until she'd made very prickly sweaters for her brothers, who'd been turned into swans. Like that.
I'm not sure what caused the sudden upswing. I think the swiftly-approaching springtime has something to do with it. Also the complete change of scene and society, coming to Ulsan to serve with Pak Min Jeong for her last transfer. Also I now have the space and means to exercise again. And there is natural light - lots of it - in our apartment, and enough space that you can be by yourself in a room for awhile if you want to. I think the tiny, dark, dirty Taegu house was taking more out of me that I realized. And I think that Sis Pak Min Jeong may end up being my favorite companion besides Sister Matthews. She has very Western tastes - she likes baked things, and sweet things, and doesn't much care for fireydeath!spiciness [sic], so I can cook things and she will actually eat them and like them. She speaks Chinese and is very good at Korean calligraphy, which she promised to teach me. She's hardworking, but not ambitious, obedient but not Nazi. And SHE KNOWS ABOUT KOREAN HISTORY. We're on a bus right now to Kyongju, capital of the kingdom of Shilla, so she can show me around and teach me about all the stuff she knows. I went once before but had no fun, 'cuz no one could explain to me WHY this Buddhist temple was so famous, and plus we had lunch at a place that was too pricey and not very delicious. Things are lookin' up today.
*This was the care package with chocolate in it that I didn't send until the end of January because of . . . well, mostly laziness.
**On a very cold and slushy and disgusting night in late December, when I was on my way to church to help with the monthly homeless shelter dinner prep, I saw two very cold and discouraged looking elders on the sidewalk, hunched against the snow. All I could think of was RoseE, so I quickly parked the car, hopped out, and chased them down. I told them that they are doing a good work in the Lord and never to lose heart, because they were loved and needed and their Heavenly Father was smiling down on them with joy. They looked at me like I was crazy, but I told them both I'd keep them in my prayers and ran back to my car, since I was freezing and running late. I hope against all hope that someone in Korea will jump out of a car or go out of their way to love RoseE and remind her of her Heavenly Father's eternal and uncompromising love, when she really needs to hear it. So if it was a miracle, it was hers, not mine.