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Saturday, March 27, 2010

In Which RoseE Takes A Trainer/Chamei Dep's Eye View of the Rest of Her Mission

RoseE writes**:

"Dear Dad,

I accidentally cut my finger open on a can of gochu tuna this morning. This is why tuna should not be eaten for breakfast.

News from the house seems to have quieted down these last few weeks. Understandable, I guess, since the Olympics are over and there aren't any holidays or birthdays in this stretch, so life's probably just kind of same-old, same-old for a while. There's Easter/Conference, but other than that nothing big until May. Kind of the same here. It's looking like I'm probably not going to serve with any of my close mission friends from here on out, and they already threw training at me so there's nothing more to dread. My Korean is serviceable, my Book of Mormon is read from cover to cover. As trainer/chamei dep, I'm the highest ranked sister in the mission. What else is there to be done? Just one more thing: I'd like to see one more investigator get baptized before I got. When Brother Cho got baptized, I scarcely knew what was going on. When Hyee Ji got baptized, I was full of dread, knowing that she was probably cruising straight for inactivity--she'd had all the lessons and kept all the commitments, but the feeling was still there that she wasn't ready. I'd like to go home with the photos from one baptism I could rejoice in and be proud of.

But I'm senior now, which means that making this marvelous thing happen is suddenly my job and not that of my Korean companion. And I haven't a clue. Not a clue. Over a year at this and I still have no idea how to be a missionary.

* * *

Ran out of P-Day just there. It's been a week, and I still don't have a clue, but now Sister Sung Yeong Ok has a baptismal date. In tears and joy. she decided to be baptized. Last week I was sure I'd never see it and then yesterday I did. Just --- babang! like that. I'm dazed, and bewildered, and overjoyed. You work for a year and nothing, nothing, nothing happens, and then suddenly from out of nowhere spring miracles that you had nothing whatsoever to do with.

Sister Yoon Jin Ah doesn't get it at all. She can't. She's coming from the MTC, with the grilled-in mindset that miracle baptisms are par for the course--an attitude that's reinforced by seeing a miracle in her second week. And I haven't the heart to correct her and explain how phenomenally rare this is. Maybe if no one tells her, she'll have a successful and bountiful mission--like how honeybees fly simply because no one's yet explained to them that they can't. Let's let her expectations stay high and see what happens.

I washed another tuna can this morning but didn't cut my finger. And we're hitting the whale museum, finally. And I discovered a secret room in our apartment. And I tried it the other day and discovered I can do push-ups now, thanks to the regular morning weight training I've been trying to make a habit of. And the tree behind our apartment is putting forth bright pink cherry blossom buds.

Being a missionary is the most drastically up/down roller coaster experience I can imagine. From paralyzed with misery to transported with joy in seconds flat. Is there a pattern of RMs* developing schitzophrenia? I wouldn't be surprised.

Love ya,


*RMs: Returned Missionaries

** letter received 3/26/2010

Thursday, March 25, 2010

In Which RoseE Gets The Silent Treatment

RoseE writes:

"Dear Mum and Dad,

. . . At least all of your surrounding surgeries are relatively necessary. I'm just beginning to discover how many people I know . . . including Sister Pak Sung Hee . . . have had plastic surgery on their eyelids. On their eyelids! People get this surgery as casually as they get haircuts, chopping their eyelids up so they'll fold above the eyeball and not under the lashline when their eyes are open. Apparently having a crease in your eyelid is the most attractive feature you can have . . . because that's how foreigners' eyes look. Korea has a very complicated love/hate relationship going on with the rest of the world.

So, this week. Ups and downs again, even higher and lower than last week. The lowest down was that Sister Yoon decided to give me the silent treatment for a day and a half, from Thursday at the whale museum (which was fairly fun otherwise) to Friday morning, when she finally conceded to my begging and let me pry out of her what was wrong. She's having a stressful first transfer, as does everybody, but she doesn't really know how to cope with it or deal with a companion. These were things that I learned in the pressure-cooker of the MTC, but she didn't have that experience. This is her pressure-cooker and I'm her learn-through-trial-and-error companion. Friday was the worst day of my mission so far. Left everything else in the dust.

But Monday I got to go on splits with Sister Ogelvie!! And it wasn't even 'cuz I abused my Chamei dep priviledges . . . Sis Pak Sung Hee wanted to split with Sis. Yoon, and I just let her go for it. So I got to serve with one of my best mission friends (certainly the only mission friend still alive) for the first time, for a whole day. It was way exciting. We got to kind of process with each other how we feel about suddenly being 'old' missionaries, about everything we've learned and all the ways we've changed and the challenges we still have left to face. It was deeply theraputic. And English became a toy instead of a burden . . . the two of us trying to remember at 6:45 a.m. the respective meanings of 'exhibition,' 'expidition,' and 'exposition.' This is not as easy as you would maybe think.

And we taught sister Song Yeong Ok again, who is progressing just fine. We shared the Word of Wisdom and invited her to cut down on her one-coffee-a-day habit . . . both her daughter and her live-in less-active son are supporting her in starting to live this commandment. The son, I think, is doing it mostly to be annoying, but it's good that he remembers the Word of Wisdom. This could be cool.

This week we went tearing up to Hogae ward AGAIN to catch our investigators . . .and they didn't show. And one is not answering our calls. And all the while Elder Bocchino and Bangeojin branch are wailing for us to come down to see them. Gaaah! When does the other team get here? Three weeks. Can we hold down the fort here in Ulsan for another three weeks?

It's also been mostly sunshine-free this week. I'm astonished at the effect the weather can have on my mood. Sunshine, and I'm as chipper as a sister missionary is expected to be. Clouds, and I want to curl up in a ball and wait for it to all be over.

And I've somehow managed to not excercise one single morning this week. Not sure how that happened. I think that might be part of the problem, too.

Don't worry about Teancum's gray hairs. His hair's almost gray-colored anyway.* And I get them all the time now--I think they're cool. It's just one of those weird genetic things, I think, when you go gray. Ask Cat, but that's what I remember from Ekberg's** biology. (Yeah, yeah, I'm not Em***, I don't remember much from that class.)

Um . . . I think that's it, news-of-the-week-wise. Another week done. Heading through Lent, and Easter's in sight. Maybe there will be sunshine. Maybe there won't be. But we hang on nevertheless.

And if I made a list of food things, would Dad go down to the Korean market some Saturday and see if he can find them, so I know what I should smuggle home through customs? Sis. Ogelvie is also interested in getting some info about the availability of imported Korean food products in the Salt Lake/Utah Valley area.

I love you! Stay out of trouble! Church is true, life's pretty good, peanut butter is a blessing and you can make really delicious and easy rice crispie treats out of it with the puffed rice you buy on the street.


*It has changed in the last year to dark brown, or perhaps RoseE's memory is faulty, because those gray hairs show up very well!

** notoriously difficult high school biology teacher

*** Emily. RoseE's best friend. (You know who you are.)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

In Which the Power of Prayer is Made Manifest

RoseE writes:

"Dear Mum and Dad,

Well, holy heck guess what.

The ups are getting upper and the lows are getting lower and I know that didn't make any sense gramatically but I don't really care. Yesterday was one of the nuttiest days of my whole life.

So Monday we had combined zone conference, which means trip to Taegu! and meetings all day with the Zone Leaders and the Bagleys and Prez and Sis. Mom and all. Plus Sis. Tollett showed up -- the ZLs had recruited her to pick up Costco pizzas for our lunch--Costco pizza being the easiest, cheapest, and best-loved meal of mission meetings 'round here. Bless Sis. Tollett. That woman's a superstar.

And when the meetings were over I took the wrong companion home, going on splits with Sis. Ahn Da Yeon for Tuesday. That was lovely. Sis. Ahn is a very low-key and restful person, and she's probably lonely and bored as heck. She and her trainer are not 100% best friends, which isn't a big problem for one or two transfers, but this is #4 for them. Sis. Ahn's never served in any other area or with any other companion. She had me and Sis. Pak Sung Hee as roommates for two and that was it. I don't think she's even met most of the other sisters still. So she was glad to get out and stretch her legs a bit, and eat meat (her comp can't, so they never do; we ordered in delivery chicken, which is still the best food in the entire world) and she and I in general had a very nice time.

When we un-split yesterday morning, all the stress came back. Back with Sis. Yoon, who is much more strong-willed than I, which would not be a problem if she were senior and I junior, but unfortunately that's not how it works. Back with all our apointments getting canceled with no warning whatsoever, leaving me with a list of things to do but no way to get them done. I don't think I've been so paralyzed with stress since freshman year of college.*

But thankfully our first appointment of the day pulled through. We're teaching a woman named Song Yeong Ok, whose daughter, Yoon Mi Hyeah, was baptized when she was a teenager but went inactive for ten years. But she just up'n re-activated herself--worked up the courage to come back to church, and of course lovely Shinjeong branch were all so excited to see her, with none of the "And where have YOU been for the last ten years, young lady?" that she was expecting. And so she asked us to share the lessons with her mother.

Her mom has been a wonderful investigator and a joy to teach, and has been trying to come to church for about three weeks now, but at the last minute (really the last: dressed, ready to walk out the door) she changed her mind and didn't come. So this last Sunday we were just praying our blinkin' brains out. And our ward mission leader (bless him!) had arranged with a member family who live in the area to pick her up and give her a ride to church, which worked out like clockwork. She came to church and had a wonderful experience.

So yesterday we met her and taught lesson 3, and asked her The Question . . . if she would prepare to be baptized.

She started to cry.

Apparently when Yoon Mi Hyeah joined the church, Sis. Song was strongly opposed and did everything she could to keep her daughter from attending church after her baptism. And she's been feeling desperately guilty about that ever since . . . more than ten years. She was afraid that God wouldn't forgive her for her opposition. And that fear was what kept stopping her at the doorway. But on Sunday, when she came, she told us that she felt suddenly light, and joyful, and that she knew it was because of our prayers. She told us about how desperately she wanted God's forgiveness. And her daughter, her wonderful daughter, shared such a beautiful testimony, insisting that she herself hardly remembered this conflict that was still eating at her mom and that she'd felt the same way when she'd started coming back to church, but was so glad that she'd come and that she could see her mother come, too.

And Sis. Song said she wanted to be baptized. And we all got out our calendar books and set a goal for the 17th of next month.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is what I came on my mission to be able to see. I still almost can't believe I really saw it.

Also, in the middle of this lesson, a young woman poked her head into the chapel. I excused myself to go talk with her . . . turns out she just got back from 4 months in England, where she found the church and was baptized. The Elders had gotten news of her through the inter-mission grapevine, but hadn't been able to get ahold of her. But she just wandered into the church, on a Wednesday afternoon, when against all odds we just happened to be there teaching a lesson so we could tell her what time church was and get her phone number. Her name is Ii Mi Ji.

And in explorations that afternoon, we discovered a new building right behind our apartment complex: a newly-opened public library. With public computers. No more walking all the way down to Digital Plaza, to e-mail while being glared at by the employees . . . we couldn't have gotten a more convenient e-mailing place if we'd planned it ourselves. We and the Shinjeong elders are there now, e-mailing and rejoicing and giving thanks unto God.

We also followed up on a woman we met on the street, who'd told us enthusiastically, "Come and teach my daughter about your church!" So we did . . . and when we met her very nice, very sweet thirteen-year-old daughter, we learned that her mom had told her we were coming to help her with her English homework. And, once again, I am prostituted for my language. Sigh. You'd think people would be getting tired of doing this by now.

There have been other miracles, and other frustrations, and other insanity, but we're on our way to the Whale museum to see some whales. I'm exited. I'll take lots of pictures and videos and stuff for Bethe.

So yeah. Bounced back! Thanks so much to everybody for all their prayers and support and everything . . . I never needed it more than I did last week. And with the way things have been going, who the heck knows what's just around the corner?

Love you so much


*Freshman year in college: the month before, RoseE had a horse fall on her, fracturing her hip socket. She had surgery to repair it, but was on crutches her first weeks at college. Not only did she not have a car, she could not ride the bike she did have and her apartment was on the third floor of a building with no elevator. Daily life was excruciatingly difficult.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

In Which Some Progress Is Made, but The Mountain Is Still Very High

RoseE writes:

"Dear Mom and Dad,

Yeah, Sis. Mong was my trainer. And she was a good trainer. We never got really close 'cuz she was Best Friends with Sis. Hill and, well, that was that, but getting someone addicted to your stories gets you over a lot of rough spots. She was a good missionary. We miss her 'round here.

I am not, at all, Sister Montgomery. This first week of training was really hard. I spent pretty much all of the first three days frantically reading member records, map books, and teaching records, trying to figure out what the heck we're doing. Then I tried to do it, but I ended up getting us lost . . . multiple times a day . . . on the outer fringes of Ulsan . . . without any clue whatsoever, and also without church keys or pen . . . while we were supposed to be three other places all at the same time. And it's been gray and raining and/or snowing pretty well straight through. I'm still not feeling optimistic about much, although the desire to hide under my desk has receded a little bit and I can function again.

On the plus side, we got to go to ZLCM and see the Ogelvie/Pak Sung Hee team and eat tacos with lots of cheese and sour cream on them for lunch, and that was lovely. And next Monday is Zone Conference, so we get to go to Taegu and see all the old gang.

And my camera tried to make another break for it on the bus last night, which made me think that I should probably work on making another picture backup CD . . . but I can't remember where the last one left off. Can you tell me what the last picture was on that?

Um . . . gosh. This must really have been a lousy week. I can't think of anything I really want to tell you. We had a bunch of investigators coming to church in Shinjeong on Sunday, but none of them came, and the two investigators that we didn't think were coming, up in Hogae (hour's bus ride away) both came, so we skipped out on second hour to go chasing across the city to catch them, then came chasing back in the other direction to catch Missionary Correlation Meeting back in Shinjeong. And all the while, out in Bangeojin, Elder Bocchino is whimpering, "When are you coming out here?" We're never coming out there, Elder. We have no investigators there. So tough. Leave us alone.

I haven't said that to him, actually. I'm trying to retain some veneer of civility. Failing, but trying.

Started anew on my hanbok repairs; discovered that in my distraction I'd pinned it together backwards and had to start over a third time.

We had some lessons with some investigators this week, which was good . . . Katrina and Sis. Ii Yoon Hwa, who attended church in Idaho. Not a huge amount of progress with either of them, but we're still working.

The only sort of comforting thing, if you can call it that, is the assurance that the Jeju sisters are having a harder time than I am. Sis. Linford and I vented to and comiserated with one another a couple of nights ago. Oh, man, it's going to be hard to make it through to July.

And I didn't cry this week. That's good. Just struggled and panicked and spun my wheels. Not, perhaps, the hardest week of my mission, but hard in a whole new way. Before this, all I had to do when things got hard was shut up, suck it up, and wait it out; now I've got to actively plan and impliment every single activity of every single day, plowing through the hard times as opposed to just hunkering down and waiting for them to be over.

Oh, heck, I hope this is over soon. Sister Yoon is a very nice girl and speaks English perfectly competently, so one year's worth of slaving over language study is now worth exactly nothing whatsoever.

But hey, Conference is coming up. I can make it through to Conference. I like Conference.

Please, don't blow a gasket or anything. It was just a hard week, that's all. I'm not planning on coming home early or jumping in the river or doing anything drastic like that. I'm still sane. Just . . . stretched. And I'm working without an emotional safety net now. It's hard, but what the freak is new? Life's hard. And I am assured by everyone I know that it doesn't get any easier.

I'm gonna be okay. I'm gonna be okay. I'm gonna make it through this.

Pray for me, please.

I miss you.


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

A Letter from the Mission President

2 March 2010

President Jennings writes:

"Dear Brother and Sister Hadden

It is my pleasure to inform you of Sister Hadden's outstanding service here in the Korea Busan Mission. It brings me great joy to work with such fine young missionaries as Sister Hadden. Through her work, she has contributed greatly to the success of this mission.

Sister Hadden has faithfully served in her previous assignment, and has now been called to serve as a New Trainer. In this calling, Sister Hadden still retains the opportunity and privilege to proselyte daily.

The challenge of being a New Trainer is great and demanding. In order for us to continually improve the success of this mission, we need the cooperation of all the missionaries, especially the leaders, to obtain that unified effort. I am sure your daughter will provide that leadership.

Sister Jennings and I want to express our gratitude to you for sharing your daughter with us and with the Lord*. Her faithful, obedient service reflects great credit upon you as parents. We are grateful to have the opportunity to work with her in this great work of our Heavenly Father.


Kenneth W. Jennings, Jr.
Korea Busan Mission President"

*Blogmom: Since the Lord shared her with us to begin with, it only seems fair.
Besides, it was her decision.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

In Which More Responsibilities Are Heaped On, and the Bank Cards Barely Work

RoseE writes:

"Dear Mom and Dad,

One bad thing about the new Thursday P-Day is that when the big news hits (last Friday of the transfer) it's all hit, processed, implemented and done before I can get any news to you at all.

So here's what happened. The universe kicked me in the head, basically. Prez called Friday night to tell me I was training the new incoming greenie sister. I don't think I've ever been so afraid and unhappy in the whole course of my life. I mean, there are five . . . FIVE! . . . Americans coming next transfer, and I couldn't train one of them? When we've only got four American sisters who could train, including me? Freak. First I was mad, then I was shocked, and then I started crying great horrible hacking sobs while curled up in a ball on the floor and didn't let up for an hour and a half. Not a good night, really. Freak.

So in the midst of my drama-queen moment, Sis. Pak Min Jeong was still trying to pack up the last year and a half of her life . . . now a day faster than planned 'cuz we'd have to go to Pusan on Wednesday for Training Day instead of Thursday, Transfer Day. She's dying alone . . . there are no other sisters going home this transfer, so it's just gonna be her and a bunch of elders on the train to Seoul, and then she gets pitched straight into a visa interview so she can go do a summer semester at UVU in April. Not fun times. Very stress-filled for both of us. To our credit, we are neither of us dead and we're still friends. But it's been close.

Oh, and plus March has rolled around and we're now switched to the new purchasing cards. I tried six ATMs before I found one . . . waaaaaay out in Bangeojin . . . that would give me any money. We're sticking to a cash-only plan as much as possible from here on out.

So Sis. Pak Min Jeong and I got on a bus Wednesday morning to meet the new Sister Pak . . . Sister Yoon Jin Ah, of Seoul. She's done two years at BYU, so her English is more passable than my Korean . . . but aaaaah crap I still don't know what's going on or where anything is and don't get me started on the Language and how am I supposed to be some kind of gosh darn example to a new missionary? I had to take deep breaths, in through my nose and out through my mouth, the whole dang bus ride. And then on the subway. And then into the office. Sister Yoon's fine . . . no problems there, nice girl. But AAAAAAAAHHHHHH!! And I had to relive training day, the worst day of my mission!

It wasn't that bad this time. Prez made the meeting run long, as always, so we didn't have too much time to go cold-prostelyting in Pusan, and we got to go up to Pusan tower, where I'd never been, and see great cityscapes and all. And nothin' beats dinner at the mission home. Poor Sis. Yoon, of course, is dead on her feet from jet lag. And the apartment wasn't very clean when she got here . . . Sis Pak was packing and I was freaking out, so nobody cleaned anything. Poor thing. That's so hard, seeing your dingy missionary apartment for the first time and realizing just how far your standard of living has dropped. I saw Ulsan house as a palace when I got here, but seeing it through her eyes, I was ashamed.

She's a nice girl, really. Today we spent most of our morning cleaning, re-arranging, and unpacking so the house is now a lot more liveable for both of us. And then we went out to see if we could make HER new card work. Four ATMs and two calls to Elder Matsuura later, we figured it out. You have to go to the GS25 corner store and do a credit card-based cash advance in English and only take out 100,000 won . . . while hopping on one foot and reciting the Declaration of Independence backwards.

So here we sprawl. We're now under the leadership of me, who has no idea what she's doing, in a city covered in rain and slush. I am comforted only in the knowledge that no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing . . . I've only got four months and change* left, how much can I possibly screw up? Don't answer that. And Monday is ZLCM so we get to go to Pusan again and have tacos for lunch and I'll see Sister Ogelvie and cry at her some more, probably. We cry at each other a lot. It passes the time.

If I do 5 pages a day in Le Livre de Mormon** I can finish it before I get home.
New plan of attack underway for the hanbok. Pretty much starting over, but I think it will end up working at long last.

I wanted to food shop today, 'cuz we've got nothing but tortillas and peanut butter at the house (and we're dang lucky to have those, really), and because our house really needs a new toilet seat. The previous sisters' decision to buy the cheapest toilet seat availabe has come back to bite us all in the butt, every day.

Yeah, I'm in a sarcastic place this week. I'm not ready to be a trainer or even full senior. I'm scared to death. I want to hide under my bed, but there's no 'under' my bed to hide in. And Prez is threatening to make me do this training thing once more before all is said and done.

I never wanted to be a highly-ranked greatly-honored sister missionary. I wanted to stay out of trouble and go home. And now I'm simultaniously trainer and Chamei dep . . . every available Honor of Men that I wasn't supposed to aspire to and genuinely didn't much want, I got. I hope you're all very proud of me.

I, on the other hand, am very proud of Bug*** . . . I couldn't hear a note he played, but he looked great! Rrrrgh missionary communication is hard.

Getting kicked out. Gotta run. I love you


* The Book of Mormon in French.

**128 days, but who (else) is counting?

***Young brother. He played bagpipes in a recital last weekend.