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Thursday, April 29, 2010

In Which Sister Son Yoo Jin Comes Back From the Ether, and A Toilet is Conquered

RoseE writes:

"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:


*chokes laughing*

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.

Love ya!

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

RoseE writes:

"Dear Dad,

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.


To Dad, Early April 2010

RoseE writes:

"Dear Dad,

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

In Which Transfers, Conference, and Spring Happen Together

RoseE writes:

"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.


*I, Blogmom, keep having dreams where somebody leaves a baby girl on RoseE's doorstep, or forces one into her arms on the street and disappears, leaving her stuck with this baby. I told her if that happens, get the baby a passport and bring her home and we'll adopt her.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

In Which 7 Days Pass

RoseE writes:

"Dear Mum & Dad,

Read Cat's e-mail before yours, so I heard her account of the proposal* first. I approve, overall. But why am I always out of town when Cat gets proposed to? Gaah!

But I'm glad his whole family was involved--I like families, generally. And I don't know how much help I'm going to be from out here, but when I land you've got my help--particularly if I don't get My Job back, which is my major nightmare at this point.

So Dad and the dongsengs made it out to SC? Cool. (Bit and Bug used to be 'The Little Ones' . . . now they're 'the dongsengs,' because they are not little and 'dongseng' is more descriptive.) Lenore wrote and said that Nora might be out in Provo for late June/early July doing some Arabic thing. Heck, it's gonna be a party out here, ain't it? Good. I like parties. Drinks all around.

So this week . . . well, it was pretty good. Sunday was awful. The weather was gorgeous, so nobody . . . like NOBODY . . . was at church. Investigators, less-actives, actives, new members . . . nobody. We were about half our normal number. I just broke the heck down and cried in front of everybody, and hung like grim death onto Ii Kyeong Bin, the one faithful young single adult recently-reactivated member sister who showed up out of our whole teaching pool. And all the poor sweet Relief Society sisters were clustering around and squeezing my arms affectionately to assure me that it was okay, and one sister even promised to invite Sis Song Yeong Ok to dinner this week. So I guess crying does get you what you want, in certain circumstances. Who'da thunk.

And that evening there was an Easter party at Matt & Charlotte's . . . there was LAMB! How they got lamb in Korea I will never know. And lots and lots of deviled eggs, and mashed potatoes, and every good thing. So it was a quiet Easter, but ended fun and well. Very up-down, and without the big ol' surprise at the end of it, but a good Easter nonetheless.

We spent Pday up in Kyeongju playing werewolf amongst the tombs of the Silla kings (not as creepy as it sounds). Good times were had with all the zone from Shinjeong to Pohang, but we got back SO late so I have but NO time to e-mail, which is sad and sorry. But the weather's warmed up, the cherry blossoms are out, Conference** is Saturday and by the time I e-mail again it will be a new transfer and I will most likely have a new greenie trailing behind me. Gaaaah!

Oh, found a couple new less-active sisters we can hopefully teach and help--one we think is a little bit nuts, possibly . . . jury's still out. And we found and chatted with a very nice and funny old Korean war vet who was hanging out of his window, and invited us to come back and hear his stories. I don't think he's much interested in the church, but I want to go anyway . . . I love nice people, and old stories. And I ate a chicken foot and got a sore throat, and am SO excited for Conference (thank you for no spoilers). And sister Yoon Mi Hyeah and sister Song Yeong Ok are still speaking to us, though I'm thinking we'll have to postpone the baptism a bit. It's okay. It's okay. We'll make it through. It will be all right.

Love you so excessively much! Don't freak out about stuff! Book of Mormon's true!


*The Proposal: Younger Sister Cat got engaged on Easter. He invited her to his grandparent's house for Easter Dinner. His Whole Family was there. Grama passed out plastic eggs to the kids, then to the adults, and when Cat opened hers, it contained a diamond ring. He (Jeff) got down on one knee and popped the question, and she accepted. They are scheduled to tie the knot in mid-August.

**Conference: Annual General Conference of the LDS church is broadcast to all Stake Centers. It happens the first weekend of April, but I think it's delayed getting to Korea for translation or missionary work schedule issues or something. There is also a Semi-Annual Conference that happens the first weekend in October.

To Auntie Cat, 11 March 2010

(Blogmom note: we did not get an email from RoseE today, so I am substituting this instead. Try not to worry. Just pray for her.)

RoseE writes:

"Dear Cat,

As a piece of random information, I had a dream two nights ago where we were all out visiting your family again. It was a lovely dream, very relaxed and pleasant. Your house had an automatic retractable sunshade over the back porch, and your father was showing me how to use it so I could sit in as much shade or sunshine as I pleased if I wanted to sit out there and read in the afternoon. He was speaking speaking Korean, so I couldn't understand him, but I still appreciated his kindness and courtesy. I think my subconscious has decided that Heaven must be just like a long vacation at your house. I'm sure your house is not always like heaven, inasmuch as real mortal life must go on there--but just so you know, it made a heavenly impression on me.

So that was fairly random. Sorry. My dreams are the only new fiction I get around here.

Today we got sunshine for the first time in what seems like forever--hope that summer may actually come again that there may be a day where I just feel like leaving my long, heavy green wool coat at home and enjoying an afternoon's work in just a jacket . . . or even just short sleeves. It's hard to believe there was a long, hot summer where even short sleeves seemed oppressively hot.

Not . . . it's gonna be okay. I am going to get through this winter. It will probably be gone and forgotten before the next transfer calls come. Just a few weeks. Not long. Right now, I feel like July can't come soon enough, but I know from talking to "older" sisters that when that Final Day really starts looming I'll panic and want to back-pedal, or do anything at the last minute to keep the mission from ending. (Sister Corrigan nearly turned around and came back when she reached the Seoul airport, although that might have had something to do with her plane ticket's accidentally being cancelled.) I can't extend my mission out to August, though, because Cat (younger-sister-Cat) would KILL me. And eat me. I'm both excited and afraid to see the changes that have slipped through the lines of the letters--I'm pretty sure Teancum is going to be bizarrely, disproportionately huge, seeing as I left when he was nine and now he's eleven . . . and he was always a tall kid anyway. And I'm starting to wonder about what I look like. My hair's still long, and I haven't changed the style much, and goodness only knows I'm wearing the same clothes I was when I left . . . but when Sister Yoon was looking at my book of pre-mission photographs, she exclaimed, "Chamenim, you look so different now!" She couldn't really articulate how, though. And I can't really see it. All I see is me paler from the long, sunless winter months. And my feet are warped and abused beyond all recognition, but that's not something you see in photographs, really.

Huh. Only four more months of relative normalcy in Korea before heading through the looking glass to that bizarre and fantastical placed called home, where houses don't have shoe pits or drains in the bathroom floor, and where every time I bow politely Cat's gonna hit me with a rolled-up newspaper or something. (Sister Cat again. I don't think you'd hit me with a rolled-up newspaper. Well, you might.) It all seems safely far-away now, but, y'know, so did Korea once. So did ninth transfer, and training. And look where I've up'n landed myself now.

Gosh--you got a really bizarre letter. I'm sorry. I like talking at you too much. I will try to make the next on a little saner.

Love always,


Thursday, April 1, 2010

RoseE writes:

"Which one's the 'back' bedroom? They're all kind of 'back'.

I just read about Callie*. Oh, gosh, poor Cat. This has to be a hard thing for her to go through. Callie's such a big, good, loving, wonderful dog. All I can share is my testimony--I know, of my own knowledge through the witness of the Holy Ghost, that dogs do in fact go to heaven. You can think it's a silly thing to know in such a solemn way, but I do know it. I've felt it. They wait for us there.

It's been another long, tough week out here in Ulsan. The sun refuseth to shine. Really. I used to want to live in Seattle someday, but I'm rethinking that now because the incessant cloud cover is taking more out of me than I thought was possible.

This is my one-year-in-Korea mark. This day last year . . . well, there wasn't a this day last year, really, not after about 10:00 a.m. The international dateline done ate it. I was on an airplane, eating bibimbap (and ordering some for the unconscious Elder Kerrigan) and discovering that there is no apple juice on Korean Air. I can't even think about how much has changed since then. It's too much. It simply cannot be absorbed. I really have no idea how much or how little I resemble the person that got on that airplane. I have no basis for comparison. But I worry that you might be in for a nasty shock of some kind or another -- like they switched me out some time during the mission and you're going to end up getting the wrong missionary back. It's gonna be weird. Hold onto your hats. I'm not sure if I'm going to lock myself in some small room just for the luxury of being alone, or if I'm going to follow Mom around all day, going through companion-withdrawl. Maybe I'll try to do both at the same time. I'm not going to be a very stable individual.

Mum, your Easter** sounds almost like mine. We're lucky enough to have received an invite to an Easter Party hosted by Matt and Charlotte, the Shinjeong Branch resident foreigners . . . if not for that, I don't think I'd be observing the holiday at all, except in personal study time by pondering the Atonement and Resurrection. Which are good things to do on Easter, of course. But it worries me that that need to observe all the traditions, of egg dyeing and chocolate and ham for dinner, is just not in my brain right now. It's kind of like novicane. I'm glad the phenomenon is here, so I'm not freaking out with pain, but at the same time I'm worried that it's not going to wear off properly. I mean, I'm sure it will. Novicane always does. I mean, for most of us. Emily might have had a different experience somewhere down the line, knowing her and dentists.

We've heard some talk about the destroyed ship***; the man who runs the corner store behind the apartment told us about it. General consensus among the Koreans seems to be that it was an accident of some kind. There's no angry uproar, just a kind of bitter sadness, in a why-do-bad-things-happen-to-good-people kind of way. And I don't much think the mood's going to change, whether it turns out that this actually was an accident or if it as the North trying to raise a little chaos.

I've kind of been comparing my e-mails lately with the kind I used to send, back in the beginning. My e-mails seem to be a lot less colorful. I'm surprised you're all still reading. I'm just too gosh darn used to the way everything looks and sounds and smells; I can't think what I aught to describe. Our apartment's clean again. We have a little houseplant in a tall white ceramic pot that sits on a round 'sang' (that's the short traditional folding-leg tables) by the porch window. Our floors are all linoleum with a 'hardwood floor' pattern printed on them. Where the two lineoleum panels meet, earlier missionaries have sealed the ratty edges together with packing tape. I'm currently sleeping under two smallish fleece blankets, one gray-green flannel, one purple with sequins on it, and my yo cover is scarlet with hanja embroidered into it. (It's a weird, weird feeling when you look down at your yo and realize that you can read the hanja . . . that your bed is talking to you.) The whole thing folds up neatly in the space between my desk and the far wall. As my number of books and such increases, shelving space is becoming more precious on my desk, so my family picture is now sitting ON my handkerchief press.

I think the biggest reason I'm so down this week is Sister Son Yoo Jin, the miraculous and wonderful investigator. She loves us missionaries. She has accepted every commitment, lived every principle, done everything we've taught her. She's been attending Sacrament meeting as regularly as her work schedule will allow. And she told me this week, laughing, that the talks she heard on Sunday moved her to tears with the witness of the Spirit. And in spite of all this, she doesn't want to get baptized. She doesn't want to meet with us during the week anymore--she's gotten too busy. And here I stand, a bewildered and dazed sister missionary who's been praying and working like she's never prayed and worked in her life, all so this good woman will make covenants with the Lord, enjoy the blessings of the temple and life in the gospel, and be happy now and forever, wondering in heartwrenching pain what it was that I did wrong.

PMG# admonishes me to 'not become discouraged' when people decide not to accept the gospel in their lives even when they've received a witness that it's true. I would like to know how the heck the writers of that book managed to not be discouraged after experiences like that. Whatever they did to stay peppy, they neglected to write it down in that worthy volume. I went to Baskin-Robbins, which was tasty but not particularly helpful. And I got a call from Sis. Ogelvie, funnily enough also in tears just then. She'd been visiting a less-active sister, and during the whole visit she'd been receiving (and fighting) a prompting that this woman needed to know that she was being prideful. Not even Sister Ogelvie would outright say that to a member. But then this sister announced that she PARTICULARLY didn't want to come to General Conference because the speakers always said that less-active members were prideful. And, turning to Sister Ogelvie, she asked, "Do you think I'm prideful?" And poor Sister Ogelvie, pushed now from both sides, opened her mouth and let it slip out that yes, actually, she did. And her reward for humbly and fearfully trying to follow a difficult prompting of the Spirit to help this woman whom she dearly, dearly loves: she and Sis. Pak got thrown out on their ears and told never to come back.

Man. Those sister missionaries who float through blissful missions with dozens of tearfully grateful converts trailing in their wake had better transfer out here to help us figure out what the heck we're doing wrong.

Sis. Song Yeong Ok's baptismal date still stands, but the way things have been rolling lately I'm suddenly scared to death. You know that saying 'the common factor in all your failed relationships is you'? Well, the common factor in all my mission disasters does seem, thus far, to be me. I'm really, really scared. And in interviews on Friday I cracked and told Prez that I was within a hairsbreath of cracking under the strain. That poor, good man. There's not a thing he can do to help me right now. He offered to let me train an American sister next round and have another sister come out to serve with Sister Yoon, bringing us back up to two teams out here, to which I responded with shaky, desperate gratitude. Any relief would be welcome. Sis. Jennings seems to think I'm going all to pieces (can't imagine why) and sent me a copy of the relaxation exercises the mental health team handed out last time they were out here.

Disclaimer: Sis. Yoon and I have been getting along just fine this week. No problems there. Life's good, thank goodness.

I baked bread this morning. It worked fairly well--not pretty, but tasty. I ate hot fresh bread for breakfast. That was a relief, too.

Hyeon Soo, the little 13-year-old investigator who lives just behind us, is still really cool and is warming up to us. We're still not sure about her mom--if she's an English spaz or if she's going to kick us out or what. But Hyeon Soo's cool, and keeps commitments that we give her and really enjoys our lessons. We tried to share 'Finding Faith in Christ' with her yesterday but couldn't get her family's DVD player to work. Oh, well.

Oh, the Joseph Smith movie (the one they play nowadays in the Legacy Theater) just got its Korean subtitling done, thanks to the mission office team, so we're planning to show it at a ward activity, as soon as we plan the ward activity. I'm voting for a pioneer-themed thing, like used to happen all the time when I was a kid. I remember stick pulling, making butter, and dancing the Virginia reel, and I'm sure there was more stuff to do but I'm drawing a blank. If anyone remembers anything from those old activites back in the day, let me know, will ya?

I still don't know anything more about when my flight will be getting in. I'll ask the Bagleys on Traning Day, probably. The Bagleys know everything. They'll probably think I'm trunkie, asking about this in April when the flight doesn't go until July, but if a bagpiping event is involved then the pre-planning is justified.

I found a copy of HP6## in Korean in a church cupboard, and I didn't even touch it. How's that for some self-discipline right there?

I love you. I miss you so much. One of the things I can't express well anymore is how much a mission teaches you about your parents and how important they are. I'm so grateful to both of you for being the wonderful, faithful Latter-Day Saints you are, each in your own distictive way, and for being so unfailingly supportive every week, unfailingly, through this whole insane adventure. Every time I see anything that reminds me of either of you, it makes me happy. I love you so, so much, and I miss you more than I can possibly begin to explain.

Stay out of trouble. Don't get cancer. You know what I told you about cancer.


*Callie: a Bernese Mountain Dog belonging to my dear friend Catherine, who had to be put down due to severe physical and health issues. We're talking quadrapalegic here. Bernese Mountain Dogs are in the 100 pound range. We will all miss her.

**Easter: Dad, Teancum and Bethe will be spending the holiday in South Carolina, leaving me, Blogmom, to hold down the fort. I will be having Easter dinner with Cat and Jeff and his family.

***destroyed ship: a South Korean naval ship was blown up last week. No one is sure if if hit a mine, or was torpedoed by the North Koreans.

#PMG: Preach My Gospel, the missionary handbook

##HP6: Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, the 6th book in the series

From President Jennings, 24 March 2010

President Jennings writes:

"Dear Brother and Sister Hadden,

Sister Hadden has reached the last several months of missionary service in the Korea Busan Mission. Of course we want these months to be the happiest, and most productive months of her missionary experience. She is skilled as a teacher and has learned the Korean language. We urge you to make your letters in these last months encouraging and motivating, avoiding frequent references to "when you get home".

At the same time we are aware that there are plans to be made for school, employment, and family events. For this reason I am writing to inform you of her anticipated mission field release date. Tentatively, that date is 06 July 2010. Church Travel will mail an itinerary giving specific arrival time and flight one to two months before her release date.

As you know the policy of the Church is to discourage parents from traveling to a son or daughter's mission area to pick them up. However, the decision is yours.* If you plan to travel to Korea to accompany your missionary please notify us as soon as possible. Generally, you should contact Margaret Sales at Church Travel before you make any travel arrangements. She will help you coordinate your travel plans with your missionary. . . .

If you notify us of your intention to come here we will send you guidelines for the visit and a listing of available hotels and travel options with an estimation of prices.

We are very grateful for the service that your daughter has given to the Lord and the people of Korea. Thank you for making the sacrifices necessary to support this service. As we send Sister Hadden home to you we will have the feeling of loss you felt when she left!

. . .May the Lord bless you as a family,

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

*Blogmom note: We have decided not to go to Korea for various reasons.