"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