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Thursday, May 27, 2010

In Which RoseE Goes Gaily Into Her Last Transfer

RoseE writes:

"Dear Mum and Dad,

Well, big news is TRANSFER CALLS. Friday night. I had my mission map out and pencil ready to keep track of all the moves. Sis. Yoon got the deadly call: they've sent her out to Taegu, my old apartment but not my old area, co-senior with Sister Crowther. It was rough for her, but I knew it was gonna happen. First transfer's always the hardest. Sis. Linford got the call from Prez--she's training. Sis. Ogelvie called me with news of how everybody else was shuffling around and who was training the other two new greenie sisters (Jeong Min Hee, 2nd trainee, and Sis. Musser, 3rd trainee). And the transfers were settled. A slot for everybody and everybody in her slot.

Then our phone rang.

Sis. Culver sat paralyzed in her chair as I answered it.

It was Prez. What the freak? thought I. Who could he possibly make me train? There's no one to train! They're all trained!

False alarm--he's installing me back as Chamei Dep. I've never heard of anyone going two rounds as Chamei dep, and am surprised it wasn't sister Ogelvie instead of me. . . but I think the crux of the matter was the Chamei Dep training binder I wrote at Prez's request a few months ago. Because now he wants me to write a training binder for sister trainers. I must have done a good job. I'm quite flattered. And hey, ZLCM LUNCH TOMORROW!

So that was it. My last transfer call. Well, the last one where my head's on the chopping block. No new companions, areas, district- or zone-mates, or roommates (now that we've met Sis. Linford's greenie, Sis. Alcazar . . . also from California. I'm in an all-weigukin house for the first time in my mission, and they're ALL Californians. Save me). And today begins my last transfer. Today Sis. Pak Sung Hee and Sis. Pak Seh Ra go into That Good Night. And for me, there is no Next Transfer. My new planner covers more time than the rest of my mission covers. I keep swinging back and forth between being excited to go home and forgetting that there IS a home . . . that there's something besides black oblivion outside mission boundaries. I'm confused, and nervous. And wondering if my Korean is as good as it's gonna get . . . I hope not. I'm going to try to speak Korean straight through every working day for the rest of the mission, because living in a house with three other Americans is NOT going to be good for my language skills otherwise. I mean, I'm looking forward to being home, and of course hey, I love airplane rides, and pre-airplane there's the temple and a couple hours to explore Seoul, and a ride on the KTX which is always fun . . . I think it's just getting on the train, that last goodbye to Prez and Mom Jennings, that I'm recoiling from. I think that's going to hurt like death. But hey, before that is Dinner at the Bu, and P-Day in Pusan, and all manner of fun craziness . . . Just that one painful kick and then it will all be over and everything will be okay.

So in other news, this week Sis. Culver and I discovered the wonders of Ulsan Grand Park (seriously, Dad, you have GOT to come to Ulsan Grand Park. You would flip. It's fantastic) and played with a bunch of butterflies and went to the bug museum. I think we're the only foreigners in Ulsan that know about the Grand Park . . . one gentleman we talked to said that he came to the park every other day, all day, for years, and we were the first weigukins he'd ever seen.

Also, politics proceeds apace. There's an election or something going on, and on nearly every major corner there are people in matching shirts doing dance routines to jingles in favor of one candidate or the other. The candatates themselves are riding around in big trucks with their faces plastered all over them, waving and doing nintey-degree bows to everyone they see. For once, we're not the weirdest thing on the streets of Ulsan.

And we got to have dinner this week with a lady who comes to our English class--a divorcee who runs a donkkas restaurant with her brother and handicapped older sister, while raising two teenage kids. She is teaching herself to decorate cakes, and wants to open a bakery next year. She fed us excellently, and happily accepted the brief spiritual message and Liahona we offered in return. I'm excited about her. I hope we can teach her.

This week, instead of the third hour of church, we're watching Joseph Smith: Prophet of the Restoration, which the Bu bootlegged some subtitles onto. So everybody's inviting everybody, and hopefully it will be a good intro to the church for a lot of people. Awesome Katrina and her Also Awesome Friend Renee are coming (we've been doing FHE with them on Monday nights . . . we share a scripture story and they teach us how to play spades. Sis. Culver is winning), as are a lot of less-actives and sort-of investigators. We're excited. I love movies.

And Wednesday Elder/Dr Gibson and Elder/Dr Brown, the missionary health gwallying people, are coming and doing a mission tour, so we're having Zone Conference. AND some time after that, Elder Rockwood (Rookwood? Ravenwood? One's a Seventy, one's a Death Eater, and one's in Indiana Jones, or maybe somebody uses the same name twice somewhere) is coming, so we get two Zone Conferences in my last transfer. Good times.

AND I'm copying all my photos since, um, the last time I copied them (coughNovembercough)* and sending them home, so they'll all be safe and y'all get to see everything while biting your nails to the quick or freaking out over MASH or whatever you're doing to keep yourselves occupied in the remaining time. I'm reading Livre de Mormon, breaking the chewing-on-my-fingers habit, and making boxes for all my scriptures, to keep my fingers busy.

Oh, somebody please pass stuff on to Emily, and hopefully relay stuff back from her, 'cuz e-mail is quicker than letters even if it is only once a week:

How about the week right after Cat's wedding? That's what, 14th of August, right? So 15 or 16 August-ish? And it's still well before my dad's birthday. Sound good? Sound like a plan? Any objections?

Mom, can I still fly? Are there restrictions on my flying? Do I have to buy tickets now? Does JetBlue go to Boston or just to JFK? Is that week impossible to fly on for some reason? Maybe you should just talk to Emily . . . I'm just out here in Korea; I don't know what I'm doing. I am seriously not qualified to plan a week in Boston with my best friend right now, but planning is required, so . . . yeah, just tell her to pick a week, as long as it's not the wedding or Dad's birthday, and I'll be there. I'll figure out the details later.

Okay, gonna make a backup CD quick . . .

love you!



Thursday, May 20, 2010

to Bethe 5/20/10

RoseE writes:

"Dear Bit,

Thank you so much for the drawing! The Enterprise looks great--you're really good at getting the proportions all just right. If you wanted to do another drawing, my companion Sister Culver really likes dogs and puppies--could you draw her a picture of Kotah, if you have time?

Everything there is to know about Star Trek? Jeesh. I think I used to know everything about Star Trek, but it's been a long time, so I've probably forgotten a lot. Dad knows a lot, though, and so does Emily, so I think we'll probably be able to figure out whatever you want to know. What do you mean, Doctor Who is running loco? Did the show get really weird? Weirder? Aww, dang it, that's no fun.

I hope this letter gets to you before the trek. I want to hear all about it--where you went and what you did. I never got to go on a trek when I was in Young Women's . . . I was always at Lac du Bois. And I only did Girl's Camp a couple of times. You're really lucky.

I miss you so much! And I'll see you in not-even-two-months!



In Which It Rains on Buddha's Lanterns and Sister Kim Yoon Ai Decides to Read the Book of Mormon Again

RoseE writes:

"Well, another week in Ulsan with not very much that's very exciting happening. Tomorrow is Buchonim Oshin Nar, or 'The Day that Bhudda Came,' Buddha's birthday. There are lanterns up all over the place, which is very pretty. We're hoping to catch a parade or something, if we guess right where it's going to be and when.

Tuesday was the monsoon season opener. It Poured. But Poured. All Day. Sis. Culver and I went slogging through the streets looking up old addresses and got ourselves just as drenched as drenched can be. I'm going to have to start switching off black and brown shoes, giving each pair a chance to dry before I use it again. I might also have to start walking a little bit less . . . I've been proving myself to be My Father's Daughter and have been walking fairly well everywhere, spending in impulse-buy ice cream bars what I save in bus fare. Grr.

Oh, and this week I sent home a box of randomness. Most of it isn't very interesting randomness--clothes I like but can't use through the end of my mission, coming-home presents (but you don't know which one's for who yet, so don't touch), books and notebooks and such. I slow-boated it, though, so I may beat it home. There is a box of cookies on the top of everything that y'all can eat.

I sucessfully made kimchi chigae this week. It was spicy as blazes, but it tasted good.

I accidentally told Elder Bocchino over the phone last night that I really dislike the song 'Hey There, Delilah,' having listened to it about 300 times too many. He promptly started singing it to me. I hung up on him. He called back ten minutes later and immediately started singing it again. I hung up again. Then I got a call from Elder Wells. "Hey, Elder Bocchino says I'm supposed to sing you a song." "Is it 'Hey There, Delilah'?" "Um . . . yeah. He said you'd hang up on me." "Let's tell him that you sang it and that I hung up on you, okay?" "Okay. Deal." I love our elders.

Investigators . . . no strong progressors this week. Working and hoping, false starts and fresh attempts. I'll keep you posted if anything interesting happens. Oh, but Kim Kyeong Bin got a job at the district president's new robot academy so she's no longer unemployed and doesn't have to work on Sunday, and Yoon Mi Hyeah is getting her father's, grandfather's, and great-grandfather's records ready to be taken to the temple. Sister Ii Jeong Im, a slightly nutty member sister who always comes to English class and thinks that Buddha is the devil (ummm . . .), painted four of my fingernails yellow. Just four. VERY yellow. OH, and Sister Kim Yoon Ai, a lovely less-active sister who is 100% not progressing towards coming back to church but loves having the sisters visit and teach lessons, told us yesterday, "So I was thinking I want to start reading the Book of Mormon over again. I don't remember it very well from back when I got baptized, and I read it fast so I didn't much understand it because it is so difficult." Sis. Culver and I tried to not explode with excitement. Reading the Book of Mormon! She wants to read the Book of Mormon again! This is SUCH a big deal, particularly for her. She seemed surprised by our suggestion that this desire to read had come to her through the Holy Ghost. "The Holy Ghost is a . . . like a warm feeling, right? It wasn't that, it was just a thought." But it was a really, really good thought, one that I absolutely know she wouldn't be thinking on her own at this point. "The Holy Ghost comes as thoughts too, Chamenim. Any thought that encourages us to do something good comes from God. That's revelation."

Oh, another revelation: today I ate a Monte Cristo* and it was SOOOO good.

Sis. Culver is a sport, and we're getting along swimmingly. Transfer calls are tomorrow; crossing our fingers that we all get to stay (though I think the only person in real danger is Sis. Yoon).

Love you all so much! Talk to you next week!


*no idea. Post anything that you know.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

In Which RoseE Admits To Being Trunkie*

RoseE writes:

"Dear Mom & Dad,

Wow, it was good to talk to you on Sunday. It's a lot nicer to call home two months before your fly day than it is to call six or fourteen months before it, as I can now state from plain experience. 'Cuz you hang up and take a deep breath and say, "Okay, two months. I can do this." And then it's okay.

Just workin' on hanging on that long. It's been an up and down week, but some good ups and no downs too drastic, really. The biggest, coolest thing is that on Sunday a woman named Oang Ga Jeong, her mother, and her 3-year-old son Dorian came to the 2nd and 3rd hours of church. Sis. Oang's uncle and younger brother are both members, one in America and one in Taiwan (their whole family is Taiwanese, by the bye). She and her husband & little boy are back in Korea after the dad lost his job, recession and all. We met her on Monday and taught her about prayer . . . she's kind of excited to get into this whole 'religion' thing, but was annoyed/frustrated that there was never anybody around to explain to her who this Jesus person is and why he is important. When we told her that, um, that's our job, she was all like, "Really? Oh, cool!" We thought it was pretty cool, too. We also thought it was cool that Charlotte, our token American member sister, served her mission in Taiwan and speaks Mandarin, and is very excited to help us teach. She speaks only English/Mandarin, us only English/Korean, and Sis. Oang only Mandarin/Korean, so this is going to be a language party, right here in a little bit.

And today for P-Day we all went to a reptile museum. Really. It's a museum full of snakes, lizards, iguanas, tortises, turtles, and more snakes, in what used to be an elementary school but got remodeled into an interactive museum/zoo. Since nobody else was there that day and the workers were bored and they wanted to be nice to missionaries, they let us in for free and let us pick up and play with just about everything. It was SO cool. My favorite was a little gray-and-yellow king snake. He and I were buds. I'll try to send some video in a bit here.

Elders Moore and Murray and a Really Big Snake

(still having problems loading these videos, but working on it.)

Inteviews were this week . . . Prez seems to have implied that Sis. Yoon is leaving (and possibly going senior . . . have fun!) so that Sis. Linford can train on her last transfer. The rest of the time was spent by all of us hanging on Sis. Jennings' every word as she talked about children's literature . . . she was a librarian in her former life, and we haven't had new stories in forEVER. She also bought us a block of cheese from Costco (yaaay!) and vitamin pills to see me through to the end of this adventure.

Oh, got news from Sis. Pak Sung Hee (who, like Sis. Pak Min Jeong, is from Kyeongi province, which donated the peace park thing) that Sis. Jin Mok Hwan, who I'd been mistakenly informed about, is in fact going to the temple this week. She's going to the temple. Oh, gosh. Have you even the slightest idea how deeply, abidingly happy that makes me? SHE'S GOING TO THE TEMPLE!

So this is all good news stuff . . . the hard bit is that we've kind of been at loose ends for a while 'cuz I've kind of forgotten what missionaries do all day when they're not madly riding busses back and forth all over the entire city. I have a lot of time that used to be eaten by transportation and not much idea of what to do with it. The Elders are trying to organize an "Okay, which people on the list of members ACTUALLY live in this city" project, which sounded like a great idea to me, and then they took the project book and hid it in their apartment, so I am annoyed. I don't deal well with being at loose ends. It freaks me out. Sis. Culver is being very even-keeled, bless her.

Trying to be trunkie in only healthy, productive ways. Not sure I'm succeding, but I'm trying. When Sis. Jennings was divvying out the vitamin pills, I let slip "I only need sixty," and was met with condemning stares. Yes, I know the number of days left, all right? Quit judging, y'all. I didn't come on this adventure to be SuperMissionary, just to be A Missionary. I've already far exceeded my own expectations. I'll know the number of days left if I want to. Any time I feel defensive about this I can just snap at Sis. Culver, who has to take it 'cuz she's my greenie. And she's even-keeled so she doesn't care.

Love ya! And not to be trunkie, but we're in the single digits of 'number of e-mails I have left to send'. Weird.

Stay out of trouble. If I didn't specifically forbid strokes, surgery mishaps, or broken tailbones**, I'm forbidding them now.


*trunkie: eager to pack your trunk and go home.

**strokes, surgery mishaps, and broken tailbones: All three of these things happened to the (extended) family this last week.

Monday, May 10, 2010

To Bethe 5/10/10

RoseE writes:

"Dear Bit,

Thank you so much for the dragon! I really like that it's a Korean dragon, so I know you drew it just for me. It makes me feel special and loved. It's now on my bedroom wall, along with the painting of the Tardis*, which is a little battered from four moves now but is still in pretty good shape. It's been with me through almost my whole mission now. Cool, huh?

Mom says that y'all are hiking a lot now. Fun! I'm so jealous. I wish I could come, too. I get to walk a lot, but it's all streets and sidewalks and traffic, not cool hikes up in the mountains. I'd like to get out a bit, especially now, because all the big temples are decorated with hundreds of colored lanterns for Buddha's birthday. It looks really cool. And it's FINALLY gotten warm enough to where being outside is fun. Mostly. Today is really gray and stormy . . . I guess monsoon season is coming again.

I'm so excited to see you in two months! It's coming up really fast . . . one of these weeks I'm going to make it home before my letters. I love you! Have fun with the end of the school year--wow, you're almost a junior already, huh? Crazy!


*tardis: time machine used by Dr. Who shaped like a blue British police box.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

In Which Plans Are Made to Call On Mother's Day

RoseE writes:

"Dear Mum & Dad,

Just got my e-mail et so this is going to be brief.

Calls: I'm shooting for 7 or 8 a.m. here, which is 4 or 5 pm Saturday for you, I think. If that doesn't work, tell me . . . I can check e-mail once quick tomorrow, just to get the calling thing worked out. Prez is nice this way.

E-mailing from Prez's tv, by the way. He's got internet on his playstation. It's a touch unwieldly, but with 18 sisters e-mailing we're really doing quite well, all things considered. Half the sisters the mission are reading this over my shoulder. They say hi.

Yesterday was childeren's day here in Korea . . . designated legal holiday for parents to spend time with their kids. Because without a legal holiday, it just doesn't get done. Just school from morning to midnight. But yesterday everybody was out in the parks, which was great. The branch was going camping . . . we were supposed to go with them . . . so we got up at quarter to six to go out and meet them for the day, and at 6:08 as we're going out the door (Sis. Culver had her shoes on) the elders called to tell us that the outing was cancelled. I was back in bed before the call was over. Turned out later the outing wasn't actually cancelled and everybody wanted to know where we were. Ugh.

We DID get to go hiking this week with one of our investigators. That was lovely. To be away from all the incessant traffic and pavement and city-ness, in pants, with my hair braided and no stockings or makeup or any gosh darn sister missionary paraphenalia beyond my tag and my testimony. We drank from a natural spring way up the mountain, and bought ice cream from a guy who hikes up there with a backpack full of the stuff every morning. It was fun. I felt a little bit like me again. . . me who could wear pants, and spend time in woods, and get dirty,and light fires and steer canoes and all that stuff I used to be able to do. Good feeling.

And Sis Jin Mok Kwan, the less-active hairstylist from Taegu, is going to the temple to receive her endowments THIS WEEK! Isn't that AWESOME?

This e-mail has now been eaten twice, so I'm going to send it before any more disasters hit. I'll call you! And that will be lovely! And I'll e-mail quick tomorrow to double-check the call times, so if there's a problem, tell me soon.

I love you!