Later, I got a forwarded email from Todd (because it's Father's Day) with the rest of the news from Ulsan this week. RoseE writes:
I think it's technically still Father's Day over there; at least, I hope so.
So Mom sent me fifty billion pictures of the family reunion. On the one hand, I was really sad I couldn't be there when EVERYBODY else was hanging out together, but on the other hand . . . well, I'm one of the oldest cousins, aren't I? Still too young to hang out with the aunts'n'uncles, too old to play with the younger kids who're all the same age or thereabouts. Ah cham. Oh well. At least Will, and not I, gets the stigma of being tallest. It looks like it was an awesome time, though, and I'm glad you had a good time biking up there. You've got to tell me more about this stealth camping thing. It sounds almost as good as sleeping in airports. (see sleepinginairports.com; fun website.)
I FINALLY FINALLY got to do some cool living history stuff this week! It was the Soiburi Festival (Ironworks?) up at Buk Gu Cheong, and we missionaries volunteered at it. I really don't know what they thought they needed us for--they just told us to wander around and be enthusiastic, probably to make it look like there were more weigukins coming to the festival than actually came. We were nominally there as translators, but nobody seemed to need translation. So we just made clay pots, learned to make ddeok with a big old wooden mallet, wove reed circles to put on your head so it doesn't hurt as much to carry heavy stuff up there and it's easier to balance, watched some cool dancing and cooler drumming, dressed up in Choson-dynasty armor (plastic--my medieval sensibilities are appalled), and watched the Hyeahsa, praying to ancestors in general for a successful festival. (Apparently ancestors will do anything for a pig's head.) We also watched lots of blacksmiths doing their stuff, and watched students powering a foot-powered bellows like in Princess Mononoke. Very cool. AND on Sunday Sis. Go Kyeong Ah, the branch president's wife, finally relented and let us hear her play her very awesome Korean traditional lap-harp thing. She has two: a more traditional-style twelve-string one and a modernized 25-string. I took videos on my camera, but they'll have to come home with me 'cuz I didn't have Isobel there to take sendable videos with.
So yep. Seventeen months of searching in vain for a good Korean-history activity space, and my last month one jumps out at me and I get to spend two days hanging out there! And I got a free t-shirt. Except it isn't a t-shirt, it's a senghwal hanbok shirt, nice and cool with frogs to fasten it at the neck. So comfy. Sis. Alcazar is sleeping in hers. I'm wearing mine today to go up and see Seoknam Grotto. Hot as Hades and mosquitoes galore. I don't mind the skeeters, 'cuz I just don't react to the bites anymore, but poor Sis. Alcazar swells up like a balloon at every bite, so we've been experimenting with makeshift screens and netting tents, and taping up the vent in the bathroom 'cuz a lot of them seem to be getting in that way. Better last night.
We had President's interviews on Tues and Sis. Alcazar spent the whole time cutting elders' hair so they'd look spiffy for the mission tour. I got my Death Letter: the "This is when your exit interview is and this is how much money you'll need to get to Seoul and this is what you can do with the time you have after your temple session" letter. Death Letter. That whole last week's still kind of up in the air, since transfers are on Monday but exit interviews aren't 'till Thursday. It's looking now like Sis. Linford and I will just be companions and sleep in the living room for a couple days, and Elders Bocchino and Oxborrow will do something similar and have free run of Bangeojin to Kyeongju to say last goodbyes to everybody.
Sis. Kim Min Kyeong, the investigator who talks really fast, got matched up with Sister Go Kyeong Ah, who also talks really fast, and we had a lesson with a member and the two of them really hit it off and it was fantastic awesome.
We're having a ward activity in two weeks: Water balloon volleyball in the Daehwa River Park. Sis. Culver made a mad-cool collage poster for the occasion, with which everyone is very impressed. Now to get our investigators to come. . .
Sis. Wang Ga Jeong, of whom we had such high hopes, is in a pickle . . . her Buddhist mother-in-law, living in the States, has forbidden her to participate in a Christian church. She reeeeealy wants to come to church, but we're in Korea and Confucius reigns supreme and . . . we're stuck. Dang this woman, whoever she is.
This coming week: splits to Daegu, Zone Conference with Elder Ringwood, District Conference. It's going to go by really fast. It would even if it were a week in the middle of my mission and not my second-to-last week of regular missionary time. Chaos reins. We scramble to get stuff done. Even right now: gotta catch a bus to Kyeonju like NOW. So I love you! Happy Father's Day! See you in gosh-sakes-three-weeks!