Monday, December 30, 2013

Letter 12/29/2013

We had exchanges this week (this was a 24 hour exchange, not a permanent transfer). Sister Jeong (her companion) went to Geum-cheon and Sister Hales came here. I was super stressed because I was the senior companion, seeing as it was my area. It was the last day of school and there were lots of student wandering around, celebrating. A lot of them told me that they were going to karaoke (norebang = song room). We were able to talk to a lot of people, which it has been hard to do lately. Even though it's freezing we like to walk places so that we can talk to more people but no one else thinks the same way we do so it's hard to run into people. I mainly stressed because we had a baptismal interview that day. And it was complicated. Our district leader is Cambodian and although this is his last transfer, he has had a really hard time learning Korean because he has to learn it through English. So one of the zone leaders came on a split to do it with them. And they thought they had to have another man there so a YSA (young single adult) from our ward came but they didn't tell the investigator and things were weird. She made lunch for us but wasn't expecting him and the elders were late..... I often have to pray for patience with the elders. She was really nervous for the interview but it went well. However, the day before her baptism she called us to put off her baptism. She actually wants to cancel it, but I don't think she'll cancel. She just needs dome more time. Her son is a member and he's a really strong member. She came to churchyesterday anyway!
We have these movie clips that we watch (The District) of missionaries filmed in California and Texas to help us study, see examples, and learn from other missionaries. The missionaries always have really high numbers, in the number of lessons they teach, referrals, new investigators, and so on. Like 7 lessons a day. We're happy to get 4 lessons in a week. It's pretty slow here. And we never have members teach with us. For my 12-week training program we have topics and certain portions of the PMG to study every week and I also have challenges such as: "the new missionary gives the baptismal commitments this week" or "the new missionary teaches about the plan of salvation" but we ignore them because we can't apply them. I've never taught past the first lesson and I gave the baptismal commitment once but I don't expect it to happen again for several months at least. The only new investigator we've picked up while I've been here is an English investigator (meaning she is student learning English from them). When I first got here I heard older missionaries complaining about English investigators and I didn't understand why because I was really excited to be able to teach but now I understand why. They're better than nothing but they don't want to hear about the gospel.

We went hiking on Saturday for a ward youth activity. It was super fun but it was freezing! It was -3 (celsius) down on the ground but I don't know what it was up there with wind chill. The wind is so crazy here because of the ocean. It was really pretty! The paths and walls of rocks were all covered in ice so every kept falling and getting hurt. It was ridiculous. Koreans really like to hike but I don't understand why they hike in this weather. No one else wanted to go hiking but the Young Men's president was obsessed so we went. So to summarize: definitely go hiking while you're here because the mountains are so pretty and I feel like I'm in old Korea but if you have any love for yourself don't go during the winter. 

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Letter 12/22/2013

We got a nice snow storm on Thursday. It was snowing off and on all day. Thankfully it was never snowing hard while we were walking. We planned a lot of visits and our service project on this day so we were wandering around in it all day. The buses were inching forward like snails. It was fun and scary. There wasn't an inch of road or sidewalk that wasn't covered in ice. The city was a giant ice rink. People were falling everywhere. We linked arms (as we usually do) and saved each other from some close calls.
The next day was still pretty icy. My companion & I were running late for an appointment because another investigator wanted to talk longer t
han we were anticipating. My companion got on a bus but the bus driver started driving before I could get on. I don't believe I've told you about the bus drivers here but they're crazy. If you take too long to get off or on they'll drive away and they yell at people a lot. Be warned. I tried to run to the door but the road was icy and I couldn't catch up. My companion was accelerating away from me and we were late for an appointment. My companion told the driver to stop and he saw me in his mirrors but he didn't want to stop. So I hopped back onto the sidewalk and ran (on the ice) to the next bus stop where I found my companion.
I have a giant michelin-man coat so I stay pretty warm but my feet are always numb. So annoying. But thankfully we have an underfloor heating system so them can warm up pretty quickly. It's so nice. It doesn't blow annoying, dry, stinky air all over our house and it keeps the coldest part of the apartment warm: the floor! My feet need warmth, people - not my airways.
So we have these cards called T-Money cards that we use to pay for our transit. We load money onto them at train stations and convenience stores and we just press them up to the station gates or monitors on the buses and it will charge us. If you get off and bus and transfer again within 30 minutes it's free. I suggest you get some. You can pay with cash on the buses but he train station don't sell regular tickets like Japan.
You can expect the grocery stores to be pretty much the same as Japan. They have Costcos, convenient stores, giant super markets, Mom&Pop stores, 'crazy stores', little Y's Mart-type stores...
Our Young Women don't attend church. We plan lessons but the YW don't always show up so we end up just sitting in the empty classroom. Two came yesterday but because President Morrise (mission president) was visiting yesterday we combined with the RS and Priesthood and he taught us about feeling the joy of the gospel.
A lot of public bathrooms don't have toilet paper. Sometimes they'll have a giant roll outside the stalls and you have to plan ahead and follow your heart as you gather as much as you think you'll need. I always take a pack of tissues with me everywhere and it's saved our lives sometimes. Prepare ye.
The Koreans have the same way of thinking as the Japanese when it comes to hymnbooks. Everyone has to have their own. Our ward has more hymnbooks than we do members. They're everywhere.
The Koreans also like their cute little cakes like the Japanese. The afore-mentioned bakeries all sell cakes and during the Christmas season they'll sell several hundred a day (keep in mind that these shops are on every block).
One of our investigators (kind of - she's an English-investigator) asks us the weirdest questions. She asked the alien question, she asked me if my family or God is more important to me (that's a loaded question - I said God, sorry). And in our last visit we spent about 10 minutes just discussing the 12 apostles because she wanted to know the names of everyone in Da Vinci's Last Supper painting in both Korean and English. Let's not get hung up on unimportant details here. We've met with her five times and we haven't been able to get to the Great Apostasy yet. We'll do that and the restoration today (and hopefully the BoM + prayer).
One of our investigators is getting baptized next Sunday! She's super wishy-washy and said she wanted to push her date back but our primary program was this Sunday and it made her decide to stick with the 29th. She was worried about the WoW (she drinks 8 cups of coffee a day) but the kids talked about the WoW and it helped her. We're hoping to get her a piano-playing calling because she likes to play the piano. It feels kind of weird because my companion did most of the (pretty much all of the) work with her. I really haven't done anything. I just share my little memorized portions. I had no idea how she felt about anything. I didn't know how she was progressing until we gave her the baptismal commitment.

Letter 12/8/2013

(We lost this email but we found it! So this one goes back in time).

I saw some missionaries from my MTC district this week. One elder asked me how it was being with a native (companion) and said that he's been worried about me. His concern was very thoughtful but I thought it was really weird. I love having a Korean companion. I can't imagine not having one. What will I do without one? I love her for who she is but I also like being able to ask her questions about language and culture, and having someone to back me up and tell me what's going on if I don't understand. And I just like Asians. I am Asian. 

I've noticed that the American missionaries complain a lot of and I feel bad for the native companions (the parable of the fat sheep) (this is a parable that Brock wrote when we lived in Japan - with this reference she is saying that the native missionaries seem like "fat sheep" that don't need as much "food" and support, But in Brock's parable, the fat sheep just ended up being sheep that had extra fluffy wool, so they looked fat, but underneath they were thin and they needed as much, or more, food and care as the other sheep). I think they have it harder. They can't play the foreigner card of they mess up, they have responsibilities and more is expected of them, they have to clean up after the foreign missionaries, important meetings and conferences are in English, no one cuts them slack, and people don't fawn over them like they do foreign missionaries. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Letter 12/15/2013

I've been super scared for the cold weather but I don't think it's going to be that bad. It was -7  degrees celsius last night and I didn't think anything of it. I am concerned about my feet. They become numb and it's scary to walk on ice when you don't have control over your feet. The sidewalks are almost completely ice and it's okay for us - we link arms and save each other when we slip (we're pretty cute) - but we're scared for the poor grandmothers. I saw a grandmother today who was wearing bright pink socks (with a cute animal) over her shoes to prevent her from slipping. 

The bricks in the sidewalks aren't smooth so they create fun little hills of ice to slip on. The snow here is different than Utah or Illinois snow (or Virginia snow). The flakes are huge - huge, I tell you - and they're really icy. The snow is really pretty but it isn't super fun to play in. We tried to make a snowman in our church parking lot while we waiting for our students to show up for English class but the snow wouldn't stick and we were just sliding all over the parking lot. 

Korean rice is wonderful, truly wonderful. I could eat it for every meal. Korea has the super cute bakeries and French-style bread shops like Japan with the delicious milk bread. I don't understand why Americans eat so much bread but Americans haven't figured out how to make truly yummy bread.
I don't feel like I'm in a foreign country anymore. Everything seems perfectly normal and familiar.
I had a beautiful breakthrough this week with Korean. I just started understanding more of it. And I started speaking more. Words that I had had trouble remembering before now come quickly to my mind and I can say almost anything I want to say (I'm not fluent, however - I'm sure I sound like a three-year-old).
One of the missionaries in my ward says that I act super cute and I act like I'm Japanese. (He has AMAZING English and he can speak Japanese) I never realized how Japanese I was until I came here. I felt so different in Japan so I thought I was more American and I think I tried to be more American (wanting what you can't have mentality) so it's interesting to me to have other Asians tell me how Asian I am. I realized that I say "we" when referring to both Americans and Japanese.

I wrote "I can do hard things" on a paper and stuck it on a wall by my desk, thinking of Grandma. (this was a challenge from her Grandma Limburg, who is serving a mission in Fiji right now)
We weren't able to do a lot of street contacting this week. Because it's so cold hardly anyone is outside.
Students are finishing up their finals this week so people will stop ignoring us (hopefully!!). As you can imagine, they have super intense finals in all 13 subjects that make or break their hopes for college. School ends next week and doesn't start again until you guys come. Because everyone will be on break we're hoping to build good relationships with the Young Women, visit lots of Less Actives and teach lots of lessons to members and investigators. They probably have their long break in the winter because it's too cold to leave one's house.

We met with one of our investigators this week that we teach English and the gospel. She isn't interested in the gospel, nor does she have any Christian background so we asked her to read a pamphlet and come back with questions. The questions she came back with were crazy!!! The first one was; "Some people say God is an alien. What do you think about that? They say He is just an alien with special powers and intelligence and we are his/their (what's the word.... crop? experiment?). The pyramids were built by aliens and they possess special powers."

We watched the (Christmas Devotional) broadcast last night at our stake center. I couldn't understand much but I still had my notebook and pencil ready and I did have some good inspirations to write down that didn't come from spoken words.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Letter 12/1/2013

A lot of people have been super nice and they give us/feed us American food because they think it will make me happy. Their niceness makes me happy but it makes me sick. My stomach is pretty happy with the food here but I feel terrible when I eat American food. A couple gave us fried chicken and root beer (pretty expensive) and a lady took us to TGI fridays (so expensive). It reminds me how nasty American food really is. How do we all live like that? Golly. (She has been having a lot of digestive and food sensitivity problems that got REALLY bad in the MTC. Gluten is a big problem for her) That Gluten Digest stuff you gave me is actually the best. I took some during the Thanksiving dinner and I felt great. And that makes the difference of being able to work harder or not. If I feel terrible, I don't want to talk to anyone, all I can think about is my stomach, everything seems worse than it is, and all I want to do is go home. 
We have a decent number of appointments on a daily/weekly basis but the majority of them fall through. Koreans are super-duper busy and they're also afraid of hurting or feelings so they make plans that they don't intend to keep. One of our investigators is very impressionable and she always feels good about the gospel when we come to visit but when we're not there she gives into temptation and laziness. But she surprised us by soming to church yesterday!
We're thinking about teaching a Japanese class in addition to our English classes but I don't know if we'll really do it. I don't know if my Japanese is at a level where I can teach other people, especially if we don't have any materials.
We heart-attacked someone's door this week but we had the wrong address (the person must have moved) and we received a very angry phone call demanding that we return and take the hearts down ourselves. I don't understand why she didn't just take them down herself and why it made her so upset.
We went to visit a recent convert who has fallen inactive. Her apartment has the call-system at the front door and we couldn't remember her apartment number so we couldn't get in. I thought about praying for someone to go in or out of the building so that the door would open but then I thought that it was a stupid request because God can't control people like that. I focused a lot of my study this week on faith and after reflecting back on my learnings I gave a little prayer. Not two minutes later a woman walked into the building and we were able to slide in after her. It was perfect and miraculous. Nothing is impossible to God.
On our way to the Boggs' for Thanksgiving I talked to a woman from Canada who is teaching English at a university in Seoul. We had an interesting discussion about religion. She is very closed to religion and only believes is happiness and 'good feelings'. She seems pretty happy with her life but there was something wrong and I couldn't figure it out. Later I decided that it literally felt like something was missing from her life.
The Boggs were super nice. He's teaching Spanish on an American base here through DODDS and they're empty-nesters. They fed 16 misssionaries plus another little family!
My companion is the Sister Training Leader so we did splits this week so that she can train the other (non-Korean) sister in our zone. I went to Sanbon with Sister Lee Yoon-Ji who I love.

So we have a big problem with the YW not coming to church. (She and her companion are in the Young Womens Presidency) They don't want to come to church because they spend all day at school and they don't need more studying. They'd rather sleep. They're in school from 8am to 11pm. Any ideas? From anyone? We don't know what to do but bribe. They just don't understand the importance because they've never experienced the blessings and it's not part of their culture. (We had the same problem with the youth in our Japanese Branch)

Because I never hought of myself as a missionary sometimes I forget I am (that sounds silly, I know). I'll catch the reflection of my name tag in a mirror and think, "Oh look! A missionary. Oh. That's me. I'm a missionary. I'm wearing a name tag. That's me." And then I feel even more excited about missionary work!

Letter 11/24/2013

(This is a response  to my question asking what her apartment is like) It's called a villa, which is smaller than an apartment. We have a genkan (Japanese word for entryway where you take off your shoes), a baby kitchen, a bedroom, a study room, and a bathroom. I keep forgetting to take pictures. Our bathroom has a sink, toilet, and showerhead on a hose like those in Japan, with a hook on the wall between the sink and the toilet. I shower with my toilet. When we want to turn on the shower we twist a knob on the sink's faucet. 

A sister in our ward offered to feed us and she took us out to a restaurant instead of feeding us in her home. I hear that that's pretty common in Korea. But restaurants are pretty cheap. Food in general is pretty cheap.
We taugh the lesson on YW yesterday. It was fun. 
We're not allowed to knock on doors because this area is too sketchy but we sometimes visit the less-actives/inactives. Most of the time no one answers the door so we prepare message cards to stick on their doors/mailboxes.
I naturally want to look at TVs and listen to music that I hear but I have to tell myself to stop. It's surprisingly relieving. It doesn't make sense but it makes me feel relieved that I don't have to pay attention to those. Maybe the reason for the liberating feeling is because it gives me more space for the Lord (2 Ne4:27). Like trials, I think it's a blessing in disguise. It's a way for me to show God that I love Him more and I care about Him enough to put away everything that I want. And maybe that's how following commandments gives us more freedom.
The RS sisters feed the ward lunch every week. They come to prepare it on Saturday and leave Sacrament meeting early to get it ready. Food is a big deal.
I told dad already but we have a new investigator who isnt' really interested in the gospel right now but she will be! We also got a referral last night!! Woohoo! We've been working and not seeing the fruits of our labors but we now have people to teach!!!! Hooray! People have been blowing us off for kimjang (the preparation of kimchi - it's the season for that right now - and it's a big deal!) and dropping their appointments.
I was feeling bad this week because I make my companion have to work harder to compensate for my lack of Korean. The sisters in my zone (Of 8, 6 of them are Korean!) are all very nice to me and try very hard to include me and teach me about Korean culture. We had zone conference this week and I got to talk to President Morrise (her mission president) for a long time. I felt better after talking to him.
I'm getting more courageous and talking to people even though I can't say much and I can't really understand what they're saying.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Letter 11/18/2013

We had dinner at the mission leader's house last night. It was the first meal away from home where kimchi wasn't provided. The gave us each a scoop of vanilla ice cream and offered us DoTerra oils to drop on top so that we could make the flavor that we want. Such a good idea! 
We spend most of our time looking for people. We talk to people on the public transportation but we mostly just walk around and talk to people. We talk to people stopped at crosswalks and bus stops, or people who look distressed. We helped some old ladies who had been waiting for a half an hour for an elevator to work again. They were scared to cross the main road so they usually took the elevator down to the station, walked underground, and then took the elevator back up. But the elevator was broken and they couldn't take their stuff down the stairs. So we called a maintenance man for them and helped them carry their stuff down into the train station. One lady gave us each a piece of gum in return. It was pretty cute.
On Thursday we went to our usual service project at an old-folks home. We helped them with their art projects and talked to them. They're adorable. We had an extra service project on Friday to help some people (I have no idea who they were) make kimchi (it's called kimjang). It was so fun. We were up on the roof of an apartment building. They had the hot seasonings (I don't know what they're called - the gochugaru stuff) (hot pepper paste) and the salted cabbage prepared. They dumped the gochugaru onto big tables covered in plastic and we rubbed it into the cabbage. We rubbed each leaf, front and back and stuffed a little extra in between the leaves. Then we wrapped the heads up into their own leaves and stacked them in tubs.
 And we got to eat some!! And they gave us a head to take home! One of the beauties of kimchi is that if I eat something that has a less than desirable taste or texture I can stuff kimchi into my mouth and the kimchi will overpower everything else. It's wonderful. 
We had a joint mission conference on Saturday with the Seoul Mission. Elder David F. Evans (who we know from Japan) spoke to us. It was very good. He told us some exciting things about missionary work, some of which we're not supposed to share.  There are now over 83,000 missionaries. 
We had stake conference this weekend. I tried really hard to understand but it's mentally exhausting. When we met with our mission leader last night I could understand about 80% of what he was saying if I focused really hard but then I was focusing so much on each word that I wasn't getting the whole picture.

My companion tells me that sometimes she forgets I'm American, let alone a greenie because I act so Asian. She says, "are you American? Are you Japanese? I don't know." I don't know either. But now that I'm back in Asia, I don't know if I can ever leave. She tells me that my pronunciation is good and I have a more extensive vocabulary than the average greenie, both due to Japan. I'm teaching her Japanese (she already knows a little bit) and English in return for her teaching my Korean. I use Japanese to help my study Korean. I have pieces of paper stuck up on the wall in front of my desk with important vocab terms and I have the translations in Japanese to help me remember better, retain Japanese, and teach my comp Japanese. Japanese has helped a lot. If something confuses me I learn what it is in Japanese and then it makes sense. And I also learn more about Japanese. I had no idea what I was saying. (in Japanese) I just knew when it was appropriate to say it. I can't believe I was so ignorant. (she learned Japanese as a small child, the way a first language is learned, and is having many revelations about the language now) I use Japanese everyday. A lot of Koreans know Japanese and there's a man in my ward who can only speak Japanese. I must hurry and learn Korean so that I can translate for him. My life makes so much more sense now. (now that she understands more about Japanese from learning Korean) I love languages.

More people asked me if I'm Russian. Why?

There are a lot of mountainns in my area. Most of the cities and towns have 'san' in them (Ansan, Sanbon). (San is the a word for mountain that both Japan and Korea took from the Chinese in Japanese, Mt Fuji is Fuji-San) They're pretty mountains like the Virginian mountains.

One of the elders looks like Noah and reminds me of him. He's a sweetie too.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Natasha's first email from Korea! 11/11/2013

(Tashi the mission home with President and Sister Morrise, and her new native Korean companion!)

We flew into Incheon at 7:30 PM, met our mission president, put our luggage into cars, grabbed a Book of Mormon, and got on the subway to go to the mission home. It was hard to talk to people because there were 40 missionaries on one subway. I talked to a couple that only spoke Japanese. We got to the mission home at 11:30.

In the morning we studied, had interviews with President Morrise, attended some orientations and ate lunch. President Morrise said he thought my Korean was good enough to put me with a native companion. I don't know what he was thinking. My companion does speak English. She studies English during my language study time. I'm glad to be put with a native companion. I hope I can learn Korean faster. And she won't teach me incorrect things. My companion is Jeong He-Ri. We are in the Ahnsang ward. We have four elders with us, One of them came in from the MTC with me.

Hauling my luggage across Seoul (2 hours with multiple transfers) wasn't the funnest thing I've ever done. My shoulders are covered in nasty broken blood vessels. We went straight to the church because there was a YSA activity. I wasn't sure what was going on, but we were practicing Christmas songs for a performance or something. I'm pretty sure my face looked like death.
It was really hard to say goodbye to everyone at the MTC. The tears were flowing after our evening class. We had to say good bye to three of our teachers plus all of the missionaries. Sisters Jeong and Kil both thanked me for teaching the gospel to their people and it made me cry so hard. My face was so red and blotchy it wasn't even funny.

We met with the ward mission leader before church. There are only nine men in our ward. All of the missionaries met with the branch presidency and they called my companion and I to be the 1st and 2nd counselors in Young Women's.
While I was in the MTC I could understand better than I could speak (I think that's normal - guessing is easier than using your brain) but that is no longer the case. I have absolutely no idea what anyone is saying. It's pretty bad. I felt like I was in a daze all day. I would just look at the speakers and teachers, feeling like I should know what they were saying but not being able to. I trusted my companion to tell me if I needed to know anything important. I would have moments where I would think, "Oh! They're talking about repentance.... but I don't know any other word." or "Ooh. They used the 'must-form' but I don't know what we need to do." I'm pretty sure people could have paid money to watch my face. It didn't help that I was exhausted. The night before we left, I only slept for about 4 hours and I only slept for a couple of hours on the plane. Then I only slept for a few hours the night we flew in. I fell asleep during journal last night and my companion woke me up at 10:30. I had been looking forward to catching up on sleep on that plane ride for two months. I did help Sister Rose give out a Book of Mormon on the plane and we got his number.

After church we went to the Sanbon ward building  for a Young Women's activity. We went straight form there to an inactive member's house. She and her husband both used to be active but they stopped attending church because of work and now they're admittedly lazy. She fed us rice, kimchi, kimchi soup, beans, mandarin oranges, persimmons, sweet potatoes, and blanched greens. It was delicious. Oh my heaven the food is so good. Where has it been all of my life? For lunch today we went to a restaurant called kimbap nara (kimbap land) (kimbap is like sushi). A couple of different people thought I looked Russian. One guy said he thought I was Russian because I was too pretty to be an American. What do I say to that. I think I hear the word 'pretty' more often than any other word. It's the ultimate compliment. A lot of girls have self-esteem issues. Plastic surgery is unbelievably common.

We went to workout in a little exercise park this morning. They have these little machines that are incredibly useless. I can't even explain them. They don't do anything. I gave up and jogged.
I've seen lots of men taking pictures of me. Some try to hide it and some have no shame.

My area is kind of rural. It's like Chiba or Saitama.  (areas in Japan)I feel like I've been on a long trip and I've just come home. Everything is just perfect. I'm reliving all of the sounds, smells, tastes, feelings, and all of the senses from my childhood. It makes me so happy. I'm surrounded in it. Every minute I see something that makes me happy. I'm so happy. It's just perfect.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Seventh MTC Letter 11/1/2013

(Missionaries only get 1 hour a week to read and reply to email, so she may not be able to give a long reply through email, but she would be happy to hear from you)

This is her last week at the MTC, she leaves for Seoul at 3:30 am (!!!) on Thursday the 7th of November

Her new address will be:

Song Pa Ku O-Gum Dong 24-1
Seoul, Seoul 138-855
South Korea


One of the counselors in my branch presidency told me that he really likes the mission president in Daejeon.

I was thinking recently about 1 Nephi 3:7 and I was looking at everything the Lord has done to make it possible for me to serve a mission. And even now, after I've already left, I can see that the Lord won't give me a commandment without helping me to accomplish it.

I've changed a lot. People tell me what they think of me or what they think I'm like and I think "What? That's nothing like me. Do they not know me at all? How would they get that view of me?" and I realized that that is how I am now. It isn't how I used to be. I expect people to see me as the sweet, quiet one but that's not me anymore. I let my emotions show, I talk more, I voice my opinion, I let people know if they're being annoying, I'm happier, and I'm just not little Tashi anymore. There's no way I could have been the missionary that I needed to be while staying my old self. And so the Lord has changed me to be who I need ot be. Because I was obedient, despite my fear, the Lord prepared a way for me to accomplish his call. 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Sixth MTC Letter 10/18/2013

The MTC creates the perfect balance to make me feel wonderful and happy while also pushing me out of my comfort zone and making me aware of what I need to change so that I can become better. 

It's pretty crazy to think that the hastening of the work compares to the first vision. But I guess there's no point in having the first vision if no one knows about it. 

I've never been so tired but I've never been so motivated to keep working. 

Elder Oaks spoke at our Tuesday devotional. It was broadcasted to all of the other MTCs. His wife spoke too. It was really good. He challenged us to change, achieve, and become. He said this is the only true and living church because it has the fullness of the gospel, the power of the priesthood (including ordinances and the Holy Ghost), and a unique testimony of Jesus Christ (His role in the atonement and Plan of Salvation).

I can't believe that I ever thought a mission wasn't for me. It is exactly what I need. And it's a privilege to serve a mission. I get to understand Christ's role by doing things for others that they can't do for themselves. I get to testify of Christ in a world that desperately needs to know Him. I'm helping god fulfill His work and His glory. (I may even be helping intelligences by helping their future parents receive exaltation). I get to carry God's love and happy news. I get to make people happy. I can sacrifice a little bit so that I can bring happiness to others. I get to spend my time proclaiming the good news that I know is true. By small and simple means are great things brought to pass, and I am small and simple. But If I do all that my simple self can do, I will become my best. My offering will be enough. I am no better than any of God's other children - in fact I am lower because I have His fullness. They who don't have it are truly great. I can't imagine pushing forward with out the Light. And so I must serve them and work for them. By my hands can God work a marvelous work among the children of men that they may come unto the kingdom of our Father. I get to do that. God can work through my hands. What a privilege. I didn't know the reason as to why God chose me and called me to a mission but I'm glad He did and I'm glad He was patient with me. I hope that I can make someone's life a little better. Even if it is only my life, I can then use my gift of a better self to better serve Him and His children. As Christ came into the world to do God's will, what other purpose do I have in this world? And what greater privilege could I have than to do God's will? I get to be like Jesus by preaching His word. God always provides means for us to accomplish what He commands us to do. And God provides for me to accomplish what He asked of me.  As I look back and I can see all of the things He did to put put me in the position I needed to be to prepare for a mission. All of the reasons why I didn't want to serve a mission were pushed aside and God took care of them for me. 

We have 110 Korean-speakers in the MTC right now, including natives!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Fifth MTC Letter 10/11/2013

(I've added clarifications in italics ~ Julie)

This week wasn't very eventful. It was just a regular week. 
We got a new shipment of Korean-speaking missionaries last Wednesday. I think there are 22~24 of them. I helped to host that day. I hosted a sister going to Georgia, a sister going to Manchester English speaking, and a sister going to Manchester Mandarin speaking. I see the Mandarin speaking sister a lot because her classroom is on the same floor as mine. My building has Korean, Mandarin, and Japanese. We got 590 new missionaries on the day. I finally found Brian Stout (a friend and distant relative from our English speaking ward in Tokyo). He's on the West campus so I can only see him when he comes to main campus for Conference and devotionals. We normally get shipments of Korean-speakers every three weeks but we're getting a new batch this week - a week early! So we'll have more districts than normal. We'll have 110 missionaries in our zone/branch. I figured out why I had to wait so long (she waited 5 month and 1 day from her call to enter the MTC). The last batch of missionaries going to Seoul South left a couple of weeks after I got here, meaning they entered the MTC on July 24thor something - before my availability date. The districts above us and below us our going to Deajeon. Some missionaries below us are going to Busan, California, and New Jersey. New missionaries two batches before us went to Canada and Australia along with Seoul and Seoul South. We're going to get our batch of native Koreans in three weeks and then we'll fly out with them after two weeks!

Sister Perrington told me that she talked to Dad. Brother Perrington mostly said that they're(Koreans compared to Japanese) more aggressive. They're not as reserved. And this I have observed with the natives that have come in. They're very loud. The sisters sleep next door to me and they keep us up all night with their giggles and chatter. But we forgive them because they're so cute. (The Perringtons were in our English Stake in Tokyo, and also lived in Korea. They are now in Natasha's District Presidency in the MTC

We watched (General) conference in the gym. My district was asked to usher for all four sessions, plus for the Vocal Point devotional on Sunday night. I liked ushering. It was nice to do something for someone other than myself. And it was fun to people watch. 

Life is so simple. It's interesting to see how simple my life can be and I can still be content.

I used to wake up at 6:25 (we need to be out of bed at 6:30). But I started waking up at 5:50(some other girls in my district wake up early too so I'm not breaking any rules) to get some more study time. It's made a HUGE difference. I was concerned about the lack of sleep because I was exhausted as it is but I think I've been less tired. It's very interesting. And I've been improving in the language. But there still aren't enough hours in the day to everything that I need to do. With my half-way mark drawing near, I made some goals of where I want to be in the language when I leave the MTC. But every hour is scheduled out and there really isn't that much time for personal study unless I want to take more time away from sleeping or exercising or something. 

Do you have questions about Korean? One of the teachers who teaches another district came in to help us last week. She's a linguistics major and so she could tell us about the mouth-movements and why things are the way they are. It was the best day of my life. And I can ask hanguk-saram-dul questions about Korea. 

This email isn't very spiritual but it was kind of a blah week. 

Love you!!

Sunday, October 6, 2013


 Natasha & her companion, Sister Carter
 Natasha with Sister Wright & Sister Goines
 Studying and writing letters at the MTC

Fourth MTC Letter 10/4/2013

If you would like, you can email Natasha at:
(Missionaries only get 1 hour a week to read and reply to email, so she may not be able to give a long reply through email, but she would be happy to hear from you)

You can also send a letter to her at the MTC:
Sister Natasha Lydia Stout
2005 N 900 E Unit 193
Provo UT 84602

Singing at the Relief Society broadcast was such a good experience. At first I wanted to go just so that I could get off of campus and be on TV and stuff but it was more spiritually strengthening than I could have expected. The whole day was just perfect. All of the songs were perfect. I'm grateful that I was able to start off my mission by singing praises to God, telling Him that I'll go where He wants me to go, be who He wants me to be, asking for more holiness, gratitude, purity, faith, tears for His sorrows, pain at His grief, and asking to be more used. I love the song that Sally DeFord wrote for us. "As Sisters we'll tell the world the gospel is restored." We'll tell the world the joy of families. There were just so many parts of the song that touched me. I ended up having to whisper a lot because my voice kept cracking from the tears. I really want to be more used. And throughout the day I became less concerned with why I wanted to go and more with what my purpose was there. I was there to preach His gospel and spread the spirit of missionary work. It's not about me. It's not about who I am and what I have to bring to the table. It's about who God wants me to be. What more could I want? What could be better? Could I be anything better than exactly who God needs me to be? I'll be a better servant if I do what God wants me to do. I don't know what's best.

It's interesting to see how the things that I learned this summer have prepared me for my mission and prepared me for things that I needed to learn here. For example, one of my learning themes this summer was trusting in God. I need to forget what I want and what I think I need because I don't actually know. But God know exactly what I need. So I can trust that He'll guide me, help me, and give me the trials that I need for the refinement that I need so that I can be my best self. I think I know what's best for me but I really don't. So I need to trust in God that whatever He gives me is what I need (no matter how bad it may seem) so that I can become the best person that I can become. Does this make sense? So pretty much: we shouldn't complain about our trials because they're what we need. They're really gifts to us. Who are we to think that we know better than God? So just trust and give thanks.
And my goal for my mission is to be what is needed. I need to trust in God that He'll give me what I need so that I can be what is needed for Him. So I'm really not giving Him anything. Rather, He's giving me what I need to give to Him.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Third MTC Letter 9/27/2013

The Korean Thanks giving is in the beginning of September. I think it's to celebrate their liberation from Japan. 

The Seoul South Mission is the smallest but it's densely populated. We have the rich part of the city in our mission. We have some inaka (Japanese for countryside)* but it's mostly city. All of Gangam is in my mission. "Gang" means "river" and "nam" means "south" because Gangnam is south of the river. Gangnam is the LA/Hollywood of Korea. Hence the song "Oppan Gangnam style." "Oppa" means older brother (if you're a girl - it's different of you're a boy) and "Oppan" is what girls call their boyfriends ("Oppa~~an!"). Look at the wonderful things I'm learning :) 

I don't have a lot of advice for you concerning learning Korean (We are studying Korean, because we will be moving there for Brock to teach at a university in Daejeon) because the way I'm learning it is so different. We're just thrown into it and we either have to sink or swim. Our teachers speak to us in Korean and we teach all of our discussions in Korean. Our investigators try to be as real as they can so they won't understand any English if we even try to throw some English words in there. We watched the movie "Legacy" in Korean on Sunday and it was very entertaining. The native Koreans were the most entertained. They're all so cute. 

Pictures are really important in Korea. They love pictures. And family is really important to them. So, they like to see family pictures. It helps to build a lot of trust with investigators. 

We go to the temple in the afternoon on our P-Days. We did sealings last week and we are going to do endowments today. I'm the only missionary in my district (there may be on or two others) who has seen the old movie. Everyone else got their calls so much later than I did! And a lot of people waited to get their endowments. 

One of the elders in my branch is descended from Hosea Stout. He's leaving on Monday but we've enjoyed sharing our heritage, especially because Hosea was the first missionary to go to Asia, right? 

You made a comment in RS at one point this summer in which you said that you learned to communicate through the Spirit rather than through Japanese. How did you do that? Learning Korean is not a self-esteem booster. It is most humbling. Japanese keeps giving me a difficult time. It very nice sometimes because I can guess what words are if they sounds similar to Japanese but because Korean and Japanese are in the same part of my brain, when I go to pluck a Korean word out of my brain I pick up a Japanese one instead. And then I have to put it back and try to find the Korean words again (whether I know it or not) and so I'm switching from English to Japanese to English to Korean to English and then I realize that I've been silent for several seconds and my investigator is just looking at me with pity. How do people learn multiple languages?

* Italics added by Julie

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Second MTC Letter 9/20/2013

Guess what? I'm going to sing in the RS broadcast! They only picked about half of the sisters who applied. And guess who's leading us? Emily Wadley! (our friend who has acted in and helps direct the Nauvoo pageant, and starred in "17 Miracles") One of the songs we'll sing was written by Sally DeFord especially for us. They wanted missionaries to sing because they made the age-change last October.

Korean is fun. My work-outs are the high-light of my day. I look forward to them so much. I go on splits with a girl in my district because we're the only two that like to exercise intensely. And I can talk to her about crazy healthy food and stuff. And I love having a work-out buddy. None of the other girls in my district like to exercise. But I'm obsessed with it. I need it. It helps me to relieve so much stress. I just take it all out on my workouts. Plus the food is gross and working out helps me to feel better on the inside. We sit ALL DAY LONG. All day long. We wake up, study in our classrooms while we sit; eat breakfast while we sit; go study in the computer labs while we sit; study in our classrooms while we sit; eat lunch while we sit; study in our classroom while we sit; write in my journal while I sit; have planning meetings, district meetings, church, choir practice, mock discussions all while we sit; eat dinner while we sit; and have personal study while we sit. I think I left some sitting time out of there. We calculated that we'll spend 550 hours in our classroom while we're here. 550 hours in the same classroom and same seat. 

I'm learning a lot about myself. And watching companionships helps me to learn a lot about myself and my relationships with other people. I've somehow become the Ann Elliot (character in "Persuasion" by Jane Austen) of my districtMy comp keeps telling me that I speak Korean with a Japanese accent. And my district sisters keep telling me I'm so Asian (even though two of the mare half Chinese and one is full Chinese - all of them grew up in America).

I saw Mana (a good friend from Japan who is working in the MTC) a couple of days ago. I still haven't seen Brian Stout (a good friend and distant relative from our time in Japan who entered the MTC the same day she did. He is going to Ukraine). I think he's on the west campus.
I've been singing in the choir for the devotionals. It's amazing how exciting it is to leave campus twice a week for devotionals and temple time.

As I've been trying to eat healthier (one grain. one protein, two vegetables), I feel so much better about life. I felt so sick and nasty the first few days. We've had a cold going around our district.
I've been studying Korean really hard. I'm trying really hard to give my all before I turn it over to God. And I'm trying to obey all rules with exactness. Elder Oaks (or someone like that) gave a blessing on the MTC a few weeks ago so that every missionary who practiced exact obedience would be blessed with the gift of tongues. I'd like to cash in on that blessing.

I love you!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

First MTC letter 9/13/2013

I've seen a lot of people I know so it's been fun. There are a bunch of people that I know here from BYU. And a couple of people that I met this summer. My companion is my friend from BYU. Her name is Taylor Carter. She's half Chinese and one of our roommates is Chinese American so we have fun comparing Korean to Chinese and Japanese. I liked living with Asians. I'm so excited to go back to Asia. We actually have another sister in our district who is half Chinese. And an elder who is Chinese-American.

 The MTC actually isn't super crowded. They coordinate everyone's schedules so that there isn't a lot of overlapping between zones. I have four sisters in my room and six in my district, and six elders, all going to Seoul South - District J! The West campus is in a group of apartment complexes that the church took over. They have the Asian Missionaries on the main campus.

 The Perringtons are in my branch presidency. Brother Perrington interviewed everyone in my district (we have three new districts who came in on Wednesday). He gave me some advice comparing Japan to Korea.

It feels like I've been here for a week rather than two days. It's so weird. We do so much stuff every day that it feels like each day is three days. I don't know if I'll love it yet or not. I'm glad I'm here but I might get sick of it after 9 weeks.

Time was speeding up before I entered the MTC but now it feels super slow because we're packing so much into one day that it doesn't feel like we could possibly have finished everything we did in one day. We have a tiny bit of personal time but they give us assignments to do during that time. We have to prepare a talk in Korean each week for our branch. And two people can randomly be called up to talk. I'm so glad that I got the Hangul alphabet down before I got here. It's given me a head-start.

We teaching our first (pretend) investigator tonight IN KOREAN! Knowing Japanese had actually been helpful because I translate what I want to say into Japanese first to figure out the sentence structure. But I keep wanting to speak Japanese to my companion when I want to speak Korean. 

We don't have much free time and we spend most of our time in classrooms or in other rooms full of people so it isn't in the comfort zone for introverts. I'm so tired. Sticking to the schedule isn't hard because so many poeple make sure we stick to it. And I have the same schedule as my companion and usually the other people in my district. So I can just follow them. And I know that I'll never catch up on sleep. We get to sleep until 6:30 every morning except our P-days because we have our service project at 6. We got to clean bathroom today. Cleaning the urinals was an especially wonderful treat.

 The cafeteria has a small room full of food for people with food allergies. So when salads are no longer appetizing I can go and find food in there. It's very nice to have. The only problem is that I can eat desserts now. I was counting on desserts being off-limits for me. At least we have 5 hours of exercise a week. hehe

 My classroom is in 7M with the Japanese classrooms and my residency is in 3M on the same floor as the Japanese sisters. So I like to talk to them and sometimes speak to them in Japanese so that they think I'm serving in Japan too. Korean is so cute and fun. Once I got here, a sister took my to my residency to drop off my luggage, took me to pick up my books, and then took me to my classroom where all of the teachers spoke nothing but Korean. all I could do was smile and bow. 

They had us practice teaching discussion to investigators by getting to know them and basing discussions on their needs. They waste no time here in getting down to work. I guess my call letter had a type-o or something because I'll be here until November 8th. Which is comforting because I now have more time to learn Korean. By the way, my mailing address changed form NOV09 to NOV08 but I'm sure it's not a big deal.

 I love you!

 Love, Stout Jamae (I was wrong. Jamae comes after the last name.)

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Family Time

Tashi flew out of Quincy, IL super early in the morning.
Tashi then flew to Utah, where she got to spend a day with my mom's side of the family before she went into the MTC. Here she is making dinner with two of our cousins, Emily and Kate.
Family dinner!
Tashi, our cousin Stephen, and his bride Michelle
Tashi got to go to Cafe Rio!
Our cousin Jordan just got home from his mission to Croatia.
Angel Moroni on the Provo Temple
Tashi, Cousin Jordan, and
Aunt Jill

Tashi getting dropped off at the MTC!

All of the photos except the top one were taken by Aunt Jill.

Mission Photos

Tashi got some Mission photos just before she left! These are a few of our favorites.Tom Simpson was the photographer and took some family photos for us too. Go check out his website HERE.

Thursday, September 12, 2013


I got a little email from Tashi right before she went into the MTC (Missionary Training Center). She said this:

"I'm so excited to help in the Lord's work and to get to know the Korean people. I know that I'm going where God wants me to go and I hope I can help bring happiness to those I'll meet."

Sunday, September 8, 2013

This is Tashi’s sister, Lexi. I will be posting for her while she is gone. The main purpose for this blog is to print it out into a book when Tashi is done with her mission, but we’d love for you to keep up to date with her adventures too!
Tashi has been called to the Korea Seoul South Mission. She reports to the MTC on September 11, 2013. This mission is one of the 58 new missions that were announced in Frebruary of this year. She received her call in April. My family thought she would be called to Japan, but we were all pleasantly surprised. Tashi has been studying Korean all summer, making Kimchi, watching The District, and reading Preach my Gospel.

We’re down to the last few days and it seems that time is speeding up. I’ll miss Tashi, but I’m so proud of her and actually a little jealous of the experiences that she’ll get to have. 행운 (haeng un) – Good luck!