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.

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