Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Letter 1/26/2014

We had our temple P-Day. And then I went straight to SanBon for an exchange with Sister Kim Gyeong-Ji. During our exchange (just a temporary exchange, not a transfer) she found out that I had never taught past the first lesson so during our daily planning time she said, "Wait. I need to call someone." The next thing I knew, she was calling a ward member, saying, "I'm on an exchange with a new missionary and I want her to have more experience so can she come and teach the third lesson to you." I was a little upset at first because I didn't know how to teach it, let alone in Korean! However, although it was bad, it was a good experience and it helped me to force myself to relax even when I'm super stressed.

Letter 1/19/2014

So I'm going to tell you a really sad story. I always thought that talking about eternal families is something that would attract people to the church and bring them hope. But that's not always the case. I and pretty much every other missionary (everyone that I've talked to about it) has had problems with people NOT wanting to be with their families forever. People, especially mothers, generally like their children and would like to be with them forever but they really don't like their spouses and thinking about having to live with them forever is awful for them. They can't wait to get away from them. Why would they want to live with them FOREVER? Even our 18-year-old English investigator doesn't want to be with her parents.
That being said, there may be more hope fore the future generation and their spouses. Maybe. Perhaps. I don't know. I see a lot of couples everywhere and such relationships are really important. I see a surprising amount of PDA (more than Japan).
We visit an old folk's home every Thursday, helping them with their art time and talking with them. On my first week my companion told me that one of the grandpas (calling people 'Grandma' and 'Grandpa' is a form of respect and closeness so I call all women over a certain age 'Grandma') spoke Japanese so I tried to speak a little bit to him but he went off into a stare and didn't say anything so I was afraid I had brought back PTSD memories and didn't talk to him again. But one day, almost exactly 2 months later, he waved at me from across the room and started speaking Japanese with me. So now I have simple conversation with him, mixing Korean in when I think he doesn't understand (which is super easy because the grammar is the same). He usually says the same things to me every week but it's super cute. Most of them have dementia and they say the same same things every week. One grandma, every time we finish eating lunch, concernedly asks, "What did she eat? Was she able to eat?" And another asks who I am. She'll point to Sister Jeong and say, "You're Korean," and pointing to me says, "you're not." We just say, "Yes, you're right! Good job!"

Our president set up a program for us to learn the lessons and teach effectively. We have to pass off each lesson in English (with our comps) then each section of each lesson in Korean (with our district leaders) then our zone leaders choose two principles from the lesson and we teach them, as well as reciting scripture and being quizzed on vocabulary. We then have to write a talk from each lesson and give that talk in sacrament meeting. And then after we have done all of this for each lesson we meet with an AP and he chooses two principles from all of the lessons and quizzes us as the zone leaders do.  I passed off the first lesson with one of my zone leaders on Wednesday and I'm giving a talk this Sunday (the 26th). And I'm passing off the second lesson in English this Wednesday with my district leader (he's from Cambodia and his Korean isn't very good so he wants to listen to me in English while my comp passes me off in Korean). I took a while to get started because we didn't get the program until I had been here for a month and it was new so no one really knew what to do or where to start. 

Letter 1/12/2014

We went to the ocean last Monday. It was really fun. We ate raw fish and octopus. We picked out fish and sat in a restaurant while they cut it for us. We also watched them chop up our octopus so it was still moving while we ate it. It was so yummy. And we bought fresh shrimp and we ate those througout the week. Yum yum! But we can't eat raw fish anymore because of the radiation from Japan . America isn't safe either. But Thailand is safe! So we're gonna buy Thai shrimp from now on.
We decided to try a new technique this week and just hand out flyers for our English class so that we can reach more people. We handed out 200 flyers in an hour. We would talk to people a little but not have long conversations. I was talking to two moms and their babies both kids kissed me on the nose. It was so cute. I'm not sure it was appropriate but I couldn't push them away.
My mission president just informed us that we'll have a mission conference on New Years so I can get them (her birthday packages from us) then, maybe :)
I had my first REAL conversation this week and it made me really excited. I understood everything she asked me and I was able to talk about the gospel with her. I was sitting next to her on the bus. It made me super happy and have me confidence and courage.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Letter 1/5/2014

Coming on my mission has made me realize what a baby I am. There were things that I thought were so horrible before that seem so silly now. In my first couple of weeks here I was having 'woe-is-me' thoughts about the cold, particularly because my area is one of the coldest if not the coldest in the mission and this year is extra cold all over the world. But I talked to a sister in our ward from Russia and she to
(New Year's Sunrise on the hike)

ld me that she moved to Korea because she is allergic to the cold so she moved here because it's so warm. Yeah - "it's so warm." So I think that every time I'm mad at the cold. Some people have to live in the Siberian dessert, rather than just have to deal with it's winds. She's actually from an island between Russia/China and Japan.
I tried to buy some thick skirts last P-day but I don't fit into any of them (because Korean sizes are so small). Love my life. But my clothes are sufficient. I only wanted a couple so that ward members would stop scolding me (maybe because they thought she wasn't dressing warm enough). I just have to plan my wardrobe wisely on days that I will see our ward.
(The name Soo-Ji (Susie) carved into the curb.)

I realize that I don't talk about missionary work very often and I've been trying to talk about it more. But as I talked a little bit about last week, there just really isn't much going on. We have one progressing investigator who put off her baptism but we're still going to teach her regularly because we know she'll be baptized someday. She also wants us to teach her English (I have some words to say about English later). We have received one referral since I've been here but we've only seen her once. She'll make plans to see us but then cancel the day of. But she only wants to learn English. Oh, English. We have two more investigators who only want to learn English. Everyone assured us that their schedules would free up come winter break but everyone is actually busier. No one will meet with us. And the streets are empty. We think maybe a lot of people go to Seoul for their break becauseon Saturday afternoon/evening we walked for 4.5 hours and only talked to 6 people. We finally went to the bus stop in front of the busiest train station to talk to people. We're working on updating the less active member list right now but no one is ever home! We visited 12 people in one day everyone had either moved or they weren't home so we don't know. Ansan (the area she is in) is dwinding. Everyone wants to move away because it doesn't have a lot of opportunities (sound familiar?) We had two young women move to Incheon and one move to Icheon last month. We had two young women come to church yesterday and I was really excited because we haven't had anyone come in almost two months! (she and her companion are in the young women presidency) But a less active family that we've been helping has starting coming back to church and the husband bore his testimony yesterday!
Last P-Day we met up with some of the sisters in our zone and ate sushi! I don't know why I didn't think I'd like it before (the baby problem again) but it's so good! It's expensive so we don't eat raw fish very often but it's so yummy! We're going to an island today and we should be able to find some cheap and super yummy raw fish!
My comp likes the pajama pants. She wears them a lot. I keep meaning to take a picture together but it hasn't happened yet.
Thank you for a Christmas cards! I hung them up as I think I told you. They make me so happy! The kidlings are so cute! I like emails but I can only look at them for an hour a week. I can look at letters and pictures as long as I want (..during my free time at night).
And I know everyone at 1830 Parley has been anxiously waiting to hear what became of the hair styling products dilemma. They have really good styling products here. It's totally fine. Their hair is more caucasian like Mia and Noah's hair.
We got a notice on our front door the other day telling us that we hadn't paid our electric bill in three months and if we didn't pay it within a couple of days everything would be turned off. We were freaking out. We have a senior couple that works in the office and pays our bills for us. He was a teacher of efficiency at Virginia Tech. So I called him in a panic asking if he had been paying our bills. We couldn't figure out the problem. But we looked at the map of Ansan and saw that down the street someone had the exact same address as us but we had one additional number. phew. The addresses here are kinda confusing. I'm holding onto the hope that I will someday get a ipad and I can better navigate myself around the city. We waste so much time backtracking and getting lost while we try to find the addresses of inactive members homes.
Its really hard for me to type because I can't see the keyboard. The computer rooms have lights so dim that my monitor blinds me.

Susie's (Susanna Grace) in luck. Soo and Jee are both feminine sounds for names and Soo-Ji is actually the name of some popular figure (a pop-star or something) so everyone knows the name. Mia is obviously feminine. There's a train stop named Mia and I want to take a picture of it but we're not allowed to take pictures during our proselyting time, for fear of looking like tourists. 

It's Korean tradition to go hiking on New Years day or go to the ocean to see the sunrise (in Japan it is a tradition to see the first sunrise of the new year too, rather than stay up late on New Year's Eve, and our family likes that tradition). The young men planned a hiking activity (too much hiking!!) and we were invited even though no young women showed up :(

When we got to the top there wasn't a sun so we thought it was too cloudy for it to show through but then it came and it was SUPER PRETTY!
In Korea children are one-years-old when they are born (like Japan) and then they turn a year older at the new year, rather than on their birthdays. So I'm now 22!!

On Tuesday night I taught a practice lesson to a ward member because I need practice.