Monday, April 28, 2014

Letter 4/28/2014

As we were proselyting our way home from General Conference, Sister Kei felt like we should go over near our Daiso (a dollar store) We awkwardly stood around it, talking to people as we wondered why we were there. Everyone was especially rude. Why were we there? After several rejections we made our way towards Daiso again, and as we walked directly in front of the doors, we passed two girls, and I said hello. They told us they were from China. We communicated through English. They were super nice. They were just visiting for four days. We gave them cards. These nice and open girls had me thinking about China and I think it'll open up soon. "Soon" may be a half a century or it may be a few years. I think it was a matter of timing; we needed to talk to other people (some who I was sure was 'the one' because I felt I should talk to them) to get those girls at the right time.

 Sister Training Leaders go on exchanges with sisters in their zone to help them in their areas and train them during comapnionship study. They attend the monthly Mission Leadership Council meeting and give trainings at zone meetings. We have one per zone and we have six zones. Last transfer President tried an experiment to have two Sister Training Leaders together as companions in one zone. It's only been one transfer so we don't know how it's going yet.

This week was LOADED with craziness. Loaded. Be prepared. Let's see if you can keep count.

First, I've been sick since Thursday. I lost my voice on Friday and it's just now recovering today (I've moved down from dinosaur-status to frog-status). Missionary work is all about talking, so my dear companion had to pull some extra weight this weekend to make sure we met our goals in proselyting, as well as having to teach our protion of the Young Womens lesson. (We're getting YW callings in the ward as of next week) I was assigned to give a talk this week and I really didn't want to put it off so I gave the talk. It was a little rough between the coughing, scraggly voice, and vocally unpraticed script, but it worked. Hoozah.

We were doing some 가가호호 (onomatopoeia for door-to-door knocking) on Saturday and found a family that has been inactive for numerous years. Sister Kei picked the spot the night before, we just started walking around in there, I looked at a random entrance to a building at my right, and we went in. They were only the fourth door we knocked on! The mother was a little crazy but she was super nice. She had a dream about a Mormon missionary and promised herself that the next time she saw one she would buy them pizza. So she gave us money to buy pizza. But we can't accept money from people in our area. After telling her this (and after A LOT of explanation), she said she would order a pizza but we had to tell her that we can't eat wheat (Sister Kei has celiac, and Natasha gets really sick with gluten too). Fun times. So then she made her son go to the store and buy us fruit. It was so awkward. She wouldn't listen to our protests. But we're going to keep visiting them and send the elders to visit the sons.

We met a crazy man on the train on Saturday. Sister Kei was having a nice conversation with someone whenthis crazy man started yellling at her across from her but we couldn't understand him. He wanted us to go visit some religious gathering or something. We don't know. It scared away the person she was talking to, obviously. He wanted our card, which usually doens't turn out well, but he hasn't contacted us yet.

Brother and Sister Linda K. Burton (Relief Society General President) came to visit us this week! She and Sister Oscarson gave a member fireside on Saturday night but Brother And Sister Burton spoke just to us on Friday morning. He used to be the mission president of the Seoul West Mission (which was closed for a few years, and then re-opened last year as the Seoul South Mission). It was SO GOOD! They said some amazing things that our mission REALLY needed. This is the first time a female auxilliary member has spoken to missionaries. They recorded it for the experiment to see if they want to do it again. Answering questions was really scary because I don't know who's going to be watching it later! She said that in the council of deciding to lower the mission-age, one of the top selling factors was that that church would have more people who were familiar with counselling because missionaries do it all day every day as companionshiops, districts, zone, wards, and with mission presidents and ward leaders.

Here's one of the best parts. We got transfer calls on Friday night. They were moved because of the Burtons' visit. Sister Kei and I thought we were being split and we were super anxious, especially because I had reason to think that I would be training. Sister Kei had been preparing me for training all week. But that didn't happen. When we saw President Morrisse's name on our caller ID, we knew something was up. He told us that we will be staying together. And then he told us that we will both be Sister Training Leaders together (see the second paragraph of this letter for the details of what they do). He then quickly ended the call without saying much else. We both let out a little awkward laugh on the phone. Yes. I'm terrified. I'm only five months in and I'm going to be an STL. Sister Kei will still be my senior. We laid in bed in Friday night and couldn't fall asleep until past 11:30 because we kept repeating phrases like, "What's going on?" "What are we going to do?" "This is a joke." "How can I do this?" Everyone we told kept saying things like, "But Sister Stout hasn't trained yet. She hasn't been a Senior compaion yet." Yes, I know. I'm a baby. What am I going to do? I don't know. I'm scared, but I'm excited. I'm excited to be able to serve more. It will take up more of my time which means more time on the work and less time for anything else. But because we will be STLs together we're both a little bit less scared.

These are some of our adventures this week.

Letter 4/21/2014

They were from a high school right next to my house (maybe 15 minutes away). I haven't figured out yet if any of them were members. I had heard about the ferry but I didn't know that they were from Ansan until our investigator told us yesterday. It hurt a lot. (She is referring to the 300 students in the ferry that sank last week. This is so sad for her, and us, and all of Korea.)

Noah isn't a little boy anymore. (in response to photos I sent)
During one of our routine calling sessions to previous potential investigators we called a woman who was currently sick (bed-ridden) so we took her bread (and we wrote scriptures on hearts) and heart-attacked her door.
We went to visit a woman in our ward who is sick on Tuesday. We didn't want to bother her and make her get out of bed but we just wanted to heart-attack her door. Because we didn't want to ring up (to be let into the apartment building) we creepily stood outside her apartment waiting for someone to walk in so that we could slink in behind them. The first woman that came by asked us, "are you going to the 16th floor?" When we affirmed she opened the door, gestured with her hand to follow us, and told us to come in. These things don't happen. As we were waiting for the elevator she told us that she know we were going to the 16th floor to visit our member because she used to be a member and hasn't attended our ward in a while. She got off before we could talk very much but we noted which door she went to and which floor she got off at. She was super nice and friendly and told us to come visit her later. So we did - 5 minutes later. We got her name and number. When I was looking through my planner that night I noticed that we had tried to visit her on Sunday night (I had forgotten) but we had only found that she had moved, thinking that she was lost forever. (this is a pretty common occurrence) But we found her two days later!
Do you guys know about the dangers of microdust? (we think she is referring to the yellow dust that blows in from China in the spring - we aren't sure if we know of all the dangers, and aren't sure we want to know....)
It was raining pretty hard on Thursday night so we went down into the subway and rode it back and forth on our area, talking to people on the subway and in the stations. In one station we found two women (SEPARATELY) who were inactive members of the Church!! Yes, this happened. Neither of them lived in our area (one lives in the other mission) and wouldn't give us their information but we thought it was incredible that we met them. We got the name and of woman and gave it to the sisters in her area.
I'm glad to hear that you had a good Easter. We kept forgetting that it was Easter. We both reminded each other repeatedly because we kept forgetting. No one mentioned anything about it at church (expect for y prayer in RS). People didn't even know about it. I talked to several members and as I tried to make small talk I asked what they were doing for Easter but no one I asked even knew it was Easter. It was really sad. (we had a very different Easter experience in our ward. Everyone seemed to know, and the Young Women decorated eggs and passed them out after sacrament meeting. White eggs are rare here, they all seem to be brown, but the Young Women did really cute things with the brown eggs, painting faces on them, adding pompons, etc).
For the first time, I began to feel this week that I am actually doing good missionary work but our golden family dropped us this morning. It was a little more than we could handle.

Letter 4/14/2014

I thought the same thing about Elder Packer!! I even wrote it in my notes. (I wrote to her that his talk seemed like a final, farewell testimony) 
Sister Kei and I especially liked Elder Perry's talk on obedience. 

As part of the program our President has us doing to learn the lessons an improve our teaching skills we have to write a talk for each lesson and give the talks in sacrament meeting. I wrote a talk for Lesson Two last transfer but I lost it in the move. I'm giving a talk in a couple of weeks and I really wanted to find it because I don't have time to write a new one. I spent a couple of days tearing apart my desk and drawers (including my clothes drawers) to find it, to no avail. As I was praying to begin my personal study one day this week one of my drawers popped into my head. Immediately following my prayer I turned around to open the drawer and found my talk sitting on top of a pile of papers. I had definitely looked through the pile of papers in the drawer before but I hadn't done it with God. It made me think how often God must be helping me because I can't do anything by myself, even find a piece of paper that I lost. It emphasized one of my favorite scriptures (especially since coming on a mission); Alma 26:12. With God I can do all things.
Wasn't the General Women's Meeting really good? I kept crying. I thought this entire Conference was astounding. I've never felt so much guidance, love and direct calls to action. 

Letter 4/7/2014

I got the iHerb package!!!! It came on Tuesday afternoon! I was so excited as I carried into our house that I couldn't maneuver the racks of drying clothes (we don't have time to finish on Monday with four sisters) that I was running into walls and we sat around it like children on Christmas, squealing as we pulled each item from the box. It must have been really expensive! Thank you! My (and our) tumm(ies) will be most happy!
(We discovered that we can order health food from iHerb and have up to 15 obls shipped to Korea for only $4.00!!! This is blessing our lives, as well as Natasha's)

I tried the kabocha (Japanese pumpkin) recipe and we both really liked it! And we roasted the seeds!

Are you going to the Women's meeting with Mims (Mia) this week?

We met with an investigator yesterday and she told us she thought religion was just a man-thing and she coulsnt' understand why girls, like us, would get excited about it. She always acts stern and hard when we teach her but when she sees the elders later at their English club she tells them that she really likes us and seems to him to be making progress.

We went to the temple on Thursday and saw the new-old movie! (the new first of the new movies just came to the Seoul Temple). We came straight home and slept for three hours.

We're going to 어의도 (Eouido?) today to ride bikes under the cherry blossoms.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Letter 3/31/2014

It was a good week. It was a really tiring week. We did a lot of walking, climbing stairs, and our bodies are pretty sore.

This week we randomly stopped by a Less Active's house. As we were heart-attacking her door she came home and invited us in (yesssss) and then she asked if we were the missionaries that had called her earlier. No, we weren't. But then the doorbell rang and the elders were in the doorway. It was an awkward moment because they had actally made an appointment with her for that exact time but we didn't know about it, showed up first, and swooped in. But they couldn't come in because there weren't any men home. We talked with her for an hour and she asked us to come back and teach her the lessons again because she wants to understand it better. It was amazing. LAs usually send us packing. But she was so nice and hapy to see us. So we're really excited to help her.

We've been organizing our records (it was bad times) and we have a huge stack of previous investigators whose numbers are wrong but they have addresses. So we've started to visit them and we've found that most of them are still living at these addresses. So we're excited about that. There are a lot of them. 

We taught a previous investigator who moved so we had to refer her to the other mission (Seoul). She spoke a lot of Japanese and that was fun.

The cherry blossoms are all in full bloom! They've started falling!

My area is right on the river so we get to see it sometimes! My area is pretty small.

I lost our phone yesterday................. I got home and realized it was gone. But a nice man found it and will give it back to us on Wednesday. In the mean time, we are borrowing our flat-mate-sisters' phone while at home.

We had Presdient interviews this week. I love my president. He's the best.