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.