Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Letter 11/17/2014

I'm sure you have been wondering to yourself over the past weeks what the best thing is about serving in Korea during November. No worries. I will end your wonderings. The answer is 김장 (kim-jang - the kimchi making season). That sums up our week.
We had a cute FHE with an elderly couple in our ward last week.
On Tuesday we helped with 김장 (kim-jang - kimchi making). We squatted for two hours and scrubbed daikons (giant asian radishes - she actually used the Japanese name for them here). We were able to talk with the other women helping and we tried to make friends with them.
Our ward members are really great. They really are. We are able to have a lot of practice lessons with them. We still have our dance practices. We talked this week about how the gospel blesses our families. I think the majority of the blessings I have received have been through my family.
We did more Kim-Jang on Wednesday. This day we harvested the heads of cabbage. We thought our backs were  going to break. Kim-Jang is hard work. I didn't realize. The Kimchi we made was for an orphanage so we made it in large quantities.
We had lunch with Sister Park's (the cute sister missionary who was recently serving in our ward here in Daejeon) mom and two aunts on Thursday. We also met a girl who the sisters met a while ago but we hadn't been able to meet for the last month. !!!!!!!!!!!!
Thursday was 수능 (Suneung ~ the huge college entrance exam - kind of like the ACT or SAT test, but MUCH more intense and gruelling, and you can only take it once a year. If you don't do well enough to get into college, you study for it for another year after you graduate for high school and take it again, and sometimes the next year, and the next....) day, the day that takes over the lives of all Korean students and determines their future.
On Friday we gathered at 7am to mix the gochugaru mixture (red pepper paste used in making kimchi) in with the cabbage. It was fun! Because it is a big production with a lot of volunteers and news coverage we were able to talk to a lot of people, introduce the church, and even be interviewed on TV.
The Gospel is so amazing. And it's true. It's the best thing ever. It gives us happiness, heals us, comforts us, pushes us, supports us, guides us, helps us give to others, strengthens us, fills us, cleanses us, makes us happy, gives us hope and somethings to look forward to, and a direction. What more could we need?

Letter 11/10/2014

We made cookies for last week's dance practice, hoping to bring joy to the sisters' stomachs while giving joy to their spirits. I shared Isaiah 41:10. An interesting translation difference is that instead of "dismayed" the verse reads "startled." We liked it because we don't need to be lonely and dismayed or scared about anything because He's with us and can take care of anything. We just need to use our faith to unlock God's power that can help us. God doesn't do anything for Himself but everything he does is for us. So why would He abandon us? Even trials are for our benefit. There is never any need for fear in God's plan of salvation. It just doesn't fit it. Fear only comes from the opposer of God's plan.

We went crazy with brownies this week. We took brownies to almost every household in our ward this week. It was fun. We felt like little messengers of joy, which we are called to be as missionaries. This was just a more physical delivery that we made. Everything about the gospel is joy. And brownies are joy. So we decided to share both. Isn't the Gospel great?
We had a really good practice lesson with a member this week. She pretended to be a person who knew nothing about God as we taught her the first lesson. And as we tried to talk about God being our loving Father she told us that she was an orphan. So we had to switch our focus in the lesson and the focus we turned to was happiness. Even those who don't know Him can still feel and see the happiness that He gives to us in our lives.
Yesterday was my one-year in country mark! Yay!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Letter 11/3/2014

Sister Park's mom (the missionary in our ward) is so cute and funny. Her Relief Society lesson and comments in Sunday School class kept making me laugh. We were going to have lunch with her this Thursday but we have a zone meeting and we have to put it off. I think I remember which one Sister Park is based off of her mom's face (we don't have a picture of her in our member records binder). 

Last P-day we went to 영등포 (Yeongdeungpo) because Sister Driscoll wanted to go sweater shopping.
We made a sticker-board and after p-day we went around with it (it was small and I just carried it in my hands) to ask people to answer the questions. We want to make cool board with the questions of the soul (why does God let bad things happen? Where will I go after I die? How can I strengthen my family? Does God exist?) for people to see what our religion can teach them and how it can help them.
At our service project Sister Driscoll and I danced our "Dancing Queen" dance for the grannies to help make them happy. One granny cried because it made her so happy.
In Korea before primary-aged children are baptized they are taught the lessons by the missionaries. So we are now teaching a little boy in our ward who will be baptized in a couple of weeks.
We had a 식사 (shiksa - a meal) with a super fun couple in our ward. We had fun talking about the fun similarities between Japanese and Korean.
The youth helped us decorate the church the night before the ward Halloween party. Each companionship took care of a different room. We were in charge of the face-painting/photobooth. We also had a feel-box room, a fishing for prizes room, a pin-the-face-on-pumpkin room, a and a mummy-wrapping race room. And then we all ate snacks together. A potential investigator came!
We went with our bishop's wife to help judge an English-speaking contest for elementary-aged children. And then all of the children came to the Halloween party afterwards. It was so cute to listen to them speak English.
We had a 식사 (meal) last night with a super cool family in our ward that has 5 children. FIVE!! (That is a huge family for Korea - it is super expensive to educate and provide all the opportunities that good parents are expected to provide, so most families feel they cannot afford to have more than 2 or 3) I bonded with one of the girls over Sylvanian Family dolls (Natasha played with those in Japan, and we still have our treasured set). It was wonderful.

Letter 10/27/2014

Yes, I found Sister Park's mom! (Sister Park is a darling missionary who is serving in our ward here in Daejeon - now Natasha is serving in her family's ward - so fun!) I talked to her about it yesterday! I told her that you like her and she said to tell you thank you. So thank you. I was in the MTC with her! Looking at her mom's face I think I can remember which one she was! Her district was my favorite! They were all so fun and cute!

We are choreographing a dance for the RS to perform at the ward Christmas party. It's to "Dancing Queen." When we have our dance practices I share a spiritual message. Last week I shared Mosiah 24. I liked the wording in the chapter heading (their burdens SEEMED light); "가볍게 여겨지도록 하심." God didn't make their burdens disappear but He made them SEEM light. God can't take our burdens because they're given to us for a reason and are critical for our progression, but He can help us to get through our struggles and help us to learn what we need to so that we can learn more through these experiences. I don't have my English Book of Mormon so I can't quote it verbatim but the people were patient and happy. They pleaded for help and kept working. Then they found that their burdens felt lighter and they were happier. God wants us to pray for help and then go to work. He can't do for us what we can do for ourselves but He can enhance our capabilities and our outcomes.
Does anyone have scriptures that helped them in any way?
We had zone conference this week. We're making a lot of changes to the mission and it's exciting!!!!
One set of elders had a baptism this week. The man is in a wheelchair and he has a lot of health problems. He smoked to release stress and he always woke up with a headache that he would cure with his cigarette. However, when the elder taught his about the Word of Wisdom he quit that day, not smoking once after that. And when he woke up the next morning, he didn't have a headache. Miracle!!!! Our boiler was broken so the water was cold. The cold water caused too much pain and the baptism was postponed until next week when the boiler will be fixed. 

Letter 10/20/2014

I was reading in the book of Luke today. Jesus talked about the church being like leaven. Sometimes I feel like a forgotten piece of leaven, hidden in the dough. And sometimes the church feels so small but it has the ability to rise up and help Korea to rise up. We're so small but the gospel gives the opportunity to make such a big, positive difference. I can help others is a positive way if I be how God wants me to be and not try to be something different.
Saying goodbye to Ji-Seung was much harder than I anticipated.
Saying good to all of Mok-Dong was really sad.  I love the members so much.
In my last ward mission council our ward mission leader asked the leaving missionaries to bear their testimonies and share what they're learned while serving here. I shared the testimony that I have gained of fasting and I learned from the members that difficult situations doesn't make it ever okay to be sad. There's never any reason to be sad. I was so impressed by the members' continual smiles.
We had a week full of rejections but it's always the end of a discouraging day or week that brings the most miracles. We were able to meet with a former investigator while we were knocking on doors and trying to find formers. We taught her and she invited us back!

Letter 10/13/2014

I'm transferring to 금천 (Keumcheon) 1st ward. I'm moving closer to you! (to us in Daejeon - so she must be moving south) It borders my stake in the 안양 (Anyang) stake where I started my mission! (This is only her second transfer, and she's been in Korea for 11 months.)

Because of General Conference I didn't think I'd get to give a good-bye talk in sacrament meeting. (Conference is broadcast a week later in places like Korea, where there are time zone differences, and translation that needs to be done) But right after lunch between the sessions (at the stake center) the stake president asked me to go up and talk. The tears started streaming after the first sentence. I'm so glad that I have been able to serve in Mok-Dong. I have loved it so much and I have learned so much. The members have been so wonderful and shown me such good examples. After I finished my talk and tried to stop my sobs I walked to the back of the chapel and Jee-Seung (the 15 year old girl that was baptized a few months ago) and I cried on each other's shoulders. Leaving her will be the hardest part about leaving. She makes me so happy and I'm so proud of her!

This week was crazy! We had MLC (mission leader council - or something to that effect) and a meeting with our ward missionary leader (no proselyting time) on Tuesday, we had our Culture Night at the church (NO proselyting time) on Thursday, Zone training (minimal proselyting time) on Friday, three sessions of conference on Saturday (no proselyting), and two sessions of conference with weekly planning on Sunday (no proselyting time).
During conference on Saturday we were seeking guidance of how to find new investigators and God answered our prayers! A girl who kept telling us that she wanted to meet but was too busy texted us on Saturday night, asking to meet on Sunday. She was only available in the morning so we skipped our morning session(of conference) and just watched it later. She is so cool! She told us that she wanted to know whether or not God exists and we taught her how to pray so that she can know. She was really excited to pray and find out.

Our zone trainings have become increasingly more intense. In this last training Sister Blickenstaff and I spent some time talking about learning the language. Missionaries often get discouraged with the language so I shared your story that you shared in Relief society a year or so ago. You talked about communicating with people through the Spirit, rather than Japanese to fulfill your RS calling. I wanted to share this story of yours and as I thought about it, I couldn't think of a time in my whole childhood when you complained about Japanese being 'hard' and I was so impressed. (I'm sure I did complain, but I'm glad she doesn't remember :) ) So I used your story to encourage them to seek learning the language through the Spirit as we put in as much effort as we can and not complaining.

We finally watched women's conference! There are two girls from our ward in that movie (of the primary girls in Hanbok - traditional Korean dress, singing "I Love To See The Temple)! It was filmed in 영등포 (Yeongdeungpo), which is right next to us! That's where we have our mission conferences because it's the biggest building.

I knew one of the girls would be singing. The other one surprised me. I only recognized the two. But the cute family at the beginning (in front of the temple) is the bishop is Ansan (her first area)!

I asked if she knew her release date yet, and this was her reply:
Yeah. I got the call as I was leaving (the internet cafe) after emailing last week. My release date is April 3rd(That will give her a nearly 19 month mission)