Monday, February 24, 2014

February 24, 2014 - The air is getting in my eyes!

But really, thing have gotten in my eyes just from the air; there has been a lot of pollution this week. You know how in the Salt Lake Valley, it's a really bad day when you can't see the mountains across the valley? It a really bad day in Seoul when you can't see the mountain about a mile down the street :)

It was a week of ups and downs and ups!  You know how the purpose of life is to learn through experience, and as we experience more sadness, you can recognize more happiness? That principle is alive and well on a mission - when your investigator can't meet anymore because her husband won't let her, it can throw you on the ground. Hard. Even if you think you're going to be strong and withstand, you're still thrown down. And it's only through the assurance that everything will be made right through the Atonement of Christ, whether in this life or the next, that you can keep going a bit - And in opposition to the hard things, even the smallest good things are so magnified, like talking to the two nicest, happiest students from Australia, who were happy and willing to talk to you, and hear your message and the feelings and love of the gospel, and accept the testimony that this gospel is true, and that if they want to know for themselves, they can, straight from God. And even if they don't want to learn more, both parties are still happy, and have learned a little bit more about each other! And someone who thinks she came to the church to learn English, but wants to learn about God and rely on Him, and recognizes the happiness in the missionaries, and says over and over again that she is envious and wants to know that. And sister who has been baptized but still has a lot to learn comes with you to see the temple and is so happy to see you and to learn together about family history and the sacred nature of the temple and how God shows his love to all of His children through the Plan of Salvation; and then you help with a fireside for the English branch for the youth, and answer their questions, and help strengthen them, and especially one who has a hard situation at home, and is trying to be strong, but is also struggling to know that God loves her, and you can help her to not only know that fundamental truth, but to feel it as you testify that God knows her personally.  These are the happiest moments :)

P.S. DongDaeMoon!

So we're going shopping next p-day! And at a fairly cheap place - ties for 3-5 dollar! and if you buy 2 ties, its only 6-10 dollar! and if you buy 3, you actually may be able to get a bargain here! :D
and crazy pants like those I sent to lauren for Chirstmas. 
And I can try to find other exciting Korean things.

Picture: a demonstration of our success from last week :)

Monday, February 17, 2014

February 17, 2014 - They're speaking Korean!

We were on the subway coming home form an appointment from a 식사 (meal? dinner appointment? I'm not sure what the proper term is) with an American family in an area where there are a lot of Americans. And veeeery few foreigners learn Korean, because it's so hard and Koreans all learn English in school, anyway (though, of course, people vary on how good they are at speaking.) Anyway, we got on the subway and were talking to a lady about the Book of Mormon, and as we get on the subway, a row of about 4 boys with their headphones in simultaneously pull them out and lean forward and start saying, "It's Korean! They're speaking Korean!" And then we turn and look and they simultaneously put one headphone back in and nonchalantly listen. Hehe :)
But yes! I'm speaking Korean! Granted, I feel like I'll always be a ways away from fluency, but as a general rule, speaking and listening are fairly natural :) Though I will warn you, when I get home and you ask me to say "_____" in Korean, I may or may not know. Being natural "enough to get by and communicate Korean" and real Korean is a totally different thing :)

LIke one of our lessons this week. We talked about going to the Temple to do proxy baptisms with a recent convert (Bohyeun) sister - we prepared well, it was a nice experience about how the temple is important, and a place where you can feel peace, and you need to live worthily to go inside because it is the Lord's house...and then she started asking questions about cremation and if you bring these certain clothes and logistics and if her children can go (which was hard to answer, because they do age funny here, so I don't know what age they can go here), and about Korean traditional bows and respect for ancestors and who can be baptized for who....I really don't know the vocabulary to explain about cremation. I only got it because I'm good at charades in Korean and heard the word "fire". :) Anyway, it was an adventure. We talked with the Bohyeun again with another member to clear up a lot of questions! So it's all good now.
The Spirit is everything in this work. And it throws me off a lot because I don't feel its guidance as boldly and strongly as often as I expected. But it's there, if I take a moment and our investigator takes time and effort to recognize it. Sometimes, like once this week, my thoughts and words are guided at I teach, and things just all come together in the end and click. (We were talking about the Book of Mormon, and she loves reading - she said she loves it because normal people don't often have chances to meet great thinkers, but you can thorough books. And you can meet great thinkers in the Book of Mormon, from history who don't only think well, but are inspired from God. So in a way, you can meet and learn how God thinks though this book. I hope that makes sense....It came together a lot better when originally guided by the Spirit, but I suppose it's not necessary right now ;) ) And a couple people we met with just notice something different, a different feeling and that they like being around the missionaries, even though we're uncomfortable foreigners who can't speak their language and talk about religion. They feel a little something different, a little something more. Somethimes it's not anything we say, it's just being a conduit of the Spirit.
Anyway, Sister H is studying as diligently as usual - she loves the gospel, and eats up everything. She said a while ago that she's been looking for Christ for a long time, but hasn't been able to find Him through another doctrine or church. She wants to know almost everything before she wants to be baptized, though, so we're working on that. I can completely understand that mindset, but we're trying to help her to understand that it is the gateway, not the finish line.
Anyway, enough rambling.

Oh wait. Awkward story of the week - I can't believe I almost forgot.

So we were pretty much set up without our knowledge with our investigator's awkward single son who is a good 10 years older than each of us and doesn't speak English. She brought him to our lesson and kept talking about him not having a girlfriend and how we are so pretty and speak Korean so well and brought us to a little restaurant...thankfully, a member was there (She's the BEST! I love her so much, her name is Sister ChoiGeumJa ^^) and we could start the lesson. It ended up being not a bad lesson, but it was still weird. WE don't know if we'll met her again, (she did have some real gospel interest, too) but if we do, we'll need to talk to her ahead of time :P

Anyway, NOW enough rambling :)

It's a fantastic time to be alive, and to have the chance to share the gospel, as the work is hastening - both for me as a missionary and for members as well! We're all in it together, and it's swelling together! This is the Lord's work; there are too many miracles to deny it!

Love you all!
Sister Thomas

Monday, February 10, 2014

A 21-year-old-girl trying to save the world

Hello! :D
Some cool things and requests:
Check out the fantastic city I'm serving in - at our mission conference for the Lunar New Year, President Christensen showed us a video just for fun (I won't be able to see it again for 9 months, but you can enjoy it :)) it's called "Seoul, Magic Hours" by Kwan OhChul Astrophotography and it's fantasticly amazing. I just love those things that are bigger than yourself :)
Also! Another thing from our conference - Dad, do you remember when Sam was talking about helping good sites come up on the internet in Russia? Well, the same thing has been a problem here - instead of Google, people use other search engines, so when the websites aren't connected right, people can't find correct information, which is a real issue, since everyone is practically living on their phones/internet (goal - before I come home, i will get a picture of a subway, filled with people with headphones, staring at their smartphones :)) But there are PR missionaries here, as well as a foundation in Provo (More Good Foundation) that's working on helping to get our official websites on the internet well :) It's really exciting to see other efforts other than just running around the streets to find people!

Also, do you happen to still have the McConkie's teaching skills from that one class they taught a while ago? It would probably be fun and helpful to look at :) Because I still have a while to go until I become a good teacher.
Most of the happenings this week were in my letter to President - so I'm not sure that I'll go over that again...Honeslty, it was a week of a lot of goodbyes. We have a lot of great people we're working with, and wanted to say good bye before Sister Jackson left. 
So Sister Jackson was transferred to the north, and now we have two Americans and two Koreans in our house...And so far, it's honestly been a little awkward, they don't really talk to us. But you do what you can do, I suppose. Also, our phone hasn't had service for about 3 days now, so we can't make appointments unless the other sisters are home and  not using their phone, so....we haven't had a lot of appointments the last couple days. A lot of talking to people on the streets and subways! With not a whole lot of ways to contact them back. We'll just say that some days are more productive than others :)
Other things: the ward is fantastic :) There are just really awesome, fun people there, a lot of who are willing to help the misisonaries when we ask for help. We're going to try to focus on member-present lessons this transfer, because it really can make such a difference, and can get everyone excited about missionary work! And can help us when our Korean is a little lacking ;)
It's hard to save the world all by yourself. It's easier with a companion. It's even easier when you rely on the Lord, because it's His work anyway. If there's anything that I've learned on my mission, it's that if you need anything and sincerely ask for it, your prayers will be answered :) That's a promise - from me, but even more importantly, from Heavenly Father! 3 Nephi 27:29.
Love you all!
Sister Thomas