This week has been full of ups and downs. We had lots of good things happen, but we also had a lot of pretty devastating things happen.
Learning Korean is going okay. It’s getting a little easier to understand the jist of things, but it’s still really difficult. The hard thing about Korean is there’s a couple hundred ways it seems to say the EXACT same thing depending on who you talk to. In the MTC, they taught us high form, which is used in Church and when teaching lessons or when talking to old people, but that’s pretty much it. Most people speak in middle form casually, so I’ve been learning that. It’s a little easier to learn though now that I know high form. There’s also low form which is easy, but you only use it when talking to children or animals, or in writing.
This week I actually learned a form higher than King form from a Korean missionary. I used it to thank members for a meal and they thought it was so funny. It would be the equivalent of a missionary saying: “Thank you a lot, your emperor/majesty!” I plan on using it more now, haha.
Something fun is that I made Kimchi for the first time with a new investigator a member referred us to. It was great. We thought that we were making the Kimchi for her for service, but at the end, she wanted us to take it. So now it’s fermenting in our apartment because that’s just what you do with Kimchi. Yum!
She also gave us these really neat traditional Korean fans that her 80-year old grandma designed. It was so nice! I felt bad because I didn’t want to take such a nice thing, but it would be rude and insulting not to. She liked us a lot and wanted to give us a bunch of nice things. Korean people are really giving. As missionaries, we actually take a lot of care to never look too closely or take too much interest in any item in people’s houses because they would probably give it to us if they thought we liked it, even if they didn’t have the means to do so.
Even though there’s been a lot of fun good things that happened this week, we faced a lot of rejection and that’s been really tough. Even though the majority of Koreans are very kind, just as in any place, there are people that can be rude and mean to you just because you’re a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
I think the thing that broke my heart the most this week was when one of our investigators from China told us she didn’t think it was good to meet with us any more for lessons. Even though she loves everything she knows about our church and the Gospel of Jesus Christ, her mother-in-law and husband are against her going to meet with us, and she decided to respect their wishes. She even had a baptismal date, but she doesn’t believe it’s possible anymore. I cried when she left because it broke my heart. I think that’s the first time I’ve cried since in Korea (not counting the times when spiciness of food has made me cry). She told us that she’s still going to read the Book of Mormon because she likes it a lot. We’re not actually giving up on her. She has such a love for the Gospel and so much faith that she acts on, that we still believe things can work out. We’re not sure what to do next, but we’re praying…and we know Heavenly Father’s going to help prepare a way.
General Conference was really great! We watched all the sessions in the cramped clerk’s office in our church and it was fantastic! How often will I get the chance to be squished in a tiny church room so I can hear the prophets speak in English, while upstairs everyone’s watching in Korean. It really picked up our Spirits and built our hope after our investigator told us she didn’t think she could be taught anymore. I loved Elder Holland’s talk. He is such a powerful speaker! I want to be as bold and brilliant as him when I teach and talk to people. You can tell he is a man of God. Everyone that spoke was amazing and definitely spoke the word of God. I love it.
Even though Korea is super modern with some things, other things are a little..um..interesting. In lots of the public bathrooms you have an option to use a normal toilet, or what I like to call “the squatter.” It’s pretty much what it sounds like. A toilet in the floor that you just squat and go, I guess. It’s umm…I’m not going to talk about it any more. But while I’m on the subject, I’ve never used such low-tech and high-tech toilets before I came to Asia. There are some toilets that are so high tech that they play songs when you’re on them. There are so many buttons on them too. It’s hard sometimes to find the flush button!
I just want to let ya’ll know that I’m going to be a really interesting person when I get back…like in a weird way.
- I’m going to bow when I say hello to anyone.
- I’m going to feel weird if I have to shake any guy’s hand (girls and guys don’t shake hands in Korea because it’s almost like flirting- we just do a small bow to them at church).
- I’m going to ask weird things like “How does your name become?” or “How does you phone number become?” because that makes a lot of sense in Korean.
- I’m going to get really excited over stickers and making things cute (you should see the planners of the missionaries in our mission–even the Elders decorate their planners because hey! It rocks).
- It will probably take me a while to say “bless you” again when someone sneezes, or “I’m sorry” if I run into someone a little.
- I’m going to want everything to be really spicy and hot, and I probably won’t want water with a meal because that’s how Koreans do it.
- And I’m going to know how to be a good Kimchi-making woman, which is the best of all these things because who doesn’t want a woman who can make a spicy fermented dish out of any vegetable? C’mon, really. It’s awesome! Actually, Kimchi is really growing on me. Cucumber and radish kimchi are my favorite. Also rice. I eat rice every day and it’s become a staple in my life.
Take care this week! Bye!
❤ Sister Stastny