Hey all, hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas. We loved our Skype visit with Elliott on Christmas Eve (his Christmas day)! He looked so happy and pretty well adjusted after a rough start at the beginning of his last transfer. Read on for excerpts from his last 2 e-mails. No e-mail from Christmas week as our skype visit took the computer time for that week. We should be hearing from him tomorrow, though, so check back in a day or two for more news!
December 9, 2012
So, the letter is coming a little later than I expected. We haven't this threesome thing quite figured out. But hey, something to work towards in the future...
It'll be challenging. Three people is way harder to work with than 2. On a related note, I'm really struggling to learn this patience thing. It's super hard when you feel like you're being written out of the companionship a few days before the new transfer even begins. But hey, I may or may not have brought this on myself. I may or may not carry a lot of emotional baggage when I feel slighted, and I may or may not have any idea of what to do next. And there's the rub. There's a lot of things I need to change. Being patient with learning the language is one thing, being patient with somebody else is a whole new ball park. Any suggestions?
The apartment is now clean and organized enough to hold 3 people. That was a project and a half. And then some. I don't think the last few transfers took care of the apartment as well as they should have. The sisters may be opening a new sister area, but I inheritted an apartment with about as much as the sisters had when they moved in. Very few cleaning supplies, food that was all bad, and a kitchen table converted into a hodgepodge of loose papers.
The language is coming along a little better. Every week, I understand a little more and I'm able to speak a little more freely. I've been stepping out of my comfort zone a little more and asking for language help outside the companionship... incidently, it's a good way to start talking to people. Sometimes, it's super effective; other times, less so. Like last night. The kid I was talking to was not super thrilled to answer my question (partly because I wasn't able to ask it correctly. It's tricky when you don't know enough vocab or grammar to finish a sentence asking what a word is...), but the night before, a different kid was super friendly - he understood enough of my broken Korean (and enough English) to help me out. And we might be able to meet with him later =D
Sorry about how short this public email is... we're working on figuring out this three-way email with only two computers thing. I got the short end of the stick this week, but hopefully we'll figure it out soon.
Love you all so much!
Here's the second letter.
December 16, 2012
Most important information first. Christmas call. Our recent convert is letting us use his computer for Skype. (the rest of this paragraph contained plans to connect on Christmas.)
Alright, then the next most interesting part. The exciting climax of last week. Friday was super high stress after comp inventory. People carry baggage (including me), and we all have three VERY different personalities. Friday was a bit of a bust for missionary work. None of us really wanted to do it... our proselyting efforts were half hearted. At night, Elder Anderson told our district leader, Elder Allen, that we had a pretty stressful day (not just because of comp inventory either... a lot of our planned appointments were dropped. And I think we may have looked super stressed at English Class that night). In any event, somebody told our zone leader, Elder Choi, and after some phone interviews and a two hour comp inventory afterwards, we all said what was on our minds and we worked through a lot of issues, and set some goals to improve. Just so we're all on the same page, I'll share mine. I realized I need to open up a little more and talk about something when I'm upset rather than let it bottle up, try to look for more good in my comps (measured by trying to find a new strength I like each week), and to be a better listener. I then asked that Elder Houston and Elder Anderson be patient with me because those three things are and always have been super difficult for me (especially when I'm already frustrated and stressed out). All in all, we had an approved bedtime at 1 AM (for the comp inventory) and we still had an awake and arise time at 6:30AM. I'm still feeling that one. We're going to a bath house today. Might be a symbolic action... washing away the stress of last week. I'm excited. ...And I'm purchasing Christmas gifts for my companions. Already secured one without other people realizing it. The second is going to be a little trickier =D. But hey, it'll be worth it if I can pull it off. So plan is set, goals made. Hopefully, I'll be humble enough to work through the challenges of a threesome. Huzzah! Thanks for giving me your suggestions. They made me feel a lot better and have given me some hope that this transfer will be doable. Praying for help everyday... and for Elder Houston. And for Elder Anderson. On a tangent, it feels so good praying for them... especially a prayer to help them with their goals and desires. So much easier when you don't have to guess what the other people need. Just sayin.
This last week, I went Smeagle (or Gollum... you know, LOTR) on a fish. A member took us to lunch and ordered a soup (I don't have the name memorized, but I'd recognize it if I saw it)... it literally had an entire fish in it. We're talking a whole fish... not just the meat. We're talking head, tail, and everything in between. I can legitimately say that if it's on a fish, I've probably eaten it. The only other animal I can say that about is a chicken (except I haven't had the beak yet... I really hope that was a joke from one of the older missionaries). Anyways, it was good, but I felt a little sick afterwards (not sure why... it may have been the massive amount of 김치 지깨 (Kimchi Soup, pronounced Kimchi Jiggae) broth that accompanied it. Or it may have been the thought of eating fish eyes (which aren't that bad, in all seriousness. Eat it with some rice and broth, and it literally feels like a grape with a seed in it). That was an adventure and a half by itself.
Bonus, the language is coming along a lot easier now. I mean, it's still rough, but at least I can read more text and have a gist of what's going on. And I'm understanding a little more about what's going on while we 전도. It's fun. At least, it's more fun than it was. If you can break past the first 2 전도, it's easy to keep going after that. I'm finding the key is to ask a good question at the beginning (like, "Oh, you looking for a Christmas gift?" to a man looking in a shoe store window at the shoes - totally window shopping - only to find out he's Buddhist - and a super friendly guy. While we're on the topic of Buddhists; they are my favorite people to 전도 to because if they are super serious about it, they are always super nice and always willing to listen to us missionaires). Anyways, the question is the hard part... I've said it before, and I'll say it again: the Korean sentence structure is backwards of the English construction... that's the tricky part.
I love you all! I'm still healthy. It's rough being halfway across the world, but time is flying (this last week slower than the other weeks... but I'm already 20 weeks in the mission. 6 more and I hit the 6 month mark.) Merry Christmas, and I'll talk to you next week!
-Elder Elliott Wedam