So glad we nurtured an adventurous attitude toward food! Elder Wedam is trying some shockingly interesting foodstuffs! Way to go, Kiddo! Even happier that he is taking such sweet and positive action to nurture that most precious characteristic of Christ, love, within himself. Have a sweet day. Love, Elliott's Mom
So, what started off as a really rocky week quickly evolved into probably the single most educational and meaningful weeks thus far in Korea. But we'll revisit this idea shortly. First, some wicked awesome stories from this past week.
First, we had three member meals this past week. Elder Anderson informed me that this is three more than he had last transfer. Fun fact about Korean culture. They love food. And you are expected to eat everything they give you... and they happen to give you a feast every meal. We're talking like a meal for 10 when there's only 5 people sitting around the table. Wednesday was especially hard since we had a lunch AND dinner appointment. And when they serve meat, they really serve meat. Had pig-spine soup. It was shockingly delicious. It's the Korean equivalent to split-pea soup, but better. They cook the soup with the pig spine in it. On a related note. I may or may not have swallowed a small bone by accident... And the left over broth from the soup was quickly converted to kimchi ramen... and, the members also provided this delicious beef stuff (it wasn't bulgogi... they told me the name, but I forgot). It was good. It was a medley of beef, vegetable, and shrimp (not the mamby-pamby pre-beheaded shrimp they serve in the States... we're talking head, legs, and all. I just about died of sheer happiness). The members then told us about some other Korean cuisine. Pig-Head soup, dog soup (don't tell Trex), and other delightful treats (no sarcasm. I'm hoping for the experience). Then that night came some pork sausage stuff with a mustard dipping sauce. Korean mustard is awesome. Like really awesome. It's like a better Grey Poupon (spelling may be off). Last Saturday was our last member appointment for the week. A nice elderly lady. She made us bulgogi. And provided lettuce for some lettuce wraps. She has a Phillipina friend who we may or may not have made future appointment with (and may or may not in this sentence means I have no clue). But it was a fun appointment. The member was a little sick and asked us to pray for her and asked Elder Anderson to dedicate her house (which he did... although, he didn't eat all the rice. See next paragraph). We shared a quick message (see Mark 5:25-34),and left for another appointment with a potential investigator (who may be solid. This story is a little more complex).
Another fun fact about Korean dining. They serve a ton of side dishes (I can come close to pronouncing the word for side dish in Korean... I just don't remember the spelling, so I'm not even going to attempt a romanization - I might give you a totally wrong word instead). We're talking like a soup/liquid dish, another plate of kimchi, maybe some pickled radish, some sort of mini-salad, maybe some mushrooms, boiled egg... kimchi sauced cucumbers... seaweed (dried and not dried), just to name a few that I had the pleasure of experiencing. It's all family style too. Except everyone gets their own bowl of rice (another fun fact - if you can't finish anything else, eat the rice. It's not worth the risk of seriously offending somebody).
And mom, you may need to retrain me in proper table etiquette when I get back. It's not frowned upon to make noises while you eat and to reach across the table with chopsticks to grab another side dish dealio. And to eat absurdly fast (hence why I may or may not have swallowed a bone). All those good American table manners you taught me have really been thrown under the bus. I've adopted watching the natives eat and trying to imitate their mannerisms as best I can. You have been warned.
So, Terry and Alisa, to answer your questions, the food is great. I love it. So much.
So, jumping back to the potential investigator. Her name is Lynne, and she hails from the Phillipines. She has quite the story about how she wound up in Korea (I think it's worth mentioning that South Korea feels like what I imagine Palmayra, New York to have felt like in Joseph Smith's time. We're talking thousands of different denominations... some a little more colorful than others). Anyways, through some crazy connections and experiences (crazy in the good sense... I really think the Lord has brought her to South Korea), and a very recent tragedy (her father just passed away, and her husband passed away a year prior), and a desire for her son to believe in God (he's atheist)... she wanted to meet. She doesn't live in our area, but since Elder Anderson met her first, she asked to meet with Elder Anderson, and we invited the Elders who live in her area to come so we could pass her off to them. She speaks English and feels more comfortable with English than with Korean (she knows Korean though... her son only speaks Korean, but she wants him to learn conversational English... oh, I should mention, we taught the plan of salvation both in English and in Korean. This was one crazy appointment and circumstance). She accepted the message well, and wants to continue meeting with the other Elders who live in her area.
Yeah, here's the crazy part, the above stories and fluff isn't even why this last week was so educational. But I have to backtrack to last Monday and Tuesday to explain why...
So, last Monday (P-Day... Sunday for you), you may have caught on to that I was a little discouraged and frustrated... and that feeling didn't subside until Tuesday when Elder Ringwood of the First Quorum of the Seventy came for a mission tour. Two things I learned: a new intepretation of "Charity endureth all things" and a new appreciation for the Pearl of Great Price... namely, Moses 1. As I listened to President Furniss talk about charity, I thought that if I want to make it the next 21 months of my mission, I need to seek and develop charity... because it "endureth all things;" that is, with charity, you can endure all trials. Then, I realized that this time in which I don't understand Korean is really a blessing... as I learn to speak Korean, I have this wonderful opportunity to learn how to be charitable and develop this pure love of Christ and show it through deeds, not just words.
Second, Moses 1. Elder Ringwood taught and expouned on the scripture that says "and I shall make you stronger than many waters." He explained that the Lord has blessed us with everything we need to be successful. That blessing for Moses was very specific, and Moses needed to be stronger than the many waters in order to deliver the Israelites from the Egyptians. Similarly, the Lord has blessed us with everything we can possibly need as we serve Him. That was another wonder bit of counsel.
And then came last Thursday... I'm getting better at goal setting. So much so, that I'm starting to see the value of goal setting. I've also learned the danger of setting only long-term goals, but the beauty of setting both long-term and short-term goals (a lesson I still remember Master Church teaching a couple of times... I never appreciated it until now). Part of the reason why I was so discouraged last week was because I only had long-term goals... but no short-terms goals to help me progress to acheive them.
Example, I have a mission goal of 75 baptisms (Bishop Mortenson may or may not have committed me to this one). Last week, this has been my main (and only) goal. And I knew that in order to acheive said goal, I'd have to get better at the language and understand the doctrine of Christ. And I was frustrated because I only had the long-term view in mind and wanted it to happen now... in short, I was impatient with myself (still am, but I'm working on it. I actually have a plan =D). Then, last Thursday, I made several daily goals to help me progress. Like exercise, other missionary goals (like how many people I will contact and how many street lessons I will try to teach... thus far, 1 without the help of Elder Anderson... or organizing the Area Book) language study, scripture study, and personal goals (like writing in the journal, doing laundry, dishes, breakfast, lunch, dinner... etc). And as I've done this, my days have been noticeably better and productive.
I really think that the key to overcoming homesickness is to be productive. Not busy, but productive. It's to set goals each day and work as hard as you can to acheive them. It's like the story of the man pushing on the boulder (from a sacrament talk in 3rd ward a long time ago). As long as we strive to improve and work our hardest to acheive what we want to accomplish, then the Lord will strengthen us, and we can't help but to improve!
I love you all so much! I enjoyed hearing about bats, halloween, beavers, ducks, job offers, arizona, and general good news!