Hope these Korean lessons are working better for you than they are for me! Keep reading! Hope you are all having a blessed Christmas season. Love M
December 2, 2012
Well, this certainly has been a great week. It's super weird how fast these weeks fly by, yet so much has happened. Productivity for the win?
Before I get into the bulk of the letter, I should answer one other long-standing question that Sister Taysom asked me in a letter a while back... Why is the Korean last name Choi pronounced like Cha (with the "a" being a long "a" sound), and not like Choy (the "oy" making a sound as in boy). I've got the answer, and it's helped my pronunciation quite a bit. But it goes into some Korean language learning (hahaha, my master plan is to teach all y'all the Korean alphabet slowly yet surely. There will be a quiz/test in two years. Study up). So, the Korean spelling of Choi is 최 (the ㅊ character makes an aspirated "ch" sound, the ㅗ makes a long "o" sound - as in orange, and the ㅣ makes a long "e" sound - as in ear...) However, when you see ㅚ in a syllable, it makes a sound like weigh... except it's a really soft w, so it just sounds like a long "a" sound. The application of this? There's a verb (unconjugated) spelled 되다 (the ㄷ making a "d" sound, as in deer, but it also has a bit of a "t" sound - as in Terry - to it, and ㅏ making a short "a" sound - as in "say ahh). 되다 is a super useful verb in Korean, literally meaning "to become," but they use it for a ton of things, like telling you to stop (literally, "it becomes), or to change 하다 (literally, "to do") verbs (ㅎ making an "h" sound - as in "hurt") into their passive counterparts. And other useful uses (redundancy =D). Anyways, I hope that answers her question. Anyways...
So, news about the next transfer (there's a lot to cover before I actually talk about the last week...). I'll still be in 광주 (Gwangju - you may be able to figure out what sounds the other characters make? Brownie points if you do. The test in two years will be much easier =D). And will still be in 송정 (Songjeong - see last weeks letter for how to read the romanization), and Elder Anderson will still be my companion... at least one of them. Yes, I'll be in a threesome companionship. Our new companion is from our older MTC districts. His name is Elder Houston. What this means - the mornings and evening in our apartment will be very busy up until Thursday when he comes... our apartment, as is, isn't organized enough for three people over a 6 week period. I've been working on cleaning it, working on the fridge (that's been a project and a half... I don't think anybody cleaned it for the last few transfers). I've got one shelf left (it's been a two week project thus far). But, there's a ton of things I need to move around to prepare for a third companion. I've to figure out sleeping arrangements and study arrangements and clothing storage arrangements (Elder Anderson is busy enough with his responsibilities as senior companion). So that's all very exciting. And, we're getting sisters in the area. We've been putting together their area book (Songjeong used to have sisters, but since left - their old area book was down in Naju, and we retrieved it/are updating it and ours at the same time). Anyways, that's the news on my front, fresh from this morning (your evening).
So, this last week (finally here). We've one progressing investigator - the husband of the family we found last Sunday (11/25?). Anyways, they have primarily English interest, but Elder Anderson and I are getting a little more creative with our commitments... namely giving a reading assignment and a study question. Last week, we taught about prophets and dispensations (Elder Anderson had a very clever graphic that worked SUPER well - I may steal it from him later in the mission). Husband and wife understood dispensations and prophets well enough to explain it to each other, and we gave them a note paper with the question, "Why would it be important to my family if there were a living prophet today?" written on the top and we asked them to read the testimony of the prophet Joseph Smith and record their thoughts. We have an appointment with them this Wednesday and will follow-up/introduce Elder Houston to them. Anyways, they're super awesome - 김보경 and 정성하. I've already mentioned that they have two daughters - 2 and 5 (American Age... there is a difference. In Korea, kids are 1 when they're born and they turn a year older on January 1st. So, in Korean, I'm 22, not 21. And I'll turn 23 New Year's Day. I'm not expecting a birthday gift then =P). Oh, and we also shared pictures with them. They commented that Vera is super cute... and that Alisa is really pretty (we ran out of time to show the rest... we didn't make it to mission farewell). And Nathan, we passed off as siblings... anyways, they're super nice, and I love them dearly already.
Oh, and in other exciting news, I was super low on MSF funds last week. The two splits I went on ran me down 20 bucks (about 20000 won), so we survived on what food storage I built up (meaning the 30 oranges for 5 bucks, 10 patties for 10 bucks - that was a bargain, by the way, and the Kimchi and rice members have given us... and the 30 eggs for 4 bucks). I've eaten so much Kimchi Fried Rice this last week, it's not even funny. But it's good, and I'm getting fairly pro at using the rice cooker and making it. It's been fun. I'm budgeting my money a little better this time.
Anyways, the diet is super weird to work with here. I have no idea of the nutritional content of anything (it's all in Korean), and the prices/selection on the other side of the world vary enough so that my diet now resembles nothing like how it is in the states. It's healthier... I think. Depends on the nutritional content of dried seaweed (this is me dropping a hint asking for some information on this... what is the nutritional content of seaweed?). And, the longstanding question of "where do I get any calcium from for an affordable price" has been answered by one of our ward members. The answer - anchovies. Don't be surprised if I just pop dried anchovies like candy when I come back. So I'll be experimenting with them this week. A couple weeks ago, I had anchovies (dried) marinated in soy sauce and peanuts... or maybe garlic? In any event, I'll give it a shot this week.
Alright, so, I think I reported on enough fluff stuff. Let's take a turn for a little more spiritual. So, I've been reading through the Book of Mormon, cover to cover, and am currently in Mosiah. Specifically, I read Mosiah 3,4, and 5 today. And I realized that the Book of Mormon is significant because it shows that the ENTIRE world, not just Jerusalem, was looking forward to the birth of the Messiah. And that alone is significant. Truly, the Book of Mormon supports and proves that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and not just another nation's God. And it baffles me that so many people aren't willing to find out for themselves if the Book of Mormon is true or not. I mean, as missionaries, we aren't telling people, "you must believe what we're teaching you," but rather, we're inviting them to have the faith necessary to find out for themselves from God if what we're teaching is true (this thought is what revolutionized our commitments. We may not speak Korean very well, but I know that Heavenly Father knows Korean, and that the Holy Ghost is an infinitely better teacher than me). And really, that's what it comes down to. We're simply instruments instructing people how to have their own spiritual experiences... and that's really what missionary work is; it's inviting people and providing an atmosphere so that people can have their own spiritual experiences. And we're not talking experiences of the same magnitude of the First Vision or seeing the finger of God, but we're talking experiences in which the spirit has a chance to be nourished by God's word, so that people have an opportunity to "treasure up" the doctrine of Christ. That's a phrase I really love: Treasure up. I'm curious what it means to you. Being away from family and friends, especially this holiday season, has made me understand what it means to treasure the time you have with people. And I think that "treasuring up" means allowing something to become part of us. For instance, I love 1st Nephi 17:50-51 "And I said unto them: if God had commanded me to do all things, I could do them. If he should command that I should say unto this water, be thou earth, and if I should say it, it would be done. "And now, if the Lord has such great power and has worked so many miracles among the children of men, how is it that he cannot instruct me, that I should build a ship?" Right now, my "ship" the Lord is asking me to build is to learn Korean... and so much more. But the principle is the same, I'm on the Lord's errand, and if I should follow the promptings of the Spirit, then I'll be able to build the ship the Lord has asked me to build during this period of missionary service. I also love, "and if I should say it, it would be done." Our success is completely dependent on our willingness to act. Hence why I am continuing to have daily, weekly, and monthly goals I'm working towards. Heavenly Father has commanded that I should learn Korean, and if I should study and practice speaking it, I shall learn it. I think that once we have "likened" the scripture or the doctrine to our circumstances, then we begin the process of "treasuring it up." And as we treasure what we learn, we seek to find a deeper understanding of it and its significance in our lives.
Anyways, you're always in my prayers. Stay happy, be safe. Study the Korean alphabet. Enjoy this holiday season and the wonderful spirit of charity it brings. Christmas is so much more than giving gifts and being kind. I really think that as we reflect on what Christ has done and can do for us, we truly will embody the spirit of Christmas - we will do good good works and be kind to everyone. For more on my thoughts on the Christmas season and why I like it, read Mosiah 4!
I love you so much! 'til I write again!
-Elder Elliott Wedam