I decided that I had to start off with a ridiculously sci-fi quote that only dorks like me would understand, and that's the first that came to mind. Extra points to the first person who knows what movie I'm actually quoting from (hint: it's NOT Alice in Wonderland).
Talking to everyone was grand. It was actually kind of surreal, to be honest. Chalene is right, the calls do kind of disrupt the flow of things and they are definitely more for the family than for the missionary, but I enjoyed it. It was crazy to talk to Benjamin. He speaks English SO WELL!!! :) Most of the distraction came when I lost my phone card in my wallet that I left in a taxi on Christmas Eve. It was a little stressful to find one again before the actual time to call came, but I managed. It was fun to talk to you all. It's crazy how fast time flies, though.
Today was really fun. Sis. Lee and I live in a BRAND NEW apartment and most of the Sisters in the mission haven't seen it yet (it's a small mission---we're into these things, okay?) so we threw a "housewarming party" today and invited all of the sisters in the mission to come (I'm getting more and more relief society-like every day of my mission---weird). It was so much fun! It was really great to see the other missions after being in "seclusion" out here, just the two of us. The best part is that my dear friend, Sis. Hadden (known since day 1 in the MTC---love her so much!) was able to come down from what I call "The Distant North"---a city called Taegu. It was so fun to see her. We ate all kinds of Korean junk food and I, in classic Ogilvie style, made grilled cheese sandwiches for everyone. It was delightful. Then, Sister Hadden, who is quite the gifted storyteller, recounted the first three episodes of BBC's "Doctor Who" for us---classic Oration-style. It was so fun. I'm hooked on the show already :). I'm afraid the show won't be near as good as the original in my head--haha.
Just so no one worries---everything has already been taken care of in regards to the previously mentioned misplaced wallet. Let us just take comfort in the fact that I'm not *quite* as forgetful as Scott is, when it comes to keeping my wallet on my person. (that's a weird phrase---"on my person"---try teaching THAT in an English class). I'd like to say this is the last time this will happen, but honestly, I don't like making promises that are beyond my power to keep :).
In the way of news: this week there will be two p-days....because starting next year our P-day switches to Thursday, rather than Monday. Pres. Jennings didn't want you to go over a week without hearing from us, so Thursday is a half-p-day (ending at 3 PM) and from then on, Monday is a proselyting day. I'm excited because this means that Museums will be open (museums are always closed on Mondays in Korea) as will libraries (no more old ladies staring me down at the post office while I type my letters!!). It'll be good.
I particularly like the little stamp that hotmail places at the bottom of all of your emails "Windows 7--It WORKS"---this is quite a step for Microsoft. I'm proud.
Our "Joint Zone Conference" was amazing. It was on my birthday and it was the best birthday gift ever. I must admit, though, I'm turning into a blubber bucket. Christmas always got me to cry before but this was ridiculous. Hopefully this little supply of extra tears is a result of the humidity and will disappear when I return to drier climates (drier....what a word---dryer?). I much prefer to feel the Spirit without having to force it out my eyes.
Also, Sis. Jennings knit each sister a hat. And all the hats are different. She must have been working on it for months. And the Elders just got ties :). I love my hat, and I will wear it until it smells like death, at which point I will have to call Sis. Jennings and ask her for recommendations on how to launder wool in Korea. Pictures shall come...eventually.
As for now, things are going well. I'm excited for New Years', because it's traditionally such an important holiday here. It's awesome, rather than staying out all night drinking, (which some do now) Koreans go to bed early on New Years Eve and then they wake up super-early and climb a mountain and watch for the "New Sun" the first sunrise of the year. It's super-cold, but it's such a beautiful tradition. We have permission to go with our ward to their little ceremony. It should be nice.
Well, I better let you go. I hope all had a wonderful Christmas. Have a Safe and Happy New Year. You'll hear from me in a few short days!
I can't believe it's Christmas and I forgot about the whole calling thing until this morning when I got a phone call abbout the permission stuff. I intend to call first thing on the 26th here (between 10:30 and 11:00---whenever I can make it to the Church) I think it puts it between 6 and 7 PM on Christmas night there. I'd love if the whole family could gather again. Also, apparently a lot of people had problems trying to get phone cards to work right last year and it caused a lot of hurt and panicky feelings so we have permission to test our phone cards a couple days earlier. (I just think some Elders are stupid and can't read directions, but whatever.) So when I get my phone card I'll call just to make sure it works and that's a hi-bye thing, and then I'll call for real that Christmas night.
I got that letter from Dad. I love Dad letters. Who else would bother telling me the average daily milage on each of the cars in the past year? The funny thing is that I actually cared and thought it was interesting. It was good to hear the other side of things in the Ogilvie household.
I meant to send Christmas cards, but Christmas snuck up on me. I kept thinking that it would feel more Christmas-y later, but it never really did. So, we'll see if that happens.
So, for the first time in my life the Bishop called me and asked me to give a talk in Sacrament meeting and said "If you could make it kinda long that would be good." Usually they warn me that the meeting is only supposed to be 70 minutes long :). Lucky for him I'm not nearly as long-winded in Korean.
Our high-council speaker was really good on Sunday. I can always tell when they are actually sticking to the doctrine because I can understand everything they say when they do, otherwise I'm lost :).
So, you might remember me telling you about my first contact in Gimhae (the girl crying outside the University) and how she was being taught by the missionaries now. Well, she lives in Masan, which is MY area. Unfortunately she "punked" our appointment last week. I'd really love ot be able to help her want to keep meeting us and I would love otsee her through baptism. So, if you could pray for her that would be great. Her name is Lee Jung Min.
Also, there's this older, less active couple that my heart really goes out to. The poor couple has gotten really depressed and just don't know how to get out of it. We've visited them twice now and the second time they received us better. The grandma just starts crying out of the blue everytime you mention anything about kids or family, and the grandpa just hangs his head partly with sadness and partly with embarrassment. I *think* their adult son died recently? Anyway, I know that the Spirit can help comfort them and they can find a way to overcome it through the Savior. Please pray that I can find a way to help them realize that. I love them so much. I forgot their whole names (Korean names are hard, sorry) but I call them "Grandma Kim and Husband" in my prayers---except I usually pray in Korean so that sounds weird. Oh well. God knows who you are talking about.
The minor set back of the week---snickerdoodles. The mission has a cookbook that, frankly, should be burned. All of the proportions are ridiculously off kilter. Well, this week I finally pinned down the right proportions for snickerdoodles---they were PERFECT!!! BUT my companion thought they were salty. They weren't salty. You need salt---never argue baking with a Korean---their ignorance and temper will always win(rarely do Koreans even own ovens, let alone know how to use them). But not only were they not salty, she told everyone we gave them to that they were a little salty BEFORE they tasted them, so of COURSE they decided they were salty before hand. GAH! It kinda hurt my feelings. So the next batch I put less baking soda and salt and of course they were hard as rocks (this is what happens without leavening people). I decided that you can either have hard cookies or "salty" cookies---and personally I prefer them "salty". There, now I've taken the frustration of that whole argument out on you and not her. If that's the worst that happens this transfer I think I'm good to go. :) People are the same all over the world. They may have a slightly different shell developed through a different culture and custom, but people are people, no matter how you dress them. When you take a second to pause and think about why a person behaves the way they do it becomes clear and then you don't feel the need to choose to be angry---in fact, you usually find humor in the minute differences that made the inconsistency come up in the first place. And then the miracle is that you love them despite being so different.
As a side note, I was running outside Wednesday morning and realized that it is, in fact, "Ursa" major, not "Ursela" major. No wonder it looked weird. The poor big dipper got consigned to be a sea witch without due cause!
As for Christmas packages--deodorant would be good. I love the taco seasoning and I ration it like gold. I love getting Reese's. And Hot Tomales---those cinnamon candies....they're way fun to feed to Koreans :). If you're feeling really venturous You could send me some classical music in CD form--or MP3 format on a USB drive or SD card. I really like Dvorak 9th Symphony, and Beethoven 3, 6 and 7 Symphonies. You can send anything you want, just so long as there aren't romantic overtones. Out mission is quite leniant on music. Take your pick. If you send anything---send it in a big envelope---it's much cheaper, and if you wrap it in clear plastic tape it's about as strong as a box.
So, I just got a letter from my MTC Companion Sis. Peterson in Seoul. If you remember she was adopted Korean. She managed to track down her family and she has an older brother, an older sister and a TWIN BROTHER! They all live in Masan Stake---which is the stake I'm serving in right now. She's working on getting permission to come down and meet them. It would be fun if she did get permission cause she'd probably stay with us :). Anyway, I'm really happy she found her family. That was a big goal of hers for her mission.
My new companion is amazing. All the rumors I heard about her are false---except one---she is an AMAZING cook. Hopefully I can learn how to cook Korean food from her. Other than that, I don't know where those other things came from. I'm so grateful I have the chance to serve with her (she goes home in January) before she leaves. If I hadn't have been companions with her I'd have never given her a fair chance and I'd have missed out on a great friendship. Makes me wonder how many people could have been my best friends that my own pride kept me from giving them a chance...
I was touched last night when we were riding the bus home she told me that she wanted to keep touch with me after the mission and that I was the first foreigner companion that she'd felt that way about. What a compliment! I don't think I did anything overly special, but apparently it meant something to her.
So, we live in a brand new apparentment. In fact my companion is the first person to live in it (last transfer with Sister Hill). It's completely voud of former missionary guck. It's marvelous!
And I love my areas. There are Mountains! They aren't the Rockies, but I'll take them. One of them, if you catch it at the right angle, looks just like Cheyenne mountain. I feel like I'm walking due south in the morning, but I'm really walking North in the late afternoon :).
This morning we woke up a little early so we could go hiking up the mountain (hill-ish) behind our apartment. It was so good to be on a mountain trail again. I didn't realize I missed hiking so much. And the best part was that the sun hadn't come up yet and there were STARS!!! Usually the pollution is too bad at night to see the stars, but it clears out for a short time in the morning and I caught a good glimpse of Ursela Major and Ursela minor (sorry if my spelling is off---you're lucky I remembered the word in in the first place). It was beautiful. What a wonderful world God has created for us here.
On a different note---once at the top of the mountain we "marched" around the Buddhist temple there exactly seven times. Next time we'll have to remember our trumpets!
On a different note---Saturday was the Changwon Santa Bike Event. This means that literally thousands of people rode their bikes around town dressed up as Santa Clause. It was quite the sight :). The best part was that it was sponsored by a group called "Changwon Practical Bikers Guild" as if there's anything practical about riding a bike in a Santa Costume.
Life is excellent here. Just when I think I can't get happier I find a way to be so. We can't really understand the happiness the Lord has reserved for us---it's so far beyond our understanding. But as we strive to "live after the manner of happiness" the Lord reveals higher and higher happiness to us.
Stay safe and have a Merry Christmas! Drink lots of apple cider for me because I still haven't found normal apple juice around here!
I was very surprised on Friday to receive a transfer call. I'm now in Changwan, and area that I came to a while ago for a Music Fireside. My new companion is a Korean named Lee Seo Young. I'm really excited to have a Korean companion again cause my Korean could certainly use some native help :). She doesn't speak very much English though, so that should be interesting. I was really sad to leave Shinjung, and i was really sad to leave Sister Montgomery. I feel like I worked so hard to turn a kinda dead area into an area with lots of miracles only to transfer before seeing them come to pass. That's okay, the Lord has plans for it.
Do Young agreed to get baptized and has set the date of 24 Dec. I'm a little nervous that if her Mom doesn't start coming to Church more she won't have an adequate support system, but WE prayed to see if she was ready and the Spirit said go. Her Mom loves us---I said goodbye to her this morning and she cried--she just needs to reawaken her testimony a little. I've come to realize that less-actives aren't people who don't have testimonies, they are people who lost sight of their priorities and their testimonies suffered because of it. We just have to get the Gospel back in their view-finder, that's all.
As for Ko Young Suk (the Temple Square referral) she's doing great. The woman already figured out how to live the Gospel on her own in her head, complete with nightly repentance---she just never thought ot put God in teh equation (with the methods of some of these churches out here---I don't blame her). She's realizing that God helps her, though---and she definitely knows He's there now. She's a champ. She'll get baptized next transfer for sure---and her husband will follow shortly thereafter.
I'm really excited for my new area, but I'm still a little nervous. I've learned not to listen to rumors from missionaries (someone asked me if it was true that I'd been engaged 4 times....where do they get this stuff?) but a lot of people say that my new companion has quite a short temper---so just in case it's true, pray that I'll have patience and understanding so we can come through it and get a lot of good missionary work done in the process. I love her already, though. She's really kind and I can tell she just likes to take care of people.
Lots of good things are happening in Korea. It's getting cold, but people's hearts are getting warm. IT's hard to believe it's December, though. No snow and the Christmas spirit that we all know and love is completely absent, even among the Christians. I think maybe December is colder without Christmas lights.
I'm so grateful to all of you for your love and support. I met a foreigner from Alabama who told us about how she had a hard time deciding that God exists and loves her simply because her parents didn't really love her and it made it hard to think that ANYONE could love her, particularly a "parental" figure like Heavenly Father. I'm so grateful I have loving parents and siblings and Church leaders and friends and roommates and others who have shown me what true love is because it's helped me to understand God's love better.