Monday, October 11, 2010

Finally A New Blog

You can continue following my blog at railroaditinerary.blogspot.com . Happy Tracks!

~R~

Saturday, September 4, 2010

There's no place like home!

Well, I've been here two weeks and life just flies by so fast. I'm already neck-deep in homework.

Coming home was a strange experience. I never realized that I grew up in the country-side...Colorado Springs feels so small-townish after being in Korea. It was nice to see my family again.

Karina wins the surprise award for having been in the LA airport when I was on my way home. Chalene on the other hand wins points for a good effort gone bad...she accidentally included me in a mass-email that announced to her friends and family that she was coming home to surprise me.

I was really glad to have everyone come out. I kinda had an inkling that maybe Mom and Malea were the only ones who would bother coming to the airport. I had settled the idea in my mind--but this was much better.

Well, that's it...a year and a half passed by fast than I could blink. Life is shorter than you think.

For your information, my blog stopped working for a couple weeks because I tried to log in from Korea to find some people's names about whom I knew I'd written home about. I guess blogspot didn't like that much. I think all of the emails are loaded up now. Much thanks to Chalene who 관리ed it all this time (some words still don't come very naturally in English).

I think I'll continue blogging, but I might change my address...I'll be sure to post here first if I change.

Say your prayers. Read your scriptures. Go to Church.

~R~

To all good things there comes an end...

I can't believe this is my last day. I can't believe the rest of the week is just random little business and then....I'll be there. That's it!

Lee Jung Min came to the bus station this morning to send me off. I almost started crying when I saw her. She has just transformed overnight. Then she gave me a letter which I will have to translate into English ASAP before I forget how to read Korean talking about her own feelings in her conversion process over the last year. I DID cry when I read that. There's my reason for coming to Korea right there.

I didn't end up spending the night at that member's house. THe Spirit just told me I could spend my time doing better things. Turned out to be right beacuse my split with Sis Chon was very edifying for both of us and led to us inviting her investigator to commit to a baptismal date. Good stuff.

I had the opportunity to go to the "After Meeting" (actually what they called it....apparently English is cooler than Korean even if you can't pronounce your f's--apto meeting) of the big EFY-like youth conference last night. The conference was called SMYC but after asking several people what it meant I decided to treat it as just another meaningless acronym in the Church. I suppose I'll never find out. Anyway, the meeting was incredible. All of the youth got up to bear their testimonies and Park Sung Hee (my old companion who went home about 3 months ago) came because she was a counselor for it and to top it off most of my recent converts came to it. It was an excellent way to end my last (normal) day of missionary work. The best part was when everyone sang that little EFY medley with As Sisters in Zion and Helaman's Army rolled into one all together in Korean. I cried---but that doesn't seem to be very uncommon lately (or ever?). It was so overpowering to hear the words to that song in Korean and to UNDERSTAND IT. To REALLY understand it--especially coming from all of those young men (potential missionaries!) in the room. The Spirit was so thick you could cut it with a knife. And then it hit me. THIS IS WHY I CAME HERE. I can't take any credit for all of those people being there---but I can take some credit for some of them being there--but all of it was God anyway---I never did a thing on my own...it was all at His direction. I came here to build the Kingdom of God in this part of the world and sitting there I could see that Kingdom flourish and see other young souls growing strong and confident in that Kingdom. It was such a miracle. I LOVE THIS WORK!!!

Beyond that, there's not much I can think of to say that can't be said in person in a few days. I look forward to seeing you all. Pray for me to have the courage to leave this land well. I'm quite torn to have to leave. I'm excited for more Reese's cups and of course to see you all, though.

Prayers for science and math to just flow more or less painlessly back into my head as I needed would be greatly appreciated. I'm really nervous about jumping right back into this. One step at a time.

Say your prayers. Read your scriptures. Go to Church.

Much Love,

~R~

Sunday, August 1, 2010

A Marvelous Work

I'm excited about the way things are going right about now. I feel
so much more successful at missionary work since the Simplified
Curriculum came out. Just to prove my point, President Jennings
announced that since we rolled out the new program 3 weeks ago the
average number of baptismal dates in the mission has more than
TRIPLED!!! That's a miracle!!

The catch comes in that I was just barely starting to find some new
investigators last week when something got thrown in the spokes. In my
interview with Pres. Jennings we spoke about the unique situation of
the Chinhae and Pungho wards and how they really shouldn't be split
anyway and dividing the missionary work in them is really not all that
effective....so according to my wishes, President told me that we're now
back in both wards and the Elders are also---as a special exception to
the one team/one ward program he rolled out. This is perfect because
the area really needs to be covered by someone in both wards, but,
seeing as all of the investigators I found in the last week have been
men...it means that the Elders just picked up all of my investigators
and I'm practically down to zilch again. No complaints...the Elders
will be better for each of these people anyway...it just means I have a
lot of work to do and it's gotten to the point where I don't have enough
time left to be able to see my efferts go into full effect. It's
okay...this isn't about self-gratification anyway. The good news is
that one of my investigators that I had to give to the Elders because
she's in the Pungho ward is gaining lots of faith--and I get to go back
to teach her (she's been threatening Elder Heaton that she might move
into Chinhae ward in order to have me teach her--hehe). Right now her
fear is that if she goes to Church everyone will judge her for not
having her whole family there. It's hard because I can't actually
promise her that they won't---all I can promise is that it doesn't
matter if they do...it doesn't make the Church any less true. Her name
is Kim Hyon Ju---prayers for her to gain the courage to go to Church
would be fabulous.

Prayers for me to find new investigators and keep my head on
straight would be fabulous, too. My planner is such a mess...I keep
accidentally writing things on the wrong days and losing important
information. It's a good thing my companion is in charge of the keys
and the phone or I don't think we'd ever manage to find them. My brain
is getting quite fried from this whole missionary work thing. I hope
this goes away when I get home...the left-brained part of me is going
crazy.

Let it be known that I was effectively squashing any and all
trunkiness until Pres. Jennings had the nerve to bring up marriage in my
intervew. Isn't there a rule against talking about that stuff or
something?

I've kinda had a blast with this whole Sister's Representative
stuff. It's a lot of responsiblity that I don't really have time or
energy for, but It's really quite fulfilling. Serving the sisters in
this mission is such a wonderful priveledge. I split with Sis.
Patterson this past week. It was so delightful to bring her to the
beautiful land of Chinhae and let her artistic mind for free on it.
It's been a long time since I've spent much time with someone who was
really so delved into the arts that it was a part of their thought and
behavior. Even the way she speaks is very beautiful and poetic. It's
funny how much of a difference it makes to go from normal people who
just speak because something needs to be to go to people who say things
that need to be said, but in a beautiful and thought out way. Kinda
weird that I noticed, I guess. There just wasn't any stumbling
awkwardness about her words. Two Splits down....one to go. I love
this.

It's getting hotter and stickier now. I'm not quite sure that I've
dried out yet after my shower from last night---even with a fan right
on me all night. My eyes usually sting from the salt of my sweat...not
that you needed to know that...showering twice a day never sounded so
appealing since the dawn of time. Ick.

Things are going really well. Life is great and missionary work is
fun. I just know that God hears us and He guides us....simply because
He loves us. That's all you really need to know.

Be Happy!

~R~

July 26, 2010 post

I feel like I emailed you all yesterday. I also am having a really hard tiem keeping my short term memory intact because time is going so fast. I know I did stuff this week, but I just can't grasp it in my head.

I decided that this transfer is just gonna fly by way too fast. Weeks where you split just disappear wicked fast anyway. Now that I'm Sister's Representative I split every week. There's so much left to do to get my area ready to hand off to someone else (organizing records, writing a bus guide, coordinatigna ward mission plan, finding more (or any)investigators, recreating an effective English class---ahh!) that I just don't have time to do it. I was really panicky and, really, the opposite of trunky, thinking about it the other day--just freaked out that I didn't have enough time. I'm really grateful for prayer. In the adrenaline push at the end here I was able to receive I really powerful confirmation that I WILL be able to accomplish everything that the Lord has called me to do here---that I'll neither have too much time nor not enough. It will work out perfect. I knew with such certainty that the Lord was pleased with all of my efforts and would magnify them in His own way. I'm grateful that God answers our prayers through such wonderful, personal revelation.

I had the opportunity to go to Jinju with Sis. Crowther from Sanford, Colorado (She says it's not on all maps...it's not far from the New Mexico border). It was really fun to have the Colorado connection with someone again. She's a champ. I'm really impressed with how well these young missionaries are just steping up to the plate. When I was 5th transfer like her I didn't have nearly the amount of confidence in hte work as she does...but then again she was put senior a lot earlier, too...the rest of the Sisters are SO young that anyone younger than me is having to "grow up" really fast. I'm proud of her.

Jinju is a beautiful city. I went there on one of those musical firesides a while ago but I only saw it through the taxi window. It was really fun to really be out in the "dirty south" and see the mountainous countryside. They have these really neat floats that they put out in the river in August...like a parade, but not moving and it stays there for a week. They weren't in the river yet, but we could see a lot of them. It was really cool. the work really does sweep every climb and country.

In my area thins are going well. My members are getting good and fired up for the work. They're being so good at offering help for anyting we need. Sometimes it pays to be a Sister....I doubt they gave the Elders this much help when they were here alone. I love this ward so much. It's my homeward in Korea. Chinhae is just full of miracles. I'll be sad to leave.

Korea is beautiful and adventurous. Missions are wonderful. I highly recommend them to everyone.

Be safe and cool. Keep the commandments and love your neighbor!

~R~

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Like the MTC again

The fever turned out to be a result of a minor infection in my eye. Once I got an antibacterial eyewash at the local drugstore my overall health began improving rapidly. It's now drained to my sinuses, but I'm much less concerned about my sinuses than my eye. The fever's gone, so all is well.

This week was a doozy. Frankly I haven't really been in my area for 2 weeks now. I had a three day leadership training in Busan. They are makinga new simplified curriculum for the MTC which will start in May next year, but they want it to already be in full swing in all the missions around the world before then. So I basically had the MTC on speed this last week. IT WAS AMAZING! If every mission in the world takes this new program and really embraces it and applies it there will be miracles around the world. I learned the doctrine better, became a better teacher and got better at Korean and the rate of progression was astonishing. I'm really excited to teach this stuff to the other sisters on splits this transfer. Missionary work is still directed by Preach My Gospel (which is designed to get you in the scriptures) but they have taken out 8 core principles to focus on in the MTC. The first 5 have to do with the things you want the investigators to do in order to receive their own spiritual witness of the truth and the last three basically focus on teaching skills that have always been a little elusive to missionaries. The program is definitely inspired. Before seeing the new program there's no way I would have thought that a three-day training meeting was at all a good idea, but it was definitely worth it. I'm really glad I get to work with this new program, even if it's only for 5 weeks. I wish it'd come out 6 months ago. I'll do the best with the time I have, though.

Another really exciting thing that happened this week is that Sis. Peterson came down to meet her family. It was really weird for me to go back to the "MTC" and then when I got home my MTC companion's stuff was in my house! It was great. I met her mom and dad and her older sister and her twin brother. It was unlike any other experience of my life, helping a friend as she encounters the emotional rollar coaster that is meting your biological family. They are really wonderful and nice people. I think everyone didn't exactly know how to react. How could they? It wasn't really awkward at all. Just different. I really feel like God has a great plan that just needed Sis. Peterson to have two families to influence and love. I think she completes this other family in a way that they didn't even know they needed completing.

On another perspective of things---it was so GREAT to have Sis. Peterson around. Funny that she's probably one of the companions I got closest to and she was my MTC companion. I can't believe how much Ive learned from her. She and I think on such a similar plane--it's relieving. She's such a wonderful example to me. It was funny, because once she was back I felt like she'd been with me all along---that we'd been together our whole missions. There wasn't anything outstanding about it, it was just comforting. I'm excited that she'll be in Provo when we return.

As far as the work...I'm a little frustrated. I feel like I want amazing miracles so desparately this last transfer, but things keep falling through the cracks. All of my investigators have sorta stopped progressing. Time is a little insufficient. I keep praying to find new people---and for the faith to help my investigators overcome their concerns. The miracle's gotta be just around the corner, because I feel like missionary work has suddenly gotten really hard. I've noticed that it's only hard RIGHT before the big flood of blessings (because it's your testing period). Continued prayers for me, my investigators and those people I'm called to teach that I haven't yet found would be much appreciated.

Just as always I'm lovign the work. Korea is wonderful. It's funny how it really is just a part of me now. It'll be weird as this all comes to a close. I'm afraid it'll all just feel like a dream.

Say your prayers. Read your scriptures. Go to Church.

~R~

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Too Busy for Missionary Work!!

The choir number was in Korean...sightreading music and Korean lyrics at the same time as making sure your arms are changing time signatures properly is tough!! We sang Sally DeFord's "I Stand All Amazed"...I didn't pick the number, but it really helped that it was Sally DeFord, cause I just know her style pretty well. We had to forego translating the last, extra verse she wrote and just settled for re-singing the First verse as it comes in the Korean hymnal. It's hard to translate Korean and make it poetical so we took the easy route out. THe number worked out quite nicely. I really enjoyed the opportunity, and it the way it turned out was truly an answer to my prayers.

Sis. Peterson is doing well. Her Dad went up to Seoul a few months back to meet her. She still has not met her Mom, she comes down at the end of July to do that. I'm excited to have her stay with me for that time.

The week has been pretty good. It was really hard to send Sis. Cramer away :(. My greenie is all grown up (and will be senior really fast, too...lucky them--coming right as all us old missionaries are fresh dead). I really like Sis. Swenson. She talks a lot! Sometimes my little engineering self just wants to retreat to the corner and do calculus in order to find respite. For the most part she's really interesting, though. I'll have to start forcing her ot speak more Korean :).

I was in Busan for two whole days this last week, so I didn't get a whole lot done in my area. On top of that I'll be in Busna for 3 days straight for the leadership training on this new program (call "Simplified Curriculum" because it described the MTC curricuum for it that will come out next May). I feel like I won't have any time to do anything my last transfer with this leadership calling. Hopefully Heavenly Father will help me find a way to serve the Korean people and my investigators at the same time as serving my fellow missionaries. I'm really excited about the simplified curriculum, though. I really feel that it will help a lot of people become better missionaries faster. I like having a living Prophet to organize the work :).

Along with the new program there came out...DUN DUN DUN...THe District 2! Some of you who have served missions recently or who followed my blog since the MTC may remember the reality "tv show" about the District in the San Antonio Mission that camera crews followed around for forever and they show it to you in the MTC. Well, they made a new one and these missionaries are serving in San Diego...and had to learn Spanish...SPANISH....I COULD LEARN SPANISH ON THE PLANE RIDE HOME!!! This is not a comment on the difficulty level of Spanish but on the length of my flight home :) Anyway, we've watched some of it for the leadership meetings already and this stuff is top notch. It's amazing that missionary work's the same all over the world. Sure, we have challenges unique to the mssion, but it's all the same. I've learned a lot from these videos and I'm excited to apply it for this last big stretch.

I came down with a NASTY bug the other day. I was just fine, but suddenly I was FREEZING and shaking and had body aches and physically couldn't stand. I barely made it to the bus stop. and when we got home I just CRASHED. I later took my temperature and I had I fever of nearly 103. I ate medicine (do you "eat" medicine in English?) and just slept. I didn't have any other syptoms until this morning when suddenly I had a stuffy nose and slightly plugged ears. It was just weird that the first sign was jsut a paralyzing fever. Luckily the fever is goen, but I still feel a little weak. Weird.

Sis. Hadden and company have left. I feel like the walking dead---and not because of my flu-cold thing either. I'm the oldest SIster missionary by far now (people argue that Jung Min Hee is older but I remember the day she got to the MTC for crying out loud...she mighta beat me to Korea, but I'm an older missionary, dang it). It's just weird. I'm still one of the youngest sisters in the mission...a lot of "older" sisters are called to this mission for some reason. Weird. Time is fast and doesn't have any right to just whiz by like this. I'm already lying six feet under.

I wish I could help with Apricots (the eating and the canning of them). I love doing that sort of stuff with the family. Next time, I suppose. I f the weird green plums are in abundance when I get home I can make this really delicious homemade drink that Koreans make with that kind of plum called "Maysheer". You'll just have to wait to try it. I wouldn't dare describe it over the internet. You'll have to wait about 3 months after I get home to have it, though :).

This past week I couldn't get a hold of ANY of my investigators...it was really frustrating. If everyone could pray for my investigators to meet me and that I'll find more people prepared to receive the Gospel, that would be great. I really want this last transfer to go out with a bang--or at least some serious splashing in the baptismal font. I know that miracles are possible with a the prayer of faith!

Love to all. Stay cool and dry!

~R~

P.S. Good luck to Chalene and Company as you take off to new places. I'm praying for you...but I'll have to think about this praying that you house sells soon....I kinda like you having an excuse to have to move back :).

Monday, July 5, 2010

New comp and other news

So..my last transfer starts this week. Sis Cramer has been transferred to Su Jung and I'm having a hard time letting my "daughter" go. It's like sending her to kindergarten or something. I just hate the idea of sending my little Wyoming "farmgirl" in to the big city. It just doesn't seem right...but it is, and her nex companion is just going to be great for her. I'm just sad she's leaving. My little piece of the American countryside is disappearing :(.

My new companion is Sister Swenson. She's from Nevada, I guess. I went with her on a split once. I'll be honest...I'm such a tired, worn out missionary that just the thought of being with this energetic, excitable and TALKATIVE girl for six weeks just EXHAUSTS me...but I think she's God's gift ot me to make it so I have the strength to drag to the end with every ounce of energy left. Here goes nothing.

I've been cut out of Pungho...so I'm only in the Chinhae Ward. I have mixed feelings about the whole situation. I am really relieved at the thought of only having to worry about making one ward happy, but I really loved a lot of people in Pungho...it's like transferring, but not.

I've been asked to be the Sisters' Representative for my last transfer. Usually that just means I'm in charge of doing the splits, but the Church is opening a brand new missionary program here for which they won't even strart the training in the MTC until May. President told me that I'd be a huge pioneer in trying to apply the program to have it ready for the 15 new missionaries coming in when I leave. I'm really nervous to be able to know what I'm doing with a program I've never worked with before, but I'm also really excited. I'm so grateful that hte work of the Lord---or at least our method of doing it--is always chinganing and improving with time and experience. the things I've heard about the program are really inspired already. President Jennings will train us leaders on it this weekend and then we will trickle it into the rest of the mission. i'm grateful for Personal Revelation, because I think there'd be no way I could ever teach people about something I've never done before without it. The Spirit will teach me and then I'll be qualified to teach others. The Lord does not leave us without a way to accomplish the good we are called to do.

Amazing News!! The other night I was really struggling to know what to do the next day....ALL of my appointments had fallen through. I finally justh ad the spiritual prompting to just trust that htere would be a miracle and that it would help me know what to do. A few minutes later Sister Peterson, my MTC companion called me from Seoul. I mentioned a while back that she had found her biological family. Turns out she only found her Dad that time around...and that she has only recently figured out where her mom is. HER MOM IS IN CHINHAE!!! She didn't know I was the Sister in Chinhae., but I am. She gave me her mom's name and birthday and asked me to try to find her. miraculously I had a wide open day the next day...so I went to the police station to try to find her and...they found her! But they wouldn't give me her address (though I saw part of it on his paper...she lives right by the Pungho Church...sneaky me...reading Korean better than they think). I didn't catvh enough to find her, just the neighborhood. They took me to a more centralized office (the THIRD ride in a cop car on my mission....nice little theme....the police have become my personal taxi service). They offered to let me call them ,but I really wanted Sis. Peterson to call instead of me ( "Hi, I'm your child that you put up for adoption's MTC companion...what, you've never heard of the MTC??") Then it occurred to me that our Bishop is like the head Cop of this area...so I called him...he's working on it now. He's in touch with Sis. Peterson now. I think she's got the address and such now. She's got permission to come down and visit at the end of the month and she'll be staying with me :) I'm way excited!

There's a lot of change going on now...pray for me to have the strength to know how to make the best of it and just keep going strong to the end. Trunkiness is a real disease--but there's a cure...you just gotta love the work

Much love to all!

~R~

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Pictures!

Rachel has finally sent us some pictures... enjoy!
(I'm not going to post the captions, partly because lots of them are in Korean!)






Many Pictures!























Thursday, July 1, 2010

Frogs, Choirs, and Recent Converts‏ (Jun 28 post)

I gave a talk in Sacrament meeting yesterday. Unlike Scott's recent comment...I was nervous. But mine was in Korean...that's my excuse. The talk was on "Things As They Really Are" A talk by Elder Bednar that I really love about making sure you use your body properly by being careful with how much time you spend watching tv/playing on the computer, etc...This may be the only time in my life I've actually stayed under the time limit in a Sacrament Meeting talk, though :).

Last week we had a big stake Choir Conference and every ward brought a few numbers to show off and they gave away silly awards (the Ammon Award was given to the director who waved her arms around most viciously). It was really fun. My kind of activity. As we were practicing for it the sister next to me turned to me and said "You have a beautiful voice--very clear!" In traditional Korean style I refused the compliment profusely. Then she added "Like a frog." .....She must know something about frogs that I don't know :).

Speaking of frogs---this past week we had a mission tour and Elder Ringwood of the Seventy came to speak to us; his favorite song is "How Gentle God's Commands". I decided to be kind nad not teach him the REAL lyrics and ruin it for him for eternity.

We had a choir put together for Elder Ringwood. Initially I wasn't going ot sing in it. When my district leader asked if I wanted to, my first response was "Who's directing it" (we've had a few not-so-pleasant directors in the past). He said he didn't know and I just decided to join anyway. When we got to rehearsal...they hadn't PICKED a director. The choas was driving me bonkers so I quieted everyone down and got them seated and then I asked "Who's in charge here?" Blank stares. I landed myself the position. I'm not a very good director. There are some of you back home who can attest to this and have had to suffer through my limited experience. It was really scary, but I said lots of prayers and...it was marvelous. Things went so well. The choir just listened to everything I said and my arms just did what they were supposed to. It was even a song with lots of time changes and I didn't goof everyone up! President and Sister Jennings both told me on separate occasions that it was the best musical number they'd heard in the mission thus far. Prayer goes a long way...and begging for the Spirit to carry the message and angels to add their voices goes a long way. It was really gratifying to me to know that I COULD direct if I wanted to, with the Spirit's help. Prayer might have led me to engineering, but I'm still a musician at heart. I was really grateful for the whole experience. I can't even tell you how I felt the hand of God supporting me through it.

Elder Ringwood's words were well said (is that how you say that in English?). I can't even tell you how everything he said was an answer ot my prayers and study. I definitely believe in modern prophets and revelation. He said exactly what I needed to hear to help me get the last big push I need in my mission. I'm so grateful for the way he taught out of the scriptures with power and authority.

Last week I got to see Lee Jung Min, my recent convert in Masan (the one I first met as a greenie in Gimhae). She looks amazing. I can't even tell you how the Gospel has helped her open up. She's just blossomed overnight. Christ does amazing things for people---if they but turn to Him and seek His help. It's good to know I did at least SOME good here---even if she's the only one I really touched (but I'm confident there are more).

Elder Rockwood has been very patient waiting for a computer, I better take off. I love you all. Have a Happy Independence Day!

Don't do anything I wouldn't do!

~R~

Monday, June 21, 2010

Happy Father's Day

Happy Fathers' Day to Dad!! It really snuck up on me this year...I didn't notice until about 10 PM last night....luckily you're a day behind and it's still Father's Day there and this is still on time!

Funny, I always have all sorts of little thoughts throughout the week "Huh, that might be something fun to write to my family..." but when I sit down to actually type them out to you...the memory just isn't there. I'm allowed to turn my brain off on P-day. Give me a break!

Kind of remarkable---yesterday I was getting frustrated that none of my investigators were really progressing and that I didn't exactly know how to help them. I started to really pray for greater inspiration and to find some new people to teach. Right after we had finished Church in the Pungho ward the Chinhae Bishop called me and told me that I had an investigator at that ward and that I should come meet them (People in Korea still haven't figured out the difference between a POTENTIAL investogator that I've never met and an investigator). So I was scratching my brain as to which person could have finally bit the bullet and headed out to Church...and we got there...it was a girl I'd never seen before. Turns out she's the non-member "not" girlfriend of the Bishop's son who is just barely about to turn 19. I think every person I saw that day emphasized to me that she's NOT his girlfriend--but I know better...she's got a sappy little sticker picture of her and him together stuck on her phone---and quite a ring on her finger...though in Korea that doesn't ALWAYS mean what you think it does. The poor girl was SO scared when the Bishop introduced her to me--that whole scared-to-death-of-the-boyfriends'-intimidating-Bishop-father thing....I can relate (just kidding Old Man!). I kinda felt bad for her. But she was really great while we taught her the First Lesson. I really like her. Answers to prayers always come--even if the method isn't exactly what you were expecting. I think it'll be really fun to teach her. I hope I can show her the love and comfort she needs to understadn the greatness of this Gospel.

There are few things that have been sadder to me on my mission than to visit Less Active members who served missions. How can one give so much of themselves and not take it to their grave and beyond? I don't get it! I look at all of the strong, happy families I've seen in Korea and in almost every case at least one, and usually both parents have served missions. What happens that that gap comes out? How does someone who preached it day and night for 2 years just let it go? I visited three such families this week, and I'm grateful to see I've seen a little improvement in each of them since my last visit. No matter what mistakes people make or how long htey disappear, the Lord will always welcome them back with open arms if they but come to Him. I'm grateful that your level of discipleship is always in your own hands and the only person who can keep it from you is yourself. No matter where you are you can always stand to "rise to a new sense of commitment" (First Pres. Message PMG page iv or v) and in continually doing so, you will never fall and forget what you had before.

The humidity has rolled in full force. My poor high and dry from Wyoming companion is having a rough time adjusting. It's not really bothering me so much this year (knock on wood). I step outside and it kinda makes me happy--and an "ahh--it feels like my mission" feeling overwhelms me. The only times I've been around humidity I've been on vacation. I used to hate it, but now it's just a pleasant little reminder that it's okay--I'm still in Korea (I've had some premature going home nightmares lately...). Either that or there's gonna be QUITE the storm in the Rockies this afternoon. People in Kroea don't understand me when I say the weatehr is different with no humidity, because most of them have never been somewhere without humidity. They ask me if there are four seasons in Colorado and I respond yes, becasue it's not Hawaii or California, and they just don't get how it could be different. Ignorance is bliss, I suppose.


Well, there I go off about the weather...that's my cue to get off.

I love you all!

~R~

World Cup and P day (14 Jun email)

P-day is officially on Monday from here on out. Change your calendars or whatever....

So, Saturday was the first game of the World Cup. The whole country shut down. I knew soccer was big all over the world, but I didn't understand that it really takes over the world. It was really fun on our bus ride home to see the masses of people in red jerseys (is that spelled jersies?) and with their glow-in-the-dark red devil horns wandering around (still haven't figured out what the mascot is that htey wear horns....I thought it was a Tiger...I'll ask someone next time with World Cup comes up...which won't be long). My companion and I decided that we have to go on a hunt for some of those light-up horns, though. That'll be fun...."The Mormon missionaries walked into my store asking for devil horns the other day!" I'm excited to find them.

The night of the actual game we were instructed that we weren't allowed to call anyone....which makes planning the next day practically impossible...so, instead of planning, we sat on our balcony on the 13th floor (is it a bad omen that I live on the 13th floor?) and watched all of the people and families all gathered at home together to watch the game. I've never seen so many families home all at once...it was a miracle. Korea should be in the World Cup more often :). There was such an intense...energy...in the air. It was fun because we didn't even have to see the game, we knew EXACTLY when we scored because the whole city (and probably country) went into an uproar....at which point my companion and I would jump up and down screaming and cheering out the window. We didn't even see the game and we got to cheer for it. We celebrated for BOTH of the points we got---and several other things...not sure what they were :). It was way better than the Superbowl could ever be.

Thursday wasn't all that long ago, so there's not a lot to say. We miraculously ran into to not one but TWO of our potential investigators who have been really difficult ot get a hold of. That was pretty cool. At that point it doesn't even matter that the Less Actives we were heading out to visit weren't even home. No effort is wasted. The Lord will take every ounce of effort and make it productive to His cause.

Things are going really fast. I can't believe it's already the third week of this transfer. Sister Cramer has been here 2 months now. That's really amazing to me. Time flies when you're having fun.

The funny thing to me is that I never really had any idea what to expect on my mission. Lots of people told me it would be hard. And they were right. Others said I would really grow. And they were right. Soem people said that it'd go faster than any other year and a half of my life. And they were CERTAINLY right. But no one ever told me how much FUN a mission is. I think people don't like to talk about how FUN their mission is for fear that other people would think that if you thought it was FUN then you must not be a good missionary--you must have just messed around. Well, I'll tell you from experience that all of the good missionaries know that a mission is fun--that it's the most joyous work you could ever do. People who just mess around don't think it's fun...they think it's prison. But a mission is truly so much fun! Every day is just such an adventure full of love and life and miracles.

I'm so grateful for the opportunity to be here in Korea, particularly in my beautiful little naval town of Chinhae. There's a certain magic and pleasantness in the air that just can't be found anywhere else in the world. It's like a fairy tale land or something. Amazing things happen here every day.

Everyone stay safe and happy and cool. Remember who you are...and don't do anything I wouldn't do!

~R~

Thursday, June 10, 2010

It's Hot!‏

I can handle hot, though....it's the HUMIDITY that gets me. Nothing like feeling that you're molding from the inside out. It's just beginning. I'm excited for the next few months of wet and sticky. Hopefully the fact that the weather is changing means that whatever I'm allergic to will go away soon. I'm quite tired of sneezing.

I forgot to mention a few weeks ago that Malea wins the award for the best pictures sent to me my whole mission. Between her new haircut and....Chalene's haircut in 1992...I had quite a laugh. Those are perhaps the worst pictures of our family ever...but they sure capture everyone's personality really well. I like it a lot. All this time we've really changed so much---yet so very little.

Things are going pretty well. Kang Chung Suk, a grandma who runs a little clothing store (and if I had my way I'd come home with half her store...) read the whole Book of Mormon and is excited to come to Sunday School (and be talked into staying for Sacrament by the RS President). She does not, however want to have us teach her the lessons. At least shell be coming to Church. Hopefully after coming to Church she'll feel a little differently. She's doing really well, though. Pray for her to want to learn more about the Restoration.

Chinhae is going really well. I found a less active family this last week who have children who have served missions and are married in the Temple (and now live in Seoul). No one at Church remembers them, but they must have been pretty strong at one point, given the way the Grandpa kept talking to me. Wish I could have gone in and taught, but the Grandpa was home alone...so a doorside visit had to do. We'll be back to visit them when the grandma is home for sure.

Time is going ridiculously fast. I can't believe that I'm one of the "oldest" sisters. I still haven't learned Korean yet! It's a good thing I still have plenty of time to work on that little problem. This past week my companion said to me "I've been here two months and I still can't speak Korean!" I looked at her and said "I've been here 13 months and I still can't speak Korean!!!" The thing is she doesn't realize just how good she is at Korean and just how much she's learned in that time. It's really a miracle we can learn it at all.

I'm not ready to send Sis. Hadden home in less than a month, though. She's been with me since day one. If she goes home it's like the time when you're working as a cashier and suddenly your receipt paper comes out splotchy red. It means it's almost out. I don't like it. It makes me panicky---especially when there's so much to be done. I'll just have to work excitedly every last minute.

This is the greatest work in the world. I get to wander around one of the most beautiful cities in the world teaching anyone who will listen the secrets to happiness and life. How did I ever get so fortunate as that? There's so much joy and happiness in the work. God blesses us when we do His work His way. I'm so grateful for the chance to serve as a pioneer in this work in this magical land. Watching the people blossom with testimonies of God is the most gratifying sight in the world.

Pray. Read Your Sciptures. Go to Church. Love one another.

All my love,
~R~

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Sore . . .

Yesterday we had huge Sports Conference for our Stake. It was a blast! I'm proud to say that I'm the only missionary who didn't get sunburned... :)

Korean dodgeball is really fun...it's much more creative than straight dogdeball in America and is much more about stratagy than brute force or hitting each other hard.

The best event was kickball---by far. I haven't played kickball since elementary school. It was a blast. The only people who played were the moms. The fun part is that I knew EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM. I've been around this stake for a while, I guess. I've never seen any of these women do anything more rigorous than dishing rice (and trust me....sometimes they do that QUITE rigourously) or making kimchi (a unique chore in and of itself)--and it was quite entertaining to see. It's the only time in my life I've ever been told I was good at sports :). They were just all excited that the missionaries would play with them.

P-Day will be changing back to Monday in the next few weeks....still no announcement on exactly when (first week of July?). The reason being a simple declaration from Salt Lake to follow the P-Day schedule set up by the missionary committee. When the prophet says "jump"... President Jennings said that this change will not afftect the return date for missionaries whose tickets home have already been finalized---I think I fit under that category, but it might just be people going home this transfer and not next. There's a small chance I'll be heading out a few days earlier than scheduled before. I'm sure they will be sure to get you the right information on that whole ordeal. The real point is that you should probably return to the Sunday email schedule. It sounds like Thursday was hard for *some* of you anyway...so this is good news...right?

We had the Asia North Area Mission Doctors come on Tuesday to our Zone Conference. I got to see lovely pictures of foot fungus problems and then listen to a psychologist coach us all on controlling the "little voices" in our heads. Psychology is such a right-brained science (until you get int othe chemistry). I had a hard time taking the guy seriously...I'm not gonna lie. I suppose I should be grateful that my life is balanced enough that I don't need that sort of help. On a more productive note...I've decided to fix the fact that my posture has gotten terrible (Korean traditional sitting styles don't exactly invite proper posture). I shall return to a mediocre level of "lady-like" in the next few weeks. Wathc out charm school--here I come.

Things are a little slow around here this week. Lots of long meetings and events that aren't even in my area have slowed down the process of everything, but they were all good and hopefully beneficial in the long run.

You know you're an old missionary when you get a standardized "Don't get trunky" letter from your mission president. I really like mine and I posted it on my wall above my desk and wrote a sticky note on it that says "Translation: Don't get trunky!!~Love, President Jennings"

One of my investogators read the whole Book of Mormon. Cover to cover. I'm pretty proud of her. She promised to come to Church on Sunday...and it's right by her house...so...she doesn't have much of an excuse. She's the one that the Relief Society miraculously found one day right at a critical moment. If I didn't tell you that story...you'll just have to wait to hear it later, cause I'm too lazy to type it out right now.

Well, I can keep writing strange little quips about my life as a missionary, but I think most of what I could say would bore you.

Love to all!

~R~

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Part 2

Well, "hiking was fun. It was kinda weird really....I discovered that my investigator isn't exactly all there upstairs (who is?). We're just following her along and she took us through these people's gardens and then flat into the jungle...yes, I went through the jungle in Asia. I expected her to break out a machete at any moment. It was quite adventuresome. I especially liked when she said "This is my mountain" in English and then took out her little shrub snippers and started cutting down bushes...We weren't exactly sure what to do...so we didn't do anything....we just watched. I love my life. I never REALLY know what's going on :).

Well, that's about it for now. I had to pay for this computer and every 10 minutes costs more....lame.

Hope you all have a fabulous Thursday!!

~R~

Life is not as long as you think it is‏

Life is kinda slowing down for me a bit now. It's a relief.

Robert's ship has sailed. He actually ended up leaving earlier then scheduled, so he missed our last appointment with him. I'm pretty sure his boat got commanded to go somewhere as soon as they proved that North Korea sunk that ship with a torpedo. Who knows where he's taken off to...probably not wherever they originally planned...at least he's got the Book of Mormon, prayer and a reason to be different. He'll be just fine. He's a good kid. The best part was that before he disappeared I was praying and studying about what we needed to teach him before he took off and I just had this overwhelming feeling that we had accomplished what we were called to do for him in this leg....so we just planned to have dinner him and us and the Elders, to say goodbye. He got what he needed and then he left. His spiritual journey will continue elsewhere.

I've had a nasty cough, so I haven't gotten a ton done. I, as usual, push myself too hard when I'm sick and then I don't get over it as fast. My companion made me go to bed early last night....it seemed to have helped a lot. I'm sure the yellow dust doesn't help this whole situation. Oh well....this too shall pass.

Park Sung Hee, my last companion and my housemate, is heading home today. She was the first sister I met in Korea---she was there my greenie day. I just love her and it was really hard to say goodbye this morning. She's such an excellent missionary and has always been such a wonderful example to me. Hermana Park is headed home to make more tacos :).

That's all the time I have for now....we're going hiking with an investigator...I don't want to be late. If we have time later I'll send more!!

Love to all!!

~R~

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Still haven't gotten the hang of Thursdays

Kudos to those who get the reference. There should be about 42 of you :).

Things are going really well.

The question was posed as to whether I still have my camera. The answer is yes, and at the moment it is working perfectly, though I will admit that for a good transfer there it suddenly stopped working with the memory card that it had worked with all along. Finally solved that problem by backing up some pictures Scott sent me onto a flash drive and using his card. His card has been working fine (my spasdic camera luck) and I've since taken (and backed up) lots of pictures. I thought about actually trying to email some today (computers in Korean aren't quite as scary as they were about a year ago), but the battery was dead....so it's at home charging. Maybe next week. My point is, picutres will be on their way soon.

I came down with a nasty cold around Monday so this week has been slow. I had the opportunity to split back to my greenie area, Kimhae and Gupo. It's too bad it was nasty and rainy--and I had a cold and could barely speak and the sister I split with is a greenie. It wasn' the most pleasant split ever, but that's not anyone's fault...just life. It was really nice to see some of the wonderful members in that area and actually be able to understand them when they speak to me, though. It was a nice little trip down memory lane.

Meeting with Robert (the sailor) has been going well. I'm quite amused that the problem he had with the Word of Wisdom was...DUN DUN DUN....TEA!!! He's changed so much already. I can't even place what exactly is different....but he's changed. For one thing...he's completely given up drinking. That's it...he just decided to stop. He refuses to admit it to us, but he's really made some big changes--beyond the obvious little ones. I'm really proud of him and really sad that he's taking off this weekend. I'm grateful we were able to help him this far, though it'd be selfish and prideful of me to say that I did much at all....God has been pointing and directing him for who knows how long. Pray for him to continue progressing and learning, particularly that he'll be able to grow a strong testimony of the Plan of Salvation and the Atonement of Jesus Christ. He reads and prays...that will get him really far.

Right after I emailed last week we headed off to see the battleship from the Korean war that is now part of a museum. It was AWESOME!!!! It was so cool to see it. There's so much coordination and thinking and engineering and planning that goes into one project like that. It would seem an impossible task except they broke it down and did it a little at a time...step by step...and then man was able to accomplish something beyond their normal capacity....and shipbuilders are doing it everyday!!! And on top of that there are so many people actually living on such boats out there! It's just crazy. There's so much going on in the world---so many little things that I'm not aware of. I'm astounded by the way the human race pulls together to accomplish things. Any given product has so many kinds of manufacturing and transportation and therefore more manufacturing and more invention behind it. Everyone just does their own little (and possibly boring) part...and somehow we manage a system where we can get just about anything we can want, need, think of or imagine without much of a thought of its original origin (redundant?) nor the journey it took to get to you. There's so much to learn about the world. So little time. So little time. It's a good thing that I'm a child of God and as such have inherited an infinite capacity to learn. I want to know all of it...a little at a time!

On that note...I just love missionary work. My year in country mark came and went. I noticed as a young missionary that when Sisters hit their year-in-country mark you blink and they're "dead". It's a good think I can move faster than the speed of light and get lots of really good things done in the time being. I love this work. It truly brings a joy that can't be compared to anything else in the world.

Please keep praying for my language ability and my planning and organization....I find that I keep leaving projects half done...I'm spinning too many plates. Prayers that my head remains attached would be very much appreciated.

Don't do anything I wouldn't do! (you should have seen the looks on those sailors' faces the day I said that to them last week...priceless...).

Love to all!

~R~

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Off to a Battleship!

I get to go on a tour of an old Korean battleship today...I'm pretty excited. I like my little town on the coast. Jinhae is a magical land where miracles pop out of the woodwork everyday.

I think Matt should buy Chalene's house, too! I know I would if I had the money...but I just don't.

Story about miracles in magical Jinhae: Do you remember the sailor last week who hugged me when he first saw me? Well, I found him again. And he is basically one of the most prepared people I've met my whole mission. I saw him from afar off and I said "Hey...I know you!" and he practically ran towards us and I asked him what brought him into to town (he lives on a boat--in the merchant marines). He said "Actually, I just FOUND what I was looking for!" Which at first was a little awkward for me because I was scared he was looking for ME not the MISSIONARIES. But, when I asked why, he said "Well, I had an interesting experience last night and afterwards I just felt like I needed to find you too afterward." So...I invited him to the Church nearby, called the Elders and let him spill his guts. Long story short---with not much better to do he had gotten into this vicious drinking cycle and it seemed like a decent way to run away from some very serious family issues, so he kept up with it. Well, naturally that made him very depressed and he decided he needed to talk to his Grandma (a member who works for LDS Family Services) about it. YEARS ago his Mom left the Church as a youth and eventually his Dad was so against it that the grandpa agreed not to talk aobut the Church with the grandkids....but this time Robert went to HIM for help...so he basically taught the first lesson and gave him a Book of Mormon just in time for him to take off to sea again. He left the Book at home. So we got him a new one. Anyway...he had a rough night with drinking and when he woke up and remembered what he couldn't remember....his first thought was "I have to find those missionaries!" and so...not having any other way to find us...he just wandered to town. The crazy thing is that I had planned on spending most of the day in the opposite end of town...but I accidentaly left my list of addresses for those people at the house....so I went to the other ward instead because there were things I knew I could do there. He said he hadn't even been looking for 5 minutes before he found us. He's just dying to have a reason not to act like everyone else on the ship does. He's dying for a reason and a way to change. He's had so many little tiny miracles leading him to us and the best part is that he flat out recognizes them. He even sat through 3 hours of Korean Church, which isn't even easy for MISSIONARIES to do. Unfortunately his ship leaves May 23 which is not quite enough time to meet the 2 sacrament meetings and 1 more after for confirmation requirements. We've already gotten in contact with the missionaries in the next area his ship is going (around the coast to an area in the Daejeon mission). He flat out said last time we met "I'm pretty sure this is the Church for me." This is a change...my investigator, rather than myself, is getting "transferred" just before baptism.

That's about it for now...It was nice to talk to everyone on Monday (Sunday). You all sound wonderful. I continuously pray for you all. Be safe and and say your prayers!!

~R~

Thursday, May 6, 2010

No Subject

Hello All,

I'm very saddened that Chalene and Company are moving away. I must say that I like the whole family always being in one spot. I'm sure things will be great there.

Today is Sisters conference and so all 18 sisters have 4 computers to use. Therefore this has to be short, But I get to call in a few days anyway.

Jinhae is just a wonderful place to be. I'm loving it. We've found a few potential investigators this week....one of whom had read from the beginning of the Book of Mormon through a good chunk of Mosiah....she didn't even let Isaiah stop her. The hardest thing for her will be that the Church is a whole block from her house where her current Church is across the street. A whole block for greater truth...

I got hugged by an American sailor the other day. The guy said "WE FOUND THE MORMONS IN KOREA!!!" and threw his arms around me. Awkward. He was fascinated with the Book of Mormon in Korean. I let him have it....maybe now he'll learn Korean...and his Grandpa who's a member will have another opportunity to share his testimony with him. I should stay away from sailors...they always try to kiss and hug me...why does President Jennings keep posting me on the coast??? Those ones are just no good...

Anyway, times up...I love you all. Say your prayers, read you scriptures and go to Church!!!

~R~

Friday, April 30, 2010

I like life . . . Life likes me‏

Well, it sounds like things are very busy back home. I will send a letter myself, but please tell Kendra and Doug congratulations for me! I'm way excited for them. It's really fun when friends get married :).

My week has been wonderful. Still no investogators in this area, but the Less Active work and Member work is going really well. To top it all off "구조하라" or "To the Rescue" has been launched in full force in the Masan Stake. It's the missionary program that Pres. Monson has been prepping us for for a LONG time. It's all about having the work directed by ward leaders who know the history of the area better than the missionaries. We've had some real success with it so far. Jinhae Ward leaders have latched onto it quite fast and set-up a big kick-off meeting as part of their Ward Conference. The Pungho ward will be a little slower, but I've got a lot of really good members right behind me and I think the leaders will come around. I'm so excited about this program...it's obviously put forth by a prophet of God who not only knows the work and how to do it, but recieves inspiration according to his calling. They're starting it at kinda random intervals around the world, so I don't know if it's at home right now or not...but when it comes out...try to be as helpful as you can with it....it brings forth miracles.

Someone needs to tell me to give in and get new shoes..I'm beginning to feel the concrete under the ball of my foot...and my shoes not only leak water but they also leak small pebbles now (both pairs). BUT I LOVE MY SHOES!! Every pair I put on trying to buy new ones just feels so stiff and impractical for a Sister Missionary lifestyle. I'm considering taking them to the cobbler and just getting a new insole put it...yes...they still have cobblers in Korea....they're called "구두 병원" or "Shoe Hospital". I love that it makes them sound so desparate. Then again my shoes pretty much are on their last life-line.

Sis. Cramer is just amazing. I can't even tell you how great it is to serve with her. She's always cheerful and just loves to laugh at everything. We have so much fun together and we get a lot of good work done. I just love it. She keeps me smiling even though it's kinda hard starting a new area with no history to work from.

I'm continuously praying for all of you. I just love this work and I love this Gospel. Through the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ and adherance to its principles we truly can find the greatest happiness. I see it everyday!

Much love to all!

~R~

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Beautiful 진해‏‏ , April 21, 2010

Well, I've been training for a week and...I'm exhausted :). Things have been going really well, though. The two wards in Jinhae have been DYING for sister missionariees. The members have been so helpful and have given me so much support. They all seem to think I'm much better at Korean than I am, too--'cause they speak at me full speed with regualr (not missionary) vocabulary and I can barely keep up. It's really satisfying to see the big wide grin on a Sister's face when I knock on the door and they open it to see the Sister missionaries---whom they can actually let in (as opposed to the Elders who can't visit because there isn't a man in the house). We're already getting some really great relationships with the ward built and that's a really great foundation for the work ahead. I'm excited.

Lee Jung Min got baptized on Saturday. She said the EXACT same thing I said when someone asked me how I felt after getting baptized---only she said it in Korean "I'm Cold". I was tickled by the similarity. Now to help her develop stronger study habits and such. I've seen too many Less Actives on my mission to be interested in creating a new one. She'll be fine though. She could probably use your prayers, though.

The Fireside the other day was excellent. There were 20 something non-members there which is AMAZING. We had our fun little talent show and then members gave a tour of the Church and talked about the various programs including the Sacrament, family history, Primary, Relief Society and the Youth Programs. I think the members all prepared really well for the speicifc audience that came, which is quite a miracle because we really just had no idea how many of what kind of people would come. It worked out really well.

Funny Story: On Sunday night I went to a dinner at the Jinhae Church and I overheard the woman behind me as she elbowed her daughter and said "Go tell the Sister Missionaries they are pretty so they'll want to stay!" It tickled my heart for sure. They're just excited to have us that's for sure....though, I suppose I shouldn't take any comliments I receive in the next little while to my head...they're just trying ot butter me up! :)

I'm jealous Scott has an area book to clean out. There's a grand total of three former investigators in my TWO area books. All that's in the books is the dividers. It just adds a new challenge to the game I call missionary work, that's all. It's kinda fun to figure out the ward history and family trees from scratch. It's like being a private eye only people tell you more than you want to know :).

Sis. Cramer is AWESOME!!! I was expecting to get the same kinda prideful and know-it-all missionary I was when I came in--kinda as pay-back. She's so humble and so willing to do anything to help. Besides that, I can't believe how much better she's gotten at Korean in just a week. It's really awesome to see the miracle of the Gift of Tongues from an outside perspective. I feel like she'll be better than I am by the end of the transfer. Then again, I still feel like I still haven't learned anything since the MTC...I'll always feel insufficient, but the Lord always gives you the amount you need for the task ahead. It reminds me of something Pres. Monson said in a General Relief Society Meeting in Oct 2007 (I'm paraphrasing) "Pray not that your tasks will meet your abilities but that your abilities will meet your tasks. Then it will be YOU and not the task that is the miracle." It's true....our tasks are designed to shape us. It'd be a shame if we gave up that chance for growth and begged for an easy way out.

On that note, I leave you to enjoy the wonderful, mystical land that is Korea. The fresh spring leaves are out and the mountainsides look like a different country (maybe some sort of jungle in Asia or something :) ). It's beautiful...even if it IS raining :).

Much love to all!!

~R~

Thursday, April 15, 2010

It's a Girl!!!

Though I suppose you already knew that :). Sis. Codi Cramer was born into the Busan Mission on April 14, 2010 :). I'm her very proud "mom". Being a trainer is really weird---it's so funny what you just assume people know. I've been doing this so long I don't even remember having to learn the little stuff. It's been a real eye-opener. She's just a champ, though. Her Korean is really good and she has a lot of faith and hope. I suppose the most amazing thing is that rather than being scared to death of the challenge ahead (which by all rights I should be) I just feel calm and just have this constant reassurance that God gave me all of the specific training and experiences I need for the work ahead.

On top of training...I've been moved to a new area. I still live in my "castle" in Changwon, but I commute by bus everyday to the city of Jinhae where there are two wards--Jinhae and Pungho. I'm "opening" the area (scary!). THere are already Elders here, but opening just means there weren't sisters there before, so there aren't investogators and we're basically starting everything from scratch. I'd love for you all to pray for my language skills and my planning skills to match the challenge ahead of me. I'm really excited about it. I feel like training and opening a new area and training are both big signs of trust from Pres. Jennings and the Lord. I think we will see great miracles!

I held a shark yesterday. It was kinda vicious...until it started suffocating for air (water?) then it settled down...and I threw it back in the water.

Lee Jung Min is all set for baptism on Saturday and since it's still my Zone and clost omy house I'll be allowed to go to it :). I'm happy about that. She's just great. Pray for her ot be prepared to keep the sacred covenants she's making. :)

I feel old. My body is falling apart and I feel like I've aged 10 years on my mission. Pres. Jennings always says that serving a mission gives you 10 extra years on life....as in 10 extra years of life experience all jam-packed into a short experience, but I'm starting to think that you get the aging thing with it. My bones are always TIRED. It feels good to go to bed tired after a long day of missionary work, though. It's just about the happiest feeling in the world.

I love that my sisters send me nerd-mail including ISS information :).

We're having a little fireside activity with all the missionaries in our Zone on Saturday. It's a missionary Talent Show and we have all kinds of fun things. Some of the elders are doing a dance and I'm in "Grover Band". We use little kid instruments (been looking for handbells wiht no luck) and play the Primary songs. As our last number we're going to do Do-Re-Mi and I will be Julie Andrews....since everyone here tells me I look like her I have the feeling everyone will love it. Our goal is to get 60 non-members out for it and we'll be introducing the Church a little bit and then just have the fun talent show. I'm excited about it.

Anyway, I better go practice for Grover Band. Time is up. Sorry so short. One day I won't be so busy....but I don't think that day is very soon.

I love you all!

~R~

Time is Insufficient‏ (Apr 7 post - sorry!)

Hello Everyone!

Sorry this is gonna be WAY short, but we're going ot the Cherry Blossom Festival in Jinhae today and I'm already late for meeting hte Elders. They can wait :).

Things are going so well with the work. I can't believe how many wonderful people Heavenly Father has plopped right in our laps. Everyone is progressing wonderfully....must be a sign I'll jhave to leave the area next week....

Big neews is that Lee Jung Min is getting baptized April 16th. She's the one I met as a Greenie in Kimhae and then came here to teach :). I've seen the Gospel really change her. She's kinda socially awkward, but I've seen the Gospel and Church functions help her open up and have confidence. I think getting the Holy Ghost so she can feel God's love more strongly will be the best step for her right now. I'm so excited for her.

I may or may not be pregnant (aka--in the mix for training next transfer). Heaven help whatever poor innocent soul that has to deal with me being their trainer. To think...she's gonna think I know what I'm doing...HAHAHA! I'll find out for sure tomorrow. I'll let you know next week.

I apologize to the large numbers of people to whom I owe a letter. My list is getting ridiculously long. I promise I'm still picking at it. You'll get a reply eventually, I promise!

Thank you to the Robisons for the Easter package. My companion is fascinated with the plastic eggs. Those are a novelty in Korea....she can have them all. I'm certainly not gonna lug them around the country.

I just love you lots!

I look forward to Conference this weekend. You've all said wonderful things about it. To answer Mom's question: I may have to watch it in Korean this time around. I have lots of investogators coming and no female english speakers to split with. Hopefully I can find SOMEONE to split with for at least one session.

Have a wonderful spring morning!

Love,

~Rachel~

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Smile!‏

The work of God is amazing. I just have to say that my
investigators are all coming along right on schedule....that is that
they are all gonna be ready for baptism right AFTER I likely transfer.
Seems to be the story of my mission. It's really exciting to see
people who grew up in a place and time where believing in God is not
the norm develop faith from the smallest seeds and see it grow and
bring joy into their lives....joy they didn't even know they were
missing. It's indescribable.

We had a surprise in Masan Ward in the last few weeks. There's
this guy named "YoungMan" (that's not what it means in Korean...) and
about 2 months ago he started coming to our English class. Two and a
half weeks ago he just came to Stake Conference (dressed in full
suit....he looked like a member) after I invited everyone to come for
English practice (Elder Stevenson of the 70 spoke in English and it was
translated into Korean). Then, after Stake Conference he asked the
Elders if he could meet them. They have been teaching him. He's come
to Church twice since then. Well, after Church on Sunday he flat out
asked if he could be baptized. OF COURSE!!! So, His baptism is on
Saturday and he wants to have his wife and 4 daughters come out, too.
He was just so ready. He's such a kind and respectful man. He kinda
reminds me of Dad--quiet, smart and just blooming with kindness. I
guess having 4 daughters will do that to a person :) He's got a PhD in
some sort of Food Packaging and Business something. I'm just so proud
of him. We didn't even do anything....he practically is baptizing
himself. I know stories like this happen...but I haven't EVER heard of
a 3 week baptism in our mission. There are prepared people in Korea,
too.

Our new Ward Mission Leader in Changwon is...overly far-reaching
in his goals. He wants the missionaries to have 26 PROGRESSING
investigators for each team in Changwon alone by April 15. I think
people are doing really well to have 3, so I might have been excited
about a goal of 5---or even 7...but 26 is a bit of a stretch.
Unfortunately I seem to be the only one who thinks so. Guess I'm just
a little short on faith. Forgive me if the thought of getting 52
investigators out to Church in a single ward seems a little outrageous
to me. There's a nice little section on setting reasonable and
"ACHIEVABLE" goals in PMG I will likely bring up in our next
meeting....and probably suffer the wrath of Korean vertical society for
it. When I asked him if we could have a lower goal because we cover
two wards and the Elders only cover one he said "No--and you should get
26 out to Masan by then, too" As much as I'd like to have 52
progressing investigators to call my very own...I suppose I just have
to set my own reasonable goal and be satisfied with that. I just wish
that all the other, more experienced missionaries hadn't completely
signed on like that. I'm quite goal-oriented, but when I set
impossible goals I just give up sooner than when I would have with an
achievable goal. Okay...now I've taken it out on you all and I can be
calm and collected to discuss it with him. Maybe I really do just need
more faith. Perhaps before I transfer I can create a whole new ward
single-handedly....Enough Sarcasm. Sorry.

Anyway....this weekend is Conference in America....I'm SO
JEALOUS!!!! I have to wait til next week. But it's Easter...which
means I get to celebrate Easter twice...that's cool :). I'm so
grateful that we can celebrate not only the death of our Savior, but
His Resurrection also. I honor Christ for dying for me, but I worship
Christ because He rose for me! Through Him we can overcome both
Spiritual and Physical death. That's a blessing which brings happiness
beyond decription. It's the only thing which brings eternal happiness!

I really do love this work. I love this country and I love this
people. They have a big part of my heart for the rest of my life for
sure. Happy Easter Everyone. Read your scriptures, say your prayers,
and watch all four sessions of Conference (you can watch them in your
pajamas for crying out loud...I have to wear nylons!!). That will make
you happier than anything else you can do this weekend!

Love you all!

~R~

Friday, March 26, 2010

비 온다-- It's raining.‏‏

It's delightful that the new email system actually supports 한 글. I was getting sick of trying to sound out weird Korean words for you all. The one problem is that most of you DON'T read Korean...so I guess it doesn't help. There goes that plan.

Spring has sprung. Except it keeps raining and my Korean companion keeps promising me that it doesn't usually rain like this in the Spring. I'm inclined not to believe her. :)

Along with the Spring has come two suprises...one is that the Yellow Dust is back. Every year the winds switch and the industrialism in China gets carried over to Korea....it leaves a nice little yellow layer of dust on everything...and whenever you go into a building with normal lighting after being outside you are suprised by just how BLUE everything looks (because everything outside is yellower than normal). It's kinda like the phenomenon of taking off your green-tinted ski goggles and thinking the world suddenly changed colors to a hazed red. The other suprise is that 잠외's (cham-ways) are back---it's a melon-like fruit....I don't think I've ever seen one in America. You know you've been here a long time when the fruit that was in season when you were a greenie is popping up at street vendors around the city.

I'm having less of an allergic reaction to the Yellow Dust (황사) than I anticipated. I guess my years of surviving inversions in Provo have paid off :). A lot of the 외국인's (foreigners) are getting way sick and assume it's a cold....but it's just allergies. I usually have a tickle in my throat in the morning, but I'm usually fine once I down some water and shake the stuff loose with some exercise. Knock on Wood.

I got to go on Splits with Sis. Hadden on Monday. This is a miracle, really. I've always wanted to serve with her, but I was sure that Pres. Jennings was keeping us at opposite ends of the mission for a reason (the reason being that if we are together for too long the world will implode or something because of our similarities). Anyway, my companion, as the Sisters' Representative wanted to split with Sis. Hadden's trainee (that word sounds stupid...it's really "greenie" and you all know it...besides....it took generations of missionaries to get the Korean members to understand missionary 말투(um..nomenclature)...we can't just go and switch it up all of the sudden)....where was I? Oh yes, Sis. Park wanted to split with S. Hadden's greenie so...YAY US. It was a lot of fun. It's relieving to be around someone who understands and builds on Sci-fi and Fantasy references I throw out so often. Plus it was in Ulsan...which is just a great place, anyway. And when we taught it was really a miracle to see how far we both have come in Korean and teaching. We really DO learn this language. THAT'S a miracle.

Everyone is moving right along fine. The work is slow in this, the Land of the Morning Calm, but it truly moves on. People are overcoming the chains of doubt and culture and language and coming unto Christ. It's exciting to be part of something so important and so fruitful that it's beyond my comprehension.

Apparently I eat seaweed soup better than most foreigners.

I just discovered that when I try to type Korean characters at a keyboard I try to do it like I'm texting (on a cellphone) in Korean...It's strangely different. You'd think that my dictionary skills would translate to computer...but no...I'm still thinking in numbers for typing Korean. That probably made no sense to anyone who doesn't use Korean cellphones and dictionaries and computer keyboards, but there it is.

I'm to the point of talking about things that will simply bore you all, so that means I better take off and get a nap in.

Love to you all!

~R~

P.S. Read your scriptures---say your prayers.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

It's a Beautiful Day!!

First things first...my eyes are fine. I appreciate the prayers. They were still blurry for several days, but they have since cleared up. I'm still planning on getting new glasses before I go back to America, though, but that's not for a long time so I'm not going to worry about that right now. For Chalene and Malea who commented on their surprise that I was wearing mascara...I've worn mascara since the MTC because being a missionary, frankly, is exhausting, and I kinda need the mascara in order to look not dead. I found some cool stuff here in Korea....it's purple...not purple enough that people know its purple...you have to look really close to notice...but I'm strangely satisfied with the idea that I'm getting away with wearing purple mascara as a missionary :).

Despite being p-day we were going to have an appointment with an investigator who said she didn't have any time other than Thursday to meet this week. There's this really cool spiritual phenomena which happens to me every once in a long while where I am given, during my study time, exactly what to say word-for-word, what questions they will ask and which scriptures will help them understand. Today was one of those days. It was really cool---just revelation flowing from on high---writing like mad to be able to study and remember it. It was probably one of the best lesson plans I've ever been able to put together...it's uncannily tailored right to her needs. Usually the inspiration is more in gists and topics than this specific stuff. However, almost every time such revelation has come to me in that way we get punked---which is what happened today. Satans good at his "job" dang it. It's days like this that I'm grateful for Jospeh Smith's words "No unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing." He can try to slow it down, but he can't stop it. It's the Standard of Truth--it's the work of God...it will go forth! So, I'm kinda frustrated with Satan for frustrating my plan, but I'll show him up next week, so it's all fine. I suppose I'll just be grateful that I have a full P-day back again.

Last night a couple of our investigators decided to go to a BYU-Hawaii introduction fireside so we went with them for moral support and to help them get the answers to their questions. All I have to say is that guy has a really good sales pitch. I've never really had any desire to go to Hawaii at all, but I do now :). Perhaps some of the reason for the change has nothing to do with the BYU-H guy, but with the fact that the things I didn't like about Hawaii are things I've learned to like (or at least tolerate) on my mission (humidity, beaches--just not crazy about them, fish, smelly oceanness). I dreamed about Hawaii all night....it was really weird.

My companion and I had a very enlightening conversation the other day. She said "I can't believe it's so warm." I said "It's getting to be Spring." She said "But it snowed the other day." I said "Isn't that what happens in the Spring?" She said "No." My Colorado-all-season-snow self was a little stunned. It took me a couple days to realize just how weird it was to the Koreans that it snowed at all---let alone in March--and THEN it had the nerve to be warm and bright the very next day. That kind of thing is unheard of here. Okay, not so enlightening...I always knew...or at least heard...Colorado weather was crazy, but now I'm experiencing the normal. Hmmm...that was a boring paragraph.

My companion and I have been on a taco-making fest lately. We went to HomePlus (the equivalent of WalMart....sortof...) the other day and managed to find salsa. So we bought it and brought it home. Once at home I was reading the label and....it was made in Belgium. Who buys salsa made in Belgium?!?!?!

This weekend we're having a screening of "Joseph Smith: The Prophet of the Restoration" (the movie showing on Temple Square right now). We got Korean subtitles and Pres. Jennings figured out the legalities of getting permission to show it here....so yeah. It's gonna be awesome. I loved being able to watch that movie in the MTC every other week (and I was in the MTC a long time...I've seen that movie A LOT!!) I think it'll be really good for the members and investogators here. I'm excited to see it again, too. I'm going to take notes...I'm sick of reading hte old ones I made :).

Things are going well for me in the work. If you could pray for Park So Young, Kim Kyeoung Eh and Lee Jung Min that would be awesome. We don't have much else we can teach them without them decided to accept the baptism challenge. I know they are hard names---sorry about that. I have great investogators, but they're all afraid of commitment. Prayer is gonna be the little nudge they need, I hope.

I love this work, I love this country, I love this language and I love this people. I find joy beyond description in serving my God in the Land of the Morning Calm!

Love to all!

~Sister Rachel Margaret Ogilvie~

Thursday, March 11, 2010

snowy day and blindness‏

So, this is an even shorter email period than usual because it's
not Preparation Day. Yesterday there were about 2 inches (if that) of
snow outside when I woke up. I was ECSTATIC!!!! LIke a little girl.
It NEVER rains here. It has been a decade or so since they last saw
snow, according to a lot of people I've talked to....and it snowed.
:) My package that Mom sent had come the night before (thank you!) and
it was like Christmas....I put on some Christmas music and danced
around the house for my morning exercise and then I made the hot cider
packets you had sent. It was amazing!!! Yayness!

Then, to my suprise, during personal study we got a phone call
informing us that our Zone had opted to move P-day to Wednesday
(yesterday) on account of the snow. Seemed kinda silly to me, but it
meant I didn't have to go out and get my feet wet, so I went along with
it. We were, however, given the option of waiting to check email until
Thursday for those of us whose families are mastered in the art of
procrastination. I decided I qualified for that---so here I am---a day
late.

The snow day was fabulous. I took a nap and stayed in my house,
which, in my opinion is how EVERY p-day should be...I need the time to
regain my strength for the week.

Then, as p-day was coming ot a close (it ends at 6:00 PM...then
it's back to work) I was getting ready to leave te house and I noticed
that my mascara had gotten clumped as a result of my afternoon nap. i
searched, in vain, for my little eyelash comb that I've been carrying
all over Korea and never used, but I couldn't find it....so---like the
mechanical engineer that I am---I improvised. I bit the soft rubber
thing off of the end of a bobby pin and then I used the end of it to
gently separate the eyelashes. This plan was fine and dandy until a
particularly stubborn clump refused to budge, so I put in a little more
force, and...dohk...there goes the sharp end of my bobby pin right into
my eye. It hurt like the dickens (though I'm not sure what that means)
and my eye was all blood shot and watering like crazy (thankfully no
blood). We had a member meal appointment in an hour, but I figured the
pain and such would go down in that amount of time. I was wrong. When
I was still in severe pain and involuntary tears 20 minutes later I
finally tried to call Sister Jennings to ask for advice, but she didn't
answer. So, I went to the meal appointment and tried to be congenial,
but frankly, it just hurt too much to keep my eye open. I had
scratched the surface of the eye (the white part) pretty good and
moving my eyelid just hurt like crazy. Eventually I just decided to
keep both eyes closed through the whole appointment. After finally
talking to Sis. Jennings about the injury and the various parts of the
eye we decided that it probably wasn't imperative that I get to a
doctor that night and that a morning appointment would suffice, if it
came to that. So, because I was extreme pain and I couldn't even look
at people when they spoke (I never realized how much of my
understanding Korean relies on facial expressions and mouth shapes til
I couldn't see it) I asked te Elders to give me a blessing, for which
I'm very grateful. I went home and closed my eyes and didn't open them
til morning. This morning the pain was gone---completely gone---and
after what it was the day before I can't even tell you what an
incredible miracle that is. However, my vision in that eye is blurry.
I spoke with Pres. Jennings about it and we agree that it is likely
that it's my already existing astigmatism being flared up by the injury
and the tiredness of the eye from the whole ordeal. It's probably also
kinda bruised and such. So, before panicing and going to a doctor I'm
just gonna rest my eye (I'm gonna go get an eyepatch---argh!) and if my
vision doesn't return in a couple of days I'll get there. The most
likely situation is that it's fine and if it's not I'll just need a
little bit of a stronger prescription for my glasses. It's a good
thing glasses are way cheap in Korea and I was planning on getting some
new ones before I come home anyway. If it comes to that I'll be
sending an email home requesting money for those and possibly for any
Doctors fees not covered by the mission (the rules about medical
eyecare are always fuzzy-pardon the pun).

The whole experience has really opened my eyes though. I could
complain about a slight loss of vision, but how selfish would that be
when there are people who can't see at all? I'm so grateful I've ever
even been able to see sunshine or flowers or mountains or trees or the
sky. That's amazing! And it just opens my eyes to the wonders of
God. Man can study the eye, and even, to an extent, figure out how it
works or even how to fix it, but we cannot create one. Even in the
best laboratories of science one cannot simply contruct an eyeball that
can see colors and shapes and shades simply from raw materials. We
simply can't do it---to say nothing of the rest of the amazing parts of
the body. Mankind can learn infinite wisdom. A woman can learn to
make bread. She can even learn to grind the wheat---and to build hte
machine to grind the wheat. She can learn how to harvest the grain and
even purify the ore materials for the machine to grind the wheat. It
could even extend so far as learning to sow the grain and help it grow
and how to best mine for the ore. But when you get down to it, mankind
can neither make ore nor create a seed that has the spring of life in
it. It all must be found at the grace of God. I could be upset that
for this temporary time my sight has been slightly hindered, but
instead I'm just glad I ever had it at all.

Moving on from my 3 second lapse in wise judgement...here are some humorous highlights this week:

My companion, Sister Park, is Korean, but she doesn't look it. In
fact, she looks quite Latino. Several of the Elders have taken to
calling her Hermana Park. She also happens to make delicious tacos
(which is not easy to find in Korea).

I was walking down the street the other day and we walked past
this underwear store (of which there are many in Korea) with manequinns
sporting their goods. I usually pay no attention to them, but I
couldn't help but notice the male manequinn wearing red underwear that
had the letters "T-E-M-P-T-A-T-I-O-N" printed across the waistband.
Now if that doesn't spell trouble, I don't know what does.

Anyway, that's enough of that for now. Prayers for my eye would
be appreciated. Thank you for your prayers regarding me learning the
language. These last few weeks have been magical and I've really felt
a lot of really cool things fall into place in my brain. I love this
language--and I love that Heavenly Father helps me learn and speak it
everyday. I've met so many foreigners who have been here for years and
they dont even have what I had coming out of the MTC. The gift of
tongues is real-- but I still have to work for it. I'm just grateful
to be able to serve this people.

Love to all!

~R~

P.S. The guy next to me just got onto his Church's website and it
has the slogan "Set te stage for Jesus" printed in English at the top.
Interesting thought. All of us missionaries are the stage runners (or
as Coronado Techs lovingly call it "Quick-Like-Bunnies") for the second
coming. Sounds like the beginning of a great object lesson :)...