People told me it’d be hot and humid here, but I just kept telling them that my hometown was just like Korea and I was used to hot plus 1000% humidity. Little did I know how unprepared I was. There’s something different about the extremes of weather when you’re a missionary and outside all day every day. Before, I rarely give in to my surrounding elements. I kept my heels on all night long when I went dancing, I finished my dessert even if I was full, and I never brought a hair tie with me no matter how hot it was. I, however, have given in to the everyday ponytail. I never realized just how much your head can sweat! This week I was brushing out my hair with a comb to put it up into the ever classic sister missionary ponytail, and my comb BROKE! It snapped in half! And when I get out of the shower, I have to dry off several times because after the initial dry-off, I’m already drenched in sweat. It’s a hard life. We eat lots of ice cream.
Speaking of showers, I had a new Korean adventure last week! The public bathhouse! I knew about public bathhouses since the MTC because our teachers told us about them. Everyone’s naked and stares at you because you’re American. But they all said they were heaven and when they left, they felt cleaner than they ever felt from a normal shower. I was unconvinced, but as I heard more about them once I was here, I was intrigued. Not enough to go, but my interest was piqued. Then, a few weeks ago, an old grandma from the apartment downstairs came up and told us that ever since we moved in, black mold had been growing on her ceiling below our bathroom. So, she sent over some workmen, and they demolished our bathtub. Literally sledge hammered it into oblivion. Then, they told us we couldn’t use the shower for 3 days. 3 DAYS! We all knew our bathhouse time had come. So the second day, after Stake Sports Day and a baptism, we went in search of a bathhouse… but they apparently all close in the afternoon. Ah, I failed to mention that neither I, my companion, Sister Sheffield, nor her Korean companion have ever been before, so we had no idea. Dejected and gross from a full day, we called the workmen and they told us we could use the shower the next morning.
But, last week, in honor of my birthday we wore our birthday suits and had the GREATEST time at Gwangju’s smallest bathhouse. When we got there, all of our nervousness came rushing back, but we had already paid our four dollars. Since it was the smallest bathhouse in Gwangju, we enjoyed our hour there with only a handful of Korean grandmas sitting in the hot and cold tubs. We’re all super excited to go back, isn’t that weird? It gave us something super fun to talk about with all of the members and investigators. They were so impressed that we are embracing Korean culture so well, and all gave us tips on how best to enjoy the bathhouses. I also used the clean feeling I had after the bathhouse to explain to an investigator how we can feel after we sincerely repent and when we are baptized and all our sins are washed away. I’ve never seen anyone understand that principle so well when I’ve taught it before. Ah the life and adventures of being a missionary! I LOVE IT!