I thought you might all like to know what it is that I do with my days! I’ll start with Wednesday because that is the day of the week that I got here and in my mind that is when an MTC week begins!
Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Mondays are all basically the same: class days. I get up at either 6 or 6:30 depending on if my companion and I want to get up for the 6 am group workout classes that they hold for the sister missionaries. The classes range from kickboxing to yoga and our instructor is super encouraging. I definitely needed that my first week, but now I can keep up! If we get up at 6:30 then we hop in the shower and head to breakfast by 7:20. The day begins with class or study time at 7:50. Each class day we have two three-hour sessions of class each with a different teacher that teaches both Korean and gospel principles. We have two teachers Brother Tanner and Brother Lightyear, I mean Pendley. I call him Brother Lightyear because he is Buzz Lightyear in real life…he doesn’t know this yet. During these class times we also teach gospel lessons in Korean to our teachers who are role playing different people they met in Korea on their missions. It is hard and sometimes stressful, but a great learning experience! I’ve learned that I love Korean grammar because it is like a puzzle, but the vocabulary only sticks with me if I use it and these teaching opportunities let me experiment and learn vocabulary. There are some pretty funny stories about miscommunications between the Korean students and our teachers. One of my roommates was trying to ask “What do you want for your family?” but instead ended up asking “Do you want a family?” When all he said was yes in response instead of the open ended answer she was hoping for, she repeated the question. Luckily she didn’t know what she said until after the lesson was over and her companion filled her in. I told you that my vocabulary is terrible, so my expectation going into these lessons are always that I won’t know what they are saying, but that is never the case.
We believe in the gift of tongues and whenever a foreign speaking missionary is called, we are blessed to receive this gift to help us learn the language. I totally know that I am being blessed with this gift because I have only been here three weeks and I can tell you all about Joseph Smith and about Christ’s ministry on the earth, that is a miracle. But every time we teach, I experience this amazing ability to understand everything the Koreans, role play or otherwise, are saying.
[Anna added this story in her handwritten letter to her parents and asked that it be inserted. Added July 22] This week I experienced this gift in more than just being able to understand our investigators, also I can know what to teach. I had this thought that instead of my companion or me saying the closing prayer, Brother Yun, the recent college graduate that we were teaching, should apply the lesson we just taught him: how to pray. I quickly said, “You, pray?” in Korean because it was the fastest way I knew without some practice and rehearsal. He looked surprised, but agreed. After we left the classroom my companion, who is amazing at Korean, told me she was impressed with my quick thinking and Korean. I just laughed, and that’s when she told me that what they heard was: “Brother Yun, could you pray for us?” The Lord knew it would be totally confusing and drive away the peaceful feeling if I struggled over subject markers and vocabulary, let alone very rude in Korean, if I suddenly in my excited way said, “You, pray?” It was not me, but the Lord ensuring that his children are taught in their own language.
Jesus Christ promises that everyone deserves the opportunity to learn his gospel in their own language (D&C 90:11), and so this ability has nothing to do with me but the people I’ll be teaching. It’s like in Acts 2 when Peter is teaching men from all over the world and they can all understand the message he is teaching. A miracle. One of many I experience all the time here.
On class days we also have three hours dedicated to different types of study: personal, language, and companion. Personal study is for our own edification, it gives us an opportunity to learn about the gospel and Jesus Christ, because how can we teach it if we don’t know it ourselves? Language study is just what it sounds like, but instead of hammering out vocabulary, it usually consists of figuring out [how] to say everything in the next lesson we teach, since we teach every day. Companion study is when we get to pull all of our thoughts together and hash out a lesson plan for our upcoming lessons. Today my companionship study was spent figuring out the best way to teach our friend how to pray and the importance of it in developing a relationship with God. I’m pretty excited to meet with him tomorrow! His name is Kim Meen Soo, but in Korea, your last name comes first, so when we say “Mr. Kim” it sounds like “Kim Chee” in Korean.
On class days we also have an hour of gym! A lot of the Korean students play sand volleyball, but I really wanted to play kickball. Every day I would try to get people to change their mind and see the glorious benefits of playing kickball, but to no avail. Finally one day my 5 roommates and I decided to just have the smallest game of Kickball ever, and it worked! That same day some Tai Elders (remember, they are learning Tai, but are most likely American), joined our game and the next day all the Koreans, too! I’ve been telling everyone it is Heavenly Father’s favorite sport. I must be right because I was blesses with all these people to play with!
By 9 pm we have finished up the day and the next half hour is spent planning out the next day. This will be really important when I am in Korea and we have lots of people to meet and places to be, but for now since we have a class schedule we are usually done in 10 minutes. My companion and I usually end up talking and reading the Book of Mormon with our extra time. Last night one of the Elders in our district asked if we wanted to go sing hymns instead. One of the great things about being in an all-Mormon culture like I am now is that basically everyone can play the piano and sing. We went to the main building which has several pianos and we found the other four elders in our district doing the same thing! So until 9:30, we all sang and laughed together. I really love my classmates. They all have very unique stories and strengths and it makes our class time, and apparently our free time, so much fun. On Sunday, my companion and I found ourselves alone in our classroom with all of our Elders’ (yes, they are ours) coats hanging in a row. We divided them up and wrote each of them a note telling them that they are doing a great job and thanked them for each of their strengths and examples. We hid them in the inside coat pocket of each of their jackets. We were almost caught! The next day, my companion and I found notes on our desk, too.
That’s a normal day here at the MTC! Mondays and Saturdays are a little different because Monday morning we do service. My companion and I clean the bathrooms in our residence hall…My mom would be proud. Saturdays we go to the TRC, or the Teaching Resource Center where members and nonmembers who speak fluent Korean come and listen to us try to explain the gospel however we can: broken Korean or using the gesture game.
Next week I’ll tell you about Tuesday and Sunday. Or as I like to call them P-day and the best day of the week.