I am currently sitting in a little Korean cafe on an Apple desktop computer with a dual English/Korean keyboard in Jeonju (전주), Korea.
There is also either the aftereffects, or the before effects of a typhoon outside… I’m not sure which is it, but I don’t think my umbrella will last the day. That’s ok because I’m in KOREA! Speaking of rain, during my last gym time at the MTC, I was outside in a light drizzle playing sand volleyball. We looked up and in between the two mountains that overlook the MTC was a complete double rainbow. I took it as a very good sign for my next 15 months.
Things I have not experienced in Korea:
- Any white people (other LDS missionaries don’t count)
- A single person who isn’t dressed to impress
- Anyone who would dare say that Apple is better than Samsung
- People staring at me and saying, “Foreigner,” to their friends (I learned that word by day 2)
- A “haromony,” or grandmother, kissing me on the hand after teaching her granddaughter English and sharing stories from the Book of Mormon
- Another haromony smacking my companion several times on the shoulder with a Book of Mormon after agreeing that maybe there could be more scripture in the world… She later came back and returned it calling us names that I don’t understand yet
But most importantly I have experienced miracles. I will just name a couple. One was very simple, but we were trying to go and visit a member just to say hi and give some encouragement, but after searching a few bus stops we realized there was no way to get to her house from where we were town. Instead we decided to give her a call. We discovered that neither she nor any of her family were even at home, but instead out for the whole day shopping. What a relief to not waste our resources, but still be able to accomplish our goal when we called, because she was so ecstatic to hear from us. The other miracle I will share happened the day we ran out of bread at breakfast. That evening we were visiting a family and on our way out, the Mom ran to their garage and came out with a new loaf of bread for us. The Lord will always provide for those who are serving Him.
My new companion is SO GREAT! Her name is 서나리 (Seo Naree). Since there are so few surnames in Korea, it is super important to know the full name of a person, otherwise all confusion breaks loose. However, my companion is the most unKorean Korean ever! She doesn’t really eat rice, she doesn’t like Kimchee, and she doesn’t like fish. But, she is the best anyway. Her English is very, very good, so we usually go back and forth between Korean and English. I teach her and she teaches me! There has only been one word that we couldn’t agree on. She kept saying “gaydo” or “개도”… I wasn’t sure even what language she was speaking, though she kept saying it was English. Finally she just described what it meant and I realized that all along she had been saying “ghetto!”
According to everyone, missionaries and mission president alike, I am in the very best area of the Daejeon Mission. I am in a town south of Daejeon called Jeonju. I’ll be honest; I have no idea how to spell it in English. This is the food and “jeong” capital of Korea. Jeong is a Korean concept that we don’t have in America, or probably anywhere else. It is the good feeling between two people. In Korea it translates into physical affection, service, and food. At the MTC, they always told us that if people literally feed us then we have jeong, even more than if we eat off of the same plate. My first full day here I was having lunch with a family and one of the hosts fed me! I wasn’t expecting it, but all of a sudden, there was a giant lettuce wrap in my mouth. My companion says we have to be careful because the more people love us, the more they feed us. The fatter we are, the more jeong we have with the people. Luckily, we get to work out every day!
I know you’re all curious, so to answer your question: yes, I LOVE kimchee! It’s excellent! I love Korea. I love being here. I love the people. (Alma 26:37)
“Harding working, fun, happy = miracles. Miracles are coming soon.” This is written on the white board in my apartment, and I know it is true. Miracles are coming today!