Nothing terribly out of the ordinary happened this week, so I thought I would fill you in on all the normal missionary things I do now that I’m in Korea.
Most mornings after I’ve woken up, exercised, and gotten ready, my companion and I have personal study, companionship study, and language study, just like I did at the MTC. The only difference is that she is Korean, so during my hour of Korean study, she studies English! After that I have an hour of training. There is a 12 week “in-field” training program for new missionaries like me where we review the principles of the work, improve our teaching, and generally just get our feet wet with goals each week. 서나리 자매님 (Sister Seo Nari) is my first companion in the field, also known as my trainer. After training, we have lunch and head out the door around 12:30 or 1. The rest of the day we are out on the street talking to people, serving members, teaching people in their homes, and whatever other opportunities come across our path! At 9 pm we return home and plan the next day, study, write in our journals, make phone calls, and anything else we need to do before we go to bed at 10:30. I always felt that eight hours of sleep was a novelty, and practically like sleeping in…but now, it barely seems like enough! We are always exhausted by the evening! In Korea, there is no Daylight Savings, so it is always super bright at 6:30 and pitch dark by 6 pm.
There are 10 people that we are regularly teaching the gospel to. In English we call them Investigators, but in Korean we call them 구도자 (gudoja) which means “truth seeker.” How cool is that?! Because we are sister missionaries, we only teach women. We can teach couples and families, but we don’t have any right now on our roster. Three of them are scheduled to get baptized on October 21! We had a really great lesson with lady named 김미자 (Kim Mija) this week. She and her husband started investigating the church when their son was baptized. They claimed that they only came to church because they were concerned about him because he just got divorced and they want him to get remarried. Her sister is a member as well, and it was with both of their families that I had my first meal appointment when I got to Korea almost a month ago. Two weeks ago my companion out of the blue asked her again if she would get baptized and this time she said yes! We were totally shocked because she kept avoiding the topic and not really being very open about the gospel. She said that she is starting to recognize so many miracles and the Lord’s hand in her life that she feels she needs to get baptized. That was two weeks ago, and this week when we stopped by her husband was also there. He is being taught by the elders and does not believe anything at all that we teach. I can tell it’s really hard on Sister Kim because she has found this new happiness that he doesn’t understand. But, in our lesson he started asking questions about Christ and the Book of Mormon, nothing like what any of the missionaries have seen before! It was super exciting. At one point he was being very difficult as we were teaching and Sister Kim turned to him and said, “I know the Book of Mormon is true, that is why I want to get baptized.” It was so AWESOME! She’s a rock star.
Another one of our investigators who is getting baptized is named 송정현 (Song Jeongheung). She is 14 years old and is super smart, but she doesn’t let anyone know it. Her mom is a member but hasn’t been to church in ages! Her dad is also investigating with the elders, but he works all the time far away and it’s hard to schedule time to teach him. Sister Song loves the gospel, and it is totally heartbreaking because she wants her family to love it together, but nothing can get her mom to church, even though she is constantly asking her to go with them. When she and her dad go, he usually just sleeps and tries to leave as soon as possible. Sister Song was having a hard time remembering to pray every night, so we asked her mom to remind her. Then I had this idea to ask if they have family prayer together. I thought a little bit about how to say what I wanted to say, but I knew I couldn’t take too long or else the moment would pass. That’s what usually happens in lessons, I’ll get this great idea of something that needs to be said, but I take too long trying to figure out how it would be said in Korean that the topic is totally different once I’ve figured it out and then I don’t know what’s going on… I asked, “Do you have family prayer together?” Sister Song’s mom thought about it, not even giving me funny What did you say? look and responded, “Well, no.” I didn’t even hesitate, “If your family prays together, you will be strengthened.” They said they would! Hopefully they are remembering because I know that it’ll really help Sister Song in her desire for her family. They are all so fun and amazing.
Saturday, I went to my first Stake Activity! A stake is a group of several wards and branches in an area that can come together for activities and church. It’s called a stake like a tent stake holds up a tent, together the stakes of the world hold up the church. It was an all-day sports activity that started with everyone stretching together and ended with prizes. There were enough of both prizes (Choco Pies and water bottles) for everyone, so really everyone was a winner. The day was filled with strange Korean dodge ball, bag races, soccer, Korean volleyball (no hands, only feet), jump rope, kickball, and a few other events. It was a really fun time and I got to know the members a lot better since we were all working together for a great cause – winning! I was a major stumbling block for our team when it came to the jump rope competition. Three times in a row we couldn’t even get started because I was jumping too soon. Fortunately I got the hang of it…but not until everyone in the whole stake saw me shame my team. Better luck next time!