I would just like to start with how much I love Korea. Actually, I honestly couldn’t say! It’s SO huge, my love for Korea. And I think as I came out of my greenie shell and slowly came to appreciate that I just needed to be the most ME that I could be, Korea slowly began to love me more, too.
I thought that today I would update you on how Korea views Sister Anna Joy Roueche, starting with my small head.
When I first learned that Koreans find small heads attractive at the MTC, I thought it was just one of those things, like being attracted to nice legs or beautiful eyes. No. It is a countrywide fascination. So many times a member or someone off the street has walked up to me and said something that I don’t understand, with this look of amazement or sometimes slight distain. As my Korean has improved, I’ve come to realize that there are about 8 different ways to tell someone they have a small head. I’ve heard them all. My favorite is during a member meal once when the mom told me my head was “weirdly” small. Sad, I’m a weird anomaly. But, if having a small head means people walk up to us on the street to talk to the foreigner with a small head and it leads to a conversation, I’m SO ok with that. But it is really sad when members tell my Korean companions that they shouldn’t sit next to me because their head looks giant next to mine… That’s always an awkward conversation. I’ve already come to terms with how far my self-esteem will drop when I return to America and people on the street don’t stare or shout that I’m beautiful. Ahh, the joys of living in a foreign country. This week, at least once a day, strangers on the street have asked if I have a boyfriend/husband and then are horrified when I say no. A couple of times it’s led to discussions about their available sons and friends who live here. I should probably do a better job of taking advantage of their superficial interest and get some phone numbers and appointments out of it…
When I first got here, I wasn’t as boisterous or expressive as I naturally am for probably two reasons 1) I didn’t know how to say much and 2) Koreans are so poised and elegant in their manner that I thought that to understand them and be loved by them that I should act like them. But, let’s be honest, there was no way I was going to be able to contain my crazy ways for the 16 months that I would be here, so soon the secret was out that I’m a bit… ridiculous. I was so happy to find that people thought I was really funny, and appreciated my light and cheerfulness. This week I learned from one of the Korean sister missionaries that Koreans are not loud and crazy, but they LOVE people who are, so that’s why people are so open to me. She told me this after I expressed my concern that people think I’m funny when I’m teaching them the gospel. Actually, it’s just that they appreciate my joy as I show my love for them and the message I share. Phew!
From the family of recent converts who lived in America, I learned that sometimes when I speak Korean, it sounds like I’m rapping. How cool and strange is that?! For a few days after I learned that, I was a little self-conscious when I spoke, but I had too much to do to worry about it. But how cool is that? RAPPING! I can’t rap in English, but in Korean, sure, why not? Maybe I’ll become a famous rapper in Korea after my mission! New life goal.
And for a last story! This week my mission president called us soon after we woke up to tell me that another sister missionary was going to be spending the day and night with us. We’re pretty flexible, so it wasn’t a big deal, but the phone call itself was really bizarre. President talked to me entirely in Korean… except when I asked what one word was and he said it in English and continued on. Sister Sheffield heard the conversation from the other room and asked my companion why president was speaking in Korean. None of us knew until a few hours later when he called back. He called and said he was really confused because he’d called earlier and wanted to speak to me but had spoken to another sister missionary, and he apologized for not realizing until he read the list of missionaries and where they are serving. I was then in turn confused because he had spoken to me. I told him so and he disagreed saying, “No, I spoke to a Korean.” “No, you spoke to me… just in Korean.” He was astonished! I fooled our mission president into thinking I’m Korean! Huzzah! Then he proceeded to tell me everything again, but in English. I got a kick out of that. I guess when I asked him about a word he was using he thought it was just that his Korean was poor, not that I didn’t know the word he was using. Score. I now understand why when investigators and members call and I answer, they then ask to talk to me. I must sound Korean on the phone!!
Like I said, I love serving in Korea and everything it entails: from the spiritual, to the hard, to the funny, to the amazing people, and everything in between.