Tuesday, October 29, 2013

October 27

This was the craziest week of my mission. I swear I have never been so busy
in my whole life. Us Sisters had to give up our apartment because its big
enough to fit all SIX of our Elders in it. Yes, our beautiful, flowered
wallpaper, clean and pretty girly apartment to a bunch of 18 year old boys
who can't even sew on a button let alone keep a living space clean. But
nonetheless, our new apartment is cozy and warm and even though my
companion and I have to sleep on the living room floor, its all good fun.
(Excluding the nastiness we had to sanitize for an ENTIRE THURSDAY. Don't
even get me started on the fridge. Like really, are ALL guys like this? And
us sisters are expected to MARRY one of them?!)
We also spent the entire Friday in 대전 for a meeting because Sister Spencer
is now Sister Training Leader. ALSO, another batpism for us! Sweet 홍승민 was
baptized on Sunday! We love that little boy and a re so excited that now
him AND his cousin Meenji are members of the church and have their "special
friend" the holy ghost, always with them.

My favorite investogators. We call them 'The Beasts' because they are
INSANE. My favorite girl is the cutie in the middle. Shes the sasssiest
person I have ever met. translation- Shes a lot like me, so we can be sassy
together, In two different languages!

One more baptism for Chumdeon Ward! 

(The tiny one in the front with the plaid skirt is the dang cutest thing I have ever met. She drew a bunch of
pumpkins in my planner during Primary and I about died. KOREAN KIDS ARE THE

Well I dont have much time this week to email, but know that I love you all
individually, I cannot sat it enough. I LOVE YOU I LOVE YOU I LOVE YOU.
XO Sister Pappa

Monday, October 21, 2013

Transfer one!

First off- I GOT MY BIRTHDAY PACKAGE! It takes literally a week for packages to get here Mom. (But you certainly pay the price for it. I almost threw up when I saw the postage.) I couldnt wait, I HAD to open it. .......whoops.
It was the HAPPIEST Birthday package ever. I got ALL my favorite treats. And my Alaskan gifts were PERFECT. A scarf in olive green and wool moose socks- you all know me too well. And the treats- OH. MY. GOSH. I am savoring the birthday cake oreos. But really, I feel SO spoiled. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU.
I can't believe transfers are this week- everything is FLYING by. Sometimes I feel like this experience isn't even real!
This week was one of many emotions- equal parts of crying, laughing, and smiling have occurred. (bipolar missionary problems)
We finally had the Halloween party, SUCCESS. I have never experienced such insanity in my life. I was put in charge of Team 7 which basically consisted of a few of my investigators and a million primary girls who called me 'Sister Cat'. And lets not forget the mentally disabled young woman who is OBSESSED with me. She pulled me by the hand the entire time. She is quite large and VERY strong, so you can imagine my frustration with her pushing and hitting and slapping me ad giving me Indian Burns during all the games. 
Sister Spencer and I dressed up as cats, and not to brag or anything but we definitely set a record for cheapest costume- SIXTY cents. *score* 
Also, we had ELEVEN investigators at the party. If that wasn't a miracle, then tell me what is.

(The cutest cats you've ever seen. Am I right, or am I right?)

On a more spiritual note, Minji got baptized this week! The Sunday was really rough, I won't lie. Minji and her mom came to church and something funky was happening, you could feel it in the air. Hongsoongmeen wasnt with them and they were supposed to get baptized TOGETHER. Turns out there was some family conflict over him recieving baptism. Minjis grandma and mother were in tears and in the blink of an eye, we were left, holding MInjis hand and assumed the role of mother.
This is where NO mission rules were in effect due to our current circumstances.
We taught a class of 6 year olds, jsut my companion and I.
MInji pulled me to the bathroom, without my companion. 
We colored pictures of baptism and on the back, the girl next to me drew a picture of me as a cat. She said "THIS IS CATE TEACHER." HA! I die. Korean kids are precious.
After church we were STILL stuck with Minji and her family was NOWHERE to be found. My companion and I were so confused. Our District Leader ended up baptizing her because her grandfather was nowhere to be found. We ended up having to help Minji undress and be put in her baptism dress. 
Basically, we jsut pretended like we werent missionaries for the entire day.
Fianlly, when the time roled around, her family NOWHERE to be found, my companion and I led her into the font and watched as she splashed and played in the water. WE DIED. I have never seen a kid be SO excited to recieve baptism. Elder Allen hepled her put her hands in the right place and dunked her twice but it was really difficult to get her to go completely under the water. My companion was standing next to me crying because her family was nowhere to be found in the crowd of priamry kids and the other eight missioanries in our ward.. I kept a smile on my face for my companion, knowing that i had to be her rock. But inside, my heart was breaking too. Just as we felt that our endeavors to baptize Minji were a complete dailure, her mom peeked through the crowd and grabbed her hand. There were many tears that were shed as she reached out for her mom and said "OMA!". She was dunked one last time and was completely immersed in the water. A sigh of relief was had throughout the entire room but was soon interrupted by MInjis cheers. SHe hugged Elder Allen and SWAM towards us. 
And that is the story of the time I became a little girls 'missionary'.
I was indescribably blissfully happy, watching her clean and new, swimming towards me, with the biggest MInji smile on her face. And I didn't even care if I didnt understand a word she was saying, I could so very clearly see the way she felt, and that was enough.

I love you all! So very very ridiculously much.
xo sister pappa

Friday, October 18, 2013

Conference weekend

This week has been so busy Im not even sure how to throw it all in here. How bout we start with CONFERENCE? Oh my heavens, remind me why I never was that interested in it before I came on my mission. I love love love love love love love (and on and on and on) Conference. All the talks had something valuable to say and I loved each of them. I literally cannot wait when 6 months comes around and we have the opportunity to hear from the prophet and his apostles again. we had the opportunity to watch the Saturday session at our stake center with all the English speaking missionaries and we watched it with smiles on our faces eating chocolate covered sunflower seeds from Trader Joes. It gave us much comfort to sit in that room on Saturday and to sit on our ward building on Sunday, a group of young 18, 19, 20 year olds, far away from family and anything familiar and listen to words in our own tongue and know that we are loved and prayed for as missionaries. It was a small piece of home and I cant wait to feel it again in 6 months.
On Tuesday we went to Daejeon for a meeting with all the trainers and trainees. Although meetings sometimes make me wanna stick a fork in my head, all the world is right when I get to see my Sister Arvanitas. She cried when she saw me and wouldnt let me go. When she finally did she said, with the biggest smile on her face- "Look! I dressed like you today! Are you so proud?!"". I must say that I was proud of her in her black and tan with an olive green cargo jacket. Shes the cutest and I missed her so very much. She is doing GREAT things in Yaesong (yes, i am talking to you nitas chameneem.) 
After our training meeting we had the honor, I kid you not, of going to COSTCO. For all you American missionaries, (basically Kensey), LOVE YOUR COSTCO. There are some who are in Asia Land, wishing for bulk granola bars and peanut butter that doesnt cost 18,000 Won (Translation, 20$. ....... We still bought it.) The place was a MADHOUSE. Apparently it was 'Korean Alphabet Day' and so everyone and their dog decided to go shopping. We waited in line for atleast 30 minutes and had to fight our way to the elevator with our precious cargo- Peanut Butter, Pancake Mix, Nature Valley Granola Bars and the most precious of our buys- A box of Costco cookies. Which for the record I probably would have never eaten in America but guess what, Im in Asia and you can bet that those cookies were gone in 2 days. #youonlymissiononce
On top of our personal buys, we also paid a pretty penny for candy for our ward halloween party! If anything in this life is difficult, its trying to plan an AMERICAN Christmas party in .... NOT America.
'Lets do the donut eating game!'
....Donuts are too expensive.
'Lets have a chili cook off!'
.... no one eats chili or owns a crock pot.
'Lets carve pumpkins!'
....They only EAT pumpkins.
Do you feel in our pain? We finally came up with a few games and a "history of Halloween" presentation. For the record, none of us know any facts about Halloween. To which our Korean missionaries stare at us, blinking and say "wait, you celebrate this holiday every year and you dont even know why?'
NOPE. The thought of carving vegetables and going house to house asking strangers for candy never really struck us as odd. Welcome to America, anything goes.
On another note, guess who is in charge of the face painting station? (you guessed it.) We cant wait to invite our investogators and have them get to know the ward members. It'll be great, I just know it.

My companion and I have really been focusing on our area book lately and we actually have had some success! We met with one of the Americans in the area who was being taught by the missionaries a while back. She is here teaching English and she is so friendly. We are really hoping that even if she isnt receptive to the gospel, she will know that we love her and hope she remembers that feeling. People rarely if ever recognize the spirit as the spirit, and my companion and i know this. Even if she doesnt want to hear about the gospel, she will feel the spirit in some way or another. As members of the church, we are promised to have that spirit with us as long as we keep his comandments- We are trying our very best to keep it with us always so that we can help others to feel it.
We have been calling I swear, HUNDREDS of people from the Area book, and my sweet companion decided to give me a little bit more responsibility and have ME do the phone calls. This is basically all I can say-
'Is this blahblahblahs phone?'
'This is the 'foreginer missionary'
'Im from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints'
'Remember us?'
'We want to meet you again'
.. and then they start blabbing something in Korean and I throw the phone to my companion, who always saves the day. (Thanks, Sister Spencer.)

In other news, there is a mentally handicapped YW in our ward who is obsessed with me. She sits next to me in class and whispers in my ear "I love you. You're pretty." ITS ADORABLE. Slightly inconvenient seeing as even during the prayer she is still whispering in my ear telling me this repeatedly and PINCHING MY CHEEKS. BAHA. I love it. She surely is one of Gods most righteous spirits in the life before this one. Shes the cutest.

This gospel is great, my testimony becomes strengthened more and more each day, and even though this work is exhausting and sometimes even heartbreaking, I come home each day with tired feet and sometimes a sting of homesickness or discouragement but know that what I am doing is GOOD. 
Even the BAD days are good.

I love you each, very very much and pray for you every day and every night. I hope this week you find someone or something to make you smile. Life is beautiful.
xoxo Sista Pappa

The FOURTH baptism we have had in our ward this transfer. We joke that in the Chumdeon Ward, we have a fourth hour of church just for baptisms. My companion and I so excited to have TWO on the 20th! 

Service Project from a few weeks ago. The blue vests were a nice touch.

And still doing what I like doing best.

Love you all!!

    Monday, October 7, 2013

    October 6

    Hello from Gwangju! Its a beautiful day here in Korea. I have been on my mission almost THREE months. Can you beliveve it?! Times flies so fast. (Taylor, I know you can relate. You're going home in a MONTH, what the heck happened?!)
    My compnaion and I have witnessed so many miracles this week. Our investigator Minji and her cousin Hongsoongmin (I have no idea how to spell any of these peoples names in English. It just makes sense in Korean) are progressing so quickly, and I can see the effects their conversion is having on their parents. Although Minji is mentally disabled and doesnt NEED to be baptized, my companion and I have prayed and found that the if she wants to be baptized, she can. Her love for the Savior is so pure and her devition to follow in his footsteps is SO strong. Her 10 year old cousin is the same- these children have the light of Christ burning so bright within them! We taught them the plan of salvation on Tuesday and they had SO many good questions- "Can Christ visit other kingdoms?" and "What do you do when you get to the the Celestial Kingdom?" At first we were a bit concerned becoause we have no idea what the answers to these questions are, but then we told them that as missionaries, we dont have ALL the answers, but we believe to have some of them. Our calling is to help people find those answers. I will be the first to say that I too have unanswered questions, but thats ok! Minji and Hongsoongmin understand that as well.
    WE GOT OUR PHONES THIS WEEK!!! We went almost an entire transfer without a cell phone. By some miracle we did it, but it was rough, I wont lie. There were so many moments of frustration with miscomminucations with rides and such. It was a valuable lesson for me to never take anything for granted. I never realized what a blessing modern technology was until I had to live without it.
    Cort- I got your package!! THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU. I practically screamed when I saw your handwriting in purple sharpie. Kade- You are getting SO good at spelling. I was so proud and I showed my companion. You are a smart boy. Are you getting ready to be baptized soon? only a few more months! Pipa- You are quite a sad little girl. I miss you very much but I'm not alone! My companion is my friend! I love you, Little Spanky. William- Thank you for allowing your mother to take pictures of you in your poofy cloth diaper, hangin out by the stove. I miss your chubby face. Cort, those pictures made my whole day. I pull that envelope out on a daily basis and look through them. The kids are getting HUGE. You and Dayne keep up the good work- You are doing such a good job. I use the little orange polka dotted notebook to write down good thoughts in. Sometimes I get super cranky and negative as a missionary, so I open up that little book and read a few things that make me happy. 
    KOREA HAS KRISPY KREME. And I'm sorry to all you in America, because Korean Kispy Kreme is SO much better. In fact, a lot of things are better in this country. I am beginning to love SO many food. Some of my favorites include-
    Pineapple Oreos
    Korean Grapes (They are huge and a dark purple/blue)
    Zuchinni (and i HATE zuchinni in America)
    Hard Boiled Eggs (way better in Korea, even the yolk Mom! Grandma would be proud.)
    Potato Wedge Pizza
    There are definitely some sketchy things to eat here but for the most part I do pretty well. Last week we had a lunch appointment with a group of relief society sisters and the meal was delicious. Towards the end they brough out a huge plate of sweet potatoes. i wasnt going to take one but then one of the sisters pointed to the plate, ranted off in korean and then grabbed the BIGGEST sweet potato on the whole plate and handed it to me to eat. I. DONT. EAT. SWEET. POTATOES. I honestly wanted to die as I choked the whole things down. It was so dry. So mushy. So baby food like. Im gaggin about it even now. Not we are talking about the country that serves ox blood soup but i CANNOT DO SWEET POTATOES. Atleast not in this way. It probably was the worst 6 minutes of my mission so far.
    The same group of sisters took us out to lunch the next day to a traditional Korean restaurant. We sat on the floor and I ordered soup. It came to me in a MIXING bowl size. Broth, seaweed and whole clams, shells and all, floating in the bowl. It was so delicious. It reminded me of the last time I ate clams, family, remember it? We were on a trip back to NY and we cooked them over the firepit in foil and ate them with melted butter. Those were clams right? I thought of it the whole time I was eating them.
    We met a MIRACLE investigator this week. Her and her daughters met the missionaries when they knocked on her door this week, thinking it was someone elses address. Turns out she happened to attend the missionaries English class years ago and misses it. She wanted to hear more about the gospel too! Me and my companion took over and met with her this week- She is so special. I fell in love with their family when I walked in and saw four pairs of matching plaid flannel Toms- for the Dad, Mom and two daughters. They are so special. Their two daughters speak FLUENT English and from reading books and watching movies! The oldest daughter Penelope (thats her English name) showed me her bookshellf stuffed with all sorts of English books. harry Potter to Moby Dick and everything in between. She even reads the NEWSPAPER and writes little papers on her opinion about the articles she reads. These little girls are so precious, and SO SMART! As Sister Spencer was playing with the two little girls, I was able to teach a brief Restoration Lesson to the mother and the spirit was so strong. When I got to the part about the Book of Mormon, I layed it in front of me and looked up and asked me-"And you have read this, the whole thing?" And I looked her straight in the eyes and said "Yes, I have read this book. I have prayed and I know its true." Kind of ironic that I just finished last week, but the Lords hand was in it all. My companion and I cried on the way home. It was such a special lesson. We meet with her again in a few weeks and we cannot WAIT. She is wonderful.
    On another note, I found a COCONUT this week, just sitting in a random walkway between apartment buildings one day and I picked it up to take it home with me. I wanted to open it SO BAD. Our KOrean girls told us you can only open them with heavy machinery but i was determined to find some way to open the thing. I suggested we threw it our the window from our 12 story apartment builidng (wow, the idea sounds crazy now) but I ended up resorting to BIOLING it to see what it would do.
    It didnt do anything.
    Piece of Junk.
    Unfortunately, I had to part with it a few days later,
    RIP, Coconut.

    I love you all! Be strong.
    Add captionCelebarating all 3 of my roommates having ONE YEAR left in their missions! I love them.

    We found the central park of Gwangju during a walk home. We walk EVERYWHERE.
     We come home exhausted and we love it.

    September 29

    Fall is finally here in the great country of Korea. And I LOVE IT. Hands down my very favorite season. Things have been busy this week (whats new) In the past 7 days I have-
    1. Attended a Wedding
    2. Helped run a FIVE hour primary activity
    3. Looked alllll over Gwanju for a store that sells a plunger. (Our apartment vowed to not go into further detail on this subject. Whats happens in the apartment stays in the apartment.)
    4. Fed 50 vicious Korean Grandmas and Grandpas lunch in a park for a service project.
    5. Fortunately escaped a 33 year old man who fell in love with me at said wedding and was highly convinced that I looked EXACTLY like Jennifer Love Hewitt. He was craaaaaazy.
    6. Got completely lost in Gwanju without a phone and had-
    .All our District Elders
    .4 Cars of Members
    .The Bishop
    ...looking for us. This is what happens when yous mission president leaves 10 companionships withouts phones for THREE weeks. 
    So you could say I'm a bit exhausted. But the best kind of exhaustion! The very very best. 
    The language is coming so very very very slow. In fact, I think it might just kill me. Sundays are the worst because I just sit through three hours of meetings and understand only words like faith or Heavenly Father. This Sunday was a little bit better though, my companion and I decided to go to primary and just our luck, got a sneak peek at the primary program! SO SO cute. I swear that Koreans make the cutest children on the planet. My very favorite was when they sang "If the Savior Stood Beside Me". I dont ever remember singing that song when I was in Primary- Its so beautiful!
    Also, I finished the Book of Mormon for the very first time in Sacrament Meeting. THE VERY FIRST TIME. And I really love it. I really really do. So you could say this Sunday was a bit more productive than my last few where I sit back and daydream for three hours. Its SO hard to get your brain to pay attention when people are going off in foreign languages.
    Everyone says it will come but sometimes it is so hard to believe that. I know I need to be more patient with myself. 
    WILLIS, Happy Birthday Sweet Boy! I miss you bunches and wish I could squeeze your chubby little cheeks. Your aunt loves you very very much. 
    Cort and Dayne- Make sure you let him eat as much cake as he wants, K?
    For those who are questioning the bath house-
    Its basically a huge room with a few hot tubs, a swimming pool. a bunch of open showers and saunas. The split up men and women and you usually spend a few hours hanging out with like 50 other ladies. Theres just one catch- Youre completely naked. Sounds kinda weird, but 'When in Rome'... right? 
    The cutest little girl named Minchi is getting baptized in two weeks and she is the darn cutest thing I have ever seen. I adore her. She is slightly mentally handicapped and very very quiet. But she listens SO well in the lessons and tries her best to answer all the questions. We teach her English too and she does SO well. She is such a smart little girl. I probably could talk about how much I love her for hours. 

    Well, this was the most unorganized email in the world, but know that I love you all and miss you quite a lot. (Dad, at church yesterday a Dad put their daughter in an arm bar and my eyes welled up with tears. I miss that, a lot.)

    XO Sista Pappa
    최여정 자매님 and her hideous little cat.
    Her and I got creative and whipped this out one night. I
    snt the Seaoul temple BEAUTIFUL?! She is such an impressive artist.
    Asian Baby trying to grab my camera. OH. MY. GOSH. I WANT THIS BABY.
    Mama, I'm getting rice face. Can you tell??
    I am so lucky to have roommates who love being creative. 
    Sister Choi drew me. (on the right) Apparently I am either super passive or super cranky. 
    Maybe a little bit of both.

    Saturday, October 5, 2013

    Kimchi and Prairie Dogs

    There are butterflies EVERYWHERE in Korea. Lets start with that happy

    thought. I honestly see atleast 15 a day. They make me smile.

    This week has been hard, I wont lie.
    I have never expereince such interesting food in my whole life as i have in
    this country. We has choosok holiday at a members house at the food was so
    bad i almost couldnt eat it. i felt so discouraged as we were walking home
    and i was talking to my companion and our korean sisters about how angry i
    was that i couldnt eat kimchi and tofu as easily as all the other
    missionaries. i was almost in tears when we passed by a store and outside
    the door was a cage of PRAIRIE DOGS. (or something along the lines of that.
    we werent really sure what they were honestly) we died laughing because it
    was SO random. pretty sure heavenly father tknew he could cure my
    discouragement with a good laugh)
    We had 3 BIG meeting for Choosok week and basically the entire time our
    mission president just talked about how we havent been baptizing anyone. I
    really really struggled with his mindset because I feel that my purpose is
    different than his. SO many of the other missionaries felt the same way.
    As we were leaving the meeting we stopped by an inactive family members
    house for dinner. All 4 of us sisters were feeling so discouraged. We were
    confused and exhausted and starving but we went to this families house with
    a smile on our faces and kept on.
    After literally the most DELICIOUS meal I think Ive ever eaten, we had a
    good converation with them about why they werent attending church anymore.
    the sister explained that it was hard for them to attend when she felt that
    LDS people portaryed a sense of fals happiness, and that others were
    judgemental and hypociritacl towards her and her husband.
    My heart broke when I heard this. I realize that in the Mormon culture this
    can be quite a problem, and unfortunately we see so many cases similar to
    this family, that people leave the church because they feel inadequate in
    the shadows of other members.
    Through help with translation from my sweet Korean Sister Choi, I told them
    a little bit about the meeting this morning, and how frustrated and sad I
    was that o much of the meeting was fouces merely on stats and baptisms. I
    told her that before my mission I thought that all missioanries thought the
    same way. That since you all had the same purpose you would all work in the
    same wya. But the truth is that you dont. And ALL member of the church have
    to deal with simliar frustrations, even missionaries. sometimes there are
    people who think differently than you, or who interpret gospel priniciples
    contrary to your own, but THATS OK. Religion is about connecting with a
    higher being and accessing the divine love that God can and DOES offer to
    us, purely and unconditionally. There is a vastness in realizing and
    partaking of that love.
    It was in that moment, sitting on a balcony in Gwanju, with a small gray
    dog asleep on my lap, that I realized why I was on my mission- To remind
    not only others, but myself that the beauty of human connection in real and
    that through being a missionary or sister or mother or friend to the people
    around us, we can endure even the darkest of days with the the Lord by our

    And that, in and of itself is a MIRACLE.

    Until the next,
    Sister Pappa.