June 21, 2013
Dear Mom, Dad, Elder Bonney, Elizabeth, Benjamin, Andrew, Eve, James, Miriam, Anna, Joseph, Rebekah, Abigail, Esther, Peter, and everybody else!
Alright. I have a laughing problem. The first two weeks here were actually pretty tough. And then I got bronchitis. Ain't nobody got time for that!! BUT through a lot of prayer, I'm finally almost better and my energy levels are THROUGH THE ROOF! Not complaining about that! Also, I'm so happy. Like all the time. Energy plus being really happy means I'm back to laughing at everything. Like everything. Example: Korean hymns are hilarious. You're trying to sing this super spiritual song about how the Savior lives and all that and you're singing "na-ga-koo-goo-soo-noo" or something like that. I have a really hard time keeping a straight face during hymns. They just sound so funny! Adding in the fact that our elders love to sing too high or too low just makes it almost impossible to seriously sing the hymns without cracking up. Sacrament meetings in Korea are going to be tough for me. Sister Harris has diagnosed me with a laughing problem. But I could probably make a list of about 97 worse problems! Would you rather have ingrown toenails or a laughing problem? Would you rather have premature balding or a laughing problem? Yeah. Thought so. Anyways, our trials come in all forms.
Before my mission, all Asian languages sounded the same to me. Actually, they kind of still do. But I thought I would share a few interesting things about Korean!
1. The alphabet is phonetic. We just had to learn what each letter meant and we were able to learn how to read. Tough, but doable. And we're actually getting pretty good.
2. There are no articles in Korean. We don't have any "Is the chair a girl or a boy?" nonsense.
3. There is only one ending for each conjugation. There is one present conjugation ending. There is one past conjugation ending. We don't have to worry about whether our subject is plural or singular or anything because it's all the same.
4. Korean is spoken basically inside out compared to English. "The Book of Mormon teaches that Jesus Christ is our Savior" turns into "Mormon's Book Jesus Christ our Savior is that teaches." It's sounds a lot harder than it is, but it does mean it takes a lot longer for us to figure out what we want to say. Makes you grateful the Lord's on your side.
5. If your sentence is only one word, you have to end it with "yo". "Where are you going?" "Cafeteria, yo." No problem using that grammar principle.
We have two baptismal commitments already this week! They're just our teachers pretending to be investigators, but the lessons seem so real, and our joy is definitely real when we are finally able to help them begin building a relationship with their Heavenly Father. Sister Huang committed last Saturday. We've been teaching her how through righteousness, we can be blessed with eternal families, something I am blessed to have a strong testimony of. Since then, we've taught her about the Restoration and the Book of Mormon, and our lesson went so well! Our Korean was fairly fluent, and we were able to answer all of her questions without her repeating any of them! (Usually we just look at her hopelessly and she gets the idea.)
Brother Yoo was tougher. And he falls asleep in everybody's lessons! It was making me so mad because we put a TON of effort into our lessons: finding scriptures, learning the vocabulary words, and practicing teaching without sounding like a 2 year old with a speech problem. It was our third lesson with him, and we had already challenged him to baptism in our first lesson, but he said no because he had already been baptized when he was a baby. Dang it. Okay. Third lesson we brought up the b-word again. (And I do mean "baptism". Come on. We're missionaries.) We decided to start off with faith and repentance to help him understand why baptism was necessary. A little into the lesson, he started to fall asleep. His eyes were rolling back and his head was nodding, and I was in a really good mood so instead of getting frustrated, I just thought it was hilarious. Whoops! I was TRYING to teach about repentance, and I just started laughing so hard IN THE MIDDLE OF OUR LESSON. Alright. Laughing problem level 64216. My family knows that there's this special problem that Esther, sometimes, Rebekah, and I have where when we think something's REALLY funny for no reason at all, we just start laughing and cannot stop. Like thoughts of dying puppies and lost family members don't even help. Yeah. That happened. While I was trying to teach. Poor Sister Harris had to take over, and I just kept trying to stop laughing. Finally, I was apologizing to Sister Harris and Brother Yoo IN ENGLISH and asked if we could go into the hall for a minute. When we got in the hall, Sister Harris asked, "Are you okay?! What is going on?!" I got a drink and said a silent prayer that I would be able to control myself for the remainder of the lesson. It worked because we were able to go back in and finish the lesson. The rest of the lesson was actually really amazing. I don't know if I was in a really good place from laughing so much or what, but I was able to explain myself without looking up any vocabulary words. Finally, we asked THE QUESTION. And he said no. We answered more questions and he said no again. We answered MORE questions and he said no AGAIN. GAH! And then I looked at him and words came to me that were not mine: "I promise that you will want baptism. I promise that through prayer you will know the truth. I promise through this truth you will have happiness." And then I bore my testimony. As simple as it was, I could feel Heavenly Father helping me and the power that comes from the gospel. I had NEVER studied the verb for "to promise" but for some reason, I knew it. I hadn't mastered that sentence structure, but I used it perfectly. The Spirit was so strong! I know the Lord serves with His missionaries. When Brother Kim (our teacher who pretends to be Brother Yoo...) gave us feedback about our lesson, he said that our testimonies were so powerful at the end that we could have asked again and he would have said yes. Seriously?! What the heck. Anyway, our last lesson with him was really smooth and we were able to get him to commit.
Teaching is such an amazing experience. The feeling that comes from sharing your testimony regularly even in a foreign language is so poweful! The joy you feel when you are able to help another person understand that Heavenly Father loves them and has blessed us with this gospel because He wants us to be happy is something I don't think I'll even be able to give up. I'm so grateful to have 18 months to share and teach this gospel! I know it's true! I know Heavenly Father lives! And I know He knows us personally. He never forgets us.
I love you all so so so much!