May 31, 2013
Dear Mom, Dad, John, Elizabeth, Benjamin, Andrew, Eve, James, Miriam, Anna, Joseph, Rebekah, Abigail, Esther, Peter, and everybody else,
Welcome to Missionary Boot Camp, where the Spirit is strong, everyone's dressed well, and the food is not as good as it looks. I'm only on my third day and it already feels like I've lived here forever! I love it though.
A few things about the MTC: Nobody knows anybody's first name! It as if they took away your identity and gave a new and improved one. I am no longer just 'Sarah'; I'm Sister Bonney (or Bonney ja-mae -- I can't type Korean on this keyboard or I would!), minister of Christ and missionary of his living gospel! Definitely an upgrade. Also, the food here is definitely cafeteria food. I was definitely spoiled the last couple years able to make my own meals and eat at home. But it means I eat healthy! Lots of fruit and salad. I'm defintely not worried about getting out of shape here. (Even though one elder recently gained 38 pounds before he left!!! Oh my gosh!!!!) And gym time is definitely a gift. We get an hour five times a week, and you can do just about anything! There are free weights, cardio machines, a gym for inside sports, and an outside field. Tomorrow, our district's playing 4-square, and everyone's very excited. Super intense, I know. But we get entertainment where we can, and we have an awesome district. Here are few of the missionaries in our district I've gotten to know.
Sister Harris is my companion, and I couldn't have asked for a more perfect match. We balance eachother really well: she's more quiet and calm whereas I'm...not. It works! And I have a feeling we're going to teach really well together. She's actually a lot like my old roommate, Erin, which is probably why I get along so well with her. Personally, I think we're one of the more cohesive sister companionships in our zone. By the end of our time together, we'll be tight like unto a dish.
Elder Han is our district leader and definitely one of the kindest people I've met here. He's Korean, but grew up in the US, so he understands a lot, but can't speak very much. He's a huge help to us in class when body language fails to make up for our Korean.He's going to Australia Sydney South, Korean-speaking. His companion's also going to Australia. His name is Elder Clark, and he's just genuinely nice. He's getting discouraged with the language, but Elder Han is working with him and he's improving all the time. I'm so glad they're companions!
Elder Jackson is really friendly, and he's always smiling, unless he's in the cafeteria, which is understandable. He's going to Busan as well. Elder Jackson's companion is Elder Wilson. Elder Wilson's big as a house! He's about 6ft 5in and solid! He DEFINITELY played football in high school, which he just graduated from last week. The poor elder still hasn't lost his deer-in-the-headlights look. He tries hard in class though, and I can tell he's feel more confident as his Korean improves.
Elder Blake is also really friendly and a very hard worker. He and his companion, Elder Sorenson, study Korean all the time, and I'm sure they will be blessed for their dedication. They're going to California Arcadia.
We met our branch presidency last night, and they are wonderful! One of the counselors is Bro. Lee. He's a native Korean, and his wife was there too. Interesting story: First, in my setting apart, I was told that the Korean people would we especially drawn to me because I come from such a large family. At the time, I thought, Well, that's pretty neat. Well, it's already proving to be true! As part of our introductions as the new missionaries, we were asked to say how many children were in our family and what number we were. Of course, my answer got the usual gasps and scattered "Your poor mother!"s. I didn't really think much of it, until Sis. Lee and the branch president's wife came around our residence hall after the meeting. They stopped by our room and Sister Lee remembered and recognized me out of the 104 new Korean-speaking missionaries in the meeting. In broken English and a light in her eyes, she cried, "Fourteen children! Amazing! Amazing! Beautiful! Beautiful!" I was so honored and humbled to recognize that that portion of my blessing was already becoming part of my missionary experience with the Korean people.
Korean is going so well! I'm already writing without looking at my Hangul charts and speaking without looking and the Romanized pronunciation. I thought I would be freaking out since our teacher speaks Korean about 98% of the time, but I'm really not. I'm so grateful one of the lessons I learned from this past year was how not to stress. My feeling is, there has never been a faithful, hard working missionary who has come out of their mission NOT knowing the language. Heavenly Father sent us here so we could teach His children and He has not me up to fail. As long as I have faith that He will help me, I'm going to be just fine. And on that note, Sister Harris and I teach our first investigator tonight! His name is Kim Young Joon. He's just a teacher playing a role, but I'm still excited. And very grateful that his salvation isn't actually in our very inexperienced hands. Sister Harris and I worked together this morning to prepare our lesson, which I'm actually feeling pretty good about. It will be very simple because all we can do is introduce ourselves and bear our testimonies, but isn't the gospel simple? Heavenly Father loves us. He blesses us because he loves us. He blesses us through His Son Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is our Savior. We must follow him. If you can help an investigator to that truth, you have the core of the gospel! I know Heavenly Father lives! I know the Savior lives! I know that He loves with a deeply personal love and that He loves the people of Korea. That is why he has sent 100s of missionaries to them! It's only day 3 and I'm already excited to be out teaching the people. I know that they are a chosen people and that my love for them will only grow stronger. I pray I will be able to help even one of them come unto Christ. The gospel is true! And I know it with all my heart.
I love you all so so much!
PS PLEASE WRITE TO ME! And please respond with dearelder.com! PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE! That way I get your response before next Friday and I could write you a personal letter and write more! Yay!