Dear Dad, Mom, Saxon & Rylan!
This week has been so crazy!!!!! I don't even know where to begin. Honestly I feel like I'm serving a completely different mission in my new area! Which I am.... It is so hard to explain so... I'm going to try but probably won't do a good job! I'll start with last week.
So Monday I met my new companion! 이상지 ee-song-jee. She's super awesome! But she's so dang good at English she won't speak Korean! Of course I understand... Korean's have to learn English their whole lives so they are always trying to improve. Haha the only problem is I'm trying to learn Korean! So it's a bit flipped. She speaks English most of the time and I speak Korean. Still super lucky to have a Korean companion, though! She had a dentist appointment Tuesday so we had to stay in Seoul until then so guess what... I got to spend the night at the temple!!! So cool! Also, it poured all day which was awesome. It was so strange because all of the missionaries that are dying (going home this transfer) stayed at the temple too and all they were talking about was their last couple of days and going home to America so I felt like I was dying too! So weird. So yes, Sis. Seegmilller and I were together for one last day. Haha she just can't get rid of me ;)
We just did missionary work in Seoul by talking to people on the street. The only problem is that we're in a super commercial area and everyone is always so busy. They're just running so no one wants to talk. My last area was in Seoul but it was not nearly as crazy as shin-chon! (which is the city the temple is in) That night we actually got to meet one of my new companion's recent converts. SHE IS AMAZING. We met her and showed her around the temple and then talked with her. She is planning on going to BYU in April. I was so shocked I thought she had been baptized for a year but I found out she was only baptized last month! She's been meeting with the missionaries for a long time though. Guess what, she actually did lessons with the missionaries at the MTC when I was there.... Elder Wheeler and Elder Bluhm taught her! How crazy is that?! So anyways, that was a really cool night :)
Tuesday we did studies and then started our way to her dentist appointment which was in...... 도봉! Dad how cool is that?! I got to serve in your old area for part of a day :) It took a bit over an hour to get there and then because we had a bunch of luggage with us we dropped it off at the dentist office (haha yes, they were a bit surprised), and then contacted people on the street for a while before her appointment. There were so few people on the streets! It's because of the lunar holiday this week. We had some good converstations though :) After her dentist app, just before 6, we started our way to the new area. Took a subway for just under two hours and then got to the huge bus station. It was packed! Hundreds and hundreds of people because of the holiday. They're big buses so we had assigned seats. Left at 7:40ish and arrived at 10:15ish! I was so excited! So ya.... got home so late that night!!! Luckily we live really close to the bus stop so we got home a little after 10:30.
Wednesday! Here starts my real first week in Sokcho. So here's some facts about my new area! It is RIGHT next to the ocean!!!! It's so pretty!!!! I'll send some pics :) Since it's way out in the country there are so few people. I mean there's a ton if you look at the amount of apartments, but on the street there are so few. There are 6 people in my district, 4 elders & 2 sisters. (So to answer your question, Mom, it's just my companion and I in our apartment.) Our apartment... is the perfect size for two people :) haha small but great! And we actually have an oven so that's great! Also, we're on the top floor of the complex!! (15th floor)
Anyways, I'm serving in a branch and there are about 10 members that come each week. I'll talk more about them later, BUT THEY'RE THE BEST!!! So that's why I said it's a new mission.... now I'm a "branch missionary." It means that while missionary work is of course important, we concentrate our efforts on the members. An elder in my district (Elder Lanford) is actually the branch president! And Elder Elwood (he's the district leader) is the branch clerk. So different, huh? The members come before... everything else. Honestly it's a bit hard to adjust. Just so used to the other way around (of course members have always been so important, but you know not like this). I'm trying to change my thinking fast and adjust! There is a reason for this....
The country is now kind of like the golden area. Everyone prays to serve out here! When I met my companion one of the first things she said to me is, "So what did you do to gain president's trust to serve in Sokcho?" I didn't quite understand why everyone said you have to be so trusted to serve in the country... but now I understand! It's because so many of our rules are gone. That's why president has to really trust us. On Wednesday we met our district at the church to practice songs and dances we were going to sing for the elderly! DANCES?! I'm telling you... so would not be allowed anywhere else!! Just the fact that we met with the elders for something other than district meeting is so not allowed. We're never supposed to be with them... But here we are always with them. It's so cool, though, because then we all get really close! Only 10 members and 6 missionaries, we're really close. And it's not really a dance, just hand motions. I can't wait to teach you them! They're so fun^^
After that my companion and I street contacted around/went door to door. MY AREA IS SO BEAUTIFUL. Seriously it's amazing!!! I can't even describe it. That's what we did for the rest of the day!
Thursday we had the service project! Met the elders at the church, ran over the stuff we were going to do, and hopped on a bus to go to the other area. Went to the end of the bus line and then hopped in a taxi for the rest of the way (it's seriously in mountains in the middle of nowhere) It's a house for elderly women. IT WAS SO FUN! Also slightly depressing since they are so old and dying.... but so fun! We played 윷놀이 yout-no-ri with them. Dad do you know that game? Super old traditional game. Then sang the old Korean songs and danced with them :) It was wonderful.
Then we went back to the church and made dinner with the elders because it was Solar (their holiday). Made the traditional Solar meal- 떡국 dok-guke. Then finished the day with missionary work! Actually, for the rest of the mission it was a huge combined conference in Shin-dong for the holiday. But for the 5 districts in the country.... we were not invited. Haha we're too far so we're going to have a combined conference with just our zone next week.
Friday was cleaning day! 9-2 was spent cleaning. So nice! Our house is so much cleaner^^ We also had an appointment today!!! She's actually Japanese, ###. She's about 30 and has 2 young kids. She's... super lonely. She's not happy :/ So we tried teaching her to help her find more happiness and purpose. She wanted to meet us but didn't really want to listen to what we had to stay? So... we're not totally sure what we want to do about her. We're going to keep visiting to help and share the gospel!
That night was weekly planning.
Saturday! We had missionary coordination meeting (usually it's with the bishop and ward mission leader but it was just our district since an elder is the branch president!) Then there was English class after. The cutest girl ever came with her mom! Then a ward member that came ordered pizza and we all ate together (I guess she does that every single week!! How kind??!) Then there was a branch party! Oh my gosh, it was so fun!!! The members are SO awesome and so fun!!! It's mainly just 2 families. We played that same traditional Korean game.
Sunday! Church is actually only 2 hours! Relief Society and Priesthood is one hour and everyone meets together for it. Then sacrament! Guess who is the piano player for the first meeting? Oh, those poor people have to listen to me. I'm terrible! But will have to get better fast. A man recieved the Holy Ghost at the beginning of sacrament! I guess he was baptized last week. The first baptism in our area for almost a year I guess! Then I talked in sacrament. Went well :) Then after we all ate together!
Ok so this is taking forever. But after church you'll never guess what we did.... so in a few weeks there's a big relief society meeting and kind of a talent show or something. They invited ALL of the missionaries in our branch to participate since there are only two relief society people that can participate. The reason I capitalized "all" is because of what we're doing... We're doing a belly dance. No joke. A LEGIT BELLY DANCE. Yes. This is allowed. And the elders are doing it too! Hahaha it is the funniest thing ever. So.... yes. I have nothing else to say about that.
Love you so much and I love my new area! I can't describe it over email, but it is seriously the best area. I"m so grateful for this opportunity to serve here and to serve a mission! IT's been the best few months.