Monday, December 29, 2014

It's Almost Christmas!!!

Well... I just had this incredible email written for you and then... the computer erased ALL OF IT. So now I have to start all over, and my email time is dying quickly. So i'll try to write you everything I can.

First things first, MERRY CHRISTMAS!!! Today we woke up at 6:30am as usual, but realized we didn't have anything planned until 8:30am. So... we brushed our teeth, washed our face, showered etc. and went back to sleep for like an hour. Naps are rare, and when time for a nap comes along, you take the opportunity. It was a great start to the day. The excitement at the MTC is tangible. Missionaries are singing Christmas songs, taking pictures in front of the Christmas lights, and laughing all over the place. I am so thankful to be here during Christmas. The true spirit of Christmas is here, and it is fantastic. There are hundreds of Christ's representatives all in one place on His birthday. You can imagine how strong the spirit is here. It is incredible. :) And I am so lucky that I get to call home tomorrow! Dear family, 3:15pm is my call time. So at that time, expect a call on Mom's cell phone. Ahh I'm so excited! :)

So, as one of the greatest gifts we could get here at the MTC, we got our TRAVEL ITINERARY TODAY!!!! My travel plans are here. In 12 days, I will be in KOREA!!!! It will be the biggest culture shock of my life, and I speak like .0001% of the language... but it will be so amazing. We have a native Korean sister staying with us in our residency room. She is so sweet. And she is sweet enough to help us with culture tips. For instance, when someone compliments you in Korea, you respond with "No, no." not "thank you." If you respond with "thank you" it is basically like saying "I know." So its not humble at all, and they will be offended. She helps us with our Korean and gives us tips all the time. She is so sweet. I already adore Korean people. We also have a Korean Elder that joined our district, and he is absolutely hilarious. Ahh I just love Koreans. And Korea. And the Korean language. :)

Oh yeah, travel itinerary. Dear family, here's my travel plans:

January 5th 2015:
3:35am - report to MTC travel office, head to SLC airport
8:11am - leave Salt Lake City
9:33am - arrive in Seattle, Washington
11:40 - leave Seattle

January 6th 2015
4:00pm - arrive at Incheon Airport... in KOREA!!!

Yes, the time difference makes things way confusing. I don't know exactly how long our flight is, I'll do the math later. But I do lose a day of my life on this flight. It is worth the sacrifice, though. ;) If you want to figure it out, Korea is like 16 hours ahead of us. Don't know if that helps... but yeah. :) I am so pumped. I can't even believe this is happening! Hopefully I'll be able to call during the layover in Seattle. But since its not a super long layover... I don't really know whats going to happen. I'll let you know more next week.

So guess who I ran into yesterday? Tyler Stevenson. Yup, he was just chilling at the MTC with the presiding bishop of the church, who happens to be his uncle. We were putting instruments back in the instrument room, and walked out to head to the Tuesday night devotional. I heard my name called and turned around to see Tyler. It was exciting to see someone from home! I have also ran into Elder Ethan Hansen, Elder Bryan Daines, and Elder Nathan Netzley this past week. But Tyler isn't on his mission yet so that was a surprise. So after talking to Tyler for a bit, his uncle came around to meet us and shook our hand. It was just me, my companion, and 2 elders. So we all introduced our selves. We talked for a minute and then headed to the devotional. Bishop Stevenson talked so it was cool to tell people that we shook his hand and talked to him for a while before the devotional. I love seeing familiar faces at the MTC. :)

Oh, I never told you this, but I had the musical number again on Sunday! I arranged it myself... kind of. I have an arrangment of Silent Night by David Lanz, and I asked the sisters of the two oldest Korean missionary intakes to sing. So 7 sisters sang, and I played the piano. The first verse was in English, second in Korean, third in English, and then a little more in Korean. It ended up being absolutely beautiful. I just took my piano solo and cut some of it out, changed around how high it was, and made it work. It was SO BEAUTIFUL. Our branch president, President Perriton, came up to me after and told me that it was beautiful and that my piano playing is amazing. I am so thankful for the ability to play the piano. It has helped me on my mission so much so far, and it has only been 2 months. I love the piano. I don't know what I would do without it. :) And arranging this myself was a new experience that was actually way fun. I just love music.

This last week, I've been reading Matthew, Mark, and Luke. They all contain stories of Jesus Christ, and his life. Since its Christmas, I figured that would be a good way to celebrate. I know without a doubt that Jesus Christ is our Savior, and that He performed many miracles. I know that He loves each and every one of us, and knows us all individually. I know that He atoned for our sins and felt all that we have felt. I know that through Him, I can gain eternal life, and so can you. Jesus Christ is the son of God, and He is our brother. I went to choir randomly this week, and the choir director told us something that really struck me. Jesus Christ was born with the veil, too. As a child, He may have not even know who He was. Or maybe He did. But can you just imagine Him laying on the grass as a child, looking at the stars, seeing everything that He created? And possibly not even knowing that He helped create such a beautiful world? His only intention in His life was to do His Father's will. Such a simple intention. And He was and is perfect.

Well, I will talk to you tomorrow... on the phone! Whoot whoot! :) LOVE YOU ALL SO MUCH!!! MERRY CHRISTMAS!!! :)

Saturday, December 20, 2014


So I don't know if you have heard yet... but yes, I GET TO CALL HOME ON CHRISTMAS THIS YEAR! The MTC has had a change of heart and is allowing us to call home. I don't know how much time we each get, but it probably won't be super long. Dear family, I don't know where you will be for Christmas or which number to call... please Dear Elder me ASAP and let me know! I will be calling sometime between 3:00pm and 5:30pm from what I understand. Then like a week later I get to call home from the airport. You get to hear from me twice within the course of about 2 weeks. How exciting! I am so excited to hear your voices! :) And keep Dear Eldering me all the time anyway... cause Dear Elders make my day.

I cannot believe that in about 3 weeks... I will be flying to Korea. I am totally in shock. The time here at the MTC has flown like crazy. I know it has probably gone a little slower for you all, but here it has literally flown. I swear I just got here and yet my two months are almost up. 2 months will be down so soon, and then I will only have 16 months left. It just seems so weird. But I am so incredibly excited! I have learned so much more about Korean culture and the Korean language. I already love it all and especially the people. Our three native Koreans left on Monday to go back to Korea to serve their missions, and saying goodbye to them was so hard. They were all so cute! But we already decided that we'll meet back up in 2018 when we all fly to Korea for the Olympics. So its all good. ;) We also got another new native yesterday. Her name is Sister Choi. (Yes, there was a Sister Choi last week as well. They are different people.) And... she is taller than me! She is staying in our room, but the language barrier is hard. She doesn't know much English, and we don't know much Korean. We still are able to talk to her and help her though. Our broken Korean and her broken English work together to form real caveman-like conversations, but at least we can hold conversations. She is really sweet, and super easy to love. I am almost convinced all Koreans are super easy to love. Over my time being here I have met about ten to fifteen Koreans in all, and I have seriously adored all of them. Some of them have been my language teachers, some have been other missionaries... but they're all super kind and sweet.

Where in the world is the snow?! Please pray for snow! My Australian and Sri Lankan friends have never had a white Christmas. They want one so bad, as do I. The only snow they've seen is the few sprinkles of it that we have got here. I just wish it would snow!

So I'm the branch music coordinator now. It's actually kind of fun! I get to go to all the branch council meetings and leadership meetings. Only three sisters get callings so that is super exciting that I am one of them. I just make sure that there's someone to play the hymns in sacrament, a musical number, and I'm also in charge of getting music ready for priesthood meetings. Not a huge responsibility but an important one. :) I love music though, so this is perfect for me! :)

So this last week, I have experienced the gift of tongues like never before. I feel like the Lord has quickened my learning. Before, it would take me days to memorize a few Korean words, phrases, or sentence structures. But this week I have understood and remembered them so much quicker. And I have had a much easier time understanding my teachers and the native Korean sister. I don't know why it happened so suddenly. I'm not even a little bit fluent, but this week has been a much better learning week for me. Things are sticking and I am remembering them so well! I honestly believe that the Lord has quickened my learning and understanding. I leave for Korea in 3 weeks... so this is such a good thing! I can't even tell you how appreciative I am to the Lord for this tender mercy. I know there is a reason my learning and understanding has skyrocketed, I just don't know what that reason is yet. Maybe in 3 weeks, there will be someone fully ready to receive my message, which means that the Lord must also prepare me to teach it, and quickly. Maybe its for a reason that I don't fully understand. But not matter what, I totally trust the Lord and cannot be grateful enough for this past week. Even my lessons have been so much better. I am not reading off my notes as much, more just speaking from the heart and in full Korean using what I know how to say already, which may not be much, but still carries across the message I am trying to convey The gift of tongues is very real, and when we work our hardest to learn, the Lord will help us. We are never alone.

So every night, us Korean-speaking sisters get together before bed time and sing a hymn in Korean, and then someone talks about a spiritual thought or experience. We had a new intake of Korean-speaking sisters come in on Wednesday, and they were having a hard first day, as does almost everyone. One is from Germany, and it is her first time away from home, speaking very little English. She was having the hardest day of all of them. It was my turn for the spiritual thought, so I shared one of my favorite scriptures. 2 Nephi 1:15 says "But behold, the Lord hath redeemed my soul from hell; I have beheld his glory, and I am encircled about eternally in the arms of his love." Isn't that such a beautiful thought? We are encircled about eternally in the arms of the Lords love. Whenever we are struggling or going through a trial, we just need to remember that the Lord understands completely what we are going through. He loves us so much and only wants the best for us. Our trials are always meant to teach of something, whether they are small or large. I know that for a fact. Trials come and go, but just remember "And it came to pass..." It didn't "come to stay." Before my mission I remember laying in bed one night thinking about the future and freaking out a little. Korea is so foreign to me and scary. But then I had this image come into my head of me hugging the Savior. I could almost feel his arms around me, implying that everything was going to be okay. Ever since then, whenever I am struggling I just think of that image in my head. We are encircled about eternally in the arms of his love. I just love that picture so much. And now it is Christmas time, and the Savior should be our main focus during this season. Christmas has gotten to be so busy, but the Savior doesn't want us to feel stressed or overwhelmed because we need to do everything for everyone, getting gifts, putting up decorations, shopping etc. The Savior just wants us to feel peace and happiness, and that is what we should focus on this Christmas season. Think of Him giving you a great big hug, and think of what peace you would feel. That is what the Christmas season should feel like. :)

Well, my time is up yet again, but I CANNOT WAIT to talk to you all next Thursday. Also, I get to email on Wednesday next week, so I'll give you exact details on when I'll call then. My pday will be Wednesday, but I get to call home on Thursday. Love, love, love you all!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Tripanionship and Weird Eyes

December 11, 2014

So yeah, I got a new companion! Or to be more accurate, I got another companion. A sister in our district that we dearly love, was sent home yesterday. She has been SOO sick since she got here. She was diagnosed with Celiac's a few weeks ago (yes, while she was in the MTC) and has had a hard time keeping food down for a while now. So after the doctor begged her multiple times to go home, the MTC presidency got involved and basically forced her to go home and heal. Her parents picked her up yesterday morning. Such a sad thing. But everything is in the Lord's timing, and while she fought her heart out to stay here, the Lord needed her to go home. She still fully plans out on coming back in a couple months. But I can't even imagine how hard it is for her. I was with her at her last doctors appointment and she kept insisting that she would be okay, and that she wouldn't go home. I feel so bad for her, but as I said, for whatever reason she was meant to go home. We will definitely miss her. But now her companion, Sister Holbrook, joined Sister Russell and I. It will be interesting, but it should be good. Adjusting to teaching with three people will be a little different, but I am not too worried about it. I love Sister Holbrook and I look forward to spending more time with her. Sister Holbrook is part Hawaiian. She is super funny and will definitely keep things entertaining. :)

 So we have had some native Korean sisters staying like 3 rooms down from us for a couple weeks now, and oh my gosh I LOVE THEM!!!! They might not speak a ton of English but we speak Konglish to them and we can hold conversations. They are all so gorgeous and their style is amazing. Like if I come back from Korea wearing the same type of clothes they wear... life will be good. I will be wearing adorable clothes. Because Korean style is sooo cute! There's three of them, Sister Gim, Sister Lee, and Sister Choi. They decided that I am an "Autumn Woman" which to Koreans appartently means beautiful in a  way that you don't see often. Maybe mysteriously beautiful is the better definition. But they told me I am one of the most beautiful women they've ever seen. They keep telling me that in Korea, people will come up to me all the time and tell how beautiful I am. They are amazed by my curly hair and eye color. I think its super funny, but so sweet that they think that too. One of the first days they were here, I was talking to them in broken Korean and all three of them came close to me and stared at my eyes. I have gotten a ton of compliments on my weird eye color since being here. But anyway, they kept asking what color they were and telling me that they haven't seen it before. Like I said, every day they tell me I am beautiful, and I think its so sweet. All three of them are seriously so pretty. Koreans are legitamately beautiful people. I just adore our Korean sisters! But they leave on Monday, so that will stink to say goodbye to them. They are hilarious too. We sing Kpop songs with them all the time. SO FUNNY. :) Last Sunday we were at the temple, and Sister Fuataga decided I look like a vampire. Yeah, I am as pale as a vampire. I'll own up to it. But like I said earilier, people have been obssessed with my eyes lately. Weird right? I guess in the sun they fleck gold. So yeah, I guess I'm a vampire. Thank you Mom, for giving me an eye color that is apparently so unique. International missionaries love them. They haven't seen anything like them before. ;) The Korean sisters agreed that I'm a vampire haha. Oh and another thing about Koreans... so it is totally normal for a Korean, no matter how young or old, to grab your hand or hold your hand. So the natives are constantly reaching for our hands and holding them. It always throws me off. Obviously that is not American culture at all. But I respect their culture and I try not to act too freaked out when they try to hold my hand. Its totally normal in Korean to see a boy holding hands with another boy, or a girl holding hands with another girl. It doesn't mean what it would mean in America. Its just normal for them, a sign of friendship and love. 

Oh, and here's my warning to you way ahead of time. Well, like 16 and a half months ahead of time. We bow to everyone so much. The MTC encourages you to speak the language you are learning and get used to some culture changes if possible. So whenever I say thank you or hello to people I often find myself bowing. Whenever I shake hands with people I shake with my right hand, but put my left hand somewhere on my right arm. You never shake hands in Korea with your left hand just dangling. It either has to be shaking too, or must be holding on to your right arm so you are shaking hands with both hands. It is a sign of major disrespect if you shake with one hand. But anyway, back to the bowing. It is a habit that may never be broken. Though most of my thank you's are in Korean (whether I think about it or not... Korean is now the habit), even when I say thank you in English I bow. If I don't bow, it feels super weird. But 99% of the time I bow. I even bowed to the sisters I hosted last week without thinking, and they looked at me funny. Then I realized what I had done, started laughing, and apologized. Though I won't get home for a long time, this bowing habit is already stronger than me. So expect some bowing when I come home. ;) 

Okay now for the spiritual part of my letter. I have finally figured out an effective way to bear my testimony in Korean, and it has made such a huge difference in my lessons. It is broken Korean, but the spirit rushes in when I attempt to bear my testimony. See, while my Korean is limited, the spirit is never limited, and the spirit speaks all languages. When I try my hardest to convey my message and the feelings of my heart, the Holy Ghost fills in the investigator on what I cannot say. I pray for the gift of tongues for me, but I also pray for the gift of interpretation for my investigator. And the Holy Ghost covers it all. As long as my heart is in the right place, even if my Korean is totally slaughtered, the Holy Ghost will help. The investigator may not understand what I am saying, but they can understand what they are feeling. And that is the most important thing. Korean is just a tool the Lord has given us to convey the message of his gospel. But the Holy Ghost is the real teacher. We are just vessels for the Holy Ghost to work through. I know without a doubt, that no matter how hard it may be to speak Korean or teach in Korean, as long as I have the spirit with me and teach from the heart, the investigator will feel something, and they will understand my message. My testimony of the Holy Ghost has skyrocketed since being here. I could not teach without the Holy Ghost's help. Korean is one of the hardest languages to learn, and some argue that it is even harder than Japanese or Chinese because the sounds are so different from English (and yes, they are... I have to retrain my speaking in some ways), but I know that the Holy Ghost will always help me. I never get discouraged because I have faith in the Holy Ghost, and it has made all the difference. While other sisters may break down because of the pressure, I am one of the few that has remained optimistic the entire time, and I am so grateful for that. I don't know how I got blessed with some much faith and optimism, but I am ever so thankful for it. Remember that the Holy Ghost does the converting. We can read the scriptures, pray, or go to church all we want. But if we are not worthy of the Holy Ghost's companionship, we will never truly feel the blessings of the truths of the gospel, or know without doubt that the gospel is true. Well, my time is now up. But I love you all. Sorry this week wasn't that entertaining, I can't even remember half of what happened. Days here are all the same. But I love it. Love you all so much! Miss you! 

Love, Sister Maughan :)

Monday, December 15, 2014

Life is Good at the MTC!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

So this week isn't much compared to last week. But it has flown by. My 1 month point was yesterday.... I have 17 months of my mission left! And this first one has seriously flown by. But I have loved every second of it. So Sunday we went on our weekly temple walk to the Provo temple. Our temple walks are always way fun and relaxing. We don't get out of the MTC much so I love going on temple walks. Sundays in general tend to be the best days at the MTC. Anyway, while on our temple walk, about ten of us (2 sisters, 8 elders,) ran into some native Koreans. So of course, we tried out our Korean on them a little and then had a conversation in English. One of the members of our branch presidency, who happens to also be native Korean, saw us talking to this young Korean couple. So Brother Lee (the member of the branch presidency) walked over to us, looked at us, and said one word. "Yunsip." I still haven't figured out the Korean keyboard or I would write it in the Korean alphabet. Anyway, yunsip means "practice." So we ended up all bearing our testimonies in Korean to the young Korean couple we met at the temple. SO intimidating. But so cool, too. It definitely made it seem more real. And we didn't have our books with us, so it was all off of memory. It was definitely a learning experience. But I appreciated the opportunity, even though I definitely realized I have a lot left to learn here in the MTC. The next event worth mentioning happened on Tuesday. So our district is super close, and one of our goals this week as a district was to pick on person each day, and spend about 10 minutes of class telling them what Christlike attribute they show the most. Tuesday they chose me. Everyone chose charity and love for me. That is like... the biggest compliment anyone could give me. I was reading in the scriptures earlier this week... and I read about how he who has charity and love is well with God (or something like that... I don't remember exact wording or the reference... Mianhamnida, my bad). The compliments that stood out to me the most were about the love that I show to everyone, and how optimistic I am. One elder even said that if someone is having a bad day, I uplift them because of my happiness and big heart. Another said that I am one that tries everything I can to do all that I can, and that he admired my motivation. Ahh my heart grew like 20 sizes that day, just because everyone was so sincere with their compliments. I LOVE MY DISTRICT. We spend the entire day together every day, and we have become so close. Everyone knows everything about everyone. We don't judge. We work together. It's truly amazing. Knowing that I leave them MTC in a month... it makes me feel like I am leaving a second family! My district has helped fill the void of not having family here with me. Now Mom and Dad, of course no one can ever replace you or my family. My district has just helped me feel loved and helped me not be homesick. They have all become my best friends. Really, we are all best friends. I mean we spend every hour of the day which each other. Night time is the only time we are not all together. How could we not be best friends right? :) I love it so much. So yesterday, we hosted new missionaries. It was sooo fun!!! I hosted about 4 or 5 sisters in all. A few were crying yes, but I tried my best to make them feel comfortable and reassure them that while day one is the hardest, it only gets better from there. One girl had luggage as big as me, no joke. I had to carry her luggage all over the MTC campus, trying to show no weakness. Her luggage well exceeded 50 pounds. I have no doubt of that. Or I'm just a wimp... haha. We passed Sister Fuataga on the way to the new sister's room. She started laughing at me. It was definitley a challenge but it was so fun! And our district got chosen to help the early missionaries as well. So every time a car would pull up the curb before official drop off time, there would be fourteen of us waving and smiling and welcoming the new elder or sister. One mom was so thankful for us that she took a picture of us after she dropped her son off. So fun. I hope we get to host again before we leave. We should, because we are here the longest. 5 weeks left! :) Oh and I also had a bad experience on Monday. So... my turquoise and black and white striped dress got some red spots in the laundry. Nothing else got anything on it. I don't know how it happened, but that was the first week I was here. The laundry machines are crappy and so was the detergent they gave us our first pday. Don't worry, I have figured things out now and have not and will not ruin anything else. So... some of the sisters mentioned taking it to alterations to see if they could just put a new skirt on it. The turquoise part (the bottom half) is the only part that got red spots. The rest was untouched. So I figured it was worth a shot. We (me, my companion Sister Russell, Sister Fuataga and Sister Wijetunge) went up to alterations (Sister Fuataga had some dresses that needed altered too) to see if they could fix it. This old lady, a volunteer, came up to help us. This old lady was the meanest old lady I've ever met in my life. Now, keep in mind that being a CNA included being spanked by an old lady, having my earrings pulled out, being cornered in a bathroom and all sorts of fun things. But this old lady won the contest. First, she took Sister Fuataga's dresses and demanded she go put them on "right this instant." Fuatanga was about to ask her a question when she yelled "GO PUT THEM ON!" Then, she gave me a paper to fill out. I had light purple nail polish on at the time and my CTR ring. First, she flipped out on me for wearing nail polish. Then she saw my CTR ring and flipped out on me for wearing jewelry. "Sister missionaries should leave their worldy possessions at home. Go take off your nailpolish and send your jewelry home." And that is explaining it nicely. Anyway, remember that she is a volunteer. She doesn't work at the MTC. And I have a missionary handbook that has all the guidelines to what sisters can and cannot wear. Nail polish, as long as it is not neon or flashy, is totally fine, and some mission president's wives encourage it because it is professional. Jewelry is fine as long as it is not flashy either. Almost every missionary I know wears a CTR ring. I don't even care if she fixes my dress or not. She said she couldn't alter it but that she could try to get the stains out. By the time she said that I was fed up with her yelling at me. The spirit was long gone, and I was trying to keep my cool. So I let her take the dress, we walked to lunch. And then I fumed for a little while and let it go. That is the last time I take anything to alterations though. It was so ridiculous. But yeah, that's my last story. I just got back from playing volleyball with Sister Fuataga and the elders in my district while my companion, Sister Russell, ran on the track. It was SOOO fun. We were the only two sisters playing, but they totally set it for us and let us play just like they would with only elders. It's my favorite part of the day, playing volleyball during gym time. The week in all was a good one, and a fast one. I love this gospel and I know that it is true, without a doubt. I know that I am meant to serve in Korea, and that in order to be a missionary you must have charity and love. I hope you all had a fabulous thanksgiving! Love you so much! Miss you! Pray for snow! Sister Fuataga and Sister Wijetunge haven't seen much of it yet. Sister Russell wants to see more too! :) Love you, talk to you next Thursday! :)

2 General Authorities in One Week!!!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Yes, you read that right. We all knew we would be getting a GA for Thanksgiving but we didn't expect one on Tuesday too. But I'll get to that in a bit. Sorry, I'm making you wait to hear who spoke. :) Anyways, I'm starting with SaturdaySaturday turned out being a really good day. Why? I honestly don't know. It was just a good day. It started out okay but ended great. It actually ended with a shower choir haha. I was in the shower when Sister Fuataga ran into the bathroom yelling my name. She had been looking for her shower supplies for a while because she had lost them. She then went on to tell me that after her and Sister Russell prayed about finding her shower supplies, she found them about five minutes later. Then she told everyone who was currently in the shower at that time that she had a testimony of prayer and that God answers your prayers even when they are silly. Pretty quickly, a whole conversation came up between me, Sister Fuataga (who, after finding her shower supplies, was finally able to get in the shower), and two other sisters that we have not yet formally met... because they were in the shower at that time too. (There's like 6 individual showers in our bathroom). Somehow the conversation turned into all of us singing church songs together. And let me just say... we killed it. We sounded like the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Perfect harmonies and the bathroom acoustics were amazing. Every night since then, us four sisters who have never formally met, shower at the same time so that we can sing Christmas songs and sound like rockstars. It's like the best way to end the day ever haha. And it all started out with Sister Fuataga bearing her testimony in the shower... the MTC is great. :) Okay, so now that I've got you laughing (hopefully... or you think I'm just weird) I guess I can tell you which two General Authorities we got to hear from this week. So Tuesday, we got to hear from Elder Dallin H. Oaks. And it was a surprise, which made it even more exciting. We have devotionals every Tuesday night, but it's usually the MTC presidency or someone that isn't an apostle. As soon as we found out, those in our district that weren't in choir practice (Sister Fuataga, me, Elder Coleman, Elder Skinner, Elder Craven, and Elder Perks) booked it to dinner and ate in like five minutes. Seriously. And then we ran to the building that the devotional is in. We were pretty close to the front of the line. Missionaries go nuts when GA's come to speak. So if you want a good seat, you have to line up early. We were an hour early. So it was pretty good. The original seats we got were not on the floor, but on the first row of the bleachers. Which is like 20 ish rows back from the front. There's like 100 rows or something, so we had some decent spots. But right before it started, an usher came up to us and asked us how many were in our group. We said 6 and he said, "Great, can I ask you to follow me?" We were unsure of where he would take us, but, being good missionaries, we told him we would gladly sit where he wanted us to. Well... he took us to the SECOND ROW! We were so close that Elder Oaks smiled at us! How cool is that? Yeah, pretty neat. Tuesday... super good day. We definitely owed that usher a ton. I don't have my notes with me or I would tell you some cool quotes that he said. I'll do that next week. So today is Thanksgiving. HAPPY THANKSGIVING! We got to listen to none other than Elder David A. Bednar. Though our seats weren't nearly as good today, we still were pretty close. It was so exciting. He didn't give a normal talk. He actually passed out 100s of cell phones and asked us to text questions to him on his iPad. "This may be the only time you get to ask a General Authority questions," he said. Yeah whoa right? He only got to answer around 8 questions that I can think of before the hour and a half was up, but it was so neat. My favorite thing that he said was, "you will only be away from your family for a season. There is only one time your absence can bear witness of your faith in Christ." I really liked that, because even though I know that I am missing a lot right now, not being with my family at Thanksgiving and Christmas, the fact that I am gone can always remind you of Christ. When you start missing me, just remember Christ. I am an official representative of Jesus Christ. Cho nen Yesu Crisido eh depeoja imnida. That is the romanized Korean for "I am a representative of Jesus Christ." When you think of my absence, think of Christ. You'll remember Him a lot more this way. Elder Bednar also said that "This work is energizing." Somehow we drag ourselves out of bed at 6:00 or before, study all day, teach investigators, feel the Holy Ghost, get exhausted from all of this and then wake up the next day willing to do it again. I don't know how I keep continuing on, because my mind has never been challenged so much before. My motivation has never been challenged so much before. Trying to stay awake has never been so much of a challenge. This work is a challenge. But it is also energizing. And we continue moving forward every day, trying harder each day to be a better representative of Jesus Christ. It is a great time to be a missionary. I love it here. I have made more friends than I ever thought I could. I have felt more love from others, and more love towards others than I ever have before. Christ has placed an amazing amount of love in our hearts that is hard to understand, but is incredible. Without this love, I would be dying of homesickness right now. He knows what we need and how to help us. That is my testimony moment for today. :) Also, Sister Russell has had a nasty cold lately, and being her companion I thought I would get it pretty fast. But she has been strong through it and somehow I have not gotten it. God is always uplifting us and blessing us. Pray for her to get feeling better! :) Being healthy here is so important. Well, I better go. Thanksgiving dinner is in 15 minutes (though who knows if it is safe to eat... MTC food is so sketchy). I hope you all have an amazing Thanksgiving and don't forget to thank Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ for all they do for us. Love you all! Saranghamnida! Annyeongicayseyo! :) (One day I'll figure out how to type in Korean on these computers for you!) :)

Days at the MTC blur together

Thursday, November 20, 2013

Yeah, the days here seriously blend here.  Like was there a devotional today?  Or was that yesterday?  Story of my life.  Anyway all is good here.  We got a new intake of Korean missionaries yesterday. So there are now three new sisters joining the Korean branch!  Two are from Utah, one is from Arizona.  They seem really nice, so that's exciting.  It snowed last week (what day? haha I have no idea... likeI said, its all a blur here) for the first time since we got here.  We dragged Sister Fuataga and Sister Wijetunge out to see snow for the first time.  Sister Wijetunge is really quiet and sweet, and her eyes lit up when she saw it for the first time.  She touched it and said "cold, but pretty."  I laughed and agreed.  Sister Fuataga on the other hand... oh that Australian sister is the funniest person I've ever met.  Some elders told her that snow falls in bricks and hurts when it hits you, and she believed them.  So when she saw it she was like, "what the heck? Does it hurt?"  Then she stuck her hand out to touch it and screamed.  We assured her that snow does not fall in bricks and that it does not hurt.  We threw some snow at each other, decided it was time to go back inside, and called it a day.  Sister Russell loves the  cold.  She was excited for the snow, too. She rarely ever wears a jacket or coat and I tell her she's crazy for it.  But somehow, she enjoys the cold.  This is something that I will never understand.  Nineteen years in Utah and I still hate being cold.  Snow is great.  Cold is not. Too bad they go together.  So a couple days ago, there was a devotional.  We went on a companion exchange because Sister Russell and Sister Wijetunge (Sister Fuataga's companion) wanted to go to choir practice.  Sister Fuataga and I did not.  So Sister Fuataga became my temporary companion. Well, while Sister Russell and Sister Wijetunge were at choir, we chilled with the elders in the district that has been here 8 weeks and leaves.  They are a bunch of nerds, but pretty entertaining.  One of them is an amazing composer.  He writes his own arrangements and can pretty much improvise anything.  He is an incredible pianist and composer.  So he showed us some of his music, and the arrangements he has composed (with violin, cello, drums, etc) on the computer. Yeah, holy wow.   Anyway, after chilling with those elders for a while, it was time for the devotional.  Sister Fuataga forgot her jacket, and the line to get into the devotional was out the door.  She decided we had to get inside somehow.  So what did she do?  She grabbed my arm and dragged me inside yelling "My companion really needs to go to the toilet!  She needs to pee!" ("Going to the toilet" is how Australians say "Going to the bathroom" -- apparently they are much  blunter than us).  Of course, all the missionaries parted the way as she told them all that I needed to pee.  They were all pointing me to where the bathroom was.  Yeah, super embarrassing.  Pretty sure I was bright red. Once we got inside she stopped and said to me, "See, my plan worked.  We got inside."  I just facepalmed and laughed.  And no, I didn't actually need to use the bathroom.  What an adventure. The devotional was good, though.  The general relief society president spoke to us, so that was way cool.  So far we have to listen to the general young women's president, the general relief society president, and the general primary president.  But... I'm bad and don't remember their names.  Learning Korean is wiping my memory, I accompanied some elders as they sung "Ye Elders of Israel."  It was really good.  My piano skills are not going to waste here!  I'm playing the hymns for sacrament again.  Whoot whoot! :)  Every Sunday, the Hunger Games happen. The speakers are not asked to speak until they are announced over the pulpit. The branch president gets up to conduct the meeting and says "First, we will be hearing from ____ and then ____" And it must be completely in Korean.  So every we all prepare a talk and cross our fingers that we are  not picked to talk.  It seriously feels like the Hunger Games reaping.  One Sister, One Elder. So you never know when it will be your turn, but you prepare a talk anyway.  So scary.  So we had a super cool moment this week, teaching an investigator.  We were planning to teach her about prayer, but then she told us about how she didn't know which church to join.  Yeah, prayer would be okay to teach here, but the restoration would be even better.  So, in the middle of the lesson I whispered to Sister Russell that we needed to switch and teach the Restoration.  I whipped out my Korean scriptures (you don't need to send me the ones at home, Mom. Plenty here.  Keep those so you can think of me) and flipped to Joseph Smith-History.  Finding the scripture you need in the Korean scriptures is a challenge.  I can read Korean totally fine, but I don't know what it is saying. Luckily I found what I needed and we taught the Restoration. The spirit never leaves you without help when it asks you to change your plans.  But yeah, that's about it for the week.  I can read Korean, pray in Korean, and speak like a tiny bit of it (enough to teach a lesson).  So that's good.  Oh and I never told you, there's an Elder Maughan in the Korean branch.  How cool is that?  We are related through Peter Maughan (we checked on family search yesterday) but he is from Washington.  And Maughan means 1000 in Korean.  Yup.  Good stuff. Mom, you asked what we are doing for Thanksgiving.  Well, we get a GA!!!!  A general authority is coming to speak to us!  And we get thanksgiving dinner (but who knows how safe it will be... turkey here is super sketchy).  There's also a service activity planned.  But since Thanksgiving is on Thursday, our pday next week is supposed to be a different day.  Or so we hope.  So I'm not sure what day you'll get my next email.  I wish I could say I'll let you know but... Haha I can't.  Anyway, love you all so so much and hope you are doing well!  Miss you like crazy!  I pray for each of you daily!   Thank you for the chips and salsa (and treats!), we are eating them later and I've never been so excited for chips and salsa before. Saranghamnida! (Love you!) 

1 Week Down and 8 to go!

Thursday November 13, 2014

Hello family! I am so excited to email you! I didn't know who to send this to so I figured I'd send it to Mom. (: I seriously love getting the Dear Elders... so keep sending away please! They make the eight hours of hearing only Korean a day much more bearable. Okay, so to the good stuff. First of all, Brady asked how the food is here. Though I'm sure this won't make Mom too happy.... the food has already made us all sick. No throwing up for me though, thank heavens. Just awful belly aches and stomach cramps. Six of us sisters sat in class a few days ago looking like zombies as our tummies fought the war against MTC food. Our teacher, while speaking only Korean as usual wrote the Korean word for "Nurse" on the board. But we refused because missing any class would put us so behind. Yeah, I've sworn off MTC meat for the next 8 weeks. Looks like it will be salads, wraps, and cereal for me. While they say the meat is turkey or chicken or whatever, it looks like colored sponge, tastes about what it looks like, and feels just as bad once its inside you. I ask myself every day how I will survive eating MTC food for 9 weeks. So you can imagine how excited I was when Grandma Stucki sent me that first package of cinnamon rolls... FOOD FROM THE OUTSIDE!!! So exciting. Tell her thanks for me. Same with the cookies you guys sent me. Thank you so much for that! Sometimes it feels like a prison here, but most of the time its pretty amazing. Besides the food, I love it here. We taught our first fake investigator completely in Korean last Friday, 2 days after entering the MTC. You can imagine how that went. Simple phrases like "God loves you. (Ha Na Nim Abogee sanranghamnida to give you a taste of how you say it) Jesus loves you. We love God. We love Jesus," and so on. Haha oh its so fun. But we teach our investigator every day now. We gave him a Korean Book of Mormon already so that's good. And one day... though he's a fake investigator, we actually made him cry. No, we didn't beat him up. The spirit was just so strong. We had him read the restoration scripture in Joseph Smith-History. And a tear ran down his cheek. Sister Russell started crying too. I was shocked and happy and warm feeling... my Korean might be awful, but hey I guess he could feel our spirit. No one else in our district or the Korean branch has done that yet. Our investigator's name is Begunu. He is acutally a returned missionary from Korea, and though we aren't supposed to know this yet, he will become our teacher probably next week. He knows our strengths and weaknesses since we have been teaching him. But oh my heavens, it is so crazy the love we have already gained for him. It came out of no where. Every time we see him we get all excited to teach him and just feel so much love for him. And he isn't even a real investigator! Sister Simonson, our Korean teacher, was talking to us about it two days ago. She asked us (in Korean of course) if we could feel the love for Begunu. We lit up with a smile and said yes! So much! Even if he isn't a real investigator! We asked where it came from. All the sudden our hearts were just fillled with loved for our fake investigator. She pointed to our missionary badges and said that it was because of our calling. The love we already feel towards our investigator (whether he is a real investigator or not) is absolutely amazing. Seriously. Our district is amazing as well. 8 Elders and 6 Sisters. I just look around the room in class and feel the love for everyone here. They are like my second family. Helps so much with the homesickness! We all get along so well! We laugh when we get to the point of Korean overload and talk for a few minutes altogether (in English! :) ) just to take a break. Then we get back to work and learn. It's a pretty good system, and we all know when to be studying and when it is okay to take a break and laugh a little. I just love it. The Elders are so kind and willing to help. Sister Russel was feeling discouraged last week and they automatically offered a blessing. Though she rejected it, 2 other sisters have already recieved blessings to help with discouragement, homesickness, and a major language barrier. (Sister Wijitunge speaks very little English. But she is learning Korean through English which is a major challenge because she doesnt know much English.) I've been loving it though. No discouragement so far. My Korean isn't great but its coming along better than I could have ever hoped. I can read Korean (takes 20 minutes to get through one verse, but I am still proud!), pray in Korean, teach a lesson in Korean, and i'm starting to understand my teacher more and more. I mean eight hours of Korean a day just does that to you. Their goal is to push it to the limit so that you have to work hard and learn faster. It's just great. The devotionals here are so good too. It's nice to listen to English talks on Sundays and Tuesdays. On Tuesday, the second counselor of the Presiding Bishopric of the church spoke to us. I cant remember his name though, I'm scrambling to tell you all that I can. It was really good though. He and his wife sung love one another with us and it was the cutest thing. Brought chills to everyone here. There's thousands of missionaries here so you can imagine the spirit. And we are here longest so we have a big branch since it takes 9 weeks to leave. I played the piano in sacrament on Sunday for the Korean branch. I played the hymns while the congregation sang in Korean. That was different, but super cool. I couldn't understand anything they were saying but I loved it anyway. I don't know what else I can tell you now, this is a huge email already haha. Oh, and thanks for sending my retainer Mom. The sisters in my room always laugh when I try to talk at night with it in. We are all super close. Sister Fuatanga is hilarious (she's the Australian one) and makes us laugh soo hard. Yesterday we were filling out a questionare about the MTC and what we did before. One of the questions was "how in shape were you before coming to the MTC?" she said, outloud, "Well, circle is a shape right?" and that is when our teacher broke. Brother Scoville was our teacher at the time. None of our teachers ever break character. They speak only Korean and try to keep us learning (even though they are as American as can be and totally speak English). But when Sister Fu said that, he broke. He laughed so hard he had to leave the room. We couldn't stop laughing for like 10 minutes because of his reaction. She's like, one of my favorite people in the world. Our comic relief with a pretty accent. Though she says that Australian accents are so "bogan" (the Australian word for redneck apparently). Oh, speaking of which, this place is accent heaven. I love hearing everyone's accent and hearing where everyone's from. It's so cool to meet people from all over the world. Well, I'm gonna try and upload some pictures now. I don't know if it will work but don't expect anything. Also to answer Mom's questions, we have class Monday-Saturday. Except Thursday which is Pday. And we go to the temple on Pday and go walk around the temple on Sundays. Sundays are spent in various meetings of all sorts. There is never a moment to really breathe here except on pdays. Busy busy busy. But it's good, and I love it (besides the food). I love you all and miss you like crazy! Give all of the family and Chewy a hug for me. I'm glad Brady likes my bed so much. I love hearing from all of you! So keep Dear Eldering me! I get them every day you send them (except saturdays and sundays... those ones come on Monday if you send them then).  This last week flew for me and I hope it did for you too. :) love love love you all