Monday, January 26, 2015

Korean pizza is the best!!!!

So I ate my first Korean pizza last week. And let me just say... America, you are doing it wrong. I love you, but you are doing it so wrong. Here in Korea, they put everything you could think of on pizza. But the thing that I fell in love with was the sweet potato pizza. Yes, it sounds strange.. but you have no clue how amazing it is. They put these strips of sweet potato that has been whipped with sweet cream of some sort and lay it across the pizza. Then they put these puffs of cheese on it and fried squid and chicken and... yes it sounds so weird. But like really... It is absolutely incredible. I can't even explain how my love for pizza has blossomed here. They even turn the crust into dessert and stuff it with apple pie filling or cream cheese and cranberry raisins. But... Korean pizza is also super expensive. You get like 3 pizzas for $100... we definitely save it for special occasions. ;)

Guess what? I sang in church yesterday! I don't even sing... but I sang in church yesterday! Me and four other missionaries sang "More Holiness Give Me" in Korean for our ward's special musical number yesterday. (one of the elders played the piano) I was the soprano... but it was actually super fun! We have a great district right now. :) We are all total dorks but we get along really well and we work hard. I love my area, 안산, so much. It is a hard area... missionaries in our mission often say, "Don't ask the Ansan missionaries about their investigators... because they don't have any." But we are going to change that.

We had a district meeting last week and all agreed that we had the same goal, a burning desire to change the views of others on the Ansan Ward. We will do all that it takes to totally flip this area around. We have already planned various ward activities to strengthen the ward and the few youth that attend. We figure that if we can get the youth to be strong, then that will mean less less actives for later. We have to strengthen the ward before we can truly bring investigators into it. We all want to change 안산 with all our hearts. Missionaries here in the past have worked hard too, but we want to be the ones to completely change this place. All six of us are working to do all that we can to make this ward strong. We have this desire that is unexplainable, and we are acting on it. One of the elders brought up the thought, "The place with the most dead trees has the most fertile ground." Ansan used to be very strong, but they are down to about 50 active members. Well, its time to plant some seeds. We can't bring every less active back, or keep every youth in the ward from falling away. But we will do what we can, with the time we have. The Lord is giving us the strength and desire to change Ansan. And before we forget about that desire, we are acting on it. I can't even explain to you how badly I want to help these people. I am representing the Lord, and His desires are now becoming mine.

Also, I have learned how much I love the Korean people this week. The love for them kind of crept up on me. I didn't realize how much I loved them until I had a simple experience on one of the subways. So we were just sitting on the subway, and I was playing a game in my head to help pass the time. My game is that I look around and try to figure out what people are thinking/feeling. Everyone is quiet on the trains, so its kind of fun to just see what people could be thinking. Well, I was playing that little game when I saw a Korean man, probably a few years older than me or about my age, look at his phone. All the sudden, tears started streaming down his face. My heart pretty much burst inside. It surprised me how bad I felt for this man. I just wanted to run up to him and promise him that everything would be okay, that no matter what was happening, everything would be okay. Whether it was the stress of college, a girlfriend being difficult, parents, life in general... whatever was making this man sad, I wanted to help him. I wanted him to know that there are better things ahead. I didn't get the chance to talk to him because he got off at the next stop, but it seriously surprised me how much my heart snapped. The name tag I wear comes with power that I didn't expect.

Because I am a missionary, I feel what Christ feels. I feel the love his has for God's children. I feel the heartache that happens when a recent convert admits that she doesn't believe in God (which did happen this week). I feel the desire for a simple place like Ansan in South Korea, to become strong and rely on the gospel. I feel the desire to bring others to Christ. There is so much I want to do on this mission, so many people I want to help. It won't be easy, but I am representing our Lord. He will help me every step of the way, and through Him I truly can change lives. My Korean is limited, but I know that through Christ I can find other ways to touch lives until I learn the language. My countenance and my example means so much. I can uplift others and bring them to the truth.

I love you all so much and miss you as always! 사랑합니다!

Monday, January 19, 2015

I look like Michael Jackson! not really!

So... I hope you are laughing at the subject of this email. There is a story behind it, and I hope you want to hear it because here it goes. So a few days ago we were teaching one of our recent converts. The lessons with her are always a little crazy because she brings her daughter, her niece, and a super cute older lady who is probably going to get baptized soon. But anyway, she was shocked at my hair (like most Koreans) because it is naturally curly. Everyone asks when I permed it... and my answer is always "never, its natural." They don't believe me so I show them little kid pictures of me and they are always shocked. Its the best. But here in Korea... my curly hair has gone haywire. It curls about 10x as much I swear. They call it Ramen Hair. (yes, like the noodles). So she was talking about my hair, when she decided I look like Michael Jackson. She told me from the nose up, I look just like Michael Jackson. I am pale, have dark super curly hair, and my nose points up (most Korean noses are flatter than mine). Then she started singing Billy Jean. Sister Carter and I were definitely laughing at this comment. Personally, I don't think I look like Michael Jackson, but you can be the judge of that. :)

Last Monday after I emailed home, we went to look for some warm clothes for me. The shopping trip was a crazy success. I bought some boots and some lined leggings that make all the difference in the world. But thats not the only reason the trip was a success. We were in this cute little thrift store just looking around, when this Korean girl came up and started talking to us. She looked like she was about my age. We found out she's 21, which in American age is 19. She randomly just threw out that her aunt is a member of a church, and that she went to church with her for a little while. And then after some more conversation, she brings up the fact that she was actually baptized when she was younger. We found a less active in a thrift store. It was crazy! So we invited her to English class (we teach English class every Wednesday night) and she was super eager to go. She showed up at English class and we became friends very quickly. At English class, she asked us to go to McDonald's with her on Friday. Of course we said yes. So Friday rolls around and we meet her at McDonald's for lunch. She shows up, and we quickly find out that she woke up at noon that day. Sister Carter asked why she woke up so late (her hair was a mess and she just looked a little rough) and soon enough we find out that she was drinking the night before, and she was hung over. So we went to McDonald's with our less active friend who was hung over. It was disappointing of course, because we thought she had potential to come back to the church. But it was also obvious that she was having so much fun with her friends away from church that it would be hard to convince her otherwise. We still plan on being her friend and inviting her to things. The McDonald's experience was definitely disappointing for us, but hope never runs out when you are a missionary. :)

Coming into the country, I thought that I would finally be eating food that was good for me, not huge portions, and just all around better than American food. I thought that since Koreans are so small, they probably don't eat that much. It makes sense right? Haha boy was I wrong. Koreans eat SO MUCH FOOD!!! Every time a member feeds us, halfway through the meal I am stuffed to the bone, but I still have to eat more. They think you don't like their food if you stop eating. I truly love Korean food, but it is so hard to keep eating sometimes! My companion tells me that I am going to have to learn to eat a lot, and while I like food, I also like not stuffing myself every meal, too. I don't like overeating but... I also don't like offending members haha.  Also, they don't drink any water. Their cups are half the size of ours... they are more like shot glasses than cups. And sometimes you don't even get drinks at meals. They tend to drink hebal teas more than water as well, so we get a lot of those. A few days ago a member gave us an herbal tea drink thing that definitely surprised me. It was... probably the only thing I have tried here that I don't like. It was some kind of barley tea or something... but I just had to drink it fast because it was not good. Korean food tends to surprise me more often than anything, because the way it looks is not the way it tastes. But all the food I have eaten is amazing, and I am excited to try more.

I wish I had more to say this week, but really I am still getting over culture shock and the craziness of being a brand new missionary in a foreign country. I am studying hard to learn the language and while there are times I get frustrated that I can't communicate with anyone, I try my best to remain optimistic and postive. Positivity is so important in learning a language! Especially a language as hard as Korean. While I may not really be able to talk to people, my example is very important in this work. Being a foreigner, I am always being watched. When I am polite and give up my seat on buses or trains, smile at others when I make eye contact with them, and thank every one I can for even the smallest things, at least I am sending a positive message. Kindness is so important as a missionary. Jesus Christ was the perfect example of kindness, and while I am representing him I must do my best to be kind always. I love you all so much and miss you! You are all sons and daughters of a loving Heavenly Father and you must never forget that. :) 사랑합니다!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

I made it to Korea!!!!!!

I made it to Korea!!! And I am definitely in Korea. It is a whole new world out here. My trainer is Sister Carter. She is super nice and funny and absolutely incredible at the language. Thank goodness, because I can't understand anything yet. I am such a greenie. My first area is An San. This is a bit of a challenging area. When I first got here, we had no progressing investigators. The ward is struggling really really bad. Lots of inactives. But its all good, because that just means there's lots of opportunities to help.

So on my way to An San, I experienced rush hour in Seoul. Now this... this is insanity. And not only rush hour in Seoul, but rush hour in Seoul carrying 3 suitcases onto trains stuffed to the walls with Koreans. And I am a foreigner so automatically I am watched from every directions. On one of the escalators at the train stations, one of my suitcases got caught on a step and fell over. A Korean man caught it for me and gave it to me. I said thank you in Korean, but lets just say, he was not impressed. He blew right past me after that saying some not so kind things in Korean. I didn't understand any of it. But Sister Carter told me he said some things about stupid foreigners and that was all she would tell me. Haha off to a good start right? :) Oh rush hour Seoul... what an adventure.

Our service project on Wednesday (I think it was Wednesday?) was to visit a nursing home. I was in HEAVEN!!! Korean elderly people are the cutest! I was back at home being a CNA again. We colored pictures with them and helped them eat. They also asked me to sing a song for them, so I sang "Once there was a Snowman." Their smiles were the cutest things! Ahh I loved it so much! And let me just say... if you want a confidence boost, be a foreigner in a Korean nursing home. All the old ladies kept telling me I was so beautiful over and over again. Their smiles warmed my heart. It was my favorite part of being here so far. So amazing! :)

I introduced myself in sacrament meeting on Sunday, all in Korean. I just said my name, where I was from, how many people were in my family etc. I also bore my testimony in Korean. But the best part was when I told them I had only been there five days, the congregation gasped. One man even said "But how?" So... apparently even if I can't say much in Korean, what I can say is near perfect pronunciation. According to the Koreans, I sound like I have been here for a long time. But its pretty obvious I haven't when they try to talk to me haha. You know on A Christmas Story how they go out to eat on Christmas and the Asians cant say "Fa la la la?" Well... thats how it is when Americans try to speak Korean. Two elders spoke before me that have been here way longer than me, but I guess I was the easiest to understand and used the most correct grammar. The gift of tongues is real. I cannot deny it. People have complimented my pronunciation the whole time I've been here, and when my trainer heard me speak Korean she was shocked. I had no clue that I spoke so well. But I cannot even tell you how thankful I am for it. Miracles happen. Even if I can't say much, if what I can say is clear and makes sense, then I am on the right path. Heavenly Father is definitely blessing me. :)

So since being in Korea, I have learned a lot. I am still getting over a bit of culture shock, but I love it anyway. Some things I have learned about Korea:
-Koreans are CRAZY drivers. Lines are merely a suggestion. Drive in the middle of the road if you want!
-Korean food is amazing. Even if its raw squid, it still tastes amazing.
-Koreans don't talk to each other on the bus or train. Generally, Americans make conversation with the person sitting next to them. There could be a ton of Koreans on one train or bus, but it is silent. They are obsessed with their phones and earphones.
-I stand out more than you would ever believe. I get stared at a lot. I am definitely a foreigner, and there is no hiding it.
-Most Korean girls have had plastic surgery to make their eyes bigger. They see me, and they get jealous. But they are so beautiful without the surgery! I wish I could tell them that.
-Heated floors are amazing. But no central heating system means when you walk into buildings, they are just as cold inside as the outside.
-Korea has a bit of a vanity problem. I have seen only super nice expensive cars. No cheap "college kid" cars exist.
-Korea has a smell... kimchi... my clothes smell like fish and kimchi.
-Korean men drink a lot... the women do too but I have already seen my fair share of men zombie walking down the streets as drunk as can be. Plus tons of people smoke.
-Korea is COLD.

But the thing about Korea that has stuck out to me the most... is that these people are lost. They are lost in society's expectations. They are lost in vanity. They are lost in alcohol and smoking. They have lost peace. There is no peace here. Korea... more than anyone else I have ever met, needs the gospel. They need to know that this world is just a step in eternity. God doesn't place high value in fancy cars, high education that pushes you over the edge, partying with your friends, brand names, big eyes, or any of that. The few members of the church here are the happiest Koreans I have met. They know that Korea's expectations are just small things. But everyone else here... they are lost. They are stressed. I wish I could just convince all of them that there is a better way to live! But for one thing, my Korean is so limited. And also... they aren't too willing to change what they have grown up believing. But Korea needs the gospel. We are viewed as a cult here, so that kind of dampens things a bit. But I am going to hold on to my greenie dreams of changing lives while I am here. A lot of the missionaries  seem to get down because (especially in An San) there is not much success. But I don't want to change my dreams yet. I still have faith that something good could happen.This is a hard mission but I was not sent here to fail. I am giving the gift of salvation... and I cannot forget that. I am bringing these people peace, and while I will be a little useless for a while as I learn the language, I will keep my end goals in mind. Even if I have changed one life, that is still one precious soul that has been found. Peace is needed here more than anything. The devil is here, but I have the power to bring Christ's love to these people and push out the bad. When you are fighting on the Lord's side, you always win. :) I have so much more to say but not enough time... anyway LOVE YOU ALLl! BYE! :)

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Thursday, January 1, 2015


So I can't believe I'll be in Korea in 4 days. I don't feel like I know any Korean. I'll be culture shocked for a while. And I will officially be sleeping on mats on the floor and eating kimchi as of next week. I am SO EXCITED!!! And incredibly nervous. Whenever real Koreans speak Korean to me, I seriously just stare at them confused. They speak so fast! We have met a handful of them in the MTC, and sometimes I wonder if I even learned the right language. But it will be so exciting. And I cannot wait to eat Korean food! 9 weeks of MTC food makes you gain a new appreciation for real food. And though I haven't eaten much Korean food, I have heard it is amazing. It's not MTC food. I forgot what real food tastes like. I only have 4 nights left in Utah. 4 nights left in the USA. Then I will be in KOREA!!! :)

I'll start off with Christmas. It was honestly one of the funnest Christmas's I have had. No offense family... but when you are surrounded by missionaries and actually have free time for the first time in two months... It is so fun. First, we had our Christmas devotional with a GA. Elder Nelson spoke to us, and it was so good. Being in the presence of a General Authority always changes the feel of things. They are so powerful. His wife spoke as well, and she said some things that I really loved. She said that while we are teaching people down here on earth, we may not realize it but we are also teaching those from the other side. As we teach, there may be spirits present wanting to listen. They may even be the ancestors of those we teach. Those ancestors are helping encourage those we teach, because they need their work done as well, and the only way that will happen is if their family members are converted. I've never thought of it this way before, but I really liked it. :) After that, we had some free time. Our district  went to the classroom and arranged our chairs in a circle. We played Mafia, Signs, and a few other games. It was seriously so fun. Like I've said before, our district is unusually close. We thought it was normal for districts to be this close, but I guess its not. It is the best though. We finally had some time to just chill and be friends. Then we had lunch. There was a talent show after lunch and at approximately 3:15... I got to call home! :) That was easily the best part of the day. As missionaries, we are often encouraged to not think about our families at home. We are told to  know that they are being blessed, and that we are doing the right things. But I loved that I was able to remember home a little bit more, and hear your voices. After all, the gospel is very much about families. I was so glad I got to pray in Korean for you all as well. Praying is one of the few things I can solidly do in Korean. Though they are not complicated prayers by any means, I am at least confident when I pray in Korean. I mean God understands me no matter how I say things. He knows my heart. He knows what I am trying to say. I am glad you are all doing well though. And yes, I do miss you! I didn't say it on the phone because as the clock was counting down I was trying to say all I could. But I do miss you all and love you so much. After we all called home, we met back in the classroom and played more games. I didn't cry the whole time on the phone, but after saying goodbye I had to choke back a couple tears. Goodbyes are the worst things ever. But I hope you all had a great Christmas! It was a white Christmas at the MTC. And it seriously was so perfect! :)

So this week has been a bit crazy.  Guess who was at the devotional on Sunday? David Archuleta. Yep, he spoke to us and sung. So that was pretty cool! Our district got seats pretty close to the pulpit, and it was one of the best devotionals we have had. He has so many heart-felt stories, and he has an amazing voice. He sang the song, "Glorious," off of Meet the Mormons. If you haven't heard that song or seen the movie yet, I encourage you to look the song up and watch the movie.... they are both so good and so uplifting.

This week, Satan has hit me hard. My learning has hit a wall. Every time I try to speak Korean, it flies out the door. I didn't expect this at all. But, after talking to some people in my district about my frustrations, I am definitely not the only one who has struggled this week. Satan really tries to stop you before you do something good. I thought this week would be a good week of learning. But whenever I try to come up with a phrase in my head, as soon as I start translating it in Korean it leaves me. It is a weird sensation, but I think once I get to Korea it will go away. Or so I hope. I have started memorizing the first vision in Korean. I was meant to be done by today, but unfortunately only got 4 of the 6ish lines memorized. I am getting close though! Funny story though... one of my teachers was listening to me recite what I had memorized. I guess I was pronouncing one of the words slightly wrong. Not a huge error, but enough that it definitely needed to be corrected. Haha I was saying "pillar of poop" instead of "pillar of light"... Korean vowels all sound the same to English speakers but sound very different to Koreans. So if you don't pronounce it right, they will definitely notice. :)

The spirit of Christmas was so strong here. Bust just remember that even though Christmas is over, we should still keep Christ in our heart. His light should show through our eyes every day. People should be able to see him through us. What if spending a day with you were like spending a day with the Savior? I may have an official name tag to show that I am Christ's representative, but even without that name tag we should still represent Christ at all times. Every member a missionary. Always. We must be good examples of what we believe in, because after all, no one is going to believe someone who says they believe one thing but show they believe another. Keep Christ in your hearts because you are always in His heart! He has promised to take care of you, so you must show your appreciation to him by being the best you can be. I love you all and thank you for everything! Also, thank you for those of you who sent me gifts! I really appreciated everything I got, and the outfits/pajamas/coat all fit perfectly. You are all amazing. Love you! Miss you! :)

Sincerely, Sister Maughan :)