Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Singed Hair and Transfer Calls.

We got transfer calls this week! My current companion, Sister Carter, has served her mission, the full 18 months faithfully, and it is time for her to go home this week. It has been so fun being her companion and I have learned a lot from her. :)

So on Wednesday, I will get a new companion. I am staying in Ansan for a while longer. I could be here for 6 more weeks... or I could be here for 12. It is whatever President Morrise feels is right. :) My new companion will be Sister 정혜민. Judging by the Korean I used to write her name you can probably tell, she is Korean. I am getting a Korean companion! I am so excited. I was actually in the MTC with Sister 정혜민 for a little while. She has only been in the mission 6 weeks (1 transfer) longer than me. She will be the senior companion of course. But overall, we will be a young missionary companionship. She is in her fourth transfer, and I am in my third starting Wednesday. Generally sisters don't go from junior companion to senior companion  until their 6th or 7th transfers. So she is a young senior, but it will be super fun. :)

In other news, I singed a piece of my hair off this week with the curling iron. This has never happened to me before. I used the same curling iron that I have used for a couple years now. It has never let me down. But I was curling a piece of my hair and I heard sizzling, then a chunk of my hair ended up falling. So yeah... that was unfortunate. Good thing I have a lot of hair.

So on Friday, we went on a Sister Training Leader exchange. Sister Hoffman, our zone's Sister Training Leader, came to be my companion for a day, and Sister Carter went to be with Sister Hoffman's companion. This is just something that the Sister Training Leaders must do with every companionship each transfer. While on exchange, we went to a recent convert's house and taught her about patriarchal blessings. She had no idea such a thing existed, and she seemed really interested.  She asked us how she could get one and what she had to do. I was really hoping that someone would talk about patriarchal blessings in Sacrament Meeting so that she could hear some more about them. I saw her walk in to church and I said a small prayer in my heart. Sacrament rolled around (its the last block of the day here) and  what would you know... one of the speakers talked about patriarchal blessings! So good. Heavenly Father really does know what each of us needs, and He will work through whoever has an open heart to meet our needs. :)

So next week is General Conference for most of you. For us, we have to wait an extra week because of the time change. General Conference is live while we are sleeping so... yeah. :) We get to watch it the week after it is broadcast! :) General Conference is like Christmas for missionaries... we get just as excited. Normally we don't get to just chill and watch the TV screen for a couple of hours... but we will in 2 weeks! :) When watching conference, go into it with a question in your heart. I promise that it will be answered. :)

Also, if you haven't seen the "Because He Lives" video on LDS.org yet, look it up. It is incredible. I promise you won't regret it! :) And go check YouTube on Easter Day. The church has bought all of the adds on YouTube for Easter. It will only be our church all over the adds. How cool is that? :) And use the hashtag #becausehelives when you share the video. :) It is similar to the #sharethegift initiative that the church took in December! :) Because He lives, I can be happy. Because He lives, I can be forgiven when I make bad decisions. Because He Lives, I can always feel His love. "...I have beheld his glory, and I am encircled eternally in the arms of his love." 2 Nephi 1:15

I love you all as always! Miss you!

Sister Maughan

Thursday, March 26, 2015

I Got a 소개!

So this week... a lot of weird stuff happened. As a missionary, you have good weeks, you have rough weeks, and you have a wide assortment of "interesting" weeks. This one was definitely an interesting week.

On Tuesday, we were walking around just talking to people when we met this lady on the street with crazy curly permed hair. She freaked out when we started talking to her in Korean (all the Koreans freak out when we talk in Korean because we are clearly foreigners and they don't expect us to speak their language). We started talking about the normal things, that we were missionaries and living here in Korea. The lady then turned to me and asked if I was married. I said no of course, and she proceeded to tell me about her single son. Then she offered room in her house for me, and suggested I date her son. Ha ha uh... yeah. And that is how I got a 소개! 소개 is the Korean word for referral. I got a referral! We kind of laughed a little and politely told her we had to go but that it was nice to meet her. Oh the adventures... :)

On Wednesday we had English class and this one lady came who began to ask us questions as to why we couldn't date while on our missions. She was Catholic and kept saying, "But God wants you to love others! You should be able to date! You are young and this is the time for you to date!" We told her we could still love others, but that we just had to wait until after the mission to begin dating people. She still told us that our church was ridiculous for taking away our ability to love. Once she left, all of the missionaries just started laughing. It was quite the English class.

Thursday had its own assortment of interesting things. One guy came up to us on the street and asked us if it was hard to spread God's word. We mostly just said that it was fun. But he was convinced that our job was really hard, so he bought us some 떡 (a Korean snack) and kindly thanked us. Another guy on the streets offered us some drinks, but we told him we were fine. We turned the corner and walked a ways, but somehow he chased us down and gave us the drinks. They were made out of some Korean root. Sister Carter told me they were disgusting, so we thanked him and continued on. When we got home I tasted the drink and my face must have been pretty priceless because Sister Carter burst out laughing. It tasted worse than medicine.

Friday was the most interesting of the days. We were just walking down the street when Sister Carter saw this jaw bone of some large animal. We weren't sure what kind of animal it was (probably a horse) but it was sun bleached and totally clean. I thought we were just gonna leave it but she picked it up and decided that we were giving it to the elders. She called the elders and told them to stay at the church. So we quickly went to the church house to give them their "present." We got to the church and told the elders to cover their eyes. So they did, and we whipped out the horse jaw bone. They took it, very confused. We were just sitting there, discussing the jaw bone for a few minutes, when I suddenly felt a tickle in my shirt. At first I just thought it was a tickle, but I realized it might be the crawling legs of a bug. Since it has gotten warmer, the bugs have begun to come out, and Korea has BIG bugs. I calmly said, "I think there's a bug in my shirt."  Sister Carter and I stepped out into the hallway for me to work things out.

I was totally crossing my fingers that I had only felt a simple tickle, but when I looked inside my shirt, it was definitely a bug. There was a big black beetle inside my shirt with black shiny eyes starting up at me. I didn't even realize it happened because I was so freaked out, but I screamed at the top of my lungs and yelled "THERE'S A BUG!!!" The elders couldn't see what was going on, but I definitely heard them laughing in the room they were in. I screamed real loud. Then I ran into the bathroom to really work things out. In the process of trying to get the bug out in the bathroom, somehow it flew up into my face and hit me in the cheek, and then bounced off my cheek back into my shirt. I screamed again and started freaking out. Sister Carter was laughing so hard. Eventually I was able to untuck my shirt from my skirt and shake the bug out, but there was a lot of freaking out and screaming involved. I swear I did not mean to scream like I did, but I had a big beetle in my shirt... what was I supposed to do? When we walked back into the room the elders were in, they were laughing their guts out. They had definitely heard everything. Luckily we were the only ones at the church, so none of the members got to witness that experience. Just the missionaries. I hate bugs.

Now that I have told you about our interesting week... I will switch things abruptly to a more spiritual email. :) I like to end my emails with a little spiritual moment, because I am of course a missionary. :)

Today I was reading in the Liahona a talk about questioning the truth of the gospel. It basically said that all members of the church have questions and doubts about the gospel at some point. We are surrounded by media and people and things that try to persuade us that our church is not true. But whatever questions we have, there is one answer that answers all questions. "Do you trust God?" It is that simple. Okay, so it isn't always simple to completely put our lives in the hands of God. We like to be independent and figure things out for ourselves. But really, as long as we trust God, we can never fail. He loves us and wants to help us in every way he can. When we have doubts about the truth, we must just look to God and trust in His plan. He knows all and He has a plan for each and every one of us. We don't always know why things are the way they are, why we must follow certain laws or gospel principles, but as long as we trust God, we will truly be okay. He is the one that we can ALWAYS count on. Media makes mistakes, people don't always tell the truth nor or any of us even close to perfect, but God will always speak the truth. God is our one and only source of complete and true knowledge. He loves us more than we know and He wants us to be happy more than anything else! He will always provide a way for us to do what He asks of us. We just have to trust Him.

I love you all so much and miss you as always! I hope the sun is coming out at home! :) 사랑해요!

Sister Maughan

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Zoo & 스태이크 대회

So we went to the zoo last p day... and it was such an adventure. We only got to see a small portion of the Seoul Zoo, but what we saw... oh man it was totally worth seeing. So at first we got there and couldn't find any animals. We seriously thought they were gone or something. But then we finally found some animals. And then it got crazy. We found a baby chimpanzee and a baby orangutan in the same habitat together. And we seriously watched them for like a half hour. They were fighting and playing with each other, and it was the cutest thing. At one point the chimpanzee was hanging onto the orangutan's foot, who was hanging from some monkey bars. The chimpanzee fell, and just layed on the floor with its arms behind its head. He was just done trying to win, so he made himself comfortable and wrapped himself in a blanket. It was so cute and funny. Then we saw some hyenas. This is where things got intense. The hyenas were all raw and bleeding... and there was like 20 in one small room. There was a sign on the habitat that said something along the lines of "The hyenas fight a lot, and sometimes they kill each other. We treat their wounds every day." So so sad. There was just too many in a small space for things to go well. Kind of shocked that animals would be kept that way, we simply moved on. Then we got to the lions. And the lions... whoa. There was one lion who only had half of its tail, and it kept growling and whining. We realized he was away from the rest of the pack of lions. One of the zoo keepers told us that he has a bad attitude and the other lions don't like him, so they travel together and without him. All of the lions were chilling in a pack on one half of the room (and we are talking a room probably the size of my room at home, full of about 10 lions), and Mr. Bad Attitude was on the other side of the room, whining and growling. Suddenly, all of the lions turned to Mr. Bad Attitude, and growled at him at the same time. I have never heard so many lions roar at once, but it was like they were telling him to shut up. It was super cool and kind of funny all at the same time.  So Mr. Bad Attitude stopped whining after that. Also, while we were there an old Korean man told us a super racist joke in English, and we died laughing. I am not going to say it because so many people read my emails, but we don't think he completely understood the joke he was telling. He just knew it made Americans laugh. I could go on about stories from the zoo, but I have other things I want to talk about this week too. :)

So it was also 스태이크 대회 (stake conference) this week. Since we are missionaries, we attended the adult session on Saturday, and the main session on Sunday. The main speakers were President and Sister Morrise (our mission president and his wife), and the area 70 for the Asia North Area. The area 70 is actually Japanese, so he had a recently returned Korean missionary that served in Japan translate for him. Since I can't understand Korean completely yet, my trainer made up a bingo card for me to help me focus through the whole meeting. She wrote vocabulary words on a bingo card, and had me listen for them so that I could cross them out when I heard them. I actually got a lot more out of the meetings that way, and I understood a lot more as well. Playing bingo with Korean vocabulary words definitely helped me focus.

Just a cool fact, on Saturday I heard four different languages. We taught Korean to some Russians, and then heard Japanese in the adult session of stake conference, and Korean of course. Our Russian friends speak more English than Korean, so we teach them Korean in English. We got to hear them pray in Russian though so that was super cool. :)

In ward mission council yesterday, one of our elders asked us what the most effective way to do missionary work was. He is a fairly young missionary, and he wanted to know the best way to do missionary work. The question was a justified and innocent question, but it made me think about some things. First of all, I don't think there is a secret to successful missionary work. There is no magical line to say to people on the streets to interest them in the gospel, there is no perfect first lesson, there is just no approach that is perfectly successful for everyone to use. If there was, well.. we would all be using it by now. ;) But God called each of us, knowing our very own strengths and weaknesses, with a purpose for us. He doesn't call us and plan on us being useless missionaries. Before we came to earth, we may have promised certain people that we would bring them the gospel. God knows those people, and He knows us. He will help us use our strengths and possibly even our weaknesses to find those people and lift them with the joy of the gospel. We just have to trust in Him. Sometimes we, as missionaries, begin analyzing everything's effectiveness. What methods work? What methods don't? While this is important, we have to remember that overall, the Lord will guide us.  He knows more than we ever could, and if we trust in Him and His plan, we can follow the spirit to those we are meant to teach. Trusting in the Lord is key in missionary work. :)

치금 가야되요! Well I have to go now! 사랑해요! Love you! Miss you all! :)

Monday, March 9, 2015

I can feel my toes!

It is finally warming up here in 안산, Korea. :) My toes are no longer little ice cubes, and I don't have to wear a ton of layers anymore. I sure hope the weather stays like this! It is so nice. :) Sister Carter and I want to go study on the grass somewhere sometime... the problem is, there is no grass. Anywhere. So unfortunate. If only the Koreans knew what it was like to lay in the grass and look at the clouds.... Anyway, I am so happy that it is warming up! I am not a fan of winter, and it is finally ending so I am super happy. :)

I attempted to make my first phone call this week! We had a referral that was supposed to be an African lady... so English was a better bet than Korean. Because of that, my companion asked me to call the lady. So I did... Ha ha but it didn't go quite as planned. The person that picked up the phone was definitely African, and definitely spoke English, but it was actually a man. As sisters, all the referrals we receive are supposed to be women, so when a man picked up I was so thrown off that I freaked out and just gave the phone to Sister Carter. I am such a dork ha ha. But the man's story was actually kind of cool I guess. He is a Nigerian and wants to know more about the church. So we gave his number to the elders, and now the elders have a new investigator.

Yesterday at church, we had a recent convert show up that we hadn't met before. Her story is actually pretty cool... She works in Mexico, but she was on vacation for a month in Canada in February. Well, in Canada, she met some missionaries on February 9th, and then she got baptized on February 27th. She got baptized so so quickly! She was just a golden investigator who was ready for the gospel. She is now on vacation in Korea for a month. She is Korean and Ansan is her home, but she basically lives in Mexico because of her job. She is so sweet though, and fluent in Korean, English, and Spanish. :) So because she was there, Sister Carter and I needed to go on a split with the members during church. She went with the new convert, and I went with the young women. Except... ha ha the young women gave me back to my companion. They know that I don't really speak or understand that much Korean yet, and so after they figured out that Sister Carter wasn't coming, they told me that I could go back and help my companion. I told them that it was okay, but they didn't really know what to do with me because none of them know any English, and I can't understand most of their Korean. So one of the young women took me back to my companion. Ha ha this language is a constant challenge... but I just have to be patient. Learning a language takes time. ;)

So yesterday I read a story in the Liahona about feeling the Holy Ghost. It was really good, and I actually learned a lot from it. A lot of us think that in order to feel the Holy Ghost, we must have a "burning in the bosom." But what does that mean? All of us feel the Holy Ghost in slightly different ways. The Lord knows our hearts, and knows what will touch us. Some of us are overcome with tears, some of us experience a warm feeling, some of us really feel burning in our hearts. We are all different. But we can all feel the spirit. For me, when I feel the spirit, I am overcome with faith that fills my heart. I am not a crier, but I know when I am feeling the spirit. A Russian lady in our ward told us that the spirit whispers things to her, and that is how she found the church. I know people that cry, I know people who claim their hearts beat crazy fast when they are feeling the spirit testify to them. But the important thing is that we can ALL feel the spirit testify truths to us as long as we don't block it out. We must be willing to succumb to the spirit's promptings and testifying. It is so easy to block it out, to put up a wall and refuse to feel it. But we can and should all be willing to feel it. That is how we receive answers, and that is how we can help our testimony grow. Without the Holy Ghost, conversion could not occur in any of us. I am so thankful for the Holy Ghost and I know that without the Holy Ghost, we could not know of the gospel's truth. :)

I love you all and miss you always!

Love, Sister Maughan

Monday, March 2, 2015

Oh how I miss Bathrooms!

Okay so yeah, the subject of this email home might be kinda goofy... but really. Korea has like zero bathrooms. You know how in America there are bathrooms at every grocery store, gas station, and restaurant? Well in Korea, there are not. There are some sketchy bathroom in some buildings,  but we try to avoid them if at all possible. Well last week, I had a little too much water to drink, and there was no hope for waiting until we got home. So I had to use one of the sketchy bathrooms. Unfortunately, only the men's bathroom was open. So that was my only option. I ran into the bathroom, into the only stall, and tried to hurry. But while I was in the stall, I heard a Korean male voice in the bathroom, and then footsteps over to the urinal. "Oh man.. please no..." I thought to myself. You can imagine the intensity of the situation. Because trust me, it would really freak a Korean out if a white girl came out of a stall in a boys bathroom. So I decided to wait it out, and let the guy leave before I walked out. So I listened for the sink to turn on and off. But really, it was so awkward. Luckily after the guy left, I blitzed out of the bathroom as fast as I could before another Korean man walked in. I survived! ;) I hope this will never happen again.

Now to the more serious stuff! :) We have had referrals coming out of our ears this week! We have one in particular that seems super promising. Some missionaries in Canada sent us notification that a Korean was baptized in British Columbia this last weekend, but is coming to live in Ansan now. This means that we will be teaching her the new convert lessons, and it should be really good. We are super excited, because we have been a little low on lessons lately.

But we also lost a baptismal date this week. So that was kind of sad. We have been teaching this older woman, and a couple weeks ago she agreed to baptism. We kind of had a feeling that she only agreed because she felt pressured by one of her friends who was baptized just a few months ago. And unfortunately, we were right. So for now, zero baptismal dates. But the same woman did come to church this Sunday. So there is still hope! :)

A couple weeks ago, I decided to begin reading the Book of Mormon again. I am currently in Alma, and it is getting intense. So in the past, I had read the Book of Mormon purely for doctrinal purposes, to help me understand the doctrine, or to give me guidance each day. But this time, I decided to switch my focus a little bit. I have never understood scripture stories, or remembered them. Whenever people would say "You know the story about ____?" I would always say, "uh..." because I truly could not remember scripture stories. I could read a verse and give a little lesson on what that verse teaches, but I could never actually tell you would the story behind that verse was. That is my focus now. While I search daily for guidance through the scriptures, I am trying to understand the stories behind them. And let me just say, the Book of Mormon is so intense! So many times, people fall away from the truth and they can feel a void in their lives. All the sudden the people are confused, conflicted, and lost. They suffer famines of all sorts. But then they are reminded of the true gospel, and as their faith grows, God reveals truths to them little by little, until they gain a solid testimony again. The people prosper.

This can surely apply to our lives as well. Sometimes we fall away from the truth for many different reasons. Maybe we get swamped in worldly things, maybe we decide that God is asking too much of us (like Laman and Lemuel). But when we do those things, we will feel empty, and we will not feel happiness anymore. When we come back to God though, when we regain our testimonies, we prosper. We feel happiness and we receive endless blessings from God. This concept is repeated in the Book of Mormon too many times to count.

If you have not read the Book of Mormon yet, focusing on the stories and what the stories themselves teach, I highly suggest you do. You will learn so much from it! Plus, the Book of Mormon is full of intense wars and adventures, and it really is a good book! :)

I love you all always, and miss you! 사랑해요!!!

Love, 만 자매 :)