I have been in Korea since Wednesday. We had a lot of meetings to get us (the new missionaries) ready.Haha the morning after the Elders went to the bathhouse. The sisters went to the bathhouse too. They loved it. I love it too. It's so relaxing and I feel so clean afterwards.
On Thursday, we met our trainer/companion. My companion's name is Sister Boone. She is from Arizona USA and she has studied nursing at BYU for four years. She is amazing! We get along like cheese and crackers. She is like 5 years older than me but I always tell her that she is cute because she IS cute! I've only spent like 4 days with her but I feel like I've known her my whole life. She is never critical and she teaches me how to be a good missionary through her example. I love her so much.
It's sooo hot here. I thought summer is gone but it's so much hotter than the summer in New Zealand at the moment. When I say I'm hot everyone's like "what? It's not hot. You should've been here in July when it was actually HOT." I also got like 10 massive mosquito bites on my legs. Some of them are 3/4 cm in diameter. They drive me a little crazy sometimes.
The first time I street contacted people to talk to them, I was really nervous. I was freaking out. "What do I say? How do I start?!" but a sister told me that I won't be seeing them ever again and we are just giving them the chance to accept this message, this gift. If they don't want to accept it then it doesn't matter because we value free agency. 전도/proselyting isn't a very effective way of finding investigators here in Korea though. It's because here in Korea there are soo many 전도사/preachers from other Christian faiths and unfortunately they are very pushy, aggressive, loud and scary. When we tell them that we are missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints a lot of them ignore us because of the bad-image of missionaries in general even though they don't know anything about our church. My way of 전도/proselyting is to talk to people about things other than religion to start with and I get to know them and then I ask questions like 'Have you met missionaries before?" and "Have you ever heard of the Book of Mormon before?" then I try to teach people about our message.
On Saturday, we did a service project in the countryside. Some members from church live in the countryside farming melons. They needed help so they called us. I was soo happy to be at the countryside. Mountains, rice fields, old Korean houses, butterflies, chili fields, farm trucks and the smell of Korean farms brought me back to my grandparents place. We helped put white protective covers around the melons and box them to be sold. We covered like 500 melons I'm pretty sure. Afterwards they took us to a Chinese restaurant and we had 짜장면, 탕수윢 and 짱뽕. It was so yummy. They also gave us a big bag of melons to eat. We've been like living on melons the last couple of days. They are so sweet. On the way back home in the members car, I just thought about this experience we had. I was just overwhelmed with the feeling of gratitude for my Heavenly Father for giving me this opportunity to serve Him in my home country. In Korean there is a word "정" and there isn't an exact translation for this word in English because it's something that only exists between Koreans. It's this family-like love and deep care. The members here are treating us like family and are so caring of us. I can feel the 정 from them.
I just realised I haven't told you where I'm serving in Korea. I'm serving in Gwangju in the Poonghyang ward. On Sunday, I attended my first sacrament meeting in the Poonhyang ward. I gave my greeting-talk during sacrament meeting. Our ward is really emphasizing member missionary work right now. The member have given us like 4 referrals which is amazing. The members have also been giving us food like grapes, pears, seaweed...
This week is Korean thanksgiving/추석. Missionary work doesn't go too well during 추석 so for the next 2 days we are having mission district conference and we are going to be practising teaching. I was also given the opportunity to ring home for 1 hour but I said that I'll just save the phone call for Christmas and Mothers day.
We do two service activities a month. Today we just got back from another service activity. There is this event where they serve free lunch to elderly people. We helped set it up and clean up. I have to say it was HECTIC! There were like 600 elderly people lining up to get lunch. So many elderly were getting angry and impatient waiting for food so they tried to push in the lines. It was kind of funny but so hectic.
I'm kind of learning to laugh at things. For example, if I tried to talk to the lady sitting next to me on the bus and she just stares at me and walks away to find another seat I just laugh inside. I think I'm gonna experience so many more crazy things on my mission so I'm just gonna laugh about it, brush it off and not let it hurt my feelings.
I love being a missionary so much. I love walking on the streets smiling with this name tag on, carrying a Book of Mormon. I love that I'm officially representing this Gospel which I treasure and love. I love this lifestyle as a missionary, waking up at 6:30, praying, exercising, studying the scriptures, praying, proselyting, teaching lessons, singing hymns.
I'm sorry this letter is a bit all over the place with topics. I don't have too much time to write so I think my blog letters are gonna be like this...
Love you all and I'll write to you again next week.
Sister Sangji Lee.