Homecoming

Is very bitter-sweet.

(No time to write more.  Sorry!)

Advertisements
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

What You Should Expect

Your brand new Jenessa has just gotten off the plane.  After the hugs, the laughing, and the tears, one question reigns supreme–“What do I do with her now?”  She is probably very different than the person you remember and you might have some misconceptions about who and what she is.  So here are some helpful tips on things that you might experience and should therefore expect.
 
1)  Your new Jenessa probably doesn’t know her name and is likely to not respond to it.  She has been referred to as “Ma-keuh-raen-deuh” (Markland) for a year and half and doesn’t really have any connection to her first name.
2)  Your new Jenessa smells.  Bad.  And the best part is that she is completely oblivious to it.  It’s not just her, but also everything she owns that has a certain…odor about it.  She has been living in a country where they eat fermented vegetables, spicy food, whole onions, and (here’s the kicker) whole cloves of plain garlic for almost a year and a half!  Yes, she most certainly smells.  But she can’t smell it herself .  (Though, rest assured that she still uses deoderant!)
3)  Your new Jenessa is overly affectionate with females.  She has spent the past six weeks with a Korean girl.  They have held hands almost anytime they were outside.  She does not find this weird, awkward, or in any way indicative of same-gender attraction.  However, you might.
4)  Your new Jenessa is weirded out at the thought of physical contact with men.  She hasn’t had any for a long time.  In Korea, men and women don’t even shake hands or give high-fives.  So she is even more squicked out at the thought of touching, let alone hugging, a guy.
5)  Your new Jenessa is just all-in-all awkward around guys, actually.  Male/female relationships in Korea are different than in America.  Eye contact might be a struggle.  Talking, too, will probably be difficult.
6)  Your new Jenessa doesn’t really know English.  She speaks English as if she were teaching an English class to a bunch of Koreans.  Which means that she might feel the need to act out certain words…that you already know.  She also sometimes speaks English as if it were Korean.  Or as if she were a Korean.  And then she sometimes isn’t aware that she isn’t speaking English at all.
7)  Your new Jenessa wants to eat American food, but probably won’t be able to handle it.  Be prepared for her to be sick.  A lot.

8)  Your new Jenessa will want to go up to strangers and start a conversation with them.  And then get their phone number and offer her number in return.  Just let her do this.  Unless you fear for her safety.
9)  Your new Jenessa is not aware of many safety concerns.  Korean women don’t have many of the same concerns as American women do when it comes to late nights/men/their safety/etc.  Be on the lookout for her engaging in activities that might not be so safe in America.
10)  Your new Jenessa is terrified of white people.  Particularly en masse.  Or anyone who is not Korean, really.  Korea is a very homogenous society.  People who aren’t Korean stick out.  And they make her terrified, extra awkward, and uncomfortable.  It will probably not be too uncommon for her to refer to anyone who is not Korean as “foreigner.”
11)  Your new Jenessa might seem a bit racist.  For the aforementioned reasons.  But there will probably be especially strong negative feelings for the Japanese.  Do not let her express these feelings impolitely.  Help her see that the Japanese are not just pillaging invaders.  But above all, don’t argue with her about Dokdo.
12)  Your new Jenessa will cry at random times and for random reasons.  She misses Korean, Koreans, and Korea.  She will go through withdrawals and feel many frustrations as she tries to reassimilate.  Don’t rush her.  Let her express these thoughts and emotions.  Encourage her to talk about Korea.  Ask her questions.  Engage her in conversation about Korea.
13)  Your new Jenessa will not want to ever be alone.  She hasn’t been for a long time, and being alone might induce momentary panic.
14)  Your new Jenessa will only ever want to watch church movies.  But don’t worry, because she is bringing back a nice selection with her.  Seriously, some of he ones made just for Korea are real tear-jerkers.

15)  Your new Jenessa won’t understand American politics, fashion, music, or pop-culture.  But she can, of course, share with you the Korean counterparts.
16)  Your new Jenessa will think that things that aren’t funny are funny.  She has a missionary sense of humor.
17)  Your new Jenessa will want everything planned and will be opposed to spontanaeity unless you can assure her that the change in plans has been “guided by the Spirit.”  She feels that we have schedules for a reason and must maximize our time.
18)  Your new Jenessa will want to roller skate.  Yeah, she still has dreams of being a roller derby star.
19)  Your new Jenessa will start talking about the gospel at strange times and will try and relate everything back to it.  Let her bear testimony.  Share yours with her.  Let her try and commit you to share it with your non-member friends.
20)  Your new Jenessa will love you even more than she did before she left.  Love her back and you will get along fine.
 
Wow, can you believe that the time is finally here?  That I finish my mission next week?  That is so, so sad and crazy to me.  SO many thoughts and emotions that I have to sort out.  But no time now.
 
So just a couple of other things really quickly.
 
This past week in our Book of Mormon stories English class, one of the Korean sisters made a translation error that was hilarious.  Especially since she didn’t realize it.  What happens is they read one of the pictures from the Book of Mormon stories book in English and then translate it into Korean.  Well, the word she wanted (“land”) and the word she used just have a tiny vowel sound difference in Korean.  She just mis-spoke, but what she said was, “The Lord promised to lead the people of Jared to the promised poop.”  AH, it was so funny!

In other funny news, last week, I was really happy, so I was doing this funny kind of walking thing down the street.  I don’t really know how to describe it.  I’ll show you when I get home.  So Sister Kim started trying to do it, too.  And then, this middle-aged woman across the street who was talking on the phone was watching us.  And then she started doing it, too!!!!!  It made me so happy!!
 
Other things that make me happy include the fact that one of our investigators commited to be baptized next month!!!  Yay!!!!  The gospel is so true and happy!  It has blessed my life so much!!!!  I’m so excited for her!!!!!!
 
And I’m excited, albeit saddened, to come home.  But I love you all and am eager to be back in Zion (see “Legacy” for the reference–oh, that’s something else.  Your new Jenessa can quote church movies like nobody’s business).  See you in ten!
Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

“You Ate What?!”, Korean New Year, and the UN

This past week was not the best for missionary work.  Not a lot of people want to meet the week before a three-day national holiday.  Or talk to you on the street, etc.  So we found ways to make it fun for ourselves.  Such as the further exploration of Korean cuisine.
 
My companion was disgusted with me.  And the Elders.  Why?  Well… we ate something that I will probably never again have the opportunity to eat in my life.  Man’s best friend.
 
Yes, we ate Korean dog soup.
 
There are pictures.
 
Elder Campbell, who pounded his, said it tasted just like turkey.  I feel as though it tasted more like if a cow and a pig had a baby and then you didn’t trim as much fat off of it as you should before you cooked it.  Definitely edible, but not something that I would really want to  eat ever again.  The side dish of dog intestines/dog lungs was actually better than the main dish, in my opinion.
 
My blog is probably now going to get slammed by PETA or something.
Oh, well, you’re only in Korea once, right?
 
In non-food-related news, one of my members has started a campaign to make me as trunky as possible.  She gave me a present last week, “Because you’ll be needing this soon,” she said.  It was a book: “Raising the Happy Child.”  Thank you.
 
On Sunday, Sister Kim got to call home for the holiday.  So it’s official:  for every single holiday where Americans call home, I had an American companion.  For every one where Koreans call home I had a Korean companion.  Sigh.  Even though I know that I will be home soon, it was still hard to hear her talk to her family. But she made me talk to them, too.  So that was fun.
 
We didn’t have any invitations for the holiday ㅠㅠ, but we cooked a traditional meal for the senior office couple, which they really enjoyed.  We also went with them to the Busan Museum and the UN Memorial Cemetery for the fallen UN soldiers in the Korean war.  It was very touching and powerful and caused a great swell of patriotism to rise within me for America.  I have pictures of that, too, but no time to send them today.
 
Shoot, I gotta run–I have an English class to teach in an hour.  Sorry!
 
Love you all and look forward to renewing our accquaintance in two weeks and a day (my time)!

The spread:

The spread:

Elder Cambell

Elder Cambell

My friend the post office security guard is over my shoulder looking at my pics–so no pic of me eating dog.  Sorry.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Three New Investigators and A Crazy in Disguise

Hello from Dynami Busan!  (That’s Busan’s slogan.  Every city in Korea has a one word English slogan–“Yes! Gumi,” “Smiling Geumjeong”–okay, so Guemjeong is an area in Busan, but the areas have slogans too.  I can’t remember what Jinnhae and Daegu’s slogans are, though.)  We had quite the week!  And quite the P-Day.  It started off with an hour-and-a-half-long yoga class with a recent convert.  It was very intense.  Shaking muscles, but the best I’ve felt in a long time.  Anyway, I digress. 
 
We were so busy last week.  Non-stop work.  I love being a busy missionary.  The highlights of the week were our three new investigators!  One who was a referral from  a Gumi member and the other two were a special treat.
 
On Saturday night, we got a phone call from a girl named GoDan.  She is Chinese but married to a Korean man.  Her Korean is limited and she has no English.  She said that she wanted to come to church and was bringing a friend.  She lived in the Yeonsan area–or so we thought.  She actually lives in Geumjeong and her friend lives in Gupo ward area, but the Yeonsan members aren’t letting them get away!
 
So we went to the Yeonson ward for the first time with them.  They stayed for all three blocks, we taught them a lesson (watched the restoration DVD in Korean) and then set up another appointment.  I’m so glad that we went to Yeonsan with them–that ward is so friendly and loving!  It was one of the best Sundays that I’ve ever had in Korea.  The testimonies were great and the ward was so kind.  And thanks to some inspiration that Sister Kim had earlier in the week–we actually had all of the pamphlets in Mandarin!  We had just randomly picked them up at the mision office earlier in the week.  Crazy, right?  (No, duh.  That’s just the way of the Lord.)
 
So that was miraculous and wonderful.

We then had an appointment with another new potential investigator who wanted to meet with us.  She had been given a pamphlet on the subway and was interested in meeting.
 
We met and it turned out that she was a missionary for one of the crazy churches here in Korea and just wanted to bash!  We, of course, did not engage.  We testified, invited her to actually learn for herself and then left.  It was scary though–the total lack of light in her eyes.  As in every time she looked at me I felt I was staring into black holes.  Way icky. 
 
It was funny.  We’d had such a great day and then it was like–boom! opposition in all things.  It seemed like the Adversary was just trying to throw something in our way to discourage us.  But it didn’t work.  It was like Abraham–we’d had the real deal earlier in the day–and then who was that crazy woman and where was her glory?  Definitely didn’t sweat over it.  Just felt bad for her.  And as we left, my companion turned to me and said ( in English):  “I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.  I have been called of Him to declare His word amongst His people.”  And then in Korean, she told me that she was getting stronger.  Before, when she had been attacked by a missionary from another church, she had cried.  But now, she was able to boldy testify and move on.
 
It’s funny to me, how often the trials that the Adversary tries to throw up in our path can just serve to make us stronger and an even better advocate for truth and light if we just let them.  The choice is always ours.
 
I hope that you all have a great week!  I will be home this month and in less than one more fast Sunday.
 
Oh!!!  And congratulations to the beautiful Bet-say and her mission call to Florida!!!!!!  That’s the best!!!!!!!
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A Month From Today

One month from today your time, I will be arriving into the Seatac International Airport.  One month from yesterday my time, I will be leaving Korea on a plane for Tokyo and then on to America.  That is all very surreal. 
 
A month is really not much time at all.  It’s 1/18 of a mission and only a mere part of a lifetime and barely more than a fragment when compared to eternity.  It certainly doesn’t seem like very much time to become the missionary that I hoped I would become or to accomplish all the lofty goals that I had for my mission.  Time is such a precious resource, yet it is amazing to me how much of it I waste.  Not just as a missionary, but also in general.  If I hadn’t wasted any time on my mission, who would I be right now?  What greater miracles would I have witnessed?  What if I hadn’t wasted any time in my whole life?  What then?  But of course, we seldom feel like we are “wasting time” when we actually are.  And who is to say what is a “waste of time” anyway?  Wow, this is getting way too weirdly philosophical for me. 
 
So I’ll jump into a couple of funny stories instead.
 
Last week in Relief Society, we were talking about the Lorenzo Snow lesson.  I think the topic was baptism, but I honestly can’t remember, because we got waaaay off track.  Most delightfully so.  There’s this one somewhat elderly sister who is a convert.  And I don’t really know how we got on this topic, but she shared the following experience:

“Back in the old days, there were no baptismal fonts in all of Korea.  If you wanted to get baptized, you had to do it in a river, lake, or the ocean.  Well, the missionaries were baptizing a new convert in the ocean down near 해운대 and I was going along to watch.  They asked me to watch their clothes.  So I turned around and then they trekked off into the ocean–and the water was pretty shallow, so they had to go pretty far off–and then I just sat there watching their clothes.  They were so far out that I could barely see them.  Now, I don’t know if they were wearing baptismal clothes like they do today–I never saw any.  I just saw the pile of clothes that I was guarding.  And they were too far off to tell, but I think that they did it naked!  Is that how it used to be?  Did they used to only do baptisms naked?’
 
The Relief Society Sisters quickly assured her that they had probably changed into the white baptismal clothes and that she probably just couldn’t see it.  But, as I’m sure you can imagine, we were all just dying.  it was a lot funnier coming from her.  And a lot longer–about five minutes worth of story.  So funny.
 
I was going to share another “funny” story about one of our less-active Sisters, but I think that I will save that for another day.  It involves forgery, missionary work and lies.  I’m not sure if it’s more funny or sad.  But remind me to tell you about it some time.
 
And before I forget, happy birthday to the beautiful Tayler Thompson!  Sadly, I did not get her birthday card sent off in time.  Sorry!  I love you!  Hope you had a great birthday!

Oh! and also before I forget, two weeks from now I will be emailing late–on Tuesday instead of Monday, as the post office will be closed because of the Korean New Year.  Just a head’s-up, because I’m sure that you all wait with bated breath for the exact moment that Melina posts these blogs.  Haha.
 
Have a great week and see you in a month!
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Geumjeong, Oncheon, Yeonsan – Oh, My!

Hello from Busan, which is oh-so-much warmer than Gumi!  And a whole lot dirtier, louder and bigger. 
 
Especially since we cover three areas.  That means:  three English classes, two weekly service activities, three area books, etc.  You get the idea.  Pretty intense for my last six weeks.
 
Yesterday after church, we were told that we had to go to choir practice (this is in Geumjeong).  There were more people at choir practice than typically attend sacrament meeting at Gumi (around 60)!  It was very surreal.  The church is gorgeous and Korean-sytle–we take off our shoes when we get in and everyone wears slippers.  It’s pretty awesome.
 
There was a whole lot more that I have jotted down to say, but my adorable companion hates (HATES!) emailing and thinks that it is a waste of time.  So, I will forbear from telling you about the most awkward/funniest teaching practice ever in a district meeting (it involves us teaching the APs–who were being a mother and daughter–about the law of chastity…oh shoot!), and instead, I will just close with this quote from our assistant zone leader, Elder Charles, who was in Gimcheon when I was in Gumi and transferred at the same time:

 

“Sister Markland, please do your best to not attract any more strange men.  But, if they absolutely can’t help themselves, at least try and teach them the gospel.” 

Words of wisdom to live by.

 Hope you all have a great week!  Hopefully I’ll be able to find more time for blog writing next week!  Love you all!
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Last Transfer and…Everything

I had this really epic blog planned out, but I find that I have no time, so it probably won’t be as good as I (or you) had hoped.  Sorry about that.
 
Firstly, I got some epic letters today–my first of the transfer (as in last transfer)!  So, just a little shout out to Irene Smith, my aunt Sandy, Elder Robinson (who included he and his companion’s Christmas card photo), the Knights, and Joylyn and Kaylene.  Thank you all so much!  Responses will be forthcoming!
 
Well, I got transferred.  To Busan.  I am now in the Geumjeong ward, which is the biggest in the mission with the nicest building.  We also cover the Yeonsan Branch.  Very big area.  Lots of people.  And currently only one investigator.  So we have a lot of work ahead of us.
 
My new companion is an adorable Korean named Kim Sora.  She is super cute!  This is her fourth transfer.  I’m really excited to serve with her.
 
But…let’s not lie, I sobbed like a baby to be leaving my beloved Gumi and my beautiful Sister McKay.  But we had a great last week with lots of funny stories, appointments, and I received several gifts from members since I was leaving.  I love that ward.

Here were the things that I wanted to mention but now find that I have no time to elaborate on–I “felt up” a Presbyterian pastor on accident (he was trying to show me his prosthetic leg).  Our English-speaking-only investigator might have found his soul mate in the form of our less-active sister who attended his lesson as our member present (he even spoke Korean to her!)!  Ma asked me to be her bridesmaid if I can make it to her wedding in Korea.  Pizza School opened up in Gumi.  And one of our young-ish male investigators, in response to me saying, “I like your shoes” replied, “Sister Markland, I like your everything.”  Haha.  Why am I not this popular in America?  Sorry that I don’t have time to further flesh out these tales, but I must run.  Sorry.
 
Endure to the end – Busan Style!  Love it!
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment