Every morning when we first left the house, no matter the weather, the very first thing I would say was, “Good morning, Daegu, it’s a lovely day to be here with you.” But I probably said that for the last time this morning. Yes, I was indeed transferred.
Sister Choo and I had made our transfer predictions and we knew that with five new sisters coming in she would probably be training. We knew that this meant that I would probably be leaving, but to where or with whom we did not know.
On Thursday night after planning, President Gilbert called. As soon as we saw that it was him and not one of the APs calling, we knew that it meant that Sister Choo was training. We did not, however, expect that he would first ask to talk with me. My first thought was “crap.”
“Sister Markland,” he said, “how are you doing?”
“I was better before you asked to talk with me.” Sister Choo and I were already crying at this point, because we had prayed that we would stay together. Of course we wanted the Lord’s will to be done, but we really wanted to stay together.
“(he laughed) You’re being transferred.”
“I’d assumed as much, President.”
“You’re going to Jinhae.”
“With Sister Abbott.”
“You’re senior companion.”
(silence/glass shattering/massive pounding in my ears)
He gave me some advice and what-not and then asked to speak to Sister Choo and told her that she was, in fact, training and that our house would become a four-person house as Sisters were opening a new area.
However, I did not really hear any of that. My only thought was, “How can I be a senior companion? Among other things, I can’t speak Korean. How can I help someone who speaks even less Korean than I do when I still can’t understand most of what people are saying to me?” My thoughts all ran along a similar course.
I know that we can do all things through the Lord and that He only requires of us what He will enable us to do, but I am feeling rather scared and insufficient. People’s eternal salvation and eternal happiness are at stake and I don’t want to blow it or make a mistake because I have no idea what someone is saying. How can I function in this country? I know nothing. And not only do I know nothing, but there is now someone who is looking to me to have the answers. So of course, all I can do is look to Him.
I have faith, but I’m still worried.
Also coming to Jinhae was Elder Randolph, who was the zone leader in my last area and was also serving in Sangin ward with me. He will be opening the area to Elders and will be training. It is so weird that we went from the same ward to the same different ward. On Saturday, Sister Choo and I were at a member lesson and mentioned this and the member said that it was a sign that we would end up getting married. She said, “Then you can tell your children that you fell in love in beautiful Jinhae.” It was awkward on oh-so-many levels.
But Jinhae is beautiful. It is a town of around 50,000-ish people (quite a change from the 6 million or so in the greater Daegu area). I went from the furthest north area for sisters in the mission to the furthest south, not including the island (which they opened to sisters two transfers ago). It is on the ocean. It is the most famous place in Korea for cherry blossoms and flowers. Every time I told someone that was where I was going, they first mentioned how beautiful Jinhae is.
I was sad to leave Sangin, though. I can’t believe how much I’ve grown to love the people in my ward–I was honestly sadder to leave them and Sister Choo than I was to leave my home ward and own family. Several members gave me goodbye gifts or goodbye Korean barbecue feasts. I cried. A lot.
The second counselor told me, in English, “마 차매님, you are the best missionary sister I ever seen.” I cried. Even though that is mostly a sad commentary on the sisters who have served in Sangin.
One member who seriously loves me and thinks of me as his daughter full out wept when he said goodbye to me. Like, tears streaming down his face in the middle of the chapel. It was uncomfortable, but also sweet. I cried.
In Korea, whenever a missionary comes into or leaves a ward, they give their greeting/farewell talk–a simple testimony, share a scripture, etc. When I gave mine on Sunday and was looking out at my beloved ward, I cried. So many people that I love and will miss. And it is so sad to think that I might just be another missionary to them. They’ve changed my life. Have I done anything for theirs?
During the sacrament prayer, I felt a little head lay itself down in my lap. It was the five-year-old daughter of one of our favorite members. I looked down at her and cried. When we left and she ran to hug me goodbye and wouldn’t let go, I cried.
I cried a lot. And when I said goodbye to sister Choo, I cried a lot. Oh, so many tears. I’m sad to go, but happy to serve. And Sister Abbott is wonderful. And Jinhae really is beautiful, but my heart is breaking for Sangin and Daegu.
I feel like there was more I wanted to say, but I don’t have time and have forgotten. So I want to end with one final thing.
On Saturday, the Elders had a baptism. He was a Muslim from Bangledesh. His name is Reja. He is in Korea working on his master’s degree. He speaks English fluently and just a little bit of Korean, but the ward has embraced him so warmly. Before his baptism he bore his testimony. He said, “My family does not know that I am joining this church. My mother and father and everyone are Muslim. When I go back home, they might disown me. I do not know. But I do know that with God and through Christ everything will be alright and I can overcome it all.”
I, of course, cried. It was one of the most powerful testimonies I’ve ever heard. His words ring so true. I don’t know what will happen, but I know that with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ everything will be alright and I can overcome it all.