In yet another very crazy week for us here in Gumi, the biggest highlight is that I am blessed to spend six more weeks in beautiful Gumi with the gorgeous Sister Wallace. Celebrate, folks! I couldn’t be happier!
You probably just want the crazy, though. Nothing too ridiculous this week, but enough. Here are some of the other highlights:
On Wednesday, we had our Cajun Christmas in July themed district meeting. Which went so well. Sister Wallace forgot to bring her camera today, so I’ll get you pictures of it next week. It was pretty epic–everyone (not including me) got three presents 1) something under two dollars that I’d bought at a DC Mart (think dollar store but Korean style), 2) a piece of crap(ish) from our house that we didn’t want that I’d wrapped up and 3) an “I love Dokdo” plastic sitting mat (we had a ton of them at our house for some reason that I can’t fathom. It was sort of white-elephant-style, with them having drawn numbers and then picking out their presents, but there wasn’t any exchanging of the gifts. (And the “crap(ish)” gifts from our house weren’t necessarily junk–just stuff we didn’t want/need, like shoe polish kits.) Anyways, I’d wrapped everything up using the pages from an old “Missionary Health Guide” and masking tape–I thought it was very Cajun-looking. We had lights, a tree and a nativity. I made Louisiana-shaped Christmas stockings for everyone out of paper and there was tons of candy and Sister Wallace made Christmas cookies (okay, not really: it was out butter-free recipe). They were all pretty impressed–probably mostly with the candy and cookies, but hey, they’re Elders. The Zone Leaders, who were visiting, asked us if we could go back and train the four Sisters in their district, who “never do anything for us.” We let the sexist sentiment slide. Anyway, it was fun and then we went out and ate “Mexican” food for lunch, which the Elders generously bought for the two of us. Good day.
On Thursday, we decided to trek out to the horse ranch to visit our potential investigator. It is in the boonies! No buses go out there. So we walked about two and a half hours to get there along dusty roads in the heat of the 100% humidity day. We were dying and nasty sweaty and gross by the time we got there. It was the most awkward lesson I’ve ever had. He was REALLY upset that I refused to ride one of his very expensive and famous horses (for free)–he is the President of the Korean Horse Breeders Association, after all. But he did feed us watermelon in the middle of his training rink. He is quite a character. He wears a little gold hoop earring and was wearing a horizontally-striped polo shirt and just looked like this little Korean pirate man. His assistant, who said maybe two words the whole time we were there, was missing three fingers on one hand. It was rather surreal. He did feed us some delicious watermelon, though. I didn’t question how clean the knife was or ask about the missing fingers when the assistant started whacking it to pieces for us. It was weird because he only spoke old-man-Korean which is mostly unintelligible to me. We taught him a brief lesson and he said that he didn’t want to hear any more “Church talk,” but told us to come again soon. ? Okay… In better news, we did find out that his son WAS the guy we first ran into, aka Sister Wallace’s “soul-mate.” So the trip wasn’t a total bust (not that it was anyway, since we did teach this man a little about Christ and His restored gospel and invited him to learn more). Then we walked the long hot and dusty (now with sticky watermelon-juiced hands) walk back to civilization. And we got hit by some people in a truck out insecticiding. Not as in hit by the truck, but by the pesticide. Our eyes were burning!!!! And my face kept twitching the rest of the night. We went home and showered well. We also were both super sunburned. But we survived and had maybe started teaching Sister Wallace’s future father-in-law. Who knows?
Speaking of possible future father-in-laws….Wait, I’ll get there. I’m going chronologically.
That night was also transfer calls. And we were both happy not to receive transfer calls! Unfortuanately, both of the Gimcheon Elders did. Which we were pretty bummed about, as they were our favorites. Elder McBride is headed off to the west and Elder Riser is headed to the mission office–AP. Weird. But more on them later.
So Friday comes around and I’m washing some dishes and about to make us lunch when I hear Sister Wallace exclaiming. Half of her tooth fell out. She has beautiful, very straight, but very genetically bad, teeth. And one of her molars just broke. So that resulted in a lot of phone calling back and forth between us, the mission office, the senior missionary couple in Daegu and ultimately led to me setting up my first medical appointment in Korean. With which I was rather surprised at myself. After that was all settled, I had received permission to call the beautiful Sister McComber, which I did, that I might wish her a happy birthday and sing the birthday song that I’d written for her. Well, just the lyrics. It was to the tune of “Last Train to Clarksville” by the Monkees. Random, right?
Well, the rest of Friday and Saturday morning was very stressful for us. Sister Wallace has severe dental anxiety, so she was freaking out a bit, which caused me to worry, etc. We left early on Saturday to take a train down to Daegu. The trains are busy, so we had to stand the whole way. Not fun. We got there and then took an hour long bus ride to the dentist’s office, filled out paper work etc. and then they saw her. Not the happiest time for her, but she handled it like a champ! She did such a good job! And we were both surprised at how cheap (in price, not quality) dental work is in Korea. That evaluation appointment only cost about $12 USD and the work (a root canal and cap) will only cost about $800, which is a lot of money, but not compared to US prices! So, we set up another appointment for this coming Thursday and got back on the bus, ate lunch there in Daegu and then paid extra to take a different train (so we could sit) and wended our lovely way back to Gumi. We then ran straight to our English class, which went well.
That night we made our calls to re-invite all of our investigators to church the next day, which included the crazy photographer who wants me to marry his son. He apologized that his son was up in Seoul for the weekend, so he couldn’t come. I tried to tell him that he could come by himself, but he was quite adament that his son needed to come with him so he could introduce us. Oh well. We’ll call next week. ^^
However, Sister Wallace was still having a hard time. She was worried about the dental care and about paying for it. And because she was so stressed, she was developing some crazy ideas about having to go home from her mission. Which caused me to be upset and stressed and worried too. So we asked the Elders if they could give her a blessing on Sunday on their way down to Busan (since Elder R was becoming AP he had to be there early). They said that they would see if they could fit it in with their train schedules.
Chruch was mostly fine–had a less-active and an investigator come, so that was pretty good. Sister Wallace was just stressed and was struggling, though. Since I cried through sacrament last week, I guess it was her turn yesterday. Our ward must think that we’re crazy. Haha. After Church our primary English classes went well (or rather , we survived and had brought left-over CCiJ candy to entice the kids–the favorite mode of Korean parenting). We then went home (around three) to finally eat lunch, but weren’t there for long when we got a phone call saying that the senior missionary couple had some stuff for Sister Wallace and were sending it up to Gumi with an American who was headed that way. So we stopped eating and booked it to the train station. On the way, we got a phone call from the Elders saying that they were at the Church. So we booked it to the station, met the cute American girl and then booked it to the Church to meet the Elders.
The Elders had brought their extra produce to give us. Since they were white-washing out, and Sister Wallace had taken inventory of their food before the Elder whitewashing-in had (our former ZL here, Elder Daniel, who will be training), they had brought us their onions and potatoes. Sister Wallace was ridiculously happy about this. And even happier when she saw that their was a letter with the potatoes. She exclaimed, “Oh, you wrote us a letter!” To which Elder Riser replied that he wasn’t about to be writing letters to Sister missionaries–that it was definitely a letter to the potatoes. And sure enough, it was a letter addressed “Dear Potatoes.” It was also pretty much the sweetest thing that either of us had seen.
After much stress on the part of Sister Wallace, they finally gave her a blessing than headed off to Busan.
Afterwards, Sister Wallace had a long chat on the phone with the mission President; we had a lesson no-show–she felt really bad when I called; she’d just simply forgotten. We then pulled things together and proselyted the rest of the night until we went home. After a late dinner, I called Elder Riser to give him our key indicators (stats) for the week as well as to report on our transfer goals. We both knew that our numbers were good–there weren’t any baptisms in the zone this transfer and we were the only ones with an investigator who had a baptismal date. But we still have a lot of room for improvement. After Elder Riser and I talked about what we could do to improve our work and our efforts, he asked if I was happy with the transfer. It was a question that made me think then and I’m still thinking about it now.
I told him that we’d worked hard and that we’d had a lot of fun. I told him that we’d had crazy adventures (I forgot to mention that on Thursday we had an awkward run-in with a naked grandpa bathing in the river out in the countryside when we were walking home from the ranch!) and that we’d taught people who were progressing in the gospel. But then I had to honestly admit that although I was happy, I wasn’t completely happy with the transfer. Why? Because I couldn’t honestly stand before the Lord and say that I’d done everything I could for the salvation of His children. I hadn’t worked as hard as I could, I hadn’t seized every single opportunity. I hadn’t been as diligent as I could have, or should have, been. It wasn’t good enough. I said that I hoped that by the end of my mission to be able to work so hard and so well that it would be enough; that I could look back on the end of my transfer and say that I was completely happy with it. He told me that it was probably the easiest to have a “happy” transfer when you were with a companion that you loved whole-heartedly–which, reading between the lines, means that it had better be this next transfer, because I might not have another where I am with a companion that I love as much as Sister Wallace. I can’t wait to be “happy” and I don’t want my Brothers and Sisters to wait for it, either. Yes, there are hardships and, yes, other people have agency, but our job is to teach and invite. As the President told Sister Wallace yesterday, it’s our job to work and it’s the job of the angels in heaven to do the mourning. We can’t afford to be discouraged or allow trials to become set-backs. We have to be happy now. Sister Wallace and I talked about it a lot and we’ve decided that is what we want to do. We want to work as hard as we possibly can this transfer. Have it be perfect. Be totally happy at the end.
This transfer is going to be a glorious one for Gumi. And for us.