Strange Days at Blake Holsey High…Or Just in Gumi

The weirdness of my life continues!  But I will get to that in a
second.  First, the spiritual and fun and then the can of crazy shall
be unleashed–Pandora eat your heart out!

About 9 weeks ago, Sister Wallace and I met a Sri Lankan man while we
were out proselyting.  He expressed some interest in the gospel and
said that he wanted to come to church.  So we got his contact info and
I called him every Saturday night to invite him to church.  He could
never make it; he always had to work.  But then this past Sunday
morning, he called me up and said that because of the holiday (추석) he
didn’t have to work and wanted to come to church.  We were thrilled!
But also not entirely sure that he would come as he sounded
half-asleep when he called.  Because of the holiday, we had a very
strange church schedule–church started at three and went until 4:30
with each meeting being half an hour, but still having all three
meetings.  It was weird.  We were supposed to eat dinner together
afterwards, but no one had brought any food for the potluck, so we
ended up not eating together.  Anyway, we went to the train station
to meet him at 2:30 and then around 2:40 he showed up and went to
church with us!  He met some members, accepted the Book of Mormon and
agreed to meet with us on Saturday for a lesson!  It only took nine
weeks!  Such a great Thanksgiving miracle for us!

With the holiday comes phone calls home for the Koreans.  They don’t
call on Mother’s Day and Christmas, they call home on Korean New Year
and Korean Thanksgiving.  For when the Americans call home, I’ve
always been with an American companion.  But for both of the Korean
holidays, I’ve had a Korean companion–it is so hard to listen to them
call home and not be able to do the same.  Very sad times filled with
jealousy.  But, I suppose, Christmas isn’t that far away.  So I shall
deal.

Yesterday for the holiday, we had a mission P-day where we all got
together in Busan and had some spiritual messages and competed against
the other zones in games.  It was a lot of fun.  You sometimes don’t
realize how much you love the other missionaries or how many really
good friends you have until you meet them all en masse once more.  It
was a really great experience.  The highlight was the letter exchange.
Last week, we were all secretly assigned a name of another missionary.
We were to pray for them throughtout the week and then write an
anonymous letter to them based on the inspiration we received
according to what the Spirit said that they needed to hear.  I had a
Korean Sister, so I spent about four hours writing my letter as I made
more than one draft and it was all in Korean.  Sister Nam had an
American Sister and spent about twenty minutes writing it in Korean
and then having me translate it into English for her.  I was kind of
worried that I would get a letter like that, after I’d spent all this
time on mine.  Not that the point is to get something, of course, but
still, it was a little bit of a concern for me.  However, I got a
letter that made my life and surpassed what I could have hoped for.  I
know who it’s from, too, because I could tell, and it is from one of
the Sisters that I love most in the mission.  It totally made my life.
So all in all, it was a pretty good holiday.

We had our district meeting on Saturday this past week because we
wanted to eat at a Mexican restaurant (pretty much the only one in the
mission) together afterwards and it is only open on the weekends.  We
walked there only to find that it was closed for the holiday.  So the
Elders decided on a sushi buffet instead.  A thirteen dollar sushi
buffet that ended up being 17 dollars because it was the weekend and
the Elders hadn’t read the sign (not that I had bothered looking
either, but it was there idea, so I’m shoving the blame on them).  It
was mostly very delicious, except for the jellyfish, which I tried for
the first time.  Not something that I want to try again.

On Friday night, we met with our ward mission leader and his family
for dinner.  I took a picture of two of his daughters when we first got
there.  They were very happy and smiley.  This was before they tried
to show their hamsters to Sister Nam only to discover that “the white
one” was dead.  Then they were not so happy.

And then the crowning highlight of weirdness of the week.  Last week,
our Relief Society president asked Sister Nam and I to visit her at
work on Friday.  She said it would be lots of fun.  We agreed.  After
we were done talking with her, I turned to Sister Nam to clarify what
had been said.  I wasn’t sure if she had said it and I just hadn’t
understood or not, but I aked Sister Nam what her job was.  All I’d
been able to catch was “my place of business,” but I wasn’t sure what
that “business” was.  Turns out that I hadn’t missed it–she hadn’t
provided it.

So on Friday, Sister Nam and I went to her “place of business”–which
I’m pretty sure is a…well, let’s just say “multi-level company.”
They, in theory, sell beauty and health care products, mostly
aloe-based, at exorbitant prices.  So we were sitting there chatting
with our RS president and the only other people who work there are two
women in their late 40s/early 50s who were dressed to the nines and
decked out in makeup and jewels, etc.  And a 50-ish year old Korean man
who wore suit pants, a purple suit shirt and a sparkly tie whom
everyone referred to as “Teacher.” (Okay, I’m painting that a little
bit blacker than it is, as it is common to call men without another
title “teacher” in Korea, but it just served to add to the weirdness
of it all.)

All of a sudden, our RS president asks, “Who’s going first?”  And I
had no idea at all what she was talking about.  So, of course, my
Korean companion quickly voluntereed me.  What “going first” meant was
sitting in front of a giant computer screen next to the Teacher who
had some kind of contraption that he was disinfecting which was
connected to the computer.  He asked me my birthdate, my blood type
and my nationality (“no, not American, your forefathers”).  He then
pointed to a spot on the computer and told me to look there.  He then
used the contraption to take several pictures of my eyes.  Which he
then blew up on the computer screen.

I know it has a name, but I can’t remember what it is…but he then
proceeded to tell me everything that was wrong with me based on the
markings in my eyes.  It was so hard for me not to laugh, but everyone
else was dead serious.  I felt like I was in crazy town.  Of course,
there was a lot of stuff wrong with me that several of their products
could fix, but my two main problems, according to him, are my stomach
and my liver.  After he was done explaing all my health
woes–past, present, and future–he then had me stick out my hands.
Next thing I know, I was stabbed with four acupunture pads on each of
my pinkies.  Apparently, the outside top of your pinky at the first and
second knuckle is connected to your stomach and the same spot on the
underside is connected to your liver.  It was rather jarring and
unexpected.  Especially when they taped them in place.

They repeated the process for Sister Nam–but she was believeing
everything!  After our “exams” we were given tons of free
samples–some mystery pill that you’re supposed to take after you eat,
aloe to drink, aloe for your skin and some diet drink that has green
tea in it (“I talked to the stake president and he said that it would
probably be best not to drink it, but his first counselor said it was
okay.  And there’s really only just a tiny bit in it and it’s not like you’re
drinking it as tea, anyway.”)

Then one of the other women (who kept stroking my hair and calling me
a barbie doll) said she wanted pictures.  She then handed the camera to
Sister Nam and made me pose with her for several photos.  We shared a
quick message and then left.

I spent the next two or three hours trying to convince my companion
that it wasn’t real and that she was okay and not to worry.  I still
don’t think I fully allayed all of her worries.

Mostly it was just crazy.  But also a little bit funny.

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About gwenogjones

I am a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, serving for 18 months in the Korea Busan Mission (as of September 7, 2011). I have a fanatical obsession with Snape and the Harry Potter series (in that order), I recently graduated from university majoring in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations (Arabic). Prior to this major, I was working towards a degree in Jazz Saxophone performance; ergo, I love music. I also love reading, writing, painting, spending time with my friends, playing soccer, watching movies...the usual types of things early 20-somethings enjoy.
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