New Year’s Eve

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What?  Are the Gumi Sisters just a couple of massive slobs?  Is that what you are asking after seeing those photos?  No!  Of course not!  We are clean!!!!  Swear it!  What are those photos, then? you are probably now asking yourself.  Well, therein lies the most epic story to come out of Gumi this past week.

Last Monday, New Year’s Eve, was our P-day, as per usual.  We slept most of the day.  (Haha.)  Stayed at home, wrote letters, napped, lounged in our pjs, etc.  We left the house around three, ran errands and then did missionary work until about 8:30ish when we made our frozen way home.  We opened our door to find no light when we came in.  “Huh, that’s weird” we thought, as our entry-way light is a motion sensor type of thing.  But nothing.  Sister mcKay got de-shoed first and went inside, only to discover the above pictures.  Well, she didn’t actually discover the pictures, as I took them later, but she discovered the contents of the photos.  You know what I mean.

“Sister Markland,” she called, “I think someone’s been in our house.”

So I come in and, sure enough, our house had been mildly ransacked!  Someone had gone through her luggage, both of our desks, our jewelery, our closets–some fiend pawed through my garments!–and had pretty much just molested our apartment.

The first thing we did was check to make sure said fiend was no longer in our apartment–he wasn’t.  Then we called the Andong Elders to tell them that we were home–and that we were going to be calling President because we’d been burglarized!  What, the what?!

So I called President Gilbert.  He told me to go ahead and call the police.  I interpreted that as call 정재환 and ask him for help.  I explained to him what had happened.  He called the police for us and then said that he was on his way to our house with our ward’s first counselor in tow.  During this whole time, I tried calling the landlord several times, but couldn’t get ahold of him.

Well, the police showed up before our Brothers, so I had to deal with that–my 1) fear of all police and 2) knowledge of Korean did not put me in good standing for talking with the police, who wanted to know what was missing, what had happened etc.  I told them that nothing was missing.  It didn’t seem as if the culprit had taken any jewelery, they hadn’t taken our DVD player or cameras or Sister McKay’s ipod, all of which were out and easily accessible.  It honestly didn’t seem like anything was missing.  They told us to sit in the bedroom as they made phone calls and took photos.  We were there with them for quite a while as they kept asking questions about crap.  Sister McKay and I had already decided to look on the positive side of things and were just glad that we were being allowed to party on new Year’s Eve with some men in our apartment.  Haha.  I’m kidding, mom, we never actually said that.  (Not that we didn’t think it ^^).

The police told us to stay put in the bedroom and to touch nothing.  Then they peaced.  We didn’t know what was up.  But our ward Brothers finally showed up and told us to come wait in the hall.  So we did.  We then tried some more to track down the landlord.  Then–the CSI came.  No joke.  Korea is a super safe place with not a lot of crime, so we apparently made the department’s night as they got to deal with a crime on New Year’s Eve–involving foreigners!  We were mighty glad that we could oblige their desire for some action.  So the CSI came and took more photos with better cameras, scanned the whole house with these black light thingies and even dusted for fingerprints!  Yes, I am aware that this was kind of a serious thing, but Sister McKay and I were sort of giddy from all the excitement.  During large portions of this, we were alternating phone calls with President and Sister Gilbert and the Andong Elders.

After a while, we were informed of how the intruder entered–the kitchen window.  We live on the third floor.  But apparently he had climbed in through the window–they could see the evidence of it.  So we called Sister Gilbert and let her know that’s what happened.  She then chewed us out for not locking our windows.  Honestly, it had never occured to either of us–this is Korea!  And we live on the third floor!  Oh, well, it was a lesson in common sense.

Well, the police finally left and our first counselor re-dedicated our house for us–but only after the two of them went over the whole house and criticized our furnishings and the lack of food in our fridge–and then they left, too.  We were told that we could pick up our stuff and reorganize everything.  That’s when we discovered that something was missing–out of our pearls, diamonds, cameras, ipod, DVD player, etc., the only thing that the thief took was the chain from my Young Women’s medallion.  Not the medallion, just the chain.  We decided it’s because he’s in love with me and just wanted a momento–we (meaning me, Sister McKay, and Sister Gilbert) are all okay with that.  It’s mostly amusing.  Actually, everything about this is funny.

As we were cleaning, we got a phone call from Andong at about 10:28PM (which is unusual because we are not allowed to make phone calls after 10:20P) but  Elder Struhs began by saying, “I have permission to call you.  This is an emergency.  Lock your doors and windows.”  So of course everyone in the whole mission got the phone call, but only President and Sister Gilbert, Andong, and we knew why.  Sister McKay and I were dying!  We were so stoked to be a “cautionary tale”!  Elder Struhs thought that is was pretty funny, too.

So after that, we heard some loud talking from outside, so I crept to the window to listen.  I could hear JaeHwan’s voice, but I couldn’t distinguish his words.  Shortly thereafter, however, we got a visit from our landlord.  Apparently our two Brethren had tracked him down and chewed him out.  He apologized and told us that he would be installing more CCTV cameras to cover the back of the building as well and that he would be installing bars, etc. (side note:  he stopped by last night to assure us that he has already purchased four cameras and will be installing them this week).  Then we got more phone calls from the police and had to call back and forth with President Gilbert and the police and JaeHwan, etc.  So, we were allowed to stay up until midnight on new Year’s Eve!  Yay!  Hooray for valid excuses to ring in the New Year!

Unfortunately, we had to wake up at five the next morning.  We wanted to die.  We hiked through the frozen cold–my eyelashes turned to ice because of my breath–and wound our way to the mountain.  And up to the base of the mountain.  Only to find no ward members.  We made some phone calls.  Turns out that we were not meeting at the mountain after all (there were a ton of other crazy Koreans there, however, to greet the New Year).  We were meeting down the mountain at a gazebo on a frozen lake.  We eventually made it there.

We sang hymns, prayed, talked about our desires for the ward and for ourselves, personally, for the coming year.  Then we knelt down in the snow and ice to offer up personal petitions to the Lord, before singing and praying again as a group.  We were blessed to be given a ride home.  We were SO grateful for that.

The rest of the week was pretty good.  Had a great District Meeting in Andong where we celebrated District Leader Struhs’ birthday, spent all day in Busan at our last training meeting together and pretty much just partied it up rockstar-style in Gumi.  We also taught some lessons and did our best to fulfill our purpose as missionaries.

The sad news?  That this will be our last week together in Gumi.  Transfer calls–for my last transfer–are this Thursday and one of us will surely be going.  President Gilbert has asked me twice, once via e-mail and once in person, what my thoughts are about staying in Gumi for my last transfer.  I’ve told him that I’ll be happy either way–it’s just what is best for him and the mission.  But no matter who stays or who goes, I’ll be losing Sister McKay, which breaks my heart.  I love her to freakin’ death and the thought of having a companion who’s not her for the next six weeks makes me want to throw up.  Or cry.  Or both.  I just pray that she gets an even more awesome companion for this next transfer.  Whatever happens, though, I will be happy knowing that is is the will of the Lord.  So stay or go, I don’t know, but it will be a great six weeks, regardless.

Hope you all have a great New Year!

And seriously, don’t worry about us.  We still sleep with the kitanas and I now sleep with a switchblade as well.  I pity the next fool who tries to break into our apartment!  Love you all!

P.S.  –  Here is a picture of the frozen lake:

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27 Candles

Happy Birthday to us all!!!!  Aka Happy New Year!  Tomorrow marks my 27th birthday in Korean age.  I am NOT looking forward to telling people that I am 27.  I will be glad to get back to America and be 25 again.  I already feel old enough as it is!  Shoot!

How are we celebrating, you might ask?  We were informed by our ward yesterday at church that our presence is required at the base of the mountain at 6:30 AM tomorrow.  For a sunrise prayer meeting.  That’s kind of typical of Korean New Year’s celebrations.  Greet the sun at a mountain.  Sister McKay and I are most definitely NOT excited about leaving our house around 5:30 to trek through the darkened, snow covered, icy streets with the freezing wind whipping our noses and chapping our lips to get to said mountainside prayer meeting.  They might need to pray us back to life!  Just the prospect makes me shudder.  So early!  So cold!

But I’m sure it will be spiritual and uplifting and crap.

Not much else happened this week that is worthy of reporting.  Had some scandalous conversations with men who are more interested in the gospel of Markland and McKay than in the restored gospel of Chirst, slipped on ice, built a snowman, got into a snowball fight with a 45-year-old, froze, went to church, got rejected (a lot), taught a few lessons, got lost in the boonies, got a Christmas package with some hilarious letters from my mom’s seminary students, talked with the family on the phone, made some living scripture videos with the comp, cleaned our apartment, contemplated cleaning further, drank more hot chocolate than is healthy, and slept on the sometimes-too-hot-sometimes-too-cold floor.  So, all in all, it was a pretty typical week for us here in Korea.

The gospel moves forward and we are freezing.  But it is probably teaching us some valuable life lessons and we will one day look back on the frigid winter of 2012 as one of the happiest memories of our lives.  Or so we keep telling ourselves.

Not much else to report.  Hope you are all warm.  Enjoy your respective birthdays.  Kiss lots of people at midnight for me.  Haha.  (Just kidding, mom.)

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***Melina Post: Christmas Photos!***

1.  jenessa and sister cutler at the mission christmas partyOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

2.  andong elders (struhs and quist) with their present from the (lovely) gumi sisters!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
3.  gift for the kimcheon elders (ahn young gyeun and charles)!
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4.  jessa decking the halls on christmas eve!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA5.  with sister mckay on christmas eve!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
6.  elders as santas!!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA7.  elders passing out the goods…
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8.  “the elders as dead santas.  i dunno, either.  it was elder ahn’s idea.  he always wants us to take group photos where everyone pretends to be dead…”
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA9.  hot cocoa and a break from the snow!!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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Christmas Adam, Christmas Eve

Merry Christmas from Korea!  We have to book it to the church to finish getting ready for our ward’s Most Epic of All Christmas Parties, so I will be so very brief!
 
The Christmas party for our mission went pretty well.  Our Zone was definitely the best.  Minus my not so awesome flute solo.  It was my own arrangement of “Samuel Tells of the Baby Jesus/If You Could Hie to Kolob.”  But, of course, I am not a flutist, so….  But I have it all recorded and can show you all later.
 
So that went well.
 
Our Christmas Adam went pretty well too.  We had massive amounts of people at church–a whopping 78!  And the stake presidency was there and everything was full of cheer.  We got about six inches of snow on Friday, so the way is treacherous, but Sister McKay and I did manage to make some snow angels in the church parking lot and the young men built a giant snow fort next to the church.  We finished up our card-making and prepping last night which led us into a beautiful Chrismas Eve…
 
Today, our whole district played Santa Claus at a kindergarten.  The pictures are hilarious. It was only supposed to be me and Sister McKay, but since today wasn’t P-day, we were told that we had to have district meeting today, so we dragged the whole district with us.  Unfortunately, they only had four santa suits, so the Elders ended up dressing up and we just took photos.  Definitely were not bummed about that!!  Haha.  It was pretty epic!
 
I feel likle there is so much more that I want to say, but there is no time.  I am so grateful for the birth of our Savior, which not only has given us Christmas, but everything else as well.  I must run.  But I love you all and wish you the most merry of all Christmases!
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***Melina Post: Mission Christmas Video 2012***

http://youtu.be/a_oUgYABMjQ

 

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Stupidity, Embarrassment, Pain

So little time, but so much to say!  This past week was one for adventures!  We had interviews/gospel study time with President and Sister Gilbert on Tuesday–my last regularly scheduled interview with the President before my exit interview.  Crazy, right?  It was good and we learned so much.  Today, in response to my last week’s letter to him, President Gilbert told me that our district was one of – if not the most – spiritually prepared of the seven districts that they visited last week.  So that is pretty cool.

On Wednesday, we went down to Daegu for another rehearsal for the mission’s Christmas party this coming Thursday.  I am stupidly being forced to play a flute solo.  Not my idea.  I rented a flute–for fifteen dollars.  So I will have it for the next month.  I think that I will also have to play at the ward Christmas Party, which is on Christmas Eve.  My talented and amazing companion drew the flier for the event.  It looks really legit.  I don’t know all of the acts, but I do know that the primary is doing traditional Korean drumming and that the Young Men are making a video using a green screen.  They really go all out here for Christmas parties!

So last week, I got a phone call from Immigration and was told that I had to go to the police station.  That was exciting.  (I’m still terrified of the police, but they are much nicer and friendlier in Korea.)  I had to go to the police station in the podunksville town of Waegwan.  Why?  Because I’d lost my wallet.  Koreans are very honest.  Someone had just taken it to the police, who had called Immigration, who had tracked down my number and called me.  Nothing was missing at all.  It was a great stress relief to me, who had been panicking about the loss of all my cash/cards/ID etc.  I love honest Koreans.  We had a nice time with the police, who were very kind and were very impressed that I could speak Korean!  I love the Korean police.  Still scared of them, but I love them.

On Tuesday, we had a dinner appointment with a member who decided to “torture” my poor companion.  I can pretty much pound any Korean food without a problem.  Sister McKay has not yet…acclimated.  So the pigs’ feet, intestines, tendons, “viscerage” (I couldn’t find a different translation for that–maybe you can.  it is called 내장 *** Melina note:  it translates as “entrails”), which tastes like 막장 (***Melina note:  translates as “face”) and is my favorite of them, and lungs.  I think the eating of the pigs’ lungs was what almost did her in.  She gagged a few times.  Poor girl.  I liked it all!  Korean food is soooooooo good!!

So on Friday night after planning, Sister McKay made some comment about putting glue on your hands, waiting for it to dry and then peeling it off.  She said little kids do it and it feels cool or something.  So we tried it.  And it did feel pretty cool.  I then had a super bright idea.  “Sister McKay,” I suggested gleefully, “I bet if we did the same thing on our faces it would feel really good and probably exfoliate us and leave us with shining smooth skin.”  She agreed.  Why are we so stupid?!  Seriously?  Doesn’t that sound like the dumbest idea that you’ve ever heard?  Because it was.  It was so, so, SO painful pulling the glue off of our faces.  And the best part–it didn’t even get rid of my moustache!  Seriously?!  I have to endure all that pain and then still have to deal with hair removal.  Not a happy camper.  But it was my own fault.  There may have been some tears shed.  I have pictures and video that I will share later.  But yeah, it was pretty funny.  Funnier in retrospect.  What in the world posessed us to do that?!

So, this next story isn’t exactly missionary-appropriate and I debated whether or not I should share it, but I think I will.  Don’t judge me too harshly.

English.  Is so stinking hard!  Oh, so hard!  Especially past tense construction.  Sometimes there are vowel changes, sometimes just an -ed.  It is confusing.  Unlike Korean where there aren’t any exceptions to the rules or “irregulars.”  So yeah, there is a possibility that I told my District Leader when he called at 7:30 in the morning that “although I was aroused I was not awake.”  One of the most awkward/embarassing moments of my mission.  SO much mortification on that one when I realized what I had said–about the same time that he and my companion (who was listening in) realized what I said.  The moral of this story is that the past tense of arise DOES NOT equal “aroused.” In my defense, we’ve been getting up at six every day this month in order to study more about Christ as preperation for Christmas.  The whole mission is doing it and it is kind of killing us.  Anyway, be careful when speaking English is the real moral of that story.

Hope you all have a great week!

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More Handsome Than…

A lot happened this week, including some crazy sketchy situations,
massive amounts of snowfall, a district trip to Costco, a ton of
miracles, the mundane, and the scandalous.  So pretty much it was an
average week here in Gumi.  I don’t have a lot of time, so I will just
share one highlight with you.

Do you remember our investigator who will only speak in English?  The
“poison cookie” one (did I tell you that story?  ***Melina Note:  No, she
didn’t!
)?  Well, he showed up after church on Sunday.  Just randomly. 
We haven’t heard or seen from him for a while, but there he was yesterday
at the church.  We taught a great lesson–really strong with the Spirit and
he was more humble and receptive than I’ve ever seen him.   Well anyway,
he was there yesterday trying to meet some more of our members–which
never works out too well as he refuses to speak Korean and I still have to
translate.  It is very off-putting to the members, to say the least.

However, also at church yesterday, were Elder Harman and his parents.
Elder Harman finished his mission this past week and his parents came
and picked him up.  He had served in Gumi and therefore came and spent
the day with our ward and spoke in Church, etc.  They are such a sweet
family!  Elder Harman was a very diligent and humble missionary.  I
learned a lot from him.

Anyway, so they were there.  Of course Kevin spied the foreigners
and seized upon Brother Harman.  Sister McKay and I almost died at
their conversation.  Brother Harman is a good sport.  We later
explained Kevin to him, but…well, just read:

“Oh hello, where are you from?”
“We’re from Idaho”
*pause*
“Potato nation!”
“Yes.  That’s actually our business.”
“Oh really?”  Pause while Kevin looks Brother Harman up and down.
“Well, you’re more handsome than a potato.”
“And you’re better looking than rice.”

We were mostly dying!  Kevin was on a roll yesterday!  He also told us
the story about how he used to kill rats in his factory in LA – in
particular, the tragic saga of one poor intruder whom he stabbed
and later shot with a rifle.  He partially acted it out for us.  Made
our day.

Sorry I don’t have time for more.  Just trust that despite the funny,
the work of the Lord has most certianly progressed a pace here in Gumi
during the past week.  And I am so blessed to be a part of it.

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