Sunday, August 2, 2015

August 2, 2015 - See you on the other side.

Look at that face. No not me, sillies, the beautiful toothless grin on that grandmother on my left. Her thin skin bearing witness of a well lived life, smile wrinkles testifying to a happy one. 

The face says it all. I love this country and I love these people.

I suppose now it is a good time for me to write what them churchy people like to call a "testimony". 

It's hard to say where my testimony began. I was lucky to be raised by two of the most devoted disciples of Christ who emulated his example in their every endeavor, so it was pretty easy to rely on their big anchor of faith. I, like Nephi, was raised by "goodly parents", who lived the gospel and enjoyed the peace and joy that comes from doing so. It's hard to forget those things we heard repeatedly from dad growing up,  "Never say die", "remember who you are", "I can't believe it's not butter"... "Pile drive into the sand...":) just to name a few.

But I remember Dad, a convert to the church, always telling us that "everyone has a conversion story". 

I think mine began a long time ago, long before I can remember. High school hit and I realized that I was surrounded by spiritual powerhouses, but I still felt like I was just tossing wished up into the sky, hoping someone, somewhere might swipe them up. For a long time it felt to me like a testimony was one of those things only the perfectly righteous could obtain. But I saw young people, my age and younger, certain of what I was still unsure of and I began to think, "Well if they know it, why can't I?"

You'd think that would be the trigger jump starting me into some stalwart journey of spiritual development, but you'd be wrong. Instead I got caught up in the whirlwind of adolescence. It's a wonderful time, that time they so appropriately term the "terrible teens", filled with awkward moments, lessons learned and relearned after mistakes made and remade, and a whole lot of self discovery.

It was then that President Monson announced the change in mission age, spurring a ripple of excitement, anticipation, and uncertainty. After the initial excitement wore off, the reality of leaving everything and really not knowing what missionary work entailed, settled in. 

The summer after graduation, I spent nearly every Sunday hopping from farewell to farewell listening to testimony after testimony. Some powerful, some simple, but all honest. How could I get that? Part of me felt like I needed to come to some sort of perfect knowledge before I could join the some 80,000 youth.

Sometime between buying textbooks, moving into a dormitory, getting oriented into the college student life and taking my final tests, I felt the pull and knew there was no way I was not going to serve. The question, "Well, why did you choose to serve a mission?" is no fill in the bubble question. There's a myriad of answers, one being, "Ya know, I'm not too sure my sure myself!" 

But I did. I signed out and stepped onto the biggest roller coaster I've ever been on in my life (and we all know that's saying something-- I mean have you seen the size of those big boys at Busch Gardens??) and it has been the best decision I've ever made. 

As much as I'd like to, I can't put all I have learned or gained these past eighteen months here in this little email. But I suppose I'll put just one. And that is that this gospel, the same gospel taught by Christ himself and then restored through Joseph Smith; the same gospel being put into music form for kids and adults alike to sing; the same gospel being preached around the world by those bearing the black name tags... that gospel, guys. It's true. All of it. God's real. He's our father in Heaven. And He loves us enough to send his son so we can return to live with Him. How cool is He, huh? 

I love this work. This church. And this country. And am sad to say that this is my last email, yesterday was our last baptism (yes, Mina got baptized and it was a beautiful thing), and this is my last week wearing the name tag preaching the gospel i have come to a surety is true here in this country to a people I have come to love.

This is it. I suppose. Love you guys.

See you... on the other side. 
(it's like I'm turning from a llama into a human, if you get what I mean)


Sister McCloskey
Mina's baptism

July 26, 2015 - Mina

"Yea, and from that time even until now, I have labored without ceasing, that I might bring souls unto repentance; that I might bring them to taste of the exceeding joy of which I did taste; that they might also be born of God, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.
 ...Yea, and now behold, O my son, the Lord doth give me exceedingly great joy in the fruit of my labors..."
(Alma 36:24-25) This week that fruit and "exceedingly great joy" hit me like a slap in the face. A good one, though. You didn't think a slap in the face could ever be a good thing, now did you? Okay, maybe it was more like a pie to the face. Cause that sounds a little more desirable. Banana Cream? 

Anywho. Remember Mina? She's the beautiful thirty year old Mongolian Sister Jeon and I met some four months ago. You may not remember, but hers is a name I will never forget. She was that "golden investigator" every missionary dies to teach. She was the most prepared investigator I've ever had. She felt the spirit right off the bat stronger than anyone else I've ever taught. And I have never prayed for, fasted for, or studied for anyone more in my life than her.

Those prayers were answered. Mina is getting baptized this Sunday :)

Feels like a dream within a dream. Where's Leo Dicap when you need him? Oh right, there was no room for him on the door.

We met Mina this week and she bore a powerful testimony and told us that she is ready and striving to do all she can to keep every commandment. She wants to be "born again" and "recommit to follow the Savior" and she knows that this is the way. She came to church, we had a member present lesson and we got to eat Mongolian food with her this week. THE BEST.

It's a good thing I've always liked maracchino cherries, cause Heavenly Father just dumped a handful atop this sunday. Our little threesome has been blessed with some fifteen beautiful children of God with whom to share this message (among which are Mongolian, Chinese, Vietnamese, Malaysian, and of course Koreans), four of which are new investigators and four others have baptismal dates. Can you say "wonder of wonders miracle of miracles", or what? 
I'm about out of time (yikes, that applies to more than just this email session, doesn't it?) but I'd like to turn the time over to President Hinckley to sum it all up.

Take it away, President.

 "Do you want to be happy?
Forget yourself and get lost in this great cause. 
Lend your efforts to helping people... 
Stand higher, lift those with feeble knees,
hold up the arms of those that hang down.
Live the gospel of Jesus Christ."

I was caught on film laughing in my sleep this week so I guess it's pretty safe to say I'm happy. Haha. :) I wish you all the best and... well, I'll see you soon! 

Sister McCloskey

P.S. Here's Seoul and a little drawing I did for one of our investigators! Enjoy!

We went to the tower on pday and put a lock on the lock
bridge with our names and a heart by them (leaving room
for our future husbands names). SO fun.

.. And that's me cracking up as I threw the key off the mountain. 

I LOVE my companions. :) 

July 19, 2015 - rainbows love unicorns and more unicorns.

I need someone to ship me off to an island in the middle of nowhere so I can get a new supersuit and fight a big metal ball so it can stretch out my hands and legs and crack my back. My back! But don't worry. It's just "mind over back pain", right Dad? Right. 

Aside from my back hurting and being totally wiped out, we're great! :) 

I don't have a lot of time, so this'll be a flash. We have seen so many little miracles this week with new investigators (Chinese and Malaysian!) one of which showed up to church on Sunday, member present lessons (total miracle- people here in Seoul are SO busy), three investigators accepting the baptismal commitment, referrals, and so many opportunities to teach. We are literally jumping from subway to bus to subway talking to everyone lucky enough to be taking public transportation that day! It's an absolute blast.

I received two pretty meaningful gifts this week too. Elizabeth, our 60 something investigator who loves to sew and has showed us how, gave me two handmade Korean dolls. Mom, you're gonna die. SO thoughtful of her. And then one of my former investigators, who didn't even know of my great fondness for sunflowers, gifted me a sunflower fan. Can you feel the love? 

Oh, I can feel it.

I also got told twice this week that I look like Kiera Knightly.

It's the corset isn't it?

... okay I'm not THAT scandalous. I have always wanted to wear one of those though. 

Talk about TMI.


I got to go on exchanges with Sister Collinwood this week exactly 18 months after we met that fateful day in the MTC! So fun huh? We had a pretty miraculous day too. One investigator said "I've felt many times as you were talking that this really is true". Hey guess what, you're right! We also taught the whole restoration lesson to a lady in the park and got two return appointments. Woo! I love Sister Collinwood. And I love bearing my testimony and teaching the gospel in Korean. Good news is I've got two more weeks to do it. Boo yah.

Sorry this letter is pretty lame. But then again so is the one Quinn sent. Oh wait. He didn't.


Love you love you love you xoxoxoxox muuuuah love love hugs kisses hugs xoxoxxoxo more kugs more kisses love rainbows unicorns....

Have the best week, kids. 

Sister McCloskey

P.S. Half my pictures are of sunsets so, uh, sorry. But this is our view and we're going to that tower today! Woo!

... And here's a funny picture of our zone leaders. They're great. :)

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

July 12, 2015 - Starts with an "h" and kinda rhymes with "stupidity"

It's been a year and a half and there's been plenty of blood and tears... and now for the SWEAT.


Thanks to thirsty little Provo, that is a word that didn't mean much to me growing up.

Let's just say you'd best bring your oatmeal and bran cause I'm going to shrivel into a raisin the moment my feet hit that rocky Utah ground.

But before I do, I've still got plenty to do and plenty to be grateful for! I mean just look at that sunset! I have been saying gratitude prayers lately and just been overwhelmed at how blessed I have been. Remember how sleepovers at Grandma's house used to be more terrifying than that scene in War of the Worlds where all the people are trying to get in to their car? Well, it may sound silly, but I consider the fact that I've made it a year and a half without you guys a total miracle. 

And then there was the whole walking up to the podium to give talks in primary which felt something like what I imagine Frodo felt when he went to face Shelob in her den. ALL BY HIMSELF. And now I can do that. We had zone training this week and I, along with our zone leaders, gave a training to the zone. Not that we're challenging MLK Jr. or anything, but we did it.

And then there's the fact that, aside from a few little colds here and there, I have been quite healthy this whole mission (please take a moment and knock on some wood for me won't ya. I'll wait) 


This week we had Mission Leadership Council with the new president, which was great (except that we all got a good laugh as I stood up to report about our zone and completely forgot how to speak english), zone training, which went relatively bump free, exchanges with Sister Olsen, which was lovely, and we managed to pic up four new investigators! We even had time to help a little pregnant lady carry a watermelon and she ended up giving us her number. Woo!. Mina and Elizabeth and our Chinese investigators and Sister Kim are all doing great too. 

So uh, yeah. Keep yourselves hydrated and have the best week. (especially good old Jen Jen with her birthday!) 

Love you, as always.

Sister McCloskey

P.S. Here's a sunset and our zone :)

Monday, July 6, 2015

July 5, 2015 - That'll beat fireworks anyday.

We're eating with all the Korean sisters (and me- practically one of them by now) going home today for pday so this'll be a short one. Short, but sweet.

Like Dad!


Well I guess you could say this was perhaps the best fourth of July I may have ever spent. Which we all know is saying something. Just look at those pictures of Michelle and I decked out in RWB. Not sure there are two teenagers with more patriotic spirit than we had. 

I even had a white "U.S.A." swimsuit for goodness sake. I don't think George Washington ever owned one of those, now did he.


This year there was no dressing from head to toe in every red, white or blue piece of clothing or accessory we could find in the house, no sleeping out on the parade route, no cakes smothered in white frosting decorated to look like the American flag, no floats shaped like Winnie the Pooh, no belting the National Anthem at the top of our lungs, no spending time with the family... and not one single firework.

"Well gee Rach. Didn't you say it was the best one yet? Sounds pretty lame if you ask me."
I could almost hear Jessie's voice as I typed that.  

No decking out in all red, white, and blue, but I did (unintentionally) don a red skirt and white shirt.

No sleeping out on the parade route, but falling asleep beaming at the full moon outside after hanging up a long awaited phone call (and many a prayer) from our Mongolian investigator Mina saying she would be at the baptism.

No cakes smothered in frosting, but a whole lot of baking banana bread and cookies. Baking is not something they do in Korea (hardly anyone here even owns an oven) so that was an adventure with my two Korean companions. :)

No floats shaped like Winnie The Pooh, but I did manage to whip out and frame an oil pastel as a gift. 

No belting the National Anthem, but singing a choral version of "He Sent His Son" with the Elders.

No spending time with the family, but the ward members showed up to show their love and Mina was able to be there too (an answer to many a prayer). 

Nope, no fireworks. But yes, Sister Kim got baptized. :) 

And the Spirit at that baptismal service was just as strong as any boom of a firework I've felt. Everything went wonderfully (though it did take three dunks.. hah.) and she is just the best. We couldn't be happier for her or more excited to take on the whole enduring to the end thing together. 

We also got to meet our lovely new President and  Sister Sonksen in a mission conference on the 4th (they are wonderful), and continue meeting with Elizabeth (who reminds me so much of you mom) and our Chinese investigators. The three of us couldn't be happier (especially now that we have toilet paper). 

I wish you all the best of the best and love hearing all your summer adventures each week. I hope you can feel my love from these many miles away cause I know I can feel yours. 


Sister McCloskey
Sister Kim's baptism. (The guy on the left served with Josh Crowther in the Daejon mission. Cool huh?)

The beauties (Sister Ju and Sister Kim)
Here is just an idea of how much we laugh together.

Monday, June 22, 2015

June 21, 2015 - Take me out to the ballgame

Buy me some peanuts and cracker jacks... Cause I don't care if I ever go back. GUYS I DON'T WANT TO LEAVE THIS COUNTRY.  
Really. Nine innings never was enough, was it?

This week was amazing. 

Tuesday: Temple day. Beautiful day. P-day. Art gallery hopping with the comps. Sister Kim. Accepted baptismal date. Couldn't be more excited.

Let's just say this fourth of July is gonna be the best one yet. :)

Wednesday: New investigator! Elizabeth (english name). Super nice. Really great lesson. EXCHANGES. Sister Wijetunge and I reunited. Never let go of each other's hands. Man on the train gave us a huge box of chicken. We gave him a Book of Mormon. Visit with Imma and all my favorite english class members.  So happy. 

Thursday: Paratas. Miracles. Lunch with Tanya (the Russian member). Visit Chad (the less-active) and Ji Hye and their newly born twin babies. Talked with the nicest people on the street, taxi and train. Book of Mormons. Return appointments. SRI LANKANS. The happiest visit in the countryside with our recent converts, Uditha and Sisera, and five other of the Sri Lankan investigators. Ice cream by the lake. Sri Lankan rice and curry with our fingers. So much food. So many laughs. A beautiful lesson about coming to Christ. The best part about it was getting to see Sisera and Uditha and the change that has occurred in them since that first time we met them on the street. That change... is a modern day miracle. A man on the way home who had met missionaries. Wants to meet them again but hasn't been able to find them since he got back to Seoul. Exchanged numbers. Miracle. 

Friday: Goodbye Conference for President and Sister Christensen. Bittersweet. Interview with President. Maybe a tear or two. Bittersweet. Weekly planning. Lesson. Exchanges with Sister Bryan!

Saturday: Thunder storm. Caught in the rain. Lesson with a Christian and her Buddhist son at a cafe. He asked so many questions. Answered them with the message of the restoration.  
"Do you believe man can find perfect happiness?" 
"Well, how?"
Almost instinctively I opened to 2 Nephi 31:20-21, which I had shared just that morning with Sister Bryan. 
"This is how. Jesus Christ is the way." 
I don't know if he felt the Spirit as I bore my testimony, but I sure did. 
"Yeah, okay. So what do I do?" 
"Just keep reading" 
His eyes paused on 2 Nephi 32:3. 
Long pause. 
"Can I have this book?"

"No. It's mine."
Hah. Just kidding. Yes, we gave it to him and planned to meet the next week. I love missionary work.  

Reunited with Sister Lee and Sister Ju. Finally home. Transfer calls. Stayin together. SO relieved. Can't wait for this next transfer. And couldn't be happier to be here one more. 

Sunday: Stake Conference. Sister Kim came to church with us, sang in the choir with us, and went to an adult meeting with President and Sister Christensen. She's awesome. We were exhausted. 


LOVE you guys and I root root root for the home team everyday :)


Sister McCloskey

P.S. Here's two from P-day! The three some and an art gallery. :)
On exchanges with Sister Wijethunge- reunited.
My last photo with the lovely Sister Christensen

June 14, 2015 - No subject

Hey kids. You know when you walk in to a bathroom just after someone showered and as soon as you open the door a wall of steam smacks you in the face?

Well that's kinda what it's like walking out the door everyday. So much for showering, right? Might as well pull a Chris Kreuzberger and "Save Water Shower Together". 


Okay not really. 

This week was wierd, kinda like the wall of steam, but only in the best way. We had exchanges again which kept us busy and we've met some really cool people on the street and engaged in some really really cool street lessons. It's been hard to meet with Mina because of her crazy work schedule, but we met this week and she still has this huge desire and love for the gospel. And Shinee and Ganaa came to church yesterday! Which was so great. One of our mongolian members, who is the nicest, translated for them through sacrament and gospel principles so it was really cool to watch.

We also had the biggest miracle of all, a new investigator who has taken the lessons in Australia and just moved here for a few months. Sister Kim! She's twenty and the coolest ever and not only came to church with us yesterday, but loved it. We're planning on giving her a date this week so we're pretty pumped. 

Pumped. Haven't said that in while.

We had a pretty exciting episode that began late Thursday night when we had to take Sister Lee to the hospital. She was having stomach problems and collapsed/ threw up several times. Long story short, she recovered and we were all SO grateful to have been in a threesome. I was able to talk in english with President to figure out what to do and Sister Ju was able to figure out everything at the hospital. Seriously if there had only been two of us... 

Yeah, we don't want to think about that. :)

So much to be grateful for this week and so many little laughs and miracles. I've been reading "The Power of Everyday Missionaries" lately too which is a great read. Seriously I'd put it up there with The Portrait of Dorian Gray, Screwtape Letters, Kite Runner and my 8th grade Algebra textbook. Okay I didn't like math THAT much, but you get the idea. 

I love you all and feel your love every week through your emails. 

You are all my heroes.

Sister McCloskey

 P.S. Here's a sunset and blurry rainy Seoul. Love you guys.