Monday, March 31, 2014

March 31, 2014

(In the voice of Sutherland, better known as: Jack Bauer)
This episode takes place between March 24th and March 31st.

You're probably excited to read this one cause you think it's going to be like an episode of 24, but outside of getting kidnapped, this week was pretty low-key.

I'm only falling deeper in love with this city and these people. I stick out like a sore thumb (though I never really did understand that phrase) which is great. And my companion says it's because there are two foreigners, but everyone is so so nice to us. Seriously, if you need validation, go up to a little Korean lady and tell her her scarf is beautiful and she will stroke your arm and tell you over and over how beautiful you are and how well you speak Korean. They just make you feel so good about yourself!
Except when they feed you way more than you dreamed could fit in your stomach.
Hah. Seriously, I'm going to be so fat. I know you probably just "Psh, very funny Rachel"-ed that last sentence, but if you went to a meal at a member's house with me, you would understand. The table is full of food and they expect you to eat all of it! At least everything is incredibly delicious. My golly goodness Koreans know how to cook. We've also taken to cooking some Korean meals at home which is fun along with making frequent stops at the dumpling shack across the street.
Buuuut that's enough about food for now.
Don't think I wasn't going to talk about being kidnapped. I was getting there! Long story short, there are these SGI (some religious organization for women) ladies who hunt down sister missionaries. We don't know why because we have clearly told them we are not interested and what our purpose is. They are not scary or anything, they are just very persistent. We agreed to meet with them for thirty minutes which turned into a twenty five minute taxi ride (both my companion and I were considering jumping out the whole time). Well we ended up very far from home (still in our area) and had to find our way home on the subway. Turned out one of the ladies was using the other as a pawn to get us to meet with her and she denied everything. So... yeah! Don't worry though. We're alive.
... Thanks in large part to my awesome companion, Sister McGill, who told that lady exactly what she needed to hear! She is wonderful. She's from Portland and she's super down to Earth and we work so so well together. She pushes me with the language too and helped me pass-off lesson 1 after 8 days (which she waited to tell me afterward that most missionaries don't pass-off for months! Sneaky) and makes me do a lot of the talking when we visit people. The language is still sooo hard and I hardly understand anything anyone says. I just smile and nod.. and then wait for my companion to rescue me. It's a lot of fun to learn though and such a beautiful language. We also get to teach English class for service which is a lot of fun.
We live in a quaint little apartment on the third floor with two other wonderful (American) sisters. The other night we had a little 가적의밤 (family night) and Sister Young shared a little something from "Our Heritage". I don't remember the exact quote, but it said something like, "I will never regret the price I paid to get better acquainted with God." And I loved that. I love what we get to do as missionaries. I love representing Jesus Christ and I love talking to people on the street about how much I love this gospel. I hope you're all as excited as I am for General Conference this week! Watch it in your pj's for me, okay?
Love you all to bits! 


P.S. Don't worry dad, I floss, take my vitamins and remember who I am everyday. 
P.P.S. Mom, our little apartment is heated through the floors. You would LOVE it. Also, I just used a heated toilet seat. Totally made me think of you. Not in a wierd way. 

Last P-day we went to an art gallery and explored the streets... And found a giant pair of jeans!

We went for P-day to this big palace with one of our investigators. It was so cool! The weather was perfect and the cherrry blossoms are out for spring. Also, my companion is the cutest.

Us with 이영주 our wonderful investigator!

First night in Seoul.

My trainer!

The sunset from the airplane. Goodbye Provo, hello Seoul.

Two of the Elders from my district as Jedis.

One last district photo before we leave for Seoul.

Me and Mom in the MTC. The blouse was a pass-down "gift". :-)
My MTC District
My MTC teachers- Love Them!!

March 23, 2014

Holy schobolie boppinbopply
As soon as I finished writing that I just started grinning super big. And I really don't know what else to write.
That's a lie. I am overflowing with things to write I just don't know where to start!
Um um um... Okay.
So our last few days at the MTC were great. We had a little pass down ceremony where I got to hand down the horrendous silky-pink-flowy-neck-blouse-thing that I wore to class one day to a Sister in the district below us. And we took a bajillion goodbye pictures at the temple and such.
But I know I know, you don't want to read about the MTC, you want to read about Korea! Patience young padowan.
The plane flight was awesome. There were almost thirty of us flying together (going to the Seoul and Seoul South missions) and we made quite the sight on both flights. Right? (Hah.) Both were wonderful. I sat next to a pilot named Earl on the flight to Dallas and we talked the whole time. He was the nicest old man! And while we were talking, I looked out the window and the sunrise was SO PRETTY (don't worry. I've got a picture) and I showed him. We talked about how much we love them and then he said, "Makes you wonder where we came from doesn't it?". I grinned. That launched us into a very deep conversation and I was able to tell him everything we believed. He was geniunely interested especially when he mentioned his daughter (who he said I remeinded him of) who died not long ago from a sudden heart thing. Gosh. He was wonderful. Had I had an English BOM with me I would have given it to him, but I left him with a card and a smile.
The missionary work begins! The next flight was equally as great and I finally got to eat some spicy Korean food! The food. Hoooooly guacamole. Only they don't really eat guacamole (Brandon and Chase could use that phrase). So, uh, holy... Kimchi?
Then we landed and were greeted with smiling missionaries and mission president and wife with open arms. We took the subway and they gave us each a 몰 몬 경 (BOM) and ten pass- along cards and off we went! It was scary, but so fun. Really. We then ate dinner at a little restaurant where everyone takes off their shoes and sits on the floor and eats a little bit of everything. Seriously. The food. I'm been converted to the chopstick/spicy/dumpling/ramen/kimchi/meat/sharing food way of life.
We spent our first night in the dormatory at the temple which was awesome. The view was incredible. It was pretty smoggy when we got here so at night the lights make the city glow different colors. It's pretty darn cool. The first few days are honestly kind of a blur. But we had some training and then did some 전더 (jundo-street contacting) in this big square in the middle of the city. We talked to some really great people and one lady gave us an apple and a Korean book because we gave her a Book of Mormon! We also talked to a man from Morrocco who was so nice and geniunely interested in what we were doing. We went to this cool underground museum thing then ate at a Korean buffet (all-you-can-eat-of-every-food-that-you-love-including-sushi).
The next day I met my trainer. I love her. Jenna my cous! If you read my letters, I need to tell you that my trainer, Sister McGill, is your old roomate BG's sister! I love her so much. She is amazing at Korean and just has the most perfect personality. We had the quintessential "greenie" experience lugging all the suitcases on the subways but it was fun.

We are in an area called 길음 (gireum) and it's beautiful. Seriously, get on Google Maps and go explore it! Maybe someday Google Maps will have a "smell" feature because that's what you really need to experience. Every two steps there is a new smell. And they're all so different and so good! The weather has been perfect too. We sleep on yo's which are mats on the floor and there are four of us sisters in our cute little apartment.
I honestly wish I could tell you everything about everything. But I have to tell you that I gave the baptismal covenant to our investigator last week! She's getting baptized in two weeks which is so exciting. We do a LOT of street contacting so I'm getting better at that. I've been asked if I would rather date or marry a Korean man, how many years I have been in Korea, and why I am on a mission and not married. Hah. Oh boy.
Sorry this is terribly long. I have too much to say. 
I am loving it here and I love what we do. I think it's so cool that I get to have the name of Chirst pinned to my coat everyday and such an incredible message to share. Also, if you have time after reading this novel of an email, go read 1 Kings 17 (I hope that's the right one). I read it last night and loved it.

I love you all SO MUCH and I hope you know that you are always in my prayers.
All my love and more, 
Sister Meecurawskee? (They have the hardest time with my name. Haha)

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Celebrating my last days in America

Sister McCloskey, Sister Jacobsen & Sister Collinwood

March 13, 2014

This Is It. Just like that Micheal Jackson movie that came out a little while ago... Only I'm not preparing for my final concert tour, I'm going to Seoul to represent Jesus Christ. Sorry MJ, I think I win. 

This week has been so so fun. I seriously love my district, branch and companion and will miss them muchly. BUT I couldn't be more excited to finally get to Seoul. We've all been getting pretty excited so we've been trying hard to focus, but we're still working hard and having fun. We have been playing four square with the whole branch at gym which is a blast. And the other day while we were on a break from class, we figured out that standing about two feet from the wall, with your back against it, holding out a note, and then falling backwards, makes THE funniest noise. I really could not stop laughing and I definitely recommend it to all of you. I've also been attempting to speak Korean in all different accents which is too funny. I especially enjoy Irish and Spanish. Hah. 

I also celebrated my half birthday (woo!) with an awesome package from Hannah Miller. She deserves a shout out in this letter so I'll just say YOU ROCK. (I ate one of the mangoes in the shower and it was easily the highlight of my week).

Yesterday we practiced street contacting again this and it is so fun. We have to think quick and talk fast. I really am so excited to do it in Korea and I really am just going to try to talk with everyone. Even though I can barely speak their language!

Uh... Yeah. So that's essentially it from this week. I've been working on drawings for all my district, so there will be pictures of those to come. I was sorry to hear about Bliss Hansen. She was the sweetest lady and I learned so much with her. I bet she got the biggest hug when she got to heaven. I hope the rest of you are doing well! Thank you for your love and letters and support. I love you all and I hope you know how much the Lord loves you too. Muah!

And I suppose I'll finish with a silly poem I wrote the other night as my journal entry that pretty much sums up all my thoughts as of late, so I thought I might as well share it with you! It's nothing special so if you're looking for some true poetic words, you're talking to the wrong Sister McCloskey!

These are my last days 
Here in the MTC.
I'm getting quite restless,
As you can see.

Seoul is calling my name
With it's kimchi and crowd,
It's even got it's own temple
For the endowed.

I'm excited to in Korean
conversation engage
and to preach the Lord's gospel,
for Him, set the stage.

As they say in the scriptures,
the field in Korea is white,
and I'm ready to labor 
with all my heart, mind and might.

So thank you, MTC, 
for preparing me well.
I've grown so much spiritually
I can already tell.

I pray that the Lord
Be with me as I go
And help the people of Korea,
Christ's gospel, to know.


The Sister who goes to Korea in FOUR DAYS.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Elder Fisher- a sketch by Sister McCloskey

A sketch of the MTC

Sister McCloskey and Sister Collinwood with their MTC basketball teammates

March 6, 2014

Dear Sister McCloskey,

You are hereby called to serve in the MTC West Mission. It is anticipated that you will serve for the rest of your life. 

That's about how it feels going in to week eight here in the MTC. I feel like Atlantis could have resurfaced during the time I have been here. But guess what! Only a week and a half left! SEOUL I'M COMIN FOR YA. We got a reality check this week though when our teacher had us listen to ten minutes of straight Korean. We strained our ears picking out words and grammar phrases here and there and when it ended, all I could say was, "Guys, we're going to be in Korea in two weeks." We all laughed nervous little laughs as we realized how very hard this language is and how hard it is going to be for us when we get there. The worst part is that when we went back through the recording a little slower, we realized that we knew all the vocab she used, we just couldn't understand it! I feel like the language should be getting easier, but it seems to be getting harder. Bah!

Good news is that I bore my testimony in Korean on Sunday and in our Branch Presidency meeting, President Perriton (the coolest, most intimidating Korean speaking Australian man you will ever meet) was talking about the Gift of Tongues and he said, "Then Sister McCloskey gets up and bears her testimony in letter perfect Korean. That is the Gift of Tongues." So that was pretty cool to hear!

I really have been so blessed with my time here in the MTC. My district is made up of six of the best young men you will ever meet. Seriously. They are like brothers to me and I know I'm going to miss all of them. We have been blessed to be going to the same mission though which will be awesome. Then there's the Korean branch and all the awesome sisters in our hall. We have all become such good friends and it's so cool to think that we're all a part of God's work. And our teachers! I can't forget our teachers. I honestly believe that I have the two best teachers in the whole MTC (not that I am biased or anything). I have learned so much from them and owe them everything! And, of course, there's my sweet companion. She rocks. 

I was so excited to hear about Marcus's call. That's so awesome! I'm so excited for you Marcus. On a sadder note, I know some of you have heard, but the missionary who was hit in Sweden was a friend of many of my friends. I didn't know him well, only through a few classes at Provo High, but many of my friends did and I hope you'll keep his family and friends in your prayers. Such a sad thing...

That's about all I got for ya folks! Oh! Wait. I went to the temple again this morning, easily the best part of my week, and I ran into (figuratively speaking) Miles' mom Kelly in the dressing room. We embraced, she cried, we talked and it was wonderful. I love her so. And then we ate in the cafeteria (a brake from the long-since-lost-it's-appeal MTC cafeteria food) and the little polynesian lady in front of us paid for my and my companion's meal. What a sweetheart. I just really love people. Love them. And I can't wait to bring them to Christ. 

I love this gospel and I love my Savior and I'm so happy to be where I am. Even if it means missing the sunsets and sitting in a classroom all day. I love it. 

And I love all of you!

So much.

Your sister 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Feb 27th

As you can see from the title of this email, I am just about finished with my seventh week here at the MTC. Can you believe it? I can. Hah. It's a long time, but my branch and district is really great at keeping things fun. For example:

We've gotten pretty used to the food here in the cafeteria so we're always trying to make things interesting. We've learned that 1) It's impossible, yet thoroughly entertaining, to try and slurp up a whole cup of jell-o in one gulp. 2) If you break a hard chocolate chip cookie up into bite-sized pieces and put it in a cup, it's like cookie cereal. What could possibly be wrong about cookie cereal? 3) Banana+peanut butter+sliced almonds= banana+peanut butter+ sliced almonds. Who knew? No, but really it is my favorite thing in the cafeteria. And lastly, 4) Chocolate milk mixed with Sprite is wierldly good. 

Now you're really worrying about me, aren't you dad?

Another funny thing we have done is that me and all of the sisters in the branch, all of whom are wonderful, decided to do a social experiment by wearing the same outfit everyday this week to see if the Elders would notice. The exact same outfit. So we started Monday. Did they notice Tuesday? Nope. Wednesday? Nope. Only today, this morning (I changed, don't worry) at breakfast, did we overhear an Elder say, "Am I crazy or are the sisters wearing the same outfits?" Too funny. We thought for sure they would notice sooner! But I guess it's kinds like in the cartoons. Every character wears the same outfit everyday, every episode, but no one pays any attention to it. That's like boys. All the time. 

In other news, we got our Korean name tags this week! So it has the Korean translation of our name on it. Mine sounds something like "Meh-cur-rah-suh-kee". They look way cool though and I'll try to send a picture soon. 

Speaking of pictures, I've been drawing little pictures for each of our investigators which has been so fun. I'll be sure to send some pictures of those too. I also am going to do this thing where I draw every view of every apartment I am in while I am on my mission. Starting with the MTC! I'll send a picture of that one, too. 

In other news, we got some 17 new missionaries in our branch! They're Americans and I haven't really gotten to see much of them, but they seem nice. It was fun hosting and being in the sunshine for a little while on Wednesday. We are really trying to "SYL" (speak your language) especially to set an example for the newbies. The other day in class we practiced street contacting which was the funnest thing! It was hard to keep them interested while speaking quickly and making the message personal to them. It was such a cool experience and got me so excited to contact the people in Korea! I also am planning on bearing my testimony in Korean on Sunday which should be an adventure.

That's about all the exciting things on my end. I hope everyone is doing well and has been enjoying this beautiful weather (both rain and snow). You are all in my heart and in my prayers (which I have mastered in Korean) and I love you so much. Marcus, I'm getting anxious to hear about your call, as I'm sure you are too! I'm so excited for you. Elder Madsen leaves Monday for Paris which is sad, yet so so exciting. Paris! He's gonna be an awesome missionary.

Give Ander a really big hug for me. And dad, too. Or rather, a really wet smack on the cheek. You know, a Brandon kiss. :)

Love you,

Sister McCloskey

Feb 20th

Kajok and chingu! (Family and friends in very botched up Korean romanization)

It has been one week since I last wrote which both seems like an eternity and, well, a week. I'm amazed that I actually have things to write to you in such a short time, but I keep things interesting over here in the Center. 

To start off with a bit of humor, my companion relayed to me a rather funny episode that happened last night regarding my sleep talking. Apparently last night, in the middle of the night (around 3 or 4) she woke up to me reciting Moroni 10:4-5. No joke. She asked me if I was awake and I replied by mumbling something about the neighbors and then silence. She just laughed. We decided that could go on a t-shirt under the words, "You know you're a missionary when...". It's only been a month and I'm already reciting scriptures in my sleep! I can't wait for the day when I sleep talk... IN KOREAN. Stay posted. 

As for the Korean, I'm still loving the language. We got a big group of native girls that are the cutest. Seriously. They teach us Korean songs, share Korean food with us, teach us useful Korean phrases and engage us in the practice of taking numerous shameless selfies. Having them here is really getting me so excited to immerse myself in the Korean culture! On a scale of 1 to pumped, I'm pretty darn pumped.

In other news, Sunday was quite the day. I got called as the Musical Coordinator for our ward which is pretty neat. I am in charge of all the music related stuff, including planning special musical numbers for sacrament meeting. That means that if someone bails, I may have to fill their shoes. Woo! At our devotional Sunday night, Matthew Holland (Elder Holland's son) gave an incredible talk about Joseph Smith. Elder Holland and wife (it was her birthday) were there and he spoke for a bit at the beginning. I'm pretty sure every missionary in this little computer lab right now is probably writing about this right now because it was incredible. He would pause the story of Joseph Smith and a choir would chime in with "The First Vision" and "A Poor Wayfaring Man" and then the MTC choir, including myself, joined the choir at the end with "Praise to the Man". It was so powerful and such a cool thing to be a part of!

Another cool thing happened this week while we were teaching our teacher about the Atonement. She started crying and we were very confused and she just opened up to us about some hard things going on in her life. The cool part was that when we planned that lesson, we really wanted her to feel our love for her so I drew her a picture and we wrote her a note with a little scripture on it. It was simple, but when we gave it to her she was so grateful and said she couldn't have received it on a more perfect day. So that was pretty neat. 

I hope all is well back home and everywhere else. Give Sophia my love and congratulations on her big day and tell Marcus that I'm so terribly excited for him. I know exactly the feeling of anticipation he has right now! Thank you for all the letters and all the love, I hope you all enjoyed the long weekend! Whilst you were off celebrating with no school and no work, we got... no mail! Best President's day ever. :) Honestly though, there is no place I'd rather be than here. Our Branch President was talking to us about the surge in Korean missionaries and he said "Something big is happening in Korea right now". I'm so excited to be a part of it and bring the Hanguk people to Christ. 

In the wise words of our good friend Beyonce, 
"Everybody asks me why I'm smiling out from ear to ear... But I know."
(I may or may not have misquoted that, but the chances of Beyonce ever reading this are slim to none so I think I'm safe. If, in fact, you are reading this, Beyonce, I just wanted to tell you that you rock.) 

Love you all to the moon and back! 

Sister McCloskey

Feb 13th

Hiya family,

How are things out in the real world? For all I know, China taken over the world. Is the USA dominating in the Olympic medal count already? Is Ander already taller than Brandon and Jessie? Is Obama still President? Oh. I forgot, touchy subject! ;) I heard from the mail lady that Taylor Swift cut her hair. The most groundbreaking news of all, right? Right. 

I actually have some news to report from this week. I figured I might as well begin this letter at the climax! Every week we are asked to prepare a short, three to five minute, talk. In Korean. Then, come sacrament meeting, after we have sung hymns and partaken of the sacrament, they call up one Elder and one Sister from the congregation to come speak. I bet you can guess what happened this week. Yep. You got it. "We would now be pleased to hear from Sister McCloskey." So I ran. I ran out of the room, out of the building, out of the gates. Chase, I hope you don't mind me using your computer to write this email. 

Only kidding. I spoke! It was scary at first, but the looks of understanding and love from my fellow branch members made it easier. And I'm so glad I did it! Not only because I'm off the hook for the next few weeks (although that is a plus), but it gave me a boost of confidence with the language. The talk itself was on Enduring to the End and it was nothing excited. It consisted of a bunch of little sentences using the grammar forms I have learned like, 
     God gave us commandments in order to test our faith.
     Through these verses we can learn about the importance of enduring to the end. 
And I know that if we endure to the end, we can receive eternal life through the Atonement. 
Inspiring right? Yeah, no. But hey, it was in Korean! My teachers, who are incredible (both natives) have both pulled me aside and told me that they are amazed by my ability to understand the language already. Woo!

That only makes me want to work harder and learn faster. But I really am loving the language and love how understanding of my purpose increases everyday. It's crazy to think that as of Friday, I will have been in here a month!

As for the rest of the week, more singing in the shower, dancing in the rain, and study study studying. Oh. And in honor of this beautiful sunshiny day, and my wearing jeans, I did a cartwheel to celebrate!

I hope everything is going well for all you back home. I hear there is this thing called Valentine's Day tomorrow? It doesn't exist here in the MTC, so I wouldn't really know. But go celebrate, eat lots of candy, and give lots of hugs! 


Feb 6th

Dearest famree,

Remember how last week I was completely pumped about the MTC? Well, I still am. But this week we watched the older districts prepare to leave for Seoul, and it got me both anxious and excited for my day to come! Our district is all going to the Seoul mission and we're traveling together which will be awesome. But I know that I need everyday of the nine weeks I have here to learn the language and how to be a better teacher, so I'm taking full advantage of every second!

A few updates from the in the MTC: 

You know how my dreams were pretty wild pre-mission? Well, this may be hard to believe, but they are getting more and more extravagant. Perhaps it's the food. Or that my mind is trying to keep up with Korean and English simultaneously. I had one the other night where the whole family was in Greece and I was babysitting Ander (who was sick--which is ironic cause he's sick right now, maybe the two of us have telepathy) and we got separated from the family and had an adventure finding our way back! 

My companion and I had a heart to heart the other night complete with oreos, peanut butter, and really awesome pants. She's great.

The language is coming! The language is coming! It's Paul Revere here reporting that Sister McCloskey is finally beginning to catch on to the insane grammar of the Korean language. The alphabet is easy, but as soon as I seem to catch on to once grammatical concept, we get another one. Agh. I am loving it though. Korean is such a beautiful language! And I'm not studying for me, I am studying for the people of Korea so that I can bring them unto Christ. As long as I keep that in mind, the studying becomes more of a privilege than an obligation.

Speaking of the language, I was asked by our branch presidency to give the closing prayer in sacrament meeting on Sunday. 

Nailed it. 

I see more and more people I know everyday which is so fun! I think I've seen close to twenty five now and I love that we're all here with the same purpose. That's about all I got for ya! But I am still so so happy where I am and I just love you all and I love the Savior so much. 

MARCUS! I am so excited for you. My guess? I bet you can guess. Yep. You got it. Korea, Seoul. That would be swell, but I know that wherever you go is where you're meant to be. Just know that I am so so excited for you and I can't wait for you to join me out here!

And Sophia is getting baptized this month, right? Give her my love and congratulations. And know that I'll be thinking of her on that big day!

As for the rest uh ya'lls. Chase, there's a letter coming for you, but don't worry about having time to write. I know you're busy with homework... And by homework I mean girls. ;) Quinn, Elder Jolley seriously reminds me so much of you. I'm going to introduce you when he gets back. You'd probably rather me introduce you to a Sister than an Elder though, huh? :) Jessie, I love your letters and pictures. The Ander picture is hanging on my wall and he gets a lot of admiration from the sisters in my hall. Already breakin hearts right and left! And Brandon, Cancun? Not cool. But kinda cool. I guess. Mom, our district loves you and your yummy desserts. And Dad, did you take mom on a cazookie date like I told you to? Good. Love you. And Mia! Thank you for the Mermaid book. I love it almost as much as I love your cute face. Tori, Bri, and Jen, will the three of you pick the best picture of us and send it to me? I realized I don't have a single one. I miss our adventures and I love you all so much. As for anyone else I missed, you are in my heart and in my prayers. Love you! 

Seester Meecuhlawskee

P.S. I heard from an inside source in the outside world that Oreo now has a cookie dough flavor? If such news is found to be true, feel free to send some love my way. :) 

1. Peanut butter and oreo party.

2. Sister Jeffery (a high school friend) and I at the temple

3. The Elders (from left to right: Jolley, Woodall, Fisher, Bean, Miller and Christensen)

4. The height difference. These two are goobers!

5. A drawing I didn't have time to finish