Monday, May 26, 2014

May 26, 2014 - Happy Memorial Day!

Once upon this one time...

we met a girl. A girl named Jin. J.I.N. My companion and I ran into her (figuratively speaking--this would be a whole different tale if it had been an encounter of such forceful physical nature) on the street a few weeks ago and her beanie, shaved head, quirky comments, and British accent (regardless of the fact that she is true blue through and through Korean) were enough to leave us walking away saying to ourselves, "Oh my gosh. I would totally be her friend."

Well, it was destiny. 

She approached the Elders this week on the street and asked them, simply, "What are you doing?". They elaborated on this thing we like to call missionary work, and told her about us. Well, we met this week in a cafe and couldn't be more thrilled to be meeting her. We clicked right away, the three of us, as she is a lover of many things including art, good music, and clothes. She is not yet 24 years of age, but has lived quite the life up to this point. We also found out that her accent was acquired from her British boyfriend whom she met in the hostile she was working at who later proposed to her from prison in Malaysia. Talk about a cool back story. As she divulged to her the events of her past, and regarded many feelings of guilt and regret, we had the opportunity to open a conversation about the Atonement of Jesus Christ. When she was told that all of her guilt could be washed away completely through the Atonement she replied with two words:

"Holy crap."

I'd say that's a pretty appropriate response, right? Sadly, however, her extremely self-reliant, independent head is telling her that she can just do everything on her own. She has already expressed so much love toward us and we are so excited to help her see God's love for her through us. We love her!

We also met with 유미향 this week and had a really great lesson about the Book of Mormon. We have to teach her very simply because she has literally no background with religion--as in she has never even thought about the prospect of God. But it is really fun to teach her and she asks the best questions. She loves reading the BOM and as we talk about it, she says things like, "That's so cool!". When we retold the story of Joseph Smith, she mentioned how he must have been very smart. When we told her that he had no education, she rightfully asked, "Well then how did he translate the BOM?". In response to our telling her that it was only through God's power that it could be done she, without any doubt or second thought as to whether that was possible, said, "That is just so awesome." So she is progressing, slowly, but we love teaching her and watching her testimony grow!

In other news... My companion and I get along better than tomato juice and cottage cheese. That's something only you will understand, Dad, since I'm pretty sure you're the only person who would think to combine those things and have the audacity to eat it. I suppose I'll just stick with peanut butter and jelly on this one. We really do though. This week we found the darn cutest little kitten, went running/ ab ripperxed in the mornings, saw our favorite Russian man (who's likeness to that of Gru in "Despicable Me" is nothing short of uncanny), sipped bubble tea in a cute cafe like the locals, basked in the humid weather, went door to door contacting and found ourselves on the 25th floor overlooking the city, and we contacted more contacts this week than we ever have before (who!).

And this weekend we have our combined mission conference with Seoul South and Elder Cook is coming to speak! Which promises to be fantastic. 

I'm so happy here, truly. I hope to hear the same from all of you back home as summer is fast approaching! I love hearing from you and all your adventures. And Quinn, congratulations on being an extra in a Bollywood movie! That's so cool. I didn't know you could move your hips like that. Oh wait, was that Jessie? ;)

I love you all. Or, as the Koreans say it, 사랑해요!

Love love love,
맥클라스키 자매

Just the kitty and some pretty Korea. Just for you.

Monday, May 19, 2014

May 18, 2014 - Human Frailty and Divine Potential

Holy shmashed avocados.
I have so much to write and so little time. But if Jack Bauer can do what he does in one hour (have you seen one of those episodes?), I can write an email home in an hour, right? Right. The reason I have so little time is because we went with this nicest Korean lady today to explore a beautiful part of the city. It was amazing. We went hiking up to a wall much like that of that great big one in China (what's it called again?;) ), ate an amazing meal at a sit of the floor restaurant (those are the best kind), found a tie gallery (dad) and a shop with hand sewn beauties (mama) and took some amazing pictures. It was a blast!
This week there were more holidays here in Seoul! Including teacher's day and rose day. Both of which came and past without much of a celebration. Though we did have many a meal with members this week, all of which sported the most incredibly delicious food. And on the days we did not eat with members we made for ourselves meals fit for the queen herself! We would have invited her, in fact, but the allotted time slot missionaries have for dinner does not leave much room for one to travel from England. So my companion and I ate our cheese sticks, bell peppers, leftover bread, and hot sauce in solitude. Next time, dear queen. Next time.
Speaking of traveling, we met so many foreigners this week! We meet them every week, but lately because of all the holidays, there have been quite a few more. We talked to people from Morocco, Dubai, the Philipinnes, Cambodia, China, Vietnam, Iran and Austalia. They are the coolest. You'd think this whole being-in-a-very-foreign-country-for-an-extended-period-of-time thing would be satifying my hunger for travel, but in reality it's only deepening it. And I can't even begin to express how glad I am to be beginning my adventure here in Seoul.
One of said foreigners, Wang Chor (Chinese), we began teaching this week! She is so funny and so much fun to talk to and she has such curiousity about our church and missionary work. We can't wait to teach her again and think she will be really receptive to our message. As for the other two ladies we are teaching, they are progressing very slowly. We had an awesome lesson with 유미향  this week with a prosepctive missionary in our ward. We also invited her to church, but her dad will not allow it. Phlugmph. But she is loving the Book of Mormon and we are praying hard for her. I also had a cool bus lesson with the nicest lady who took a picture with me and told me she wanted to show me to her little boy. She was so wonderful and I hope to hear from her soon. The work is moving slowly here in Seoul, but it's moving and I love that I get to be a part of it.
... Even when I get door after door closed in my face and people are terribly rude to us on the street. Yes, it happens. Everyday, some days more than others. But thanks to the native cheery temperament I developed back in that beautiful home of mine in Provo, it doesn't get me down. That is not to say that I enjoy it, nor will I ever get used to it, but thanks to my trainer and her willingess and optimistic approach to every situation, we keep knocking and keep talking. And sometimes buddhist ladies give us orange juice, and sometimes nuns yell, "I love you!" out the car window and sometimes people cheer us on as we run past them in the mornings saying, "one! two!" and "keep it up!". Those tender mercies, ice cream, and a whole lot of fervent prayers to Heavenly Father are what keep us going everyday. And I love it!
But here I am, a nineteen year old (21 in Korean age. That's got to get your heart racing a little, huh dad?) girl in the middle of a city full of some 50 million people. I'm just a kid. A kid who likes to play with colored pencils and whose favorite weather brings the promise of soiled clothing. And yet I bear on my chest my family name, but more importantly the name of the Savior of the world. I can't help but think how inadequate I am as I try to learn this language and grow in faith everyday. In the words of my wise trainer, "Birth is going to be nothing comapred to learning Korean." And it's true. I knew this mission is preparing me for the rest of my life, but I didn't really think about that being childbirth... But I don't really have to worry about that right now, so I'll move on.
I really just can't help but think about my own frailty as a human, but the potential I have to become what the Lord wants me to become. I am learning so much everyday and I am so grateful for each and every experience and test of my faith.
All my love and more as always.
Sheester Meecrawskee
Rose Day

May 11, 2014 - "You Ate What?"

Just got off the phone with you guys and it was so great to hear my favorite people again. I really can't emphasize how much I LOVE MY FAMILY. They're so cool. 


So obviously that was the highlight of my week. But it is certainly not the most exciting thing that happened. 

This week! This week there were a lot of holidays, particularly Buddha's birthday, so a lot of our appointments fell through. But it also meant there were a lot of people on the streets to talk to! We celebrated "parent's day" by buying our investigator (who's son we teach english) one of the flower baskets they were selling on the streets and writing her a note saying how much we appreciated her treating us like daughters. She really is so wonderful. We also taught her the restoration this past week and it was such an amazing lesson. We didn't realize until right after, when her son turned on the TV how strong the spirit was during the lesson. She doesn't often have a lot of time to listen, but that lesson she listened intently and did not want us to leave. She just sat thinking for a while and then gave us a huge grin.

I also went on an exchange this week to another zone nearby with a Korean sister, Sister Yoon, and it was so so fun. They're apartment had an AMAZING view. We also were running late getting home on time and had to make a run for it in the pouring rain. I couldn't help but laugh the whole way. 

Speaking of running, my companion and I decided, on one of our morning runs, to run to the top of the hill we live on and find an open apartment complex. And we ran to the 25th floor ("did she say 25 floors? there's no way"). I know what you're thinking. No way. But when you are motivated by the promise of an amazing view of Seoul, trust me. There's a way. It was so pretty. Seriously. So pretty.

And we need to work off all the rice! Koreans and their RICE. They are always eating RICE. And if they are not eating RICE, they are eating something made out of RICE. And if they're not eating something made out of RICE, they are eating something shaped like RICE. And if it's not shaped like RICE, it rhymes with RICE... okay so I have yet to eat lice or mice, but you get the idea. So. Much. Rice. 

But I also got to eat the spiciest thing I've had yet this week, bringing me nearly to tears. Along with a green gooey log shaped thing, which I couldn't help but imagine was a lot like eating a slug. And I had cow stomach that literally looked like a grey hand towel. And kinda tasted like one too! Oh Asia. I love it here.

In other news, I gave a talk yesterday! I was informed by my zone leaders of the privilege I would have to speak. Mind you, I have been in Korea for less than two weeks and by golly this language is so hard. It reminds me of those blessed days spent in the car with my dad learning to drive a stick shift. When someone says something to me I have to get my head in gear as fast as I can to think of a reply. And sometimes I stall in the middle of an intersection cause I just can't think fast enough. But dad, you'll be happy to hear that I have yet to be brought to tears picking up this new skill. :)

And just like with the stick shift. There is no way I could do this on my own, without my Father's hand teaching me along the way and lifting me up when I am frustrated. I remember when I was little and the thought of speaking at church was nothing short of mortifying. And how ten years ago there is no way I could have done what I am doing now. But as I was thinking about what's changed between now and then, I realized it is because now I am aware of God's hand in my life. I rely completely on him and he gives me the courage. I did not have that knowledge when I was little and I am so grateful to have it now. Especially as a missionary when I could not do anything without Him.

I'm so grateful for my amazing family. And this wonderful country. And for spicy food. And a companion with a sense of humor. I'm grateful for rain. And nice people on the street who hand me a handful of chocolates just because I said hi to them. 

And I'm so grateful for the relationship I am building with my Heavenly Father and the knowledge I have of His restored gospel. 

Until we meet again, Buzz Lightyear.

Sister McCloskey 


Not a hand towel!

Monday, May 5, 2014

And a few pictures! This place is so great. I love it. Probably too much.

In front of my favorite giant flowers.

With SanHa Lee and his family.

May 4, 2014 - "Here She Goes Again"

For my shortness of script, I do render my due abject apologies for I fear that my words leave ineffectual and insufficient the intent for which they are writ.

No, really. I am losing my ability to speak/write in English. And this is just the beginning! So bear with me. This is gonna be a long ride. 

First off. Happy Star Wars day everyone! Here in Korea, we celebrated it yesterday. No, I did not fight off any storm troopers, nor did I wear my hair in two buns on the sides of my head to church (although if I had thought of that earlier, I just might have). And no, I did not successfully cause a man-made planet to internally combust. Not this time. In fact, the extent to which we celebrated was last night as we laid down to sleep and I whispered to my companion, "Quick, what's your favorite quote from Star Wars." And we shared a few giggles. 

In other exciting news, I had my first experience with a Jehovah's Witness! Ten years ago I never would have pictured myself sitting outside a cafe, sipping tea, listening to a lady pour out all her knowledge about the Bible (in Korean, mind you) whilst my companion and I exchanged funny glances. It was an experience to remember. We prepared to teach her the restoration and show how the Bible and BOM are used together, but she would not let us do much talking. So I finally said to her, in broken Korean. "We know that this Book is the word of God (the BOM) and that it has the fulness of the gospel and that is why we wanted to serve missions. You cannot know whether it is true or not if you have never read it." I offered her the book after bearing as pure a testimony as I could, but she still wouldn't take it. It was definitely an experience to remember, though, and hopefully she took what we said to heart!

As for our REAL :) investigators, we are currently teaching three amazing women. All three we found on the street and all three wanted to meet with us primarily out of English interest. But aswe have shared with them the gospel, they are all really starting to open their hearts to our message. We had an amazing lesson about faith with 유문희 (a 40 year old mother) and she opened up to us and basically outlined all her needs. She loves meeting with us (and never lets us leave without some kind of food) and says she feels good whenever we talk with her. We are just working on helping her to recognize that that is the Spirit and helping her to really have a desire to act on what we are saying. And then we are teaching this 29 year old, who has no self-confidence, but has been reading and enjoying the Book of Mormon and loves to meet with us. Her dad is completely anti religion though so she has to hide the book when she goes home, which is so sad. But they are so wonderful.

I really cannot emphasize enough how WONDERFUL the Korean people are. As you may have heard, I got to meet Sanha (one of our past exchange students) and his parents this week! Mom and Dad, you would LOVE them. Seriously. It was such a special experience. They took my companion out to eat at this amazing Korean meat place, got us our favorite tea, and insisted on buying us a week's worth of bread and pastries from the "Paris Baguette". She even made my companion and I bracelets and bookmarks. Mom, you would love her. I did my best with the Korean and expressed how very grateful I was to them and they wanted you to know how very grateful they are to you for all you did for Sanha. They really are such a wonderful, humble family and I hope that one day they, too, will come to accept this gospel. 

Really, everyday out here my testimony grows and the more it grows, the more I want to share it with everyone! Crazy how that works huh? I really love this place and these people. Now that it is nice and warm here, my companion and I rise every morning at 6 am and go running. I love it. Seoul is one big jungle gym where we get to go up and down and explore every little nook and cranny. 

Yowza. Sorry this is so long! I am obviously having the time of my life out here and I love this work that I get to be a part of. I can't wait to hear your voices next week either! Bah! 

ALL my love and more, 
Sister McCloskey

P.S. Wish my childhood best Michelle a happy birthday on Thursday! I think that day will forever be ingrained in my head. I love you Meesh.