Monday, June 30, 2014

June 29, 2014 - The Sorcerer's Stone?

Okay, do you want the good news or the bad news first?
I think it's better to start with the bad. Don't worry, I'll make it quick. Like a band-aid.
Korea is out of the world cup.
Whew. That wasn't so bad, was it? Not for you, no. But that band-aid ripped out a few hairs on these Koreans and may have even left a scar. But life goes on.
Good news is that we were street contacting at 광화문 square the night of the big game and we got to see the fans all decked in red surrounding a huge screen with flashing lights and loud music. It was like a dream, and though we refrained from participating the festivities, we cheered in our hearts. It also opened up for a lot of great conversations on the square that night and some return appointments!
Speaking of return appointments, we went street boarding this week as a district for my first time. You may be wondering if street boarding means hitting the streets on a skateboard, I too had a similar misconception. Street boarding does, however, involve a board--a board that serves a much less exhilarating and dangerous purpose. On the boards we had written several questions of the soul: "Have you ever thought about what happens after we die?" "What do you think the purpose of life is?" "If you could ask God one question, what would it be?", etc. We set up on a busy square in a university area and offered passers-by a sticker to simply place on the question they have wondered about most. It opened up for so many great conversations and we were able to give out so many Books and get so many return appointments. And there are so many foreigners in this area so I got to talk to people from Singapore, Malaysia, Finland, Holland, Puerto Rico, Vietnam, and France. The girl whose nationality was the last of those listed, Beatrice from France, was especially memorable. She was a doll and she was genuinely interested in what we were doing and why. And we are going to meet with her next week to share with her more about our incredible message.
The work is moving along faster and faster these days. We proposed to our long-time investigator, Sandy (her American name), the potential baptismal date of July 13th which happens to be her birthday. So she is working toward that now! And we met with several new investigators this week with a lot of potential. And we had four of the less-actives we have been working with show up to church on Sunday which was awesome. I am just so grateful for the knowledge I have of God's Plan of Salvation. It really is amazing how it was all planned out from the beginning. Not to compare J.K. Rowling to God, but it's kinda like how she had the Harry Potter serious planned out from the beginning and how it all just works out so perfectly. We're all part of something bigger, a grand tale of adventure and uncertainty, and this isn't even the climax! The sorting hat just sent us to Earth and now we're here to learn and prepare. Cause Voldemort sure ain't dead yet!
In other exciting news, is Mr. McClostco reading this? Cause I went to Costco last week on P-day. You heard right. They have a Costco in Korea! Complete with samples and a food court. Boo yah. Also, Sister Sieverts, one of the other sisters in my apartment, was a former gymnast and is teaching us the ways. I've almost got a handstand down. Next stop? Why, the Olympics of course.
Oh, and do you all remember Minsoo? That one exchange student we had from Korea who liked Norah Jones, eating mom's salmon and sleeping in? Yeah, well, he and his girlfriend took my companion and I to dinner this week. So that's pretty neat.
You know what else is neat? I get to ride an elevator everyday.
All in all, another fantastic week here in sunny Seoul. Sister Seegmiller is so fun to work with and keeps me laughing and singing and eating good food. I hope you all are doing the same. Everyday.
P.S. Minsoo and our local market!

June 22, 2014 - "A Piece of Mom's Heart in Every Dish"

My new companion Sister Seegmiller biking on our P-day

You can thank a neighborhood restaurant slogan for the subject of this email.
Oh Koreans. Gotta love 'em.
This week was so so good beginning with a bike ride along the river trail with our district for p-day! It was so pretty and felt so good to be on a bike again. Then that night, Sister Seegmiller and I took to the hills in this area called Itaehwon which is known for a lot of sketchy foreigners. It has a very wierd feel over there and we're told to avoid it at night. But as we were walking down this hill we smiled, bowed, and said hello to a Korean lady we were passing (as is customary among the missionaries) and she stopped us and said "You have such beautiful smiles! Foreigners never smile." It opened up for a converstation about who we are, what we are doing and why we are smiling. And she agreed to meet again! It really goes to show that there is something different about us and that, even though we don't always realize it, it is evident.
We also had a funny experience this week that brings a smile to our faces whenever we talk about it! We were teaching a less active grandmother and her son, as we have for the past few weeks. She's the sweetest lady, but has a lot of doubts and a hard heart toward certain aspects of the gospel. We knew she loved hymns, so we decided to sing "I know That My Redeemer Lives" with them in Korean. We were about halfway through the second verse and we don't really know what started it, (we think we h\may have both struggled prounoucing a word) but my companion giggled a little, which made me giggle, which led to us shaking trying to hold in more giggles which ultimately led to us not being able to breathe or sing--only laugh. I haven't laughed that hard in a loong time and it felt so good. I felt bad at first, hoping that the Spirit of the song wasn't gone, but as I looked at her and her son through tear filled eyes and saw them both laughing as hard as we were I knew that Heavenly Father was laughing with us. It took several attempts to regain composure from the four of us and a lot of effort to stop the laughter. It actually ended up being perfect as we were sharing Moroni 2:41 and talking about how God wants each of us to be happy. I have no doubt that Heavenly Father really does have a sense of humor and really does want for each of His children to be happy. And I know that this gospel brings that happiness and I love that I am here to share that with the people of Korea!
This week we also got caught in the rain on a number of occasions, which always brings laughter. We are getting pretty good at getting caught in the rain, but it makes for some good conversations when we hop of the subway, dripping wet.
And Quinn! Guess what! This week we got to go on the army base and meet with a recent convert, Sister Wen. She is from China, but she is an American citizen and the coolest part is that she is a soldier. That's such a cool phrase, don't you think? "She's a solider". Boo yah. But I definitely got to brag about you and it reminded me a lot of you seeing all the military get-up. It was such a cool experience and we get to go back every week which will be awesome!
One more cool experience. Word has gotten out in my new ward that I can draw. Bad news. So this week they had a ward service thing where they sold clothes and food and the missionaries got to help out and they had me draw a big advertisement for it on the chalkboard. It was a lot of fun and a big hit. I really feel so blessed whenever I get the oppotunity to use my love of art and drawing as a missionary.
Uh... This letter is all over the place. Did I miss anything?
Oh! I did final pass off this week! (which my companion and I celebrated with some tubs of ice cream and the other sisters surprised me with a cookie tower thing--don't worry. we go running every morning) But as one of my commitments, the AP told me to say the first vision in Korean during a lesson. And two days later I got to do just that! We were teaching the restoration to this new cutest couple and I did it. The Spirit was sooo strong and it was such a cool experience. Everytime we teach I feel like my testimony grows that much stronger that this gospel is true as I feel the Spirit testifying through me. It is one of the many amazing priviledges of being a missionary!
I love my companion, the sisters I live with, the rain, the people I get to teach, Korean food, Korean people, whoever is reading this (so my mama and pop ;) ), all the other missionaries out doing this same work, and most of all the Lord.
Keep smiling! And mom, I'll try to avoid eating your heart, but I never know what I order when I eat out here, so I apologize in advance.
The sister that everyone thinks is from Russia. Everyone.
P.S. The letter finally came, so as my family now knows, I cut my hair! I've been with holding many a picture these past few weeks so brace yourself. :)
Right after it was chopped.
Overlooking the city
Baskin and Robbins

The lady we did service for gave us all tank tops and shorts,
but they were all Asian sizes. Translation? One size fits none. Hah!

June 15, 2014 - "Where's Dad When I Need Him?"

Ride a camel.
Need I say more? Actually yes, I have so much more to write! But I figured I might as well start with the fact that I did, in fact, find myself atop one of those very large, rather lumpy creatures. In the most unlikely of all places here in Seoul, Korea! What better way to spend a Pday than atop a camel with my trainer! We definitely made the most of our last days together, and the camel was only the beginning! On Tuesday, we visited each of the lovely ladies we have been teaching so I could say goodbye and deliver the drawings I had made for them. I had a strong feeling that we should visit the lady we do the service for at the underpriviledged kids place and so we did just that. We got there and she was just reading the newspaper by herself. I was a little bummed at first  cause the kids weren't there and I really wanted to bid them my fondest farewell. But it ended up working out perfectly. She invited us in and, as always, showered us with love and gratitude. Then she asked us the questions every missionary loves to be asked, "Why are you here?" "What are you doing?" "What makes your church different from all the other churches?". So we taught her all about the restoration and into the plan of salvation and she loved it. She even committed to coming to church! It was such a cool experience and she is such a wonderful woman. (Oh and mama and pop. I should probably inform you that I have invited half of Korea to come stay at our house when they visit Utah, so if any Koreans show up at our doorstep, say "ahnyonghasehyo" and show them to my room. Just thought I'd give you a heads up :) ) After we left and were walking down the street, we heard a little voice yelling behind us. We didn't think anything of it for the longest time and then finally looked back and saw my favorite little girl from the service running as fast as she could to catch us. She really came out of no where and it was such a tender mercy, as that would be the last time I would get to see her for the longest time.
Tuesday night, several missionaries from my district and I also got to go with a family in our ward to an old folk's home where we sang "Edelweiss" and the traditional Korean goodbye song. The old folks are the sweetest and this 97 year old woman held my hand the entire time we were there. It was so special and it really felt like home.
And THEN came transfers! My new companion is Sister Seegmiller (Seh-gmiller) from St. George and she's wonderful. She's such a hard worker, has the strongest testimony, and is so happy all the time. We're so much alike in that we're both very down to Earth and I have no doubt we will continue to get along perfectly. Wednesday, our first day together, we met with so many great people and went all over my huge new area of Sindang. Then on the way home I sat next to the nicest Buddhist lady on the bus and we talked the whole way. I had run out of cards to give and I didn't know what stop we were getting off on, so when we got to the stop I had to quickly get up and say a fast goodbye. Well my companion and I stopped to get a few groceries so I could survive the next few days and as I was going to pay I realized I didn't have my wallet. My wallet with both my debit cards, my subway pass, cash and my foreigner's card which is what is keeping my in Korea (and my nearly full stamped Paris Baguette card--but that's not really important). I know Dad, you're heart probably did a funny little dance after you read that, didn't it? Funny, because as we went back and retraced our steps over and over, I had to say to myself, "where's dad when I need him?". So my companion and I turned instead to my Heavenly Father in a very heartfelt prayer, putting full trust in Him that He knew where it was and that he knew I could not get far in the work without it. It was amazing how neither Sister Seegmiller and I were even the slightest bit panicked as we left our efforts and went home.
The answer to our prayer came via telephone call the next morning. I had not given her a card for my new area, but I had left one from my last area in the wallet and so the phone call came from my trainer in Gireum. The best part is that this is not the end of this tale! We met up with her on Thursday morning (a perfect way to celebrate my sweet mother's birthday) and she took us to a cafe, bought us orange juice, and agreed to meet with us again next week for lunch! It was such a miracle. And such an incredible answer to a prayer.
So now my companion and I decided that our new tactic will be to leave our wallets on the subway and train and hope for a similar outcome...
KIDDING. This is one of those commercials that has the asterisk at the bottom in very fine print reading, *this is not a real life situation and does not happen everyday. please do not attempt the activities featured above.
But really, it was so cool. We have already started the transfer off with some very cool experiences and I'm excited to have more and more. Our new area really is SO big and is at the heart of many tourist attractions. Our ward, too, is equally as big and the members are awesome. We have a magical garden on our roof and on the roof of our church, and we got caught in a huge rain storm. Two of my very favorite things. And the other sisters I am living with are wonderful and my new apartment is cockroachless and actually has an air conditioner type thing! Woo! There are a million things I have to leave out of this letter due to an insufficient amount of time, but I want you to know how crazy happy I am here. I love what I get to do everyday and I can't believe that as of this week I will have been in Korea for five months. In your next package, could you try sending me some time? I hear it's universal so it'll probably work here. I might have to buy a special adapter or something.
Hey, I love you guys.
TOO much.
Sister McCloskey
P.S. My sincerest apologies on behalf of this internet cafe, but you will have to wait but a short week for ze photos de la camel and of my new companion! For some reason they are not coming through. But here is one of Sister McGill, Jin and I after my last time teaching her. 

June 8, 2014 - Geez Korea, Stop Being So Awesome!

Camel ride!
I think I can speak vicariously for all missionaries when I say that starting emails home is harder than picking out what you will wear that day... For sisters that is. I'd rather pick the purple tie than start an email any day. 

But I suppose I will start this one of with some news I unexpectedly received on Friday night! This news, as those who have served before me well know, is most anticipated among missionaries and comes via telephone call. Yes, you guessed it. T R A N S F E R  C A L L S. Sister McGill and I were nothing less than completely convinced that we were staying together so not only were we shocked that the call came on Friday (rather than Saturday) but our eyes also got a little wider when we found out that we are not, in fact, to be companions any longer. Sister McGill is to stay in 글음 and train again whilst I flutter off to 신당 (Sindang-- sheen dahng) to be companioned with a Sister by the name of Segmiller! My new area is in the heart of downtown Seoul and word of the street has it that my companion is equally as friendly as the members of my new ward! I am excited for this new adventure.

Thankfully Sister McGill and I had a wonderful last week together. We got to go to the temple again last week (did I mention that we get to go once every transfer?) and that was wonderful. And we had some neat experiences going door to door. One old lady let us in and fed us tea and apples and listened intently to what we had to say, but insisted that though we were doing very good work, it just wasn't for her. "I'm too old" she kept saying. And we talked to another man who kept insisting that we don't need another book of scripture. But after we told him about the Book of Mormon and about the need for restored truths after a long period of apostasy, all he could say was, "I've been a Presbyterian my whole life. Go talk to someone without religion." It's frustrating because we really want people to open their hearts to hear our message. Every time I testify, though, my testimony grows and it's an amazing thing to experience. I really do know that this is true and the more I learn the more I want to share it with everyone! 

As for our investigators, I am really sad to have to say goodbye. We had an awesome lesson last week with 유미향 about the Book of Mormon and she really does believe it is true. But things with her dad and the many questions she has about religion are still holding her back. Minnie, the one with the Mississippi accent, didn't show up to church as promised which was heartbreaking... But we had another really great lesson with Maria. I really do love them all and with miss them. As for Jin, we did not get to see her last week as she was taking many tests, but we are planning a good lesson before I go! 

Sister McGill and I also had many an adventure on our runs this week, from finding the Elderly in the park doing zumba to American rap music, to swinging on swingsets, to taking p90x to the roof of a 23 story building. All too much fun. 

And last, but certainly not least, our district got to go to the wedding of one of the investigators in our ward who is getting baptized next month! We sang a song to the happy couple after she walked down the aisle. It was such a special experience and the wedding was incredible. Koreans sure do know how to do weddings, from the decorations to the buffet. Holy buffet. Dad. You would've died. 

And speaking of food, on Sunday our amazing ward held a 식사 for us after church. So after giving my final words at the pulpit and giving lots of hugs to the members we feasted on traditional bibimbop, watermelon, soy milk and leftover wedding cake. I truly will miss the amazing members of this ward.

I think... I got everything! I love you all. Especially my mom. Because she's amazing and she turns FIFTY this week. And yet she's still as young and beautiful as ever, both inside and out. 

I love you mama.

Oh, and the rest of you too.


Sister McCloskey
The rain

My lovely companion and I sporting our new summer skirts. Boo ya!