Sunday, July 27, 2014

July 28, 2014- NVRSADI

I have a lot to write, but today's one of those days I'd rather just look at pictures of my cute family and muse about what's for dinner tonight. Korea's great. I'm alive and healthy. It appears this is all for today folks. I love you and wish you the best!
Sister McCloskey
Who am I, an Elder? That's definitely an Elder email if I ever saw one. Don't worry mama. There's more.
Whether you've been wondering about her or not, I feel compelled to introduce my new companion 강한나 자매님 (translation: Sister Kang Han Na or "Hannah Kang"). She's hilarious. I was definitely excited to get a Korean companion and it most definitely has not been a disappointment! One thing about Korean people is this thing they call "skinship". When they are close with someone, they are close with them. We may or may not have fallen asleep the last few nights holding hands (cue the "Awww's). But we have realized, in these short few days of our companionship, how incredibly different we are. And we're not just talking the fact that my hair is blonde and hers black, nor the fact that she eats rice, kimchi, and seaweed for breakfast while I munch on my cereal and soy milk (although those are undeniable differences). She's loud. Kinda like you, Bri. And too funny, too. And by golly her Korean is good. :)
As for this week.. In the words of Steve Carrell (or rather, Dan) when confronted with Real Life, "Life.... Is full of disappointment." 
And though that was taken from the script of some writer probably living somewhere in Hollywood currently munching on a muffin.. those words still hold true. I can attest! This week was full of disappointment. With appointments falling through, investigators with a lot of potential dropping, and feelings of inadequacy with the language... This week was like a rollercoaster. Kinda like one of those roller coasters that lifts you up and then suddenly drops you. Yes, like that. Only minus the occasional vomit. Thankfully, that has been avoided.
Missionary work is hard. That about sums up my week. Ever since I was young, I have been a bit of an independent spirit in that I am stubborn in thinking I can do things on my own (don't believe me? ask the man I call father. Only that I never actually call him that. More of a Papa, Dad, or occasionally "Rick" when I'm really mad ;) ). I have always been one to attempt to get all the groceries in the house in one load. And we're talking a Costco sized load people. None of this sissy Macey's stuff. And when people offered help I would insist on doing it myself even if deep inside I felt like my muscles were ripping at the seams. And as a missionary, I often times find myself trying to rely on my own strength (which I have learned is not a lot) to do this work. It has been a humbling experience learning to let God take the last two cartons of milk when my hands are full, whether I think I can take them or not. I am learning everyday to rely on the Spirit to know where to go and what to say and it's an amazing experience. I know that Heavenly Father is watching out for me when, in my moments of deep frustration or disappointment, exhaustion or doubt, he sends someone my way who hands me a thing of bananas for no reason or I meet an old member on the street. Or when I sit around the table talking about the Pre Earth life with my housemates through a messy mouthful of watermelon. Despite the hard times, I know that there is nothing better for me to be doing than the work I am doing now and I never could have comprehended the experience I would have as a missionary. Nor would I trade it for anything!
Now that's more of a Sister missionary email, isn't it?
Hah. Love you all. You're in my prayers, always.
The real Sister McCloskey

My new companion Sister Kang Han Na

And here's one of the night before Sister Seegmiller left on
our Yo's. Too much fun.

One thing about Koreans? They love taking selfies. Here's our
companionship phone sporting our smiling faces! Love you!

Monday, July 21, 2014

July 20, 2014 - So, What's It Like in Russia?

Alright, so I don't react like that, but I get asked almost daily if I am Russian. Probably cause I don't have black hair and Russia's the closest place besides China and Japan hmmm... I have met quite a few Russians though in the foreigner area called Itaewon. Whenever I go there a familiar phrase from that one movie that starts with a T and rhymes with , "Something's familiar about these strangers like me..." Ah sweet nostalgia.
And this is not to say that I am comparing Koreans to the monkeys. They're much smarter and have much better skin. And they're hair is perfect.
But enough of that! We're not here to talk about Russians or monkeys, now are we? If you're looking for that take your eyes up a little and to the right and there should be a little white bar that says "Search" behind which all the Russian monkeys you ever wanted to see lie.
We are here to talk missionary work! Last Monday, our district got together outside an art center in dowtown Seoul and I got to finally use those pastels Uncle Ryan so generously gifted to me before I left. And I used them to draw an artistic interpretation of the Plan of Salvation! They don't really do chalk art here (that I've seen) so a lot of people were really curious. It was such a cool experience and it opened up for so many deep conversations and new contacts! I even made it to the Terrestrial Kindgom before the metal cuffs around my wrists made it difficult to draw... Only kidding! But we did get asked to leave and may or may not have pretended like we could not understand Korean... Hah.
We did street boarding again on Thursday too at the same busy college area and my companion and I alone were able to talk to 59 people, give away 18 Book or Mormons, get 4 phone numbers and 3 return appointments! It was so cool and we felt that unbridled excitement usually reserved for Justin Beiber concerts. Or, in Quinn's case, the end of the last song at a Justin Beiber concert.
You're probably thinking now that all my time is spent finding people to teach. And admittedly, yes, a large majority of it is. But we do, in fact, have investigators who are so close! Sandy (her English name) wants to come to her answer for herself and needs time. But she was able to attend the baptism of the other Sister's investigator Alice (the coolest girl ever) and she enjoyed it. Then there is 김순애 (kim soon eh) who is lovely and is scheduled to be baptized on the 10th of next month! She loves everything we teach and accepts everything so well. We still have a lot to teach her though. As for Thomas and Leanne, they are the coolest and love what we teach and want answers, but they just opened their own school so they don't have a lot of time.. Bah! And then there is Shinee (her English name. Why didn't you name me that, mama?) and 이근혜 (ee gun heh). They are both volunteer tour guides at the palace and they're super cool. They have hardly any religious background, but lots of curiousity and lots of love.
Like I mentioned, we had a baptism yesterday and this area has many more planned for the coming month. The work is picking up! We also have been to blessed to have found so many less-actives and have reactivated many. The other day we knocked on a door and the man opened the door in his garments. What. Are the odds. We also visit this less active grandmother and her mother and they are the sweetest. They kept calling us Miss Korea. I don't know but... Shouldn't Miss Korea be Korean?
Just a thought.
I love visiting them though, not because they give me a boost of self-confidence, but rather the mother reminds me so much of my sweet grandma.
And I suppose now is a good time to mention that transfer calls were on Saturday and I will be getting a KOREAN COMPANION. I'm pumped. This is not to say that I haven't loved my time with Sister Seegmiller. Our mutual love of good food, basketball, funny stories, running, and back scratches has bonded us together and made for a very, very fast six weeks. I am excited, though to be living with two Koreans. Woo!
So needless to say I am loving it out here. I love missionary work. I LOVE this gospel. And it's because of this gospel that I'm happier than happy. I've got a smile bigger than Dad's when he came out of the water after "pile-driving" into the sand. :)
Give my best to everyone at the funeral and send my love. You're all my very favorite people and I pray for you daily. Muuuah!
The Russian..?

Chalk art

Temple day with my roomates

My district. I love my district.

And matching skirts. Thanks to 송혜민 and her
 ridiculous amount of clothes. I'm not complaining.

A really trippy picture. Featuring our neighbohood "Paris Baguette".

Handstands with Sister Seegmiller

A cute Asian baby

My area


Sunday, July 13, 2014

July 14, 2014- Hey Poppop, I love you.

It is only apropo to begin this letter with a bit of an ode to my sweet Poppop, who passed away earlier this week. For those of you who never met him, picture the sweetest wrinkled smile settled beneath warm brown eyes and a bit of a bald head. Then put some Andrea Bocelli in the background and get ready for a make-any-day-better hug. He was a man to be reckoned with, whether he was behind the gears in the cock pit, looking through the lens on his camera, or in front of the stove cooking up a storm. I can speak for all of his adoring grandchildren when I say that he will be dearly missed.
Thank you for all the memories, Poppop. I (and all those who have been lucky enough to cross you path) love you to the moon and back.
As news of this sad event reached my ears, I think about the message of hope I am here to share with the world and I'm so grateful for it. This week we taught Thomas and Leanne, a young Korean couple we've met with just a few times, and taught them about the PLan of Salvation. He asks so many really deep questions, which should have kept me on my toes, but were easy to answer with the Plan of Salvation. As we wrapped up he simply said, "If what you are teaching me is true, this is groundbreaking. Everyone needs to hear this." And he couldn't be more right (righter? more correctest? most correctister?). If this is true, which I know with more surety everyday, then there is no more important message to be shared. I'm so grateful for my family and for the knowledge I have both of this restored gospel and God's plan, through which I can live forever with my family. 
And I can't believe that tomorrow is my six month mark as a missionary. Six months! Can you believe it? You may think that it has been a long, laborious road full of potholes, of which, yes, there have been many. But rather, this has been a road much like that on which I learned how to drive a stick shift. I am learning and growing so much and picking up speed faster and faster. The work here is picking up and we are looking forward to a baptism on the 10th of April, and a few more in the works.
Gee, this letter has been pretty deep, hasn't it? Only as deep as the mud in Utah Lake will let me go, I suppose! To bring us back to the surface, where the water is a bit warmer, here are some things as of late:
The humidity has hit and by golly it was a homerun. Let's just say it gives whole new meaning to the phrase "It's like an oven in here."
I met an old Korean man named Irvine who learned English from watching Gregory Peck movies and who sounded exactly like the original Albus Dumbledore when he talked. And then he sang me a song. I love Korea.
And today, I suppose in honor of Poppop (and a shout out to Uncle Ryan), I am going to sidewalk chalk the streets of Korea with an artistic interpretation of the Plan of Salvation. We are going to do it right outside the art center near a University and I couldn't be more excited! There will be pictures to come.
Oh! And tomorrow is our temple day and it's also my six month mark. So that's pretty cool I guess. Oh and transfer calls are this week too. Which seemed to go by much too fast. Ah!
That, along with some really great lessons, great food, and the fact that today is Jenna's birthday (hey jen, happy birthday or whatever), is all I've got for you today, folks. I love you all and I hope you know you are always in my prayers. And in the pictures on my wall. And sometimes in my dreams too.
P.S. Us at the temple with Sister Wen, our Chinese recent convert, and a little drawing that made it's way from my hand to my notebook sometime during sacrament meeting. Still not really sure how that happened. And, us getting ready for bed.


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

July 6, 2014 - Hey America, happy birthday.

As many of you American dwellers may have noticed, this past week that big homeland of our celebrated it's independence! I feel inclined to voice a big "Congratulations!" even though I am some thousand miles away. But you may be pleased to hear that I did, in fact, have a celebration to remember. Complete with fireworks.
You heard right.
Only my favorite thing next to thunder and men with facial hair. (who said that?)
Thanks to the Seoul mission having the COOLEST Mission President out there, my companion and I got to stay a little later on the American army base with Wen, the Chinese recent convert, to watch the fireworks. We even topped off the amazing display of explosions in the sky with hot dogs and ice cream! Boo yah.
What does not need to be celebrated, however, is the fact that it is already July. What the. I am but a short way into this big adventure and yet the vicissitudes of life are passing me by much too quickly! I can happily say, however, that I am enjoying every moment. Every rain-filled, giggle enducing, food consuming, mind boggling moment of missionary work. I love it.
I think it might also be good to explain a bit of the logistics, you know, the useful, boring stuff that only parents want to read. Feel free to stop here and skip onto the next paragraph is you are less than intrigued by facts. My area, Sindang, used to consist of three different wards that got combined into one. So my area is gigantic and my ward is pretty big too. Sadly, because of the combining, many members were lost and stopped attending because the new ward was so far. So a lot of our time is spent much like that of Sherlock and Watson in search for clues and navigating our maps in search for people. We are getting quite good, I must say, at navigating these crazy streets of Seoul. Pretty sure it's another blessing Heavenly Father gives missionaries because I am quite sure some of the homes we find would never be found otherwise. As for our investigators, we've got Sandy (her English name) who is SO ready for baptism, but doesn't want to commit because she doesn't know if she can endure to the end. But she's coming along. And she's wonderful! We are teaching two other women, separately, who are mostly english interest, but they are growing in the gospel. We are also working with several less active members and have watched many become reactivated. Which is so awesome! But we are always looking for new people to teach and we talk to everyone everywhere we go! Yeah. And Korean is really hard.
So that's pretty much my life as of now! That and we found a Mexican restaurant the other day, probably one of one in Korea, and ate smothered burritos. Oh, and Sister Seegmiller is wonderful and goes running to the river with me every morning and is totally going to be in the Church General something someday (you can quote me on that). And there are supposed to be torrential rains this week which should probably make me nervous, but instead leaves my heart leaping with anticipation. Oh and PJ Rogers and the BYU Hawaii basketball team gave us a fireside last night which was pretty cool. Oh, and have I mentioned how hard Korean is? Well, it's really hard.
So the work moves on here in Seoul and it's wonderful. I thank Heavenly Father everyday for the wonderful opportunity I have been given to be a part of this great work. I really am so grateful for the knowledge I have that I can be with my family forever and love sharing that message of hope with everyone. You are all in pictures on my wall and in my prayers to Heavenly Father. Let Poppop know I pray for him everyday and Grandma, too.
I love you all (more than fireworks and bearded men. That's saying something)
Sister McCloskey
P.S. Burritos, cool hanging umbrellas, and fireworks!