Sunday, August 31, 2014

August 31, 2014 - Oh ee oh. Isn't it September?

Okay, so remember that roller coaster analogy from last week?
Well there's one thing I failed to mention about roller coasters. And that you get on, have the ride of a lifetime, and two minutes later you hear the click and feel the handle bars lift off your chest-- your clue that it is time to step off and let someone else take your place. It goes by SO FAST.
Thoughts of this sort rushed into my head this morning as I turned the page in my planner and saw the word September, staring me in the face. Can you believe it is already September? I can't believe it. I believe that God is my Heavenly Father and that he still performs miracles on the Earth today and that He restored the gospel through a modern prophet who, through God's power, translated a book that tells us where we came from, where we are going, and why we are here. But I simply can not believe it is September.
September promises to bring with it many an adventure, however. This upcoming weekend is one of two biggest holidays celebrated in Korea, so we get to join together with all the missionaries in the mission for what is sure to be a grand old time. That, along with the fact that I will be saying goodbye to my adolecence in but a short few weeks are only a bit of what is to come. The big news is that I will be celebrating these things, and many more a grand adventure, in a new area. I'm getting tranfered! That exclamation point (or as my dad likes to call them, explanation points.. huh dad. ;) ) is meant entirely to signify the kind of exclamation point that accompanies a wide eyed, opened mouth face. I was totally shocked! I will be leaving the center of Seoul and heading out to the boonies in an area called 춘천 and am to be companioned with a certain Sister 서주은.  
... I debated whether or not to translate those into readable English and after several seconds of reasoning with myself, I decided on the latter. Alright, fine, mom. It's pronounced "Choon chun" and my companion is "Suh Jyu Un". I think it's pretty obvious that she is Korean, and I couldn't be more excited! Apparently my new area is something like the Lost City of Atlantis... only above ground.
I think.
Though excited, I am pretty sad to be leaving this not-so-little area of mine. I have grown to love it here. My beautiful area, my apartment, the amazing Sisters I live with (Sister Sieverts leaves Monday for Utah and she and I have grown so close  these past two transfers), all the Elders in our district, our ward, and really just all the people I have met and had the opportunity to teach. I have grown to love my companion to pieces. Like Reese's Pieces. Because we all know how delicious those are. And I meant it when I said,"have grown". There was, indeed, some growing that needed to be done. Early on we hit a few rough spots (like when you mow the lawn and you hit a rock that your wierd dog who has a habit of eating rocks left hidden under a patch of tall blades of grass and you failed to find prior to mowing...), but we came through. We just kept on mowing and grew to love it and love each other so much. 예를 되면.. (for example)... Last night she plopped me down on the toilet and washed my feet. It was both hilarious and touching. I returned the favor with a blueberry smoothie. That, and we have fallen asleep hand in hand the last few nights. If that's not love, I don't know what is!
Oh yeah. And we may or may not have cut our hair together. Closer to the may than the may not.
But the best part about our little companionship is when we teach together. We have had the opportunity to teach together and role-play and there is such unity. We have been teaching our nine year old, 지호 (Gee ho who has a baptismal date for the 14th of this month!) and it's been a blast. My companion is so good with kids and I am having so much fun learning from her the Korean to use when giving analogies that kids can understand. We also taught Thomas and Leanne yesterday (I taught them back with Sister Seegmiller, but they've been too busy starting up their new business to meet) and it was incredible. The Spirit was so strong and we were both prompted to share scriptures that answered their questions. I could feel that pure joy that comes when the teacher and student are learning and growing together.
We also began teaching a new investigator this week that I found on the street a long while ago and she's so great! So great. So as you can see, all these things and more are what make leaving here that much harder. But I feel as though I have grown so much here this past transfer. Even Thomas said that he can "see a change in me"  and that I am "more professional". It's probably just the haircut, but hey, whatever does it right?
I think I have changed some, but only for the better. My testimony is miles beyond what it was when I first embarked on this great adventure. The longer I stay in this country, the bigger my testimony gets. My testimony gets bigger, my hair gets shorter, my smile gets wider, my suitcase gets heavier, my Korean gets better, and my capacity to love grows infinitely brighter everyday. So yes, I think I'll stay here a little longer if you don't mind. Here's to the start of September as I begin my fifth tranfer with my fourth companion! Earth, Wind and Fire said it best, "Oh ee oh. Isn't it September? Oh ee oh..." Hah.
Yup, EWF, it most certainly is. I wish you all the best today and this month. I love you all.
Sister McCloskey

My hair is no longer there!

This coolest street that I live on.

 The cutest little thing in my ward!

I debated holding this picture back, but it's just too good. Haha.
This is my companion and I celebrating for dinner. YUM
My favorite Russian friend, Yana

... And proof of this hot hot weather. Woo! :)

Sunday, August 24, 2014

August 24, 2014 -I've always loved roller coasters

I've always loved roller coasters. Just ask my family. And I've come to recognize, these past few weeks, that missionary work is much like a roller coaster. One of those really really big scary ones that there's always a huge line for. And it goes like this:
You wait in line, watching missionary after missionary leave. You hear all about it as they get off and tell you all about it, but you still have no idea what you are getting yourself in for.
The line gets shorter. Waiting time is but a few weeks now and you have watched all your friends take off. Excitement gets mingled with anxiety and the nerves start to kick in.
But still the excitement wins out.
It's your turn.
You sit down, next to a complete stranger, and exchange nervous smiles. You make sure you have everything and that your shoes are strapped on tight. And you make one last wave to your encouraging family and friends standing behind the gate.
Then you take off and your first thought is, "What have I gotten myself into."
But you hang on and let it take you. You hit the peaks and your heart feels as though it will burst with excitement at the promise of more to come, then your heart sinks in your stomach and you feel like you are going to throw up. You go through a tunnel and feel completely lost, but you come out again and the light nearly blinds you.
But even though there are scary moments and moments when it's hard to hold on, it's a blast.
And absolute blast and the camera that just took a picture of your huge grin is proof.
Welcome to missionary work, my friends. From day one in the MTC, to now, over seventh months in, I have been strapped into this roller coaster. I've gone up and down and even around a few loopedy loops. But it's a blast and I know that Heavenly Father is in control and I have put my trust in him.
This week we saw SO many miracles. Too many to write. Tuesday morning on the subway, headed for the temple, I talked to a 35 year old girl who sat in front of me. She was incredible. Everyday I pray to find Heavenly Father's prepared children and she is that and beyond. I told her, very briefly, of the restoration and she asked ME for the Book of Mormon and asked ME if we could meet again on Thursday at 7:00. It was so awesome. We also got three new investigators this week and two referrals from our members. We taught the cutest nine year old, 지호 (Gee-ho) who is a member's daughter's friend. We taught her at her house with her mom there and it was the coolest lesson. Her mom does not have much interest (yet) but she is interested in learning and wants her daughter to learn more. She's so so great and they are so fun to teach. We also met with a lady who has absolutely no religious background (as in she doesn't know who Jesus Christ is), but has the biggest desire to learn and wants to come to church with us. She's so awesome! Also, we've been calling numbers from old call sheets, just following the Spirit on who we should pick and we have picked up several people who want to meet again and still have interest. We've also been praying for opportunities to serve. And boy has it been answered. We helped a lady carry some boxes home and she ended up inviting us over and accepting a Book of Mormon. And sharing our umbrellas with people, opening up for long gospel discussions.
Really, this week has been one big miracle. We're so excited for these new people we are teaching and the potential investigators to come this week. We really are having a blast.
And to top this week off, I got to go to the temple and an art museum last week for P-day, saw an old Meridian school goer (whose name escapes me at the moment, but who's face you would recognize), went on exchanges with Sister Sieverts (my housemate and a friend whom I have grown so close to these last two transfers), have been reading and loving "Jesus The Christ", got to play in (and maybe sing too) the rain, and eat blueberry pecan wheat pancakes with peanut butter and syrup at a meal with a member last night. Wow. Life is so good.
I have so much to be grateful for and my amazing family is way up there. You're all great. Yup.
All my love and more,
Sister McCloskey
P.S. Oh.. And I grew wings too. I didn't really think it was a big deal though, but I guess I'll tell you. Or whatever.
And how cool is Korea in the rain? Can't get enough of it.

My cute companion and I at the temple. Woo!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

August 17, 2014 -선교사 업을 정멀 어려워요

It seems, based wholly on the emails recieved today, as though my manner of language pertaining to my week last week did not hide as scrupulously as I had hoped, the hard times that have been had. I have always been a fan of sweets, as is manifest in my chubby cheeks and pot belly (heh), but for the sake of all those future adolescents preparing to embark on this adventure, I'm going to leave the sugar-coating to those white-hatted Krispy Kreme workers. In the words of our sweet friend and confidant, Jeffrey R. Holland, "When the harder you try the harder it gets, take heart. So it has been with the best people who have ever lived." Well, he said it. So I might as well get the word out too.
Missionary work is so hard.
Whew. There I said it. I can almost hear the chorus of my fellow missionary friends exclaiming emphatically, "You can say that again!"
Don't mind if I do.
선교사 업을 정멀 어려워요.
Okay not as hard as typing in Korean. But it's pretty close. You may begin to query as to why I was inclined to write such words, or rather pound them out on little black keys (not wrought by chisel or brush or number two pencil), this week. Well this week was hard, as blatantly evidenced by the words featured above. Finding investogators is hard, and a series of catalytic agitations arose with my companion. Nothing huge, great, monstrous, mammoth, or collosal, just enough to keep us praying hard for each other and for the work to move along. But amidst it all, I have so so much to be grateful, including my companion for her faith in the Lord and love for this gospel. I have developed such a special relationship with the Lord this week and I'm so grateful, so so grateful, for weeks like this where all I can do is pour out my heart to the Lord. Prayer is such an incredible thing and I have gained the biggest, most sure testimony of it. I know that Heavenly Father has listened, and is listening to my prayers, and that His hand is guiding this work. This is evidenced everyday.
I am not saying this to make you worry (mom and pop :)), but I think we all too oft brush aside those oft-repeated words. I want you to know that I really, truly, love being a missionary. There is nothing like it and I am learning more than I ever expected I would. And I have so much to be grateful for out here. This week the four of us celebrated Sister Song's birthday with the prettiest watermelon cupcake masterpiece this side of the Pacific ocean has ever seen. It was a day filled with laughter and celebration. And we have had the opportunity to visit several older less active women who have shared so much of their love with us it's like being wrapped in a blanket the second I step inside their homes! And Pope Fransisco came to Seoul which really doesn't mean anything, but I thought it was pretty cool so I had to find some way to squeeze it into this letter... Hah. And the weather has been all too perfect (by Sister McCloskey's definition which means lots and lots of rain. Woo!). I live in the most beautiful place surrounded by the most wonderful people.
I love you all and I can feel your love across this big ocean. I love you and wish you the best in your endeavors this week. You are in my heart and prayers.
Sister McCloskey
(Korean name coming soon)
P.S. My area and my comp. Aren't they both lovely? :)

My area

My comp. Isn't she lovely?

Sister Song's birthday, it was a celebration to remember!

That's me on the right.

My district

Taken with Elder Johnson's camera

Sunday, August 10, 2014

August 10, 2014 - 전도

So this week...
This week this week. Ah, yes. This week. At the beginning of this week I was feeling a bit down. Not as far down as I dove when I got braces on for the second time. Heavens no. Nothing to that extent. But I just found myself, as I do everyday, yearning to find someone to share this beautiful message with and who would do so much as to pull out their headphones and listen. We currently do not have any progressing investigators and I occasionally find myself thinking that it is because of all that I lack as a missionary. I know that it is not, but it's often hard not to feel that way when we feel as though we are doing all we can and nothing is coming from it! We did quite a lot of 전도 this week, my companion and I! That is a term that ought to be elaborated on.
Sister McCloskey's Korean-English DICTIONARY
(For the folks back at home)
전도(하다): [jun-do] (v)
      the act of preaching the gospel to every person who crosses your path (i.e. talking to   everyone); a term frequented most among missionaries serving in the Korean area
                 Example: What did you do today? We 전도-ed for five hours straight! It was so awesome.
...Then she opened their understanding to life as a missionary in Seoul, Korea. We did quite a bit of the above this week. Talking to everyone on the street and subway and bus.
Tangent. Now back to the original topic at hand: feelings of in adequacy. Though this week, with appointment after appointment falling through and a myriad of rejections, I prayed hard for Heavenly Father to stengthen my faith that we would be able to find some prepared people and confirmation that our efforts are being recognized and I felt such an overwhelming feeling of peace. We have found and reactivated so many less-actives and through many of them I can feel God's love and appreciation for the work we are doing. We had an incredible zone meeting and it was such an answer to all my prayers. I have come to know, first hand, that missionary work is not easy. Secret's out! But I have also come to recognize that with God's help, it becomes a whole lot easier.
I'm just so darn grateful for prayer.
A few other things I have come to realize this week:
   - I really do not know how to handle girls. Definitely something I needed to learn coming on a mission because by golly growing up with three brothers didn't prepare me for this! I'm a girl. I should be able to know what to do with girls right? Wrong. But I'm learning.
   - My area encompasses the whole heart of this city. If you look at a map of Seoul and look above the river and all the area surrounding Namson tower, you are looking at my home. How. Cool. Is. That.
   - Korean is really hard. Have I mentioned this one before?
   - Koreans love macaroni and cheese. Who knew?
   - My companion is just what I imagine cousin Briana would be if she had served a mission. Seriously the similarities are all but uncanny. She is loud, does really funny impressions and is always making people laugh, she has super long thick gorgeous locks of hair (though that doesn't apply anymore, so I hear), she's very much motherly, and she is so good with people. It really is like serving with you, Bri! So cool.
   - The world is so small (especially in the church). This I knew, but came to know even more as a friend of mine from high school, Mckenna Jenkins, shows up in sacrament meeting with her boyfriend, the son of my mission president. What the?
So yes, this week was hard, and I learned a lot. Hopefully soon I will be writing about an investigator, but for now this is what you get! Oh, and yesterday, Sunday, we had a baptism of one of the Sister's Korean sign language investigators and watching them bear their testimonies was one of the coolest things I have ever seen. And our district sang and did the Korean sign language to "Love One Another". It was such a cool experience.
Wow. Sorry I had more to say than I though. Disclaimer: I have a Korean companion so this is me getting out all the english that's been boiling up inside me. :) Lucky you!
I love you. Heavenly Father loves you. There's proof in the Bible, you know. Go take a look at 1 John 4 if you don't believe me. :)
Love love love,
Proof that I am happier than happy in this big city.
I mean look at the size of that smile. This is Sister Sieverts
last transfer and I am for sure going to cry when she leaves.
I love her more than she will ever know.

And here's a beautiful garden home in the middle of a downpour. mmmm....

This beautiful spot we happened upon last P-day that reminded me a lot of Ireland...

And Sister Song cutting our nightly section of watermelon. :)

Sunday, August 3, 2014

August 3, 2014 - Summer in Seoul

95 degree weather + 80 percent humidity + rain = summer in Seoul
95 degree weather + 80 percent humidity + misty rain + watermelon= bearable summer in Seoul
So yes, the hot hit and it hit hard. But thanks to our blessed air conditioner, I think we'll probably survive the next month. Probably.

There are several pros and cons to this hot/rainy season, the first being the fruit. I'm starting to appreciate watermelon and ice cream as a major food group. Th price of fruit goes way down so we really do eat watermelon every night and it's the best thing. And (I probably shouldn't write this, but I'm going to anyway) in the morning it's so funny because all of us sisters give our number of how many times we went to the 화장실 (I don't think that needs to be translated..) during the night and the other day 송혜민's number was six. Hah. It was a big watermelon, okay?
Clothes dry crazy fast too! Con... they get damp again just as fast. Hah. Another pro: warm rain. All. Day.

The biggest con of the start of this new month has been that it is officially summer vacation. So every single appointment, investigator, and less-active we visit postponed. But we've had a lot of less-actives that have needed to be found and PI's to call and the Lord knew it and has been guiding our wandering feet. This week we were going through some ancient PI sheets and switchting off calling old potential investigators and we managed to get three return appointments and one who came to church! So great. And today we are meeting with Beatrice, the French girl I met a few weeks ago, who has been on a tour. And we've found so many less-active homes and we're happy to have two join us at church on Sunday! So we are witnessing many a miracle here despite the hot weather and disappointments. 

In other news, a family from the English branch took us to dinner this week on base at this cool American restaurant that reminded me of that ship hotel place near Lake Mead. But the best part was not the delicious food, nor the warmth of a mama hug, but it was their testimonies. It was exactly what we needed to here. He, Brother Day, had served in Germany and had baptised one family on his mission and from that family so many miracle have come. I have been here in Korea for nearly seven months now and I told him that I'm still searching for that family. But he bore to me such a powerful testimony. And then Sister Day told of how her family had been inactive, but in high school a pair of missionaries came and reactivated them all and it has changed her life forever. She said, "Those missionaries were called to that mission for my family".

It was such a tender mercy from Heavenly Father, He, knowing that I needed to hear that. I really am learning to rely more on the Spirit with the work and, despite the disappointments, I am seeing miracles everyday. I really do love this work. Probably too much. More than rain and watermelon even. Which, if you've stayed tuned for the entirety of this letter, means I really must love this work. 
My companion keeps me laughing everyday and we are enjoying every moment together. We had a funny experience this week in our little house when the carbon monoxide detector was flashing blue and beeping and sported the numbers "97" on the front. Naturally, our first thought was that we were done for so we took to the windows and opened everything up and called our mission president. He laughed, leaving disconcerting looks on all our faces, and told us to flip it upside down. We joined with him in laughter when we realized that the letters "Lb" stand for low battery. Apparently we were the fifth house that had called him. Oh our poor mission president. I'm sure he had no idea what he was getting himself into. :)

I love you all. Really, I do. And wish you the best.
Meckurasuky Sister 
My cute companion
Pday with the distict in Gwanghwamun.

New missionary dress code!

The sisters at a member meal. ( I love them)

Us celebrating Baskin Robbins day together for lunch (July 31st)

The Day family (I fit in, huh?)

A beautiful sunset
A random statue on top of a building
making for one intense, totally random picture.
A green subway selfie

This coolest city I live in.