Tuesday, September 30, 2014

September 28, 2014 - Bertybottseveryflavoredbeans. Yum.

So you know that scene in every movie where the girl is walking in the rain, musing at the beauty of her surroundings, you know all dreamy or whatever, and then a car comes out of nowhere and sends a wall of water her way, soaking her and leaving her totally miserable?
Now just place me in the part of "the girl" and substitute "leaving her and her companion unable to breathe from an excess of laughter" for "leaving her totally miserable" and you just watched the opening scene to my day.
This past week opened on a rather bright, sunny day in Seoul (on an exchange with the Sister Training Leader) which was a lot of fun. We also had a "Sister's Conference" in our zone which was wonderful. It's always inspiring hearing older missionaries experiences and testimonies.
But it was all too good to come back to this happiest city of Chun Cheon. The work here is hard, there just aren't as many people to talk to, but we're keeping our heads up. We have had several appointments cancel and potential investigators drop, which is always disheartening. But, just like the rain, we manage to find things to laugh about and keep our heads up. We did, however, meet with a certain 서혜정 (Soh He Jung) who is not only the Asian doppleganger for the actress who plays Jim Carrey's wife in "Liar Liar", but (more importantly) has so much potential to progress in the gospel. She's so awesome! And we set up several appointments for this upcoming week with past investigators that we're looking forward to.
And guys, guess what! Heavenly Father totally answers prayers. In lieu of the above paragraph, and our current status of 0 progressing investigators, I have been saying some pretty fervent prayers for Heavenly Father to bless me with "opportunities to teach His gospel". Well, He answered.
Yesterday I had the hah, "opportunity" (so it's called) to teach gospel doctrine class and teach young women. Mind you, this was all in Korean. It was stressful, but I learned so much in preparing and teaching that I truly was grateful and it really was an "opportunity". But that's not the end. On top of that, yesterday was my angel of a companion's birthday yesterday which called for some seriously super speed apartment decorating done in the short time I had while she was in the shower. That, and we had a girl from Utah come to church so I had the "opportunity" to translate for her in sacrament meeting. Whew.
Needless to say my companion and I gobbled up our homemade cake completely guilt free.
Heavenly Father is answering our prayers and we are seeing miracles everyday. So obviously, life is good. That, and my companion happens to be one heck of a cook so I'm not only in the process of learning Korean, but learning the art of Korean cooking. Sometimes I feel like Dumbledore (no, I'm not growing a beard, Quinn) in the first movie when he reaches into the bag of "Berty Botts Every Flavored Beans", pops one in his mouth, not sure what to expect and then says, happily, "Mm. Earwax!" Only in my case it's something more like, "Mm. Cow's blood!".
Not sure which is worse.
Keep smiling, keep praying, keep breathing.
Love you all,
Sister McCloskey 
My comp
Something that needs to get in your stomach pronto

Sister's Conference

Monday, September 22, 2014

September 21, 2014 -Yeah.. I pretty much ate the whole pig.

My sweet MTC companion

It was only a sunny smile, and little it cost in the giving, but like the morning light it scattered the night and made the day worth living.
I wish I could put a little dash and my name after that. But that would be a matter of some dispute as, in doing such, my name would also need to be on the cover of best sellers around the globe which would require a huge team of valiant men and women finding their way into every Barnes and Noble, Borders, and library and replacing my name with his. That is what the New York Times refers to as a "huge waste of time".
So I guess you win, F. Scott. You happy?
That was a rhetorical question as the one in question has, I think, passed on. But it's easy to see that he was, in fact, happy. And, well, I am too.
Things are well here in sunny (and I mean that in every sense of the word) Chun Cheon City. We spend a vast majority of our days going from door to door, preaching this message of happiness and peace. Yes, we get yelled at and laughed at occasionally, yes, we get doors slammed in our faces, and yes there are those times when particularly large dogs don't act their part as "man's best friend". But then there are those times when a nice little old lady invites us in, shares her dinner with us, then proceeds to empty her fridge into containers for us to take. Yes, all of that happened this week and it has left us completely exhausted, but falling asleep with grins on our faces.
In going from door to door, I have come to recognize something that is somewhat disconcerting. And it is that those who claim to be believers in Christ, who display a sticker on the door and profess that they follow him, are often the rudest ones. And then there are the Buddhists, who most often kindly send us away with a smile and a "work hard, you are doing great things". Something is wrong here, wouldn't you agree? I respect Buddhists and their beliefs and I am so grateful for their kindness. But I think that being a follower of Christ does not stop at a sticker on the door. A true follower of Christ is one who strives to emulate him, develop his attributes, and demonstrate perfect love for all his fellow men. So, as a missionary always extending commitments, I am going to commit all those whose eyes have traveled the long journey of this letter, believer in Christ or not, to strive to be less judgemental, more forgiving, kind when someone cuts you off in traffic, and understanding when someone (either intentionally or unintentionally) offends you. Take the great F. Scott Fitzgerald's advice and smile, why don't you. He's right you know, it really does make life worth living. 
Whew. Let me just hand the microphone back to Ellen and bring us back to real life. Want to hear something cool? (another rhetorical question--of course you do). I ate pig liver, pig intestines, pig lungs and cows blood this week. All in one meal? And the best part is that I am neither dead nor dying. Cool, right?
I wish you all the best in all your endeavors. Even if your endeavor means perfecting your recipe for the perfect grilled cheese sandwich. Yes, actually, do that then send me the finished product. I can't think of a better way for you to use your time. :)
Love from the other side of the Pacific (and a little hop over Japan and a few strokes in between),
Sister McCloskey
P.S. This beautiful temple (we got to go on Tuesday) and my cute little district.

My district
The missionaries in Seoul

My area

A little bit of fun

Monday, September 15, 2014

September 15, 2014 - Bidding my adolescence a fond farewell...

Selfie. Disclaimer: I am living in Korea where
selfie camera's are a lifestyle.

I think the overwhleming feeling of love I got from reading my emails this week renders me entirely incapable of forming any form of adequate response. Whatever it is I attempt to conjure up from this point forward will be of little significance compared to what I just read.
With that said, let me tell you about my week.
... Ah yes. I turned twenty this week. I knew something exciting happened! And boy was it good. Just picture one of the parties at Jay Gatsby's house, Bilbo's 111th birthday, and the feast thrown for Belle when she arrives at the palace, mix them all together, add some cake baked in a rice cooker and some hot Korean weather and you're practically there!
I guess you could say that I bid my adolescence a most fondly deserved farewell.
In all reality, however, it was a perfectly ordinary day, though my sweet companion made sure to make it special. Whilst I mused over the fact that I had entered into the third decade of my life, she cooked me up some french toast and a banana smoothie. But even more than the delicious food I consumed (our recent convert took me us out to dinner too), was the new investigator I met that day. Her name is 등소 from China and she is both very pregnant and very prepared to receive the gospel.
We also taught a first lesson just this morning to a now new investigator, who is the best. She is a busy mother of three, but she has such an admirable yearning for truth and is genuinely curious in what we are sharing. She is so open to everything we have to tell her and willing to act on it. The hard thing will be that her husband hates all things religious, so she has been hiding the Book of Mormon from him... Gah. Men.
We're excited to teach her though and have truly been seeing so many blessings in our area.
In other news, our district went hiking last week for P-day up the most beautiful neighboring mountain and found the coolest waterfall.
My companion and I have made friends with nearly every old lady in this city (we may have missed one or two, but don't worry. We'll get 'em).
This city is crawling with sunflowers so naturally it's impossible for me to get down.
I met and talked to a girl from Ireland on the train for the whole two hour train ride into Seoul and left her with a Book of Mormon and me with her email. So cool.
This morning, as my companion and I did some door to door, we rang a doorbell afterwhich followed a chorus of terrifyingly loud barks and howls. Only then did we notice the little pink sign above the doorbell that said something along the lines of "PLEASE DO NOT RING THE DOORBELL. DOGS.". We had just enough time to read that sign and hear someone yelling over the barks to take off running down the stairs. It took an elevator ride back up for us to overcome the heaves and laughter.
Hence we may say that things are going well for me. Yep. I wish I had time to write all the little miracles and funny moments, but I have yet to master the delicate art of mingling those little insignificant things in with the big ones. I spend most of my days communicating in what little Korean I can, so I apologize for the lack of artistic grandeur in my letters.
My name is McCloskey. Sister McCloskey. I am twenty years old, I have ombre legs (we can thank the sun and various lengthed skirts for that fun phenomenon) and I have a not-so-secret crush on the rain. And I am currently serving as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints because I know that the restored gospel of Jesus Christ can and will bring greater happiness to those who receive it than they can ever comprehend.
I love you all and I love this work.
Sister McCloskey
P.S. .... And here's to my last moments of being a teenager. ㅋㅋㅋㅋ

Birthday celebrations!

The mountains of Korea

And our hike!

Some old photos sent to me by a senior couple

Monday, September 8, 2014

September 7, 2014 - Clams are happy, right?

You know the term, "happy as a clam"?
Rhetorical question. Of course you do.
Well I taught that to my sweetest companion this week and we both agreed that it simply does not make sense. I don't know about you, but I have never seen a clam smile or heard a clam laugh.
But for lack of a better phrase, that is the one I have chosen to describe myself at this time, though I may be so bold as to substitute "ier than" for "y as".
My fifth transfer with my fourth companion has officially begun and I couldn't be happier. It was hard to say goodbye to all those I came to love back in 샨당 (including this cutest old lady who I grew to love at our service activity), but we ended with a bang last P-day hiking Namson tower.
And now I am pleased to introduce to you this cutest little Korean sitting next to me musing over her parents emails with a grin on her face. I wish all of you could be here in this internet cafe and have a chance to glance at her, because by golly she's adorable. She is a little over a head shorter than me, has the most contagious laugh (like when the door to a classroom is at the front and right when you walk in you yawn a big yawn, then sit down and watch each person around you duck their head and yawn too, failing to hold it in--that's me all the time. Trying to hold in my laughter but failing every time), she goes running with me in the morning, speaks Korean with me all the time, is an amazing chef (though she's too humble to admit it) and is the most diligent missionary. I'm not sure where her heart it either cause it's too big to fit in her little body.
The fact that this is my first two person home is not the only difference between this area and my last two. This area is a little city of it's own, only with way less people and more trees. Everywhere we go, travelling as those of old, always by foot, reminds me of somewhere we have travelled as a family. Over there looks like Seattle, over there like Ireland, over there looks a bit like Utah, those mountains look like Ireland, over there looks like the Shire... Alright, so I've never actually BEEN to the Shire, but I'm counting it for as many times as I have seen that movie. Not only that, but the people here are much more down to Earth. Literally, the builidings here are much shorter. :)
I've also had the chance to meet two recent converts, a less active and an investigator who I clicked with right away.  My heart is already full of love for the people here and the some 15 people in our ward.
I learned something this week that I would love to share. I read a talk this week that my good friend and as of Wednesday, no longer fellow missionary, gifted me. In the talk, "The Fourth Missionary" by Lawerence E. Corbridge, he mentions our will and opened my heart to something I hadn't before realized. When we give anything to the Lord, whether we pay tithing or give of our time as a missionary, we are simply giving to Him what already belongs to Him. But when we do these things, and more, willingly, we are truly consecrating ourselves to the Lord. The only thing we can give to Him that does not already belong to Him is our will. Cool, huh?
I'm sure all you smarties and spiritual wizards out there figured this out long ago and I needn't be telling you now. I know perfectly well that this is something my sweet parents know and have lived their lives accordingly and I am so grateful for their example.
I wish you all the best this week, as always. I will be filling my last days of adolenscence with nothing but good memories and laughter, and I wish you all the same!
All my love,
Sister McCloskey
P.S. Brace yourself. Pictures are about to hit you like the plague.
 My companion in her hanbok at our conference!

Sister Sieverts and I at Namsan Tower :)

My last area

Street scene from my last area

.. And the cute grandma's I had to say goodbye to
(that's what they are called here... just so you know :)

My new area

Another shot of my new area