Monday, January 19, 2015

January 18, 2015 - What Have I Gotten Myself Into?

So one year and four days ago I stepped out of the car, handed my nephew over to my parents (for some reason they wouldn't let me bring him... rude), grabbed my bags, and stepped into that magical land they like to call the "MTC". I remember that first day when all I could think about was,
"What have I gotten myself into?", "Missionary work is hard" and "Wow. This is going to be a long eighteen months."
Now here I sit in snowy Korean with my Sri Lankan trainee by my side thinking,
"This is not what I thought I was getting myself into", "Missionary work is hard" and
 "Wow. Eighteen months is nothing."
I knew then that there was no way I would be able to do this alone and I know now that the only way I've been able to do it is with the Lord. And I can't believe how fast it's gone! But I think the year mark is more of an accomplishment for the parents than it is the missionary. Am I right mom? Way to go girl. You made it to a year! ;)
It's been one heck of a year. I don't think any other phrase is as apropo as that. One. heck. of. a. year. A year I wouldn't trade for a lifetime supply of Jamba Juice Peanut Butter Moo'd smoothies. And you'll be happy to know, bros, that my companion and I carried on the tradition and burnt a shirt. Burnt a shirt and roasted a Choco Pie. A worthy celebration, I'd say.
I consider myself lucky to have been able to spend my year mark with my trainee. Can I just say that training is the funnest thing? I want to write every little thing Sister Wijethunge says and does down at the end of each day, but we're both totally wiped out we just end up lying on the floor, her head on my stomach, telling stories. It's been so fun teaching her how to speak Korean, cook like a Korean, use chopsticks, and even how to use a toaster. Oh how I wish I could have captured the awestruck look on her face when it popped up, each side crisped, a perfect shade of brown. Along with their lack of toasters I've learned two things: Sri Lankan's do not like the cold, but they do like spicy. So I layer her up every day and our mutual love of spicy results in a little extra chili paste in every meal. It's easy to see this is gonna be a great two transfers. :)
This week has been another week full of miracles. I feel like there is a renewed sense of urgency in me that has wiped away my fear. Fear of rejection, fear of saying something that doesn't make sense in Korean, fear of being judged, fear of asking hard questions, fear of inviting people to be baptized. The fear is gone and all that's there now is faith. We did a lot of contacting this week and have had so many cool contacting experiences with a blind man, a North Korean escapee, and a Korean lady who lived next to the MTC for six years. We also had some great lessons with Imma and 홍정은 (our new investigator), to whom we gave invitations for baptism. The hardest thing is just getting all our investigators to keep their commitments. Gah. Imma even comitted to come to church yesterday, but thanks to that happy punctuation marker we use to end declarative sentences, she didn't come. That menstrual cycle's the devil. Ah. Satan. Next time.. next time.
I love you and wish you a beautiful week, remember who you are... And make good choices!
Love the ever smiling,
Sister McCloskey
P.S. Here's my model of a companion and Seoul. Too pretty, right?

And here's me sharing the gospel with a good pal on the bench. Love you all!


Monday, January 12, 2015

Jan. 11, 2015 - Sri... Whatka?

I think when I die and go to Heaven and I sit in a little movie theatre with some movie butter popcorn to watch a play back of my life I will fast forward and watch the last four days of my life.
No, I did not win the nobel prize. No, I was not cast as an elf in the next Hobbit movie. And no, there wasn't any rain. In reality, the last few days have been some of the most mentally, physically, spiritually exhausting days I have spent on my short sojourn here on earth. Why would I want to relive them? you ask?
What a great question.
I suppose to answer I ought to start by introducing you to my new companion. I would say you should guess where's she's from, but we'd be here all day and I've got missionary work to do. Trust me, you will never guess where this one's from. I was wrong from the beginning. I was certain she would either be a Korean that didn't speak much English or an American that didn't speak much Korean... Two strikes. Then I found out the two new sister's coming in were from Australia (actually Samoa) and Sri Lanka and seeing as the other sister training is from Cambodia I thought for sure I would get the Australian.
Strike three.
I scored the most beautiful angel from Sri Lanka. SRI LANKA. Never in a million years. Her name is Sister Wijethunge (it was almost harder learning how to say that than it was learning Korean. It's something like Wee-jay-toon-guh... I thought McCloskey was hard!) and she has seven pet cats and a pet squirrel and a beautiful smile and an enthusiasm for everything and I want to tell you everything about her but I don't have time. I already love her to pieces. Gosh. The capacity to love never stops growing does it?
As for our first few days together, wow. We have had so many cool contacting experiences and somehow managed to get nine phone numbers, several return appointments and an amazing new investigator. We met her on the street, then into a cafe and she has so so much potential. Ah. It was so awesome. We also met with Imma (Burundi) and proposed February 21st as her baptismal date. She is not ready to accept, but told us she would pray about it so we are praying hard. I also gave a 갑자기 (sudden) talk on Sunday and a message about the Atonement in front of a group of twenty something. It's like Heavenly Father through a curve ball at me and knows I never played baseball, or even softball for that matter. But I know I've got a coach and He's not sitting in the duggout. He's right next to me, helping position my hands in the right spot to prepare me for whatever comes flying my way.
Simply put, I have seen so many incredible miracles this week, little ones, and have felt the needed strength from Heavenly Father more than ever. It's all pretty much summed up in a scripture I opened up to the other day, that I would love to share with you.
Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? . . .
He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. . . .
. . . They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. [Isaiah 40:28–31]

Heavenly Father is so real, you guys. I know He loves me and I know He loves you. I know He loves me because He sends my companions like Sister Wijethunge and I couldn't be more excited a miracle filled next 12 weeks.
All my love and more,
Sister McCloskey
P.S. A farewell to Sister Seo and a welcome to Sister Wijethunge! (featured on my left)

.. And here is our district

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

January 4, 2015 - Stork

So I was going to set the table and bring out a few appetizers before getting to the main course of this letter, but if there's one thing I've learned about dining Korean style, it's that there are no appetizers. They just put it all out on the table from the start.
Yep. You guessed it. There's a stork heading for Korea right now! Found out on Saturday that I'm going to be training! No, not for a marathon (ain't nobody got time for that). I'ma gon git myself one uh dem dehr babee girls!
I've been thinking about what names I like and since I already know the gender, I think I'm gonna go with "Greenie". That's got a good ring to it, wouldn't you say?
Alright. Enough joking around. This is serious. MOM. How did you do it? How does one go about the whole nurturing thing?
I can't say I'm not thrilled with the prospect of training, but it sure has been a good long run with Sister Seo. This place is our home now. We see people we know on the street everyday. In shops, in cars, on the bus, in the bathroom- literally everywhere. We're quite easy to spot, too. With our height difference and hair color. It's been so fun. And you know what we figured out the other day? We figured out that we spent almost exactly 1/3 of 2014 together. From September 3rd to the end. Needless to say, we are now friends for life. She even agreed to take an early morning run to a 목욕탕 (Mokyeoktang?) with me, which Korean sisters rarely do. What's a Mokyeoktang, you ask? Why, allow me to shed some light on the subject. Imagine a big beautiful public bath full of hot tubs, cold tubs, showers, saunas, and a whole bunch of old Korean ladies. Now boys, this is where the imagining stops. You just put all that together, now remove any thread of clothing and Viola! Mokyeoktang. A little bit of heaven on Earth, I'd say.
This isn't the first time I've mentioned bare skinned old Korean women in my letters is it... Oh I love Korea. Even better than the mokyeoktang, though hard to beat, was our lesson with Nicole, our Chinese investigator! She so badly wants to find truth, but all the different interpretations of the Bible keep contradicting each other. I can't even say how blessed I feel to have had a knowledge of the Book of Mormon from the beginning, though I certainly didn't understand the magnitude of it then like I do now. She committed to read it and come to church too so we are so excited! We had so many cool 전도's too and have been able to have so many good discussions with some people from english class and elsewhere who love Sister Seo and wanted to wish her a farewell. 

So, yes. This new year promises to bring many an adventure. Started it off with some homemade 떡만두국, as is custom to eat on the first day of the year, as I'll begin training on Wednesday. I'm so excited to meet her, though as of now I know nothing. I hope I can be as good to her as my trainer was to me. I love you all and wish you all the happiest new year.
Sister McCloskey
P.S. And hey Brandon and Jessie. Are you really gonna let your little sister have her first kid before you have your second?... Food for thought.

Roy Lichtenstein - Just what you asked for, right?

A cool pic of this place

I love Korea.