Tuesday, February 24, 2015

February 22, 2015 - 3...2...1... HAPPY NEW YEEEAAR!!

Here's a snapshot of what late night (and by late night we mean
9:45) talks with investigators look like with Sister Me. Haha. 

I would love to start this email off by wishing you all a HAPPY NEW YEAR, but then I remember that the majority of the recipients of this email currently reside on the western hemisphere and wore those three words out a month and a half ago. Well some of us, and by that I mean me, are in Asia and when in Asia do what the Asians do, right?
Hah. So there.
I guess it's a good opportunity to the renew the goals you set last month and start flossing everyday again, right? Right.
We did, in fact, celebrate the lunar new year this year, which for everyone but missionaries is a splendid thing! Holidays make it hard to meet with people, as they are all busy with family. But we had the opportunity, however, to spend some quality time in our apartment cleaning, cleaning, singing, cleaning, laughing, singing, cleaning, and cleaning some more. (Did you catch that mom? You bet I just called cleaning an "opportunity". Don't get too excited.) My companion and I have WAY too much fun together. Seriously. And we got to join our fellow missionaries for a combinged zone conference in Seoul, complete with "Meet The Mormons" and real frosting. Can't get much better than that, right? Right.
Wrong! It DID get better than that. Sister Wijetunge and I have seen so many miracles this week it's impossible not smile all the time. Just to name a few... We were door to door contacting one day, with little success, when we started talking to the nicest little buddhist lady on the street. A man pulled up, seemingly out of no where, on his bike and proceeded to tell us that he has read the Book of Mormon and that he knows it's true, all of it. He said he read it a few years ago and prayed about it and knows that it, and the church that cherishes it's doctrine, is true. As if that didn't catch us off caught, he even threw in some english words here and there like, "Moroni", "Joseph Smith", and "Salt Lake City" and "Oliver Cowdery". Yeah, okay. This church is true.
I would also be pleased to introduce you to a certain 한정연 저매님. I may have mentioned her as we met her on the street about a month ago and she is from North Korea. Here is a woman who has been here for one year, by herself, with two daughters still in North Korea. Here is a woman who has never really even thought about the prospect of there being a God or any sort of higher power. Here is a woman who I have talked to in person for maybe 15 minutes on the street, who has been travelling abroad in Jeju island, who we have kept in contact through calls and occasional texts sending our love and ecouragement, who called us upon her return and told us she didn't have time to meet us now, but just wanted to see our faces. Here is a woman who showed up with a huge smile on her face and three huge boxes of Jeju island chocolates and a huge box of Jeju Island mandarin oranges in her hands for two sister missionaries she barely knows. Here is a woman I barely know, just about as much as you do, yet I love like family, and can't wait to bring in her life the hope of the gospel of Jesus Christ!
And the other day we were street contacting, and I just felt like we should turn around. So we did, not really knowing why, and didn't walk far till we found out. We ran into an older man who has come to our english class for a long time, since before I got to this area, and who I have talked to only a few times before. He, loving the missionaries, insisted on buying us hamburgers and we were able to sit down and really talk to him about his family, religious background, etc. The whole time we talked, all I could think was, "This man is so ready for the gospel". It ended in him agreeing to have the missionaries, us and the elders, over to dinner to teach him and his wife the lessons. I love how God works.
.. And they all lived happily ever after the end.
Holy cow was that a novel or what? I apologize. Do I?
No not really. :)
Love you all and wish you another very happy new year!
Sister McCloskey
P.S.Here's some beautiful Sri Lankan food prepared by the even more beautiful Sister Wijetunge. Am I lucky or what?

February 15, 2015 -This week has been grayt!

I got a letter this week that went a little something like this:

title: halloween
Dear Rachel I had a very VERY grayt halloween.
this halloween has been grayt.
I hope you have had a grayt halloween to
Love Mia.

Nothing better right? In echo to this, here's a pretty good look at my last week.

title: my week
Dear Family I had a very VERY grayt week.
this week has been grayt.
I hope you have had a grayt week to
Love Sister McCloskey

The five year old says it best. It would be nice to just leave it at that, but you haven't seen my mama on her bad side, so I'd best elaborate. Hah. Funny thought that, my mom having a bad side and all. The only "bad side" I can think of my mom having is one similar to that of Emperor Kusco when he says, "look at me on my bad self. uh huh. uhuh uhuh uhuh." If you don't know what I'm talking about just hang out with my mom and crank up Kelly Clarkson's "Walk Away" and you'll know. Right mama?

ANYWAY. Wow. Tangents. I thought I was done with those back in high school geometry, but I guess not. As for why this week has been so "grayt":

We went door to door one day at one of the forest of tall building apartment complexes and upon entering were trying to decide whether to go from bottom to top or top to bottom. You know, one of those decisions that could ultimately affect your personal salvation. We decided to change it up and go from bottom to top this time which we quickly learned was the right decision and probably Heavenly Father showing his tender mercy on us. The second door we knocked on quickly yelled "I have no interest! Go somewhere else!" Well, we kept talking through the door, and were caught off guard when the door swung open and the lady ushered us in. She fed us tea and commenced in telling us the sad story of her husband passing away two years earlier and trying to raise her two teenage boys. It was hard for her to get out of bed in the mornings, let alone try to support her sons. But one day her son said, "You know Dad is watching you. Don't you think it would make him sad to see you like this?" and she told us that is when she knew there was something after this. We were able to share with her about the restoration and plan of salvation and her heart was soften. It was such a special experience for all three of us. Coincedence? I think not. :)

We also got to have a trainer/ trainee meeting in Seoul and stayed the night in President's house. It was like being in Ireland again at one of those beautiful Bed and Breakfasts. Only we had yogurt and buttered toast instead of haggus. Hah. The meeting was wonderful and all I could think of was how lucky I am to be training and training the absolute BEST trainee. Guys, I love her so much. We have seen so many miracles already and are excited to start this new transfer together. We got to talking about all our amazing investigators and new potential investogators and just had to stop and give a big thank you to Heavenly Father. We are so blessed here and are teaching some of the most amazing people.

Right now those amazing people include, but are not limited to: Nicole (who we had an awesome lesson with and are trying to convince not to go back to China for the big holiday), Imma, Jeong Un Hong, and Gyeong mi park. We picked up a few new investigators this week too and some referrals too! And remember SeaHorse, from a while back? He's back on the map! He sort of dropped off the Earth for a while (only not literally, just went to the Philippines), but we've started meeting him again. Woo!

I also got to go on exchanges with my old companion, Sister Seegmiller, before she goes home next week. Can you believe that? Crazy.

... And apparently I woke my companion up with the usual, "Goodmorning Sunshine!" only it was three in the morning and she realized I was not, in fact, awake as I proceeded to teach her one of the lessons in Korean. Hah. Such a missionary.

I love you all and hope you have a "grayt" week. :)

Sister Mcwhatsky?

P.S. Here's a Korean kid for ya. Pretty sure it took me a lot longer than four years into my mortal journey to master the peace sign! And here's one of my favorite families in the ward.

P.P.S. My sweet angel of a cousin wanted it to be known that SHE was the one who taught me pneumonultramicroscopicsciliconvolcaniosis and I would like the credit. So, yeah. That's that then. Happy Jen? ;)


Monday, February 9, 2015

February 8, 2015 - pneumanultramicroscopicsiliconvolcaniosis

I think I learned that word in third grade simply because it was the longest word and I thought it was cool and I wanted to take the challenge to memorize it cause I'm kinda competitive and maybe in the back of my mind I hoped it might come in handy someday.
Well, it hasn't.
But the good news is that so many things I learned when I was young HAVE come in handy. No, Dad, hucking lugi's has yet to prove useful... but I am still young.
I was thinking more on the lines of all the lessons I have learned from all the incredible teachers I have had. From elementary to high school, piano to Sunday School, college to the MTC, I have taken serving after serving from the five star educational buffet, if you might call it that. I have crossed paths with some of the best teachers I think this world has to offer and somehow I got lucky enough to sit in the belly of one of them for nine months! Can't say I remember much from those nine months, but I sure remember a good lot from the eighteen years after.
I've been thinking a lot about you lately, mama, as I have been trying to improve myself as a teacher. Who knew how much I would need to look to you as an example and be given so many opportunities to teach! You'll be happy to hear I have come a long way from teaching the neighbor kids how to make snowflakes in mine and Michelle's makeshift preschool. :)
This week we had some really great lessons with Imma who finally started reading the Book of Mormon (thanks to a  cool little chart thing we made that she can use to track her progress). And we also met with our lovely 홍정은 자매님 for what was one of the coolest lessons. It started with a question I had with Korean in the morning and the thought to ask her for clarification. She happily answered my question then asked if we could meet that night. Turns out it was a really hard day and she just wanted to go drink, but would rather meet us if we had time. Oh, we will make time. :) I wish I could go back and play the whole thing over, like an episode of our favorite District series or 24, but we never did end up buying tivo growing up, so that's not an option. Mostly I just want to hear her prayer again. We had been praying a lot to try and figure out her needs and she finally opened up to us about so many things. And then she said the most honest, sincere prayer after having given up on prayer for many years. After the "Amen" she looked up at us with tear filled eyes and a big smile on her face. Oh, missionary work is the coolest thing.
We also met with the nicest old lady in the most beautiful home out in the country along with the nicest group of people from Bangladesh and a cool University study. Did I mention that missionary work is the coolest thing? 
I never knew how much teaching I would have to do, but I am so grateful for you, mom, and all that you taught me and helped me to become. And I'm so grateful for the scriptures where I can learn from the example of the greatest teacher who ever lived! My companion is teaching me so much too and is such a blast to be around. Oh, she is too good. Just before email she was telling me about how much she loves babies and wishes she could have a "Baby Bouquet" at her wedding. Is that not the best idea, or what? :)
As always, I love you a lot. Thanks for everything you have taught me and all your amazing examples. I'm so lucky!
All my love,
Sister McCloskey

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

February 1, 2015 - Srikorican

Once upon a time there was this girl who decided that was the lamest way to start a story so she decided to start over.
It was a dark and stormy night.
The weather here is perfect and I've gotta get a name as an author first before I try to pull that one off. How bout four score and seven... Alright, alright. So I haven't been in Korea THAT long.
There and back again....? Nope. Sorry Bilbo. This hobbit ain't back yet! It looks like all that's left is the classic: 
"And it came to pass..."
Never heard that one before, have you? Hah. Yeah...
This tale of mine, though not to be written in scriptural verse form (sorry if you were getting your hopes up), is writing itself with every slammed door, heartfelt prayer, kind gesture, weird dream, new food, and small miracle, is a happy one. Only the happiest. There are chapters in everyone's life that the author wishes never had to be written. There are chapters where the author had a little too much ketchup on his hotdog when he went back to proofread and now that little spot of red has left a few pages stuck together and skipped over in the reading of the story. There are plot twists, protagonists, antagonists, boring parts and climax's. And then there are those chapters that are full of new discoveries, challenges, and a whole heck of a lot of character development. I'm about two thirds of the way through that chapter of my life and I just can't put the book down. 
I just came upon a part where the protagonist of the story found herself in a rusty old blue truck, being meandered cautiously through the Korean mountainside by two thin skinned bony hands at the wheel. As she stared out the window smiling and wondering to herself which of the two would kick the bucket first, her beauitful Sri Lankan side kick rested her head on her shoulder.
 If you're wondering how the two found themselves out there, just know that it was a whole lot of miracles and kind Korean people giving the two hopeless foreigners directions. As for the man, and his sweet wife, they were members of the church that we felt prompted to visit, though they lived quite a small journey away. A journey that was worth every second. It was one of those moments where I could "Amen" to when Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said "Indeed heaven never seems closer than when we see the love of God manifested in the kindness and devotion of people so good that angelic is the only word that comes to mind."
I love missionary work.
It's hard and sometimes you try to make soup Korean soup but then realize you're not Korean and try to add a little American, Sri Lankan spice to it throwing whatever is in the fridge into a pot making some sort of Srikorican confection that you try to swallow down between fits of laughter.
And sometimes people punch the door scaring the bageebees out of you and your companion.
And sometimes you look out over the city and count sixteen glowing red crosses wondering how two sister missionaries can make a difference.
And then there's those times where you get to meet people like that old couple, like Sister Wijetunge, like Nicole, Imma, 박경미, and 홍정은, and you get to go with them on their journey to come closer to Christ and you realize there is no where you'd rather be.
Thanks for all your prayers and love. As always, I send mine your way. I love you I love you I love you.
Sister McCloskey
P.S. Dinner with Imma and her friend from Rwanda. I love how much the African people love to laugh. So much fun... And some stairs.

A picture I drew. Hah. I hope you have a sense of humor! :)

January 25, 2015 -Mama oyata adarei

Wait. I thought she was serving in Korea. That's not Korean, is it?
No, my friend. No, it's not. You bet that means I love you in Singhala. :)
It's me again. Sister McCloskey. No, there's no w or u. Just think "claw". Like in Toy Story, you know, "you have saved our lives, we are eternally grateful." Still no? Sigh. I'm the one with the eyes. I've got a nose too. Right in between them. I'm pretty easy to spot. Just keep your eyes peeled for a tall blondie with a Sri Lankan doll linked on her arm.
But the best giveway may just be this black tag, bout the size of your MasterCard pinned to my coat. It's the best part of my outfit not because it sports my name, conveniently printed both English and Korean, but because it sports the name of the greatest man who ever lived. Pretty cool, huh?
Lately I have included a few extra requests in my prayers. Firstly, to not let this less active ladies' guppies die that we have been entrusted with (never have a group of fish been more prayed for than those, I assure you). Secondly, to help my sweet companion with learning the language. It is very hard for her as she knows little English and all the language learning stuff goes from English to Korean. But she's so awesome and somehow always, and I mean always, has a beautiful smile beaming from her face.
The last request is one made in question form. And the question is, why am I here?
Deep. I know.
But lately I've been swimming in deep waters and I just can't quite understand why Rose dropped the diamond in here when she totally could have saved some starving children in Somalia with it. Some questions just have to go unanswered, I suppose. I have wondered why I was chosen to been entrusted with the training of my companion and how I can help her to feel the same love I have for this work, despite the hard times. I can't say I'm complaining that I am training her. In fact I feel totally lucky and wouldn't trade this time for the world. But I can say that I feel totally unqualified. We also had several appointments this week with some Bible scholars where I just kept thinking "If only I was Korean and I was well versed in the Bible," and "Korea is a really hard place to serve." We met with several ladies who bombarded us with questions I struggled to scramble up some korean eggs with and serve on a plate. Sadly, the majority of them were just going through the drive through and sped off when they realized this joint did not have what they were looking for and the service was too slow. As I watched them go, my arm still extended, the eggs still warm, there were times it was hard to hold back tears.
But thanks to my companion's big heart and pillow of a scarf to lie my head on, Mother Theresa and her wise words propped next to the picture of my family, and the big man in the sky, I have found the answers to my prayers. We are teaching the most incredible people and had some of the coolest lessons this week with Nicole (China), Imma (Burundi), 홍정은 (I bet you can guess) as well as two new investigators. We also met with one of our less actives, who was in uncontrollable tears the first time I met her, but has since relit the fire and is now glowing again with the light of the gospel. That and the fact that I found out Imma's full name is "Immaculate" this week make for one happy Sister McCloskey.
I wish you all the best and yes, mama oyata adarei. :) 
Sister McCloskey
P.S. One year later with some MTC buds and a pretty darn cool wall. Yay missionary work!