Tuesday, March 31, 2015

March 30, 2015 - Holy Guacamole!

So, uh, I got called to be Sister Training Leader in Seoul with a Korean companion.
I can't imagine that news will catch you as off guard as it caught me cause I was literally facing the opposite direction when it came. Saturday night it came... and so did the tears. I wish I could describe it to you, but I can't. Having been here for seven months, leaving this place, these people, will be harder than it was leaving you. Now, don't get me wrong mama, you didn't endure those nine months only to be replaced by some Korean woman. Just that when I left you I knew I would see you again, er WILL see you again, but not with these people. Who knows! Well, duh, God knows.
You want to hear some even more exciting news? No? Alright, well I love you and wish you the best week! Muuuuah!
Sister McCloskey
PSYCH. Is that still a thing? And by thing I don't mean tv show. THE SRI LANKANS ARE GETTING BAPTIZED. Mark your calendars, people. May 2nd is a big day. We had the coolest meeting with them and the Elders this week and Sister Wi was on fire. Literally. "Like a fire is burning". Someday I will tell you their background, but the two of them, Uditha and Sisera, are ready to start anew and are excited/ accept everything we tell them. We couldn't be happier for them. This news came the same day as the transfer call so we were sitting front row on what they call the "emotional rollercoaster". It's like X2 at California Adventures, only I haven't screamed nearly as much... yet. I did always like the front row, though, so don't worry about me.
"Worry about Daniel he's gonna be dead soon!"
Anyone got that movie quote?.... Jen?
....And guess who came to ward conference on Sunday! You bet 홍정은 자매님 came. It was her first time. SO happy. I know what you're thinking. As if it couldn't get better! It's like reading Harry Potter... Only not at all. My name doesn't start with a J nor does it rhyme with bowling so we'll leave the fantasy in Hogwarts.
...Speaking of Hogwarts, you know that scene where they have the Christmas feast in the main hall? Picture that, only with Korean food, replace the forks with chopsticks, and take away all the people (and the chairs), and little Sister Wi and you'll get an idea of how much we have been fed these last few days. Where's an invisible cloak when you need one? 
Has the world figured out how to 3d print one of those yet? 
Anyway, church was great and we got to meet and have some awesome lessons with some members of english class and the people we have become friendly with in shops nearby. This little old man in a noodle shop even cried a little and gave me a big hug. Hah. I tried to avoid it, but just kinda froze up. Sorry President! We also got to meet with a few potential investigators this week and teach our old investigator 박영여 자매님 and her three kids and it was such a cool lesson. And we met with Seahorse last night and he prayed for the first time in 18 YEARS, thanking God for sending us to him.
I love missionary work. And God. And you. And Sister Wijetunge. Holy guacamole (woah haven't thought about that in a long time. It's like three dollars for one avocado here. Talk about global warming.) I am going to miss her.
Way more than guacamole.
Love you!
Sister McCloskey
P.S. Here's pday at the park and a little snack. Yummmm. :)

Chun Cheon
One of the feasts
Saying goodbye to ward members 
My favorite little girl 

The Sri Lankans

Monday, March 23, 2015

March 23, 2015 - Leap of faith

Didn't my parents teach me NOT to talk to strangers?
Sorry, mom, dad. Guess there's nothing you can do about it anyway, now is there? As I am literally an ocean away. And have been here now for one year! Can you believe that?
Circle one: YES or NO
(I would adivse that the action taken above be done after having printed this email, or perhaps with a dry erase marker, but you've got free agency, so act as you will)
One year! Yikes. At least you don't have to worry about cold toes sneaking up on your warm legs under the covers anymore, right mom? And dad doesn't have to drop whatever he's doing and drive to the school becuase my basketball shoe, yes, singular, is more important than whatever million dollar contract he was about to sign...
What was I talking about? Ah, yes. Strangers. I'll be talking to them all I want, thank you. :)
This week we had some special encounters with some of the best. We saw a lady carrying a bag of vegetables on her head that was nearly the size of her teeny body. There wasn't much she could do in terms of protesting as we lifted it and accompanied her home. She turned out to be one angel of a woman who left us with the words, "I didn't know there were people like you in this world". No if THAT doesn't make you feel good, I don't know what will. Besides maybe a bubble bath.
We also had a cool experience where we visited, kind of spontaneously, a potential investigator. The whole family was there and they were so gracious at our visit asking us if we came because we heard the news. It must have been clear by the blank stares on our faces, because they relayed to us the sad story of the father having passed away three days earlier. The one daughter, a convert in a different ward of nearly one year, concluded that it must have been the Spirit that brought us there that day. We agreed, undoubtedly. It was such a cool experience.
We had a pretty slow week in terms of investigators as they are all busy starting the new semester, but we were able to meet with Seahorse and a young student member, which was awesome. And Imma's still keeping up with us on reading the Book of Mormon! All is well. The temperature is finally going up and the price of bananas is going down. We even went on a run the other day and Sister W got to see her first ever sunrise!
And I realized something the other day.
Every Wednesday and Saturday at our church we teach a free english class where we often introduce new expressions and idioms. You know useful ones like, "see ya on the flipside" and "ants in my pants". The other day the phrase "leap of faith" popped into my head and we explained it in terms of a guy taking a leap of faith and asking a girl to marry him. Or some crazy person jumping into a lake off an 80 foot cliff. But that's not a very good example now, is it? People don't do that... Or do they? (cough... DAD.. cough). I realized that now, having been in Korea for over a year, that phrase has taken on a whole new meaning. If you really want to know what a leap of faith is, ask anyone who's ever sported a black tag with their name and "Elder", "Sister", "Hermana", whatever those are in every other language, or in my case,  "자매".  A mission truly is a leap of faith. A leap away from the comforts of home, the normalcy of life, friends, school, family and mom's cooking... Everything that was once filed under the tab titled "Life". Leaving all that behind and pushing off. But unlike cliff jumping, this leap of faith is not over when you hit the water; It's is not simply done when the papers are filled, signed and sent. When bags are zipped and when hugs are exchanged. When tears are shed and final glances tossed over shoulders. Everyday on the mission is a leap of faith. And boy does there have to be faith. There's no way a missionary could do this work without it.
I'm so grateful to you, dad, for taking that leap of faith. No, not off the 80 foot cliff, but that was pretty cool too. :) For taking the leap 35 years ago TODAY and joining this incredible church. One of the bazillion blessings that has followed because of your great example, is that of me having this experience out here. When I think about my testimony of this gospel and where it is because of you and mom its so... satisfying? Is that the word I'm thinking of? I don't think so, but it will suffice. I know it's true. I know it. And I've never been able to say those words, or type them, with more truth behind them than I can right now.
I love you all and am so grateful to get to share this amazing experience with you. Have the best week, okay?
Love your secret admirer,
Sister McCloskey
P.S. I don't have many pictures this week as we spent p-day last week in the bath house. So... Here's

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

March 15, 2015 - 3.1415926.. yep. that's all I got

Is gazbajillion a word?

It is now.

Cause this week we had a gazbiljillion miracles and met so many amazing people, I feel wholly (insert word that I spent a good two minutes racking my brain to remember, but a year in Korea is a long time and there are just some things that have been forgot... you got me though, right mom? we always did have telepathy)... as I try to think of where to start. 

"And now I, Sister McCloskey, cannot write all the things which were taught among my people; neither am I mighty in writing..."

Nephi does it again. 

Let's start with our yesterday. Yesterday we met with Sister Shim who ended up bringing her friend and we brought our member so it turned out to be a really cool lesson with five of us 20 something year olds. They are mostly english interest and we do the english program thing with them, but neither have any background in religion, so they are interested in learning about it. So cool! We then raced from that lesson to meet the Bangladesh family we met on the street a few weeks ago. They are the most beautiful couple with the most beautiful big eyed baby boy. They invited us to their humble apartment where we were able to share with us our purpose as missionaries and even give them two Bengali Book of Mormons! Though both are very strong in the Muslim faith, they were very gracious and receptive to our message. They even fed us real spicy curry and rice, much like that of Sister Wijetunge's native cuisine, that we were both thrilled to eat the traditional way.. With our fingers! I can't describe the love I feel for that family. Much like I will never truly be able to express my love for you!

We then ran (yes, literally) to our next appointment with Seahorse and Sister 최담빈 (the less active). It was the coolest. He said that the day before, his birthday, we randomly popped in his head and he got the "warmest feeling". So he texted us right then for us to meet. And as we talked he said he feels like he's ready to open his heart to something again and is willing to read the Book of Mormon! And, though once purely antagonist, texted us last night saying, "I am going to thank god for sending you to to me."  

I thank Him every night for sending me to these people. Truly, I feel so blessed.

We also met with Imma this week who asked US to text her every morning at 7:00 to remind her to read the Book of Mormon. And had a wonderful lesson with Sister Hong. We weren't able to meet with Uditha and Sisera (our Sri Lankans), but we keep in contact with them and they are reading the Book of Mormon and looking forward to coming to church!  

So this week was full of wonderful people to drunk men to street lessons to temple day to giving out 20 Book of Mormons! to random service opportunities to pi day. Okay, well we didn't really celebrate pi day (as this is Korea and that word is about as non existent as the word gazbajillion), but we remembered. And that's all that matters. 

I love you all from Korea to the U.S.A. and back again... times pi. :)

Have a great week!

Sister McCloskey
A picture I drew for Seahorse 

A sunset

March 9, 2015 - Well at least she still knows her ABC's...

I might just take that phrase "a picture is worth a thousand words" and run with it this week cause boy do I have some shots to show you! But although this little yellow fuji's got quite the range of features (it likes to swim more than Riley, you know)  there are some things that it just can't capture. And some things that the allotted time I have to email leave little room to capture as well. 

Here are a few things that filled my week:

Buddhist temples
Buddhist people
Blue skies
Book of Mormon miracles (we had a zone meeting in Seoul focusing on the Book of Mormon and the next day while street contacting we saw a woman carrying a big white bag with "Book of Mormon The Musical". Naturally, we ran after her and shall be meeting her next week. We've had so many awesome miracles with the Book of Mormon this week with just the most random people. So cool)
Banana bread
Barbecue (we're not talking hot dogs and buns. We're talking something we koreans like to call 삼겹살. It's like bacon... but better. We had the whole ward out on the lawn by our church with investigators and the like. SO fun. )
ChunCheon (well, yeah everyday is full of ChunCheon and I love it! I have been here for almost seven months now so I now understand the meaning of the phrase "I know this place like the back of my hand"... Two freckles there. Some blonde hair there. My favorite street there. The peach lady there. Seriously not a day goes by where we don't run see someone I know. This is my home) 
Church (I decided to be a good missionary and go to church this week.. hah. But Sister Shim, our new college student investigator, came to all three hours and the young lady who owns a shop by our home who I have been trying to get to come to church since I got here came... and stayed all three hours! And not only that but two less actives we have been working with shuffled in to. We obviously couldn't have been happier)
Cool dreams (I don't know if it's all the Sri Lankan food I've been eating or what but my dreams have gotten wilder the last few weeks. Too bad I can't take pictures of those, huh?) 
Costco (you bet they have mango smoothies and sweet potato pizza)

Hong... Sister (Typing Korean names is the worst. But she's not. Quite the opposite really! She's the best and every time we meet with her it is the coolest. She's still not sure about baptism, but she's working toward a date now so we're super excited for her)
Imma! (Now is scheduled to be baptized in April and we couldn't be more excited for her)
J (always gets ya in the alphabet game, doesn't it?)
.S... RI LANKANS (last, but certainly not least, we met the two guys we met on the street last week, and had the coolest lesson with them and the elders and our Russian student member friend. It was so cool watching Sister Wijetunge do her thing and watch the Restoration in Sinhala. They have so much interest and seem sincerely enthralled by the Book of Mormon, so we're so excited)

There's so many more letters in the alphabet and so much I'm forgetting, but this should hold you for a week, right mama? It really is amazing how the work is moving these days and how many miracles we see in a day. I have no doubt that Heavenly Father is up there behind all this. I learn things (not only how to cook, mind you) from Sister Wijetunge everyday and I consider myself so lucky to so fondly call her my 동반자.

I love you guys too, you know. And always give you my best.


Sister McCloskey

P.S. The moment you've all been waiting for. It's picture time.

                                     On the ferry (my beautiful companion. so pretty right?)

And one at a cute little restaurant we were taken to. 

Thursday, March 5, 2015

March 1, 2015 - LTM

I came across a scripture this morning that pretty much sums up what everyday is like serving here in 춘천 with Sister Wijetunge.
"This is the day which the Lord hath made, we will rejoice and be glad in it." -Psalms 188:24
Thank you, psalm, for summing up my thoughts exactly. Everyday as we crawl into bed, entirely exhausted from the events of the day we can't help but say, "Today was a good day."
Everyday is a good day.
This week our days were filled with laughter, Sri Lankan food, Sri Lankan people (we found em!), investigators old and new, and a whole bunch of miracles. Let's start with the Sri Lankans! We have been bound and determined to find all the Sri Lankans in 춘천 and Heavenly Father knows it. We ran into Naveed, the nice Pakistani man I met on the street a while ago, who gave us the numbers of several Sri Lankan friends he knows and who we are planning to meet this week! Then one day, while in an unfamiliar area looking for the home of a potential investigator, we ran into (mind you, that is figurative... though I suppose it would make for a much better story if it wasn't) three Sri Lankans on the street with whom we also plan to meet this next week!
As for Sri Lankan food... She made me this thing called "parata" one day and spicy curry and we've eaten it nearly everyday since. SO yummy.
And now for our investigators! Sister W and I have gotten pretty good at this whole finding this as we currently have a board full of names. The hard thing is just getting them to keep their darn commitments. I feel like Princess Leah. No, not because I've started putting my hair in two buns on the sides of my heads... Yikes. Just, you know, "Anikan. You're breaking my heart."
BUT we did get to meet with Sister 홍 (our awesome single 40 year old investigator) and gave her a baptismal date! We talked about the gospel and about the priesthood and she agrees with everything we say. Oh, I love her so much. We also met with three potential investigators who know absolutely nothing about God or anything religious. Which is so fun! This country is about half Christian, half Buddhist, and half agnostic. Hah.
You do the math.
One of them was our lovely North Korean. It was so cool introducing her to God and sharing our stories of how we came to know He is there. And yesterday we met with Seahorse and one of our young less active members and it was the coolest lesson just focusing on God and faith.
In lieu of the basketball season coming to an end, I remember a powerful lesson I learned from three letters sharpeed onto my basketball shoes.
It could have once stood for "Long Tangly Mane", but I suppose I'll have to pass that title onto you, dad. Oh, wait.
They stand for Live The Moment. I often find myself living in the future, my head filled with hopes and dreams. But the time out here on the mission truly goes so fast and I'm learning and striving everyday to just be here now. "Do human beings ever realize life while they live it?"
I love you all and hope you rejoice in every day. And be glad in it. :)
Sister McCloskey
P.S. Sorry dad, I had too! it's been too long since the last time i cracked a bald joke)
P.P.S. She's never had someone give her a piggy back ride. So this moment had to be documented. :)