Thursday, December 31, 2009

Week 4 in Gwangju

Dear Family,

There is an interesting tradition in Korea about age. When a child is born they are 1 year old. Then instead of changing ages on their birthday everyone born in the year changes dates on New Years (which is why I am now 22 years old soon to be 23, such a short lived 21st and 22nd year...). It is useful in a lot of ways because it is just one big birthday bash, but I know this is short notice for you to get me a birthday present. No worries, I have plenty of food, lots of kimchi and clothes and what not. What I really want for my birthday is to be able to find, teach, and baptize a family. Family= mom, dad, child(s). So what I would like to ask is that for the next week or two all of you pray for me that I will be able to find a family, I believe that if you believe and I believe and we pray then it will happen. Plus, for those of you who are feeling bad because you haven't written me yet, sent pictures/ might be dead for all I know, it is okay, this is the time to redeem yourselves.

Also, I was reading this week in the las part of Heleman and the beginning part of 3rd Nephi and I noticed an interesting pattern. I mean, of course there is the bit about everyone killing each other and the pride cycle, but I especially like when the Nephites are humbled and decide to pray and use that as their main tactic of war. It really works miracles. In 3 Nephi 4:10 it is talking about how the Gadianton robbers are coming to attack the Nephites and they see them praying and they think it is because they are afraid, so they get really excited, but then:
"But in this this thing they were disappointed for the Nephites did not fear them; but they did fear their God and did supplicate him for protection; therefore when the armies of Giddianhi did rush upon them they were prepared to meet them; yea in the strength of the Lord they did receive them."

We can be like the Nephites and when hard times come upon us we can meet them in the strength of the Lord. I know I made it sound like it's really rough here, but in actuallity it's not that bad. I love Korea, I love the people and the language isn't so bad. I really can understand a lot of it and every day it gets better and better. The Lord is looking out for me and with his help all things are possible (even talking to people in Korean and sharing the gospel).

I must be off, but if any of you happen to have a recorder (nothing big, just something I can take to church so I can practise listening later.) I tried to buy one here, but the cheapest was like $70! They don't have anything old school, because this is Korea and they only have super advanced technology. Really I don't need anything digital that also takes pictures, plays music and communicates with extraterristrial life. Just something simple-- and if you have a flat rate box you can toss in something delicious (i.e. nutmeg, cinnamon, other American spices that you can't find here... OR CHOCOLATE CHIPS... mmmm). Check my blog if you need my address. Check with Anna if you don't know about my blog.

I love you all.

Sister Rebecca O'Bryan

Friday, December 25, 2009

Thursday, December 24, 2009

More Gwangju pictures

Week 3 in Gwangju

It would seem that this week was a week of eating weird foods. I had dried squid, which was like really salty jerky. I was wondering what was making our apartment smell funny so I rummaged through our cupboards and found the culprit. It wasn't bad, but neither me nor my companion have much of a liking for it, so after trying some it got tossed. Then later when we were teaching our Philippino family we got to eat chicken feet. I guess it wasn't very weird for my companion, but I definitely hadn't eaten it before. I also got to eat mugwort.. mmmm. Then today since our zone leader is leaving for Maryland after this week we ate live octupus for his last p-day. I only had one small tentacle, something about squirming suckers makes me uneasy. We played with them for a while, then washed it and cut it up. It tasted like... well.. octupus- kind of rubby and flavorless.
Since I will talk to you all soon I don't know if I need to include too much more, but here is a spiritual thought I found in Preach My Gospel that I really liked, it is a quote from President Brigham Young:
"There is neither man or woman in this church who is not on a mission. That mission will last as long as they live, and it is to do good, to promote righteousness, to teach the principles of truth, and to prevail upon themselves and everybody around them to live those principles that they may obtain eternal life."
In other words, everyone is a missionary! Yeah! Working with members does wonders for missionarywork, I assure you. In the wards I am serving in right now every member is a missionary and it is great, I hope that all of you are also missionaries.
Funny story:This week in teaching English I got to explain the difference between "go" and "come" or at least I tried to. In Korea there is only "to go" or "to be from" so it was fun. Also, since I am American I stand out. When I approach older ladies especially I get lots of comments about how beautiful I am. Always. In the subway I approached a lady and after I shared the message that I was a missionary and asked if I could come teach her she smiled and patted my arm then asked if I was out proselyting. I said yes and she handed me some doke (gelatinous rice bread) and then turned and walked off. Not really as random as it would be in America, but still really funny.
I also really like the apple trucks, they go around and are a bit of mix between ice cream trucks and what I imagine the taliban to be. They have loud speakers through which they blare their enticements, but it sounds like a middle eastern prayer call and if you didn't speak Korean it would seem very scary.
I look forward to talking to you all very soon. I love you lots.
Sister Rebecca O'Bryan

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Becca in Korea

Week 2 in Gwangju

Dear family,

Being a missionary is great. My companion, Sister Jeong, is a wonderful trainer and although I have to ask a lot of questions because I am American and she is Korean, she works really hard in her limited English to answer all of my questions and concerns. In Korea there is something called Jeong, which is a type of friendship, except closer. If you can build jeong then you can basically get people to do anything, come to church, read scriptures, etc. Sister Jeong explained that it goes back to when Korea was mostly a farming country and farmers would go to the surrounding farms in order to help out their neighbors in farming and then they would of course talk about their families, lives, and feed each other. Sister Jeong, like her name would denote, is a master at building jeong. Usually it consists of being very friendly, showing pictures of family, and eating. A lot. I think I will probably gain 30 pounds on my mission.

For Christmas I am allowed to have a family phone call of 40 minutes or less and since our phones can't call internationally I will need you to call me. The phone number is 010-2779-9048, I don't know the country code and since my companion has never had to call she thinks it is either 40 or 48... you can look it up because you all have the internet. Anyway, so I am allowed to have one prelimanary call to set up a good time to call on Christmas. Whoever wants to do that can, probably Dad or Josh since they know how to do all that neat technology. Times that work best for me, in Korea, are in the morning (8am-10:30am) or later at night (after 9pm).

We have been meeting a lot of great investigators this week and they are really progressing, reading the Book of Mormon, praying and things like that. Almost all of our lessons though are split lessons, 30 minutes English 30 minutes Korean. I never learned how to teach English and so when I found out that suddenly I have to teach all of these lessons by myself and come up with games, vocabularly, etc, it was a bit daunting. Thankfully, I know English.

Also, my speech has slowed down a lot. In order to be understood in English I have to talk VERY slowly and since I know so little Korean that is also very slow. When I return I will probably sound like a robot.

Korean Things:
-There are these ladies who sell yogurt drinks that wear these yellow outfits and walk around with their cute little carts. So funny.
-Bus drivers are a little crazy. Actually, every driver is. I think that they must not have any traffic laws because red lights are basically just yield signs, crosswalks mean nothing, and bus drivers manuever their buses like they are motorcycles.However, it is not bad, just different. Also, no one wears seatbelts. The other day we got a ride home from a member family and they piled five of us in the back seat, a 100 day old baby, 2 year old, two missionaries, and a mother and when I went to put on my seatbelt they explained that they are necessary unless you are sitting in the front. I think they must think the same of child car seats.
-We eat lots of vegetables and fruit. The members feed us as if we have never seen food before and of course we have to eat everything they put in front of us or else we may offend them. Since it is all delicious, I have no problem with this. Surprisingly, even though I have eaten at lots of different member's houses, there always seems to be some new side dish they serve.

Christmas time is a time of miracles-- Christ was born miracles and his entire life was spent performing miracles. Also the Lord tells us that through faith we can perform many miracles. As my teacher at the MTC said, the greatest miracle is the changing of the human heart. God can control the elements, he can control the weather and the earth, but he gave us all our wills and when we choose to make right choices then we become miracles ourselves. Since we are approaching Christmas time, I thought it might be neat everyone sent me a story about miracles.

I love you all, sorry that my English has gone down hill, the lack of email time and trying to learn Korean has done that to me I think.

Sister Rebecca O'Bryan

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Rebecca and her companion

Land of the morning calm and the excited greeny

Dear family,

The plane ride was wonderful and I got to sit next to a man from China who was very curious about the gospel. If you can believe it, he still wasn't ready to be baptized even after our 12 hour plane ride together. However, he was still interested in learning more so I gave him the URL since there aren't any missionaries in China where he lives. (aka, he doesn't live in Hong Kong).

At the airport I was picked up by my wonderful mission president and his wife, President and Sister Perriton. Sister Kelley and I then stayed at the President's house for two nights where we received a lot of training about all the fun things we get to do and we even went down to a bus station in Daejeon and jundoed (proselyted). It was wonderful. Korea is a lot different than pretty much all of America. There is a lot of city, a lot. It reminds me of San Francisco, except for more buildings and Koreans. Also there are more street vendors. Actually, it kind of reminds me of some of the European cities we traveled to last fall, except with less neat architecture. In fact, I can't really think of much to compare it to.

My trainer, Sister Jung, is Korean, and is from Souel. She is absolutely wonderful and I love her. She doesn't speak much English, but she speaks more English than I speak Korean, so with our forces combined we have been able to get around and basically understand each other. I still have a long way to go before I will be carrying on many conversations with Koreans. I smile a lot and introduce us "Anyunhaseo! We are missionaries from the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints! I know the Book of Mormon is true!" and then at this point Sister Jung takes over because I can't really understand their response. Just about everyone is nice though and most of them are interested because I am a foreigner. Believe it or not, there are almost no white people here. The only ones I have seen are the other missionaries. So usually Sister Jung will say something about the church, ask them about their religious background, I will keep smiling, and then she will mention the fact that I just came from migook (America) a couple of days ago. Then we will give them a pamphlet, maybe a Book of Mormon, get their number if we can, and tell them about our free English class.

Tonight we are going to teach our English class and meet with the ward mission leaders from one of our wards (we have two). I am quite excited. It is mostly a blur, but a very happy blur and if nothing else I am super excited to be a missionary in Korea telling people about the church (even if it is only through my smile).

We ate at a neat Korean restuarant yesterday that had heated floors and on open pit like thing where they grilled our steak. I got to eat dunbuggee (pickled silk worm cacoons) and lots of kimchee, rice, and other splendid Korean dishes.

My trainer is wonderful, we have two baptisms lined up for within the next couple weeks, a few more that we are going to commit soon and she is just amazing with the people. Sure I have only known her for about 6 hours, but I can tell that she is amazing and if I can be half the missionary she is then I wil be a success.

Mail from the U.S. to Korea only takes 10 days, so feel free to send anything you like this direction, or if you prefer giving me money, you can give it to Anna who can put it in my account and then I can just withdraw it here. Again, you don't have to, but if you feel so inclined, feel free. I love you all.

-Sister Rebecca O'Bryan

Safe and sound in Korea

Dear family,

After a long, but wonderful flight, I made it to Korea. I am sorry I didn't get to call you dad, my companion forgot her calling card and there was only enough money on mine to make two phone calls so I called mom and let my companion call her family. I figured you would be alright with is since I will be calling around Christmas time as well.

I love you all and I love Korea. My mission president and his wife are very nice and Korea is not as foreign as I had thought it would be. They have very nice heated floors which keep you warm at night and tonight I get to proselyte.

Love you all,

Sister Rebecca O'Bryan

Last week and then I'm in Korea

Dear Family,

Time has flown past and now I am about to go to KOREA! I received my flight plans and it looks like my schedule will be similar to:
Dec. 7
4AM- leave the MTC
7AM- leave SLC
8-11AM (California time)- be in the LAX airport. I will probably make a short phone call to both Mom and Dad during this time, so if you have a preference during these hours that you want me to call, somehow let me know before then.
11AM-5pm Dec. 8- FLY TO KOREA
Dec 8- Dec 10 (Korean time)-I will be in the Mission President's home and get oriented to Korea until I am assigned a companion. I will also be sending emails to Mom and Dad to let them know that I made it alive and love Korea.

So what has the past week held for me? All sorts of excitement. Last Tuesday we heard from Elder Oaks who spoke with his wife and then on Thanksgiving morning we heard from Elder Jeffrey R. Holland and his wife and did service for the rest of the day. There really is no better place to be than the MTC during the holidays (except maybe with family or in Korea on a mission).

I leave in less than a week, so if you were inclined to mail me anything it needs to get here by this Saturday. No pressure, just a reminder.

I know you are very curious as to what apostles of the Lord had to say when they came to speak to missionaries, so I will share some of my favorites. They spoke a lot about what we can do to be better missionaries and Jeffrey R. Holland spent time answering questions that missionaries had asked earlier. I really loved when he was talking about us at the MTC and he said that he would hope we would all feel a little bit homesick. That homesickness, he reminded us, is what makes all the other holidays when we get back so great. That homesickness is also what God feels over us. As his children, God wants us to return to him and while we are here on this earth he feels that same desire to see us again and to have us with him in his Heavenly home. That analogy really clicked in my mind and I felt a great need to share with others his love and how they can return to him. I have such a great love for the Korean people already and I can only imagine what it will be like when I actually get there.

A couple of Saturdays ago while we were teaching in the TRC my companion and I got a referral from the man who came in for us to teach. We called up his friend who is from China and it was amazing. The first thing that happened after we introduced ourselves was he got excited and said he had been waiting for us to call. I guess he has already been meeting with some missionaries and he loves the Book of Mormon, but he has difficulty understanding it in Chinese because the translation is a little odd and the English version is of course in older English so he wanted to speak with some missionaries who speak Mandarin Chinese and he wanted to know how he too could come and volunteer at the TRC. So we got him in contact with some Chinese native speaking missionaries who will be helping to teach him.

I love being a missionary and seeing the Lord's hand in everything. I love serving others and I love you all. Tell me your plans for service this Christmas season.


Sister Rebecca O'Bryan

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Week 9 in the MTC

Dear family,

The MTC is school good, as always. I love being here and there are only two more weeks for me to enjoy it, so I am trying to soak it all in. On December 7th I should be leaving on a plane for KOREA! Yes, I know, most of you probably think it is far past time, ready to kick me out of the country and all of that. But it still seems so surreal. To think, by this time in two weeks I will be speaking in Korean 24/7 and trying to understand when people talk back to me. I will be telling people about the gospel and eating kimchee for every meal and using chopsticks and all sorts of fun things.

This also means that if you wanted to send me anything before you have to pay for it to go international, now is the time. Thank you for everything you have sent so far, I really enjoy receiving things and knowing that people are still alive, that sort of thing. By no means feel obligated to send me anything, however, if you would like ideas, things that I enjoy include:
-those microfiber towels look really useful/compact
-shirts (usually size Medium, anything that is longer than cap-sleeve, high neck, machine washable, cute ^^)
-small snacks (chocolate, hazelnuts, skittles, peanut M&Ms, pretty much anything)
-True to the Faith book

Forecast of events for the next couple of weeks:
-Thursday: Thanksgiving! Elder Holland is coming to speak and we will have a fun filled day of service projects and sack meals!
-Friday: receive flight plans (find out how early I have to wake up to catch my plane)
-Next Tuesday: last P-day and last chance to check email and things like unto it until I reach Korea, so if you have anything important to say to me before I leave, tell me before then.
-Monday Dec. 7- KOREA here I come!

I love the Gospel and my Korean is improving every day. We have a native Korean sister that is kind of our companion and so we get to escort her around. She doesn't speak any English and so it has been helping our Korean improve as we take her around, explain what is happening, ask about her life, etc. I had to give her an orientation of the MTC all in Korean and it convinced me that I need to purchase a translator as soon as I get to Korea.

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I would love to hear what you are all thankfull for. My list includes:
*All of you! I love having the support of my family and knowing that you love me and that I can always count on you
*The restored gospel which gives me peace, confidence, joy, guidance
*The opportunity to learn Korean and just in general, can you imagine if you finished with school and just decided that you had had enough learning. How boring would that be!
*Office supplies- there is just something so wonderful about being able to use colored pencils and tape in your everyday life
*fresh fruit- nothing better than peeling an orange to wake you up and start your day.

And the best way to show that you are really thankful is to give. This thanksgiving I would challenge all of you to think of something you can do for others, do it, and then tell me about it.

I love you all,

Sister Rebecca O'Bryan

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Week 8 in the MTC...not that I'm counting

Dear family,

News from the MTC. The food is the same as always (a little risky, but you can find things if you look for them). And the spirit is just as wonderful and permeating as ever. We were able to hear from a lot of great powerhouse speakers this week, including Elder Oak's wife- Kristen Oaks who talked about testimony. She was so fun and is so knowledgable. She talked a lot about how when we bear our testimonies we can keep it simple and let people know the core things we believe, that God is our loving Heavenly Father, that Christ is his son and that through him we can repent, that Joseph Smith was a prophet for our day and that he restored temples and the Book of Mormon, and that we have a prophet on the earth today to guide us. She then gave us these cute little "testimony gloves" that have pictures on each of the fingers of Christ, God, Joseph Smith, Thomas S. Monson, and the temple. So fun!

Then Sunday night we heard from Sheri L. Dew who talked about becoming a greater seeker of knowledge. I love that concept of continual growth, it seems the more I learn that instead of satiating my thirst I just want to learn more. She talked about how if we are to fulfill our missions, not just as missionaries, but in life, that there are three things she would suggest we all learn:
1. Who we are- D&C 138; we are God's children and he has a purpose for us
2. What the Savior did for us when he atoned and what He is willing to do for us now - She talked specifically about how she has felt the comforting and healing power of the atonement in her life and the promise that Christ makes in Luke 4:18 when he says that he has come to healt the broken hearted.
3. How the Lord speaks to and guides us- there are a lot of things that can distract us in life, but if we learn to heed what the Lord wants us to do then we can be guided in our lives.

I have realized while in the MTC that my sense of time has been somewhat diminished. Last Wednesday I was helping to host new missionaries (again) as they came into the MTC and I realized that it was Veterans day. Then on Friday we all realized that it was Friday the 13th, but we didn't realize until about 9PM at which point my companion, Sister Kelley, exclaimed "make sure not to pull any pranks, just because it is Friday the 13th." We had to remind her that that traditional is actually for April Fool's day. Who knows what I will be like in a year and a half when I come back from Korea.

I love my companions and they are a constant source of joy. One of my companions, Sister West, is a little bit hard of hearing and so although she can hear what people say when they are talking directly to her, she often has a hard time picking up on things around her, like if something is happening in the hallway or if someone whispers something under her breath. I think this contributes to the fact that most people think she has no sense of humor, when really she just can't hear them. However, the other day we were all laughing and I realized that there was no way that they were laughing at the same thing I was, so we went around and said what it was that we were laughing at and when it came to her she simple said, "I'm so used to not hearing things that I've learned just to laugh when everyone else does." It made us laugh so more, but the more I think about it, the more I realize what an eduring quality that is. Imagine if you could laugh at any time, you could lighten any mood.

Just a thought that my Branch President left us with this week:
"Let obedience be our quest. When obedience ceases to be an irratant then we know we have made a true change of heart." I think there's actually more to it than that, but I can't remember all of it. I just know that I realized the more that we align our will with God's then the more we are able to become truely free to be ourselves.

I love you all,

Sister Rebecca O'Bryan

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Week...7? in the MTC

Dear Family,

Life is going well here. The weather is getting cooler, but my excitement is not. It's exciting to think that in only four more weeks I will be headed to Korea. There are definitely times when it seems like the MTC is my life, always has been and always will be, but then you get those moments when you realize that you are here only as a preparation for something grander.

Fun story from this week:
While we were teaching about Knowledge to our district this week our Branch President's counselor, Brother Shin made a comment. He was reading from a scripture in D&C that discussed how when we obtain knowledge from God we are able to better understand the way to salvation and to receive joy. As an Asian, he explained, he and his wife are very serious people and the only thing that makes them laugh is when someone farts. For some reason everyone in my district looked at me and started to laugh. I suppose the O'Bryan curse is really more of a blessing, because at least if I can't speak Korean I can make them laugh and win my way into their hearts.

The more I do it, the more I love to plan. I have always like to carry around a planner with me and schedule things, but I am learning now more how to combine my goals, like my life/spiritual goals into my plans and not just to get things done, but to really accomplish things so that I feel like I am progressing in all areas. There is more of the Why behind the What.

Our new districts are great. We have five Sisters and seven Elders who came in last Wednesday which tripled our numbers. I think we are the only zone in the MTC that is almost half and half with our Sister to Elder ratio. I am alright with that. They are all very nice and wonderful and spunky. A few of the girls have already graduated from college and had careers that they put on hold in order to go on missions. One was a teacher and the other worked as an IT analyst in Washington DC for the Federal Reserve. Neat, eh?

While reading in 2 Nephi 25 I came across verse 26 which says:
"We talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophecy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of sins."

Previously we had had a fireside by Richard Heaton who discussed the importance of remembering your purpose as a missionary. He explained that we do not share the gospel for the sole purpose of baptizing people, but for the joy that comes when they realize that they can receive a remission of their sins because of Jesus Christ and his atonement. Putting it into that perspective really helped me to realize that it is all about love. God put us here on this earth so that we could become better, so that we can return to him, but in order to do that we had to have the Atonement. We had to have Christ and because we do there is no end to the potential happiness we may feel. Doesn't that just give you hope?

I hope that we can all speak of Christ, write of Christ, rejoice in Christ and that it exudes from us in a way that people cannot help but notice.

Challenge for the week, write down how have you seen the Atonement of Jesus Christ work in your life? How have you changed because of that knowledge? I'd love to hear your answers.

I love you all, I hope you are doing well.


Sister Rebecca O'Bryan

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Week 6 in the MTC

Dear family,

It has been exciting, as always. Last week we got to hear from L. Tom Perry who spoke with his wife. I love everyone who comes to speak, but hearing from an apostle is always a special privelage.

I learned a lot more about Korean culture this week, some interesting things include:
*The two biggest Korean holidays are both 3 days each, Chusok- which is the Korean thanksgiving and happens in late September. During this holiday everything gives everyone presents and then eats really well. Sole-all (not spelled quite like that, but nothing translates exactly) which is in February and is the New Year. During this time everyone goes back to their traditional home and pays respect to their grandparents. The Grandmothers and mothers control the purse strings in every family so the more respect you pay to them the better your present it.

This week is exciting because we get a new district of Elders and Sisters-- 12! That means that our Sacrament meeting will go from 6 people to 18. This past Sunday was interesting, during testimony meeting not only did everyone bear their testimony, but we even had a musical number and we still ended 15 minutes early. It's interesting to think that I have passed my halfway mark and I only have a little over a month left in the MTC.

One of the new elders is from Uzbekistan, but he has a Korean name and says that the language spoken in the home is Korean. So it will probably be difficult to speak to him, we're not sure if we will need to talk in Korean or Russian (neither of which we really know how to speak). Maybe Natasha can send me some phrases so I can help him get around.

It is interesting because most of Korean comes from Chinese characters and the symbol for Virtue means having your actions, heart, and eyes in 100% accordance.

I have been thinking a lot this week about trusting God. How much do we really trust that he hears our prayers and that he will provide for us? A story was told in mission conference by a man who used to be a mission president in the Canary Islands. He retold a story about one Christmas when he and some missionaries made cookies and then went around caroling at various member's houses. On the way back they had some extra cookies so stopped by a lady's house, her name was Claudia. Claudia had been baptized a year earlier and was a stalwart member, but had gotten a divorce at the same time that she joined the church and her children were all grown and had recently moved to the Peninsula (Spain). As they came to the door they noticed that her table was set with a nice dinner, she was dressed up, and it looked like she was preparing for a party. They told her that they would just sing and leave as they didn't want to intrude, but she insisted that they stay. She then explained that the Christmas before had been spent completely alone and was quite sad, so she had prayed a week before to God to have company on Christmas. "Lord," she had bargained, "I will provide the party if you will provide the guests" so she went out, got her hair done, prepared a five course meal, and here were her guests. I thought it was really neat.

For those who remember Peachie Jones, I saw her at the temple last week. I guess she is going to law school at BYU and I don't really know much else, but it was neat seeing her since I haven't in AGES.

I love you all, thank you for your love and support.


Sister Rebecca O'Bryan

Friday, October 30, 2009

Week 5 in the MTC

Dear family,

Life in the MTC is still great, the Korean missionaries and our older district are all now safely in Korea which means that there are only about 5 1/2 weeks left for me. It is exciting to think that I will be there so soon, however, I have a lot of Korean left to learn.

Culture things I learned this week:
-you are only considered to be someone's "friend" if you were born in the same year as them. Other wise they call you their older/younger brother or sister. This also means that you are automatic friends with anyone born in the same year as you. It's a big deal.
-The literal translation to say that you are full is to say that your stomach is singing
-There is an idiom that you use to say that you really enjoy the food, literally translated it is "If there were two people eating and one died I wouldn't even know" meaning that the food is so good you wouldn't even notice if someone right next to you died.

One of my companions, while we were in the Referral Center, received a chat from a nice woman in Detroit Michigan and after speaking to her for a little while we were able to call her. She is a nice lady and is allowing us to continue to call her and tell her more about the church and hopefully the missionaries in her area will call her and come over. It is frustrating because we call her and set up lesson plans and she keeps commitments, but the missionaries in her area still haven't contacted her. Sometimes I wish there were better forms of communication. It is very exciting though to share the gospel with people who have real needs. In the MTC you teach a lot, but usually just to fellow missionaries or volunteers so you don't often get to assess peoples' needs or follow up with them.

This week our teachers are beginning to speak only Korean to us during class and it is exciting to see how much we really do know how to say. We are also expected to teach in Korean this week up until we reach Korea (where the teaching will continue, I'm certain). Although my phrases are simple, I am always suprised by how much I can say. The Lord really is helping me to learn Korean and the more I trust in him the more he helps me.

Relief Society at the MTC is unlike anywhere else I have ever been. Since there are not as many sisters are there are Elders, all the sisters join together (probably about 200) and it is in a large gymnasium. We get to hear from Sisters on the General Relief Society, Young Women's, and Primary boards every week. We also start out with a special music number that people have to audition for and then a conversion story from a sister serving a mission who is a recent convert. This past week's lesson was given by Sister Vicki Matsumori (she spoke in General Conference) and she included a story about her son when he was on a mission. Because her son served in the Bronx in New York and her husband often visted there on business trips she was able to meet her son once for lunch on his mission (of course after talking to the mission president). They had arranged to meet him outside of an apartment building after one of his teaching appointments and while they were waiting they got out their cameras to take pictures. At this point some men came out and chased Sister Matsumori and her husband and they ran into a local shop. She later found out that there was a drug dealing going down and they thought she was from the DEA. Anyway, after this traumatizing experience she went back and met her son and as he came around the corner she said she could a visible bubble of protection around him. I think it's probably because the Lord wanted her to know, as a mother, that her son was safe as he went about doing His work. I thought it was a neat story. I'm sure I wont need any bubble in Korea, but even still it is neat.

In a large group meeting this week we talked about goal setting. While discussing this topic they mentioned that some of the keys to acheiving your goals include:
-writing them down
-keep track and evaluate your goals to see where you can improve
-when setting new goals look at how you did on your old goals and set acheivable goals that cause you to stretch
I would love to hear from you guys as to what some of your goals are and what you plan on doing to accomplish them. I love talking about planning and goal setting, even before I entered the MTC.

Thank you for all your support and love, I love you all,

Sister Rebecca O'Bryan

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Week 4 in the MTC

Dear family,

MTC life is going well. I am learning Korean more and more every day and even though it takes me a while, I can hold a conversation, pray, teach how to pray, testify, read, and all sorts of neat things all in Korean.

Our older district, along with our Koreans, are leaving next Monday which means that we will become the "old" district. I was also made the coordinating sister for our Zone which means that I will have the responsibility of helping new sisters as they arrive into the MTC so that they can get accustom to everything. I get to explain rules, make them feel comfortable and show them around the place. It's pretty neat, I also get to go to meetings with President Smith and the other MTC Presidency and their wives.

Funny Korean-American things:
-The Korean missionaries were giving us "Korean" names this week and then asked for us to give them "American" names. One elder, Elder Chung, said that he wanted something really regal. In Korean it is very common for children to be named after really meaningful things. For example, my teacher's name means "Doctrine & Covenants" and his brother's name translates into "Pearl of Great Price". One of the sister's names means "morning star" and things like that. Anyway, so this Elder wanted an American name that signified regality and nobility so we were thinking of things like Jefferson, Washington, and the such and suddenly he exlaims: "Something with 'the' in it, like 'The Arthur'". He could really understand when we all started to laugh, but I think "The Arthur" is probably a fitting name.
-Some things just don't translate, like I was saying last week, the sentence structure is so different from English that it is really hard to get straight in your head. Take for example this sentence:
"I would like to share a scripture with you about faith", directly translated you have to say
"I faith about passage to share want."
It becomes more confussing the more prepositions, tenses, and grammar forms that you add. The way my teacher explained it is that it is like an onion-- there are just a lot of layers.
-We learned a really fun song last night when we were full of energy. It is a really cute little kids song about a mountain rabbit. Dirrectly translated it is something like:
"Mountain rabbit, rabbit
Where are you? Where are you?
Hop, hop, hop, hop
Mountain rabbit, where are you?"

But with the hand motions, jumping around, and singing it was really fun. I guess it is kind of like the nursery rhymes we sing (Little Miss Tuffet, The Itsy Bitsy Spider).

I love learning about the Korean culture. On Sunday our Branch President told us the story of the church in Korea. He mentioned that Christianity had initially gone into Eastern Asia in the 1800s and that since then about 1% of China/Japan are Christian while 50% of Koreans are Christian. A lot of this is the humility of the people and how open they are to others. Because of the Korean war and the amazing poverty, starvation, and conditions that existed during that time, it really humbled a lot of people.

As for Korea and the LDS church, ni 1927 the first Korean was baptized in Hawaii. Korea was dedicated for missionary work in 1955 by Joseph Fielding Smith and in 1984 the Seoul Temple was dedicated. Since then the Seoul temple has become the most used temple in the world. There is more work done here per person with a reccommend than in all of the world, probably because the Koreans are so good at keeping really good genealogical records and they care so much about their ancestors.

I got to go with my companion, Sister West, to the doctor this past week. She has been having abdominal pains and so they had her get an ultrasound at an imaging center in Provo. It was really exciting because we got to leave the MTC in this big van and I really LOVE doctor's offices (when I'm not the patient). On our way back to the MTC we drove with some Elders who were Italian and who had just gotten out of a surgery so were kind of loopy. People say the most interesting things when they are under the influence of medication and we ended up laughing all the way back to the MTC.

I don't have a lot of time, so if you wrote me an email or letter, thank you very much, I'm not sure how many I will be able to get back to.

I would really love if you would find one of your favorite scriptures and send it to me with a reason of why it is your favorite and how it has helped you in your life.

I love you all,

Sister Rebecca O'Bryan

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Week 3 in the MTC

Hello family,

I love going to the referral center because we get chat with so many diverse people and create lesson plans for real people (if they decide to come back). For example, we chatted with a man in the United Arab Emirates who did not have access to missionaries or a church (the closest was 100 miles away) but he could get on the computer. Interesting. Unfortunately he did not come back when he said he would.

Everyday I realize more and more that Korean is just a different language. Things don't really translate, because it's just a different mindset, a different way of life. For example, you can't say "I have this apple" you have to say "this apple exists". Also, it is all about being humble and honorifying other things/people. You can honorify ANYTHING and so it could take three times as long to say something in Korean than in English (depending also on how fast you speak).

With the arrival of the Korean Sisters I realize how loud and expressive Americans are as well as how large I am. Not tall, we are about the same height, but they are just so petite and dainty. They seem to like us because we are so friendly, but it's probably just because we say hello every two seconds (one of the few things they can understand that we have learned). They help us out a lot in trying to learn the language and it also humbles me because it shows that I have a long ways to go before I can even carry out a normal conversation.

The same Wednesday that our Koreans came in there was a missionary from Indian. I guess he is the first Elder to ever be called from India, or something like that. Isn't it exciting how the work is progressing in the world? It reminded me of the talk in General Conference by Brent H Nielson missionary work and how he prayed for missionary work to be open in some part of Russia (is that right?) and then his son was sent there later in life. Maybe my kids will go to North Korea! (Or Louis might, or Anna... you never know!)

I love my MTC teachers, they are great and sometimes after a long day of class we can get a little giggly. I think it is something about trying to think in Korean and then you get really confussed. For example, we were learning to ask about people and say things like "Do you know anyone who has recently ______*insert life event here*___?" So like, people who have lost a loved one, had the birth of a child, etc. My companion, Sister Kelley was trying to ask how to say baby and said:
"What is a baby?"
the teacher gave us this weird look like this "well... when a man loves a woman" and we all started to laugh because he thought we didn't know what a baby was in general.

Korean food and American food are different, but not as much as you might think. As in, there is definte traditional Korean food, but they have many American things. The other day we got breakfast and the Korean sisters chose bagels, we asked if they had used a toaster before and they said they had, but they couldn't get it to fit. So we showed them that they had to cut the bagel in half. One of the cute little sisters, Sister Ahn (one of them, there are two that are twins) was on the verge of tears because she was trying to get hers to cut and it just ended up breaking. So my companion Sister Kelley was able to cut it in half, toast it, and save the day.

I wonder how some missionaries could only be in the MTC for three weeks. I just barely figured out how to get my schedule to work out and how to organize everything. I mean, this past Sunday was the first time I had a chance to even go to choir. (The previous Sundays were fast Sunday and General Conference and then on Tuesday we got to usher for the devotional). Also, I think I probably need another year or two at the MTC just to get Korean under my belt. It's odd to think that in only 8 more weeks we will be shipped out to Korea.

I am excited to go to Korea though, with the arrival of the Korean Elders and Sisters I realized that they know all about fashion. They have these huge rimmed glasses, tailored shiny suits, skinny sparkly ties, cute stationary, cute skirts and are overall just stylish. They are also very respectful, I hope that is something I can pick up more on so that I don't accidentally offend anyone when I get to Korea.

We all have a work to do. Challenge for the week, pray to find out what your work is to do and who around you needs help. Then reach out and try to help them. Let me know how it turns out.

With much love,

Sister Rebecca O'Bryan

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Second week in the MTC

Dear family,

I forgot to tell you but, I have my MTC mailbox number:
Sister Rebecca O'Bryan
MTC Mailbox #149
KOR-DAE 1207
2005 N 900 E
Provo, UT 84604

Also, you can send me mail through This means that you don't have to actually write and use a stamp, just get online, and it will send the typed up letter directly to my MTC mailbox. It's fast. Just an idea if you aren't the pen and paper type of person.

Since I last wrote one elder went home because of family problems so now our zone has become 10 people instead of 11. Yes, that means I go to church and there are 10 people (well, and the branch presidency). However, today we get KOREANS which is exciting. Real, live, Korean speaking, breathing, and eating KOREANS. They will leave with our older district in three weeks and then in three more after that then my district gets our own. So maybe this isn't as exciting to you as it is to me, but it means that I will get a lot of improvement on my Korean and maybe a little culture too. I love my teachers, but they aren't actually Korean so sometimes their messages conflict. Let's just hope what I do know is sufficient to talk to them (although they most likely know English).

For those of you who lived in Spanish Fork, I see Amanda Barber a lot, she was in our ward and is leaving today to serve in Baltimore Maryland.

Fun story, so we go to the Referral Center every week and make calls to people who have called in for Books of Mormon or Bibles and then we invite them to learn more and have the missionaries come visit them. One of my companions, Sister Kelley, got a fellow who wanted us to call him directly back in a few minutes so we got his phone number and called back and were able to teach him a little about the restoration and to send some missionaries out to him. It was fun. I think because I had a job where I talked to people over the phone I am more comfortable talking to random people than my companions so I ended up doing most of it, but it was still a great experience. It is interesting to be in a threesome because every time that we try to teach it ends up being me and Sister Kelley teaching. Sister West, bless her soul, is a wonderful and intelligent soul who freezes every time she has to talk.

I was sick with a cold at the end of last week, but I think I've recovered. Thankfully enough no one else in my district or zone got sick. It wasn't too bad either, I just couldn't concentrate or breath or talk or anything, but I learned a lot of Korean.

General Conference was amazing this weekend, I hope you thought so as well. It is different when you listen to it as a missionary (even though I don't have any real investigators).

In our Tuesday devotional we heard from Stephen Nadauld who talked a lot about "teaching by the way" which basically just means to talk to and teach all those you come in contact with. My challenge for you this week is to talk to everyone you see, those in the grocery store, those you don't usually sit next to in church, just everyone and get to know them sincerely.

I hope you are all well, I love you all,

Sister Rebecca O'Bryan

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

I'm a missionary now!

Hello family,

It's amazing how little time you have to do things here at the MTC. You get a lot accomplished (i.e. I have already learned to pray, bear testimony, read, and sing in Korean) but it seems that all those other things seem to dissipitate.

It is amazing being here at the MTC, I can feel the Lord's love more than I thought possible. The first day, in trepidation, I met my new companion and low and behold, there are actually two of them. There are currently 11 missionaries in the MTC who will be going to Korea and 5 of them came in at the same time that I did. This means that there is a threesome of elders and a threesome of sisters.

My companions are Sister West from Emmet Idaho and Sister Kelley from La Canada (which I'm told is near Los Angeles). They are both really neat people, Sister West studied Chinese for a year previously and so she picked up on the pronunciation and everything else really quick and is much like a tutor for Sister Kelley and I. It is nice to have three people trying to learn it because when you forget something then they can remind you.

I suppose they are cutting back on the missionaries that they send to Korea because my teachers talked about the fact that there were 70 missionaries who came in at the same time they did, but now there are only 6 of us. Something about a redistribution of missionaires churchwide. I'm not sure, but I'm glad I'm going to Korea.

On Sunday my branch president (who served with my mission President, President Perriton) told all the sisters all about Korea. For an hour he and his wife just talked about all the wonderful things about Korea. For example, since Koreans are smaller it may be difficult to find the right sized clothing, but you can pretty much find anything if you know the right place to look. Also, if you are smaller than you can find anything because Korea is the fashion mecca for all of Asia and so they have all sorts of great fashion.

Koreans are also some of the most friendly people in the world and some of the most honest as well. Branch President Carlson let us know that when he lived there with his two daughters he never once feared for their safety. Also, there are no guns in Korea and since I am a foreigner then they will show special respect towards me (it's just their culture).

Interesting tid bit that I learned from my branch president's wife: it is custom when you are in a public bathroom to knock on the stall to see if someone is inside. If there is someone inside, you knock back, otherwise they will attempt to come in. Yikes!

They also have really good shoe repair and dry cleaning (always a plus) which is really fast, honest, and reliable.

If any of you guys want really discounted scriptures inscribed with your name, send me some money and I'll buy you some because at the MTC bookstore missionaries get a pretty decent discount on everything. I'm not sure the exact price, but if you are interested, let me know.

I don't think I will be gaining the MTC pounds. My companions go to morning gym which is where the gym is open up for an extra half hour from 6-6:30 AM just for sisters and an instructor teaches things like step aerobics, yoga, toning/stretching, and other miscellaneous fun work outs. I also am on the 4th floor of the residence halls and the 5th floor of the class rooms. This means that my buns burn every day, every day. Especially if one of my companions forgets something and we have to make an extra journey.

I have four teachers, which I suppose is a little unusual, usually you just have two in the MTC, but I find that each knows a little bit more and so I get to learn a lot.

I love learning Korean because for one of the first times it requiresme to really try. It is not like in school where I can go home and study or like many topics in school where I just breezed by. I have a very limited amount of time and God expects me to use all of it and to do so effectively.

As I apply myself I experience real brain struggle (it's like my brain is burning). However, I also get to feel how magnificient it is when things finally "click" and I know it is God helping me. The gift of tongues is real, but like the gift of prayer or anything else God gives us-- it requires our effort. After ALL we can do (and He means it) then He will help us.

Challenge for the week:
Boyd K. Packer said:
"true doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior. The study of the doctrines of the gospel will improve behavior quicker than a study of behavior will improve behavior."

How have your gospel studies changed you lately? How do you see this change in your life? Respond (preferably through snail mail since my email time is extremely limited).

If someone gets this, please call mom and tell her to check her email, because I know she doesn't do that too frequently.

I love you all,

Sister Rebecca O'Bryan

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Farewell Dear Friends

I have been called to serve in Daejeon, South Korea and tomorrow at 1:15PM I report to the MTC in Provo, UT. If you would like to be able to write to me, feel free:

Sister Rebecca O'Bryan
Daejeon South Korea Mission
2005 North 900 East
Provo, UT 84604

in Korea

Sister Rebecca O'Bryan
Daejeon South Korea Mission
Daejeon Po Box 38
chungcheong-bukdo 300-600
South Korea