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