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