Sunday, January 31, 2010

How to ride a bus:

-Make sure that you buy a bus card before hand. It is not necessarily cheaper, it still costs $1 per ride, however, it allows you to make transfers for free if they are within an hour of the initial tap-on. There are all sorts of fun bus cards you can buy and usually you attach them to your wallet, cell phone, coin purse, or they can just be like a credit card so you can slide them into your wallet. (see picture)
-Before you get on the bus it is a good idea to know where you are going, the "bus maps" don't have a picture of the city, it is just one line with all the names of the bus stops on that particular line, so if you don't know where you are going exactly, you're pretty much out of luck
-Once you've found which buses will take you to your destination then you look at the electronic board with all the buses and how far away they are. This is really cool and probably my favorite part of the bus system, it automatically updates due to some supernatural forces and while standing at the bus stop you can usually do a lot of proselyting
-Once your bus arrives you have to run to make sure to get to the doors before the bus driver departs
-Scan your bus card
-Find a seat, if you can, or just stand. Usually during the day the bus isn't too busy, but if you get on at just the right time you may feel like a sardine with the large amount of people that are squished next to
-Hold on! The bus drivers are on a time schedule and it doesn't matter who has to get on or off, they have to be at the right stop at the right time. In fact, the way they navigate their bus it would seem like you are more on a motorcycle than a huge bus with 50 other people. They have made turns and passed cars that I would never be brave enough to do if I were driving. Sometimes we even run red lights, but that's not that unusual here
-Once you have reached your destination you can get off, hopefully, and thank your lucky stars your are still alive

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Week...8? in Gwangju

Dear family,

I was reading in 2 Nephi this morning and I was reminded about the purprose of life and all the important things. It was really great because in this chapter Lehi is dieing and he gives one of his last speeches to his son, so in other words these are the words of a man on his death bed to the most beloved people in his life and have a lot of meaning for us as well. He talks about how there must be an opposition in all things. Boy have I seen that, this week I have seen a lot of miracles, but I have also felt a lot of opposition, not huge things like breaking my leg or going into doubts of depression, but things that are small and nag on my brain, miscommunications, frustrations, things that seem big at the time, but I am always able to get through them. For as Lehi reminds us "because of Christ we have become free forever". What freedom is it that Christ offers us, freedom to choose between liberty and eternal life or captivity and death.

In this chapter Lehi bears his testimony "there is a God, and he hath created all things, both the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are." I love this happy statement and would love to add my own that I know that God lives, I know that he is ever aware of us, in our trials and in our happiness. He wants always to offer us freedom of liberty and eternal life. We can be happy, we can have freedom and happiness and that is one of the best messages that we can offer to the world.

We have seen a lot of miracles lately, small and great. To name a few:
*On Sunday we usually have to choose a ward to go to since we cover two. This Sunday we went to our 농성 ward as we thought we would have one of our investigators coming, but she was a no show. Instead of staying for all the meetings, Sister 정 felt like we should go to the other ward so we found a ride and went over. When we arrived we talked to some members and found out that one of them had brought her neice with her to church. Her neice is 15 and after going to Young Womens and making a friend there and feeling the spirit she met with us and one of the first things she said was that she wanted to get baptized! So we have been meeting with her and in a few weeks she will be baptized.
*Every day I am able to feel the spirit testify the truth of the message that we share with everyone. I love teaching, especially with Sister 정 and Sister 조 who is one of the senior missionaries. They are really amazing teachers and have such great teaching skills and such love for the people that we teach.

I hope this email finds you all well. Also, about the package, really thank you for your thoughts, I realized that it's really expensive and so don't feel any pressure to send a package, but I do LOVE paper letters. There is nothing like the feeling you get when you have a paper letter waiting you in the PO box, especially when it is from family and has pictures.

I love you all,

Sister Rebecca O'Bryan

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Second transfer in Gwangju

Dear family,

Thank you so much for all of your emails. I didn't mean to guilt you into writting me and I really do appreciate all that you have done in remembering me so far.

This week was transfers, or for me, not transfers. I love the wards I am in and we have a baptismal date for a few weeks so I am really glad that I am able to stay here for a little longer. For my companion this will be here 7th transfer here with only 2 left after this one. Maybe she will set a record and be in this area for over a year. I suppose we will see.

Did I mention that we have a baptismal date for February? It's basically the most exciting thing so far. The girl,Sister 임선진 is 30 and originally starting meeting with us because she has a friend who is a member and told her about our English/gospel program. We usually talk about whatever she wants to for 30 minutes in English and then teach her about the gospel in Korean. I feel so much love for her and although she is 30 she doesn't seem like it. Last Saturday she set a baptismal date for February and then on Sunday when she came to church it was like magic. I probably seem like a bad missionary since this is the first time that I was actually able to get an investigator to church (it's like pulling teeth, they'll read, pray, keep the word of wisdom, but getting them to wake up to come to church at 9am is so hard). However, when she came it was really amazing. I was a little worried because a lot of times people at church refer to all sorts of things which an investigator would have no idea about, however, she ate everything up and was smiling the entire time, saying that she really just felt a good warm feeling. I love being a missionary because I get to have experiences like that where I can really see the spirit working in people's hearts and it becomes so tangible.

Other things I love about Korea:
Ice cream, they are so creative. My favorite ones I have decided are the ones shaped like fish filled with bean paste and vanilla ice cream and the ones shaped like corn with real corn and chocolate and vanilla ice cream on the inside. Really, where do they come up with these things?

This week's challenge, bring a friend to church. Think about someone you know, pray about them, and invite them to church. It may not be that easy, but if you can get them to come, I promise it will be all that you ever imagined and more.

I love you all, have a great week.

Sister O'Bryan

Monday, January 18, 2010

How to Shower in Korea

*After you've recovered from the shock of the lack of shower space-- you enter the bathroom making sure to shield your feet from the somewhat moldy floor with the sandals that are a permanet accessory. Actually any time you enter the bathroom you have to make sure to wear these, even when you are visiting a friends house
*turn on the faucet for your shower, it is best to let it warm up and then you can change it so it doesn't scald your flesh
*make sure the drain, located under the sink, is clear otherwise you will flood your bathroom
*hang up your towel on the convenient nail sticking out of the wall
*Rejoice in making it through another day

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Week 6 in Gwangju

Dear Family,

Things are going great, but time it seems is increasingly limited. There are so many things to do, especially on P-day. Today we have a district activity since it the last P-day for one of our elders and we will be going to Outback Steakhouse (yes they have those in Korea, although how similar to American ones I have yet to be able to attest) and then going to a museum. Then we are teaching Korean to our of recent converts and that basically takes up the entire day.

Side note: February 9th we are having a mission tour here one of the 70 will come and see the Daejeon Mission and we will get together as a mission and be spiritually enriched and what not. It should be great.

I was reading through an old Ensign (August 2007) the other day and came across an article entitled "It started with a pamphlet" which is about the people in the wards that I am in! I know all of them and they are so amazing, so it was really random that I found the article. If I could put in links I would put in a link to the article online, however, since I can only do email, that is not feasible.

This week was great and I thought a lot about Moroni 8:16 which says "perfect love casteth out all fear." A lot of times I feel fear, not big fears like for my life, but small things like-- "should I really talk to that person at this bus stop? They look so busy and maybe they will start talking and I wont be able to understand them." I think sometimes we all have those small fears, but as our love for others increases through learning more about the gospel and what God expects and hopes for us, then I think those small fears and the large ones will begin to dissappear. Challenge of the week: overcome your fears of sharing the gospel and tell me about it.

We found a family to teach, but they are only on the first lesson, so I am still praying a lot that they will continue to accept our message and to progress. Keep praying!

I love you all,

Sister Rebecca O'Bryan

p.s. the pictures are what our typical lunch is like when we eat at home. It's kimchi fried with rice and tuna and wrapped in seaweed with some other side dishes. Mmmm...

Monday, January 11, 2010

How to teach English Class

*Make sure to distribute plenty of flyers with your name, number, and direction to the class. Plenty = 140 or more/week
*The night of get there a little early to set up (set up= pull out chairs... stand next to the door)
*Welcome everyone once they get there. Ages and English ability may vary greatly, but they are there to learn and to build jeong, so speak plenty of English
*Sing something in English, the funnest songs are ones with lots of weird long words, like the star-spangled banner
*Once everyone has completely given up on the song, open with a prayer
*Ask a "question of the day" something thought provoking, like "what is your favorite sport to play?" or "what is your favorite family tradition?"
*Take a short culture break and explain something unique to the U.S.-- last week I talked about the KKK
*Game Time! Koreans are fiercely competetive so antyhing that involves scoring works great. Usually we play jeopardy, pictionary, or hangman
*At any point feel fre to throw in random English words- i.e. coniferous, decidious, preternatural
*Make sure beforehand to look up idioms in your translator and share them- i.e. break a leg, story of my life
*End with a prayer and wish everyone a great night

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Week 5 in Gwangju

Dear family,

Thank you for your prayers. Although we haven't found a family yet, there were two families at our English class last week that were brought by a member so we are hoping to make them our investigators very soon.

I was thinking that since my blog isn't very frequented and since these letters are supposed to be mainly spiritual, I would send my cultural tid bits to Anna to post on a RaNdOm day during the week. That way you can look forward to something in the week. Also, I thought a fun "how to" format would be most enticing and helpful. That way when you actually visit Korea you'll have all sorts of useful advice and by the end of my mission you will all be able to be a missionary in Korea.

This week was exciting though because I got to go on a split with my MTC companion. Yes, that means that there were two missionaries who barely speak Korean wondering around Gwangju trying to find out where they were goin. However, God is a god of miracles and we not only survived but spent 8 hours outside proselyting and contacted 117 people. Yes I was half frozen, couldn't move my fingers, and my smile was literally frozen to my face, however, on the inside I was toasty and warm with the spirit.

Another miracle that happened this week, just a small miracle, but one that I was thankful for. We went to visit a lady and her daughter in our ward. The daughter is leaving to Utah for school in a few days so we made a note for her and some brownies. We went to go deliver it, but they weren't home and since they are insanely rich they live in an apartment complex where you can't even get in unless you have a secret code/someone lets you in. This means we couldn't even leave the note on the door or anything. We were trying to decide if we should wait creepily outside for someone to come along or if our time would be better spent going to our next appointment. I said a silent prayer that we would know what to do and at the very moment some small children came running up, opened the door to go inside and we were able to leave the note and the brownies. I know it doesn't seem big, but even the small things count.

While reading in 4 Nephi this week I thought a lot about peace. I think that it's great that after Christ appears to the Nephites that all the people of the land, Nephites and Lamanites alike, become a peaceful people. It mentions in 4 Ne 1:15-16:

"And it came to pass that there was no contention in the land because of the love of God which did dwell in the hearts of the people... and surely there could not be a happier people among all the people who had been created by the hand of God."

So what does it take to have world peace? It takes a change of heart, it takes the love of God dwelling in the hearts of the people. Although that's a lot of my purpose as a missionary, that doesn't mean I am the only one who can have the fun of sharing the gospel. This weeks challenge is for all of you to think of one way that you can have "the love of God dwlling in your heart". It could be something like writting down a scripture and putting it on your mirror, finding an act of service for your neighbor, whatever you what really. Then drop me a sentence, maybe two, and let me know.

Also, for those of you who are wondering what Rebecca's dream package would consist of, I have made a list.

Rebecca's dream package (which is shipped in a convenient flat rate box which I have been told doesn't ship based on weight):
*peanut butter
*pictures of family
*fine tipped sharpies
*thin black gloves that are't bulky but still somehow make my hands really warm
*chocolate chips

I hope that you are all doing well. I love you and I appreciate your emails and prayers.


Sister Rebecca O'Bryan