It seems absolutely crazy that I’ve already been here at the MTC for 2 weeks! One thing that missionaries say is that the days are long but the weeks are short and I am quickly beginning to see that this is the case. I’ve found that as time goes forward I am getting much more adjusted to my life here as a missionary. While at the beginning the schedule and practices were daunting, now they seem to just be part of what being a missionary is. Don’t get me wrong, things are still plenty challenging and I don’t particularly enjoy waking up at 630 in the morning but I think I am getting to the point where my body is used to it and I can appreciate the blessings it brings.
Much of this week is more of the same: attending classes, seeing devotionals, doing service, going to the temple, teaching lessons, learning Korean, etc.
With my Korean I go back and forth from remembering that I know absolutely nothing, to feeling like I am in a pretty good place. Everyday we continue our lessons on grammar, reading, and vocabulary and I feel like I am actually picking it up fairly well but I also see that it will be a long time before I can speak with confidence. One thing that I’ve really come to appreciate about Korean is that it is well thought out and very formulaic. Unlike English, Korean has clear grammar rules that are logical and easy to follow. However, the problem with this is that it is very backwards from English or Spanish or any of the other languages I have seen. Because of this, when you speak Korean you have to change the order of you words and how you think. I saw this clearly when we were learning how to teach about prayer. Take the sentence “When we pray we express our gratitude to God.” That seems like a fairly straightforward sentence right? Well in Korean how you would say it is more “When we pray we God to our gratitude express. The parts of the sentences switch order and you have to think of the object of the sentence before the verb. Overall I think that this will be a major challenge, but once we learn it, I think it will make everything earlier.
Another thing that I find fascinating is to learn about the Korean culture. We actually do not cover any of the culture in class but many of our branch leaders are returned mission presidents and We have come to hear a bunch of things from them. Some interesting things I have heard are: the names Kim, Lee, and Pok make up a huge part of all the last names, you should never point to soles of your feet or your palms at people because it is offensive, writing someone’s name in red ink is a sign of death because that is how it is written on death certificates, and the number 4 is often left out because it is unlucky (hospitals dont usually have a 4th floor). A lot of these things are small, and I am sure I will see how many of them I actually see, but I find it fascinating to learn all about Korea. I already know that Korea is an amazing place and feel a love and respect for their culture. I can see that Korean culture and language is very clean, well thought out, and respectful. One way Korean is often described is quiet dignity. I don’t know why but I feel like that is something that is very appealing to me and makes a lot of sense. I am excited to learn more about how the culture functions and see how I fit into all of it.
This week has been pretty special because it is when the new mission presidents arrive and are trained. Things have been pretty different as for a few days all the new mission presidents have been here at the MTC. My new mission president and his wife have been here and I have gottent he opportunity to meet with them. They are great people I can already tell. My mission president left his job as vice president and lead council for a company to come and serve in our mission. He served in Korea in the Seoul mission when he was 19 and lives in Houson Texas. It seems like he and his wife are much in the same boat as us with the language and adjustment but I can already see that they are great people and will be helpful and successful.
A cool thing about all the missionary presidents being here is that there has been a lot of visits from general authorities. At one time the mission presidents attended a sacrament meeting with the first presidency, quorum of the 12 apostles, and presidency of the 70. During our tuesday night devotional there were 6 apostles in attendence! Elder D. Todd Christofferson gave an address about missionary work and the worth of souls which was amazing. Seeing them here, hearing there message, and feeling the spirit they bring testify to me that this church and the work we are doing are true and important. I am grateful that we are blessed with the ability to receive modern day revelation and know these men are called of God.
Things are moving forward for me here at the MTC and everyday I can feel myself getting closer to being proficient and going out to serve in Busan Korea. I am looking forward to that day and am trying to prepare myself as best as I can. I love you all and am thankful for the your efforts to get me to this point today
Elder Nathan Lees