Things at the MTC are going well! In many ways it is crazy to think that I’ve only been here for three weeks, but at the same time it seems like just yesterday that I walked in here for my first day! I couldn’t believe when people told me that time goes by quickly in the MTC, but it really does. Maybe the next time I say that it will be 2 years from now!
This week has been another great week. I really feel like the more time i spend here the more i learn and the quicker that happens. When I first arrived I felt like I was just crawling along but every time I learn a new grammar or doctrinal concept the next one seems to come faster an faster. Especially with the language, as I master the basics of certain tenses and vocab it only gets easier to apply what I learned to the next.
With han gu mar (Korean) everyday I feel like I am getting closer to speaking and thinking in the language. At the MTC they teach a practice called SYL which stands for Speak Your Language. This teaches that in every opportunity you should speak as much Korean as possible. Not that I’m very good at it but my companion and I are getting to the point where we speak Kongelish pretty well. We say sentences like Jeu neun “tired” im ne da. I tired am. It is far from a complex sentence, or isnt really completely Korean, but getting down the Subject Object Verb format is really helpful.
Some things that we have been learning recently is the past tense and how to use numbers. I think I’ve said this before but the language is really logical and formulaic and once you learn one conjugation it is easy to learn the ending to another and apply it in the same way. Learning the past tense has been really helpful for teaching about the restoration. Using simple sentences my companion and I can actually tell the Joseph Smtih story pretty clearly and succinctly. Sentences like, Joseph Smith read the bible, Joseph Smith prayed about churches, Joseph saw God and Jesus Christ, Joseph Smith restored Christ’s church, Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon, etc. It is hard sometimes because I cant be as eloquent as I like but I can at least get the point across and then pray that the spirit will take it from there.
Learning numbers has also been interesting. In Hanguk (Korea) they use both Chinese and Korean numbers so we have to learn both. Things like pages and chapters and hymns use chinese numbers whereas hours and people use the Korean numbers. I am at a point where I can slowly say what page a hymn or scripture is on but talking about my family can be difficult. If i want to say that I have two older scriptures I have to say I + subject marker + boys older sister (that specific) + secondary subject marker + 2 + people marker + have. Jeu + neun + na nu + ga + du + meong + et sum ni da. It is just so backwards to think about but like i say, it is clear once you put yourself in the mindset.
Elder Kunde have really been able to apply a lot of what we learn to the lessons we teach to our progressing investigators Kim hyeong je nim (brother Kim) and Hwang hyeong je nim (Brother Hwang). We teach about a lesson a day all in Korean and I can really see both the lessons and our investigators improving. As opposed to when we first started, we are trying to form more of our own sentences rather than planning them out or reading them from our materials. Even if they are more like a few words and some miming than a sentence, I really feel like we can teach more powerfully with eye contact and thinking for ourselves. By now we can make pretty good sentences. One of my favorites is: through Jesus Christ’s atonement, we can live with God again. yesu curisudo sok gwe tong e, uri neun han a nim gwa dashe sar su et sum ni da.
With our lessons it is also really comforting when we are able to answer the questions that our investigators have. Sometimes they ask us questions that are not only hard to answer and understand in Korean, but are hard in english as well. The other day we were teaching Kim hyeong je nim about the gospel of Jesus Christ. We started by teaching about sin and saying that although we all commit sin, through faith in Jesus Christ’s atonement, repentance, and baptism, we can be forgiven of those sins and have them washed away. As we were teaching Kim hyeong je nim asked how do we know if we commit sin. We taught that sin is disobedience to God and comes from breaking the commandments, but that didnt seem to make much sense. Through miming and looking up some words we taught that when we sin we feel guilt and sorrow and that after we repent we can feel happy. I dont know if it was the perfect answer but it is truly inspiring when we can think on the spot and come up with answers on our own.
On Sunday I had another experience along these same lines that really strengthend me. Our branch is actually the biggest at the MTC and there are lots of Korean missionaries here. Along with us learning Korean, there are also some native Koreans that come for a shorter amount of time. On Sundays, we are all instructed to write a 5 minute talk and then the call on someone out of the audience to share. Luckily Ive never been called on, but those talks are really powerful. On Sunday, one of the Native Koreans was called on and instead of speaking in Korean, she was asked to speak in English. Her talk was about the Holy Ghost and although it was incredibly simple, I felt the spirit really strongly. It was a major confidence boost to me in that even if the message you hear is simple, the spirit will testify to you of truth. I hope that my simple korean testimony that the atonement is necessary, god loves us, and the church is true can have that same power. The language of the spirit really is more important than the language of Korean.
I really feel the spirit so strongly here at the MTC and as a missionary and it is something that I try to incorporate into every lesson and experience I have. Although I know that my Korean will improve and I can get closer to my communication abilities in english, I really see that how someone feels when you are talking is more important than what they hear. You cannot teach someone about the church through logic or words, they have to pray and seek the spirit to gain a witness of it for themselves.
One last thing you might find interesting is that we have gotten our Korean names that will be on our name tags in Korea. Mine is Resu/Lesu jang no. Elder Lees. The korean R (called a leel) is kindof half way between an R and an L. Because of this I have lovingly been deemed Elder Lisa by my district, so for the next 2 years that will be me.
Things are moving forward here and I am counting down the days to Korea. I love you all and appreciate any prayers and all the support that I can get
Resu Jang no