Anyeong ha shim ni ga Euro Boon!
Another week has come and gone here at the Missionary Training center! Things are good here in Provo. There is lots to do and I keep myself very busy but the weeks are all starting to blur together. I heard someone saying that a mission feels like a 2 year long day with a bunch of naps and that is starting to ring more true every day. By now, much of what we do here has become instinctual, at least as far as the routine goes. We wake up at 630, have our gym time, do our service, eat our meals, read our scriptures, go to our classes, teach our lessons, and do it all over again. I can really see that it is an amazing system and I am learning and growing at a faster and faster rate every day.
Even though I am surely grateful that the MTC is becoming more habitual, the easier things get, the more I simply want to leave! Whereas for the first few weeks the hangumar (Korean) was completely overwhelming (and for the most part it still is) it is becoming more and more manageable as I move forward. As we master more basics of grammar and vocabulary more of our learning is in our own hands. We have to make goals and be very diligent everyday to improve our language learning. As much as I am trying to get as much out of this time as I can a large part of me cannot wait to just go to hang-guk (Korea) and be forced to learn it there. I know it will be intense and scary, but there’s nothing quite like the process of “learn to speak of die” to motivate you to learn your language.
Things with the language have really been improving. I find that I am good at learning many of the Korean grammar forms and using them, but have to work really hard to retain all the vocabulary. I’d probably say the same thing about learning English, but so many of the words are so similar! Just by changing one small sound or adding one line to a character can completely alter what you are trying to say. It is especially difficult when you have to tell the difference in sounds such as the difference between an O and an EO in a word. Korean is a very efficient language and the words are short and in some ways they just blur together. For example the word for scriptures in gyeong jeon while the word for bible is seong gyeong and the word for testimony is ga jeong (something like that, i just guess at the romanization). With experience I’ll probably be able to pick out the sounds and words a lot better.
One thing that leads to funny mistakes is if you switch the order of the syllables in a Korean word. Some of the other elders and I, lovingly of course, have taken to referring as to the incoming missionaries as fresh fish (partially in ode to the Shawshank Redemption). We looked up how to say this and found it is seng song, but confusingly, the word for teacher is song seng. This subtle difference made our teacher laugh when during one of our prayers we accidently said “dear heavenly father, we thank thee for our fresh fish, Brother Gunnell.” We should probably take that experience as a sign that we shouldnt refer to the new missionaries as fresh fish… Similarly the word seong do, meaning saints, when reversed, do seong, means homosexuals. So if you’re not careful you can end up saying, hello, we are missionaries for the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Homosexuals. Just the joys of Korean right there.
Elder Kunde and I had another funny Korean mistake this last week when we were teaching TRC. TRC (teaching resource center) is an activity where Korean speakers from the community (often returned missionaries) visit the MTC and we teach them short lessons and help them with their day to day problems in Korean. It is an amazing spiritual experience and one of my favorite times of the week. When Elder Kunde and I were teaching James, a returned seon gyo sa from Seoul, we decided to teach about faith. The lesson was great but as I tried to say we would like to share a verse about faith with you I somehow accidently asked James if he had faith in Buddhist temples. Apparently the word for verse I had learned was only a marker of verse used with numbers and when on its own, meant buddhist temples. Luckily he knew what we were talking about and only laughed for a little while. The rest of the lesson was great and afterwards he told our teacher that he felt the spirit during our lesson. So at least its comforting to know that when I make mistakes, which I will, the spirit can still teach the real truth.
This week I was also able to do more new missionary hosting. It is crazy to see them saying goodbye to their families and being so overwhelmed and to think that just a few weeks ago that was me. In many ways I feel so far from that moment but in others ways I know exactly how they feel. I hosted some missionaries from Wyoming, St. George, Centervill, Provo, and Mesa. It is nice to show them around and hopefully give them some advice and comfort as well.
The past week or so they have been resurfacing the gym here at the MTC and we have consequently moved all of our devotionals to the Marriott Center at BYU. It is so weird to walk over to where I lived a year before and sit and watch devotionals in the same place I have so many times before. I can even see BYU from my classroom window. It leads to some nostalgia for sure. We heard devotionals this week from form members of the seventy, brother Heaton who spoke on charity and brother Brown who spoke on taking upon us the name of Christ. The messages we hear at the MTC are so uplifting and powerful and really help me to get through it all.
This week we received our Korean Nametags! You will have to see the attached picture but I guess that just shows that things are getting more and more legit! I cannot wait to go to Korea and am trying to get ready for that moment to the best of my ability! Pray for me to be able to learn and grow in every way I possibly can. I am so grateful for all those who love and care for me.
Chon nar dae sae oh! (the romanization on that is probaly incomprehensible, but have a good day!)
Lees Jang no