안녕하십니까! (typing that took far longer than I would care to admit…)
Everything is good here at the MTC and with every day that goes by I am another day closer to heading to 한국! I think we get our flight plans as soon as tomorrow or Saturday! It is definetly strange to think that in a few weeks I will be in a foreign country and a completely new environment. It is simultaneously extremely exciting and terrifying. I know for sure that it will be one of the hardest and greatest experiences of my life. Meanwhile, here at the MTC, we are moving along through our 7th week! Considering that most language learning other than Russian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and a few others are 6 week programs rather than 9, somehow we have become the experts of the MTC. Sometimes my companion and I will be chatting with other elders in sisters around the MTC and we ask how long we’ve been here. When they say they’ve been here 3 days and we say 7 weeks it is definetly a reminder of just how long it’s been. In many ways it feels like all I can remember is the MTC but in other ways, I feel like I just got here.
This week has been pretty standard, or rather has been much more of what we know. Our investigators continue to progress and we make progress in learning the language and how best to meet the needs of those around us. In many ways it is really comforting how many things we know, but also frightening how much more we still have to learn. My companion and I are getting to where we can teach lessons and answer questions fairly easily, and our reading and speaking speeds get better every day (probably still sound worse than Korean children though). It is comforting just how much we can do and although it would be rough, I really think I could make conversation with a Korean and give any of the Lessons from chapter 3 of Preach My Gospel decently (especially with the help of my trainer). Every year they improve the teaching practices at the MTC and my teachers all say that although they were at the MTC for 12 weeks, everyone is my class is lightyears ahead of where they were when we left to Korea. I am comforted that there have been countless missionaries who have done what I have already, and if they were able to do it, why not me? Despite this confidence there can still be times where I am reminded how much we still have to go. While I can talk about the law of chastity with an investigator, if they ask me if I like to play basketball, I probably will have no idea what theyre saying. Almost all of our learning is focused on teaching and the gospel, which is definetly the most important, but Ill have to learn how to hold a conversation once I get there. I think that my learning in Korea will only improve once I am in the country. I think that the real great part about the MTC is being able to learn how to learn in Korean. As I get more familiar with the writing, reading, and speaking, it gets easier to add in new vocabulary and grammar forms. Hopefully I can just use my MTC experience as a backbone and add more and more to it everyday.
This week for our weekly TRC teaching opportunity we had a new experience. Rather than the usual korean speaking volunteers who come to the MTC for TRC, my companion and I skyped with a Korean woman in Seoul! It was a super cool experience. As we were skyping in the evening, making it the Morning in Korea, our korean church member was definetly a little out of it but as we continued through the lessons things got better and better. We taught about prayer and how to recieve answers to your prayers. We asked her if she had any experiences she wanted to share, which she didnt, but as I shared an experience of my own she thought of one and shared it. Even if I dont fully understand what they say, I think that if we can prompt the members to think about our topic, read the scriptures we plan, and answer our questions we have a good lesson. When I shared a personal experience of my own (about praying about my mission call and receiving an answer) I really felt the spirit, even through the internet and across continents. It was definetly a confident boost to think that we actually did what we will be doing for 2 years and it went well! We do skype TRC again tomorrow so maybe I’ll have another story next week!
As much as that was a definite boost to our korean confidence, there are also lessons which dont go well or experiences that remind us how hard we still need to work. Things are holistically well, but sometimes when you cant answer an investigators question, or if you have an answer and you cant get it across it can be discouraging. Despite this, when we review their question later and plan it out, we have always been able to do what we can.
The other day, one of our teachers brother Jeon, who is from Korea, was teaching us and he said that his mom grew up in Busan. Having heard that there is a Busan accent we asked him to speak some for us which, in retrospect, was probably not the best idea. Even when he said some words and sentences we know really well, it sounded like a completely different language. I think that the Korean that we learn here at the MTC is very precise and proper and might actually be different than exactly what we’ll here. At least, as missionaries we will sound precise (or like americans). I’m sure I’ll be able to tell you all about this accent in a couple weeks, but that was definetly an eye opening experience haha.
This week we had a great devotional from John H. Groberg, an emeritus general authority and author of the book which the film The Other Side of Heaven was based off of. Even though I hardly remember watching the movie for Family Home Evening once as a child, his talk really made me think about the power of bearing testimony. He taught that we should view our missions as seeking opportunities to bear our testimonies and that we should work on strengthening and sharing our testimonies as much as possible. I think that at some level everyone has a testimony and that throughout our lives we need to work everyday at taking what we do know and using it to learn more about what we do not know. There is a quote from President Uchtdorf that says “Preach the Gospel at all times, and, if necessary, use words.” By living our testimonies as examples and sharing our testimonies in all the ways we can (words, actions, song, etc.) we will be strengthened and we will help others come unto Christ. I think that is perhaps the most important part of serving a mission in the first place.
Well everything is going well and I am trying to make the most out of all the time I have left at the MTC! Write me if you have any questions or if theres anything I can do!