Sunday, December 29, 2013

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 가족!

I cannot believe that Christmas has come and gone, but it definitely was very memorable. This past Tuesday (Christmas Eve), there was a mission conference. We learned more about what it meant to be an effective missionary, but also remembered to be us. Also, we got to see pictures of our families. I must say that I love the picture you sent because Tiffany was 12 and tiny. Haha. When the picture was on the screen Sis. Saunders yelled "Who is that Filipino family?!" I laughed because everyone thinks I am from the Philippines...that or some type of Asian mix. The best compliment is when they think I am Korean, but that only happens because the said person was completely drunk. Another highlight of Christmas Eve conference is that I got to spend it with family aka. Sis. Blickenstaff. Sadly, I forgot to take a picture of us together but know that we were actually together.

So, Sis. Saunders and Sis. Carter made it a point to celebrate Christmas the real way. They bought a ton of presents for me and Sis. Kim, wrapped them, addressed them from Santa, and then placed them under our tinsel tree. Well, Sis. Kim and I have absolutely no self-control or impulse control. Anytime there was an opportunity to shake or touch the presents, we would. Well, on the night before Christmas eve, I thought it would be a good idea to sneak out of bed and steal some presents. I would have gotten away with it, but I decided to laugh. Immediately, Sis. Saunders and Carter jump out of bed and yell "YA!" I throw the presents at Sis. Kim and she hid them underneath her blanket. Well, Sis. Saunders and Sis. Carter found the presents and then proceeded to spank us with those very presents. Yes, Sis. Kim and I are four years old. 

Christmas was amazing! We opened presents and was able to spend our Christmas morning with the Billings. They are from Utah, but will be in Korea for 3 years because Bro. Billings is in the military. We made ginger bread temples, ate a really good breakfast, played Phase 10, and opened presents. After breakfast, Sis. Kim and I returned home and celebrated with 수지 자매님 . We gave away a lot of our candy that we received, helped people, and caroled on streets. We also visited some of the members in the Miguem area. Sis. Kim and I bought 남경연 자매님 a nice, but inexpensive sweater. She absolutely loved it and was so grateful for it. Although being away from family and friends during the holidays is hard, this Christmas has definitely been one of my favorites. 

This past Saturday, Sis. Kim and I went to 광주 (GwangJoo) which is about 50-60 minutes away from our house. We met with 2 sweet sisters who were interested in learning English, but also a little more about the gospel. We were only planning to be there for 1 hour, but they had prepared all of this dumpling meat and batter. So we spent a few hours chatting about religion and making dumplings. It was a great way to break the ice and now both of the sisters want to have us over to learn more about our church. It was amazing!

It snows quite a bit here in Seoul, but it doesn't ever stick. The snowflakes are humongous though. They are literally the size of my eyeball...I am so glad my eyes are small. If not, I would be blinded every time it snows. It is super cold, but I have a coat and I think I am buying another one this Thursday after the temple. Yay! Don't worry, I will buy boots and such on Thursday too. We are planning on going to 강남 (Gangnam), which is known for super cheap, quality clothes. ^^

Also, Sis. Kim is probably one of the most hilarious people I know. I would like to share some gems of hers with you.

After realizing she has gained some weight (20 lbs) - "Sis. Chao, I sacrificed my face for Jesus."

"If I stay in this squatting pose, all of the weight will just flush out of my bottom."

She literally cannot bake because she is super Asian and doesn't measure anything. It is awesome because it reminds me of home a lot. MOM! 

Well, have a wonderful new year and I will talk to you in January! I cannot believe how fast time is flying! Also, do not worry about sending me presents...Korea has pretty much everything I need.


차오 자매

Monday, December 23, 2013

Hello and Merry Christmas!

메리 그리스마스!!

Merry Christmas from Sister Chao & Sister Kim
So, my mission president is incredibly kind and said that we could still email even though P-day is on Wednesday. Things have been incredibly busy here in 분당, but it has been a wonderful experience. The most important thing that happened this past week is that Sis. Kim can walk!! She got her casts taken off last Wednesday and she is being such a trooper. Occasionally she has pain when she walks, but for the most part she is back to normal. So you know what that means? Pedal to the metal. Is that right? Apparently I have been using phrases all wrong. 

This past Saturday, the ward had a huge Christmas party. We started helping the Relief Society prepare food at 11:00 am and were not finished until about 5 pm that evening. The food was absolutely delicious! They had tortilla Korean sandwiches, egg rolls, meat, oranges, mash potatoes, and pretty much any food that is delicious. After dinner, there was a talent show. Sis. Kim, I, and the Elders performed a skit. I did not understand a whole lot of it, but the skit was funny and people enjoyed it. Another highlight of the evening is that several of our investigators and less-active members came to the party! It was a wonderful way to start the Christmas weekend.

As for our investigators, I am learning a lot about patience. 구동레 (Kudongrey) 자매님 is having a hard time leaving her church because she does not want to offend anyone. Although she knows the church is true, it will take her some time to come to church. I have loved getting to know her and cannot wait to see her progress. We picked up 2 new investigators this past week. One of our investigators is interested in meeting with the missionaries because her daughter recently converted in Hawaii. She says that she is not super interested in converting, but wants to know more about the gospel her daughter loves. So, we are excited because it gives me and Sis. Kim an opportunity to practice teaching lessons. Our other investigator contacted us because she wants to learn English and more about our gospel. She has a Christian background, but a lot of her beliefs are say the least. 

Another noteworthy thing that happened this past week is that I finished the Book of Mormon. I was planning to finish reading it on Christmas, but I couldn't help myself. I had to finish it again. I cannot believe it took me so long to realize what a gift it is! I have learned so much about Christ and myself from reading it. I am actually quite excited to read it again. I am continually learning things and I plan on picking a certain topic when I read it again. I am thinking of doing Characteristics of Christ. It should be good!

Also, thank you for all the gifts that you have been sending! Sis. Carter and Sis. Saunders have made this Christmas incredibly special. They heard that Sis. Kim and I have had iffy Christmas experiences. So, they took everything that was sent to us and wrapped them. Apparently we are not allowed to open presents until Christmas. Another noteworthy even that happened is that Sis. Kim and I received a huge tin from Bro. Cheong. When we opened it, we thought it was a giant Chocolate we decided to hide it from Sis. Saunders and Sis. Carter. Later that evening, we told them that we had a giant surprise for them. We brought out the tin and yelled "It's a giant chocolate muffin!" Unfortunately, what no one told me is that fruit cake looks awfully like a giant chocolate muffin!
Giant chocolate muffin or Fruit Cake?
Oh yes, so it turns out that I will be allowed to Skype on Christmas Day in Korea. Is that something we want to do?

I love you all and cannot wait to see or hear your beautiful voices! Merry Christmas!

-Sis Chao!

Also, whoever said it does not snow in Korea...lied! Haha The snowflakes are huge and literally take out my eyeballs.

Let it snow!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Is that Mr. Michelin Man...No, that is just Sis. Chao

Hello Family!

I am sorry it took me so long to reply. I have been with my companion all day and it is really hard to find a computer that is wheelchair accessible and not in a sketchy area. So, I am currently using a member's computer to write to you. Do you know how we are working out the Christmas day  phone call? I really want to be able to talk to you all at once because I am only allotted 45 minutes. Oh wow, that totally sounded like a prison statement...but do not worry, a mission is much better than a prison believe me.

Things in 분당 are amazing! This past week, we have seen many miracles.
First things first, who said it didn't snow very often in Korea? It has been snowing a lot here and it has been an adventure trying to get around with Sis. Kim and her wheelchair. Pushing Sis. Kim around is a challenge in itself, but when you add snow and ice...things get really slippery. I am actually quite surprise that Sis. Kim and I haven't died yet. There was one time where I was trying to push Sis. Kim up this steep bridge and I literally was parallel to the ground, but that wheelchair would not move!!! I have been missing the gym lately, but I guess I am getting a workout anyways.

Right now, I am really excited for the progression of 구덩례 (Kudongney), She is the mother of one of the ward members. Before she really was not too excited about us visiting her, but over time we have built our relationship and she is so much fun to be around. Before this past week, she would refuse to pray. She would give us excuses that she was not good enough or did not think she could pray well. Well, this past week we asked her to pray and wait for an answer. When she asked what she could pray about, we told her she should pray to know what day she should receive the ordinance of baptism. Well, this cute little grandmother prayed and literally sat in silence for 10 minutes. Every so often, she would look up and make eye contact with me and then quickly shut her eyes. After 10 minutes, she finally decided on a date...JAN 19! I am so excited for her and she is super excited as well. We are hoping that she keeps her commitments, but for now I think a date is notable enough.

In regards to my email title, it is not related to the size of the coat...just me. I do not know what is happening, but the food here is making me explode. I think it is because the members do not realize how much they feed missionaries. It is really sweet that they took all this time to make me food. Unfortunately I am a human being, the food is going somewhere and it is going straight to my arms and stomach. Seriously, I need to do a serious "Madonna Arm" workout or you won't be able to recognize me if we ever Skype. Haha :) My weight gain could also be due to the candy that I have been eating non-stop since receiving the package. If that is the case, then I welcome the extra pound. Do not worry, I am sharing and going to start taking portion control and morning exercise seriously starting today. :)

Other than that, I am loving my time here in Korea. I am not being transferred to another area, but get to stay in this area for another 6 weeks! Huzzah! I am sorry that my emails seem to get progressively shorter, but not a whole lot is happening right now outside of the usual. I could write more about the miracles I have seen. :)

I love you! I cannot wait to talk to you all next week!

-Sis. Chao

P.S. So there will be no email next week cause P-day is Christmas day and I get to call home!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Christmas month

가족 친국 안녕하세요!

Temple Trip with Sister Morrise
I cannot believe that Christmas is only a short time away! It seems like Thanksgiving was just a few days ago. Time here in Korea is going by so quickly, but also very slowly. This week has been pretty eventful. First off, Sis. Kim did not take her casts off this past week. The doctor who oversees our mission says that she is being over treated, but the doctors here in Korea say that she needs the cast. So for now, I am Sis. Kim's personal wheelchair pusher. It really isn't that bad and I am getting a nice work out. The hardest part about pushing her around are the hills. Seriously, I didn't realize what a blessing flat sidewalks are. The members have really stepped up to the plate and have been helping me and Sis Kim fulfill our missionary duties.

Things with Blaire have taken a turn for the worse. We had to drop her as our investigator the other day because she did not show up to her appointment and changed her phone number. It definitely was hard writing in her record, but I know that everything happens for a reason. I just pray that we planted a big enough seed that she will want to learn more in the future. Whether that is 2 weeks from now or 20 years later. Wendy is slowly progressing, but she is definitely struggling with the idea of there being a God. I definitely see that she has a desire to know, but she is also incredibly skeptical...which I do not blame her. I don't know if I would be really accepting of the concept of God had I not grown up in a household that did. 

남경연 자매님
Oh, there have been so many miracles this past week! I cannot forget to talk about those. First off, 민다빈 자매님 (Mindabin) is our 11 year old less active member that we visit every week. Whenever we visit with her, we try and invite her to church. She is always really defensive and avoids the question. Eventually, she just changes the subject. Well, this past week when we were playing Jenga, I invited her to come to church with me. I told her that it would make me so happy if we went to church together. After a few minutes of thinking, Mindabin 자매님 said that she would come! I could not believe my ears! So, next Sunday she will be coming to church with the sister missionaries and hopefully a member! Another miracle that has happened this week is that 남경연 자매님 was finally confirmed as member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. She was so happy and felt the spirit so strongly that she started to cry. She even yelled "I am a true Christian!" in church. It was hilarious because it scared a few people. Seriously, I love this sister!

In regards to Christmas and contact...there are rumors of Skype but I don't really think that will happen. The Mission President does not want us asking members to use computers. So, I may just end up calling. The days that I can call are either Christmas eve or Christmas day. I don't really know the time zone difference, but I will call whenever I need to!

Thank you for all of the packages and cards! It really brightens my day when I receive letters from family and friends! Oh yes, do you want me to send you Christmas presents from Korea? I am more than happy to, but I need to know that I can send them out today. Ha. The life of a many things to do, so little time.

I love you!

Sis Chao

our bathroom
Our lovely apartment