I never know how to greet you; there are only so many ways to greet people and I'm starting to feel terribly repetitive at times! Anyways, in an attempt to remember some things that are different about Korea that I could share with you today, I kept a list throughout the week, but somehow that list did not make it here with me ... I will try to remember everything I can!
Perhaps one of the first things I noticed when I came to Korea (aside from the motorbikes that drive on the sidewalks) were the 할머니 gatherings. Elderly Korean women hang out all the time, like kids on play dates, and do things together; these activities range from dancing together in the park, to squatting on the side of the street yelling at each other and laughing so hard that the whole neighbourhood can hear them! It's very unique, and I suppose men do it as well, but they mostly just drink when they get together. They aren't as creative. ;)
Another interesting difference is that around this time of the year, there is a type of bug that comes out in Korea. I don't know what it is called and I have yet to see it, but it fills the streets with a deathly screaming sound every morning!! When I first heard it, I thought someone was cutting metal outside our apartment. I will try to get a video of it this week!
The last thing I will mention about the Korean culture is the school hours. I hate to be negative in any way, but this is perhaps my least favorite part of Korean culture. Students in Korea leave for school around the same time students in Canada do, yet on an average day, they do not come home until 10 or 11 o'clock at night. They do get a break on Saturdays since they get out of school at 5, but they still have to go to school on Saturdays. In many cases, they end up working til 10 or so on Saturdays as well, as many people work very late in the evening. It makes for such a long day for students and families, and makes it a little difficult to meet with members. I feel terrible for the Korean people and have had several lengthly disscussions with students from our ward about the stress and toll their schedules take. However, the contrast with the living conditions in North Korea, just over the border, is still quite remarkable.
We did manage to visit some members this week, however, and we received three member referrals! These are the first I have received on my mission, so to get three in one week was almost overwhelming! We were so excited. The first we received from a fairly recent convert (her and her daughter converted to the church two years ago and come regularly). She wants us to visit her son and get acquainted with him. We went over to their house yesterday to meet him and bring them brownies, it went well!
The second we received from a member who has a friend that was interested in our English message that we send out every morning. We have not yet called him, but have started to send him the English message, and have communicated a little bit through text.
The last was a 20 year old kid, who was brought to our English class by another one of our ward members. We got to meet him and will likely start our English 30/30 program (30 mins English, 30 mins Gospel) this week.
President Morrise, in an attempt to increase our teaching proficiency in Korean and to give us a chance to interact more with our members, introduced a new initiative, in which missionaries meet with members for 20 mins to practice teaching lessons with them. We have started to do try do these this week, first with our bishop. He was a little hesitant to let us teach him the lessons, as he seemed to feel that he didn't need them. It was a little bit of an awkward situation, as he directed any questions we asked to his daughter, who pretended not to understand anything we said... Nevertheless, Elder DeMille did an excellent job at staying focused and teaching the principles in the lesson (Elder DeMille lead out the lesson, to give him an opportunity to practise).
On the way home, had another interesting experience: this lady followed us the majority of the way home yelling at the top of her lungs, telling us we were from the devil and commanding us to 'Go back to America!!' I am used to having people look at us on the street, as we are foreign and always in shirts and ties, but I don't think I have ever had so many people stare at me in my life!
The rest of our practise lessons went very well. We were able to get closer with some of our members and together feel of the spirit as we re-learned basic doctrine. Also, I was asked to give a talk this past Sin church, so, among other things, I formally introduced this new initiative during my talk. I will send you a copy of the talk (I will send an English copy too, don't worry!).
I'm sorry to say, I didn't study PMG a lot this week, as I was preparing for my talk and just finished another topic Book of Mormon study, this time with Faith as a focus, so I spent most of my personal study reviewing what I had written and compiling my learning into several categories.
I love you all so much! Transfer calls are, so I will let you know what happens next week! Have a great week!!