Monday, October 6, 2014

Burnt Taste Buds

October 6, 2014

Dear Family,

I like my companion a lot; he is really funny and helps me a lot with Korean, so that is really nice. He likes basketball. I'm not sure what else you want to know about him. We usually speak English to each other; I don't know enough Korean to say much at all. I found out here that the Korean they teach you in the MTC is super simplified so you don't freak out. Yeah, it’s way more complicated when native Koreans use it. But what else do you expect, right? 

I really like President Barrow, he is really nice. I actually have an interview with him this week, so that will be cool. I barely remember much of the mission home; it just seems like a blur of a ton of new things, so I can't tell you what I thought of it. 

Octopus didn't really have much flavor, just really chewy. It's kind of like tofu, just tastes like whatever it's in. Everything here is so spicy, my nose is always running, and I'm always sweating from it. That probably sounds weird, but Korean food is so spicy that you sweat when you eat it. I think I'm going to come back and not be able to taste American food because my taste buds will be burnt off. We usually make our own food, but eat out a couple times a week. I'm really happy that I got a companion who is smart with money. He likes to keep a pretty big reserve fund, so we're pretty good at not spending too much. 

We've actually had two dinner appointments this past week, and we have another one tomorrow with the bishop. The first one was at a restaurant where they cooked the food in front of us in the middle of the table. It was like a stove built into the table. And then there was this soup that was like chilled noodles that were really elastic. It was so disgusting I almost threw up. The guy who took us out just laughed at me, it was pretty awkward, but I think I'm starting to get pretty desensitized to awkwardness and people laughing at me because I don't know what I'm doing. The other appointment was at a member's house, and it was really good, but we had just barely eaten lunch because we weren't expecting him to feed us, so it was difficult to eat and pretend to enjoy it. 

No, there isn't a curtain [in our bathroom], how it looks in the picture is exactly how it is. It's just an open shower with a drain under the sink. Pretty fun :) I don't know if you can tell in the picture, but we each have a mattress, they are just stacked on top of each other during the day. It's pretty cramped, for a table all we have is a little one that folds up and is about a foot off the ground. But that is normal for Korea, we just sit on the floor to eat. Those pictures show just about all of the apartment, so it's pretty small. But it is sufficient for our needs :)  

We won't watch conference until next week, and we’ll watch it in English at the church.  

I've had a pretty fun week, I went on an exchange with another missionary. He came here to Tongyeong. His name is Elder Shaw; he was a lot of fun. We walked around a lot and visited some of the members. 

Tongyeong is all right on the coast, so there are a lot of street vendors selling seafood stuff. There is a ton of this fish jerky stuff. It's just like they took a fish, cut it in half, and laid it in the sun to dry. There are flies all over it and it looks and smells disgusting. It looks like a carp someone caught and left on the bank, and has been sitting there for a week. I don't understand how anyone would find that appetizing. Hopefully I never have to eat it. 

The food here is doing weird things to my stomach; I think it's worse than the MTC. It's just a weird feeling, hard to describe. Probably all of the fermented food. We ate at McDonald's here though, it was pretty amazing actually. Way better quality than in the US, and a little cheaper too. And it was a really nice break from Korean food. It's funny because most of the missionaries here that I have talked to didn't like McDonald's in the US, but here they love it. So either it's way better here, or Americans just start getting desperate for American food. Maybe a combination of both. 

Anyway, most of the recipes in my recipe book won't work here in Korea, either some of the ingredients are too expensive, or just too hard to get. So my companion has shown me how to make some Korean foods, and also the Korean way to make rice. It's really easy, and I can actually remember it :)

So we went most of last week without teaching any lessons. But on Saturday, we went to play basketball with some potential investigators. The one person who was interested had his friends there, so when we tried to tell him about our message, no one took it very seriously. We went back to our apartment pretty discouraged. When we were almost there, a kid stopped us on his bike. He was a Korean, about 16 years old, but spoke English really well. He was really interested to meet us because he lived most of his life in Malaysia, and only moved back to Korea about a month ago. He said he feels like a foreigner because he isn't very good at Korean. He was really happy to meet other foreigners who spoke the language he was most comfortable with. He also said that he just wanders around from church to church, so we invited him to come with us the next day. He came, and I think he liked it. So that was a really cool experience.  

The other cool experience happened last night. We were doing this thing called sticker boarding, where we have a board with questions on it that the Book of Mormon answers and we ask people to put a sticker next to a question that they have had before. Then we tell them that we have a book that has the answer, and offer it to them. The area we were doing this at is by some "turtle ships." It's like a tourist area by the docks, with models of these ships that were invented by some Koreans to fend off the Japanese. One of the pictures I sent you was a painting of one, the really cool one that looks like it's coming out of the wall. But anyway, there are always a bunch of old drunk guys gambling around this area, it's pretty funny to watch. One of them saw us and came up to us. He read the questions on the board and started yelling at my companion.  He was slurring everything really bad, so I didn't understand much at all, but my companion told me what he said afterward. So when he first came up, he had the intention to fight us. He went off about how we were completely wrong, that there is no way we can know if there is life after death since we haven't died, and that since Jesus is a Jew, he isn't relevant to the Korean people. Elder Suter was going to try to explain it to him, but he could tell that wasn't going to work. Eventually this guy started to cool down. He gradually changed his demeanor, and then said that he was sorry for what he said, and that he should have listened to our message before he judged us. Then he started talking about his kids, and that they go to church, but he doesn't really believe in that. He actually started crying a little bit, and then he just walked off before we could give him anything, which was too bad. I feel really bad for him, he is obviously so lost in his life, and we weren't able to help him. But the overall experience was really interesting. I know that Heavenly Father is protecting us, and that He softened this man's heart. Maybe (if he actually remembers any of it) he will be prepared to receive the gospel in the future.

Anyway, that's my week. I love you so much!

Elder Hines

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