Salutations again from within the walls of the MTC. To begin this post I would like share with all of you some of the Korean customs that I have been informed of in the last week.
- Whenever something is handed to you, you take it with two hands. This shows respect and gratitude. Taking it with one hand suggests that whatever they are giving you is worthless or unappreciated.
- When you shake hands you put your other hand on your elbow. This is also a sign of respect.
- Along with that custom, women never shake hands. Not with each other and especially not with men.
- When you leave a room or a house you are not supposed to turn your back to the person you are leaving. To do so would be showing disrespect to someone who has let you into their home. Also you are supposed to continue to bow as you exit.
- When someone lets you in you are always supposed to sit last.
- If you are sitting and someone else stands you are also supposed to stand. The idea is that you should be as uncomfortable as the least comfortable person in the room.
It is amazing to me how much of the Korean culture is based on respect and gratitude. It is very different from the world I come from and I think it is wonderful. The world can never have too much respect and gratitude.
This past week has been interesting. I can honestly say that I have never done anything this hard in my life. To say that is so cliché and yet it is so very true. I will take a moment and be utterly honest with you. Korean is hard. I know that may surprise you, but I swear it's the truth. I can barely string sentences together on my own and I know maybe 60 words. But as I said in my last post, I still have to teach my investigators. In class we had a discussion about charity and the reason why it is such an important quality for a missionary to have. Something that I took away from that discussion was that the best way we can bring others to Christ is by loving them. That has been my objective in my lessons. If I am not able to convey a single thing in Korean during my lesson, I want to leave the investigator knowing that I love them, and that I care what happens to them. I am amazed at how charity is such a motivating factor. As I have been praying for charity for my investigators I have noticed a difference. I'm not trying to imply that I am the most charitable person in the world, because I am definitely not. However, the small amount of charity I have been able to develop has already changed my life. I have begun to realize that some of the frustration I feel while sharing gospel lessons is not simply because I cannot speak the language, but because I cannot convey this beautiful message of Christ’s love with the investigator. I so desperately try to express how God's love is proved in His plan of salvation, but I fail still. This frustration has caused me to work harder and to study more diligently, both the Korean language and the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. I do this so that I might be able to have knowledge to back up my testimony. I am convinced that this will help them not only understand my message, but feel it too.
Charity is not easy. As imperfect humans, it is too easy to dwell on selfish thoughts and to put our desires before others. Charity is one of the Christ like attributes listed in Preach My Gospel, and now I understand why. Christ was never selfish; He was continually searching to find ways to serve. He constantly showed His love for the people around Him through His actions. Elder David A. Bednar, in a talk called The Character of Christ, said; "When the natural man would turn in, Christ turns out." Bednar says that Christ is the perfect example of charity, He gave everything of Himself just so that we could gain salvation. Becoming charitable is one of my main goals as a missionary. I am seeking to know and exemplify how Christ loved. If I can achieve this then even if I never have the opportunity to verbally share the gospel message, my actions will show them that I love them and that God loves them. There is a passage in Preach My Gospel that says something I love: "Charity is a gift from God, but we have to ask for it." It doesn't come without work, nothing good in life does, but if our goal is to become like Christ, and to be an example of the believers, I am convinced that the first step is to love those around us and to strive to see them as our Father in Heaven sees them. When you say to yourself, "I am a child of God." make sure to remember that everyone else is too, and treat them the way He would.
I want to share something Sister Esplin from the General Primary Presidency said to the sisters in the MTC, "When we are filled with love and light we can't contain it, and others will notice."
This is my goal: To be so filled with love that it oozes from me so that I cannot contain it.
I love you all so much and I wish you well,
Sister Annie Atwood
p.s. If you leave a comment I will get it and respond.