Happy New Year everyone! In Korea on New Year's Day everyone goes on a hike to watch the sunrise. So, Thursday morning we woke up even earlier and met at the church at 6:30am to go on our hike. We invited our potential investigator 차해라 (the girl that referred herself and she's my age.) to come with us, but when the day came she didn't she rather sleep in. I don't blame her. I love sleep! There's a college right next to the Ansan church building so we walked through the campus and started our hike up the mountain there. And I'll tell ya! I am sooo out of shape! It wasn't really that cold , but the higher we hiked up the mountain the more chilly wind seemed to blow. It took us about a half hour and we finally got to the top. There was so many people so it was really crowded, but so worth it! I never realized I hadn't ever seen a sun rise from the beginning before. It was really pretty. I'll never forget the feeling of my fingers and toes going numb and my face feeling like knives are cutting it. At first, I was complaining and focusing on how cold and comfortable I was. But then I realized that I was missing the magic of God's beautiful creations. After I stopped focusing on the negatives I was able to focus on how beautiful the sunrise was. It really gave me some perspective and I began to think back on how many blessings I've received this past year.
(Michelle wrote me a letter last week and that's probably what lead my thoughts to think about this) God has been so merciful in blessing me with so many things despite my imperfections. I've wondered how it is I can ask for more blessings when He has already blessed me with so much. I am in so great a debt to Him and nothing I can do will ever repay that debt. I will strive to be the best missionary I can be but even then I am an "unprofitable servant" like it says in Mosiah 2 in the Book of Mormon. I can't even imagine how many blessings I'll receive this coming year, but I am already grateful for them.
Coming down the mountain always is the easy part. It was still a struggle because it was all down a steep mountain. I had to hold on to the ropes that they put up, but it was painful because my hands were cold from the chilly wind blowing and I had no gloves. Thankfully, one of the ward members Brother Lee (이상진) offered to give me his warm snow gloves. I declined them at first, but he wasn't going to take no for answer. I accepted them, but couldn't help but laugh because they were definitely men gloves about 2x my hands size. But I really am grateful he let me borrow them. Witnessing Koreans act Christlike is one of my favorite things ever. They seriously are the kindest people! This experience of coming down the mountain makes me think of my mission. Coming on a mission used to be so scary but now I'm here in KOREA of all places! It was super hard to come, I've had to do lots of studying and "holding on to the rod" but remember "life's a climb, but the the view is great." I experienced that for sure. And now that I've past my half way mark and will soon be on my mission for a whole year, I am finding that things have gotten easier, and a lot less scary. I have learned so much and I am so happy sharing the gospel with and serving everyone here in Korea. I know there might still be some bumps down the mountain of my mission, but it's a whole lot easier coming down than up. I have experience now as a missionary and so I'm super excited to see how the Lord will use me during the rest of my mission.
After we got back we all ate breakfast together. In Korea there's a tradition of eating a soup called Duk gook which is like a rice cake soup and sometimes people add dumplings in it to make it more delicious. Also, in Korea everyone ages 1 year when the new year begins, but it's not until AFTER you eat some Duk gook haha. So, now I've aged 2 years since I've come to Korea. Time sure flies doesn't it? If I stay any longer soon I'll have wrinkles!
I've also got some pretty big news for you this week! We got transfer calls on Sunday morning and I will be leaving Anyang zone finally! Super sad to say goodbye to the Ansan ward members, but I'm also happy to move to a new area 계산 (Gyesan). What a better time to have change than the beginning of the new year. My new companion is going to be Sister Sarah Chestnut. Yes, that's right! My BYU college roommate and I will be companions. Isn't that crazy? When I lived with her at BYU I never thought in a million years we would be serving in Korea as companions! REALLY CRAZY! I'm super excited though, she's amazing! I'm just worried because she's my first all white companion so two white girls in Korea is going to be interesting. I already have guys hitting on me, I don't know what it's like with two of us! haha I'm also going to be living in a 4 man house so that'll be pretty sweet. The other sisters who will be there are pretty great too so I'm just super excited!
Anyways, Happy New Year!
Oh, and while on the hike we met the mayor of Ansan and he shook all of our hands and got pictures with us because we are foreigners. Pretty sweet!
Oh and Sister Carter and I have made some friends... with about 7 cats. Our house has an empty lot next to it the one I always take pictures of and so one time we saw some cats and fed them some left over turkey from Christmas conference and word seems to have gotten around because more are coming. We also named them... can you tell we get a little bored as missionaries? We even joked about how it was like watching Animal Planet except it was interactive TV because we could do stuff to them haha.
Anyways, love you all!!<3