I've lost around 40 pounds since leaving in January and I thought some of you (cough Marissa cough) would like to see exactly what I look like with all of that weight off.
Let me just tell you that I feel GREAT. I have more energy and it's just awesome. I guess I never realized how much weight I could stand to lose until I lost it. Hopefully I keep it off and keep in shape!
Next we headed to the Seoul National Cemetary (It's like the arlington of Korea, I can't remember what it's called in Korean 국민something원). Anywho, it was HUGE (look it up on the internet) there are 163800 people buried there and its just goes on and on and on and on and on and on. We spent most of our afternoon there, going around and seeing all the various things. There was even a buddhist temple there we went and checked out! These two pics are of the flower clock/memorial gate/memorial tower where they have all the walls just covered in names of people who have died, and then a nice view of the massive spread of graves.
Today we visited a HUGE outdoor market called 남대문 it was way sweet. The first picture is a view down one of the many streets of 남대문. All of the streets are just LINED with everything you could think of, it's pretty crazy. The second picture is the gate we came through. It's mainly just a big arch so you know where you are than it is a gate. It's just so HUGE!
Marissa here, I'm sorry to those actually reading this that have been wondering why there have been no updates for six months. School got insane and I just stopped updating for a couple different reasons. I am, however going to try and update with some of his recent letters, emails, and pictures. To be honest, I didn't realize anyone was reading this until a few weeks ago.
Here's a few pics of things.
The first one is of this sweet gate to the fortress on the mountain we hiked. It saw battle against the mongols back in the day. There's a wall that comes out of both sides of this gate that just goes for a long way. (This one makes a good desktop background)
The second one is the Seoul temple. It's totally awesome! It looks like the Chicago temple but smaller.
The third one is of President and Sister Burton (As well as Elder Rice in the bottom left and Elder Sundwall in the middle) This was also up on the mountain. THEY ARE THE BEST EVER.
The fourth one is the inside of the pagoda thing at the top of the mountain. Check out that handiwork!
The fifth one is my zone. If you don't recognize me its because I've lost 35 lbs since going into the mtc, but I'm in there! I don't have time to name everyone right now but maybe I will later.
I'm sorry if my last letter caused you any worry. In my forever to write you, I may have overblown the situation a bit. In short, I am not a heap of sad, so don't worry. Sure, there are some times I miss you like crazy but I'm not all sad all the time. It hasn't been distracting me so much as to take away from my training. It's mostly those quiet moments as I drift to sleep when I think of you living just down the street who wishes I was there and needs me. In any case, most of my worries I've taken to Heavenly Father and asked him to take good care of you while I'm gone. I figure he'll do a pretty good job. But yes, I am fine and studying hard at everything here. Even though I miss your warm hugs and snuggles, I know they're worth the wait.
I had an interesting thought though. So you know how Sisters aren't asked to go on missions but Elders are? Sisters who go on missions do it out of love. Elders go on missions to make ourselves worthy to even marry one of you wonderful women. I hope and pray that when I return, I'll be good enough to be deserving of you. You're a wonderful wonderful woman. and I want nothing more than to be able to be wonderful enough for you too.
My shin splints are gone! They only lasted a day or two anyways. So woot! In other medical news, Elder Jones continues to have a wonky ankle. Today we're escaping the bubble to go see some orthopedic podiatrist or whatever. In the past week we've gotten 2 x-rays at the BYU Health Clinic, an MRI at Central Utah Clinic, and an Ultra Sound at Intermountain Hospital (yay ER trips), not counting the 8 doctors visits and how loopy he is on hydrocodin. So yeah, we've been having adventures. It is SOOO nice to get out of the MTC though. You have no idea. I really don't like all the 'bubbles' we're in her, cut off from the real world, ugh. I can't wait to get to Korea. In any case we're halfway there now, so that's exciting.
That relationship timeline is pretty ironic. The way I see it is this. It didn't take either of us very long to realize each other was "the one", but it'll take four years of refining and trials to make us into the best couple we can be. Just think of how we treat each other, how we love each other. If that carries over into our marriage, we'll have a wonderful one. Just think about when we disagree on something, we discuss it rather than argue. Rarely, if ever, do we let anger some between us. Think of how much that will bless our marriage if all we do is love and care or each other. In today's world, that's simply amazing.
On a random note. Singing in Korean is so much fun! I love it! But yes, to answer your question, Church is a little different here partially because it's spaced out. Here's how the typical Sunday goes. Breakfast 7:45, Branch Council (because I'm a district leader) 8:30, Music and the Spoken Word 9:30, Relief Society/Elders Quorum 10-11:00, Lunch 11:30, District Meeting (Sunday School) 1:15-2:00, Sacrament Meeting 3-4:00, Dinner 5:30, Fireside 7:00. So yeah, it's kind of nice, Sundays are actually pretty relaxing here.
Congrats on the happy grades! I'm sure that makes you feel a lot better. Wow you have over 100% in a college course?!?! Holy Popsicles! Maybe going on a mission was a good idea for other reasons than just for myself.
Ah yes, funny stories. I have LOTS of them. First off, Elder Jones is hilarious when he's loopy and on his pain medication. Since they affected his focus, he now only takes them right before he goes to bed so it's easier to sleep with the pain and all. So these in-bed discussion get pretty great. For example, last night he started out singing the entirety of "My Humps" while dancing in his bed. Some how this led to guns. He said we're starting a company called Heathcote & Jones and we'd make guns that shoot guns, chainsaws that shoot knives, and guns that shoot chainsaws. He the proceeded to pretend to be an eel. For a few moments we discussed how we know more about space than the bottom of the ocean. He suggested making a giant Dyson vacuum, sending sea water to an orbiting satellite, then raining down the water through a giant filter the size of Africa to bring water the the Middle East. Two days ago he talked about sending a bomb to Kim Jong Il for his birthday so he'll die and North Korea would be open for missionary work. In his reasoning, if there was no return address they wouldn't know who sent it, but we would put "Happy Birthday from the Taliban" on it. So yeah. Freaking awesome conversations.
On Sunday, our fireside was about not being stupid. Stephen B. Allen of the Church's missionary committee told us a ton of stories about missionaries that had gotten killed, put in jail, or made mission work in an area halt because of them. The one that made me facepalm the most went something like this...
Some missionaries in North Carolina or Virginia or something had gotten together for a zone conference. 4 Elders who knew each other got together to talk about old times and just to see each other. Some how the discussion turned to something they all used to do. Blow stuff up. They decided "Hey, let's make some bombs and blow stuff up." So, being dumb, they did. They went to the middle of the street and blew one up to see if it working, little did they know that the Chief of Police lived housed down. He came out, arrested them and then went back to their apartment where he found several more bombs in various states of completion. He also found (as in every missionary apartment) a map of the area with pins and labels on houses where investigators lives. You can guess how that all added up. Bombs + Map of marked houses in the area = Terrorists. Yeah, face freaking palm.
Hmm, funny Korea stories. So, public bathhouses are everywhere in Korea. The old kind where everyone is naked. And yes, sometimes missionaries go to them. They're not co-ed though, so no worries. But yeah, imagine contacting people, naked, at a bathhouse. Plus, Koreans have like no hair, and they are very fond of any white people that go to the bathhouses. Koreans are also VERY touchy-feely. Needless to say, I'm going to be a freaking bathhouse celebrity. I'm tall, white, American, and hairy like a bear. So yeah, If you get a letter from a very disturbed Erik due to all of the touchy-feely, don't worry (well maybe a little) it's just the culture. Speaking of bathing, in Samoa they also have bathhouses except they ARE co-ed. There was a former missionary I talked to who went there who said that the Bishop's daughter, who was VERY attractive, would purposefully shower next to the missionaries. Yeah, that's just mean.
I miss you hon...I miss you a lot...I wish I could be there with you right now, hugging you and whispering that I'll never leave you. I have this massive buildup of love that I can't get rid of anywhere. Heck, I can't even hug a girl if I wanted to! Everything is so bottled up that I feel like I'm going to explode and go bonkers. These dreams don't help much either. Vivid, perfect clips of my future with yo. I see myself taking you through the Nauvoo temple to get your endowments, I see us getting sealed there. I see you pregnant with our first child, round and glowing with excitement about being a mother. I find myself by your side as you give birth to the baby, a girl, we name her Nikhol like you had wanted.
Even when I'm not actually dreaming I still see it all in my mind. I'm almost always thinking of you love...and it's hard. It's interesting though, how much more I love you after being here. I've always loved you, but being apart like this is making me realize just how important you really are to me. It's so hard living life without your warmth, love, and devotion to lift my spirits. But at the same time...I realize how wonderful it will be once I do get to call you my wife and eternal companion.
Enough romantic stuff (for now at least), on to more interesting things! Elder Jones rolled his ankle on Thursday playing basketball, so he's been on crutches. His foot swelled up like a balloon and bruised all over. It looks rather ridiculous. Yesterday we both got to go out into the REAL WORLD (dun dun dun). His foot wasn't getting better so we got to go to the BYU Health Clinic to get X-rays and make sure it wasn't broken or anything. Luckily, it's not broken, but he did tear a ligament. We've got an appointment at 1:40 to find out whether or not the actually have to do anything to it. Fun times! In other medical news, I cut down my running a bit, but that was because I started getting shin splints. They're nothing too worrysome, I'll just walking on an elliptical to cut down the shock pressure on them. As for weight loss, don't worry, I'm not going to turn into a sack of bones. I'll still be plenty snuggly.
Yes, there are pianos all over here. Last Sunday, Elder Parsons and I sang in Sacrament meeting. We're also working on one for a devotional or something. I arranged Come Thou Font of Every Blessing to fit with Elder Parsons' more soulful style. I've also come up with a few other random things that I'll have to show you.
It's week 3! Almost 1/3 of the way out of the MTC and to South Korea! The MTC is pretty nice I guess (sans food) but i can't wait to actually get over there. We had a bunch (3 Elders/3 Sisters) of native Koreans show up last week. Boy are they a hoot! They know basic English so they're learning as much English from us as we are Korean from them. I think the best thing is the way they pick up euphemisms. For example, Elder Parsons says "are you kidding me?!?" a lot. On eof the Elders picked it that up the first or second day and says it at the most random times. Which, when combined with the accent, is simply hilarious. The native Sisters are simply adorable. What else can you expect from Asian Mormon girls?
In other news...I STILL FREAKING LOVE THIS WEATHER! -weather dance- Seriously, I don't know how you lucked out of a cold, snowy, Utah winter, but it's still awesome nonetheless. If the weather where ever I go is like this the rest of forever I would be happy happy happy.
I think one of the things I miss most besides you is my music. I can still listen to it all in my head and all, but I just miss having it there.
Truth is, I losing weight also because I eat next to nothing. Heck, I skip lunch or dinner sometimes if I'm not hungry. Since I've been eating fruit and such, I also have like, no carb intake whatsoever so I'm constantly eating any of what I store up. The running, sit ups, and other such things also help.
My companion Elder Jone went to a semester at BYU before coming here. He graduated highschool in '09. So yeah, he'll be back. In fact, most of the Elders I'm with went to BYU so it'll be a party when we all get back!
That movie night sounds like fun. I haven't had ice cream since December. We have it every week here at the MTC but meh, the lines are always really long and I mean, it's not all that good for me anyways. I prefer my bowl of pickles (yes I ate a bowl of pickles). You spent the night in a blanket fort? Heck yes we're doing that when this is over with! I approve of this awesomeness. I love making blanket fort! It could be our castle! Speaking of castles, princesses, and stuff, I heard an Elder singing this the other day to the tune of "Love Story"
"Marry me Taylor Swift, you don't have to be alone,
We'll find a castle that we'll call our home
I'll be the Prince and you'll be my Princess
It's a love story, Taylor just say yes..."
Yeah, I facepalmed.
Temple trips for us are always nice. We always go on Tuesday afternoons. It's pretty spiffy. I always imagined us going to Provo temple a lot when live in Provo again.
The MTC is pretty great, now that I don't eat any iffy food. In fact, I'm losing weight here! It's partially because I run for an hour everyday at gym. Yes, that's right, RUN. And yes, I enjoy it. My companion is wunderbar! He's from chicago, and is a cool guy. You'd like him. Heck, you'd like all the elders and sisters in our district.
Ah yes, the typical day. We have 3 hours for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, 1 hour of gym and then 11 1/2 hours of studying and classes. Yes, it's crazy. But heck, it's not all that bad when you have no distractions.
My P-Day is Tuesday so that's when I can write letters/emails. Yes you can send anything you want to me or write me as much as you want. I wish I could write more often, but hey, it's better than nothing. In other news, I put things in my wrap this week that will make you and my family faint. Are you ready?
SPINACH AND SPROUTS (among other things of course)
So yeah, my good food nomming and body toning thing has been working great! I sprint up the 5 floors to our class room multiple times a day, and of course run for an hour (which is getting easier and easier). I'm excited to see how much weight I've lost by the time i just leave the MTC!
Ditto on this weather being awesome thing, every day I'm wishing I could go on a walk with you, but alas, I have my "companion. In Korea, guys hold hands all the time just because. Missionaries with a Korean companion sometimes hold hands while they are going tracting. Crazy, eh? Also, clothes are super cheap there. You can get a real silk tie for a buck or a whole suit for 20 dollars, and so forth. Freaking Awesome.
I got my first letter from Erik today, and cutting out all of the mushy stuff, here's what he has to say.
I feel strangely buoyed up by the Spirit here. It's amazing how much closer I feel to the Lord I feel after only a few short days.
The Korean language, and Korea in general is totally freaking awesome, and I'm actually picking it up pretty darn quickly. For example I can already say and write "I know Jesus Christ is my salvation" and of course the usual important things like "I love you" and "to be beautiful". Hehe. So yeah, awesome.
The MTC is pretty neat, but yeah, it'll be nice to actually get out there. It's hard believe it's already been a week. 103 more to go! (approximately). The language training here is like, EPIC AWESOME, for example: Day 1: General Korean, Day 2: could pray in Korean, Day 3: could give a full testimony in Korean, etc. etc. So yeah, it's freaking bonkers.
How about this weather, eh? Seriously, its like awesome out here.
Guess what? There's missionaries EVERYWHERE. I think they're trying to nom me or something. I'm already missing a leg, 7 fingers, an ear, and my eggos! OH GOSH HERE THEY COME AGAIN. RUN!!! Naw, they aren't that hungry, the MTC keeps us well fed (once you realize what to eat and what not to eat). I've pretty much settled on L&T type wraps for most of my meals since it isn't all greasy and actually healthy! Yay!
But yeah, life is spiffy-tastic here even though I don't have you with me. But hey, giving the Lord two years for the chance to have you for eternity is definitely worth it..
One more day until I'm off. One more day until the so-called 'best two years' of my life begin. Personally, the question of whether or not that particular description of it is the case has yet to be determined. This last month of sitting around waiting for that day to get here has had it ups and downs, most of them ending with me wishing it would just hurry up and start already. I want to get to the good stuff, get this language learned, and get out there. The three months I'll be stuck in the MTC will get dreary enough towards the end as it is, or so I've heard. Whatever happens, It'll be an adventure full of learning, Asian food, and general awesomeness.
But enough about all that. You're here for letters, you're here for e-mails, you're here to keep up to date on the latest breaking news from the life of a missionary, and darn tootin' are you going to get it. As much as I wish I could, I'd love to just update this blog myself. But alas, I'll have limited time near a computer to even just check and send a few emails out. With that, I leave administration of this in the hands of my lovely fiancée Marissa. She'll be posting any letters and emails I send to her on this site, as well as any that I send to the rest of you (if you so desire). Heck, maybe she'll even post a thing or two about how she's dealing with all of this (hint hint). But yes, if you have anything you'd like her to post just email it to her at firstname.lastname@example.org
With that I bid you all adieu for now, and hope to see you when I return. Happy reading!