Sunday, February 23, 2014

It's Getting Warmer in Korea!

Hey Family, Friends, loved ones, whoever you are,

What's up!? I hope everything in the real world is going well. I pray for you each and every day (missionaries pray a lot, fyi) so I hope you can feel my prayers for you wherever you may be. I'm in Korea. That thought is still way, way, way, way, WAY strange to me. Can you believe it? I'm all the way across the world eating all sorts of crazy food and trying really hard to speak this crazy (but awesome) language. It blows my mind. (p.s. I hope everyone had a happy Valentine's Day!)

I'm so happy. I can't even really find the words to explain it; it just is. Yes, this is the hardest thing I have EVER done and yes, I miss all of you so much every single day, BUT I am so unbelievably happy. I don't even really understand what I'm feeling but I am grateful for it. 

Um. I'm just going to go ahead and share little snippets of things I write every week... here's the one for this week:

It warms my heart. With each beat of life it spreads throughout my veins until it reaches every last inch of my being. It's everywhere; infusing itself into who I am. I feel it shining out of my eyes and sparkling every time I show my teeth. I feel it tingling in my fingers and in my toes. The words coming from my mouth (which really aren't even my words at all) travel through the bitter darkness and collide with ears that are longing to hear truth. And just like that, the light sparks something in their hearts and starts to shine through their eyes as well. That's what makes us different; the light. It's so vibrant in a world that is so dark.

I am a messenger of light! He has called me forth at this time to this place to share His light, His love, and His words with all who are wandering blindly in the darkness. What a wonderful calling I have been given. I feel the light. I can feel it every single day.

So. I read Mosiah 21 this week and definitely fell in love with it. (I'll explain more later on, just keep reading.) Anyways, it talks about Limhi's people are suffering through all sorts of afflictions and how they eventually begin to just murmur because of the burdens that have been placed on their shoulders. Now, when I thought of this I thought of myself and of how I felt sorry for myself because I can't speak Korean as well as I'd like to even though I'm living in Korea-- murmuring comes when we start to think about ourselves. Anyways, because they were so focused on themselves, they decide that they wanted to take matters into their own hands and try to deliver themselves out of bondage (even though they knew very well that they were not capable of doing so on their own.) So, relying too much upon themselves, they attempt to make life better for themselves. And alas, they got whooped by the Lamanites. I can't even imagine what they must have been feeling at this point! They were afflicted and their attempt to make life better for themselves only made life worse. So, in their utter despair... they attempt again to go to battle. And again, they get demolished. Again, I can't even imagine how much their poor hearts must have been hurting at this point. And as if they hadn't tasted sorrow enough, they try AGAIN, a third time, to go to battle. Again, they were not successful. 

It isn't until this point, where they are lower than they have ever been before, that they realize how incapable they are. In verses 13 and 14 it talks about how much they had to humble themselves to realize that they NEED the Lord-- they could not ease their burdens on their own. And so they cry out in desperation and the Lord heard their prayers. He didn't take away all their problems immediately (because we have to face the consequences of our decisions in order to truly learn and grow), but He eased their burdens little by little and strengthened them that they would be strong enough to bear them. 

Now, let's relate this to my experiences this week...

We met with SO MANY members this week. Since we're opening a new area we don't exactly have a plethora of investigators to be teaching. That being said, we still wanted to have opportunities to teach in Korean. So we passed around a sign-up sheet in Relief Society for people to sign up to have us come and practice teaching lessons. This resulted in us teaching a total of 13 member lessons this week. (The elders each taught 2-- if that gives you any idea of how insanely busy we were.) In our very first lesson, we sat down to teach and despite how much I'd practiced my Korean, it felt like a total failure. The member kept correcting us to the point where we felt like we couldn't even speak. It was a really tough and humbling experience. Anyways, we walked out of there feeling super beaten down and super upset. But as we walked down the road I realized that the only reason I felt upset was because I was being a prideful little human. Immediately, I felt terrible. I was focusing way too much on my own lack of Korean-speaking-ability that I wasn't even recognizing the role that the Lord had been playing in my life. I've learned SO MUCH Korean in such a short amount of time! It's quite miraculous, really. And I could have, in no way, accomplished that on my own. So I decided right then and there that I definitely needed to remember that the Lord has called me here and has asked me to learn this language so that I can be more qualified to teach these people the gospel in their own language.

And, like the people of Limhi, once I humbled myself before the Lord and changed my "I can't do this" attitude to a "Lord, I'm going to try really really hard and I know that you'll help me to do what you need me to do" attitude, I saw miracles. 

Immediately, I was happier, more confident in speaking to complete strangers on the bus, and somehow, I was able to speak Korean. (Simply, but I was speaking! And people could understand me!) Later this week we met with another member and midway through the lesson she interrupted me as I was speaking and asked, "Wait, did you learn Korean before you were at the MTC?" and I replied, "No, I started studying Korean in the MTC." And as I continued to speak and bear my testimony on the atonement, I said, "I know that through the atonement of Jesus Christ, we can do all things." And she started crying. I was using my own experiences of learning Korean in order to talk about the power of the atonement and when I looked up, she had tears streaming down her face. I know, without a doubt in my heart, that the atonement of Jesus Christ gives us strength beyond what we can comprehend. It's not just for sins; the atonement gives us hope in times of despair, strength in times of weakness, and a goal to work towards. It changes us for the better. And I've felt it's power in my life every single day since I started looking for it. 

I love being a missionary. This work is the work of the Lord and I know that we wouldn't be able to do it were it not for His help every step of the way. I'm not capable of many things, but in the strength of the Lord, I can do all things. He's reaching out towards us always-- it's our job to take His hand in ours and hold on as tight as we can. 

Look for the miracles in your life this week!
I love you!


Sister Bagley

New Goal: Must Learn to Like Kimchi!

Well, I'm here! After the longest flight known to the existence of men, (3 hours from SL to Detroit and then 14 hours from Detroit to Korea) I am here and I am happy. And for the record, I lost a day of my life during the trip here. If anyone finds my February 4th, please notify me because frankly, I'm kind of worried.... jokes. Jokes. I actually got to sit next to Elder Demille on the flight and that made things exciting. I wasn't as terrified to be stuck in such a small amount of space for such an extremely long amount of time as soon as I discovered that I'd be sitting next to someone I know and love! Thank heavens for that! Anywyas, yeah. Korea. I'm not even really sure where to begin because it's been quite the adventure since the moment I stepped off the airplane into Incheon Airport.
Anyways... My mission president and his wife are the grestest people ever. So much fun and so kind! They made the transition into Korea a little smoother on our sanity. My trainer's name is Sister Sloan and she's the greatest person. She's been here in Korea for 9 months and she's from California. She's the sister training leader for our zone so that makes things fun and exciting. We have been assinged to open a new area for sisters in Incheon (I blame that on the fact that the first thing I told the mission president was that I love trying new things... ha.) called 만수 (pronounced monsoo) so we're starting from scratch in the area and that's been pretty tough. But we have 16 appointments scheduled this week along with ward members and our ward mission leader was pretty impressed with that. Wish us luck as we work to get things burning here in our new area!
Um, I don't have much time this week to write (I'm so sorry!!) but there are a bunch of random, fun facts about Korea that I thought you might enjoy hearing:
 1) there are pingpong tables in every chapel. Like. Multiple pingpong tables. It's great.
2) There are virtually no traffic rules around here. Red lights are merely a suggestion. And all the cops are teenagers. (Quick sidenote, if someone who is older than you tells you to do something here, you HAVE to. No questions asked. So, you can see how teenagers being cops could be a problem. "Don't give me a ticket, officer" -says the eighty year old psychotic driver "Okay........I'm sorry I'm an idiot." -says the poor, young cop trying to do his job.) So, long story short, I always feel as if I'm going to get hit by a car. It's the greatest.
3) Old people LOVE American missionaries. Seriously, everywhere we go people are either muttering "beautiful! beautiful!" under their breath or screaming it at us from down the street. Needless to say, You're gonna have to tell me that I'm beautiful a bunch to make up for all the Koreans here that tell me I'm beautiful. hahaha I honestly probably hear it at LEAST 300 times (or more) a day. They call my companion and I "twins!!" but only because we're just white girls. You know how all asians look the same to white people? All white people look the same to asians.
4) They serve kimchi at every meal. (Fermenting, rotting cabbage with spices on it.) I'd rather eat my own foot. But instead I get to choke down kimchi because it's polite!! Pray for me to like kimchi.
5) The fruit here makes up for the kimchi. Like, hello fruit of the heavens. It's served as desert here-- no joke. I crave it all the time. I love fruit so much.
6) They have all sorts of "exercise equipment" on the streets for pepole to use. But it's practially the equivalent of a playground for old people. And they don't even really work-- for example, one of them is literally a big wheel (like that on a toy ship) and you just sit there and spin it. SO FUNNY. My companion and I love watching the elderly people work out on them because everyone takes it so seriously and it doesn't even really work anyone out. It's real great.
7) There's no such thing as garbage cans here. The only place I've seen one is in a bathroom or in our aparment. We have one garbage. And we have to sort all of our garbage. There's food garbage, plastic garbage, paper garbage... so different. Needless to say, my purse is full of garbage that I couldn't put anywhere else.
8) They heat their apartments by heating the floor. SO WARM. Whenever I'm home I just lay on the floor because it's soooo warm. Our beds are on the floor too. So when we wake up we're always dying of heat. But it's fine. We don't have a functional dresser yet and we don't have hangers yet either so all my clothes are in my suitcases on the floor and they feel like I just pulled them out of the dryer when I put them on because the floor heats them. I'm a fan of that. Except... real dryers don't exist here. Only hang drying. So fun!
9) They have THE cutest kid's clothing stores EVERYWHERE and so now I want my own babies. So bad. I literally have to refrain from purchasing baby clothes on a regular basis.
 I had to speak in church this Sunday and that was the most nerve-wracking experience of my life. I just sat on the stand looking out into a congregation of people who all speak Korean and thought to myself, "I can't speak Korean. What on earth am I supposed to do right now!?" I may or may not have had a slight panic attack. But it was so reassuring to have so many people come up to me afterwards and tell me that they thought I was an older missionary and that they thought I'd been out for as long as my companion. Three missionaries (me included) spoke yesterday so I was pretty unexcited to be compared to the other two speakers. And I had to speak last. But I was glad to sit down after I'd spoken knowing that I didn't have to speak anymore. What a relief.
Ummm. I had a dream about all my loved ones this week and it made me feel super heavy. I just missed everyone so much and felt so overwhelmed by the fact that I am in korea and away from everyone. Immidiately, I sat down at my desk and just started writing away. This was the result:
"Memories of them dance upon closed eyelids as my mind takes me on adventures I've yet to see.
My heart feels heavy when I rise from my desire to have them near.
But I press on.
I wear my best smile and I press on.
This is the Lord's work and because of Him,
they CAN be mine."
I'm thankful for the knowledge that families can be together forever! Being a missionary is not easy-- but I've never been happier.
This is HARD work. But the task of the Lord was never meant to be easy. I'm grateful that He believes in me enough to challenge me.
You're in my thoughts and prayers! Korea is great. I'm adjusting well-- slowly, but well.
Love you!
All the best from Korea,

Sister Bagley

Friday, February 7, 2014

One Week Left!

Well. Things are getting pretty serious here at the MTC. Our "native" missionaries (the group of native Korean missionaries that are going to be serving in Korea with us and who will leave the MTC with us in a week and a half) arrived this week! We're all still kind of stunned about that-- like, what? Our natives are here? That means we're going to Korea way sooner than we feel ready. But at the same time, it's about time we get out of here. We've been at the MTC since the dawn of time. It's time for us to just go and struggle and learn. But we're still freaking out about it.

We got our Korean name tags this week too! We all sprinted around from classroom to classroom reading everyone's tags and taking pictures. For the next sixteen months I'm going to be known as " 배글리 자매" (which sounds like this: bay-kuh-lee cha-may), or in other words, Sister Bagley in Korean. I can't even wait. It's just weird that the final touches of our MTC preparations are finally occurring. I've watched this happen twice already and it's hard to believe that this time it's for us-- WE ARE GOING TO KOREA!!!!! (Everyone is invited to freak out with me.)

Oh! In other news, I'm no longer the sister training leader. So that's been an adjustment. I was so grateful for the opportunity to serve, but I'm not going to lie, it's been pretty nice having so much extra study time. I think it was just what I needed for my last few weeks here at the MTC. 

We hosted all the new missionaries this week and guess what: I FOUND JORDAN CRUMP! I didn't host her but Sister Anderson (the adorable blonde sister who takes ugly pictures with me on a daily basis) did! I ended up running into them a little later and we made a scene because I dropped the suitcases I was lugging around and sprinted up to her screaming before I leapt into her arms. It was a pretty exciting moment, obviously.

Hosting was super cool though! I mean, watching the looks on the faces of the mothers as I led their child away from them for an eighteen month time period was probably the worst moment of my life (and it happened about seven times...) but aside from that, it was great. Our district will host again next week because it's our last week at the MTC. I'm actually really looking forward to that. Even though it rips my heart out kind of.

So in Preach My Gospel, on page 133, there's a super cool quote about learning languages and I think it's by President Thomas S. Monson. (If I had my PMG with me right now I'd just straight up quote it right here... but since I don't, I'll just tell you where to find the quote I want to quote right here... sowwy.) Anyways, it hit me: learning Korean is hard, yes. Very hard. But it is such a gift. And beyond that, struggling to learn Korean is a gift. God is obviously capable of all things-- so if He wanted to, He could give me the ability to speak Korean right here and right now. He could do that at any moment. BUT, He hasn't. It's been a slow and gradual process and it's going to continue to be a slow and gradual process. The gift of tongues is a gift that God promises His missionaries through diligence and hard work. But the struggle has to be part of acquiring that gift. When we struggle to learn Korean, not only will the ability to speak Korean be a gift, but we acquire gifts such as patience, diligence, love, and long-suffering in the process. So, because God loves us, He allows us to struggle in the language-learning process so that He can bless us with more than one spiritual gift once all has been said and done. I thought that was pretty cool.

I'm so grateful for the opportunity to be a missionary. I am so grateful for the opportunity to be stretched beyond my limits. I am so grateful for the opportunity to become the kind of missionary that my Heavenly Father wants me to be. That's something that hit me this week pretty hard. I can't be the missionary that I want to be. I just can't. But I CAN be the missionary that God wants me to be. And in the end, He has far greater plans for me than I have for myself. So, my goal this week was to simply strive to understand what kind of a missionary God wants me to be. 

I let that thought bounce around inside my head for a few days. And after it lingered in there long enough, I realized that the first step towards becoming the missionary He wants me to be is to just love. I can't speak Korean (okay, I can... a little), I've got a terrible sense of direction, I'm a baby-- I'm only nineteen years old and I'm going to Korea, but despite all the things that I can't do, I CAN love. And so that's what He's sending me to Korea to do. I may not be able to say much in Korean, but I can love. And what more does a missionary need than love? I think love can conquer all things-- even language barriers. And Jesus Christ is the ultimate example of love. I wear His name upon my chest. I can't do a lot of things, but I can love. And I want to invite others to come unto the Savior in order to feel His love. 

Being a missionary is the coolest experience. I'd try and explain what it's like but words don't do it justice. This is one of those things that you just can't even begin to understand until you embark on your own missionary adventure with that black nametag upon your chest and an army of angels and prayers pushing you along. This is the Lord's work. And the whom the Lord calls, He qualifies. 

Wish me luck in my last week here at the Provo MTC!
Korea better be ready for what's coming-- here comes district 28B!


Sister Bagley

Ready or not, here we go! (See ya, 'murica)

So, with this being my final week at the MTC and whatnot, I've had a whole bunch of people asking me all sorts of questions. All of which, however, fell in line with this one general question: "What's the biggest lesson you've learned from your experience here at the MTC?" 

Well, the MTC is a place of much learning, that's for sure. In the last two months of my life, I have learned countless lessons that all contributed to one big lesson: at times, I cannot; but at ALL times, the Lord can. Before I embarked on this grand adventure, I picked Alma 26:12 to be the theme of my mission. (Okay, go ahead and read that scripture before reading the rest of this.) I had no idea how much that scripture could really mean to me until I arrived here. It's impossible to learn as much as we have learned in the short (yet somehow seemingly-endless) two months we've been here; yet, we did it. I was blown away every single day by the progress that was made both spiritually, physically, mentally, and emotionally. And this is just the beginning. There has not been a single day that I have spent here where I have not felt completely inadequate. That being said, there has not been a single day that I have spent here where I have gone to bed without a smile. This is by far the hardest thing I have ever done-- but that's what makes it the greatest thing I have ever done. I'm a mere mortal who is susceptible to failures, mistakes, and shortcomings. Yet I am the daughter of a God who loves me enough to lift me up out of my own imperfection. Not a day has gone by where He hasn't helped me to be greater than I could ever be on my own. And that's what I have learned. I am not really that great. But the Lord is. And because He loves me, through His love, I can become great. This is the Lord's work, if we tried to do it on our own, we would surely fail. But I know that He is with us, holding our hands every step of the way. We may stumble but He will not allow us to fall.

I was standing in line in the cafeteria a few days ago when one of the elders from the younger dongi ended up in line behind me. He looked a bit troubled. So, I turned around and asked, "Hey, are you doing alright today, Elder?" He just furrowed his brow and looked at me for a moment before replying, "Yeah. I'm just feeling contemplative today." I raised my eyebrows back at him, which caused him to continue by merely inquiring, "Now that you're at the end of your journey here at the MTC, looking back, is there anything that you regret?" 

Without even hesitating, I responded, "No. I don't believe in regrets." And I don't. I don't regret any experience I've had here at the MTC because I have done the best that I can and because every experience, whether it was good or bad, was a learning experience. Everything happens for a reason, the test is how you choose to respond to the circumstances that come your way. Yeah, there were tough days, yes, there were days when I felt extremely useless, but those were the days in which I learned valuable lessons that helped me to understand how to be better later. So no, I don't have any regrets. I have only hope-- each new day is a new opportunity to be better!

On the first page of my journal, I created a list of goals that I have for my mission. It wasn't a list that I just sat down and wrote all at once-- it was a list that I continually added to as I've been here at the MTC. I don't really know why I'm sharing this right now, but I feel as if it could help someone. And if anything, it will help me to be accountable for my goals. 

1. I will always be the "best" companion I can be because every missionary deserves to have a good companion.
2. I will never let a frown conquer a smile.
3. I will always remember that, at times, I cannot; but at all times, the Lord can. It's HIS name that I wear upon upon my heart.
4. I will conquer every negative thought that creeps into my mind with positive thinking. After all, it's impossible to think more than one thing at once. 
5. I will be the arms that hug, the hands that help, and the ears that listen for my Savior. I will help His children because so many of His children have helped me.
6. I will be fearless, faithful, and fierce.
7. I will strive towards being fluent in the language of the spirit; I will see Korean as a tool rather than a barrier. 
8. I will remember why I chose to be a missionary in the first place; especially when challenges cause me to stumble along the way.
9. I will do everything I can do to always speak Korean.
10. Exact obedience; if sticky situations arise, I will immediately remove myself from them.

I'm going to be stepping off the plane in Korea in just a matter of days. I suppose you could say that at this point in time, I am left with a decision to make: I can choose to either walk in fear or to walk in faith. In 2 Nephi 9:46, it talks about how fear causes us to shrink. In comparison, faith helps us to grow. When we walk in fear, we are living below our potential. Heavenly Father has great and wonderful things in store for each and every one of us and He promises to help us become great but we must first learn to trust in Him. The greatest things in life require us to take a leap of faith; when we look upwards and trust in the Lord enough to jump and reach for things that may seem far out of reach, He will give us the wings that will carry us far higher than we have ever before been. No set of difficult circumstances seems quite so difficult when you've got the power of the heavens giving flight to your wings of faith.

I'm taking that jump.
And I know that the Savior won't let me fall. 
Each of us has a leap of faith that we can take in our lives...
My challenge to all of you this week is to just jump. Faith works miracles.
He won't let you fall, I promise. 

사랑으로 (with love),

배글리 자매
(Sister Bagley)