Monday, December 29, 2014

Ring in the New!

I'm sitting right now in Songpa (송파) home to the '88 Olympic Games and Lotte Central which will soon be home to the tallest building in Asia - 123 stories. 

Here's what it looks like now . . .





Anyway, I have to be short today because it's another busy p-day! 

Just an update on my Christmas -- 

It was wonderful! Thank you to everyone who helped me celebrate here in Korea with your love and support. Christmas morning we made egg nog and I got to Skype my family which was wonderful. Then we put on Santa hats and walked the streets of Korea ringing jingle bells and singing carols. It's amazing how many people are not on the street on Christmas.....hmmm. 


And then, since we weren't able to watch "A Christmas Story" this year, we ate dinner at a Chinese restaurant and sang Deck the Halls :) 



...working backwards here. 

On Christmas eve we had a ward Christmas party. Our district worked tirelessly on putting on two numbers - Little Drummer Boy and Jingle Bells. I'm working on getting a video of our performance to my dad and he can post it on my blog :) It was so fun! The ward also got us a big box of fun treats: Ramen, Spam, and ChocoPies. I have such a great ward! 

On Tuesday was our big Mission-wide Christmas party - I got to see some old faces: 


​Three cheers for MTC buds and the smallest 동기 in the mission ^^ 

At the conference we got REAL TURKEY, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy and pumpkin pie!....you really can't get hardly any of those things here so it was a fun and satisfying meal :) 

This Christmas I just feel overwhelmingly grateful to all the blessings I have and for all of my family and friends. I hope as we all make our yearly resolutions (that never quite seem to make it the whole year) to remember gratitude and having a thankful heart. No matter where we are or what our situation is there are tender mercies all around us! 

I love you all! 



​Happy New Year! 

- Sister Holdaway 

Monday, December 22, 2014

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas

To start off, here is the new Christmas video! You should all watch it ~ it's wonderful! 
The way I see it.... 
Christmas away from home is hard. However, Christmas time, doing the work that I am doing, is absolutely incredible and special.  
Last year the P-Day landed on Christmas day. But this year, our Christmas day, besides calling home, is considered a work day. Which I'm super excited for. What's a better gift to give our Savior than sharing his message?  
We're planning on visiting people, singing carols out in the street and we got cards with the link for the video above so that we can share it with others. I'm pumped :)  
In Korea, Christmas is viewed more as a break from work and school than anything else. Maybe, if you're lucky, you can find a Christmas tree or hear Christmas songs on the street. So, we really had to bring the Christmas cheer to our house.  
This week we bought lights and we've decorated the tree with various materials :) 



 ​This is a slightly creepy picture of our tree but I promise it's cute ~
and yes, that's Kermit the Frog and Mike
And what's Christmas without a Nativity scene?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 
How silently, how silently
The wondrous gift is giv'n!
So God imparts to human hearts
The blessings of his heav'n.
No ear may hear his coming;
But in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive him, still
The dear Christ enters in.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Merry Christmas and Lot's of Love,  
Sister Holdaway 

Monday, December 15, 2014

O Christmas Tree and Gangnam Style

I don't have a lot of time this week so I'll try to be fast. This week was jammed packed with things! I'll just highlight a few: 
Last Monday we had exchanges with the Sister Training Leader and I was able to be with the beautiful Sister Gooch who is my older 동기 (she came to korea a transfer earlier than me and we were in the MTC together). It was so nice being able to serve with someone my own mission age! We got terribly lost and between the two of us our Korean is not so great but it was still tons of fun.  
For those of you who don't know, my parents both served in Korea in the 80's and I discovered that the bishop of a ward in my area was trained by my dad and knew both my parents!  
Elder (now Bishop) Lee Chong Bok (이종복) is on the left and my dad is on the right.
He invited me over for dinner on Tuesday. It was so nice to see him and his family!

Here is 20+ years later . . . he hasn't changed a bit!
On Wednesday we had district meeting with our awesome district and we ate at Pizza Hut before hand. Normally, Pizza Hut is really expensive in Korea but we were able to get all you can eat pizza and buffet for only $10 (I don't know if that's actually cheap or not but it's cheap for here)! Korean pizza is a little different than American pizza but it's still delicious :)  
Thursday was temple day and afterwards Sister Chestnut took me to her first area: Gangnam! Does that sound familiar? Gangnam is like the New York City of Korea. It was so fun to go but I think the highlight was that we got to eat mexican food! It was expensive but worth it :) 



With Christmas coming up more members are having us over for dinner. After dinner we always share a short message. Recently, we've been sharing about the miracle of Christ's birth, His life, and His atonement. Being a missionary around Christmas time really helps me to understand the true meaning of why we celebrate this holiday. I'm grateful to be sharing these "good tidings and great joy" full-time. 
​We're trying to bring the Christmas spirit into our apartment, so we bought a small tree and have been trying to decorate it:


It's not much but it really warms our hearts. 
Speaking of warmth - we got our heater working finally! Yay for a warm house!  
With lots of love, 
Sister Holdaway  

Monday, December 8, 2014

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

안녕하세요! Hello! 

This week was full of fun surprises and many miracles. I honestly see miracles every day but most of the time they are really small, seemingly insignificant things but to me they mean so much. 

For instance, on Tuesday, we were handing out English flyers on the street with our district. The temperature was about -7*C (I don't know what that is in Fahrenheit) but it was cold. Very cold. 

No one was really taking our flyers because they didn't want to take their hands out of their coats but some people did because they had pity on us. One man even came up to us and casually asked how many missionaries there were that we were working with. We said six and then he went away only to come back 10 minutes later with Starbucks hot chocolate! He easily spent $30USD on hot chocolate for our district. 

It's little things like that that make me feel so grateful. It makes me want to find more and more service opportunities. Especially in this cold weather - there are many ways we can help those in need. 

One of the biggest miracles we saw this week was on Friday. We were getting prepared for our weekly English class when we got a call from sister missionaries in another area. They asked us if we could meet a part-member family in half an hour. Even though this family was in our area we had never heard of them. But, without knowing what was going on or what we needed to do, we traveled way up to the tippy-top of our area and met this family. 

Apparently, the mother (from Canada) is a member who married a Korean (who lived in America so they all speak English) and they have a few small children. She hadn't attended church for a while but as her children are growing up she realized more and more that the Gospel of Jesus Christ would be a huge blessing in her family. So, she reached out to us. 

She fed us dinner and asked us to teach her oldest son about our church so we taught about how God is our loving Heavenly Father and that we can communicate through prayer. It was surprisingly difficult to teach about the gospel in English because I had used Korean for so long! Either way, it was a good experience and it made me think about how much my own life has been blessed. This wonderful family is working on coming out to church and we will continue meeting with them and helping them along the way. 

In other news (I have pictures this week!)

Our house's heating doesn't work which makes studying (and waking up in the morning) pretty difficult. This is my usual morning garb: 


But we keep warm by eating our favorite 김치찌게 (I talked about this last week but we eat it all the time so it's worthy to talk about (again) Kimchi Stew

YUM!!!
And, Christmas Time is in the Air! 





One of our favorite cafes. 

And last but not least: a terrible picture of 계산 at night 



I hope the Christmas Season is finding you well and happy. Always remember why we celebrate the season :) 

사랑으로
Sister Holdaway 

Monday, December 1, 2014

Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow

Today it is December 1st and we had the first snow of the year!  It was kind of hard to focus on studies this morning because of the blizzard that was happening outside!  The ground is still a little too warm so the snow hasn't stuck but we're hoping to have some snow for Christmas! 

We listened to Christmas music (Michael Buble) as we exercised and we're starting to cut out paper snowflakes to decorate our house with! We're really ringing in the Christmas season :) 

On Thanksgiving, Sister Chestnut and I ate 김치찌게 (kimchi stew) which is our favorite and it was so delicious! I honestly forgot about Thanksgiving, it really isn't that much of a holiday without family. But it really did make me think of all the things I'm thankful for like: 

1. My family (even though far away) who supports me and loves me 
2. Being in Korea as a missionary!
3. Having a warm bed to sleep in. 
4. Having good food to eat. 
5. Having warm clothes.  
etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. 

In the places where I serve I have seen business men with briefcases and nice cars but I have also seen old grandmothers who don't have a place to live and who make a living collecting trash. It makes me feel extremely grateful for everything I have ever been blessed with. 

It's starting to get colder, I hope you all are staying warm! Even though Thanksgiving is already passed always keep the spirit of gratitude and Thanksgiving. I like to keep a gratitude journal where I simply just write the wonderful things that happened that day and the little things that made me happy - it never fails to lift my spirits :) 

Thank you all for your well wishes and support! I'm honestly so grateful for all of you.  
Love, 
Sister Holdaway 

p.s. I forgot my camera today!  Sorry no pictures! 

Monday, November 24, 2014

Exchanges, Rooster, and Choco Pies

안녕하세요! 

This week has been quite . . . uneventful . . .

However, we did go on exchanges with the Sister Training Leader (STL) on Thursday. Every transfer the STL tries to go on companion exchanges with every sister. So on Thursday I stayed in my area and Sister Chestnut went to their area. It was a 24 hour exchange so Sister Chao (the STL) came and spent the night here in 계산. 
While Sister Chao was here we had an appointment with a new investigator. I was SO nervous because it's stressful enough teaching a new investigator but it's more stressful when you aren't with your actual companion and when you aren't very good at Korean. 

Thankfully, it turned out really well! The lady we met with wanted to buy us coffee afterwards but we told her that we don't drink coffee but hot chocolate would be perfect. She took us to Starbucks! Which is a huge deal in Korea because Starbucks is very, very expensive. So we all sat and chatted about our lives with her. I am amazed still that I can actually talk with Koreans and have a full-on conversation with them -- in Korean! 

After the meeting I took Sister Chao around our area and showed her some of the cool stuff our area has to offer. All in all, it was really fun and I learned a lot from her. It's always nice to shake things up from time to time :) 

Transfer calls were this week and Sister Chestnut and I will be staying with each other for Thanksgiving and Christmas! Thanksgiving is not celebrated in Korea and Christmas is actually not a huge holiday either. Sister Chestnut and I decided that we are going to splurge and get ourselves a nice Indian meal for Thanksgiving. Not very patriotic but we both love Indian food and it's probably easier to find here than turkey.

Pictures for the week: 

I was walking through the 시장 (shijang or market), and I saw this fellow just hanging out: 


​Usually the only birds I see in the shijang are dead . . . so this was exciting! 

Also, last Monday our district said goodbye to one of our ward members who has helped us a lot with our English class. We will miss him so much! (I am also shown sporting my new, puffy, down-feather coat ready for the chilly winter!) 


The Elders made a special "cake" for him out of peanut butter and Choco Pies: 


Until next time! Enjoy your Thanksgiving! 

Forever thankful to be a missionary, 
Sister Holdaway

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Food Glorious Food!

So - I just spent about 40 minutes writing a really long message about how I have been so blessed here and how people have been answers to my prayers but somehow everything got deleted and now I don't have time to rewrite everything :( And it's not in my drafts, so it's really sad. 


But -- really long story short: 

This week we ran out of money in our budget to buy food and we still had a few more days left to eat. However, the day we spent the last of our money was the day we got bombarded with people giving us food: 

  • our English class member who gave us 김밥 (kimbab) she made by herself, or
  • our investigator who bought us a huge tub of really expensive ice cream, or
  • our members who bought all the missionaries chicken and pizza, or
  • our members inviting us over for dinner and, upon finding out that I was sick, sent me home with ginger and dates to make tea with, or
  • the highschoolers on the street who felt bad for me standing out in the cold handing out flyers so they bought me some orange juice and a chocolate bar. 

I like to think that on my mission I have tried to serve others and be an answer to their prayers but more often than not, my prayers have been answered through the service of others. 

God takes care of His missionaries. 

I'm really grateful for the people I know here in this ward who really make us feel at home. Even though we can't speak the same language they still take care of us like family.

Just last night, we were eating dinner with an older couple in the ward who have been members for only a few years. When I brought up that I had studied music in college the husband got really excited and started playing us music on his guitar, ukulele and harmonica. It really touched my heart as we sang hymns together in their living room. 

Also - as we were looking for cheap food this week we ate some 떡볶이 and 순대. Which basically is rice cakes with spicy sauce and some pig intestines with some sort of noodle filling. Yum! 





Until next time! 
- Sister Holdaway 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Zone Training, Stake Conference and Butter


안녕하세요!! 

This week was busy as always! 

It started off on Monday when my companion had a reunion with her 동기(the group she came to korea with). We went to a meat buffet where you pay a large amount of money and eat. a lot. of meat. 

It just so happened a whole 50%....that's right, half of my entire 동기 was there as well! All two of us :) 




​We actually have the smallest 동기 in the whole mission. (Shout out to Sister Parcells!) 

But here's a much cuter picture of Sister Chestnut's 동기: 



Other than that, Sister Chestnut and I have been really trying to schedule more lessons during the week. The entire mission has shifted the focus to teaching people - whether members, investigators or less-actives.  A lot of the lessons we teach actually include a lot of English teaching.
That is the case for our cutest newest investigator. 

She is a high school student who is trying her best to learn English. She actually speaks English ALL THE TIME. She just doesn't know how to use certain words or grammar so it makes communication pretty hard but props to her for trying! It makes me want to be better at speaking Korean. 

She is so cute though. The first time we met her she literally never stopped smiling. She had the biggest smile on her face and said that this is the first time she's ever met foreigners. Between her happiness meeting us and our happiness meeting her we are all literally so happy and bubbly. Even though communication is hard we just all smile and laugh and have a good time anyway. 

We will continue to meet with her and teach her some English and about our happy message. I'm excited.
This weekend was exciting because it was Stake Conference. On Saturday night it was all about missionary work and our whole zone sang the EFY medley in Korean. It was pretty much the most amazing thing ever. 

There were a lot of returned sister missionaries who talked and President Morrise talked AND Sister Morrise gave her talk in complete Korean! She usually has a translator but this time she did it all herself. We were all so proud of her. Again - it makes me want to be more brave and courageous when it comes to learning Korean. 

The next day, Sunday, we had our final meeting. There was a huge professional banner made that they hung outside to welcome people, there were ushers who had legit sashes saying they were from the Church and those cool glowy sticks people use to direct traffic. There was a sign in sheet where everyone could sign in before they went in and the entire stake presidency had boutonnieres.

Before the meeting I complimented the Stake President on how nice his boutonniere was and he told me he would give it to me after the meeting! 

I didn't think he would remember but...sure enough - he gave me his boutonniere: 



​Aww :) Thanks Stake President 


It's been a fun week for sure. But then again, every week is fun if you make it that way. 


Also - this week is Peperro day! 



​I will be eating my fair share of Peperro on the 11th :) 


I love you all! Thank you for all your support and love. 

Until next week . . .

- Sister Holdaway ^^ <3 

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Happy Halloween!

[Editor's Note: This is late in posting because we took Sister Holdaway's mission money and went on a cruise in the Caribbean.  Our apologies.  For the late posting . . . not the cruise.]

This week we pulled off a huge feat! We planned, prepared, and decorated a halloween party for our ward. 

Now....in Korea....they don't celebrate Halloween. Sometimes you see a small section in a store for decorations or costumes but for the most part people don't really get halloween here. 

So, we decided to show them what a Halloween party in America would look like :) For a lot of them this was their first Halloween party ever and for a lot of the kids it was the first time they have even heard of Halloween. 




Super fun! I also got to see my investigators from Bupyeoung who came! I missed them so much!


​And this is my district -- we are super proud of all the hard work we put into this party. #bestdistrictevah

Left to Right: Elder Bodily (District Leader), Elder Rossi, Elder Hansen, Elder Gherig (our German), me and Sister Chestnut. 
We had a scary laugh competition at the end and all the missionaries participated. I don't know how this happened but I ended up winning first place. Am I really that scary? 

Anyway, it was really fun and the next day on Sunday it was the talk of the whole ward! More people showed up than we ever dreamed of! 

A missionary's work is never over~~maybe we can start planning Christmas party now. ㅋㅋㅋ

I really do love this ward and the people I'm serving with and serving for. There has been so much growth here and I can't wait to see it continue.
사랑해요! 
- Sister Holdaway 홍다연 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Saying Goodbye to Bupyeong and the Cutest Cat in Korea!

I lost count on what number update this is so I gave up :) 

안녕하세용!! 

To make up for the lack of pictures last time I have a lot of pictures this time! 

The day we had 3 식사's (dinners): 

Me and Young, an English class member and his daughter Looby! 



We got ready for our new missionary to come! 


Special thanks to Odenton Ward young women who gave me this awesome package! It was so sweet and perfect! (The sheet-music was the greatest added touch:) 


Now that it's winter we eat this street food called fish bread which is delicious!! 


Then I went hiking and met this friendly fella! We were probably both equally happy to see each other^^




I tried to capture the panorama view. The city below is Bupyeoung and Geysan. My old area and my new area :) They are neighbors! 


Our new house mate Sister Moyer! 


And last, but not least, this HUGE dog we saw today!! It's a bear! 


Anyway, the hike was really fun! We ended up talking to a lot of fun people (people are always so happy when they are hiking) and we made some appointments to meet them this week! 

We have also been pretty busy preparing for a huge Halloween party this weekend! We are inviting a lot of people and it will be a good chance to get to know members and to invite our investigators. After I'm done emailing we will be spending the day decorating :) We hope for a great turn out! 

Thank you for all your support!  I'm so happy for this opportunity to serve the people of Korea. Korea is so beautiful and so unique :) 

Love you all! 
-Sister Holdaway 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Row, Row, Row Your Boat

Wow~~ what a crazy week! So many things changing and I forgot my camera today so I don't have any pictures :(
 
Before I left 부평 (Bupyeong) I wanted to say goodbye to people like members or investigators but it's kind of hard because I was only in this area for one transfer so I didn't really know who to visit. We ended up making an appointment Tuesday night with our investigator Iryn. We didn't tell Iryn I was leaving but we were going to tell her during our appointment.
 
When we got to Iryn's house she said that her mom had made us dinner. I looked over at the table and about had a heart-attack.
 
There on that table was a Raclette machine!
 
I was in Korea eating my favorite traditional Swiss meals: raclette. 
 
Apperently, Iryn's mother lived in Germany for a little bit and fell in love with the food and the culture. Needless to say, that was the best "last meal" ever.
 
When I told Iryn I was leaving she was sad to hear. I felt like we had grown close in only one transfer. I'll definitely miss her!
 
After that delicious meal, an English class member wanted to introduce me to his daughter before he left so he invited us to get 짜장면 (jajangmyeon), a chinese noodle dish. I was stuffed from having my fill of cheese and potato but I do love 짜장면. It was nice to meet his daughter, a middle school student, because we found out we both loved Pentatonix,  an acapella group.  Music really brings people together, no matter how how different your cultures are :)
 
THEN,  after that, a member called us and dropped off some chicken to top the night off. I was full to the brim. It was really nice that people were thinking of me though. I will miss it here but...I still get to live here so that's nice.
 
Wednesday was transfers, since I already live with my new companion we just stayed home and deep cleaned our apartment to prepare for the new missionary. We also bought a cake to welcome her with.
 
Our new house-mate and Sister Wright's new Trainee is Sister Moyer from Arizona! She is a real legit country singer and is working on making it big. She just bought a guitar yesterday so we have been having jam-sessions at night singing hymns and wonderful things like that :)
 
And finally, my new companion Sister Chestnut! Sister Chestnut is from Payson, Utah and she loves movies and music and culture. She went to BYU studying history. We already know each other really well so the transition was super easy.
 
My first real day in my new area we English Flyered which I really love because telling people who want to learn English that you teach free English is a lot easier than telling a devout Christian that you are a missionary teaching about Christ -- there are a LOT of different religions here in Korea. There's probably a church on every block. It makes for interesting conversations!
 
Then, on Friday night, we had English class. A lot of new faces were there and we got to get to know a lot of new people. I teach a basic class with one of our elders, Elder Gehrig, who is actually German (we found out we lived in the same stake when I lived in Germany) so I just helped him teach pronounciation. :)
 
At the end of the class, everyone got together and I introduced myself as the new missionary and then taught everyone how to sing 'Row Row Row your Boat.' It was so fun to see a room full of about 40 Koreans singing this children's song. Afterwards, they said they wanted me to teach them more songs in English. I think I have found my calling here!
 
I'm very sorry there are no pictures. I need to be better at that :/
 
Until next time!
 
홍다연자매

Monday, October 13, 2014

Week 18: 6 Months and a 10-foot Transfer!

안녕하세요

Wow what a week! 

A transfer is about every 6 weeks. At the end of the transfer, usually on a Saturday night, we get a call from the office telling us if we are staying, going, or getting a new companion. 

My housethe Bupyeoung (부평) sisters (me and Sister wright) and the Gyesan (계산) sisters (Sister Chestnut and Sister Kim) – were anxiously awaiting transfer calls on Saturday night. Sister Wright and I were about 95% sure we were staying. We had only been together one transfer and we were working so well together. Not to mention we adore each other! 

We knew Sister Kim was leaving because her mission was over so she was going to go home.  So we were excited to see who Sister Chestnut's new companion was going to be! 

We got the call: 

"Sister Kim, you're leaving."  

We all nod.  

"And Sister Chestnut.....oh....this is kind of weird."  

We are all holding our breath....who is her new companion going to be?  

"Sister Holdaway."  

What? Nohe must be confused.

 "Sister Chestnut is going to be with Sister Holdaway in 계산."

 But what about.... "And Sister Wright will be training." 

Ahh! So my dear Sister Wright is going to be a mother! She's going to pick up her new missionary on Wednesday. 

Meanwhile, I'm making the long journey across the house to my new room :) 

People joke that people in the same house will be transferred to the same house but I don't think it has every really happened. 

I will be living in my same area, with my old companion, but I'll be in a new area with a different ward and everything. We all agree it's pretty weird! 

It's nice that I know my companion. She was my Sister Training Leader when I was in Suji and we lived together her in Bupyeoung. And now we're companions! It will be fun but still a crazy surprise! 

Other than that, conference was amazing. This week we tried to meet every member of our ward and help them each prepare for General Conference. Through it all, I think it really helped me prepare for it as well. I enjoyed all the speakers and I can't wait to get the Liahona so that I can read all the talks over again!



In other news: 
The weather is steadily getting colder and in preparation Sister Wright and I bought winter coats! 




And you can't get us out of them.....





And last but not least.....one transfer is much too short....






Until next time! 
- Sister Holdaway