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! 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

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 :) 

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.  
Sister Holdaway 

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