Monday, October 28, 2013

October 28,  2013

Koreans have this sweet phrase when they answer the phone. Instead of saying "Hello?" They say "Are you my honey?" Classic.

We had some good days this week. One day we were on fire! We taught two good lessons, but then our other appointments cancelled so we did a ton of street contacting. Literally everyone we talked to straight up rejected us. They wanted nothing of our message. So the first hour was hard. But we kept at it. And finally we started finding prepared people and were able to teach some street lessons.

I had my first member meal this week! I have never been so full in my life. those stories about korean families feeding you and feeding you and....yup. All true. But we shared an awesome message about family mission plans, courtesy of PMG pg 220. My family had one, so I felt inspired to start talking to members about them. It was really cool to see the Lord working through me to help us deliver an inspired message, with a commitment that will help them be better missionaries!  And I even shared some personal examples in Korean. Pretty cool.

I've been studying the PMG phrase: "Your calling gives your authority, keeping your covenants gives you power."

So what covenants have I made? Baptismal covenants, priesthood covenants, temple covenants. WOW. There is so much spiritual power available through honoring those.  "That thy spirit might always be with
them"-sacrament prayers. D&C 109:22-armed with power, D&C109:15-receive the fullness of the holy ghost. And soooo much more.  And those covenants aren't made only by full time missionaries. Any
worthy covenant keeper is entitled to that power. Not to the same authority, but to incredible spiritual power. All contingent on how well you keep your covenants. Wow......what a blessing.D&C109 is full
of amazing blessings from the temple, ones specifically pertaining to missionary work (109:23,29.)

Of all things, Korean's love american fried chicken. this is KFC's
double tower MAX or something like that. 1 meal heart attack.

Beautiful $3 korean ties. The staple of our existance: rice and Corn Flight.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Pictures October 21, 2013

October 21,  2013





October 21,  2013

My companion was gone for half of this week, military training! So I
exchanged with a Zone Leader, Elder Luker. It was an awesome
experience. I learned soooo much from him, and I could understand so
much more of his "foreigner korean"." But it's good to have Elder
Jeong back! I also had my first Korean Mexican food. A burrito....with
tons of cabbage and potatoes inside, among some other regular
ingredients. I chose to get the "Very Spicy" version. My mexican
housemate failed to finish his when he went last week.....too hot. So
naturally I had to try. One bite. The face turns red. The tears come.
I have never endured such physical agony because I what I was eating.
But I endured to the end. Self discipline. Overcoming the natural man
;)

Sunday we had our first investigator come to church!!!! It was an
amazing feeling and an amazing miracle. On saturday we visited Brother
Chey and he committed to come. He always says he will, but doesn't.
This time however, he called his church, in front of us, and told them
he wasn't going this week. WOOHOOO! Finally all our prayers on his
behalf pay off!!!! As we sat with him in sacrament meeting, I was
overcome with gratitude. People rarely come to church, so this was a
tender mercy, a great miracle. And seeing the smile on his face as
members introduced themselves made the hours of sitting in his house,
not understanding ANYTHING, all worth it. He's still progressing super
slowly, but the Lord has his eye on Brother Chey.  I've been trying to
have more charity for him as well. He's old, physically handicapped,
slightly mentally impaired as well, and I can't understand anything he
says. (When I visited him with the non korean zone leader, he could
understand either...so I don't feel as bad) So when we teach, I try
really hard to focus on him, praying for him and my companion. But
it's pretty difficult. So this week, I tried to put myself in his
position. As I strove to understand him, my love for him increased. I
can't understand anything he says, but I can understand his
situation. He's often in much pain, lonely, without much purpose, and
needs so deeply the blessing of the restored gospel.

I had more small miracles as we street contacted this week. I had
experiences where I had no idea what to say, but as I opened my mouth
the Lord filled it. And those were often the times where we actually
got their number. As I strove to follow the spirit more in knowing
where to go, we were more effective. And even when discouragement or
feelings of uselessness start to begin, they are easily replaced by
the Savior's love. Hope, happiness, and faith are choices. You can
choose to be discouraged or you can choose to press on in faith. I am
learning more and more that while I am not comfortable with my
weaknesses, I must be patient with them. Everyday is a day of
decision. And those daily decisions determine destiny. So choose to be
happy! Choose to be faithful! Choose to sacrifice your will for the
Father's.

I'm learning more about Grace as well. Grace is not really us climbing
part way up a mountain, "doing our best," and then stopping. Then
Christ carries us the rest of the way up the mountain, "Christ does
the rest." No, rather it is more like us leaning on Christ and
climbing the whole mountain on our power, made strong enough through
Christ's continual, enabling Grace. Sometimes you feel "Oh, I just
can't do my best." I think "Oh, I should have talked to that person,
oh I'm not doing my best or all I can." But we need to trust more in
Christ's grace. His "grace is sufficient for us" (2Cor12:9) in order
to help us do our best. He takes our strength and makes it more,
empowers us to do more. He perfects our efforts (Hebrews 12:2).

For me, it is only by leaning on the daily strengthening power of
Christ's Atonement--his Grace--that I can get by. Sometimes I have to
lean more heavily then others, but I can take comfort in knowing that
Christ is by my side, every step of the way. We need not walk alone,
"doing our part/doing our best." He is always there!

We are to be perfect, but perfection is a process. So be patient (D&C 67:13).

Monday, October 14, 2013

October 14,  2013

It's a strange place to be emailing from, a "pc bahng," or massive
game room with leather chairs and nice computers. 3$ for 2.5 hrs. And
lot's of screaming Koreans and the sounds of video game violence. But
this is one of the cleaner ones, so we're lucky.

It's been a great week! The days sure are long, but the weeks sure are
fast! I feel like I've already been here forever. I've taught more
english classes then ever in my life, and held more male hands than
ever before. (Koreans are super touchy. But it's cool. Hebrews 13:1) I
met a professional soccer player, got his number and enjoyed he and
his girlfriend's matching phone, shoes, shirts, pants, rings,
bracelets, and bags. It's called 'couple-ing' and it's a thing. A big
thing. I've eaten lots of seaweed, strange meats, suspicious
mushrooms, crazy veggies and so much DELICIOUS food. It's amazing.
Things I never would have tried....I love. I'm definitely becoming
Korean. I think it has something to do with the Kimchi. It seeps into
you. Korean's have lots of pizza too. But with really different
toppings. No one's heard of cheese pizza, but sweet potato pizza?
Classic. Everyone and their mother asks if I have a girlfriend. I say
no, I'm a missionary. Then they always, without fail, gesture around
and instruct me to pick one! Funny. It's great to go up to students
who know english and tell them "OH my! You are very handsome!" In
english. Great way to start a gospel conversation.

Also, this past week the elementary school near our apartment has been
practicing for something. We've heard it's for their performance at
the World Cup? But it involves them BLASTING music that echoes through
the neighborhood for hours. And so much screaming. It sounds like the
world cup is actually happening over there. So it's fun to study with
that going on :) Just another day in paradise.

General Conference was AMAZING. I only ended up being able to watch
the priesthood and sunday sessions, but it was still SUPER good. I've
always loved conference, and love how all the questions I take there
get answered. But I've never received the amount of personal
revelation that I did at this conference. I learn much from the words
that were spoken but SO much more from the Spirit. My notes mostly
have nothing to do with the speakers' talks. So I'm excited to get the
Ensign and study the talks more!

But I did love two particular teachings. "To win a man to your cause,
you must first convince him that you are his sincere friend." I would
add that we must also truly be that sincere friend. This applies so
much to missionary work. For most people, it's not the doctrine that
leads them to meet with the missionaries, but the way they feel, the
love they feel, or how happy/nice the missionaries seemed. Because in
Korea, a huge part of our time is spent street contacting, convincing
people that you are their friend is super important. It's amazing to
see how my love for people is growing, and how quickly I am coming to
be there friend. I had a miracle happen the other day. On the subway,
I was talking to this man, alone, and I carried on an entire
conversation with him. (My Korean is DEFINITELY not good enough for
that). But through the spirit, and because of my love for him, and the
relationship we built, we were able to understand each other and I was
able to teach a little bit about the restoration. From that subway
ride, we had 2 people call US afterwards. That doesn't happen.
Miracles.

The other point was this "Good timber does not grow with ease; the
stronger the wind, the stronger the trees." I LOVE this. As a huge
proponent of the blessings of trials, I am always excited to learn
more about how we grow through challenges. I've been thinking about
how sometimes strong wind will not come to us. We will grow strong
enough to easily withstand the wind we face at our present level. So
it is up to us to reach out and seek stronger wind, more difficult
circumstances; to step out of our comfort zone. For me, that is
relying on my native companion to save me when I jump into
conversations over my head. On the subway after conference, I prayed
for the strength to really reach out and talk to people on my own, not
looking for my companion to talk with me. (Usually I start the
conversations and he finishs them) It was definitely hard. I had a lot
of people shut me down. But miracles happened. As noted above, I got
more phone numbers than ever before in one day and we had people call
US whom I'd just given our card to. When we seek for challenge and
strive to better ourselves, regardless of the current situation, we
WILL be blessed with strength. And we will grow.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Pictures in Korea




October 7,  2013

WOOOHOOOO!!!

I'm here! Finally in the beautiful land of Korea! The people are  short, the buildings are tall, and everything is beautiful. The massive department stores, the huge smartphones that everyone over
5yrs old owns, the narrow streets, the multitudes of motorcycles that ignore all traffic laws, the smells of hundred street food stands, the sounds of blaring Kpop on every corner, ALL is amazing, wonderful, and like a dream. But it all seems so familiar, like I've always lived, belonged, and served here. It's AWESOME.

The streets are narrow and hilly, like some European countryside, except overwhelmingly urban. Hilly, sharply cornered, and busily with action. You just walk in the street and jump to the side whenever a car decides to squeeze through. There are tons of sage looking old Asian men. We talked to a couple 90+ yrs olds this week. They were just walking around, all fine. American 90yr olds are usually on their deathbed. These ones like hiking.

Hiking is like the national sport, so hiking dress/gear is the most popular attire for middle aged adults. Everyone younger looks SOOO stylish. Koreans are definitely the most fashionable people. Suits are
silken and shining and everywhere. It's sweet.

Enough about the place, let's talk about the WORK! Missionary work is so fun! We don't really have a lot of investigators in Korea (our companionship currently has zero progressing ones) so most of our work is finding! The most common method is street contacting! So we just walk the streets and talk to as many people as we can! All I can say is "Hi." "Oh you are stylish" "Oh your impression is so becoming" (get's them blushing every time) and "where are you going?" But it's fine. My companion Elder Jeong (or 정지호 장로님) is really good at Korean. Probably because he's a native of Busan, Korea. He's 22, already served in the military, and is our district leader. He's AWESOME. The Lord definitely put me with him for many reasons. He doesn't speak a ton of English, but I'm still super impressed with how much he knows. We usually get most things communicated alright, between my really bad Korean, his English, and the dictionary. But he's an amazing blessing.
He helps me stay focused, because we can't really talk about non missionary things. I love him so much. He's incredibly patient with me. And I'm super grateful that he's willing to be obedient. and that he's alright working hard, because I'm am SOOO into that. I'm all for walking briskly, talking to everyone, and going sooo hard. It's GREAT. But since he speaks native Korean, I understand pretty much nothing he says when we talk to people. But I'm great at starting conversations, partly because I'm tall, white and blonde, and partly because he taught me some money phrases that make me sound like a Korean. And my "I speak as much Korean as a rat's tail" line get's them laughing every time. SMILE. It's great.

With all that being said, this work is hard. I have small moments everyday where I think "AHHHH I'm awful at Korean and I understand no one." So I know thoroughly my inadequacies. I always quickly turn by to excited optimism, but it's hard. I've only been here a week, but I feel like I should know so much more than I do. I was studying on Sunday, and I came across some verses that really hit me. Hebrews 11:33-34, 2Cor 12:10, and D&C 50: 13-16,40-44.  1st off: Paul was really good about "learning to dance in the rain." I certainly glory in afflictions here. When my feet hurt, I think "YES!" when people reject me or scream mean things, I think "YES." But I once again the exclamation "When I am weak, then am I strong" really resonated with me. When we are weak, then are we humble. And when we are humble and rely on the Lord, we can do things never before possible. In that we are strong. We also are made stronger through our trials and challenges. I love hard things. I love being broken down and through trials being "made more perfect." The D&C verses were powerful too. I am called to preach the gospel, not to feel sorry for myself. Lose yourself. Again, things I know, but gratefully reinforced. And the words "hereafter" I will make you strong. PATIENCE. We are children and cannot bear all things now. Becoming a missionary, becoming like
God, both are processes. Line upon line. I must be patient with myself and not expect to be perfect right now. All I can do is try my best, demonstrate faith through action, and strive each day to be a little better than the day before.

I see miracles each day. Sunday: I had to give my introduction/testimony. I wrote out what I wanted to say and my companion translated it. except he did it in native Korean. So I knew pretty much NONE of the grammar. It would have been like memorizing a ton of new words and grammar,etc. Way overwhelming. But I knew that as long as I practiced hard, and had faith, the Lord would lead me to say what he wanted. So worked on it a ton. And I wasn't nervous at all. That's the great thing about faith. Do all you can, and don't worry about it. That's a talent/skill/trait the Lord has blessed me
with: not worry about things. I got up and did my best. I didn't say it all correctly, and didn't say most of the translated stuff, but I got my message a crossed and made a strong first impression. The
members were all blown away that I'd only been in Korea for 5 days. And the other Elders kept asking me if I was at the top of my MTC class for Korean.( NO WAYYY.) And the best part is that I know with a surety  that it was not me. I'm not that good. But I prepared well, and trusted in the Lord, and he did not abandon me.

Another miracle: I stopped to talk to this guy waiting for the bus. We talked a little and it came out that he had been living in Atlanta with his family for a long while. So he spoke English and his kids
speak mostly English. WHAT. It was like the best two years. SO I talked to him in English a little. He said that he was watching us and wondered if we'd come talk to him. He'd been thinking about church and felt that he wasn't really feeling anything at his current church. He took a Book of Mormon, and agreed to come to church on Sunday. But his car broke. So we're visiting him and his family tonight!!! Super excited. I see miracles everyday. I know the Lord prepares people to accept this message. You just have to talk to everyone in order to find them. When you know that prepared people are out there, it's not as hard to accept rejection on the street. You just press on and keep looking. We met someone who was in the same military unit as my companion and agreed to meet with us. Today in the immigration office I met a couple who'd spent the last 40 yrs in Virigina and they agreed to meet with us. It's amazing. The Lord truly guides this work.

I know this is where I'm supposed to be. I love it. I am weak, but in such am I strong. I can't say much, but I know I've been called by a prophet to share what I know. And I know it's true.