Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Transfer 4, week 5 (December 27, 2013)

Hey! Yo! What's up!

Sorry that I can't speak Japanese anymore. I forgot to say that in my last email or whatever... I don't know how things are going to be by the end of my mission, but uh, I guess you all can teach me again!

Had a pretty chill week this week; not too much going on at all. Our branch president fed us a couple of times (once at this like yakiniku place, where they have a grill in the middle of the table), which is always awesome. We had Christmas of course, Elder Brower finally got his Christmas package, so all is well I think.

We did manage to meet with 전준식 (the "English spaz") this week, and we did what we call "How to Begin Teaching." Basically, it's a pre-lesson before we start talking about church stuff - kind of our goals as missionaries, why we do missionary work, that kind of thing. And then we taught a little bit, but we basically spent the rest of the time on talking about God. It seems like we'll have to take things pretty slowly with him - he doesn't have a religion, and so we're trying to make sure he understands what we're talking about before we move on.

As it turns out, he seems pretty willing to learn; we have a good discussion, and I think it went well. We'll see as we keep meeting him, but so far, he's not an "English spaz with no gospel interest," so that's a relief.

He really liked this salt analogy I used. I heard another missionary say it (and I want to say I've heard this several other times before my mission, so I don't know where it comes from), so I gave it a shot. Basically, it's used to help explain why we give people commitments to keep - whether that is going to church, reading the Book of Mormon, praying, etc.

And so I asked him whether he knew what salt tastes like (of course he did). Then, I asked him to describe it to me, pretending as if I've never had salt before. Of course that's really hard to describe, other than "salty." Then, it's really easy to make a connection that as missionaries, we talk a lot about "happiness" "God" "Christ" "peace" "salvation" "Holy Ghost" - words that he doesn't really understand, and words that are hard for us to describe by speaking. The easiest way for him to understand what we're talking about is for him to taste the salt; just do what we're asking, give it a try, and see how things go.

Let's see more about him... he says he does believe in a God that watches over us, and keeps us, and things like that, so that's a good place to start. Oh, and wanted to have him read a pamphlet before we met again next time, so Elder Brower started talking about that. He got to about "Hey, so can you read some of the pamphlet..." when 전준식 said that he'll read it all by that night, so that's a really good sign. We still need to see where things go though; hopefully, he'll stay interested and willing to learn.

We couldn't meet with Mike this week though, which is too bad. We need to find more investigators; we've been trying, but it hasn't been that successful sadly. We'll keep at it though, since we don't have a ton of other options. :D

Our branch is planning on seeing the New Year's sunrise on Wednesday, and they invited us, so it looks like we're going. That's a Japanese tradition as well, right? If I take any good pictures, I'll send them your way! 

So basically, just one teaching appointment and Christmas this week. Hopefully, we'll be little busier next week, but I guess only time will tell!

I hope you have a merry Christmas, and that you'll all have a sweeeet New Year's! Are you all partying with the obachaantatchi as always? Or just Mom and Dad?

Elder Luke!


"I'm sorry I can't speak Japanese": When we talked to him on the phone Christmas Eve he was having kind of a hard time speaking in straight Japanese -- he kept sticking in little Korean interjections, and his Japanese had kind of a Korean accent to it. I hope that's a good sign that he's getting to be pretty good with the Korean language.

yakiniku: Meat cooked on a grill, a.k.a. "Korean barbecue." In Japan it's usually cooked on a gas grill; in Korea, usually over charcoal.

전준식: Jeon Junsik.

obachantachi: Yumiko's Japanese friends. (Literally, "ladies about the age of my aunts.")

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas! (December 25, 2013)

Merry Christmas~~!
It was good talking to you all today! Sorry that you had to wait a bit; Elder Brower's family call really really late, and I couldn't tell him the cut the call so I can get mine. Hopefully, you didn't worry too much or anything. :)
I opened up my pacakges, and Elder Brower took some pictures, so here they are (poor Elder Brower hasn't gotten his package yet... it's on the way though. Also, my hair in the second picture). It was fun - everything in that box is awesome!
Thank you for all the goodies, the pictures, the necktie, the blanket, the snacks, everything! And please tell Keiko-obachaan as well. I will be snacking very well in the future. :D
Don't worry, I'll make sure to share with Elder Brower, haha! Have an awesome Christmas!
- Elder Luke

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Pictures! (December 23, 2013)

Here's a few pictures...
Me in my sweet new Korean suit (that's the 영도 house)


영도: Yeongdo; this is inside the house he lived in there. Seems rather spacious. Part of it is the camera angle, but he looks like he's lost some weight.

Elder Platero and Elder Carter (I don't have a picture with me and Elder Platero together)

Notes: Elder Platero was his second companion in Yeongdo. Elder Carter was in the MTC with him; he is also half-Japanese. The writing on the blackboard says "Yeongdo guyeok," where "guyeok" is "section," according to Google Translate. I'm guessing this means "district," which is a group of missionaries in approximately the same geographical area.

Me and Elder Brower

Notes: Elder Brower is his current companion in Seogwipo. The above photo appears to have been taken on a boat headed toward U-do, the island that he describes below, which they visited on their preparation day ("p-day") on Monday, December 16.

For p-day last week, we went to Udo, which is an island off of Jejudo, because Jeju isn't island enough.

Notes: U-do is a small island, about 1.5 x 2 miles, located about a mile and a half to the east of Jeju-do.  You can see it here.

We went together with the district (everyone on Jejudo), and rented and rode bikes around the island. It was a bit cold, but fun. It would be a lot prettier in the summer maybe.

Notes: This would be the east end of Jeju-do, looking almost directly west from the beach on U-do.

And here are some pictures from our Christmas party/meeting!

Sorry there's not more pictures of me, but I was busy taking pictures and making sure that everything was running smoothlyish.

Merry Christmas! (December 23, 2013)

Merry Christmas (in a few days)!

I hope all is well over in the States. Has it snown yet? It snowed the other day in 서귀포, but it was really light and didn't stick. :( Mostly, it's just been kind of drizzly off and on.

I got packages by the way! One from Keiko-obachan, and one from you all! It's kind of funny; Keiko-obachan's package has what's in it written on the front - it says like "rice crackers, candy, etc... for Christmas gift." It's fine, I'll have fun opening it anyways. Tell her thanks for me!

So this week's been pretty crazy. Our branch president asked us to plan a Christmas party (I guess he asked a looong time ago already, but I wasn't here...), with like a week before the party, with nothing planned. That, combined with us leaving for a Christmas meeting in 부산 made us very, very busy. Our stats suffered quite a bit, but the party turned out pretty well. We ran into a lot of problems, but they got resolved one way or another. If I have to plan another Christmas party next year, I will be sure to do it like 2 months in advance. -_-

So we had like a talent show by the people in the branch, something that was supposed to be like a "secret Santa" but just turned out to be giving presents to the little kids, singing Christmas carols together (which I had to play since the branch pianist was in Seoul. I played from the hymns made easy book, and even though I didn't have much time to practice, it went okaaaaayish), and then a few talks about Christmas (which were given by the missionaries, of course). After all that, we had dinner together (which was curry and fried chicken, fruits and ice cream. Not really Christmasy, but it was delicious).

Oh, and on top of that, the branch president asked me to conduct the meeting/party, which isn't particularly hard, but something more to stress about. Luckily, all the members came through for what we asked them to do - a few extra people even pitched in with the talent show, the food was beyond what I thought it would be, a couple of members said nice things about the decorations, so I think it was a success. Turnout was good; we had a few less activeish people show up, a part-member family showed up, things like that. I think it's because of all the prayers we said - we needed a lot of help to make the party come together! But it's over now!

Last Sunday we had a primary program, with maybe 6 kids in it. I was forced to play the piano for this too, and I had even less time to practice than with the Christmas party, so it didn't go so well. Oh, and I was not given at all clear instructions on what to play when, so that was kiiind of a disaster... but, hey, that's over too now. The kids were cute, and that's what really matters.

Quick update on investigators - I talked to Elder Platero at our Christmas meeting, and he says that 지영수 hasn't been picking up his phone, so that's kind of a bad sign. They've only been able to meet with him once during the past 3 weeks of this transfer. But they met 박동채, and he said he would come to church (yesterday, hopefully) with his wife. Apparently, he also wanted to talk to me, so he might randomly call me sometime, which would be fun.

As far as 서귀포 investigators, we've got two that we're working with. One guy is what the missionaries affectionately call and "English spaz" - for some reason, there's a ton of people in Korea who are absolutely obsessed with learning English. We met him on the street nearish our house; his name is 전준식, he's from Seoul, he used to go to our English classes up there, but the time doesn't work out for him in Jejudo. His hobby is to study English; he buys English newspapers, and studies the headlines, so he knows a lot of words, but he really wants to talk to people. We're not really sure how much interest he has in our church, but we've only met him a couple of times, so we'll figure out whether we can keep meeting with him or not.

Also, we're meeting with a kid named "Mike." I don't know what his Korean name is, but his English is really, really good. He's like 14ish, and his family's met with the missionaries some 4 years ago. They still keep in touch with one missionary; I guess they really like the missionaries, but not really sure about religion. I've only met with him once so far, but we've got things set up to meet with him weekly. Again, with them, we need to figure out how interested they are, what they remember about what the other missionaries taught them, things like that.

With both of these investigators, we're doing what we call a 30/30 with them - basically, we visit a house, teach some English, and then introduce our church/teach our missionary lessons with them.

Alrighty, that's all I have time for for this week. Have a merry Christmas, and remember what Christmas is about! I know even as a missionary, it's hard to always stay focused, with parties, and packages, and the fun things that come with Christmas. But remember that Christmas is about God's greatest gift to us - His Son. We can thank our Heavenly Father by appreciating this gift; by loving, thinking about it, and living it. I'm a missionary, and I don't understand even close to everything about the Atonement, but that doesn't mean that I can't use and apply it. To me, the Atonement really simply something that lets us become better people.

Thank you for all you do for me! Merry Christmas!
- Elder Luke


서귀포: Seogwipo, his area.

부산: Busan. The missionary Christmas meeting was in Busan, presumably at the mission office or a church nearby, so I'm guessing they got to fly again to get there (and again to get home).

지영수: Ji Yeongsu, the plastics guy / fishing lure maker that they were meeting with when he was in Yeongdo.  Mentioned in Andrew's letters from November 11, 18, and 25.

박동채: Pak Dongchae, friendly restaurant owner that also speaks Japanese (see November 11 letter).

spaz: This appears to be Korean-missionary-specific slang to mean "someone that is really good at something," and perhaps specific to language learning. My brother used to say this all the time when he got back from Korea, both as a noun ("He's a real hanja spaz") and as a verb ("I totally spazzed you!"). It seems that 25 years later, the slang still lives on.

전준식: Jeon Junsik, the "English spaz" from Seoul they met.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Sorry! (December 16, 2013)

Sorry guys, but really no time today...

Been fairly busy this week, just doing whatever. Our branch asked us to figure out a Christmas program, so we're in the middle of getting that mess sorted out. We found a bunch of decorations in a closet though, and they had Christmas lights! So everything will be bright if nothing else.

We're going to be busy doing more planning and decorating for this next week as well. -_-

The branch is like 25 people - there's maybe 4 main families that make up the branch, and then a few singles, and a few older couples. We have a full branch presidency, which is cool. We only do church for 2 hours though; the missionaries attend sacrament meeting, and then Sunday School, which we don't have to teach!

The members are really nice though - they seem really willing to help out. Last week, someone asked me what kind of food I like, and so I told them "coroquettes." The next Sunday, I think 2 members had bought some to give to us - I was really surprised! They weren't the Japanese style delicious ones, but they were still good!

Sorry, that's all I have time for. Hopefully, next p-day more time.


- Elder Luke

Monday, December 9, 2013

Hello from 서귀포! (December 9, 2013)


So 서귀포's okay. There's not a ton of people here (I would guess a ton of tourists in the summer, but nobody in the winter) - sometimes we walk for like 40 minutes somewhere, and see maybe 1-2 people. So that's a little annoying, but it's workable.

We do a lot of service projects here - 재주도 is literally covered in 감귤 farms, which I think are mandarin oranges. In any case, one member has such a farm, and so we help out every Tuesday with that. Last Tuesday we were there for 7 hours picking these tiny oranges. It's not that fun.

Luckily, it's not hard work, just really boring work. On the bright side, I like to eat mandarin oranges now.

We've got a couple of investigators to work with it seems; a couple of what we call 30/30's, which is where we visit a house, teach English for awhile, and then teach about our church for awhile. I think we've got 2 of those going on, and then a recent convert we need to keep teaching. That plus a few service projects, and a few other activities keeps us pretty busy.

But we're still looking for investigators. We've decided to start working on this fat stack of former investigators, maybe a couple hundered record to call and try to see if they're interested. I have no idea how long that will take though!

Aaaand that's about it. I guess the missionaries have killer p-days here in 제주 so that's kind of something to look forward to. I prefer to spend my p-days doing the things I need to, and not out playing, but I think my companion wants to be out doing touristy stuff, so that'll probably happen.

Oh, and Elder Brower's pretty nice. I don't think I'll have anything major to complain about him. He loves music, showers, and killing mosquitoes. Mmm, yeah, that's about all I know about him.

Trying to understand Korean is pretty rough though, because we're two foreign, fairly young missionaries. His Korean is pretty good (he's been out a little less than a year now, I think). Haha, but yesterday he was on the phone, and I wanted to take the phone away from him and start talking, because he was really confusing the person on the other end of the call. -_-

It's alright. Things will work out. Missionary work moves along someway or another.

Ah, and we basically live at the church. Our house is on the same property as the church, and so it's like a 10 second walk from our house to the church. The house is pretty small though; maybe 1/2 the size of 영도 house (hm, maybe like the size of our living room, not counting the little room that connects to the dining room). But! But, the shower is actually good here (영도 shower is quite literally the worst shower I've ever used), so that automatically makes it at least an okay house.

Please, if you have any questions, send them to me! Otherwise, I'll just keep writing about whatever.

Love you all!

- Elder Luke


서귀포: Seogwipo, the city he's in.

재주도: Jeju-do, the name of the island he's on.

감귤: gamgyul. Google Translate says this is "citrus," but according to visitkorea.or.kr, the "Official Site of Korea Tourism Org," they're tangerines. This page notes that "noji [outdoor field] tangerines are harvested from November to February," so that's apparently what they were doing for their service project last Tuesday.

제주: Jeju, the name of the island again.

영도: Yeongdo, his previous area.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Hello from Soguipo! (December 2, 2013)

Sorry, the Korean button on this keyboard is busted, so I'll have to type it all in English... and I have no idea how to spell my new area's name in English.

Anyways, so I got transferred to Soguipo! Where that is is on Jejudo, which is an island about a 45 minute flight away from Busan (the flight was very uneventful by the way, other than the fact that they took away my scissors (I forgot about the fact that you can't bring them on planes), and the fact that security didn't like the water filters we were bringing on board). All the members in Yeoungdo said that Jejudo is like a "Korean Hawaii," and that I'll enjoy many awesome P-days there.

It's kind of funny; there's like five areas in the Busan mission which serves on islands, and I've been in 2 of them so far... Yeoungdo is the 3rd most south area, and now I'm in the southernmost area!

My new companion is Elder Brower, and he's been in Korea for a little less than a year now, so we're a fairly youngish companionship. I've heard other Korean missionions are a lot worse though; with extremely young companionships. Anyways, he seems pretty nice. I'll probably email you all more about him later.

It seems like Soguipo has several weekly activities, and they keep pretty busy. We've had a couple days in Yeoungdo where we had literally nothing planned for the day, and needed to plan like 8-9 hours worth of things to do. Those are rough days, and I'll probably have many more.

My district here is small, with 6 people, but they all seem nice.

Not much time today so I'll write you all next week!


- Elder Luke


Seogwipo (서귀포) is one of the two cities on Jeju Island, and is the southernmost city in Korea. The population of the city is about 156,000. (The other city, Jeju City, is about 410,000.) It should be a pretty nice place to spend the winter, as it's also the warmest place in Korea (average highs in the lower 50s, average lows in the upper 30s).

You can see it on the map here.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Last week in 영도? (November 25, 2013)


No real news for this week either... we've haven't had very much luck doing anything it seems. Our only real investigator, 지영수 (Jii Yeoungsoo in English, though Dad's probably already read his name to you...) was busy this week, and so we weren't. I don't really have any good stories to share either...

We're not sure exactly what he does, but he says he's a plastics something, and is an expert in making fishing lures. I guess the whole factory setup in his house is there so he can make those; 지영수 says he gets orders from all over the world, and he's working on some from South America right now, so that's pretty crazy.

We've been working on trying not necessary to find non-actives, but just trying to see if these people even live in 영도 anymore. The records are really old - maybe 10~15 years old, and so all the information is bad. There's a lot of phone numbers that don't exist anymore, addresses that are vague enough that there's like 20 possible houses, things like that. But we have a lot of time so we've been whittling down on that. There's like 3 different books of records, so trying to get all the information from all of them is kind of painstaking (?) work. Someday, everything will be digital with Google Maps, and then life will be easy!

We had a lot of luck the last couple of days though, most likely because we went on a Saturday and Sunday. There was a lot of people at home, and so they could tell us whether the person lived there or not.

Other than that, doing the usual knocking doors, trying to talk to people, etc, etc. We've tried a couple of times to "sports 전도" - I guess the theory is that you play sports with people, and they they'll give you their numbers to play again, and you do that a bit more and try to see if they're interested in gospel stuff at all. That hasn't really worked out either; we don't have like a basketball here in 영도, and neither does anyone else in our district. Oh, and we're both terrible at sports. We've gotten a couple of numbers, but I honestly don't know if they want us to come back again!

Um... We taught 이상남 this last Sunday, to teach the after-baptism lessons. He's still pretty hard to teach, so we've been keeping it slow. He probably doesn't remember anything that we've taught, but that's kind of out of our control. Last time, we talked about temples (reaaaally simply), but he really wanted to hurry up the lesson and watch his friends play Minecraft. Luckily, we had made this puzzle of the Seoul temple, and had him make that. I think that took his mind of video games, and he concentrated a tiny bit better than before the puzzle. He's a funny kid.

For some reason, we've been getting fed a lot recently. I've probably eaten more with members during the past 4 week here than the 12 with Elder Cho. Not sure why; Elder Platero insists that it's because he looks hungry, so people want to feed him. Don't really know what that means.

We had interviews with President Gilbert this week. He basically said to be patient and keep working - that sometimes, things just happen slowly sometimes. I understand that that's true, but it's still a little annoying that what we're doing doesn't seem to be working out very well. But he said that I was doing fine, and Sister Gilbert said the same thing, so I all I can do is keep at it and not worry too much. They also said that they're going to start keeping missionaries in areas longer; President Monson at one point said that 4-5 transfers is about right for a missionary to be successful (we've been averaging 3 transfers per area I think; the logic behind it is to spend the first transfer getting to know the area and members, the second getting referrals, the third teaching, and the fourth to finish teaching and baptize, which makes a lot of sense).

Oh, and this is probably my last week in 영도. I think I've only explained why, but it's rare for a trainee to stay in their first area any longer than 3 transfers - I guess members tend to remember their first impression, and if that's a scared Elder who can't speak any Korean, that's who they remember. I don't want to leave 영도 though. :(

Happy Thanksgiving! For some reason, I thought it was last week (it isn't, it it?).

Thank you, thank you for all you do~~~!

- Elder Luke


영도: Yeongdo, his area.

안녕하세요!: Annyeonghaseyo, the standard Korean greeting.

전도: Jeondo, "missionary work." From the pronunciation and meaning, I assume this is 伝道 (でんどう [dendou] in Japanese).

이상남: I Sangnam, the boy they taught and baptized a while ago.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Hey! (November 18, 2013)

Not much time for email today so reaaaaally short.
For fun - 영도's has a ton of cats. Thought Mom would like to know. We see like 3-5 strays a day on average. We were walking through this sketchy neighborhood once, and we turned the corner to see 4 cats staring back at us. I've never seen cats anywhere outside of 영도.
One of the investigators I spoke about last time is still really good - 지영수 is his name (can't remember if I wrote it right last time). He keeps saying that the Book of Mormon is "really a Holy Bible." He says he wants to read it all and keep studying it, which is really exciting.
I guess once concern is that he says he'll keep studying and reading it - years and years if needed - until he gets baptized. So we'll have to work on helping him understand that he doesn't need to know everything before baptism.
Oh, and next time you sent me a package, can you send me some looseleaf college-ruled paper? I've been using that for my study notes, I'm running out, and I can't find any here. Just one pack should be fine. Thanks!
Aight, I'm pretty much out of time. We're trying to buy me a sweet Korean suit today - hopefully, I'll find one for cheap. Email you all next week!
Thanks, and I love you all!
- Elder Luke


영도: Yeongdo, Andrew's area.

지영수: Chi Yeongsu, the name of the man they're teaching.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

안녕하세용! (November 11, 2013)


I hope all is well over in Boise! 영도's weather has taken a turn for the way too cold, and it's only November. We've finally had to start using the heater in our house, only to find that, well, it's terrible. In Korea, heaters are in the floor, so our apartment floor is warm, but the space from the floor to the ceiling is not as toasty as we'd like it to be.

I had to give another talk this week, but it went much better. I don't know if it's because I prepared more for it, or just because I prayed a lot more (I was scared that things would go like last time). Anyways, the talk I gave was on the importance of the sacrament, and I was like maybe 10 minutes long. I'm pretty sure I said the same thing over and over again for those ten minutes, but the members were nice and said that I can almost speak Korean (not really, they just said "good."). This time, the middle form/high form didn't trip me up as bad, and I feel like I expressed myself much better. I think it was the prayers more than any improving in Korean that I did.

Just want to write about a few people we've met.

We met one 박동채 while looking for less actives. I can't remember if I wrote about him or not, but here it is anyways. We were really, really lost, and so we were standing on the side of a road, looking at my camera (we have a huge map back at the apartment, so I take pictures of it so we can have a portable way of figuring out exactly where we are). He walked up, and asked if he could help us. We chatted for a bit, and he sent us off in the same direction.

Later, when we were working out way back, we ran into him again, outside of some restaurant that we think he owns/lives at. He gave us some delicious cider, and we talked for some 10 minutes. He seemed to really like us, and told us to come on over and hang out anytime.

Oh, and he speaks Japanese too. He was talking in Korean, and he said "fu tari" (meaning "two people"), instead of the Korean "두명," so I asked him. Turns out he was born in Japan, and then moved to Korea. He was happy to learn that my Japanese is passable and kept laughing his santa-like laugh and saying, "Ohohoho, nihonjin sokuri mitai desune!" (No idea how to spell that in romaji, but "You are just like a Japanese person!").

Anyways, we called him back yesterday, and when we said that we were the missionaries, he was all like, "Ohohohoho, yes, yes." He's busy now with college (he's a bit older, maybe 50? I think he's studying Japanese), but says to come over to chill with him after he's done with testing. He's a really cool guy.

We also met a man 지영수 - he's maybe 40, and is really nice. I think Elder Platero received some revelation that led to us meeting him. We were out knocking doors (which is terrible in Korea because everyone has a doorbell-intercom with an outer gate, and so it's hard to actually meet people face-to-face), and there was one house with the gate open, and a door open. We kind of checked the house out, but we couldn't see anyone. I wanted to move on, but Elder Platero was waiting to see if anything happened.

Eventually, the man saw us or heard us, and stepped out. He already knew our church, and kept saying things like, "Oh, your church is so good!" and "Ah, your church is true!" So we gave him a pamphlet, and he told us to come by again and talk.

Well, we did that a couple of days ago, and again, Elder Platero kind of made things work. Same deal - doors open, lights on, but nobody responding to our "Hello?"'s. Again, I was ready to go home and eat dinner, but I got a feeling that I just needed to let Elder Platero do his thing. Elder Platero kind of crept through the gate to get a better look in the house, and I guess 지영수 again heard us or something, and so he came out.

He was happy to see us, and invited us into his house. He had read the pamphlet we gave, and was really curious. He's studied the Bible before, and says he really likes Christ. He asked us a bunch of really good questions that he had from reading the pamphlet; "What is the Book of Mormon?" "Where can I buy one?" "Who exactly was Joseph Smith?" Not hard questions, but questions that we missionaries love to hear.

He was really accepting throughout our time together, and he said he's get started on reading to Book of Mormon. He also said to come into his house whenever because he's usually home. We're excited to continue to work with him!

Ooh, sorry for the long email! It's just excited to write about these people that we get to meet!

One more thing. Dad - next time you happen to send me a package, can you send me some pictures of me when I was younger? People seem to want see those, and the pictures I have right now are all within like 2 years. Members want to see me when back when I was adorable.

Thanks for all you do! I'll write again next week!


-Elder Luke


안녕하세용!: Annyeonghaseyo, the standard Korean greeting.

영도: Yeongdo, the area he's in. By the way, the weather recently in Busan has been highs around 60 F, lows around 40 F.

박동채: Bak Dongchae (or Pak Dongche), the Japanese-born guy.

두명: dumyeong, "two people." I'm guessing this is probably 二名 or 二人.

지영수: Ji Yeongsu, the guy with the open door.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Pictures! (November 4, 2013)

Here's some pictures from the baptism. The picture file seems to be a little different, so I have no idea whether you'll be able to see them clearly. Enjoy!
I'll send an actual email in like an hour.
- Elder Luke


He didn't say, but this last one is Yeongdo, taken from just across the water on the mainland. Here's a Google Maps shot taken from that bridge right about at the bottom of his photo: click here.

Week 2, Transfer 3 (November 4, 2013)


Still not too much to report on for this week. Spent a lot of time trying to find people, and we've sort of gathered a pool of people that are potential investigators (and a much larger pool of potential-potential investigators). Hopefully, we can meet with those people and start teaching a few of them.

영도 branch got reshuffled a bit. Our branch president, 이성일, didn't change (he's been serving as Branch President for like 8 years now), but we now have a 1st and 2nd counselor! The first counselor is our previous ward mission leader, 장인택, and second counselor is Elder Platero.

The new ward mission leader, 추헌종, is someone who is sort of less active, but he seems pretty committed. He called us up last night (new callings were given Sunday), and asked about how often we meet, when we meet etc. We hadn't been meeting with the ward mission leader consistently, so maybe this will be a change to change that. I don't really know him, but I feel like this will be a good change.

Dad asked about my district in a previous email, so I'll talk a little about that.

We had a change in our district recently, but I'll get to that.

When I first got to 영도, we had 4 areas in my district, with 6 teams of missionaries (2 teams of sisters). The areas were 영도, 대신, 괴겅, and 수정. I think Mom knows Elder Carter's mom, but Elder Carter was in the MTC at the same time I was. He's also half-Japanese, and we usually hang out together (especially the 2nd transfer - all the Koreans wanted to get together to do something on P-day, so we 외국인 kind of just stuck together). We also had Elder Wilson, who was in Elder Carter's MTC district.

We also had another trainee (though he was older than us), so we had a very young district.

Really recently though, we lost 수정, which was given to a smaller district, and so our district is now 4 people less, and we won't be able to see Elder Wilson anymore, which is too bad.

I don't really know what else you might want to know about our district - I'll be in a new one by the time any reply letter comes anyways.

Well, sorry I don't have anything too interesting to write about. We're just trying to find people to work with, and sometimes, that's kind of slow work. Hopefully, I'll have some more exciting news next week.

Thanks for everything! I pray about all of you back in Idaho every day! Be safe!

- Elder Luke


영도: Yeongdo, Andrew's area of Busan.

이성일: I Seong-il (or I Sung-il), the name of the branch president (leader of the congregation). (Incidentally, I looked him up in Church records [there are advantages to being a clerk...] and they show his name as "Lee Sung Il". Maybe some of our Korean-speaking readers can tell me why 이 would be "Lee"?

장인택: Jang Intaek (or Chang Intek), the new first counselor. (Incidentally, he was previously listed as second counselor and branch clerk.)

추헌종: Chu Heonjong, the new branch mission leader.

대신: Daesin, another area in his district. I couldn't find anything on the map that seemed to unambiguously match this name.

괴겅: Goegeong, another area in his district. I think this is about here.

수정: Sujeong, another area in his district. This one I was able to find on the map here, I think. It looks like it's just across the water from Yeongdo island. This is the area that is no longer part of his district. The name seems to mean "crystal," according to Google Translate.

 외국인: Oeguk-in, "foreigner." I'm guessing this is 異国人.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

안녕하세요~! (October 28, 2013)


Not too much to report on this week.

We started this week with no real investigators to visit, and 지금도 없어요... That's alright, we'll find them though. We had a loooot of time to have to fill, and we spend a good 2-4 hours a day looking for really old less-actives. Physically, it's been pretty hard - we've been hiking up the mountains of 영도, then down the mountains of 영도, and then getting lost and repeating the process. I'm understanding how to use a map better though!

My new companion is pretty cool. Elder Harris (was in my MTC district) said "he's pretty chill", and Elder Platero is indeed pretty chill. I should have no trouble getting along with him!

It seems like he's seen and done some miracles in his last area, so hopefully we'll be able to make things start happening in 영도.

Anyways, back to the less-actives. We haven't been really been able to meet with the less actives - a lot of people not home, so we just have to leave a note on their door. We'll likely keep at it though - the branch president mentioned that he's been continually setting high goals for church attendance, and I really want to help him with that goal.

Other than that, just making a lot of phone calls to former investigators. There's a lot of wrong numbers and number that no longer exist, but we've been working through a huge stack of people that we might be able to work with.

Sure, it's a little boring at times, but it's work that has to be done, and if we can meet even one person, then it's all worth it, right? Looking back at working with Elder Cho, I can't really remember what we spend all our time doing; it feels like we've got more time to fill this transfer... it seems like we tried to visit members a lot, but then they weren't home.

Uh, I'll write a bit about our church meetings I guess. As missionaries, we show up a little early, and just check all the classrooms to make sure they're okay. Pick up garbage, vacuum if needed, set up chairs, put away books, that kind of thing. Then we prepare for the sacrament. 

First hour, we teach Aaronic Priesthood, which only has one youth show up (and he's the son of the Branch President, he's like... 13? 14?). He's kind of a quiet kid, and probably doesn't really want to be taught by two American missionaries, which is understandable. Kind of reminds me of me at that age - we've been talking about how to make things fun for him. Food? Yeah, food most likely.

Then we "teach" a gospel principles class. We can't really understand the manual we read out of that well (it took up like 45 minutes to read and understand the maybe 3.5 pages of last week's chapter), so the members help us out. Honestly, I don't know why we teach the class - all we did last time was say, "Hey, will you read this part?", and the members took it the rest of the way.

Finally, we have sacrament meeting. One Elder blesses the sacrament, and the other gets to just sit with the members. We don't seem to give talks that often, which is fine by me. 23 people came to church last Sunday, which is the 2nd lowest I've ever seen so far.

So that's what church is like; we're pretty busy, but that the branch needs our help, so we do it.

Anyways, I should get going soon. I love you all! Pray for us to keep working hard!

- Elder Luke

Oh, and this too.

I forgot to send this in the email, so...

Thanks for the package!

Thanks for the ties, the normal food, and the junk food! We'll probably eat then when we have something to celebrate. I'll be looking forward to that day!

- Elder Luke


안녕하세요~: Annyeonghaseyo, the standard Korean greeting.

지금도 없어요: jigeumdo eobs-eoyo. Google Translate says this means "I do not even now," so I think what he's saying is, "we started with no real investigators, and we still don't have any."

영도: Yeongdo, the area of Busan that he's in. The island of Yeongdo looks like it has three or four mountains/hills that are too steep to build on, as seen in Google Maps here. You can't really tell from that, but based on his comment it sounds like even the built-up areas are quite hilly.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Hello! (October 21, 2013)

Hello everyone, how are you all doing?

Not a ton of time to write today - had a transfer meeting, and then some other meetings which took up a ton of time.

Elder Cho left 영도 today - a lot of the members were very sad Sunday. He really worked hard for the people here. My new companion's name is Elder Platero - he's from California, and has been out for about a year now. He was a trainer for Elder Harris, who was in my MTC district. Elder Cho's going to be companions with my MTC companion, Elder Stapley - basically, a lot of the trainers and trainees are getting shuffled around.

So I'll continue to serve in in 영도, and we'll do our best to not get too lost...

Our first week together doesn't look so great. We currently don't have any kind of investigators at all - one guy we though was interested said that he just wants to learn English, and one lady we were meeting with said that she doesn't want to meet people that's not Elder Cho. She says she doesn't like non-Korean people because we can't understand her. Dad, you wrote about 김대양', but we haven't been able to meet with him a second time. We've called/texted him maybe ten-plus times, but he's never responded or picked up the phone. So, we're starting from scratch I suppose!

Dad wrote in his last letter about teaching confidently as a missionary, and I think a large part of that is studying the lessons very deeply. On one set of exchanges, I was practicing teaching the Plan of Salvation (in English), and I got to the section titled "Ressurection, Judgement, and Immortality." That was really hard to teach - I didn't feel like I understood the doctrine at all; like, I knew the doctrine, but I didn't understand it. Understand comes through study and prayer, and then I can be confident when I teach. I'm not sure what other missionaries study during our personal study time, but my district leader told me to focus very heavily on the lessons, so I've been doing that. It's slow, but he said that if we don't understand doctrine deeply, we can't teach clearly and simply. That was kind of confusing at first, but it's starting to make sense now. Study, prayer, and practice - just keep doing these three things!

The post office called and said I got a package. I'm not sure if that's something you sent, or if it's more of Elder Platero's luggage, but I guess I'll see.

Oh, and for Daniel: I've had Mr. Dust (he's cool), Mr. Garrard (he's way cool), and Bro. Deeble (nice guy, but liked the other teachers better). Also, your handwriting kind of looks like "Did you hate any of these teachers?" instead of "have any of these teachers." :D

That's about all I have time for today. Hope all is well with everyone!

Elder Luke


영도: Yeongdo, Andrew's area in Busan that he's staying in.

김대양: Gim Daeyang (or Kim Teyang), a guy they met on a bus; Andrew talked about him in his letter of September 16.

Package: We sent him a package on October 9; it reached the post office (I assume the post office in the Dongnae area of Busan, where the mission office is located) on October 17, and apparently has been forwarded to his local post office (in Yeongdo). That's less than two weeks, including the time for forwarding, which is more than twice as fast as our letters have been getting there.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Transfer 2 - Last Week! (October 14, 2013)

This week I got your Sept. 15th and 8th letters. Since you asked me to explain a little bit more about normal, everyday life, I'll do that, since this week was kind of crazy.
We had a member in our ward pass away - he was an older man, and has been sick for a while. He was a convert to the Church, and helped to translate D&C into Korean, as well as some of the hymnbook. He was the Stake Patriarch for some time as well - a lot of church members (Elder Cho said that a lot of area seventy members showed up) came to his funeral. We helped out there, which took up a couple of our days (traditional Korean funerals take 3 days - basically, people mourn, talk with the family, eat a lot of food the first couple of days, and the burial service is on the 3rd day).
That and General Conference kept us occupied for the last couple of days. It was good though - my branch president was nice enough to download the files and bring his computer so that I could watch the whole thing in English. I didn't fall asleep during any of the sessions, which is a big improvement from normal!
Oh, and this next Thursday we get out transfer calls. Trainers and trainees get split up, so either Elder Cho or I are getting transfered! Elder Cho's been here a long time, but I think trainees tend to be transferred, so we'll be excidedly waiting to see what happens.
So. About everyday life.
Our 영도 apartment is pretty big - when I went on exchanges, the other area's house was easily 1/2 the size of ours. No idea how big it all is, but we have a bedroom (when our very initial training was over, Elder Cho told me that we had beds in 영도, but it turns out it was just a mattress on the floor. It's comfortable, but it's not really a bed...), a study room, a closet room (don't know what it's called), bathroom, and kitchen/dining area, as well as some weird outside area that's never used.
I was suprised at how big the house was when I first got there - I was expecting a lot smaller! It's nice that we don't have to put away our beds every morning, and we have pretty nice (old, but nice) desks as well.
Since you asked, Dad, we have a washer in the previously mentioned weird outside area, so we do all our laundry at home. We then just hang it up to dry (usually on rack in our study room), so it's really convienient.
Cooking-wise, we have a 3-burner stove, a toaster oven, a microwave, and a toaster that's currently out of commission, to our great dismay (we eat a lot of toast). Most of the time, we just use the stove (Can't remember if I've mentioned this, but Elder Cho is a bit wary of the microwave. He says it's not healty, and I've only ever seen him use it to thaw meat. He prefers cold rice to microwaved rice.).
For shopping, we go to a local "Top Mart" (seems to be a pretty big grocery/supermarket chain in Korea or at least Busan), which is maybe a 5 minute walk from our house. They offer free delievery, so we sometimes just throw everything in a box, and they bring it to our apartment a couple of hours later.
I think Mom asked to hear a little bit more about Elder Cho, so here's a story...
It was pretty early on, maybe my fourth week in Korea, and we had a training meeting. We walked by this shack (Korea has little shacks just off to the side of the road - no idea what they're for) that had a dog tied to it. Elder Cho told me to pet the dog, saying "Oh, he is nicest dog. He is sooooo nice." I kind of shuffled over to the dog, who kept staring at me. I inched forward, looked at Elder Cho, who nodded. I went to pet the dog, and the dog exploded in barking; seriously, one of the scariest dogs I've ever met. He meant to kill me.
Elder Cho laughed for like the next 5 minutes.
He was not the "nicest dog!"
Anyways, Elder Cho is fun. Our personality is a little different obviously, but I think we're clicked much better during the past couple of weeks. It's too bad we'll be split up soon, but that's a part of missionary life I supposed.
I'm out of time, so I'll end it here. Thanks for reading all my emails and writing me! It's fun to be able to see how life is for all of you back home. Thanks for all your prayers - they help me out a lot, and I really need that help. Stay safe!
Elder Luke


영도: Yeongdo, the area he's in.

Elder Cho: A different way of writing "Elder Jo."  I don't know which pronunciation is closer to reality; maybe it's somewhere between an English "ch" and "j."  Update: Korean speakers inform me that it's pronounced essentially like the English "ch."

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Hi! (October 7, 2013)


How is everyone!? I just got your letter from when I sent you the flood pictures. I've been getting mail pretty consistently for the past couple of weeks, so it seems like things have settled down mailwise (there hopefully will be another letter waiting in the post office). I'm glad to hear about Filbet - I sometimes wondered what he was up to. Had no idea that they had moved, but glad to hear that he's doing well!

I made some banana bread this week - thanks for the recipe Mom! We gave it out to the people that helped us out with teaching 이상남, to say thanks. Hopefully, they like it! 

We had one heck of a time trying to find baking soda though. I don't know the Korean name for it, and Elder Jo wasn't sure what "baking soda" was. We found a "식소다" (I think that's how you spell it; it's literally "eating-soda"), and Elder Jo ended up reading the chemical name off of the bag, and I translated it on our phone ("hydrogen, carbon, sodium"). That seemed about right, so we bought it and threw it in the bread batter. The banana bread was good, so it seems like we got it right.

We met one 이효성 this week. He's kind of weird, but I like him. As he's told me several times, he's a very honest person; very blunt. His English is really good though - I asked him whether he's lived in an English-speaking country (he hadn't), but that's how good it was. Oh, and he swears in English. I feel bad - the first time he did, I couldn't help smiling because it was funny (just out the the blue, this Korean man starts using words I haven't heard since high school). I think the other missionaries were a little shocked though, haha.

We met him as we were going to a local university (we seem to find a lot of interested people there, or at least people who have some time on their hands, so...), and started talking to him. We were giving out little leaflets for our English class, so Elder Jo talked to him in English. "Hello, we're teaching free English class." He responded in Korean with "You're Korean right? Speak Korean."

He showed up to our English class the next day, and we spent most of the time not actually covering the material (the topic was "nature"). He asked a lot of questions about missionaries and about why we're here. At the end, one of the sister missionaries pulled out a Book of Mormon to share a thought, and 이효성 immediately said, "I don't want your Bible!" She wasn't planning on giving it to him, but I guess he's learned somewhere that the Mormon missionaries like to give out Book of Mormons.

We met him again the next day, and he said he had done some research. He asked about Salt Lake City and temples, he asked about early Church history, and he also asked about polygamy (kind of a hard topic to explain and I didn't really answer it well, but my district leader later pointed me to some helpful scriptures to study), and we talked a bit more about our church. At then end of our meeting, 이효성 suddenly said "I'm ready to receive your Bible now," (whaaat!?) so we gave him a Book of Mormon, and asked him to read the introduction page, which he promised he would.

That night, he texted us (in English - he says that since Elder Jo understands English better than I understand Korean, it's more effective for him to communicate in English"). Basically it said, "I read part of your Bible and I have some questions, but I can't come to English Class next week. I can't wait two weeks to have my question answered, so can we meet sometime sooner?"

Intriguing, huh?

I still think that he's more curious about missionaries and our church than sincerely interested in investigating, but hey, that's a start. If nothing else, he'll know a little bit more about what we believe, which is okay. We'll see how things go!

I got to go to a training meeting this week, and I want to share one thing I learned. This wasn't said, but just a thought that I had. I don't know how you all can apply it, but I'll share it anyways.

I think for me, one problem I've been having is that I've been trying to change myself completely. It's easy to go to a bunch of training meetings, see other missionaries working, and think "I've got to change everything about me if I want to be a good missionary!!!!!" But I'm not here to change completely. I'm here in Korea because I'm me; the talents, the personality, the experiences that make me unique are why I'm here. Sure, I need to change some of the selfish, lazy parts of me, but (hopefully) that's not a total personality makeover. Everyone does missionary work a little differently, and I just need to find my own way to work, and not compare myself to others.

I hope all is well in Idaho! Thank you for your letters and prayers - they both help me a lot. Hope General Conference was good; I don't get to see it until this next Sunday. It seems like I'll be able to see it in English, so that's pretty cool.


- Elder Luke


안녕하세요: Annyeonghaseyo, the standard Korean greeting.

The letter with the flood pictures: That's the e-mail he sent us on September 2, so our letter reacting to that would have been sent September 2 or 3.  It looks like the mail is a good, steady four and a half to five weeks to get from us to him.

Filbet: A friend from our ward.

이상남: I Sangnam, the boy who was baptized last week.

식소다: "sik soda." Apparently a name for baking soda; Google translate didn't quite know what to do with this, and called it "expression soda." (???) The "soda" part is just a transliteration of the English "soda," and Andrew said that the 식 part was "eating" (the 食 charcter, pronounced "shoku" in Japanese). Anyway, good thing that there was a chemical formula on the package and that Andrew apparently remembers that baking soda = sodium bicarbonate = NaHCO3.

이효성: I Hyosang, the name of the interesting college student.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Hello! (September 30, 2013)


Had a baptism this week! Remember the 이상남 (9-year old kid) that I wrote about maybe one or two weeks ago? Things worked out such that it was best that he get baptized this Sunday, so we kind of had to scramble to get everything ready. Elder Jo told me that it would be a good experience for me to give it, so I did.

Didn't have time to take pictures, but a sister in the ward was acting as photographer, so I'll ask her for some, and probably just sent it back home by mail. Sorry!

The actual baptismal service went well, but the baptism itself was pretty crazy. We didn't explain about baptism very well, and so 이상남 was a little confused. I was in the water, and he came into the font. He immendiately ducked down up to his neck - he was ready to go into the water! We got ready to baptize him, but as I was getting ready to say the prayer, he started to lean back and go into the water.

I guess we never told him that we pray first? So I kind of had to hold him up out of the water (which is the exact opposite reason that I was in the water in the first place...), which other people explained what was going on. He understood, so I said the prayer, and baptized him.

He kicked his legs out of the water, so I had to do it again... as I was getting ready to pray for what felt like the 5th time, he suddenly worried about water getting into his ears, and put both hands over his ears.

There's no way that he could be baptized like that, and so people were trying to tell him not to worry, but he had his hands over his hears.

After awhile, we got things sorted out, and I baptized him. The branch president told me to use one of my legs to block his (I though for a brief moment then that it must look like I'm baptizing him using some sort of judo throw...), so no problems the second time around.

All in all, it probably took like 3-4 minutes in the water, which is much longer than it needed to be. I felt very helpless there - I don't know enough Korean to explain things well to him. Next time, we need to prepare the investigator a little better. But hey, we got a baptism in my first area!

So that's my big news or the week. Giving baptism was a little stressful - maybe someone a little older would have been easier. It was a learning experience, as they say. I felt the Spirit as I was doing the baptismal prayer though, so that's good.

Maybe another reason that it was all a little stressful is because I had to give a talk in church. Didn't have enough time to prepare it all that well (because we had a baptismal service!), so I'm not really happy with it. I did what I could with what I had I guess, but it's too bad that I couldn't give a better talk. Nobody told me that I did a good job after my talk... ;o; Next time, next time.

No time, so real quick - met with some lady who had a heart condition, and is apparently going to die soon. She's a little weird, and is obsessed with going to heaven (she's kind of known in our distirct as "the lady who is going to die soon"). She was really interested in baptism, but we kind of feel like she doesn't have a lot of real intent, if that makes sense.
It kind of feels like she thinks being baptized is an easy way to be guaranteed to go to heaven, and that's why she's so interested; not because she has faith or really believes what we've taught, or whatever.

Needless to say, she's kind of a hard investigator to work with. On one hand, we need to teach her quickly because she's sick, but on the other hand, we don't want to baptize her if she doesn't have faith. I guess we'll see where she goes as we continue teaching her...

Thanks for all you do! Thanks for your prayers! I'll work hard.

- Elder Luke


이상남: I Sangnam, the boy's name.