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.