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.