Sunday, June 29, 2014

Transfer 9, week 2 (June 30, 2014)

안녕하세요~ (Annyeonghaseyo)!
Hello from 광안 (Gwangan)! My first week here done, and so I think I kind of have a grasp on what's going on here (not a super good grasp, but I can find the church, and I've met with most of the investigators now). I actually haven't been able to see much of 광안 (Gwanganyet; we tend to mostly go from the church to the house and back, so I know those roads well but, I guess we don't really have a reason to go wandering off in far places. It's a good thing - it just means were staying pretty busy. Here's some of the events for the week...
Our two main investigators are two high schoolers -
Brother 정대영 (Jeong Daeyeong) is kind of quiet, but he seems to like the missionaries and church meetings. He's attended church for like 3 weeks now, and he's meet with the missionaries pretty often. It doesn't seem like he's toooo interested in the gospel, but he listens well and at least doesn't want to not learn. He doens't ask alot of questions though - he tends to just throw out a lot of "yes"s at us. We'll have to work with him to help him open up... we usually meet 3 times a week, which is really good.
Brother 김화랑 (Kim Hwalang) was invited to chuch by Brother 정대영 (Jeong Daeyeong), and is a really good kid. He asks a loooot of questions (well, I've only taught him once, but still), and seems pretty interested. It's kind of weird - I've tended to teach older people, and with them, there's kind of a distance to some extent. But with these two, we invite them to Young Men's activities, we play ping pong with them... anyways, it feels a lot more like we're friends or brothers or something. It's kind of weird.
We're trying to focus on these two to help them be baptized, (hopefully) sometime towards the end of the month. They're both really young as invesigators (maybe a couple of weeks since they've met the missionaries), so there's a lot of work to to - it's really hard to get high school students to read the Book of Mormon...
English class is pretty crazy, like I wrote last week. There's I think 30ish people that show up, so we divide into 3 classes and teach. I'm teaching the intermediate level class, which is probably the smallest - usually 4-6 people are in my group. It's kind of weird not knowing anyone else in the other classes though (I don't know anyone's names, jobs, faces, anything!) - especially in 포항 (Pohang), we were able to talk about each English class member and try to make plans to help them out, but I don't think that's possible here. We'll just have to work on figuring out how to work with the peope in the intermediate class I guess.
We do a lot of 전도 (jeondo) (translates to "prostelysing" but I guess "adverstising" is better) for English class here. It's actually a really easy way to get numbers, but it's different from what I'm used to. With Elder Boome, we really focused on contacting the people we could over and over - trying to take care of each individual (I like to imagine we were like shepherds look after each sheep). But with advertising for English class, we get a lot of numbers, and it's hard to know who's who (to extend the mephor, something about large-scale sheep, uh, farming). It's not really a bad thing - just a different way to do missionary work I guess. I'm not a huge fan of it, but it seems like a decent number of investigators come out of English class, so it's worth out time.
We've got a few other investigators, but they're still kind of in iffy states, or they don't seem super interested, or theyr'e just really busy. Real quickly, here's a summary:
One investigator who's met the missionaries for a very, very long time, and doesn't let us teach because he talks waaaaaay too much about anything other than what we want to (he'll probably have to be dropped soon...)
One boyfriend of a less active girl who's investigating the church because his girlfriend wants to marry someone who's a member
One man who's interested in learning about our church in kind of an academic sense
A troubled middle school kid who needs a lot more than what we can help him with (he's had a few run-ins with the police)
I wanted to write a little bit about my first week as a district leader, and then I think I'll wrap it up.
This week was pretty crazy - I don't know if I wrote it last week, but I have yet to recieve any kind of formal training or instruction on what I'm supposed to do, so it's been a bit stressful. Everyone in the district is super nice, so there hasn't been any real problems, but there were a lot of things I did this week just guessing. The first week is over, and so now I kind of have a grasp on what I need to do, which is a relief. I think a lot of chuch callings are like that though - we don't really get a ton of instruction, but the Lord helps us out.
I studied a lot about priesthood leadership this week, and I ended up learning alot about service. It seems like that's a big theme in in church - people who are leaders are simply given more chances to serve and give of themselves. Think about how much Presidnet Monson gives for us! The important thing is that we do our best as we serve, and God will bless us as we work to bless others.
Sorry if the email doesn't make sense. Emailing always makes me really sleepy.
I hope you're all doing well in the States! Have an awesome week!
- Elder Luke

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Transfer 9, week 1 - 광안! (Gwangan) (June 23, 2014)


I don't have a ton of time to write this week, but big news: transfers!

I know I wrote last week that I didn't think I was going to go anywhere, but suprise! I've been transfered to 광안 (Gwangan), which is in Busan. My new companion is Elder 홍의택 (Hong Witaek), who's in his like 5th transfer. I've also been assigned as district leader here. :/

My companion says that they're super busy here in 광안 (Gwangan- there used to be two teams here, but the B team was removed, since we've been losing missionaries for awhile. So the other team got all the investigators, which mean's we'll be teaching alot!

There's also a team of sisters here (actually, most areas have a set of sister missionaries or two teams of elders, but I've been kind of unlucky as far as that goes... Pohang has the senior couple I guess), so that'll be a big difference - planning and doing missionary work while coordinating with another team.

I'm kind of sad to leave Pohang though; the members there were super good, and Elder Boome and I thought that if we helped them just a little bit, we'd be able to get a lot of referalls and be able to help Pohang progress alot. I also wanted to serve with Elder Boome for another transfer - I think we got along well. Anyways, hopefully, we'll be able to do a lot here 광안 (Gwanganwith the members. My companion said that ward (not a branch!) attendance is 50-60 people, which is really good.

English class is crazy here, apparently. Attendance is like 30 people, which is waaaay more than anywhere else I've heard about.

I'll write a little more in detail next week - I've been in 광안 (Gwanganfor like 2 hours now, so I have no idea what's what, haha.

Back to 포항 (Pohang): things seemed like they were going well - the work was still kind of slow, but we found a few really good people, and we just needed a little more time to help them become investigators. I hope Elder Boome is about to do that and help Pohang out!
We were at the Pohang Intercity Bus Terminal (probably the best place to talk to people in Pohang), and we met this really, really golden not-investigator-yet person. We just said "hi" to him, said like three words, and then he asked if you could have a pamphlet. We gave it to him, and I was tried to explain about it. He told us that he would just read it and talk to us if he had any questions. He read the whole pamphlet, went onto, asked us for a Book of Mormon, our church location, and when we have church meetings. We're still keeping in touch with him, and he says he wants to attend a church meeting with us. We're really excited about him, but I kind of left at a weird time. Next time I see Elder Boome, I'll ask him how things are going up in Pohang.

Here's a few pictures: the first is a picture we took in 포항 (Pohang) - we had a combined district meeting with another district, and we had our zone leaders and some members visit us to boot. It was a lot of people. Recognize any of them?

The second is a picture of me with President and Sister Gilbert - they took pictures with everyone individually since they're leaving.

And the last is a picture of me and Elder Frampton from my MTC district. I really don't to see people from our district that much, which is too bad (actually, Sister Bussio from the MTC transfered into 광안 (Gwanganwith me, so it'll be fun to be able to serve with someone I know!)

Thank you for everything! Please pray for me that things will go well for as district leader, and in my new area. I guess you're all still in Japan (?), so stay safe and have fun with Obaachan! I love you all!

- Elder Luke


Gwangan is part of Busan city. You can see it on the map here. I think this is the church building where he's based now. Gwangan is also the name of the bridge you can see on that map. At about four and a half miles long, it's the second longest bridge in Korea. You can see another map view here. This is a cool photo of it. Note that Andrew is now about five or six miles northeast of Yeongdo, his first area.

Also, I believe this is the first time since he's been there that he's been assigned to a ward rather than a branch. It should be nice for him to have a larger, more stable congregation of members to work with.

Missionaries gathered in Pohang. Besides Andrew and Elder Boome (and some people that were in his photo from last week), I recognize two people from his prior areas -- the guy on the far left was in Jeju when Andrew was in Seogwipo, and right in front of Andrew is his trainer, Elder Jo.

Andrew with Elder and Sister Gilbert.

Andrew with Elder Frampton from his MTC group.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Transfer 8, week 5 (transfer week!) (June 15, 2014)


Thanks for the package! I've already shared out some of the goodies in it with other missionaries. I hope you're all enjoying your time in Japan. I'm jealous!

I'll send a couple of pictures - the first is a picture of our Branch President's family with some of the foreigners in the branch (plus another member, plus Josh - more on him in a bit). Being able to spend some time with them and eat delicious food was really, really good - especially our time with Brother Ted and Josh.

We also had a zone p-day, and while the picture doesn't have everyone in our zone, that's probably a little more than half of them. I need to take more pictures, huh?

We had a short transfer this time around (because President Gilbert's leaving), so this week is transfer week. I'm guessing I'm not going anywhere, but I guess you can never tell huh? We'll see, but Elder Boome and I are pretty young here in Pohang.

We had a really good week. I know I wrote last week that things were hard, and that I was really tired, but things turned out well. I'm really grateful for the miracles we were able to see out here.

First - we had to cancel Brother 이창준's (I Changjun) baptismal date (not one of the aforementioned miracles). He said that he doesn't think he can make that date, and to be honest, I don't really think he can either. The important thing is that he knows that baptism is kind of the big goal, and we shoot for a date once he learns a little bit more. However, the lessons have been going really well with him (which is a miracle!). I wrote that he's a shy person, but he's opened up a lot - he's been asking questions about things he doesn't understand, and we're starting to get a feel for his thoughts a little bit better now. Last time we met, he prayed to understand the gospel better, which is exciting! He's still got a ways to go, but he's headed in the right direction.

We've pretty much dropped Brother 전성호 (Jeon Seongho) (older man who really likes reading the Book of Mormon). He hasn't been contacting us like he usually does, and we haven't really tried to call him or anything either. I only met with him with Elder Boome once, so maybe to pressured him too much or something; or maybe he doesn't want to meet with us without a Korean; I'm not sure.

We've called Brother 공인후 (Kong Inhu) up like once this week, but he rejected our call. We'll try again tonight, and see if he has time to meet.

So our current investigator situation isn't great (well, it hasn't changed...), but we've been able to pick up a few potential investigators.

About a month ago, we had a meal appointment with a member, and the member told me to call one 나정희 (Na Jeonghwi). He said that this guy had gone to BSU to study, and kind of gave me the general instruction to call him and "talk about Idaho." So I gave it a shot, and he's super nice and speaks really good English. I kind of neglected to follow up and keep in touch, but I did that this week, and he said he'd like to meet with us! We haven't been able to get an appointment yet, but he says he thinks good things about our church, but just "insn't into it yet." He says that he went to BYU for a summer sememester, his aunt is a member of the church, he met with the missionaries in Seoul, and has been to the Pohang church several times to boot. Hopefully, we can start meeting with him - he seems like he has a lot of potential!

I guess he's not just a potential investigator anymore, but we met with and taught 이채호 (I Chaeho) from our English class. He's like 28, majored in psychology, and studies the Bible often. He's a little bit daunting, since he seems really smart, and it kind of feels like he has a lot of doubt about our beliefs, but we'll have to see where he goes. He also has a mysterious past where he's met with the missionaries for about a month fairly recently (we found 이채호 (I Chaehoin some records), but he seems really, really relucant to talk about it (he hasn't mentioned it yet, and he's said some things that seems like he doesn't want us to know he's been taught by missionaries before...). But he's a really nice guy, and we'll probably get to meet with him at least a few more times.

I didn't write about him last week, but Brother Ted (who I DID mention) brought one of his military friends, Josh, to church. Josh was supposed to leave for America last week, but he got an extension and came to church for a second time. We were able to talk a lot, and ended up teaching about the Plan of Salvation, which was really good. He's a really nice guy.

Um, we got a few contacts this week, and decent contacts took, not just the typical "I want to learn English contact." Once gentleman in particular kind of stands out, so I'll write about him for a bit.

We weren't able to get his full name - he just told us to call him Mr. 장 (Jeong). Mr. 장 is a little bit older, maybe like 60, and has NO interest in religion. We were talking for a while, and this is how the conversation went -

"(Mr. 장) So you're missionaries, right?"
"I'm not interested in religion."
"Is that so?"
"I said I'm not interested in religion."
"(Mr. 장 again) How do you say 'I'm not interested' in English?"
"(Us, in English) You say 'I'm not interested'."
"(Him, in English) I'm not interested."

Somehow, as we talked a little bit more, he told us that there was one things that he had a litttle bit of interest in - that was whether Noah and the flood actually happened. We talked more, and we ended up talking about life after death, and the purpose of life, and then getting his phone number. I'm not sure how it happened, but I'm grateful that we were able to see that miracle of not only teaching, but getting a phone number from someone who said to have no interest in religion whatsoever.

So anyways, this week turned out to be really good - we saw a lot of little miracles like that, just things happening that allow us to progess the missionary work in Pohang. I've learned that good things are in store for all of us, but that we sometimes have to endure some hardships. Like it says in Ether, we don't recieve a witness until after the trial of our faith. I know that God loves us, and He's got great and wonderful plans in store for us!

Elder Luke

Looks like a big, nice house -- I wonder how typical this is? And holy cow, Elder Boome is tall!

I think the sign on the window says "Self Bar 무한셀므두이 & 샐러드." Google Translate gives the Korean as "Duy & endless salad selmeu." Yeah, not very helpful... But enough to guess that this is an all-you-can-eat self-serve place. From the grills on the table you can tell they specialize in barbecue (焼肉).

Transfer 8, week 4 (June 9, 2014)


Another fairly slow week this week, but things turned out well. It was super hot last week, but it got kind of rainy and cold this week which is actually kinda nice.

We have not been doing a very good job keeping in touch with Brother 공인후 (Kong Inhu), so we didn't meet with him this week. He's kind of in a half-dead state as an investigator - he's just really busy and not super interested.

We met with Brother 전성호 (Jeon Seongho) but the meeting kind of went iffy. It kind of looks like we'll have to drop him - he's pretty happy with the church he's going to now, and seems unwilling to switch/be open minded about things. We'll probably meet him one or two more times (we've been saying that for like a long time now... Elder 이영호 (I Yeongho, Andrew's previous companion) said he and Elder Harris (who was in 포항 (Pohang) before me) talking about dropping Brother 전성호 (Jeon Seongho)).

So that's kind of the bad news for the week, but we do have some excitingish news!

Brother 이창준 (I Changjun) accepted a baptismal date for the 29th of June! It was a pretty hesitant "yeah, I'll try" kind of commitment, but he said yes. He's still got a long way to go until baptism, but we're excited to keep working with him. He's the only baptismal date I've had since 이상남 (I Sangnam) way back in my first transfer (and I didn't actually give him the date), which is pretty crazy and probably a little sad (we haven't been teaching as much as we would like for sure; we tried really hard in 서귀포 (Seogwipo) to give brother 전충식 (Jeon Chungsik) a date, but he never said yes...).

So here's a little bit more on Brother 이창준 (I Changjun). He's single, 40, works as a safety manager in an electric company, and doesn't really seem to have a lot of direction in life. He likes working out and watching TV (he really likes "Friends"), and wants to learn English so he can travel around the world someday. His English is, uh, not that good but definately not the worst I've heard. He's a nice guy.

The main problem with Brother 이창준 (I Changjunis that he's really, really quiet. He's opened up a little more as we've studied English, but he's still pretty quiet as we teach the gospel. He usually just kind of accepts things and says he doesn't have any questions. We've been trying to figure out what he's feeling or thinking as we teach, but he's pretty good at giving vague answers ("If there really is a life after death, how would that affect your life now?" "I'd probably have to be more kind." "...yes. Good."), or saying he doesn't know or hasn't really thought about it.

I thought I would be move excited about the baptismal date, but maybe it's hard to be excited because he's not that excited. Maybe someday we'll be able to find someone who's excited about the gospel. :/

Speaking of finding, we've been outside "전도"ing (jeondo -- probably 伝道) - trying to talk to people and find through doing that (I kind of prefer calling people on the phone or basically anything else, but Elder Boome doesn't really seem to like other finding activities so we don't do that that often).

Most people in Korea are really nice, especially to two foreigners so talking to people usually isn't too bad. There's people who throw out a "괜찮습니다" (kwaenchanhseubnida) (I'm fine) or "됬습니다" (doissseubnida) (not sure what that translates to - either "I'm done" "We're done" or "It's done") (Google Translate says "false prophets and guides"), after you talk for a bit, but that's usually pretty rare. Above that are people who will talk, but only if you ask questions. They're okay to talk to, but gets awkward once you run out of questions, haha.

And there's a lot of really nice people you can have a conversation with, and who will ask us questions back (mostly "where are you from?" "how long have you been in Korea?" "are you students?").

Anyways, we've been trying to teach about the gospel, but it's really, really hard. Handing out pamphlets is easy enough, but I don't know how many people read those. There's a section in Preach My Gospel under "Finding People" called "Find when you teach, teach when you find," and we've been trying to apply that, but it's not going so well, haha. It's hard to steer the conversation into important topics that we can actually teach and testify about, especially if you have like 3 minutes on a bus to do that. We're slowly improving, and we've doing a lot of practice, but we're still not quite where we want to be. Finding people is not easy work. :/

Studying with Elder Boome has been really good. We had one of the APs (assistant to the President - basically a missionary that serves as a counselor to the mission president) come over 포항 (Pohang) to help us out. He gave us some pointers, and it's helped us to focus on our investigators more. We're also trying to do some teaching practice every morning - there's a lot of times we think we know what we're going to teach, but it's hard to put it into words (especially in Korean!). Hopefully, we're teaching better as a result of all this...!

We had one "Ted Csomething" come into our branch. He's serving in the Navy (I think), and is stationed in Korea for 6 months. Not that that's super important, but just thought I'd mention it. He's from the States, Virginia, I think.

Oh, and one last thing: Dad, can you put some more money on my debit card? I've pretty much used up everything I came to Korea with. Thanks!

Well, I think that's it. If you have any questions, please send them my way~!

Thank you so much for your prayers and everything else you do! I miss you all!

- Elder Luke

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Transfer 8, week 3 (June 2, 2014)

안녕하세요 (Annyeonghaseyo)~

I don't know what to write this week. (update: Elder Boome has been emailing for forever, so while I don't have anything in particular to write, I've been writing it anyways...)

We had a meeting Saturday for President Gilbert. The district (not our mission district but district as in not quite a stake) had a meeting for him (because he's leaving in a few weeks!), and so we kind of spent the whole day there. For some reason, missionaries are expected to know how to sing, so we were part of a choir, which went reasonably okay, but far below the choir director's high expectations for us. We missed a choir practice last Sunday, so that didn't help (we had an appointment with a new investigator, but he wasn't home when we visited, so that was a little disappointing). One song wasn't even a hymn, and the choir practice right before the meeting was the first time I had seen the song. All in all, it went okay though.

Haha, I just reread that last paragraph, and I think you can tell that I'm tired. The weather's been really, really hot lately, and so maybe because of that I haven't been sleeping super well it seems. We don't have an a/c at our house yet - rumor has it that one is on its way.

Anyways, the meeting was good. For some reason, one of the main thoughts I had is "I need to be a more wonderful missionary." That wasn't talked about at all, but I feel like I'm at the point where I can really improve and do a lot more work. It's been a year, and now I know how to do basic missionary tasks well, and the language isn't as big of a deal (did I write about this last time?). So it feels like now just needs to be a time where I focus really well, and do the best that I can.

I forget who, but I know someone in General Conference asked everyone to get a copy of Preach My Gospel and study it. Do we have one at our house? Are you studying it? Elder Boome and I decided we want to read PMG over from the beginning (everyone reads it in bits, here and there, but we made a plan to be able to read all of it from cover to cover within two transfers (basically a chapter a week). I feel like we're both learning a lot from it so far - it's easy to forget a lot of the basics that are in it.

We kind of had a weird week last week. We're not as busy as we would like to be for sure, but finding people isn't really easy. Our ward mission leader said to not get frustrated or stressed, since our effort is more important than how many investigators we have. That's true, but I don't feel like I've been able to teach anyone who's actually been progressing in the gospel. But I suppose a lot of missionaries have similar experiences. We just do the best that we can anyways.

Elder 이영호 (I Yeongho, Andrew's previous companion) didn't like visiting members for some reason, so we didn't do that a lot last transfer (I think he that they were too busy). Elder Boome and I decided that that's not the right way to do things, so we've been trying to get to know the members at least a little bit better. We've been blessed to have a few opportunities to talk with our members. One member gave us a ride back from the Saturday meeting, so we talked with him for like an hour, which was really good. Yesterday, we had a "우정 모임" (ujeong moim) (which translates directly to like "friendship meeting"), so we got to spend some time with another member who gave us a ride. There's a lot of people we still don't know, but it's been a good week as far as that goes.

As for investigators, we've just basically been meeting the same people over and over again. We need to find new people... We had planned to spent a lot of time this week finding people, but somehow I don't feel like we were able to do that as much as we had hoped.

Oh, people have been asking about how Mom and Dad met (met like really briefly when Dad was missionary, then Dad went back for an intership, and you had a group of friends you would go sightseeing with, etc) - I know the story, but not really the details. Could you write about that and send it to me? Thank you~!

I guess I'll write a little about our district since we have time...

We have 8 missionaries in the district, in two areas. 포항 (Pohang) has us, and the senior couple, and 경주 (Gyeongju) has two elders and two sisters. 포항 (Pohang), as you already know, is pretty heavy into the steel industry, while 경주 (Gyeongjuis kind of a historical touristy area - it used to be the capital for some ancient dynasty or something, so there's a lot of historical sites around there. It takes like half and hour by bus to get from Pohang to Gyeoungju. I actually know pretty much everyone in our district. 경주 (Gyeongju) has Elder 김태운 (Kim Taeun) as district leader (he was in my district my last transfer in 영도 (Yeongdo)) with Elder Baker (was in my district for two transfers in 서귀포 (Seogwipo)). The sisters are Sister Redford (was in my district my first two transfers in Korea), and she's training Sister 강다현 (Kim Dahyeon) (who is new). I don't know where I'm going with this anymore. We have a good district.

To wrap things up, here's a few thoughts I've been thinking about this week...

The parable of the empty parable:

One of our investigators, Brother 공인후 (Kang Inhu), met with the missionaries like a year and a half ago, so he doesn't remember a lot from the lessons. He says that he's a visual learner, so a lot of the stuff he does remember involve doing some activity, or perhaps a drawing on a board or something like that. Amoung that which he remembers is a little activity that you do with your hands and a pen that demonstrates the need for prophets (it's hard to explain so I won't). 공인후 (Kang Inhuvery distictly remembers that the missinaries taught him something that he does with his hands (he usually very vaguely moves his hands at this point), nods, and says, ah, yes, the missionaries taught me this. The problem of course, is that he has no idea what the hand motions mean.

Elder Boome and I kind of thought it was just funny at first, but it's made me thing about other things that we just kind of see the outside and accept, but not really see the deeper meaning of. I'm sure there's a gospel application somewhere, but I can't quite figure it out. I guess one would be reading scriptures, learning the stories, but not the principles behind them, but that's kinda lame.

Moving on...

I think one of the most important things I've learned so far is about the Atonement. In sacrament meeting, or at the MTC or wherever, people would testify a lot about the Atonement of Jesus Christ, but I never understood it. But now, as a missionary, I'm learning what it means to rely on the Atonement. It's hard to explain. But I'm really grateful that Jesus Christ atoned for us, and that through the Atonement, God gives us strengh to be able to do what's right.

I'll write you all next week!

- Elder Luke


"The weather's been really, really hot lately": It looks like Pohang has been up in the high 80s, with high humidity, in the last week.