Sunday, July 27, 2014

Transfer 9, week, like, 6 - 해운대 again (July 28, 2014)

안녕하세요~~! (Annyeonghaseyo)
Hello! I hope you're all doing well! It's been a really, really, really, crazy week.
So my companion went to 예비군 (yebigun =  military reserves) as expected, so I spent Monday night and Tuesday in 해운대 (Haeundae, a nearby area) (or at least with the 해운대 elders), but my companion wasn't able to stay in 예비군 (yebigun) for the entire time. He was told that he would be staying in a house with some other missionaries, but it turns out that he was supposed to live and sleep on the military base for 3 days. Since Elder 홍 (Hong) didn't know that, he didn't bring enough clothes and stuff to last him that long, and so he decided to just come home and do the military stuff next time.
Unfortunately, we had a lot of miscommunication with our leaders, and uh, we basically lost my companion for a few hours as he was coming back. He didn't have a cell phone, and so we had no way to contact him, and nobody had any idea where he was (we were all trying to coordinate things with the AP's, Zone Leaders, me, the 해운대 (Haeundae) elders, the elders he was supposed to stay with, and the phoneless Elder 홍의택 (Hong Witaek)). We thought he was coming to 해운대 (Haeundae), when really he was going back to our apartment in 광안 (Gwangan); we ended up waiting like 2 hours in 해운대 (Haeundaewondering where on earth my companion was, when he was hanging out in our apartment wondering why nobody was waiting for him. Everything worked out fine, and we ended up having to do a doing a night rescue (it was only like 9:10 but that's pretty late for missionaries) to go look for him, and it was a bit scary for awhile, but we found him in the end, so all ended well. 
So anyways, that happened, and we kind of resumed a normal week from like Wednsday.
I'm not sure if I mentioned him, but we've met with one Brother 오삼석 (O Samseok) around 3 times. He's a friend of Brother 윤영언 (Yun Yeongeon), and they came together to learn English. Now, we meet with Brother 윤영언 (Yun Yeongeonbefore our Tuesday English class, and so we started to teach the missionary lessons to both of them. Brother 오삼석 (O Samseok) is really nice and friendly. He asks good questions, and while it seems like he's just curious about our church, he's at least interested enough to keep meeting with us. One really nice thing about our English class in 광안 (Gwangan) is that it's big enough that people are really willing to bring friends or come with family - most of the people that attend seem to really really like the class.
We got a call from Brother 정대영 (Jeong Daeyong) this week with some bad news - he talked with his mother about baptism, and she doesn't want him to be baptized. She's fine with him meeting with the missionaries and coming to church though; so that's really really good. Elder 홍 (Hong) and I are planning on visiting Brother 정대영's (Jeong Daeyong's) family and introducing ourselves, but we haven't really had a chance to yet. Brother 정 (Jeong) is up in Seoul this week as well, so it'll be some time before we can arrange a time to meet together. I don't think there's any chance he'll be able to be baptized on August 10th like we had hoped, but that's fine. We'll have to push his baptismal date back maybe 2-3 weeks, but he's still meeting with us and learning, and that's the most important thing.
And then kind of the big news for the week - Elder 홍 (Honggot a phone call on Saturday from President Barrow, and Elder 홍's grandmother had passed away. Elder 홍 talked with President, the AP's, and his famliy, and he decided to go the funeral service. He left Saturday evening, and will probably be back Tuesday night. So I'm back in 해운대 (Haeundaeagain until he comes back. That's not really a huge problem, but I'm kind of worried about Elder 홍의택 (Hong Witaek) - I know if it was me, coming back home, seeing friends and family, and then having to go back and resume missionary work as normal would be really, really hard. My companion's a good guy, so I don't think there will be any major problems, but I guess we'll have to see. Spending so much time in another area has kind of been pretty disruptive though - we haven't been able to plan properly for a couple of weeks now.
So we've had a pretty slow week - a lot of unexpected things came up and we weren't able to work like we wanted to. I'm not sure if this week will work out normally either - maybe by next week, we can kind of resume missionary work (if nobody transfers, that is...).
We ended up teaching a lot about the Plan of Salvation this week; and especially with Elder 홍's grandmother passing away, it's been something that's kind of been on my mind. I think knowlege about the purpose of life, and what happens after is really, really important in helping us make decisions. I've met a lot of people and investigators who don't really know what they want in life or why they're living, and I think that's a really hard way to live. Koreans especially work really really hard, but there's a lot of people that seem to earn money just to earn money. I see people like that and really want them to understand the Plan of Salvation, and especially the fact that it teaches us what's important in life. We know what things have value after we die, so we can focus on those things.
One other thought that I had is that knowlege is just knowlege until we apply. I've felt this with Brother 윤영언 (Yun Yeongeon), but if he learns about our church and simply collects knowlege, then it's not helping him. If people listen, understand, and then make changes according what they learn, then the knowlege is useful. I guess we're all the same - if the things we learn (whether it be in church or school or wherever) don't change us, then that's simply learning for the sake of learning. I've heard people say that if you're ready to learn, you can learn something from everyone (I think the original quote is that you can learn something from every meeting). That's definately something I need to learn to do better - the right frame of mind can really accelerate our learning.
That's all I have for this week; have a good week!
- Elder Luke


예비군: yebigun = "military reserves." I think this would be 予備軍. This would be the yearly military training that young men need to attend, I think kind of like the annual training for the National Guard in the U.S.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Transfer 9, week 4 - 해운대 edition (July 21, 2014)

안녕하세요~! (Annyeonghaseyo!)

We had a pretty slow week this week. Brother 전대영 (Jeon Daeyeong) had a bunch of tests this week, so he couldn't meet with us - he planned on coming to a couple of meetings (especially our ward social thing), but he said that his mom told him to stay home and study. :( He'll finish his tests sometime this week, so we can start meeting him more regularly from then.

My companion got a phone call a few days ago, and he's got military stuff to do! I'm not 100% sure what it is, but I guess first of all, all Korean men are required to serve in the military for 2 years. And after the two years, they're required to receive kind of follow up training every year for like 8 years or something. My companion's going up to some base that's like 2 hours away from 광안 (Gwangan, Andrew's area) for 3 days of training, and so I'll be with the 해운대 (Haeundae) elders for the next few days.

So needless to say, this week is going to be pretty crazy trying to coordinate 2 area's worth of work with 3 people. 해운대 (Haeundaealready has 4 elders, and I believe another elder is going there for military stuff, so I'll be living with 6 people. I have no idea about what will happen as far as bedding and food and showers and things go, but it'll work out, right?

Okay, back to this week...

The ward social ended up going really, really well. My companion was super, super stressed since he kind of had to be in charge of it (I can't explain game rules well...), but thankfully, one of our members, Brother 김동현 (Donghyun Kim) stepped in and kind of ran the show for us. There were only like 20 people that showed up at first, so we were pretty worried, but people tricked in and I think we had double that at the end.

Brother 김동현 prepared a couple of games, and it seemed like everyone really enjoyed it - people were talking about doing another meeting again sometime in the next couple of months.

We ended up playing kind of a rhythm game, Pictionary, and then a game that you play on a ping pong table - you take off the net, everyone kneels around the table, and you try the blow a ping pong ball of the table on the other team's side. It was a simple game, but people really got into it, and the meeting ended well. What a relief! Both my companion and I are really really grateful for Brother 김동현 - I think he singlehandedly made the activity a success. Elder 홍의택 (Hong Witaen, Andrew's companion) said that Brother 김 was an answer to his prayers.

We ended up not doing the children's English class due to our ward social - it would have been too much work. But the people who were interested in that English class are going on vacation, so it kind of looks like the English class is not going to actually happen, which is kind of okay by me (I really don't want to have to teach children...).

I don't know; other than that, we kind of had a lot of meetings this week - I ended up going to 해운대 (Haeundaeon exchanges again, we had interviews with President Barrow, we had a stake fireside this Sunday for President Barrow, and we kind of filled up the rest of the time with planning for stuff and our normal activities (English class, people we meet with weekly, etc.)

Here's a couple of pictures we took at a YM/YW's meeting like 3 weeks ago. The kid in the blue is Brother 정대영 (Jeon Daeyeong, the investigator Andrew mentioned in the first sentence). We did a kind of cooking activity where we made 떡뽁이 which is like rice cakes cooked in a sweet and spicy chili sauce (that doesn't describe what it is at all...), and frypan pizzas.

It's not alot, but I think that's it for this week! Have a good week!

Elder Luke


전대영: Jeon Daeyong. The student Andrew and his companion have been teaching. Previously Andrew spelled his family name Jeong; looks like a typo in the first sentence.

해운대: Another area of Busan. Described previously by Andrew as "kind of a glitzy, rich, party city." A couple of miles west of where Andrew lives.

떡뽁이: Tteokbboki (what the characters look like to me), or tteokbokki (the way Wikipedia spells it). According to the aforementioned Wikipedia article, it's "a popular Korean snack food made from soft rice cake, fish cake and sweet red chili sauce." Here are some photos.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Transfer 9, week 4 (July 14, 2014)

As always, I don't know how much time we have. Our sisters want to go shopping (and my companion needs to go buy new pants - he says he's gained too much weight, and only has one pair of pants that fit now...), so I'm not sure when we'll be done with emails. But in case I cut this short, please know that I am doing well!
Let's see, we met with Brother 정대영 (Jeong Daeyeong; Andrew talked about him last week) several times this week as well. He's doing pretty good, and is progressing at a good rate. I'm still not sure how much faith he has, and how much he just likes our church and missionaries, but we're working with him. He's been opening up a bit, and asking questions, so that's really good. We set his baptismal date for the 10th of August, but I think we might have to push it back a few weeks.
So a couple of activities planned for this week: our sisters found a couple of young families who are really interested in English, so we've been trying to prepare a kid's English class for a couple of weeks. It's really hard. Basically, the better people are at English, and the more they want to learn, the easier teaching is. In an advanced class, you can probably teach and hour and a half of English with 15 minutes of preparation. But the opposite is also true; we're going to have to plan a lot of activities and games and interactive things for the kids. To be honest, I'm not really looking forward to it, but the sisters (and the branch members) really, really seem to want to do it. It's a mess of planning, thinking, trying to get permisison for stuff, calling members, collecting materials, etc etc. With any luck, we'll try teaching on Friday to member's children, and if that goes well, actually starting teaching from next week.
We also are planning an activity (a ward social I guess?), but planning for that is getting a little annoying as well. We bishop seems dead set on doing on the 19th, but the planning in not even close to being done (me personally, I think it'd be worth it to push things back a bit and be able to plan and prepare really well, but I'm not really in charge...). The missionaries are in charge of the activities, and we had almost everything down, it was decided that we need to do other activities, so it looks like we'll be doing a looot of planning this week. :(
Lessons with 윤영언 (Yun Yeongeon) (older guy, he's like 70?, he was found through English class) have been going on slowly but steadily. He brought a friend to English class recently, so we've been teaching both of them together. His friend is super chill and friendly, and it makes the lesson feel a little too relaxed at times, but he came early to English class this week to study the gospel with us, so I think he plans on continuing to meet.
I was kind of sick this Wednsday - I don't know what it was, but I had some dizzyness and a pretty bad headache. Unfortunately, that was a day that we had an appointment with a member, and she was really planning on feeding us well. She took us to this meat place (not sure what it's called in English...), and ordered a TON of food. I was sick, and so I took like three bites and gave up on eating, and so the sister that was feeding us forced my companion to eat all my food, and then ordered more for my companion to eat. Elder 홍의택 (Hong Witaek; Andrew's companion) did the math, and I think he ended up eating like 5-6 people's worth of meat, which to his calculation is some 4,000-5,000 calories. He didn't have dinner that night (which was another meal appointment at a meat restaurant), and I took some medicine and felt better, so I ate most of his portion for dinner. It was a pretty crazy day. One meal appointment with a member a day is plenty enough.
I ended up giving a talk with an Elder Brown (who's serving in 영도!) (Yeongdo; Andrew's first area) at Zone meeting this last week. It was super stressful, more so because I had to give a talk with someone else (giving a talk alone is easier because you have full control over everything, and you don't have to worry about other people's opinions). I think we spent like 4 or 5 hours on the phone trying to work out the details of how we wanted to give the talk. I think it turned out okay (not exactly how I would have hoped), but it's over now, haha.
Oh, and before I wrap up - I send a package over from Korea to home while I transferred from Pohang to Gwangan (so this last transfer). Don't get too excited, it's just a bunch of things that I don't feel like hauling around - books, clothes, sheets, things like that. I wanted to send goodies, but I didn't have time to go shopping. Sorry! The package will probably get there in like a month and a half (hopefully). Thanks!
I hope you're doing well in all you're doing back home!
- Elder Luke

Transfer 9, week 3 (July 7, 2014)

I've only got like 45 minutes to type, so this might be short.
The big news this week is that Brother 정대영 (Jeong Daeyeong) (high schooler, has a lot of time apparently) has a baptismal date for the 10th of August! It was kind of a not very convincing "yes" to the date, but hey, it's still a baptismal date. There was a baptism in 해운대 (Haeundae) (kind of a glitzy, rich, party city), and we went over to check it out with him. We taught him about baptism, why it's important, and set the date with him! There's still a lot of teaching to do before he's ready, but we'll see how things go. Our ward mission leader was really pushing for an earlier date, but I kind of feel that the 10th is early enough as is...
Dad asked about what district leaders do, and I assume much hasn't changed since Dad was in Japan, but really basically...
District leaders plan district meeting, do exchanges, report stats, and do baptismal interviews.
We have district meeting pretty much every week - if there's another missionary meeting planned (like zone meetings, which are basically bigger district meetings), then we don't do it, but you usually have district meeting 4-5 times in a transfer (which is six weeks). As a district leader, I choose the topics for the talk and teaching practice (ideally, the mission president or the zone leaders would have a theme or a focus for the transfer, but I don't think there's anything specific this transfer), and assign people to do the prayers, and Korean practice (teaching Korean words or grammar or culture). It's fairly straightforward - choosing the topics is kind of hard, but everyone's really nice and willing to help out. I guess I have to conduct, which is kind of annoying but not a big deal.
District leaders also do exchanges, where a companionship changes companions with another companionship (if that makes any sense) for a day. I haven't done that yet, but I probably will this Wedsnday - I'll go to another area and work with another missionary in our district, and try to figure out what they need. I think that's the hard part - we're supposed to train the other missionaries, but it's hard to know what they're weaknesses or strenghts are.
Reporting stats is fairly simple as well. Every Sunday, and at the end of every months, each team in the district sends me their stats for the week, and I put it all together in a text and send it up to my leaders. It was really, really stressful at first because I had no idea what I was doing, and the Zone Leaders kept calling me ("Elder Luke! Put all the stats together in ONE text!!" "I'm sorry!"), but it got a lot easier after the first time. I just tell everyone to send stats in super early so that I have time to deal with everything.
District leaders are also in charge of conducting baptismal interviews for any investigator in the district. Because of the baptism in 해운대 (Haeundae), I was able to do that as well. I think most people just read the questions directly out of Preach My Gospel, so it's not really a problem. Most missionaries cover all the questions with the investigator before baptism anyways, so there wasn't any problem when I did the interview.
So that's pretty much it. District leaders are supposed to be a good example, work hard, and make sure that missionary work runs smoothy in the district, and that information flows up to the Zone leaders, and down to the district members quickly. Being District leader basically means you lose your free time at night though - you just get busy making phone calls, or doing stats, or calling people. Losing like half an hour at night isn't a huge deal though - I know Zone leaders and the AP's are way, way busier. I feel bad for them. They do a lot for us missionaries.
I know that I typed that we had a ton of investigators, but it seems like we've lost quite a few... we're down to like 3 people we can meet with regularly. Other people just don't answer their phone, or their phone is always off - we can't contact them, which is really unfortunate. I'm not really sure what the best way to find people here is either - I guess maybe English Class?
We've been spending most of our extra time working on records - for some reason 광안 (Gwangan, the area Andrew is in now) is kind of weak in records, so my companion's been making a member book (the missionaries probably don't make these in the States, but most areas have a book with pictures and names of all the members, plus other notes - like their callings, family, whether they've served a mission, etc.), and I've been working on organizing the less active records. We actually contacted one guy who says he'll meet with us, so hopefully we'll be able to do that this week.
I think that's kind of the main news for the week. It's been a pretty good week - we've had a lot of busy days! Hope you're all doing well!
- Elder Luke