Sunday, August 31, 2014

Transfer 10, week 4 (September 1, 2014)

Dear family -

Another week has gone by! We had some pretty crazy weather this week - Busan got hit by some really bad rains; several people actually died in accidents during the storm. It was last week on p-day; Elder Lees and I were out and about emailing, shopping, etc., and right as we got home, the rains got really bad, so we managed to avoid the worst of it. Gwangan was okay; several other areas flooded for awhile. More on that a little later.

So the exciting news for this week is: we got a new investigator! I think I might have mentioned him really briefly last week, but his name is (I'm typing on a different computer which can't handle Korean) Pak Shinguun. We met him while advertising our English class. He goes to a local college, is majoring in some kind of English major, and is 28 years old. He came to English class and after class, we took him to another classroom and talked with him. It was kind of awkward at first, but things turned out well. He has a friend who is a member, and so Brother Pak Shinguun said he knows a little bit about our church. He asked us "What makes your church difffent from other Christian churches?" We were really excited to hear that question! :D Anyways, we decided to meet this Tuesday after English class and talk more about it. Elder Lees in particular is really excited to find someone new.

We're going to be really busy on Tuesdays now: we have our normal morning schedule (6:30-12:00), lunch with a member (12:30-2:00), an hour of time to schedule (2:00-3:00), preparing for English class (3:00-4:00), teaching Brother Yoon Yeoungon and Brother O Samsok (4:00-5:00), English class (5:00-6:30), meeting with Brother Pak (6:30-7:30), and then finally dinner (7:30-8:30), a little bit of time, and then we're done by 9:00. Of course, our other days aren't as busy (well, Saturdays are usually pretty busy), but Tuesdays are really good!

We couldn't really meet with Brother Jeoung Deyeoung this week - school started for him, and so only weekends are available, and he was busy Saturday. He came to Stake Conference with us on Sunday though, which was good (except I fell asleep for just a tiny little tiny part of it). He said he want to meet with us (to play sports, not to discuss the gospel) next time his school has time off, so we might be able to meet him sometime next week.

Speaking of next week, next Sunday Monday Tuesday is Chuseok, which is a Korean harvest/thanksgiving holiday. I'm not sure what's going to happen; last time we had like a bonus p-day, but Chuseok unfortunately falls on p-day. We might do something together as a zone, but I haven't heard anything yet. I'm not sure how we'll do missionary work, since everything shuts down on Chuseok; nobody is even outside! Last time, I think they just told us to do the best that we can without bothering anyone too much...

Other than that, life is continuing as normal. We're still meeting with Brother Yoon, Brother O, and Brother Pak (the older guy, not the new investigator), but they're not progressing super well. We've found a few more people interested in English class, and the ward mission leader has asked us to step up English class a bit, so we might be able to find a few more interested people through that. I think English class is our strongest method to find people, because it's pretty innocent and people are interested, but we've also been trying to visit less actives (like really, really old less actives that nobody knows anything about), calling less actives, and calling former investigators. At least on the former investigator front, things have been going okay - we've had a decent number of people pick up. We haven't been able to actually meet anyone, but I think that'll be what we focus on for awhile.

Back to the heavy rains this week - so it rained really hard on Monday, and we got a text from our leaders asking if we could help out in a service project on Friday. There is some park by a river, and the river flooded in the rain and kind of tore up this park (it's more of a walking path by the river). I'm not sure how it happened, but some part of the government asked our church and our missionaries to help out. Elder Lees and I didn't have any special plans for Friday, so we got to go. We got to wear the cool "Mormon Helping Hands" yellow vests and work. It turns out all we did is clear some debris off of park equiptment and pick up garbage, but it's been the first time I've done a big service project as a missionary. We had some 35-40 missionaries show up, and it seems like a lot of people that saw us were impressed. I didn't get to take any pictures though, since my camera was in my bag and they put all the bags in one of the cars.

I think that about sums it up! The white handbook says that missionaries are supposed to share spiritual experiences when they email, but I can't really seem to find any stories or anything that I want to share... I'll try to figure something out.

Thank you all for all you do!

- Elder Luke

Also, here's some random pictures: I tried to take a picture of the rain, but I don't think it conveys how hard it was raining. One's of English class, and the last of Elder Lees and I eating lunch at Costco. We took a "selfie" but I didn't work out as well as I had hoped. I was too embarassed to ask anyone to take a picture though. :)

Note: Andrew didn't actually get the rain photo attached, so only two pictures this time.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Transfer 10, week 3 (August 25, 2014)

Life has been pretty busy in 광안 (Gwangan), but nothing really special. Just living a very very normal life here - I think we need like a new investigator or something break up our schedule. Here's a bunch of random stuff that went on this week:
We talked to Brother 윤영언 (Yun Yeongeon) and Brother 오삼석 (O Samseok) about baptism and a baptismal date, but they both refused - they said it's too fast and that they just want to study from the Book of Mormon right now and not think about baptism. I think they understand a little bit better about why we're meeting them as missionaries, but I also think they're pretty far from actually being baptised. Our ward mission leader kind of told us to keep meeting with them for now, so that's what we'll do. It was a little bit unfortunate - I had hoped they would respond a little bit more positively.
Elder Lees is doing well! He continues to ask questions and talk a lot in lessons - he definitely is doing better than I was on week 3; understanding is still a little bit difficult for him though (understandably). He says he can ask questions but not answer them haha.
Spend some time advertising our English class this week. It went really well. We went to a nearby college with a poster that says "Free English!" on it, and then tried to make people take a survey about their English interest. We got 10 contacts in like an hour and a half, which is pretty good. Of course, not all of them are actually interested in English, but still. We actually met one guy who said that he's interested in both our English and church (he has a friend who is a member he said), and so we set up a tentative appointment with him for tomorrow. With any luck, we can help him become an investigator!
We tried to recontact the others as well, but most of them didn't seem super interested - a few said that they would try to make it to the Saturday class, but nobody showed up sadly.
In other news, its been decided that the members will take care of a couple of the recent converts here, so we don't have to meet with them anymore, which is kind of too bad - it would have been good practice for Elder Lees and I to teach them... It kind of frees us up to do other things though; before, we were really really busy on Saturdays.
Ah, I think I've mentioned him before, but do you remember Brother 양현제 (Yang Hyeonje)? He's kind of the troubled kid who's had a few run-in with the police, who goes in and out of the hospital, etc etc. Maybe I haven't actually talked about him that much? Anyways, he showed up on Sunday to attend church - he's been in the hospital because of a bad hip for like a month now - and so we met with him, talked a lot, taught a lesson, and agreed to meet with him every Friday. The kid needs a looooot of help from everyone but hopefully everything turns out alright with him. He doesn't have a cell phone and isn't the most reliable of people, so we'll see how often we can meet with him...
I've been really busy at night recently - normally we finish our daily planning by 9:30, and then we have kind of free time from 9:30 to 10:30, but I've been on the phone for the past couple of days from 9:30 to like 10:20. It's been kind of stressful - I haven't been able to do the things I want to, but missionary work and contacting those people and confirming appointments with members comes first I guess. Elder Lees isn't good enough at Korean to call people though, so maybe that's part of the problem -  I kind of have to do any phone calls that need to be made. I haven't written in my journal properly for like 2 weeks now. D:
Lately, it seems like our stake (and just missionaries and members) has been focusing a lot on activities. Korea has had a moderate amount of success through have lots of activities, just things that are easy for members to bring friends, and easy for members to invite like less actives to as well. I'm not sure how things will work out, but I feel like that'll be something that missionaries will be asked to do more often in the future - plan activities, parties, whatever it takes to help investigators and members together and like.... forming friendships.
We were talking with our ward mission leader the other day, and he said that that's one of the most important kind of member missionary work.
Well, one second, let me talk about the children's English class first...
We taught the children's English class for the 2nd time this week, and we had a lot more help from the members; some 3 families and an investigator and her son showed up, so we had good turnout. What ended up happening is that we all started together, and once we started actually teaching, most of the parents left to go chat in another room, and us, like one of the parents, and the kids stayed together and studied.
So back to our ward mission leader - he said that point of the children's English class was not actually for the kids to learn English, but for the parents to have time together - that way, the members can make friends with the investigators, and then invite them to church or other activities or whatever. I hadn't thought about the children's English class that way before, but it makes a lot of sense. Missionaries transfer every few months, but members stay for a long time, so it's much more important that the members know investigators than it is for the missionaries to know investigators.

I don't really have that much more to add. Life in 광안 (Gwanganis going good!
I wanted to send some pictures but the computer it not reading my camera (or anything for that matter) right now, so maybe next week.
Actually, I think I'll just wrap it up here. Thank you so much! Have a good week!
- Elder Luke


Brother 윤영언 (Yun Yeongeon) and Brother 오삼석 (O Samseok): Friends that attend their English class as well as take missionary lessons. Andrew has mentioned these guys several times before. Their photos are in his letter here.

Brother 양현제 (Yang Hyeonje): Actually, I'm pretty sure Andrew has never mentioned him before.

Transfer 10, week 2 (August, 18, 2014)

안녕하십니까? (Annyeonghasimnika?)
Normal life in 광안 (Gwangan) again, after a crazy week of meetings, and hanging out in 구포 (Gupo)! Hopefully, we'll be able to gather our wits and be able to stay and work in 광안 (Gwangan) for this next week...
A lot went on this week, but I spent a ton of time outside of 광안 (Gwangan), which is kind of unfortunate. There were a bunch of meeting related to training, so that's kind of what I did...
We spend our time on Monday in 구포, then the morning of Tuesday deep cleaning the carpets in 구포, and then we dashed off to 광안 (Gwangan) to make it to English class. We taught that, did some shopping, and I got a badly-needed haircut, and we spent that night in 광안 (Gwangan). We had a meeting in the afternoon in 광안 (Gwangan), then another meeting in 구포 (Gupo), and we spent the rest of Wednesday in 구포 (Gupo). The new missionaries were supposed to show up Wednesday, but apparently there was some kind of airplane trouble and so half of them got stuck in Texas for a day. But everyone managed to make it by Thursday, so we met together, all the trainers and trainees and had a bunch of meetings. We first had a "전도 activity," where we bascially step out and try to find people interested in the gospel.
I think when I first did the 전도 (jeondo = missionary work = 伝道, certainly) activity, I was super scared and didn't talk to anyone except for one old man that my companion basically made me talk to. The new missionaries were really enthusiastic it seemed - they certainly did better than I did my first time! It was refreshing to be able to head out and just try to talk to people - it's been a transfer since I've done like straight-up 전도 (jeondo).
It ended up pretty decently - my last companion and I met a bunch of really nice old men who were interested in English class, and we even got a contact from one of them which is really good. I think I'll get pictures from that activity later...
Actually, I didn't really do anything like that exciting this week. We had a meeting, we met our new companions and then headed out to our areas!
My companion is named Elder Lees, and he's from Seattle. I don't know him super well yet of course, but he seems like he really really wants to work hard. He's not afraid to talk or speak up durning lessons, which is really good. He's concerned about not having any idea what's going on yet of course, but I'm pretty sure I had no idea what I was doing for the my first month in Korea, so he's on scheldule.
Other than that...
Brother 정대영 (Jeong Daeyeong) is about the same - he's a really good investigator, came to church, is praying daily and reading from the Book of Mormon...
He did mention that he wanted us to go over all the commandments again - I don't know if I mentioned it, but Elder Hansen (came to 광안 (Gwangan) for exchanges) and Elder 홍의택 (Hong Witaek, Andrew's previous companion) taught him all of the commandments in once lesson, and there's no way he could have learned everything he needed to then (apparently, that was the time we met him after we set a baptismal date, and so he asked, "What do I need to do to prepare for baptism?" to which my companion replied, "Keep the commandments." "What are the commandments?" so then they just taught like probably waaaaay too much. Anyways...). So we'll be spending the next few weeks reviewing those and wrapping up the missionary lessons. Hopefully we'll be able to figure out a plan for him to be baptized as well.
Honestly, it doesn't seem like training is that much differerent than normal missionary work - you get more time to study in the morning so that you can practice and learn together, but I haven't felt that there's been a huge difference in 광안 (Gwangan) yet, though I think part of that is an answer to my prayers. I've been praying a lot for help in all that I do, and I think the Lord's blessed me to not feel like stressed out about training. What I'm trying to say that I'm doing well. :)
We kind of had a slow week because of all this training stuff, so I think that's about it. If you have any questions, please send them my way! Sorry for the short email, and have a great week!
- Elder Luke


안녕하십니까? (Annyeonghasimnika?) A standard greeting, a more polite version of "annyeonghaseyo."

Monday, August 11, 2014

Transfer 10 - Week 1 훈련 (August 11, 2014)


Sad news: Elder 홍의택 (Hong Witaek) transferred out today! I was SURE we were going to serve together for at least another transfer, but he's gone kind of far away. We got along really well the past few weeks, so it's sad to see him go so quickly.

Big news: I'll be training this transfer (and the next)! So I still don't know who my companion is, though he's probably on the plane coming to Korea right about now. I'm pretty nervous, but it seems like it'll be a lot of fun. The AP's say that there's 1 Korean elder and 7 foreign elders coming, so I'll probably be paired with a non-Korean. Crazy.

So because of that, I'll be hanging out in 구포 (Gupo, an area of Busan that looks like it's about four miles northwest of Andrew's assigned area of Gwangan) for the next few days with Elder 김인수 (Gim Insu), who is also training. We meet all the new missionaries on Wednesday, and we'll be back in 광안 (Gwangan) working by, oh, Thursday afternoon.

Both Elder 홍의택 (Hong Witaekand I thought we were going to stay, so it's been a crazy past couple of days. I don't know if it's because the members really liked my companion or something (he's only been here like 3 months...), but we've been getting fed like crazy this week. Last Sunday, we had 3 meal appointments - a 2:00 lunch appointment, 6:00 dinner, and a 4:00 snack because why not.

It's been good though - honestly, I'm kind of sick of eating, but meeting with everyone has helped me to know who's who a lot better. I still don't know all of the member's names, which is kind of not okay (in my defense, I know the names of pretty much all the men, and the people that have callings that directly affect us (Bishop, ward mission leaders, youth leaders, etc.), and the names of people who invite us over to their houses, but some of the older single Relief Society I still don't know, and less actives are still kind of iffy). I'll have to try really hard to learn them all.

So we spent most of this last week with our members, which was sweet.

I think most of our investigators are in the same spot as last time, so I don't think I need to mention too much...

광안's (Gwangan) in a pretty good spot right now though, since we have people we're teaching. In addition to our investigators, we've got a couple of recent converts that need to be taught the new member lessons, so it seems like we'll be able to keep our schedule busy with people to meet.

One thing I'd like to try and work on this transfer is working with the ward better. I asked our ward mission leader what he wanted us to focus on, and he said working with the members would be really good. We'll try to focus on visiting members and figuring out how to do work with them. I still need to ask the bishop what his goals are, or what he wants us to be doing as missionaries - that feels like it's a really good place to start. I really like it when the ward or branch gives the missionaries specific assignments - "Will you contact this less active?" "Will you look for these lost members?" (lost members is also a less active finding program, but I'm not sure exactly what's different about it...).

Here's a bunch of pictures...

The first is of our English class. Elder Quist in our district is done with his mission and going home, so he requested a group picture. Note that they're everyone that comes to English class is like, super old.

The next picture is the somewhat-obligatory picture taken after the last district meeting in a transfer. I'm not sure if you care that much, but here's what the district is/was:

해운대 (Haeundae) A Elders: Elder Quist, Elder 정노영 (Jang Noeong)
해운대 (HaeundaeB Elders: Elder 문병광, Elder Hansen
광안 (Gwangan) Elders: Elder Luke, Elder 홍의택 (Hong Witaek)
광안 (GwanganSisters: Sister 이자경 (I Jageong), Sister Bussio

We also had a cake-decorating activity for a YM/YW activity, so here's some pictures of that...

My cake was not nearly as pretty as I had hoped...

We also took some pictures with just our Intermediate class - a lot of people showed up since Elder 홍 (Hong) was leaving. The guy with up front is Brother 윤영언 (Yun Yeongeon), and the man in the strange purple garb is Brother 오삼석 (O Samseok).

And the last picture is me and companion, right before we separated today!

I think this week, I learned a lot about Heavenly Father helps us to change as we have righteous desires. I've been thinking about that alot, especially as I've been assigned to train - we're not perfect, but as we do what we know is right, we're blessed and given strength to rise.

I've had a lot of experiences like that as a missionary. For a good chunk of my mission, I was really, really scared to talk to people. I wasn't really sure why - I don't really mind if people tell me to go away, and for the most part, people are actually pretty nice. But I would go back and worth with worrying about it, to thinking that I didn't really need to talk to people (like on the street), then back to worrying about it. It was a couple of transfers ago that I decided to try harder, and to try to be braver. I had a lot of help from companions and our Heavenly Father of course, but now talking to people is a lot, lot easier. It's still not easy, especially if I'm feeling lazy or tired, but I've been able to get a testimony about how if we pray and do our part, God will bless us to be able to do things we thought were far to difficult for us to do.

I hope as I train, I'll be able to keep learning about and applying this principle. There will be difficult times but I hope I'll be able to rely on God to overcome those moments and change for the better. I think that that's one of the most important things I've learned as a missionary - how to change for the better by relying on the Atonement.

It's been a good week, and it'll be a crazy 3 months as me and my new companion train together. Pray for me! I'll be praying for you all too!

Elder Luke


The word in the title is 훈련 = hunlyeon = "training." Probably 訓練.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Transfer 9, week 7 - Transfer week (August 4, 2014)

안녕하세요~  (Annyeonghaseyo)
Things have finally settled down, and I think this week will be very very normal (unless someone transfers! but it doesn't seem super likely (which is what I said when I left 포항... (Pohang, Andrew's previous area))).
Things have been going really well with Brother 정대영 (Jeong Daeyeong). We still haven't been able to meet his family yet (Brother 정대영 (Jeong Daeyeonghas been up near Seoul to study or something - it's summer vacation right now, but apparently Koreans study then too...), but we're definately trying to.
Last week was a Youth Conference, and Brother 정대영 (Jeong Daeyeongended up going to that - they went to a water park, then camped out/slept at one of our nearby churches. It seems like he has fun, though he said that "it wasn't really [his] style." Anyways, because of the Youth Conference, a lot of the Young Men and Young Women got up this Fast Sunday to bear their testimonies and talk about their experiences (to be honest, most of them just kind of reported what they did, but that's fine too). I think Brother 정대영 (Jeong Daeyeongfelt some pressure from that or something, because he asked if he should go up and bear his testimony too. Of course, us and everyone sitting nearby told him that he should, and so he did.
He got up to the stand, and asked "Am I allowed to bear my testimony?" to which the congregation said "Yes!" He went on to talk about prayer, and how he had to take a difficult test in school, so he prayed a lot while studying. He said he felt peace and then he did well on the test. Our members absolutely loved it, and everyone was complimenting him after sacrament meeting. He did better than some of our youth, haha.
So that was really exciting - Brother 정대영 (Jeong Daeyeongis progressing well. He said that he prays every day now, and that he's been reading the Book of Mormon regularly as well.
Actually, I think he said because he prayed for the test and did well, he prays regularly. It's exciting to see him apply gospel principles - he had enough faith to try and pray, and because he got an answer, he has a testimony of prayer, and now prays better/with more faith/more regularly. That's how we all grow faith - we start small, but by acting, we grow our faith which helps us to act more in the future!
He's also been going to seminary with the other youth, and while he says it's still kind of hard, he keeps attending. Brother 정대영 (Jeong Daeyeongresponds really well to anything we invite him to do. Last Saturday, my companion asked him if he wanted to come to seminary before the Mutal activity, and the text went something like this:

"Hey, you want to come to church early so you can attend seminary?"
"Yes you. Wanna come?"
We're still not sure how baptism will pan out however - his father apparently donsn't like Christian churches that much. Brother 정대영 (Jeong Daeyeongsays he has tried to bring up churches several times, but his father just kind of cuts him off and doesn't talk about it. He DID say that if Brother 정대영 (Deyeoung Jeoung, by the way) attends out church diligently for a year, he'll allow baptism, but that's kind of a worst-case scenerio. We're still in the works with trying to figure out if we'll be able to meet with his family, and what they'll say about baptism - hopefully, we can meet them this week. Brother 정대영 (Jeong Daeyeongsaid that Jehovah's witnesses come to their house every week to try and talk, and his father really doesn't like it, so we'll have to be careful about not trying to be annoying or too persistant as we try to meet...
That's by far the most exciting news for the week. Our other investigators are doing alright, but nothing too special...
Brother 박제희 (Bag [or Pak] Jehwi) is a very, very long time investigator; I think he's on year four right now. We meet them with the senior couple in of the 광안 (Gwangan, Andrew's area) ward, and we've been reading from the Book of Mormon. He's improved a lot; our discussions are a little bit more focused now, and he comes having read all that we assigned him. He's still not progressing all that significantly, but my companion says that's he's a LOT better then when Elder 홍 (Hong) first got here. We usually read from the Book of Mormon for like 40 minutes, and then talk about the contents for another 20. We also play ping-pong for about an hourish, which I don't really like too much, but I think it's one of the reasons he shows up every week.
Brother 윤영언 (Yun Yeongeon) is about where we started - I think we need to talk to him and try to help him understand our purpose as missionaries - we're not just here to teach, but to convert. Meeting with him just once a week is kind of hard as well - it's hard to help people progress if you can't meet with them often - preferably 3-4 times a week.
Brother 오삼석 (O Samseog) is kind of similar. We're not even sure why he keeps meeting with us - he first showed up because Brother 윤영언 (Yun Yeongeoninvited him to English class, so we need to teach him about our purpose as well. We probably also need to meet him separately from Brother 윤영언 (Yun Yeongeon); it's hard to teach two people at once, since they both have different questions and needs - last time, I didn't know who to focus on, or how much time to spend on what question, etc.
The rest of our investigators are kind of dead - there's a few people we keep contacting, but they're all busy, and then we have a couple of people we call but they don't pick up. We called a former investigator this week, one 오두택 (O Dutaeg), and he says he's good to meet, so hopefully we can pick him up as an investigator!
Other than that, I'm back with Elder 홍 (Hong) now, so life is mostly normal. He said it was really weird to go back home and see his family, friends, and ward again. He said that if he was a mission president, he wouldn't let people go back, even for a funeral, just because it's really hard to come back to the mission and work. I think he's adjusting back to the missionary schedule fairly well though - I don't think they will be any problems.
One thing that I've been trying to work on this week while teaching is testifying - for some reason, it's really easy to slip into a bad routine of teaching only doctrine. Most of our investigators are fairly accepting of what we're saying, so sometimes it doesn't feel like we need to testify because the investigator seems to understand. But by trying to testify more, I've felt that the lessons have gone better, and I've felt that "I did well. I taught what I was supposed to" feeling more. Preach My Gospel says that testifying is one of the most effective ways to invite the Spirit, and the Holy Ghost is one of the most important parts of our teaching.
Even if I'm not saying things very well in Korean, and even if the investigator doesn't understand perfectly what I'm talking about, I feel that if I testify and invite the Holy Ghost in such a way that the investigator feels it as well, that's a successful lesson.
Actually, that's something I've been thinking a lot about - there's a lot of things that we all know we need to do, but aren't doing. Especially in missionary work, most people do the big things - study, obey rules, teach the lessons - fairly well. If we do the basics well though, we need to improve on polishing what we do. I think that's one purpose of our leaders, regular church meetings, home teachers, scriptures, etc. They help to remind us about the basics, and then how we can polish up what we do.
So it's been a good week - though trying to testify more, I think I've strenthened my testimony about testimonies. It's a unique feeling to be able to testify as a missionary, and feel like you've done what you were supposed to in a lesson. I'm really grateful for the Holy Ghost in guiding us as we try our best.
With any luck, I'll have good news about Brother 정대영's (Jeong Daeyeongbaptism next week! I'll write to you all then!
- Elder Luke


Here's a few pictures - a couple with me and Elder 홍 (Hong) with Brother 정대영 (Jeong Daeyeong), and the other is a picture I took today with the elders in my district at McDonalds.

Love you all!
- Elder Luke

Note: The box on the table says "Choko Pai" = "chocolate pie." They're basically the same thing as a Moon Pie -- two wafers with a (not very sweet) cream between them, all dipped in chocolate.