Sunday, November 30, 2014

Transfer 12, week 5 (December 1, 2014)


This week was kind of similar to last week.... I don't know, but work to do just seems to crop up. Elder 박 (Bak) and I talked about it a bit, and we both decided we need to do something to try and do more missionary work (find and teach investigators that is). Haha, but we have a couple of big meetings we need to prepare for this next week, plus exchanges, so we'll see what happens.

You might have to send me some questions for me to answer because I don't really know what to write about...

I guess I was kind of sick this week so that didn't help in our efforts to do more work in 상인 (Sangin).

Oh, we had Zone Training Meeting this week (where our whole zone gets together and has a meeting). It was really stressful to be honest. Normally, I would go to those meetings and listen to the talks, but this time around we were busy and worried about other things so I couldn't enjoy the meeting...

As far as Zone Training Meetings go, kind of the hardest part is to think about our zone and try to discern what it is that they need, and then base the meeting around that. The actual execution is pretty easy since we give assignments to the district leaders (well, we normally prepare a talk or do some part of it), but anyways, it takes a long time for us to think and prepare the different topics. And of course, at the actual meeting itself, we as the zone leaders are in charge of making sure that everything runs smoothly, and so we spent the meeting running around mostly. I think the second zone meeting we do will be better now that I kind of know what we're doing and how things go though.

Other than that, we had do a lot of preparation for SPM (Stake Presidency Meeting), where we report to the stake how the missionary work is progressing in our zone. Basically, we have to call all the missionaries in our zone and ask them about progressing investigators, recent converts, English class and ward mission leaders. So we had to spend a lot of time in the church calling people, and then we put that information in a document to present to the stake. That takes a lot of time as well; the calls take like 15 minutes if people don't have anything new to report, and then like 40 minutes if people have a lot of new investigators and stuff. And we have maybe 14 teams in our zone and then we lost our old SPM documents as our ward computer got updated so this week's been pretty crazy.

Oh, and both of these meetings are monthly, so it's a really time-consuming affair unfortunately.

I don't have much to write, so I'm probably going to have to start writing down some of my thoughts and things I'm learning....

This morning, I was reading an old Liahona magazine, and there was an article in there by Elder Faust I think, about testimony. Now, missionaries have a lot of chances to bear their testimony, and so every fast and testimony meeting, or testimony meeting after a meeting, I think about what kind of story or experience I can share.

The Liahona article contained a list of things a testimony isn't, and in that was a story or experience. It then went on to explain that a testimony is a statement of belief, and while we can use a story to help illustrate what we believe or how we became to believe it, a story or experience alone is not a testimony.

So what I learned is that the most important part of a testimony is the testimony. I think that I focus too much on the story or whatever, and then not spend enough time on what actually matters. I've had times where I didn't have a story so I didn't share my testimony, so there's a lot of room for me to improve.

Preach my Gospel says that one of the best ways to help investigators feel the spirit is to testify frequently, and so that'll be something that I will be trying to improve on!

I think that's about it for this week; until next week!

- Elder Luke

Bonus info: I asked him about social media in Korea, as a follow-up to his letter last week, and here's what he said:

Facebook is really big in Korea (probably everywhere on earth, really) as is something called Kakaouto (I think? I have no idea). Basically, I heard that it's a free text messing service, but that and Facebook are by the biggest social media giants. I don't think people use twitter at all.

And yeah, smartphones are huuuuge in Korea (America is probably similar...), so I think most people just use those.

President Barrow mentioned that they're planning to roll out iPads in Japan (like in all of Japan), but that they don't have any plans for Korea yet; he says we shouldn't wait to do social media stuff either, so we're just going ahead with it. He said that it's pretty distracting though; a lot of missionaries have to spend a lot of time going through their history and deleting unmissionarylike things and then they look at pictures and old posts and stuff and apparently it's kind of a mess.

We'll see what happens to our mission though!

-Elder Luke 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Transfer 12, week 4 (November 24, 2014)

안녕하세요 (Annyeonghaseyo)!
I can't believe how fast this transfer has gone! It's already halfway over! What!? We haven't even done anything this transfer yet...!
Life in 상인 (Sangin) is pretty good - as expected, we did a lot of planning this week. We have a zone meeting this week (a monthly meeting that we have to plan for all the missionaries in our zone (obviously)), so we spent some time planning that, we had a meeting with the stake presidency (which we had to plan a bit for), our weekly planning, and some other stuff that I forget (oh I remember; we had to go down to Busan for a meeting). On top of that, Elder 박 (Bak) got sick this weekend, and so he slept for like 8 extra hours this last Saturday, so it's been a pretty slow week overall, but we got done what we needed to.
I've been trying really hard this transfer to memorize the names of people in 상인 (Sangin(so the members) - last transfer, I didn't know the names of most of the single relief society sisters, and the youth of the ward until the end of my last transfer, and I felt pretty bad about that, so I'm trying to fix that. Sangin is bigger (70 people), so it's a bit harder, but I was looking around in Priesthood meeting last Sunday, and I knew the names of everyone except one brother, so I feel pretty good about that. There's a bunch of children here though, and they're kind of hard to try to get the names down for, but I figure I'll just memorize them last. It's really hard to memorize people who I've never talked to. If the members invite us over for a meal, they're the easiest to remember names for, haha. I think the extra effort I'm putting in (I made little flash cards for everyone and I study them when I have free time) is paying off though; my goal is to memorize everyone's (or maybe everyone - the really young kids') names by the end of the transfer, but we'll see about that.
Our investigator Brother 김태한 (Gim Taehan) didn't come to church again - he was out somewhere travelling with his family. He's really hard to meet it seems.
We got a referall from a member this past week - he's the son of a less active lady. One really really active sister in our ward has been visiting the mother for some time now, and the mother wanted to come out to church with her son. I'm pretty sure she didn't tell her son that they were going to church, but well, he showed up. He didn't like church that much though (maybe because he didn't know he was going), and so he left right after. Anyways, he's a potential investigator. Our ward mission leader asked us to try and do some basketball or do something fun with him to try and be friends with him before we talk too much about church.
Other than that... the kind of big news for the mission is social media missionary work. I'm not sure at all what's going on in America, but there's been a lot of meetings and firesides to try to encourage members to share the gospel through the internet. That's one thing that we as zone leaders have been asked to do - present social media member missionary work to the missionaries so that they can encourage the members to do it. There's a lot of problems to that (like we have really restricted access to the internet), but I guess that's the kind of things we need to do as zone leaders.
So real quick, here's an experience I want to share...
This last General Conference, someone, I think Elder Richard G. Scott, gave a talk and talked about prayer. He said prayer should be a conversation with God - we can talk freely about our experiences, fears, concers, thanks, questions, pretty much whatever we want. I heard this and felt that my prayers needed improving - we always pray every morning and night, but I'm usually really tired so the prayers aren't that good. Anyways, so what I decided to do (this is in 광안 (Gwangan)) is to not pray on top of my bed (to warm and soft and easy to get sleepy) but to go to a separate room and pray. It was kind of hard at first, but being in the different room helped to be able to think more about what I should pray about, I could pray out loud, and it felt a lot more private, so it was really good. I think my prayers improved a lot from that.
So in Sangin, since there's 4 people here, it's really hard to pray by myself in a room (there's the kitchen but the kitchen is always suuuper cold), but I've been feeling that my prayers weren't as sincere as they should be. In the end, I just decided to try and try harder when I prayed. I haven't done anything hugely different, but I think the difference has been huge. I can't really explain it, but I think I feel more peaceful now, and I'm able to really think about what when on during the day when I pray. I also think I pray more now - whether it's at the house during study time, or one the street walking somewhere, or whenever, I think I turn to prayer more now.
There's a scripture in D&C where God says something "Seek me and I will find you" and I've been able to feel that through trying to improve my prayers. As I've tried to pray more earnestly, I've been able to feel more peace, and more love from God.
Thank you for all you do! Have a great week!
- Elder Luke


Here's a picture of me with Elder 박 (Bak) that I took the other day.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Transfer 12, week 3 (November 17, 2014)


How is everyone? Things have gotten pretty cold over here in Korea, so being outside a lot is kind of hard. I heard it snows sometimes in 대구 (Daegu), so we'll see if that happens this winter...

I got to teach my first lesson in 상인 (Sangin) this week! We met with Brother 김태한 (Gim Taehan) (can't remember if I wrote about him, but he was baptized, then got in a car accident, and hasn't been confirmed yet) this Friday (if I remember right...). We just had a short lesson about the importance of the gift of the holy Ghost. Brother 김 (oh, he's like 27ish) is kind of quiet, but he's really kind and actually understand the gospel really really well. The lesson went pretty good, and he promised that he would come to church to recieve the gift of the holy ghost.

Unfortunately, come Sunday, Brother 김 is nowhere to be found. We called him and texted him, but he didn't pick up, no replies or anything. It's been maybe a month now since he's been baptized, so while it was really good that we were able to meet him, he really needs to come to church.

We met with a couple of members this week - one of them is Brother 손지훈 (Jiihoon Son; the romanization is really bad...). He's blind, and can't show up to church super often because it's really hard for him to get around. He's really nice though, and he has a lot of faith. I guess he likes the missionaries, and so Elder 박재훈 met with him once every couple of weeks last transfer, so we'll probably do the same this transfer. Nothing too special about the visit - we shared a message, ate some food, and just talked for awhile.

As zone leaders, we do a lot of exchanges (mostly with the district leaders, but Elder 박 (Bak) does exchanges with other I guess "normal" missionaries as well), so I was able to visit the 대명 (Daemeyong) B team this week. It went pretty well - we got pretty badly lost but managed to find the person we were looking for, we gave a presentation about our church to a bunch of old people at a local college with the 대명(DaemeyongA team (by "we" I mean "the Korean elder"), and then had a lesson.

Exchanges are kind of difficult - it's not hard to spend a day with another elder (it's a little disruptive of our own 상인 (Sanginmissionary work, but that's not a huge problem), but it IS hard to try to spend those 24 hours completely focused on thinking about how to help my temporary companion. I was with Elder Godfrey, who's been in Korea now for like 2 months. His trainer is Korean, and so I think Elder Godrey had a good time serving with a companion who speaks fluent English. We were able to talk a lot, which is really important for exchanges.

Exchanges is one of the most important way that leaders can teach missionaries - that 1 on 1 setting is really important I think. I've learned a lot from my leaders through exchanges, and I hope that I'll be able to help people through exchanges.

I don't have a ton of time, so I'll going to wrap up with some thoughts I've had. I've been thinking a lot lately, kind of trying to solve problems. We, as zone leaders, need to do a lot of planning and studying and thinking to try and help others and make meetings happen, so I'm trying to apply that to personal study. There's a lot of questions - "how can I work harder?" "how do I work better as a missionary?" "what are my plans after my mission?" etc etc, and I think it's really important that we put effort into what we do. I was praying about one of these questions (I hadn't done a lot of serious thinking about it), and a thought came to me, which said "You haven't thought enough about this."

I think God really wants us to learn, and in order for us to learn, we can't expect him to give us everything. Like it says in D&C (I probably should know the reference... section 9?), we need to study it out, and then ask God if it's right.

I think about the First Vision, and I think one of the reasons that Joseph Smith was able to get an answer to his prayer was because he did a lot of diligent study before the prayer. He went to different churches, he studied the Bible, and I'm sure he did a lot of thinking to try and figure out an answer.

One thing I've learned this week is that if we really expect to get an answer from God, we have to do our own part to think and plan, and then if we ask for help, he'll help us.
Thanks for all you do! Sorry that my emails have been short lately... I'll try and think of more to write, haha. Until next week!

Elder Luke

It's been awhile since I've sent pictures I think, so I have no idea what I've sent and what I haven't, so I'm just going to send a bunch your way.

Here's a few pictures: Elder Lees and I at the 5k, a meal we had with our intermediate and advanced English class students (this is all in 광안 (Gwangan) of course), and then a district picture.

Here's a picture of us at the pop song service activity we did with a group of blind people (I'm not sure exactly how the group was organized - I would guess it's some sort of goverment-based thing...)

Another one of our English class...

And a picture with Brother 정대영 (Jeong Daeyeong) (whom as far as I'm concerned, has NOT been baptized yet!!!!).

Here's a picture with Elder Boome (I didn't take hardly any when I was in 포항 (Pohang)) and our district went out to a "meat buffet" today, so here's a picture of that.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Transfer 12, week 2 (November 10, 2014)

안녕하세요 (Annyeonghaseyo)!

Like no time to type this week either... I'm really sorry!

So first week as Zone Leader is over! We were super busy this week (actually I think Zone Leaders are super busy all the time, but it's not with normal missionary activities). We had what's called "SPM" or "Stake Presidency Meeting" where we have to report on how all the missionaries in our zone are doing. So we spend my first few days on the phone with other missionaires, asking them about how their investigators, recent converts, ward missionaries and english class are doing. Then we threw all that information into a document so that we could present it to the stake president at the meeting.

Then we had exchanges with 안동 (Andong) (famous city in Korea for having a lot of tradition Korean culture type stuff), which is ridiculously far (took us 2+ hours to get there from our house which is another 2ish hours from the mission home, and then we had to come all the way back), and so we spend a lot of time towards the end of the week on a bus.

But SPM is over now, so we should be able to follow a more normal schedule. Zone Leaders also have to do a lot of planning, so we have a few more exchanges (my companion says he usually does them once a week) to plan, as well as our Zone Meeting, and then a few things to organize for a stake meeting that's coming up. Aaah!

Luckily, my companion, Elder 박재훈 (Bak Jaehun), is a really experienced Zone Leader - I think this is his fifth transfer doing Zone Leader, so he knows what he's doing really well. I'm grateful I get the change to work with him this transfer and learn and try and figure out what it is I need to do!

A lot of what we do is worry about people. We spend a lot of time thinking about the different missionaries in our zone, how to help them be better missionaries, trying to figure out how they're getting along with their companions. It's a different kind of missionary work (we help missionaries more than investigators), but it's still really really important.

As far as the area goes, I don't think we have any really strong investigators. There was a person who was baptized a few weeks before I got to 상인 (Sangin) who then got in a car accident and was not able to recieve the gift of the Holy Ghost. He's slowly getting better. But other than that, we don't have any serious investigators.

The 상안 (Sanginward is pretty big. 71 people showed up (a lot of those were children though; at least, a lot lot more than live in 광안 (Gwangan)!). There's a fair number of families as well, so the ward seems pretty strong. Don't really have much to say about that...

I think that's about it for today - I know it was short, but we really just spend our time this week with SPM, planning, and exchanges with 안동 (Andong)! I'll try to write more next week!

Love you all!

- Elder Luke

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Transfer 12, week 1 - Daegu (November 3, 2014)

안녕하세요~ (Annyeonghaseyo)!
I got a call last Thursday, and I've been transferred to the 상인 (Sangin) 와드 (wadeu = ward) in 대구 (Daegu)! 대구 (Daeguis the thirdish largest city in Korea, and this is my first time in the Daegu area (it's the northernmost zone in our mission). I'll also be serving here as a zone leader.
My new companion's name is Elder 박제훈 (Elder Jaehoon Bak), and I've heard a lot of good things about him.
So there's not a ton of time today - we took a bus for like an hour and a half to get here, and then had to drop by the house to drop stuff off - so this will probably be short.
Now, back to 광안 (Gwangan)...
This last week was really, really slow. Our ward mission leader asked us to make a few records for him - a digital record for our investigators (we keep really detailed records on paper, but those records aren't supposed to leave the house), as well as a simple record of everyone who comes to English class. Since we knew that one of us was transferring, we pretty much spent this last week typing up those records (which turns out to be a good thing since I left, and I knew the most about the investigators), which means we sat at a computer for a very long time.
Which probably would have been bad if we were really busy, but Elder Lees and I have kind of had a lot of time in 광안 (Gwangan)...
Brother 박신곤 (Bak Singon) responded to one of our texts (actually, the one I wrote about last week) and he said that his parents don't want him to meet with us anymore. They're strong members of another church, and so because of that, we're not going to be able to meet with him anymore.
So that puts our investigator count at 1 (Brother 정대영 (Jeong Daeyeong)), which is not really a good state to leave 광안 (Gwangan) in, haha.
In more positive news, our ward missionary meeting went well. There was a lot of last minute planning that had to go on, but I think people enjoyed it. We had one part where we gave people a list of situations that they might encounter (people inviting them to a baseball game on Sunday, and then practicing how to say know and teach about our belief about the law of the Sabbath), and then they practiced that for like 15 minutes in small groups. I think people really enjoyed that - it was a church meeting, but kind of had a relaxed atmosphere to it.
There were some other things that didn't really go to plan - we had a suprise visit from an Area Seventy who wanted to give a talk at the end of our meeting, but our ward mission leader did a really, really good job of making everything run smoothly, so I'm really grateful to him. He is a really, really good guy, and I think I'll miss him and how much he did to help us out.
Ah, I've taken a few pictures with members and things, but the computer I'm on doesn't allow pictures, so I'll have to send those later...
Have a good week! Sorry for the short email!
Elder Luke


대구: Daegu, which is the fourth largest city (Busan is second) and third largest metropolitan area in South Korea. The city has a population of about 2.5 million. It is actually slightly south of Pohang, where he was in the area before last. You can see it on the map here.