Monday, February 23, 2015

Transfer 14, week 5! (February 23, 2015)

안녕하세요 (Annyeonghaseyo)!
Our bishop (actually former bishop now; he got released yesterday) took us up to another Buddhist temple today, so I'm emailing kind of a little bit late. The temple was really good though; we took a lot of pictures. I'll send some today if I have time. I'm kind of tired right now though, haha.
This last week was really good! It was 설날 (Seolnal = Korean New Year), so we were worried that we would have a lot of time with nothing to do (people aren't out on the streets, and are usually pretty busy), but the members did a really good job inviting us over to have meal appointments. I think we had maybe 5 this week?
It was really good to be able to spend time with our members; there's a lot of really great, really strong families in 상인 (Sangin), and it's kind of refreshing to be able to talk and eat with them. So we kept pretty busy this week meeting with people like that.
Kind of the big news for the week has to do with 이예진s and 이진산b...
One of the member families invited us, the sister missionaries, and our two investigators over for a meal. They're pretty close with both 예진s (Sis. Yejin) and 진산b (Bro. Jinsan), and the appointment went super well. It was really chill, both the parents of the family were able to briefly share their conversion stories, and we were able to talk a lot and get closer to our investigators. I felt like I didn't know them super well before, but by talking and spending time with them (especially on the long, like hour-long bus ride back), it feels more like we're friends now.
And then they came to church on Sunday (이진산b came in a suit; all the members commented on it, and he was better dressed than pretty much all of our young men haha), and we had a lesson. And, finally! We were able to get a baptismal date with the two! We're shooting for March 21st, though they said it might be hard for them to meet in March due to school starting. We also more or less officially started teaching the lessons (we've taught them stuff before, but I don't think they really understood why we were teaching), so we're well on our way. We'll just have to see how things go, but the 21st is perhaps a liiiitttle bit fast (we can't meet super often, so we need to teach a little bit more then normal when we meet), but I think it'll be a good date to work for.
So Elder Boome and I are trying to figure out exactly when we have to meet, and what would be best to teach when, and all that. We hope that they can be ready by that date! It seems like they're pretty alright with the idea of being baptized though.
It's kind of a short email, but here's a few pictures that will hopefully make up for it!
Thank you for everything!
- Elder Luke
(The man in the orangish clothes is our former bishop!)

The temple they visited seems to be Gaya-san Haeinsa; the Haein Temple of Mount Gaya. The temple has a Web site, here. The temple was first established about 800 AD, with the current buildings dating back to 1818.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Transfer 14, week 4 (already?) (February 17, 2015)

So we had Zone Conference yesterday and so p-day got moved to Tuesday. I should email again Monday next week (not that you need me to tell you, but I didn't know how to start this letter off......).
Anyways, Zone Conference was really good; it was a 6.5 hour megamonster meeting (an hour for lunch was included, but still), but I was able to learn a lot. The AP's and President Barrow plan and carry out the meeting, so unlike Zone Training Meetings, we were able to sit down, listen, and actually learn rather than just run around (there still was a fair bit of running around, but less than normal, haha). The main topic was about receiving revelation, so we learned about prayer and scripture study, how the Spirit works, and also about how we can help investigators to recieve revelation. Kind of the main thing I took away was to try and have more faith when I pray, and try to improve my prayers. It seems like I always decide to work on something like that, and then I kind of falter, only to go to some meeting like this, and feel inspired to try harder again. :)
We had to do a teaching practice session, and haha, honestly, it didn't go as well as we had hoped. We did a lot of planning for it, and we had a lot of high hopes for what our missionaries would learn and take away, but I don't know if people learned exactly what we wanted them to. Part of the problem, I think, is that we have a lot of younger missionaries in our zone, and they didn't understand our Korean very well. That's not really something we have a ton of control over, but it was a little bit too bad that we couldn't convey exactly what we wanted to the missionaries. But the the other parts of Zone Conference went well (and it's not that the teaching practice went bad, it's just that it wasn't exactly everything we had planned for), so the meeting was a success.
Other than that, our big news is that we had a member-present lesson with 이예진s (Sis. I Yejin) and 이진산b (Bro. I Jinsan), and it went super well!
We met them with 황동옥s (Sis. Hwang Dongok), who is the Stake Relief Society president, and also the Gospel Principles teacher. She's possibly one of the nicest, best teachers I've ever seen - she teaches really comfortably, and really converstationally. It's hard to say, but she puts everyone at ease when she teaches I think. Both 이예진s and 이진산b have come to Gospel Principles, and they both really respect 황동옥s - they say that one of the big reasons they come to church is to meet with her.
We actually only had 20 minutes to do the lesson, and we had planned for a much longer lesson, so we went in without anything prepared. But as soon as we start, Sister 황 takes charge and while we didn't teach a lesson-lesson together, she (황s did like 90% of the talking, but like in a really good way) invited them to meet with us next week to set a baptismal date for early March, bore her testimony of the blessings of the gospel especially of eternal families, and then commited both of them to meet with us every week after church to take the lessons. Elder Boome said that that was possibly the best lesson he had every been in as a missionary, haha. It went really well, and it seems that both 이예진s and 이진산b have a lot of interest in coming to church and learning about the church.
They said that they've been to different churches before, and all they did was sit down and listen to the minister or preacher or whoever, and they really like the idea of meeting with missionaries (and of continuing to come to Gospel Principles) and learning together instead of just listening to a sermon. Long story short, Elder Boome and I have pretty high hopes for them after this lesson, and it seems pretty sure they'll be baptized sooner or later.
We also had a couple of people call us up kind of randomly saying that they wanted to meet, and so I think we might be able to meet a few more people to start teaching lessons to his week.
Oh, except it's 설날 (Seolnal = Korean New Year) this week, which is a huuuuge Korean holiday, so people probably won't really want to meet that much. We did, however, get invited by 3-4 different members to have a meal this week ("Elders, what are you doing for 설날?" "Oh, you know. Nothing special." "Nothing special!? Come to our house Friday and we'll have lunch together."), so I think that'll keep up busy! :)
We kind of got bogged down with a lot of planning last week, and so we hope that we'll be able to visit members, meet people, and kind of start working in 상인 (Sangin) again (I say this every week, haha).
This week was really good; hope you all had a great week as well!
- Elder Luke

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Transfer 14, week 3 (February 9, 2015)


We had SPM (once a month is too often) again, so that ate up a ton of our time for the week. Elder Boome really hates staying inside and doing stuff like that, so it was a little hard for him I think. We've talked a lot about how we can make it more efficient and kind of less of a burden on us, but we're not really coming up with many good ideas.

We visited a couple of district meetings this week - Zone Leaders are supposed to go around and visit everyone at least once a transfer, so we got to go around and meet everyone in our zone. There's a lot of young foregin missionaries it seems!

We had planned to do our music class this Friday but things didn't work out (and we had to go down to Busan for a meeting...!) so we moved it to this week. We have like 5-6 members that say they're interested in coming, and I think the sisters got 2 referalls for the class, so it's kind of way bigger than we thought it would be. It's kind of a lot a of pressure on Elder Boome since he's the only one that plays guitar (and he says he's not that good, but I think that's just him being humble), so we'll have to prepare really well, especially since this week will be the big kickoff.

In other news, 이예진s (Sis. I Yejin) show up to church, and we got to teach a lesson with her! We thought that her and her brother weren't going to show up to church, but then just Sister 이예지 showed up late. I think her brother went on vacation somewhere, or was out hanging out with his friends. We met with 이예진s after church, and the lesson.... well, it was kind of awkward, haha. Our ward mission leader was there (he's pretty good friends with her now), and he kind of was leading things, and we didn't practice or really plan too much together, and Elder Boome and I really weren't on the same page (we actually prepared a lot for the lesson, but we didn't have a ton of time for the lesson since we had to be somewhere, so he was teaching little bit faster than I wanted to, and so I was probably teaching too slow for his liking. We had agreed to teach a little bit faster then our original plan, but we didn't talk about how fast...).

Well, the lesson actually turned out pretty good I think - it was a first lesson as well, so I don't think 이예진s knew what was going to happen, so think she was nervous as well. It was just somewhat awkward to start, but the lesson, by the end, was good.

We had planned to ask her to say the closing prayer for the lesson, but our ward mission leader felt that she would have been uncomfortable with it; so I was wrapping up the lesson and trying to get to the point to ask her to pray, when our ward mission leader interrupted me and said "Oh, I think Elder Luke should say the closing prayer!" So I did, and he told me later what was going on. I was pretty confused, haha, but I think it just means that our ward mission leader is trying really hard to think about our investigator and what would be best for her. It's been a long time since I've taught an actual lesson...

We met with one of the B-team investigators several times, but he wasn't super interested in the gospel I think. He was a 20 year old kid who was pretty good at English, and was interested in religion in a kind of philosophical way. So we talked about our church a bit, and he really like what we believe, but I don't think he was looking to convert at all. We met with him twice, talked about dropping him, but then it turns out that he's going up to Seoul to study, so I gues we're done with him. I guess, if nothing else, he really likes our missionaries and thinks really good things about our church, so maybe he'll have another chance to actually learn about our church.

So we now have real investigators that are coming out to church, so things have improved a lot since I've been here. President Barrow recently taught us to focus on the most important things (namely, missionary work, especially meeting and teaching investigators), so Elder Boome and I will be trying our best to really think about the other housekeeping/administrative stuff that we do, and do our best to limit our time spent on that (SPM is kind of the biggest of our time sinks...).

The first week of the transfer was really good with visiting members, this last week was a bit slow with SPM and other meetings, and it looks like this week will be a good week for us to do more "normal" missionary work. We really want to find investigators, and we've got some people with potential, so we'll be doing a lot of finding and probably member visits as well. And then next week is 설날 (Seolnal = Korean New Year), which is a big Korean holiday, so next week might be slow as well; so this week is our chance!

Hm..... I think that's about it for the week. We've got Zone Conference coming up next week, and Elder Boome and I need to prepare a teaching practice session, so we'll be studying and thinking a lot about that. The Zone Conference will be on Monday, so I'll probably end up emailing Tuesday, just as a heads-up.

Thank you for your letters and everything!

Until next week!

- Elder Luke

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Transfer 14, week 2 (February 2, 2015)

This week was really really good.
We were pretty busy. Since Elder Boome just got to the area, we decided to start by visiting members. So we just dropped by people's houses (like with no appointment or anything) but people were really nice, let us in, gave us food and everything. I was able to meet with a couple of members that I've never really been able to talk to before (of couse, we see each other at church, but being able to talk with someone in their house, or at least somewhere more quiet makes a huuuge difference). Actually, we visited quite a few families (as in not just like single people), and it was just really nice to see these happy cute families all together. Hopefully we'll continue to visit people and work with members and all that. :D
We also had to help out our sisters kind of a lot this week, haha. Something was up with their house and they didn't have any gas, so that meant no heat, no warm water, no working stove, so they kind of suffered for the first 3 days. We called our leaders and they got everything worked out and there's gas in their house now, but that kind of had a rough start to 상인 (Sangin). I keep forgetting that they don't know where anything is, so I'll say like "Can you meet us at so-and-so station?" and they'll be like, "Umm.........."
But we've gone through a week now, and so I think roughly got a hang of how things work in 상인 (Sangin), and they've been to most of the important places that that need to know about. It'll still be hard for them, but things will improve for them.
Do you remember 이영숙s (Sis. I Yeongsun) I mentioned a few weeks ago? She didn't come to church, but here two kids did for the 3rd time this week. We had plans to invite them to formally take the lessons with us, but things didn't really work out, but our ward mission leader is pretty close with them now, and we're all working to start teaching them starting next Sunday. Oh, and we were trying to figure out if we should contact the two (이예진s (Sis. I Yejin) and 이진산b (Bro. I Jinsan) are their names), and in the end, nobody invited them to church but they showed up anyways (we didn't want them to feel like we were really push hard for them to come to church), so that's a really good sign. I think once we just start teaching them, things will go really smoothly!
It's kind of weird, but now that Elder 박 (Bak) left, I feel like I can work better with the members. I kind of felt the same thing in 광안 (Gwangan) when Elder 홍 (Hong) left, but if the missionary that's been in the area the longest is Korean, the members kind of tend to talk with them the most. But now that there's no Korean missionaries in 상인 (Sangin), and I'm the only who's not new here, maybe it's less scary for me to talk with the members than with the others? I'm not sure, but I feel really good about this transfer; I think we can work well with the members.
We're trying to start up a music class here in 상인 (Sangin). There's been some kind of "class" here for a long time; magic class, math class, breakdancing class, etc., and so our young men wanted to keep doing those. I kind of half-joked that I could teach them piano (!), and they decided that they wanted to do that. Elder Boome plays guitar as well, so we figured between those two (oh, and one of the sisters plays piano as well) we could do something for the young men. The attendance for magic class was always 2, so we figured it would just be the same two boys coming, but after announcing it in church, it seems like there's a lot of people interested. We had a member come up and ask us about learing the guitar, and he said he could round up several more members, and then one of the members we visited mentioned he'd be interested as well. The young men want to learn piano still though, so it looks like we'll have a guitar class with Elder Boome, and a piano class with me (and possibly just one or two students, hahahaha). But the reaction from the members was really good (is reaction the right word here...?), and so we're hoping that many people will come and the classes will turn out really well. Even if no investigators come, getting to spend time with our members will be worth it.
Let's see... we also started making phone calls for SPM, and had a district leader training meeting this week, so there's that as well.... next week will be pretty busy as we wrap up SPM, visit a few district meetings, go to 부산 (Busan) for a meeting, and then start preparing for Zone Conference the week after next. We've been pretty much completely busy every night with phone calls and stuff at night as well. We've just had so many people to call and so many things to take care of that there's no personal time a night. :( I don't remember it being that bad with Elder 박, but maybe it's just that the district leaders are getting adjusted to their positions and so they have a lot of questions. Part of being any kind of missionary leader though, is those nightly phone calls, haha.
Here's a few pictures from our last Sunday - I guess "goodbye" pictures for Elder 박 (Bak) and Elder 허 (Heo). And a picture that our ward mission leader made to advertise our "Winter Festival." He wanted to make a huge poster, but he just ended up posting it online for the members to see. It was printed out in our ward newsletter, so we all took pictures of it.
Other than that... Elder Boome and I got to teach the children's English class for the first time last Saturday. Elder 허 (Heo) and Elder Maccarthy were kind of charge of it for the last three months, but they're both gone now. The sisters are fairly young missionaires, so we left them with the adult class since they need to use less Korean there. The children know a little English, but the class is kind of crazy so somebody who knows Korean needs to be there to control things. We did English for like 30 minutes maybe (and they payed waaay more attention than I expected!), and then things kind of broke apart (30 minutes is the limit for learning English) and we played games for the other 40 minutes or so. We played "mouth ping-pong" where you try to blow a ping-pong ball off of your opponents side of the table while your oppenents do the same. That was kind of crazy too, with problems ranging from kids kind of messing with the table/stealing the ball, to the older kids telling the younger kids to go away because they were going to play "seriously" (the oldest is maybe like 10 or 11), to one little girl who really wanted her own table so she could have a "puppy show" with the toy dog she bought.
So it was all pretty wild, but soooo much fun. Korean kids are absolutely adorable, haha. We'll get to do this every week too probably, so Elder Boome and I will be partying it up every Saturday. I'll miss the very very normal English class (the people in our English class are really nice and they're really friendly with each other. Pretty much everyone is like a 35-40 year old mother, and so they're kind of on the youngish side; the kind of atmosphere (that's what you would say in Korean anyways... I can't think of the English word right now.... feelling?) is really good, so I'll kind of miss that. Oh and we had like the most children we've ever had this Saturday; there was maybe 10-12ish, when we usually average maybe 5. Anyways, I think i'll be a lot of fun. :D
So that's it for this week! We were able to have a lot of good visits with members, and start to figure out exactly what we'll be doing in 상인 (Sangin). Next week will be busy as well! We're doing good over here in Korea!
Thank you so much!!!
I'll write to you next week!
- Elder Luke

Just a few more from last week's Sunday.