Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Still "loving it in Seoul!"

It's been awhile since I've updated our sweet missionaries blog. I know it's long, but I wanted him to be able to look back and read it when he gets home. We are planning on going to pick him up in July! We are so excited! It is amazing to see his growth and even though he hasn't had a lot of baptisms or success in that way, he has grown in patience and most definitely spiritually. We are so proud of him and the man he's become. We love every Sunday night when he writes and look forward to his letters and all he teaches us. He is doing great as a zone leader, and will have been in Ilsan after this transfer for seven months,which is a long time, but hopefully there will be miracles in the next 4 months and he can continue to be happy and have the experiences he needs!

 Dinner with the guys in the apartment!
 One of Josh's favorite investigators, Scott.
 A fun ward activity he was in charge of.

 This is Elder Chizzy's ward mission leader, he has come to really love him and they've become really good friends.
 Ice skating on Pday with his zone!

 Huge apartments called The Zenith!

 Packages from home are the best!
 The day the Sisters he went in the MTC with went home. He loves and respects these sisters and Elders. The one on the other end of the Elders was his MTC companion!

 Just hanging out in an elevator!
 Auntie Loreen sent him a gangnam style shirt and a cool beenie! He loves it!

 Some massive shoes being sold on the street. Mostly I  was interested in how worn out his shoes are! Makes me happy. He doesn't want new ones, he wants to wear these all the way out!

 Elder Chizzy and Smith….with matching hair cuts.
 Zone Leaders and Sister Training Leaders!All in yellow….the sisters idea!
 I love the sweater "Live Strong"….
Hiking Book Han San

Jan 19
Pride is seriously such a terrible thing... It can be pride of anything. Simply putting things before God is pride. It's something I have tried to work on my whole mission, and it is the thing that probably makes me the most sad out of all things.... This week was a pretty bad contacting week too that just had a lot of people that really didn't want to listen and let God into their life. Haha it has just been one of those times that I have had to look inside myself and think about what I need to do better cuz everything has been pretty darn rough.. Haha I feel like I have had this conversation with you a lot cuz it has happened a lot on my mission... This one had been a little bit different... Not just because I am used to it or whatever, but I have found myself wanting to look deeper into things and find what went wrong? Or what made it happen this way... Was it me? Or what does heavenly father want me to learn? Cuz I feel like I have been working as hard, if not harder, than ever and just the new investigators aren't coming and things just aren't going great. Our ward really is excited about the three baptisms, but they don't ever put that excitement or desire into anything and so it just feels like we do the same thing every single day and I can't break out of it... But, the thing that I have been thinking a lot about is how I just can never think I deserve things. Haha I can't think that because everyone else is getting these baptisms, that it is my turn cuz that isn't the way it goes... Seeing those things can bless my life, but Heavenly Father knows me better than I know me, and He knows exactly what I need to go through. It makes me sad because I wish I could help these people, but I just have thought that Heavenly Father needs me to learn in a different way.. If that is the case, I just have to keep going right?? Haha never giving up and  pushing back against all the discouragment and what not.. It is hard, but I have dealt with it my whole mission and it has been hard to push it back, but I have changed and become better. This situation is no different and I just gotta keep going!!

I had a couple really good studies this week... I really liked Enos... I read it and I noticed the same things that I normally did... Like how hard he prayed and how much is faith grew, but as I read towards the end, I started realizing that after the Lord promised him that the record that he was keeping (the plates of nephi) would be preserved, that the Lord said that it would be in His timing... That got me thinking about how we have to accept the Lord's timing in all things and that we just need to follow His commandments. Cuz the Lord told Enos to declare unto the people repentance and baptism and the gospel and Enos went out and did it. The Lord has promised us that we can have eternal life if we follow His commandments. He has promised us His Spirit if we keep our covenants. We just have to serve him and do his work and then, we can have the assuarance that Enos has at the end of his book. I love how he talks in those two verses. Read the last two verses in Enos:) They are awesome and I want to be able to hear that when I stand in front of God at the judgement day... Pretty cool:)

Feb 2
Anyways, this week was kind of a weird one cuz of the holiday...Well, this week was the Chinese New year and it is a really big holiday in Korea! So we had a big missionary meeting on Thursday and I had to clean the rest of the weekend... Kind of boring right????? The reason we had to do that is cuz all of the koreans here leave to their hometowns and no one actually is from the area I live in. So they all go down south to see their families... Haha they eat a big breakfast and this stuff call rice cake soup... When you eat it, you turn one year older!! kind of crazy right?? Haha and then, all the kids bow to their elders? (haha old people) and the old people give them money!! Sounds like fun right?? Maybe you should do that to mom and she will give you some money!Haha yeah it is different then it sounds, but it is pretty good:) Rice cake is the best translation for it... It is just kinda weird stuff!! I have ate a lot of it... Koreans eat tons of rice cake stuff.... It is called 떡 (pronounced like duck, the animal) haha it is intersting that is for sure!! And Bruno Mars performed!? Darn... Missed the best super bowl ever... Haha oh well. I am excited to see what kind of music is out when I get home!! That will be kind of a fun thing.. Haha anyways, that is the story for the week We didn't have p-day on monday which is always kind of weird, but we made it through and still worked hard. Tuesday we found a new investigator, Danny, and he is pretty cool. I met him on the street about a week ago and he lived in Canada for awhile. He knew Winnepeg even which was cool! most koreans don't know Winnepeg but he knew and we talked about it for a little bit. He is pretty good at english but we mostly speak in korean which is fun. We were able to teach him the first lesson and focus a lot on God and the Book of Mormon which was good. When I teach, I learn so much. It's always interesting for me to get into teaching and then take a step back and realize what I am talking about. It teaches me a lot and this time it really made me think about our Heavenly Father and how much He loves us and how much I have learned about Him while I have been on my mission. He is there and He will always help us if we just trust Him and His plan for us. We talked about that a little bit and we were also able to talk a little bit about the Book of Mormon which is always good!! Then on Wednesday, we did a big zone contacting acitvity in our area which was a lot of fun. We split up with people in different districts and different subway stations in our area and contacted together for about 2 hours and then we ate dinner together... It was a lot of fun!! I have tried really hard to be creative this transfer with what we have been doing and how we do stuff with the zone and that activity went pretty well. I pretty much planned it all by myself and it was a lot of fun... Good times that is for sure!! I enjoy planning things and kind of leading them out so that was a lot of fun:) Everybody seemed to like it and it was pretty effective so I was happy!! Then on Thursday we had our mission conference and it was kind of weird!! All of the sisters I came to korea with are going home this next week!! Kind of insane... I can't believe it has already been that long cuz it seriously feels like it was yesterday that I was in the MTC.... so to see them go home it is pretty weird!! I will have to send you the picture with everybody that I came to korea with... It has gotten smaller that is for sure!!! But seeing them was really good and also hearing from President was good!! He talked about how the work is being hastened and just how we have to step up to the plate and do the work. Our mission baptismal number has been going up which is good!! Throughout the mission we have been averaging 4 baptisms every week which is a lot better than in the past so I am excited about that... Hopefully one can come this way!! 

Feb 16
I went into Seoul on Tuesday for our Mission Leadership Council which was fun. That is probably my favorite meeting I get to go to. Sister Christensen always makes good food and I love hearing from President on a pretty personal level. But that night we had to prepare our training and stuff so we were pretty busy all day long which made it so we couldn't talk to anyone really... The focus for the month is revelation through church attendance which is a good focus, just a little bit harder to train on cuz out of the 10 months that I have trained as a zone leader, this is the 3rd time we have trained on church attendance... So we decided to switch it up a bit. We talked more about how through church we can help investigators develop a personal relationship with God and get closer to him... It was kind of an interesting spin... We focused a lot on our personal relationship with God too and I thought it was a really good training. Maybe the best one that I have given. Things were a little bit different and the Spirit was really strong. At the end, I shared that quote from Elder holland that you shared with me and talked a little bit about it and it was really good. I gave all the missionaries a copy and told them to hang it up and look at it everyday. It has helped me out a lot and it is super cool. I bore my testimony about my mission and about the work we are doing and it was just cool. Everybody said it was really good! The AP's were there cuz we went on exchanges that night and they liked it a lot too. I am grateful that I can be in a position that allows me to do stuff like that... Not cuz I want to be higher than people, but because while I prepare those and really try to discern what our zone needs, I learn so much. It has been a huge blessing. After that, I went back to Seoul with Elder Sol, the AP, and we went on exchanges which were fun. We talked a lot about having a spiritual vision of what we want to accomplish and how if we create that vision, and we have something to work toward, it helps us move towards that direction and be better people. Pretty cool. Then on Friday we had a really cool experience. We have a family that the Sisters gave to us a while back that we are teaching... (the one that the daughter was already baptized in... I told you about them right?) But the Dad is in the middle of deciding whether or not to get baptized and he is really close. He has been reading the Book of Mormon everyday and he is coming to church and doing all the right things, but he just can't give up smoking and stuff... Hard... so we were going to give him a baptismal date and what not, but as we talked, it kind of felt weird... Just like there was kind of a wall... There were a lot of distractions during the lesson and stuff... They had asked us about 1 Nephi 8 and about the tree of life so we taught them the gospel of Jesus Christ through that and it was good, just a lot of weird tangents and stuff... But towards the end when we would normally commit them to baptism, it just didn't feel right... I don't know if elder rhodes felt it but I did! Haha but it lead up to us talking about priesthood blessings and we ended up giving him a priesthood blessing on the spot!! It was really cool... The spirit was super strong and I definitely felt like the spirit was just straight pushing him to the right direction... It was so powerful and after the blessing, we were just sitting there and it was almost tangible... Super cool to be able to be apart of that experience. I am grateful that I am worthy to use the priesthood and able to feel the Spirit in that way...

Feb 23
We talked to 260 people this week and made a ton of lessons with people on the street. It felt good to talk to that many people. I think part of the problem about last week is that I was so busy with other stuff that didn't have a ton of relevance to our area and that was kind of stressful and just made me feel like we weren't getting anything done... But this week was better. It was still somewhat frustrating cuz we just could not figure out why people were meeting with us, but on Friday we finally met with somebody, on Saturday we had a guy randomnly call us and say he wanted to meet, (he is going to college next week so we won't be able to continually meet with him but it was still a meeting and a cool little miracle) and on Sunday night we were able to meet a guy from Nepal that I talked to on the street this week... He was really bad at korean and not much better at english so that was really hard, but he was such a nice guy. He reminded me a lot of Januario in just how he was just happy to be alive. Haha such a nice guy.. Luckily they have a BOM in Nepalese so we will be able to give that to him and it will be good... Hopefully we will be able to figure out a way to teach him... He is Hindu too so that is interesting!! It has been fun to meetin so many diverse people... A lot of fun!! But, the coolest part of the week was something that we didn't even do... The Sister's were riding a bus last week and this guy came up and introduced himself to them and asked where our church was and if he could have there number and he gave them his number and all that stuff... Well, The Sister's referred him to us and I called him on like Monday or Tuesday and he said lets talk later which usually means never... Haha but randomnly on Saturday he shows up to english class and says he will come to church on Sunday!! Well, crazy enough, he comes to church on Sunday and we were able to meet with him a little bit and talk about what we do as missionaries and see what kind of interest he has... Haha he has just straight church interest which is pretty rare and it makes me excited. He doesn't have religion and he doesn't believe in God but he heard so many good things about our church and so the only church he has interest in is our church!! Really cool and he really liked all three hours of church... He was making comments in class and everything so it was really cool... So the week was a really long week of contacting followed by some really cool miracles at the end of the week that I was super grateful for... We also talked with the bishop about what is going on in our ward with less actives and they are starting a program where each auxillary will make a list of names of less actives and each week they will give them to us to go and visit and confirm for them... The cool thing is that if we are able tofind them, we can include the members in helping us reactivate them and work with them... It seems like a really good system and it is cool to see our ward getting into the spirit of missionary work. I was excited for that!! But yeah, this week was pretty all around good. Another fun thing was that we were able to kick in a door... Haha kind of random right!? Well, on Friday morning, Elder Hendershot was taking a shower and we heard the shower stop and stuff and then he tried opening the door and it was stuck!! haha it wouldn't open so we tried to mess with it a little bit and nothin happened... So we resorted to the last thing we knew how to do... Just kick in the door!! Haha so me and Elder Smith just kicked in the door and it was awesome!! Haha I always wanted to do that:) It was a lot of fun:) Haha it is just those little things that I think are fun:) It was a good week!!It has been absolutely flying by.... I can't believe it!!! On friday or something like that, I have been on my mission for 19 months!!! That is seriously a long time... Time flies... Can't believe it!

I do love it... I found another quote this week that was super cool about work!! And it really explains well what I have come to think success is... "Let us realize that the privilidge to work is a gift, that the power to work is a blessing, that love of work is success." In terms of numbers or anything like that, my mission really wouldn't be viewed as successful.... Haha I haven't had lots of baptisms or reactivated a ton of less actives or anything like that, but I have learned how to love this work. I love it and I love being a missionary. I love working with missionaries to help them see that they can reach higher and find those privilidges... I love studying and contacting and all that stuff... It is going to be hard to leave that is for sure cuz I really do love it. That is how I know that all that I have done, is ok with the Lord:) 

I studied a lot about the law of consecration cuz I didn't know a ton about it and actually learned a lot. There is a lot of really cool stuff about it in D&C especially in Section 78... It talks a lot about sacrifice and how sacrifice brings blessings... The law of consecration, especially at that time, was a very temporal law dealing with giving all that the saints had and making everyone equal, but the amazing thing is that in the temple, and really just as members of the church, we kind of take upon the law of consecration as a spiritual law as well.. It was always spiritual and given to benefit the saints in a very spiritual way, but the Lord has asked us to sacrifice our time, talents and means to the church so that we can build up His kingdom on this earth... As I thought about that, I thought a lot about what I am doing as a missionary right now.. It is definitely a wonderful blessing that the Lord has given me cuz for two years, I get to live the law of consecration to the fullest.... The Lord had to take away the Law of Consecration for a time cuz the saints weren't spiritually or temporally ready for such a law, so He instituted the Law of Tithing, but I really like the fact that He as provided a time for me to live, to some extent, the Law of Consecration... I think that is way missions bring so many blessings, especially if we give everything we have. I read the fourth missionary again this morning and that stuck out to me a lot... We just have to give everything back to the one that gave us everything and as we do that, we are blessed in so many ways!! The other thing I realized is that happiness, is a present thing. We can't be happy if we are always looking forward and I think that is why I have found so much happiness in missionary work. It isn't always super easy to be happy all the time, but I have found happiness in small things, and even though there are things I look forward too (seeing all of you, college, houseboat, sports, etc.) I am happy because I am trying to live in the moment and do my best everyday!! 

March 9
Tuesday, we had our Mission Leadership Council and it was really good... one of the best ones that I have been too... We talked a lot about inviting and helping people commit to things and what not and I got a lot of really good ideas from it... Our zone has been struggling with quite a few things... But I learned some stuff that I really needed.... so me and Elder Rhodes were kind of talking about what we could train on and Elder Rhodes was talking about faith and some other stuff, but I really felt like we just needed to train on skill related things like teaching street lessons and what not... Our zone has just been kind of dead and so I wanted to do something that would pump people up!!! So, that is what we ended up doing... Haha we did a kind of fun training about how to get street lessons( A street lesson is a contact on the street that you teach a principle and you set a return appointment with a specific place and then get the persons phone number...) So it is something that I have always been decently good at and everyone always asks me questions about it so we decided to focus on that a lot and to set a goal of getting 105 of them in our zone a week, which is 1 street lesson per companionship per day!! Haha I thought it was a pretty good idea and it worked out pretty well actually.... The training was fun, (President was there and he said it was really good) and I think it actually really got people excited!! We told everyone that we wanted them to try new ways to get street lessons and to work on seeing the miracles everyday that come from them!! Later on when we were able to sit down with each of the companionships, we talked about boldness and how we have to be bold when we invite people.... The thing that probably stuck out to me most during those trainings was how love is always the driving force behind boldness... Love is so crucial and really when it comes down to it, love leads to miracles.... We do this work because we love people and it was really cool to see that and just be able to train... ... There is a song on the tarzan soundtrack called Son of Man and it says, "In learning you will teach, and in teaching you will learn." I think that is so true.... I learn sooooooo much when I teach. I often times kind of surprise myself when I teach cuz i don't even realize some of the things I am saying. I think that is super important that we teach with the spirit cuz then it can teach us too....
We had an english class party this week on Saturday which was fun... Life is good with that and what else.... Hmm..... Oh yesterday I had a really cool experience... We were at home after church and we had decided that we were just going to study, (it was ward conference and we were in charge of cleaning up everything for some reason so we didn't get home until like four thirty and then we ate dinner) but as I sat down to study, I felt like maybe we should go out and talk to people... I just kind of shrugged it off, and tried to keep studying but then I felt like we should really go out... I tried to study one more time and it hit me pretty hard that we needed to go out... So I said a quick prayer to confirm what I was feeling and it was right and so we went out... We walked about 30 minutes down to this place that we contact at and we started to talk to people... We only had about 30 minutes before we had to come back home, but we talked to everybody... And seriously no one wanted to talk.. I still felt like there was a reason we went down there though... So with like five minutes before we went home, I talked to this last guy and he was super nice. He was 20 and just had a different light about him kind of. He wasn't rude and actually wanted to talk. So we talked about the gospel a little bit and I didn't get to talk to him for super long, but I got his number and he said he could meet next saturday.... That isn't any crazy result, but after I stopped talking to him, I just said a little prayer of gratitude and just felt the spirit very strongly telling me that what I was doing was right and that Heavenly Father was grateful that I followed that prompting... I dunno if he will turn into an investigator, but it was a really cool experience that just taught me to never push away those prompting... Really cool!!

This week we got a call from this guy in another stake saying that he needed us to go visit a Pakistani refugee family that needed our help... I guess they were baptized in Pakistan and because of that, they were persecuted a lot and were driven out of pakistan... so we ended up meeting this family, and they are seriously soooooo cool!!! Haha there is eight of them and they are so nice... They don't have really anything. They were kind of ruined by the korean government and have a ton of issues with visa's and what not, so none of them have jobs right now and it is just kind of a huge mess.... So they were wondering if there was anything the church welfare system could do, and so the one member told us to get them to talk to the bishop and what not... so me and Elder rhodes went and visited them on tuesday and it was alright!! The dad is super stressed about everything (obviously he has every reason to be... He is in like 50,000 dollars in debt and doesn't have a house and is just kind of surving on nothing...) but the family turned out to be amazing.... Most of them were baptized about 12 years ago, and they only were able to attend for about a year, but they are super good Christians and went to other church's and stuff, but they could just never find our church again... So we invited them to come and they came yesterday and loved it!! It was interesting to me to see the difference that I saw in them when they came to church... They just had more light and they were happier and just funny!! They are pretty good at english, especially the daughter... she is 22 and amazing at english and decent at korean which is cool... The one son and his wife have three little kids that are sooo cute and fun to play with and they are just a sick family... so during sunday school, we met with the bishop and translated for them and what not and the bishop said that he could try and help them find a job and all of that stuff, and then we had to translate during sacrament meeting which was an interesting experience.... Haha they are funny and cuz there are eight of them, all of the missionaries that have been on their missions for awhile had to translate!! Kind of fun, then that night, we went and visited them again, and they fed us.... I felt bad cuz they don't have much, but they were so stubborn about it!! They really wanted to feed us traditional pakastani food and it was sooooooo good!! haha it was just this flat bread stuff that you dip in curry and eat potatoes and chicked with it. It was seriously amazing and I was so grateful to them... The mom doesn't speak english or korean so we learned the word for thank you in Ordoo, the language they speak, and told her that and she loved it... It was a really cool experience.. We are going to be able to teach them the lessons hopefully this week and they said they will keep coming to church... We hope as they learn more about the commandments and live by them, they will be presented by opportunities to work and find resources for income and what not... It was just cool to see how a family that is in dire circumstances, could still be so happy and full of life. I learned a lot from that and I was grateful for it!! 

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