Sunday, October 28, 2012

First Area, First Trainer, First Accomplishments

Well, Elder Wedam is hard at work already!  I remember exchange students we hosted in our home feeling exhausted at first, because it takes quite a lot of mental energy focussing so intently for an entire day.  Before we know it, Elliott will not be so lost! Sure grateful he has a kind, enthusiastic companion.

October 29, 2012

Starting week 2 in South Korea.  Yeah, this language is a lot tougher than I thought.  Some personal accomplishments this week include not crying in frustration because I have no idea what's going on, looking cute, and figuring out where the church building is in relationship to our apartment.  But that's getting ahead of myself.  First things first.
So my new companion/trainer is Elder Anderson.  He hails from Pleasant Grove, Utah.  He's nice.  Enthusiastic.  Encouraging me to keep talking to people in Korean.  He's been out for around a year, and this is his first transfer as a senior companion.  He's doing well.  And translating for me often... as I'm always lost.  I like him a lot.  He swam in high school too.  And he plays soccer.  Good combination.
My first area... since I don't know what map you're using, it can be spelled a few ways.  Gwanju, Kwanju, 권주.  Take your pick.  We're on the west side, where city meets country.  It's kinda nice.  And by kinda, I mean really nice.  There are a ton of high-rise apartments to tract at (or, in Korean 가가호호).  We had some amazing experiences while tracting.  We've been door knocking this one particular apartment building.  The first night, we found two older gentlemen (I should mention, Korean people develop a pretty strong accent as they age.  I was able to pick out a few words).  The first actually let us in to talk (yes, we do sit criss-cross on the floor while teaching).  The second gave us a phone number.  And, we found a recent convert who went inactive (and is from the land up north... relative to my position.  Not Canada)
But then came yesterday.  Not a single door slammed in our face... as a matter of fact, of the three we knocked (I realize that may sound like not a lot... to be fair, we were not expecting to spend 20 minutes at each door talking about the gospel).  The first door, the lady who answered didn't have time because she had a guest (she seemed like she would have heard us out had she had more time), but the second door, another elderly gentleman answered (he's Buddhist), and was super friendly.  As we were talking, another man came walking down, and somehow, we started teaching two lessons simultaneously (I should mention, I was of very limited help at this point... oh, and the second man is also from the land up north).  That was crazy.  It was awesome. Then came door number 3.  AKA, another miracle.  The man who answered wasn't intially interested, but we offered him a pass-along card.  At that point, Elder Anderson just bore a simple testimony, and the conversation changed compelety.  The man who answered was super interested after that.  We taught him a little more about the restoration, got a phone number, and are planning on meeting with him this week.  Yes.  Faith brings miracles.
Oh, and all the while, I've been doing my best to follow along with the conversations/lessons/meetings.  Sometimes I can follow along.  Other times, meaning almost always, I have no clue as to what's happening.  But hey, it's not MTC anymore.
One more awesome experience.  Yesterday, the ward I'm serving in (송정) had a primary program.  Obviously, I had no clue what was going on.  But, the spirit speaks the same in any language.  It was such a spiritual sacrament meeting.  Despite not knowing the language, I could feel the spirit super strong because I was trying to understand as best as I could.  I wish I could really describe just how overwhelmingly awesome it was.
Anyways, I need to wrap up, I love you all.  PS, my P-Day is Monday.  Considering I'm 16 hours ahead, be prepared to receive emails Sunday night.  And mom, dad, Terry, Whitney, Alisa, Nathan, Vera, and anybody else who reads my blog, feel free to use any material you want to.  I wouldn't share it if I didn't feel comfortable doing so.
Elder Elliott Wedam

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

ACROSS THE PACIFIC: Safe and Sound in Daejeon

What a welcome surprise to receive this little note from Elliott so soon after his arrival!

October 23, 2012

Greetings from South Korea

Bonus! You get an email from me!
I've got to keep this brief, so I'll share a few quick things:
I made it to South Korea all safe and sound.  I slept super good last night.  I was exhausted after being up for 36 hours straight.
When we arrived in Daejeon, President Furniss had us pair up and proselyte.  Elder Gu (he's not my companion, he and I were paired up though) and I placed one Book of Mormon last night.  I didn't get the name of the person we gave it too, but he was super impressed with the limited Korean I knew (I spent the better part of the plane ride preparing something to say... I heard rumor that we would be proselyting when we landed).  He also said that I had a good voice (fun fact, that was the first of two times I've heard that in South Korea in the past 24 hours.  The day is still young.  Self-esteem boost?  I think so).

President and Sister Furniss are super nice.  I like them a lot.  I might not have made the best first impression, but to be fair, I'm a bit of a goober when I'm super tired.  I wasn't mean, or anything bad, just a total goober.  Like the epitome of one.

Last thing.  I already love South Korea.  It's really quite beautiful  It looks super similar to the states, expect in a way I can't quite describe, it looks different.  I already love the people.  And I love the culture.  Today we went to a bath house.  That was quite the experience too.  I liked it.

Anyways, I got to go.  Busy day ahead of us.  A lot of training and orientation to go.  I love you all so much!  Ciao!

Elder Elliott Wedam

I am so grateful he's safely arrived, happy and hard at work already. Bathed, too, it seems! I wonder just what the epitome of a total goober is, though. Hakuna matata on that one, Mom! I cherish Elliott and his letters, and hope you love them too! Love, Elliott's Mom

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Forthcoming Farewell, Flight, Phonecall (eek! so excited), and FAITH first

Hey friends and family! This will be the last post before Elliott leaves the Provo MTC and arrives in South Korea. Because South Korea is 16 hours ahead (ahead of PDT) I imagine he will arrive sometime Tuesday.  Hopefully the Mission President or his wife will let us know he arrived safely. I don't expect him to have time to send an e-mail until his next p-day (preparation day) there, which is probably the following Monday, October 29.  Until then, enjoy the strong testimony borne in this uplifting letter.

October 16, 2012

Alright, so before I dive into the fun stuff, I've got some super important information that I'd rather that you get today rather than whenever my letter would come.

First, I fly out next Monday.  I'll send the flight numbers in the mail so if you really want to track my progress, you can.  However, what's more important than flight numbers is that missionaries are allowed to call home from the airport before they leave.  Why this is important... I'll be arriving in San Francisco around 7:00 am.  I need to check in to my gate, maybe grab some breakfast, and then locate some pay phone to call.  All in all, expect a phone call sometime between 8-8:30.  Now, I just need to know which phone number I should call.  Considering how crazy the last couple of weeks have sounded from the DearElder letters, I just need to know where you will be.  And if it's elsewhere besides dad's office or the house, then I'll also need the phone number to go along with it.
Second, Dad, your email last week made much more sense when the package came.  I really enjoyed the cinnamon roles and the candy.  Thank you so much!  And mom, that pie was really delicious.  Not as good as yours, but still, pretty good.
Terry, I'll be sure to tell Brother Kim what you told me.  Don't take it personally; we've caught him sleeping in our lessons too =P  Joke.  Sort of.  It's been more of an exercise in seeing how our 구도자 responds to the message.  I consider it a personal vicotry when he looks engaged and interested in what's being taught.
Speaking of lessons, yesterday may have very well been the best lesson Elder Bowman and I taught.  Ever.  Here's the context.  The 구도자's name is 신주영, and he's not a member, but the rest of his family is.  We've been talking about the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and were planning on teaching him about Joseph Smith.  However, when we got in there, he told us that he got into a fight with a coworker that day.  So instead, we taught him about how God loves us so much that if we ask in faith, He will answer our prayers.  We shared Moroni 7:35-37 with him... essentially, Moroni teaches that "the day of miracles" aren't gone, that God is a god of miracles, and through our faith, He works miracles.  I could really feel the Spirit in that lesson - I walked away from that lesson feeling edified.  I really hope that 신주영 felt the Spirit too.
I want to talk about that scripture just a little bit, and add my testimony that I know that God still works miracles in our day.  He really does work miracles according to our faith...  I love that the Savior teaches multiple times that He works miracles according to our faith.  Yes, that might sound terribly redundant, but I know that it's true.  Here's some more background:
The past few weeks, I've really been trying to figure out how to offer sincere prayer.  I've realized that it requires at least two things: humility and faith.  The times that I have felt the Spirit the strongest have been when I asked God in faith... believing that He would give me an answer, or that He would help me.  I think back to senior year when mom and dad were in Texas for a class and I got a flat tire at about midnight.  I remember that I was really quite stressed out, and I remember that I asked God to help me to know what to do and for help.  Then, I called mom and dad... I felt really bad since it was 2 am in Texas... but mom answered.  Both mom and dad helped me out... mom later told me that it was a miracle that the phone rang as it was on silent.  It really was.
Or there was the time right after Vera was born and I ran out of gas on I-5 coming back from Portland.  It was past midnight.  It was foggy.  I knew I was within 20 miles of Eugene.  I had no idea how far the nearest exit was.  And I just ran out of gas (the gas light never turned on...).  I remember pleading with Heavenly Father that I would be able to get the car started again and be able to make it to the next gas station.  I tried to turn the car on, and it started.  It turns out, I was less than 2 miles away from the nearest gas station.  But my prayer was answered.
What's more important than the outcome of these two experiences is what happened before the miracle, no matter how small they may seem.  I prayed, asking in faith.  The reason why this is significant; I remember that my mindset was different when I prayed these times.  The difference was that I knew that there was nothing more I could do and I knew that I needed Heavenly Father's help in order to get out of a bad situation.  That is, I trusted in Him completely, and what resulted was the miracle I needed at the time.
I know that Heavenly Father is a god of love.  I know that if we ask in faith - trusting competely in Jesus Christ - and if we have done all that we can and come as far as we can, then it is through the grace - or divine help - of God and Jesus Christ that we will receive an answer to our prayers.
That being said, I may take Brother Heiner up on his suggestion to study the topic of grace.  I love 2nd Nephi 23:25 (or 25:23... dyslexia may or may not be killing me right now)... it is through grace that we are saved only after all we can do.
Alright, I've got to go.  I'll try to send a nice, hand-written letter today.  Can't make any promises since I have a ton to do.
I love you all so very much! 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


I have a strong suspicion that the countdown began much earlier!  Elliott answered several of my questions in this letter, but I asked more.  Still wondering which General Conference address touched his heart the most, among other things. If you have a minute or two send him some love.  He is still at the Provo MTC, mailbox 82.  You can send a quick note for free via or send one by snailmail.  Find the address on this blog's first post.

OCTOBER 9, 2012

So, 13 days until departure.  I think.  We get travel plans this Thursday (so pumped.  hoping for Korean Air).  Anyways, if the abruptness of this sentence is any indicator, I'm really looking forward to getting them; that will make Korea feel that much more like a real place that we're going to.
This last week was rather crazy.  Starting with getting the news about Mason (BTW, one of the people in my district is going to Aneheim, Korean Speaking... one Elder Hogge).  Unfortunate about the accident, but he's and the other man involved have been in my prayers (so much so, I figured I should probably figure out how to ask in Korean).  But it's good to hear that Mason is doing better.  I'm glad he was able to receive a priesthood blessing (another fact that motivated me to learn how to give a priesthood blessing in Korean.  It might not be obvious, but my language study plan has changed quite a bit).  Here's some news that he might find fairly exciting.  During conference, I ran into one Elder Quinn Neilson.  That was a bit of a shocker; it's been rather crazy thinking about how many people I've run into here at the MTC that I know.  It's been really nice though.
Mom and dad, thanks for the pie package yesterday (I have no idea what Dad's email was about... I clearly recieved a pie yesterday from DearElder, courtesy of two benevolent parents; maybe dad is taking up Korean?  I don't know...).  And mom, thanks much for the elaborate description of Vera's birthday party.  I could vividly imagine the look on Vera's face when everyone was singing Happy Birthday Dear Vera (...we sang happy birthday yesterday to one of the sisters in our district.  In Korean.  I don't think I'll ever sing it in English again =P).  And how she responed to the elephant pillow.  I laughed when I read that.
So, I'll respond to Mom's many questions.  First off, I'm feeling fine.  Sinus infection is gone completely (back to my regular stuffy nose.  I'll spare you the details), and the pink-eye is a thing of the past (though, I'm always on the look out.  Long story short, these last two months haven't been good for my contacts.  In August, one lens tore, and pink-eye last month.... fortunately, that all happened within a month of each other.... and I have my glasses again, so if worse comes to worse, I can manage).  However, the last two days, it's felt like there's been something in my eye, but my eye hasn't been red, pink, or any other color besides white.  I'll run some saline solution through it again today (wearing glasses right now, seeing if it would clear up... maybe I just need a good cry to flush it out?  I might ask Elder Bowman to punch me in the nose =P)
As for the sleep, I'm in bed at 10:30 (sometimes a little later, but not because I'm messing around... saying prayers.  White handboook says it's alright if you're praying past 10:30, but to try not to make it a habit... I'm donig all within my power to be meeting this standard, but alas, everybody has their agency... we'll leave it at that.  Cryptic, yet oddly accurate).  And then the other companionship still wakes up at 5:30 (...not super thrilled about this, mostly because I usually can't get back to sleep.  I'm running off of a little less of 7 hours of sleep every night).  I talked to them about some sort of compromise, and I'm usually able to sleep-in (not really, I'm up when I'm supposed to be when this event occurs) to 6:30 some days.  Bonus, the other companionship is getting quieter every morning.  Which I have thanked them for.  So sleep situation is improving.
Eating right... I'm eating as right as one can in the MTC - the food is all super heavy, so it just sits all day.  I'm making sure to drink plenty of fluids and juices, and eating green vegetables and fruit at every meal.  I'm not over-eating, and I eat only until I'm full.  There are some pretty good meals here; the soups are usually good (barring the loaded baked potato.  I tried it once, it tasted like bacon grease.  That was a let down), the salads are great (sometimes they have a super weird dressing), and the bagels are awesome (I <3 Jalepeno bagels).  I also am rather fond of the tater tots here.  I love tater tots.  I've been trying to get my fill of them these last few weeks.  But I digress...
So, I'm running low on time, I've got one more topic to cover, and then I'll send home another wonderful hand-written letter....
Exercise. I love soccer.  I wish I played it more in high school.  I wish we had more evening gym times.  Elder Bowman and I usually go to one of the indoor gyms when we have morning gym... he stretches (he was a dancer if you recall), and I usually ride one of the bikes and read a book (like Our Search for Happiness... almost done with that bad boy).  I could be exercising more, but I always give 110% during soccer.
Anywho, time is up.  I love you all, and I love receiving letters.  Thanks much for all your prayers and support in my behalf.
-Elder Wedam


Elder Wedam titled this post himself.  This letter was sent October 2, 2012.  When I reflect back on the length of Elliott's fourth grade (maybe it was fifth or sixth) report on South Korea, I get a little chuckle as I picture him transcribing all of his notes. Hint-the report was woefully short.  

Hello everyone; friends, family, compelete strangers showing interest in my life....

This week has been incredibly weird.  It went by super fast, but I had probably two of the longest days ever - yesterday and last Wednesday.  Part of it is that I'm super tired all the time (I'm going to bed at 10:30 and waking up at 6:30... long story short, the other companionship in the room wakes up at 5:30 every morning, and I can't get back to sleep.  Super unfortunate, but only 3 weeks left of the madness.  Maybe).  Other than that, everything has been great.
Quick related story, has a really happy ending despite the beginning
Last Wednesday was super long for one reason - I lost my original study journal.  I was super sad; I had some really good notes in it, like the notes from when Elder Anderson of the Quorum of the Twelve came (and at the same time, I was super glad I sent a letter home talking exclusively about that talk).  The next day, I purchased a new study journal, and made it more organized than the first (I <3 binders for study journals now.  So much nicer and easier to organize).  That was a nice consolation.
Here's where the story gets good.  Actually, here's where the story takes a turn for the awesome.  Our new district leader, Elder Paskett, found my old study journal in the lost and found while he was picking up mail.  He brought it back to me Thursday afternoon.  I was super stoked (One day, you'll find out why. Probably after the mission, maybe before if I decide I need to send home some notes).  So, the next day, I resolved to transfer the notes from my old study journal over to the new one.  This proved to be quite the trick considering my notes weren't super organized before (right now, I'm working on transcribing the notes from August 12th... I have a whole new appreciation for Moroni now).  But as I was transcribing my notes, I've been able to see how much I've already grown in the last 8 weeks. It's been really neat to see which questions I had when I first arrived at the MTC seem relatively minor now than they did then, and it's been incredible to see how some of my questions have been answered.  For instance, my outlook on scripture study has completely changed (another story later to illustrate this fact.  I realize my story telling skills are a little off right now), my appreciation for notes and my study journal has changed, and I realize just how important it is to chronicle and review what I learn.  Really, I've come to appreciate and utilize my study time much more effectively since being dropped by our investigator two weeks ago.
Next story, talking about study time.
Yesterday was a long day for a few reasons.  Me being tired wasn't the only one.  Our zone was asked to host senior missionaries yesterday (another story pertaining to this).  We wound up missing not only gym time, but our personal study time (an unfortunate fact that I'm not happy about in the slightest).  I could totally feel not having personal study time.  Like, it was really hard to feel the Spirit during the course of the day.. I felt spiritually starved.  I didn't realize how important personal study time was for me until then.  In short, I really love personal study time.  It's been a really good chance to learn and develop my relationship with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.
So, quick story about hosting senior missionaries yesterday.  Elder Bowman, Elder Bennett (he's from St. George, serving in Seoul.  He's a really neat person: Hard-working, Super optimistic, and just a good example all-around), and I hosted a couple from Wyoming.  Neither husband nor wife served a mission before.  The wife expressed that she was super nervous.  It was interesting to see that even we 19, 20, and 21 year olds aren't the only ones coming to the MTC super anxious.  And it's been interesting to see just how much more confidence and trust I have in the Lord than I did on week 1.  Really, the more I study, the more faith I have in Christ, and the more I realize that I'll be able to make it the next two years only if I trust in Him.
By the way, if you want a really good scripture to read this week, go with Ether 12:4.  This might be my new favorite scripture.  I'm working on memorizing it (another story in my letter home) 
The more I write, the more stories I have about this last week.  Most of them pertaining to things that I've learned and remember (it's the new and improved note-taking skills).  In other words, I"ll be sending home an epic letter today.  BTW, I hope you got the package I sent.
And, on a related note, thank-you for all the letters.  I love you all so much!
-Elder Wedam


THANKS SO MUCH FOR YOUR PRAYERS AND LETTERS. Elliott seems to be feeling better and enjoying life! Enjoy this letter from September 25, 2012.

So, I'm putting off eating breakfast for just a little while longer - I saw an opportunity to email you while doing laundry, and for whatever reason, that seemed more important.

First things first, mom and dad, I'll be sending a package today... it'll have some really neat stuff, both for your enjoyment and for Vera's birthday.  It goes without saying, you're getting a handwritten letter this week (huzzah for no more pink eye!).  And thank you so much for your letters this last week.  This sentence is not just limited to family either.  I really appreciate them - letters are now like getting a brand new car or bike for Christmas.  They're really exciting, and fun to read =D.  Terry, best of luck on the upcoming actuarial exams... or as the Koreans would say (according to popular rumor), work hard and do well.  And as soon as Mason gets his mission call, let me know (I'm banking on South Korea).

So, there are a ton of things I really want to say.  This week has been super crazy, event wise.  Let's start with the most exciting, spiritually speaking...
Elder Bowman and I got dropped by one of our investigators.  At first, I was super upset about it - like kind of embarrassed.  But we talked with our teacher, and he gave us some really good advice - we need to be striving to teach as a companionship.  And we were trying, but we weren't doing the best job at it.  Elder Bowman and I talked about what we need to change, and how we want to go about working towards this goal.  The consequence, our study time has officially been revolutionized.  Personal study, companion study, and language study have never been so spiritually uplifting.  I've been reading a ton from Preach My Gospel under teaching skills, and I had a most interesting revelation.  As I study the doctrines found in chapter 3, I'm not really studying for the purpose of filling in the gaps in my own gospel knowledge, but rather, I'm studying to help my investigator understand the doctrines of Christ and to help them apply it in their own life.  Seems obvious in hind sight, but it really makes studying chapter 3 way more fun.  As I study, I'm on the look out for questions I could ask to help solidify understanding, scriptures that teach the doctrine, and personal experiences I could share to help build faith and trust in the Lord.  Then yesterday, during coaching missionary study, Elder Bowman and I were reading in chapter 10... the Teach for Understanding section.  The gem I got out of it was the application suggested towards the end - try to identify and define vocabulary our investigator (just for the record, the word for investigator in Korean translates literally to seeker of truth.  A fun fact that I find super fascinating).  Why this is relevant... our investigator who Elder Bowman and I taught last night had no idea what baptism was... like no idea.  We had no idea how to explain it in Korean.  I tried drawing a picture, but decided against using it when I realized that it looked like we drown people when we baptize... I'll be sending that drawing in the package today.  I hope you enjoy it.  And get a good laugh.  I did.

Next really awesome thing.  Guess who attended his second temple dedication in his life?  This guy (erm, Elder)!  The MTC received the broadcast for the Brigham City Temple Dedication.  It was a really neat experience.  It reminded me of when we went to the Medford Temple Dedication.  It was super neat.  Good gem of insight from this experience - the very presence of a temple is a powerful inspiration for anyone.  It serves as a reminder of what our eternal goal should be, to return and live with Heavenly Father.  And as such, it serves as a motivation to keep covenants we make so we can return to live with Him.  In the coming package, you'll be getting the ticket AND the white handkerchief.  It was a really nice dedication.  The apostles who spoke were President Packer, Elder Perry, and Elder Nielson.  You can't walk away from that not feeling the Spirit.  Just saying.

Third awesome thing - the new missionaries came in on Wednesday.  It was really fun welcoming them to the MTC and seeing their enthusiasm to the learn the language.  And they are super smart - I'm really, really impressed with how smart they are, and how determined they are to learn the language and teach their investigators.

Running out of time (how was I able to write so much last week?!).  A few more things - so, our district has been in teacher limbo.  Our original two teachers have left, and we've been getting assigned different teachers.  Right now, we have two native speakers, but we'll be losing one when the Korean missionaries come next week (he normally teaches them).  So, we'll be getting a new teacher next week.  That will literally be teacher number 7 who was supposed to be our permanent teacher... on the plus side, we get a ton of practice on the first few lessons (a wonderful silver lining brought to you by Elder Bowman).

I love you tons, I'll include more in my package home today.  Take care!  Stay safe!

PS, read 2nd Nephi 9 if you got a chance; it really outlines the Plan of Salvation nicely... not completely, but it talks about how the atonement is central to the plan... and how we can return to live with God again.

With a ton of Love,
Elder Wedam