So, Elliott's letter made me laugh really hard twice. We miss him like crazy, but he is having quite a wonderful experience! He will overcome the language barriers soon enough. Until then, I feel grateful he is humble enough to share his struggles with good-natured humor. Have a good read! Monica
Hello family, friends, people following the blog just for the fun of it...
Week 2 in Korea. Before I keep going, let me just say, this mac that I'm typing away on has officially driven me to wit's end. It sporadically says "Firefox." I've tried muting it, but alas, the keyboard is wired weird. So, if I type gibberish halfway through, I apologize. Blame the computer.
This last week was tough. Mostly because I have no idea what's going on. Like ever. Because I still don't understand Korean all that well. So, I'm still plugging away at it, hoping that I learn enough to be able to carry on a conversation rather than say some rehearsed door approach. But until then, I'll be happy with said door approached. It's varied slightly. I've been using "We're missionaries from America" and "We're missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints" fairly interchangeably. I think I'm going to try "May we share a quick message with you?" today. And then I should probably have a quick message to share. Boom. Language study goal for the next couple of days.
On a related note, I'm starting to develop some real empathy for foreigners trying to learn English. As hard as Korean is, I'm sure English is just as hard to learn (and it's a real treat when somebody wants to speak straight English =D). It's been a real test of learning how to be patient with myself as I learn to speak and listen... and read and write. I don't know if I'm passing said test, but I'm giving it my all. And mom, I found the reference to the ever wise scriptural advice you always give me... Mosiah 4:27 - It's not meet for man to run faster than he has strength. This has been a real doozie for me to try to apply. I want so bad to be able to speak and listen, but I'm starting to realize that it's not going to happen all at once. Bonus, I'm understanding a little more each day - so there's some hope right there. And I'm super grateful that Elder Anderson is my trainer.
Subtle transition to a different, yet related topic (subtle indeed). Yesterday was the first fast and testimony meeting in Korea. I tried to bear mine (in Korean). That was super hard and terrifying. I remember being that terrified only once in my life as I was bearing testimony... and that was a super long time ago (like maybe fifth grade?). All in all, it was a good meeting (I enjoyed the portions that I could understand), and Elder Anderson went up to bear his testimony (at the request of our recent convert, 조영상. I enjoyed his testimony (I understood maybe half and was able to fill in the blanks as needed). The next two hours were a blur. I only understood that they spent the first part of Elder's Quorum talking about home-teaching (that was a pure guess too. I literally had to think about how Priesthood meeting usually went like in a family ward. Then a list went around with ward member names, addresses, and phone numbers). Then came the lesson. I thought they were talking about people we can share the gospel with. Elder Anderson informed me afterwards that they were talking about things that people might regret on their deathbed. I was close.
After Church, Elder Anderson and I received our first invite to a member's house for dinner (so, Terry, to answer your question, the Korean food I've had has been sitting well with me. But I hear that restaurant Korean food and homemade food are two different ballgames. As in, the members feed you a ton. Just a rumor though). And we were invited to lunch on the same day. All in all, Wednesday will be a good day. I'll report on said experience next week.
A few more things... so we have mission tour tomorrow. Elder Ringwood of the Seventy is coming. That'll be fun. A spiritual feast. President Furniss asked us to read Moroni 7 in preparation. I'm excited. A day to really get to understand faith, hope, and charity a little more in-depth, and there are some pretty good gems about missionary work in there too (I read it today. Picked up on a few extra things I haven't noticed before - read verses 29-31... made me feel pretty good after I picked up on them). And I'm excited to get another glimpse at it tomorrow and pick up even more things that I missed.
And this last week, there was a Halloween Party for the YSA aged people. It was fun. I worked down in the Haunted House. I pretty much spent 2 hours scaring people as they searched for things we hid throughout the church basement. I got a couple of good screams. We also had some good props. Like a real dead cat just chillin in the basement. That's exciting.
Oh, and Elder Anderson had me share the thought at English Class this last week. I went with 1st Nephi `17:50-51. I talked about how if we have faith that God will help us, He will. What I didn't share, right now, my ship is learning how to speak Korean.
Despite how hard this last week has been, I'm still loving every minute of this mission call. It's been quite the empathy building experience already. And quite a humbling experience too. Prayer is fast becoming my favorite part of the day. I love how close I feel to Heavenly Father as I pray. It's been a real comfort to know that He hears my prayers and that Jesus Christ knows exactly how I feel right now. I realize that parts of this email may sound overly negative, and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't frustrated sometimes, but I know that every hardship I'm facing now is only for a short time. What's happened so far is that I'm learning to really love the Book of Mormon and to rely on God and trust that He knows what He's doing with me. For instance, I love 1st Nephi 15... I feel like Nephi in verse 5 right now. And I love what he did in response to how he felt. He worked hard. He taught with the Spirit, and really just immersed himself in the Lord's work. That was a great find in personal study too. I can't even begin to describe just how tender of a mercy that was... I really know that God is mindful of me and my needs.
Anyways, I love you all so much. And I miss you all. Sometimes I'm homesick, but I really am trying to work hard through the homesickness. Terry, good luck on second round of interviews and job hunting. Dad, I'm looking forward to watching Phineas and Ferb in 2014 =D
Before I go, one last scripture reference. This one has been on my mind for quite a while. Ecclesiastes 3:1. I'll forever be grateful that Elder Bowman unknowingly helped me find this scripture while we were teaching at the MTC. The Old and New Testaments are super tricky to navigate in Korean.
Well. I've just about had it with this computer. It's a bit nutskey. I can't even count how many times I've heard the word firefox...and the entire wHTML address I'm on during the course of this email =D
Elder Elliott Wedam