Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Best Stake Conference Ever

With a smile on my face I will preface this post by stating that I never met a Stake President that wasn't "super legit."  The last two paragraphs of Elder Wedam's letter are my favorite, both sharing several true principles that warm a mother's heart.  Warning: contagious enthusiasm abounds! Have a good good day. Monica

November 18, 2013

Well, my beloved peeps,

A really crazy week.  Elder Erekson and I were given an assignment to give a 40 minute presentation at Stake Conference Adult Session this last week about how members can help full-time missionaries with missionary work.  I'll say more than this, but I want to preface this next paragraph with God really does work miracles; we did really good and the Spirit was super strong in that meeting (with Elder Erekson's talent at the language and my inherent charm, we had everybody listening and participating).

So, we talked about the work of salvation... it encompasses 5 parts:
1) Member Missionary Work
2) Retention of Recent Converts
3) Less Active Reactivation
4) Temple and Family History
5) Teach the Gospel

And we talked about Member Missionary Work through referrals  and Less Active Reactivation through home teaching and visiting teaching.  We had members participating with discussion questions (Terry and Whitney, thank you so much for telling me your favorite mission scriptures.  They came in handy at this stake conference... as did the fact that I had really awesome home teaching companions and our family always had really awesome home teachers), and, then we told members that missionaries need the members to help in the effort of finding and teaching people.  What ensued was a fairly elderly man complimenting us on the preparation we put into the presentation and adding some really helpful comments of his own, members feeling the spirit of missionary work (which resulted in us having lunch and receiving/contacting a referral), and well, it lasted into the next day when literally EVERY member of the stake who attended the night before told us that they felt something while we were speaking and that we did really good (one man even said that it was his favorite part of the entire night).  The stake president, 이인호 회장님 is super legit.  He really tied everything together, saying that really, members have the responsibility to help missionaries... to help us find people to teach, to help us learn the language, and to help us teach.  I walked away from that Stake Conference feeling more spiritually edified than I have from a lot of other church meetings.

So, another thing to add to my "Things Accomplished" list.  Work tandem with my companion to give a 40 minute presentation at  a Stake Conference in Korea.  I know I definitely didn't think I'd be doing that when I took Korean at school some 4 years ago.  President Furniss and Sister Furniss always tried helping us believe that we can do hard things.  It's totally true.  I can do hard things.  Impossible things, actually.  But with God's help, these impossible things are possible.

I prayed so hard beforehand for us to be able to teach with spiritual power; we did all we could given what we had and knew to prepare.  And it happened.  I didn't speak the language perfectly, but my message wasn't lost.  The Holy Ghost, not me, taught.  And I'm grateful that Heavenly Father answers prayers on a dime like that.  If our desires are in line with His, we can accomplish hard, impossible things.

I love you so much.  I can honestly say that when I speak of family and friends, only the best of memories come out.  Among all the blessings of serving a mission, one of the best is having the ability to speak fondly of family and friends, and to speak of them in such a way for the benefit of the people I teach.

Until next week.
Elder Wedam

In the new area

Well, I think the title for this post should be something like "Heart and Seoul."  Maybe a little corny, but I know Elliott is already following the Lord's counsel and putting his whole heart and soul into serving the people in this new area.

November 10, 2013

Well, it's official.
I'm in Seoul.  Just south of the Han River... like in case there was a map that was keeping track of my Korea expeditions.  PS.  It ain't exactly Kansas up here.
Yesterday, church was AWESOME!  Two new missionaries in the area, me and another sister (Sister Debouis... I don't know the English spelling... but I do know the Korean!).  We gave our talks at church yesterday, and the members loved us!  Elder Erekson has been training me on how to get tight with the members, and so we'll be tag-teaming it.  I'm quite excited!  All the members are really nice (oh, by the way, this ward is about the same size as Klamath Falls 3rd ward... with active members and less active.  So, that made it feel a little more like home).  The bishop and stake president were incredibly nice and paid us some nice compliments.  Which is always a boost.
PPS.  In case I forgot, the name of the ward I'm in is Hwagok.  Maybe Bishop Phair knows where that's at?
Lately, I'm been thinking about this idea of agency... specifically, how it relates to my purpose as a missionary (and member doing missionary work).  When I was down in Pyeongtaek, I've had the wonderful realization that my job as a district leader was to really be a missionary's missionary... and it helped me understand what my job is as a minister of Jesus Christ.  Really, I can only help people if they want to be helped.  I can't force anybody to accept the gospel and apply it in their lives - that would run contrary to this idea of agency.  Really, conversion only happens when our investigator (or other missionary, or person we/you are teaching...) has a spiritual experience.  My role is to help set up an environment in which the Holy Ghost can really testify.  My tools are the principles of the gospel, whatever talents I possess (by the way, I've thought a lot about what President Stewart said when he set me apart as a missionary... that I would use my talents, even ones that I didn't know about.  Totally true.  I've discovered some wonderful, albeit not showy, talents that I'm incredibly grateful for), and who I am (I'm learning more and more that being Christ-like isn't just a commandment from God, but it's really a matter of necessity in order to always be happy).  And then comes the second half of the trick.  Inviting people to do stuff.  Inviting people to read the Book of Mormon, to pray, to make changes in their lives that will help them live more in harmony with the Gospel and God's will.  For the longest time, I thought that my success and effectiveness was linked to the number of baptisms I've had, to the number of people I helped get out to church, to the number of lessons that I was able to set up and teach.  But it's not.  Really, I'm thrilled if I, in some small way, can help inspire somebody bear their testimony to a friend, help somebody want to read the Book of Mormon, or to help somebody better understand who Jesus Christ is.  I'm grateful for these small things.  And, like what dad has told me, I won't know exactly how much of an impact I've made.  All I can do is give my all to the work... to give my all to invite and encourage my newfound friends to live better lives.
I love this opportunity to teach.  To serve.  The church is true.  And know that I love you.
Elder Wedam

It's a Bittersweet Symphony, and that's Transfer Calls

I know the wonderful people in his current area have made a sweet difference in Elliott's life, and I hope he recognizes what a difference he has made for them as he has served them and the Lord with his whole heart, might, mind, and strength because of LOVE!

November 3, 2013

Well, yeah.  Transfer calls.  With the single most bittersweet outcome.
I'm leaving Pyeongtaek.  I'll be going up to Seoul in a part of the city called Hwagok (The "o" is a long "o" sound... In Korean 화곡).  Let me elaborate.  I'll probably cry as I do.  But that's fine.  It's really hard leaving an area and a zone that's been home for almost a full year (10 months and a week or two in the zone, 6 months of which were here in Pyeongtaek).  The zone, because I know so many people, and well, I really do feel like I have a family of Korean Saints here.  The area, because I invested so much of my heart into it... and I don't regret it.  Not one bit.  I've done most of my growing here in Pyeongtaek... I've come into my style of missionary work, and I've discovered so many of my talents here.  I've met some of my best friends, and I've been taken to the extremes of what talents and abilities I have to invite others to come unto Jesus Christ, to strengthen the faith of my brothers and sisters and bring hope to people who might be feeling hopeless.  I've learned what really goes into being a successful missionary (so much more than producing numbers... I honestly believe that it's about becoming and then the numbers will speak for themselves).  I've had some of the most spiritual experiences of my life here.  Some of the most precious revelations.
I love the people.  It's more than just seeing somebody on the street and liking them.  What I feel is the sense of urgency that should accompany missionary work.  It's recognizing the importance of the message we share, seeing how it applies to these, my friends, and then helping them see how it applies in their lives.  It's really desiring the happiness of all the people I've met and had the privilege of serving.  As it says in the hymn, Each Life That Touches Ours For Good, when a friend leaves (or when we need to leave), we have only sweet and tender memories in our hearts.  That's all I have.  Sweet memories of Pyeongtaek.  Of the members.  Of what I learned.
But don't worry.  As bitter as it is to leave, I do find some solace in something I've read in the Liahona.  Moving on doesn't mean forgetting, but rather it means opening our hearts.  I'll be able to move on.  As much as I love Pyeongtaek, I'm sure I'll love Hwagok.
I know I've changed.  These feelings of love won't leave.
That's the bitter part.  The sweet part.  I'll be companions with Elder Erekson.  If you recall, he was the other senior companion here in Pyeongtaek when I first came.  Tender mercies for the win? I hope so.  It'll be fun to serve with him again.  He taught me a lot when I first went senior.  I'm excited to learn even more from him.
On a different note, transfers aside, we had a Halloween Party for the Korean Ward on Saturday.  Everyone loved it.  We had pinatas... I don't think that the Koreans ever did anything like it.  When they broke, I kid you not, the kids SWARMED LIKE A HORDE OF ZOMBIES.  Like, I feared for my own life, and I wasn't even going for the candy.  And... we did three pinatas (we had four lined out, but the second one wouldn't break... yeah, Elder Hodges and Elder Dewey from Anseong did a great job in making indestructable.... the adults couldn't break it without a blindfold on... had to cut it down).  Yeah, I wouldn't recommend making round pinatas and then mache-ing streamer paper on them. 
I love all of you.  I'm really sorry for how short this email is.  But I think that if I keep writing, my eyes will get a little poofy.  From crying.  Totally serious about that.
Elder Wedam

I love this work, I love this gospel. I love my Savior. And I love you.

October 27, 2013

Well, hard to believe it's another Monday.  These weeks are becoming a giant blur.  So much happens.  So much learning, growing, and, well, everything in between.
I've been in country officially for a year as of last week.  And, in a pleasant turn of events, the Osan Military Branch had their Primary program yesterday.  Some really cool parallels.  My first Sunday in country consisted of a confirmation and a primary program.  Yesterday consisted of a confirmation and a Primary program.  Weird, right?  If history is destined to repeat itself, then I shall be enjoying some fried chicken and rice near the coast on Thanksgiving, and well, I may be emergency transfered on December 27th to 신풍.  But all speculation aside, it's been quite a year in country.
I know I've grown a lot.  I even know it from the emails... I'm less concerned about what happened during the course of the weeks in terms of things that I did, and well, I'm much more interested in sharing what tender mercies gone miracle happened in the course of the week (although, dragonfly bites and toilet museums had to be reported on).  But I think I want to share testimony.  Let me explain.  When I was companions with Elder Anderson (a year ago... weird), I stumbled on the coolest paper ever.  It was a list of ways to be a successful missionary that I think President Furniss trained on at some meeting before I came to the field.  Among all the bullet points, I remember 4 of them, 2 of which come into play right now.  One was "bear testimony often" and another "don't write stupid emails home."  Well, bearing testimony today feels like the most least stupid email I can send home, and well, most everything feels like it would pale in comparison.
I really love missionary work.  It has been and is by far the hardest thing I have ever done up to this point in my life.  This work isn't about gonig around and always talking about church and Christianity.  I honestly believe that our job is to help people who want to become better than they are now better.  I can't force anybody to change, and I can't force anybody to accept the gospel.  But the gospel helps people.  One of the many things I struggled with before the mission is how circular the service we render in the church felt... serving in church callings felt like it wasn't actually service, it felt more like a duty, and assignment.  We would always talk about serving in the Priesthood, but I didn't fully appreciate how great of a service the ordinances of the gospel really are.  The gospel helps people.  There is no question about that.  Through the gospel, people receive light and hope.  And we're not talking a fleeting happiness, we're talking a type of happiness that can withstand any trial or heartache.  We're talking about hope in it's purest form... the hope that gives people power to act and not be acted upon.  And when you understand this fact, that the gospel brings a lasting happiness to people that can't be destroyed unless we somehow let it, the question posed in Alma in the Book of Mormon, "why interrupt the rejoicings of the people and say there is no Christ" (I can't cite the exact reference or verbage... sorry.  But it's in there), takes on a new meaning.  If the gospel brings happiness to people, why would anybody seek to destroy it?
If the answer is that the gospel can't be true, then I would recommend reading the Book of Mormon.  I've read it.  I've prayed about it.  I've testified of it.  And every time I've read it, prayed about it, and testified of it, the Holy Ghost has testified to me of the truthfulness of the work.  I can honestly tell you that some of my most treasured experiences on the mission have been when I've been able to testify of the Book of Mormon, both in English and in Korean, and to have the Holy Ghost tell me, mid testimony, that what I'm saying is true.  Read the Book of Mormon, find out if it's true or not.  If it is scripture, it proves that Christ is the Son of God, that God is our Heavenly Father, and that He is a God of Love, not anger or hate.  If it's true, it's a book of the utmost value, for it teaches of things pertaining to eternity.  If it's not true, well, then it's a fraud.  Simple as that.
I know the gospel is true.  I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is Jesus Christ's true Church on earth once more.  God still speaks to us; we can listen to a prophet speak, we can determine the truth of his words, and we can choose to accept or reject them as God's word.  I know God lives, and that the day of miracles hasn't ceased.  A miracle needs not be parting the Red Sea or raising the dead.  It can be as simple as a prayer being answered.  It can be as simple as a heart being softened.  And God does work miracles; He does answer prayers.
I love this work, I love this gospel.  I love my Savior.  And I love you.
Until next week,
Elder Wedam

That package came in the nick of time

Love Elliott's message to look forward and trust in the Lord, here. Hope the message uplifts you, too!

October 20, 2013

Wow.  Wow.  Wow.  This week may or may not have been the toughest one yet.  As the subject suggests, mom's package came at the most opportune time.  PS, lessons learned this week.  More to follow.
So, why was this week so rough?  I can honestly say that 5 appointments we had planned and set up fell through 30 minutes before and/or after the scheduled time.  To kind of put things in perspective... on average, Elder Pruner and I have been able to set up and attend around 10, 11, 12 appointments each week (and that's giving it our all... all our might, mind, heart, and strength).  As you can imagine, losing 5 appointments (all in the course of 2,3 days) is incredibly stressful, heartbreaking, and well, frustrating.  Mind you, everything just sort of culminated on Sunday (nothing went according to plan, and well, we had to make the backup plan on the spot), resulting in me breaking down at church during a closing prayer of a baptismal service, quickly trying to pull things together, and then have 3 members come up to me and ask me if I was all right, and that it looked like I had just been crying (whoops... yeah, it came to tears this week.  On the plus side, our members are angels... one of whom sent me a text this morning telling me to be happy and to have a wonderful day^^  I never want to leave this area.  I could spend another year here and be totally happy).
But, I learned a lot.  First, I really love the people we teach.  Every time an appointment cancelled, I was heartbroken.  And five heartbreaks in 3 days is a lot, emotionally.  Fortunately, Elder Pruner had more than enough optimism for the two of us these last few days... I don't know if he realizes how much of a help he's been... and I don't know how to put it into words how grateful I am for his support.
Second, I'm relearning and repracticing trust in the Lord.  It's not just acknowledging that this missionary effort is really God's work, and that we're just tools in His hands, but it also includes that we can't afford to be stuck wallowing in the past but to reflect, move on, and then make the most of the resulting situation.  Yes, the solution to hard situations and effective missionary work isn't to be stuck in the disappointments of the past, but to realize that the past may simply have just been the thing that needed to happen in order to be somewhere else at the right time.  I feel like I'm not being overly clear... so I'll explain with story:
Friday was exceptionally hard.  We had a dinner appointment at 7:30pm set up with an investigator, and we were going to meet at the church.  7:30 rolls around, and, well, no show.  We wait around 10 minutes (he's in high school, and I know I ran about 10 minutes late all the time).  Still no show, so we call.  No answer.  We wait another 5 minutes in case he didn't hear or feel his phone (because, well, sometimes that happens), and no show.  So, we leave the church (I'm really heartbroken at this time).  We head back home to eat dinner (we're starving at this point, and I'm still heartbroken).  And when we arrive back to our apartment complex, we run into another one of our investigators.  We talk briefly (I'm out of it... again, hungry and heartbroken), and we part ways.  I'm feeling a little bit better, but still, a little upset.  When we get into our apartment, we pray.  And at the end of the prayer, I had the distinct feeling that, well, I needed to look forward, not backward, and make the most of the situation we were in.  So, I text the investigator we saw just before arriving home, and explained a little bit of what happened that day (just that it was super rough, so we're sorry that we weren't overly talkative, but things are all right now). And he sent me back the nicest text... to the effect of keep your head up.  Something good is bound to happen soon!... And, well, I just felt good about how it played out, like we did what we were supposed to do.
And so, there's the most profound lesson I learned.  To look forward, not backwards, and to make the most of the hand that I've been dealt.  Just as in card games, sometimes we have a bit of an unfortunate dry spell during which we don't get what we want (Dad, our current cribbage streak is like, what, I've lost the last 20 games to you?).  But, eventually, the dry spell passes, and well, things turn out okay.
Now, how do we look forward and play the hand that we've been given?  It's really to trust in the Atonement.  Remember, God hasn't set us up to fail.  It's not on His agenda.  He's given us the Atonement of Jesus Christ.  We have our short-comings, we have our heartaches.  We have trials.  But because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we don't have to face these trials alone.  We have the ultimate co-pilot who, if we aren't able to drive anymore, will drive for us until we're able to drive again. 
So, the week was rough.  Now what?   Well, look forward, not backward.  Focus on the good that resulted from last week, and to build upon it.  That's the most I can do right now.  And that's what the Lord asks of each us... build upon the good that already has been established.
I love you all, work well.  Work hard.  Know that you can't fail in fulfilling your righteous desires - for God will lead, guide, and inspire... just have the courage to act.
Elder Elliott Wedam

So... 8 days til a year mark in country? My, time fies

Catching up a bit. I will not bore you with excuses for posting so late. 

October 14, 2013

Well, 가족, 치구, 형, 누나, 동생,
What a week.  Conference was awesome.  Really awesome.  More on that later though.  Exciting news, I renew a visa today.  Exciting, right?  And my heart is broken... the toilet museum is closed on Monday.  Later.  I keep telling myself later.
Elder Pruner and I met a new investigator this last week.  His name is Kim Daegyu (김대규) and well, I like him a lot.  Fun story.  Elder Oman and I met him a super long time ago (at least 15 weeks ago... we met him the last week that Elder Erekson was in 평택).  When we met him, he was going to dinner with one of his students (should have mentioned... he's a teacher at an education acadamy, or 학권.  Specifically, he teaches Korean.  So, the equivalent of an English teacher in the States).  Anyways, I started texting him 4 weeks after we met, and we've been in pretty frequent contact, culminating in setting up a lunch appointment with him.  We meet, and as we eat lunch, he has some questions about our church... like some of the stuff that people bring up when they have a bone to pick and want to argue, but he actually was just curious about it.
He then explained why he asked these questions.  Turns out the student that 김대규 was with asked his mom about our church.  His mom, being part of the churches in Korea recognized as Protestant, and not knowing a lot about our church, told her son some things that a lot of people are told to disuade them from learning more about the church... along the lines that we're a cult, we still practice polygamy, etc, etc, etc... Anyways, here comes the cool part.  When this student told 김대규, 김대규 just said... "I'll just ask Wedam about this."  And so, he did ask us about polygamy and why people call us a cult.
After lunch, the conclusion that 김대규 has about our church is that people call us cult simply because they don't really know what we believe.  And, he had such an enjoyable time that we got another lunch invitation (standing, not definite) and the definite command of "keep texting me."  There's more details, but suffice it to say that we did a good job in representing the Church at this lunch appointment.  That's what I'm thrilled about.
So conference.  I think my favorite line came from Elder Oaks (I think it was from him?).  Telling the story of a grandmother who raised her grandson to the best of her ability, and her grandson still wound up in jail, she asked the question, to the effect of, "Why?  Even after all that I had done, why?"  To which came the reply, "I gave him to you because I knew that you would love him no matter what." Powerful words.  Really.  It exemplifies the Savior's love and our command to love everyone.  Jesus Christ loves us, no matter what we do.  Similarly, we need to love our neighbor, no matter what they do.  And if we can't do that with all our neighbors, are we willing to at least do it for our family?  Our friends? Our investigators?
I try.  I really do feel a love for a lot of these friends that we teach... I think about them constantly -  how to help them be happier, make covenants, find peace.  It's hard.  It takes a lot of energy, but I know that it's worth it.  Using every talent and resource to help people come to know who Jesus Christ is, to help them know who God is, to help them know about the Plan of Salvation.  And to help them understand and apply.  The message of the Gospel leads to happiness.  The proof for what we teach is the Book of Mormon.  And I know, I really know, that the Book of Mormon is true.
I love you all.  So much, I'm glad to hear that despite all the trials on the homefront, that Heavenly Father has blessed and protected my family and my friends.  I love the promise found in Doctrine and Covenants 30 - "Your family shall live."
Elder Elliott Wedam

Monday, October 7, 2013

Dragonfly Bites and Toilet Museums

This is a fun read!

October 7, 2013
Well, devoted followers, I've got some really cool stories to tell.
First off, I learned that dragonflies can and will bite you.  Rather than catch butterflies in Korea (reminds me of another story... next paragraph), people catch dragonflies.  The secret is to wait for them to land and then sneak up on them.  One of the recent convert's sons caught a dragonfly, brought it up right next to my arm, and let me tell you, that thing chomped.  While the bug was on my arm, I thought "Wow, I hope they don't bite," and just as I finished the thought, boom.  Bite.  It didn't hurt as bad as you might think.  It was just shocking.  So, if you catch dragonflies, steer clear of the mandibles.
So, back to butterflies.  I don't think I ever shared this with anybody - it was emotionally scarring... this is when I was with Elder Oman 15 weeks back.  We were up in Osan, taking a break in a park on a nice summer day, watching butterflies playing in the flowers.   Then, out of nowhere, a magpie swoops down and demolishes a butterfly and eats it.  Keep in mind, this was right after I accidently stepped on a butterfly at a subway station.  I almost cried (both times).  Seriously, nature is scary.  That butterfly didn't stand a chance.
Last story.  Thursday (the same day I got bitten by the dragonfly), Elder Pruner and I visited a member, 임은희 (Leem Uenhuei), and on the way back, Elder Pruner really had to go to the bathroom.  This put us in quite the predicament.  We were about 10, 15 minutes away from the nearest bathroom we could use, and well, it was just a predicament.  Walking with purpose, we see a car parked on the side of the road.  As we pass, the driver rolls down the window, and it turns out that it's a less active member of the American branch who lives a few doors up from us.  He tells us to get into the car (It's about 8:50.  We needed to get home anyways), so we do.  His girlfriend is in the front seat, and we make conversation.  It went a little like this:
Me: "Did you have work today?"
Him: "No, we had the day off because of the holiday."
Me: "Oh, what'd you do then?"
Him: "We went to Suwon... we visited the toilet museum."
At this point, Elder Pruner and I just look at each other.
Elder Pruner: "Wait, what?"
His Girlfriend: "Yeah, the toilet museum."
Me: "Seriously?  Was it fun?"
She explained the sights of the toilet museum, and then they told us all about it, giving us the brochure... we were shocked.  Blindsided actually.  That morning I thought I saw it all (a car had a cross lashed onto the front of it with the speakers blaring, in understandable Korean, "Believe in Jesus"... that was quite shocking too), but the Toilet Museum caught me unawares.  I meant to take a picture of the brochure, but alas, I forgot to.  Next week.  I promise.  All I know is that I wanted to go there on a P-Day, but it's closed on Mondays.  So I have an excuse to come back now.
But, let me explain why this was so cool.  Like, this was a miracle.  This less active, he's been one that we've wanted to work with for quite a while.  We just didn't have all the tools necessary to do it (like his phone number... we got it now).  It was perhaps the most enjoyable converstation we had all week.  And the topic thereof rather fitting for our situtation.  Anyways, total tender mercy.  Elder Pruner and I were coming off of having some pretty off days on the streets talking wtih people.  This helped out a ton.  In fact, it sort of spurred personal study the next day.  I studied miracles.
Ether 2 and 3 outilines a really cool pattern for miracles.  It's the story of the Brother of Jared and the stones.  The pattern goes like this:
A) Have a goal
B) Share with God your goal
C) Make a plan to accomplish the goal
D) Ask God to make up the difference
Rather than point out the verses that show this pattern (I've only a Korean Book of Mormon, and not enough time to find them), I'll leave it to you, if you want, to look for it.  This pattern sort of changed how I approach missionary work.... I know I've shared with all ya'll that I realize, more than ever, my inadequacies and weakness.  But it's not overwhelming or depressing, in fact, it's the opposite.  I know a few things I need to work on improving.  This story and this pattern, though, helped me realize that no matter how good I may become, I'll always fall short of being perfect.  Every plan that we've made to help somebody come unto Christ only worked when God helped, and that only happened when we asked for it.  With the Spirit's companionship, it doesn't matter how week our words are, it only matters that we believe and do all that we can to succeed.  Like we learn in 2 Nephi 25:23, we are only saved by grace after all that we can do.  God doesn't want us to fail, He doesn't want us to be unhappy.  He wants us to be happy and successful.
How has this changed the way I approach missionary work?  Well, I'm not worried about being perfect, but more concerned about doing my best.  I know that if I really act out of love, I don't waste time, and if I be where I'm suppposed to be when I'm supposed to be there, then I'll see success, and needs to happen will happen.  Why?  This is God's work.  He's able to make things happen by small and simple means.  He's able to accomplish wonders with imperfect efforts.
Does that mean that we don't try?  No, not at all.  But it does mean that we shouldn't be concerned by the fact that we aren't perfect YET.  We're here to grow, learn, and become.  That's the beauty of the gospel and the plan of salvation.  Progression.  Becoming.  Those two ideas bring a lot of hope.  They bring me hope.
I love you all!
Elder Elliott Wedam

Baptism coming up. Look out world! We Elders are on fire!

September 23, 2013

Hey All, 

Well, great news.  I'm eating a lot more.  Fun fact for the day, I haven't had an appetite for the last few weeks (I still ate... don't worry), but now that Saturday is approaching (and Sean is so ready to be baptized), I've got an appetite again.  And, it all started with eating some real Brazilian food at a members house (whose mother is from Brazil.... I can't remember the name of the dish, but it was delcious.  Black beans and sausage and rice and salsa stuff.  Yes, Nathan, I maintain that the Brazilian food is the reason why I have an appetite again).
But I just want to say, I'm really excited about this weekend.  This is the first baptism I've had with an investigator that I saw through from start to finish.  And what a ride it's been.  Sean is still amazing.  He knows the doctrine and the principles and has a deep abiding love for the scriptures, prayer, and church.  He loves being with us, and he loves the happiness and light he feels from the gospel.  Yesterday, we had a really good talk, and I can only say that the gospel truly does bring light and hope to people.  Like Elder Miller would always say... we don't do anything too hard.  We just ask people to change their lives.  And we better ask them out of love.  Love for God and love for them.  And I just want to say that I really do love the people that we've taught and the members of our ward.  Of every ward I've served in.
I love serving here in Korea.  I've learned so much.  Granted, the lessons I've learned are unique to me, as is my mission experience, but I'm grateful for every lesson.  I'm really learning that just as effective as my words are my actions.  The other day on the subway, after Korean Thanksgiving (추석), three people came on who definitely weren't Korean (I think they may have been Cambodian).  There were two empty seats next to me, and an empty seat down the train a bit.  The following is the conversation that I had with the gentleman who didn't have a seat next to his friends... no words were actually said, but if it did, it would have gone like this:
"Here, take this seat"
"No that okay"
"Seriously it's not a problem.  This way you three can sit together."
"Oh cool.  Thanks!"
And the gentleman sat down, and I took the seat down the train.  And then I had another converstaion.  This one with words.  The man was Cambodian, didn't speak a lick of English, but he spoke my level of Korean.  We talked, exchanged numbers, and, well, we may be meeting this week or next week to study Korean together (and to figure out how to introduce him to the gospel).  I guess there are two things that, although I've stated before, I really want to say again.
I really believe in the promise that we'll be given the words that we will need to say and know the things we need to do in the time that they are needed.  I've had some cool experiences where the Holy Ghost brought to my remembrance what I needed to say while sharing a message in Korean, and I've had some other really cool experiences, like the ones that I shared today, where the Holy Ghost sort of just prompted me on what to do and how to clearly communicate what I'm feeling.
And sometimes... when I write in English... I can't communicate clearly.  But that's fine.
I love the gospel.  I love the doctrine of repentance.  I love the hope and light that it can bring to people, and I love seeing it when people accept it.  There is a light that enters into their countanences.  I think that's what Alma talks about when he talks about "the image of God engraven on their countanences."
I love you all! And until next week!
Elder Wedam 

Another week. another discovery. Some baffling. (clue to weight loss)

Do weight loss teasers pop up on your devices and computers?  Get in touch with Elliott for his secret! 

September 16, 2013

The first of which is that I can't gain weight worth anything.  I eat way more than I have in the past, but nothing sticks.  I'm at a record low of 70 kg... which is like, 163 lbs?  It's all this walking, thinking, and learning in another language.  Plus, they don't really eat a ton of sugary food over here.  I highly recommend going Korean if you want to lose weight (살 빠지려면 한식 먹어 봐)... so, yeah, my only plan is to eat more.  And try putting on some muscle again.  Situps have gotten really hard as of late.  I'm embarassed to say... muscular atrophy for the win? 
We've seen a lot of cool things this last week.  Really, the coolest is that 김정하 (Kim Jeong Ha) really likes coming to church.  And we had a really good lesson with her yesterday (with the help of our ward mission leader).  We're hoping that she'll accept a baptismal date on September 29th... so praying hard and hoping hard and working hard.  That's the plan.
Another really cool thing is that yesterday I ran into somebody who I met a few odd 12 weeks back.  He remembered me and we had a good talk.  I'll be inviting him to come to a few activities in the coming weeks.  His name is 허건 and well, he seems really nice.  I'll keep you posted on what happens.
I love serving in this area.  I love 평택 so much.  I love 수원 stake too.  I love all the friends and people I've met here in the ward.  A few weeks ago, I heard one missionary say one of the best parts of being a missionary is making friends with all the ward members and getting a really good relationship with them.  It's totally true.  The ward members who I know and have a 친한 사이  with I love.  I told Alisa this, but like it's worth mentioning again.  It's perhaps my favorite part of Korean culture.  It's just how willing people are to adopt you after you have some relationship with them.  A lot of our ward members here feel like family, as do members up in 신풍... and 광주.  And our investigators feel the same way too.  Yes, it's good to be a missionary in Korea.  The relationships here aren't just for a transfer or two.  They're for life.
I love being a missionary.  I love talking, teaching, relationship building, problem-solving, and just being able to tell people "yeah.  I'm a missionary.  Part of my job description is making friends.  For life.  Wanna be mine?"  Dorky outlook, but hey, I'm happy with it.
I still love scripture study.  Moroni 10 made a huge impression on me this last week.  Especially verses 7, 25, and 26.  25 and 26 talk about how people who do good do good by the gifts and power of God.  It's mandatory.  Verse 7 talks about how God works by power.  I can't begin to tell you just how true that is.  When I say that my greatest strength is just existing, I'm not kidding.  Really, God is working here.  I just open my mouth and smile.  And follow impressions.  But he works by power, whether by grand displays or tender mercies, it's all the same power.
A little more background too... one of our investigators is going through a really rough time.  She's injured emotionally, and because of it, she's sick physically.  I can't begin to tell you how bad I want the gift of healing.  Not just for healing physical ailments, but I want the gift of being able to bring people to the one source who can heal them spritually... to be able to testify of truths that are the source of lasting happiness and peace.  Spiritual gifts come by faith, as does spritual power, and well, I hope I'm able to overcome what doubt I have.  And we're not talking like doubt in God, but doubts about myself.
But I've also learned that I don't have a lot of time to doubt and work.  I don't have the energy to focus on stuff other than doing what I'm called to do
I love you!
Elder Wedam

Learning and growing, bearing testimony and teaching.

September 9, 2013
So, everyone, big news.
Sean accepted a baptismal date.  He's so awesome.  He loves studying the scriptures, he loves learning the gospel, and well, he's just a super fun person to be around.  Elder Pruner and I love being with him and teaching him.  He always has great questions too.  So, come September 28th, we'll have a baptismal service ^^
This week has been so good.  Yesterday at church, neither of the speakers showed up, so we had a testimony meeting by invitation.  Mark, the person who Elder Pruner and I met at a HomePlus, a few weeks back, bore his testimony, and he's just so cool.  Talking with him, he literally gave up everything to become a member of the church.  He's fascinating to talk to, and he has quite the life story.
I really love this missionary experience.  It's cool seeing the light that the gospel brings to people, and it's cool to see how their countances changes as they become converted unto the Lord.  Sean, Mark, and 김정하... yeah, it's been really good seeing just how much of a difference it makes.  I really hope that ya'll can see it in a year ^^
I know the church is true, and that God lives.  Everyday, I can see God directing His work, and I'm so happy that I can contribute to it in some small way.  I'm grateful for all I've learned, and I'm grateful that I have two hours to really study gospel principles every day.
I don't remember if I've shared this, but I really love Moses 1.  It's the chapter where Moses sees God face to face and is the prolouge to Moses seeing an account of the creation.  There's more to the story though.  If  you go to the first part of Exodus, you'll find that Moses broke a covenant with God - he didn't keep the Abrahamic covenant exactly, and by so doing, he invoked the wrath of God.  After this experience, we know that Aaron found Moses in the wilderness.  I'm sure Moses at the time felt like Joseph Smith did after losing the 116 pages of translated pages, wondering if he was still worthy and able to fulfill the charge given him by God.  I'm sure he felt bad, like he messed up beyond being forgiven.  And then the events in Moses 1 happen...
In verse 6, we read, "And I have a work for thee, Moses, my son, and thou art in the similitude of Mine Only Begotten, who is and shall be the savior, for he is full of grace and truth."  Moses was still called to the task, and more important, God reminded him of a very important truth.  God has a work for each of us to do that in some way, shape, or form is a shadow of the work that Jesus Christ did.  It doesn't matter how small or large, it just matters that we do.
I know that we all belong to God's eternal family.  It's an empowering statement.  We are children of a loving Heavenly Father.  He doesn't want us to fail.  In fact, He wants us to succeed.  How do we succeed?  By doing all we can to learn and grow, both in knowledge of things of the world and in knowledge of things of the soul.  And as we come to know more, we act according to what we know, and well, we just become even better than we were before.  God loves us.  He love you.  Always remember that.
I hope you have a wonderful week, and until next week,
Elder Elliott Wedam

Another Week, Another Lesson

Elliott's nephew Noah arrived this past week, and so did his 2nd cousin Wesley!

September 2, 2013
Hey everyone!
So, I'm just so tired.  Yesterday was nuts.  Let me explain:
Fast Sunday, right?  And our church meetings go from 9am to 2:30pm... and I like to be a little early so we can help set up the sacrament in the American branch.  We're also expecting a few people to come to church (Remember Mark from a few weeks ago?  He came!).  Anyways, we have a super spiritual sacrament meeting, and a pretty legit second hour (we have a lesson we have to share in Priesthood).  We plan it, plan for our investigators, and then it's show time.  We share our lesson, run up to the Korean Sacrament meeting (we showed up with 30 minutes left in the meeting), and then it's gospel principles.  One of our investigators (김정하, with the baptism date... well, she had one.  We had to drop it because she doesn't have that strong of a commitment to it.  When our members ask about it, she sorta just shyed away from the topic) came and I sat next to her.  It was a wonderful lesson about the Fall of Adam and Eve (and I understand a good 80% of it.  The teacher also had me read a lot of the scriptures... after this class, I was mentally spent.  Couple that with sacrament meetings that I focused the entire time during, and well, yeah.  I'm still feeling the effects).  Then third hour, we were with the Young Men (who are starting to like us a little more.  It's amazing what learning a name or two can do).  Right after church, we jetted off to meet Sean at a location that took 30 minutes to get to by car (we asked an American member to help us).  We get there and have a super awesome lesson, and then we go up to Seoul (a special fireside that Sean thought would be fun to go to).  We show up to this meeting in time for the closing hymn and prayer, and we then are on our way back to 평택.  We get home at about 10 (the zone leader knew, don't worry), and I need to get the Sunday report into him.  Once everything was all said and done, it was about 10:20.  So, all in all, it was a 14 hour fest of just straight missionary work, and fasting for the entire time.  Yeah, I was exhausted.  So was Elder Pruner.  But, it was a good day.  Very productive.
Other exciting things include that one of our investigators invited us to his daughter's first birthday party.  It was quite an experience.  I walked away with a box of soy milk.  It was really fun.  I wish I was able to make it to Vera's first birthday, but hey, this was a close second.
I'm excited to hear about Noah!  And Mackenzie's son.  Keep pictures coming!  I've been announcing a new nephew for the last 6 weeks at district meeting, so like, it'll be good to finally say "He's here," and leave it at that.
Seems like we all have super short letters this week... the most insightful thing I've learned is that I'm nowhere near perfect.  And that I have a lot to learn about patience, charity, and well, humilty.  As I've read the scriptures, and as I've thought about the trials I've been facing as of recently, I've realized that a lot of it is amplified by my attitude and how I deal with them.  I've realized that I don't have enough energy to be angry about anything, nor do I have enough time.  I've only enough energy to work effectively, be sincere, and well, that's about it.  Being negative requires a ton of energy.  Being positive and engaged and productive takes just as much.  And there's simply not enough to be both.
Anyways, sorry about the brevity of this letter.  But I hope all hgave a good week.
Until then,
Elder Wedam

Summer is Dying Down... in Transfer 9

Here is a day by day miracle record from our favorite Elder!

August 26, 2013
Well, Ladies, Gentlemen, Boys, and Girls,
It's officially the start of a new transfer.  We're hitting the ground running.  Miracles galore, and, well, some other cool things.
We'll start with the other cool things.  There was a stake priesthood meeting yesterday.  My brain was fried after it, and my understanding incredibly limitted.  But, considering I've been a missionary in the same stake since the start of the year (and maybe for the remainder thereof), I saw a lot of my members from 신풍.  Yeah.  I was super happy to seem them.  They were super shocked to see me (like in a good way).  And it was a really fun reunion.
Now, for the miracles.  Hold on, there's one every day.
Monday: Despite being held hostage (sort of... long story short, there's this one woman who may or may not have a few loose screws.  And she's not exactly harmless) at the church for two hours waiting for our member to talk with this lady, Elder Pruner and I tried to visit a less active member, who's never home.  Our member wasn't home, but on the way, this really nice woman talked to us.  She lived in Oklahoma for a bit, has family there, and wanted to know if we taught English (she's interested in reading and writing because she speaks and listens like a native).  It was a pleasant chat, and we got her phone number.
Tuesday: We get a text from our member 이태경 (Lee Tae Gyeong) who introduced Sean to us.  She's super stoked because he really likes learning about the gospel.  By the way, Sean is the best.  He's super, super awesome - he loves reading the Book of Mormon and about the Chruch's history.  And he's real, completely honest, sincere, and genuine.
Wednesday: We have our English class, and our investigator 김정하 (Kim Jeong Ha) comes out.  Turns out, she's interested to know if Heaven exists.  Also, 이태경 comes, catches a ride home with Dennis (he's been coming out to English class for a bit).  We get a call from her that night telling us that Dennis is interested in learning more about the church and really wants to make some LDS friends because they live a similar lifestyle to what he lives.
Thursday: We meet with Aeri (or referal from 조혜경).  We have a good lesson with her and encourage her to read the Book of Mormon each day, just a little bit.  She's super receptive to it.
Friday:  We get a call from 김정하.  She wants to meet and study English together.  We've already explained the 30/30 program to her, so we're stoked.
Saturday:  We meet with 김정하 and teach her that we can only learn of spiritual truths through prayer... and we do so by teaching about the Restoration.  Our member 신새게 (Shin Sae Ge) talks with her a bit more, and turns out that she is interested in baptism.  And she likes church.  And she likes us.  신새게 invites her to come to church, and she accepts.
Sunday:  Sean and 김정하 come to church.  Both of them expressed desire to be baptized.  Sean will be getting back to us this week about when he can, and 김정하 tenatively sets up a September 22.  But, there's a little bit more to her side of things.
Our recent convert (박재희... Angela) is just an angel.  She started talking with 김정하 after 김정하 expressed some desire in baptism.  Elder Pruner and I walk in on the conversation halfway through, Elder Atkin looks completely dumbfounded.  And my jaw drops after listening for a little bit (at this point, 김정하 is really interested).  Angela turns to me and asks me to explain baptism a little bit more to 김정하, and I do.  Afterwards, we leave the chuch together, and 김정하 starts talking with some other members who are still in the parking lot about baptism.  Elder Pruner and I have to leave soon, but it was a good discussion.  They invited her to pray and promised that she would get an answer.... so follow-up this week.  I was super happy ^^
That may have been a bit long-winded, but needless to say, it's been a busy week.  I was dead tired after the priesthood meeting.  I've never slept so good before in my life.  And, seems like we'll be busy this week too.  I'm not sure what happened this last week, but I'm glad it happened.  It's been a really productive, wonderful week, and well, miracles are SO awesome to see.  The day of miracles truly hasn't ceased.
I love this missionary experience.  It's been the single most insightful experiences of my life.  I love the opportunities to learn and grow, and for the chance I have to help other people... missionary, member, and nonmember alike.  Everyday, I understand so much more about my potential as a son of God, and everyday, I can feel that my capacity to love, serve, and function grow.  I'm far from perfect, but I'm fine with that.  I'm happy to labor diligently and trust in God to make my weak things strong.  I'm grateful for all the revelation I've received thus far, and I'm grateful for all the lessons I've learned.
God lives.  I'm grateful to know that He is mindful of me, my friends, and my family.  Until next week,
Elder Wedam

Another Week Down, and Another Transfer About to Begin.

Well, I can hardly believe so much time has passed since my last post. I am so sorry to delay all of Elliott's news! Here is the beginning of my attempt to bring this blog current.  Enjoy his stories, experiences and insights....

August 19, 2013
So, Family, Friends, and Fellows.
I'm somewhere between my 8th and 9th transfer, and well, it's glorious.
Real fast, we get transfer calls on Saturday night, and we transfer Wednesday morning.  That being said, I'll be in Pyeongtaek.  At least for 6 weeks.  Maybe (and hopefully) a little bit longer.  Some slight changes in our housemates:  Elder Lion is moving out (and while we're at it... my trainer/district leader, Elder Anderson, is leaving too, but he's in a different area).  And, Elder Atkin will be training.  PS... I'll also be doing some district leadering.  I'd say I'm a bit nervous, but really, I'm not.  I really realize it'll be a matter of striving to seek revelation and making sure I'm going completely by the Spirit.  So, high five for growing opportunities, yeah?
We met with Sean yesterday.  He is so good.  I've said it before, and I'll say it again, but he's an answer to so many prayers for so many different reasons.  He's got a strong desire to find out if the Book of Mormon is true.  He really is giving the message of the Restoration a fair shot, and well, it's magical.  Really, it's magical.  He understands and remembers and applies so much.  He's really thoughtful and really wants to answer the questions we ask honestly.  He's super sincere too.  All in all, he's been a bright point of the missionary experience.
I've been enjoying focusing in on one or two scriptures during my personal study.  The one that made the biggest impression sort of happened this morning. So fresh off the press:
Helaman 5:12.  Here's the backstory.  Helaman is teaching his sons some valuable lessons about the gospel and remaining firm in the faith.  His sons, Nephi and Lehi, are about to enter the ministry and preach to the Lamanites and Nephite dissenters.  What he tell them... to remember, rember that it is upon the rock of our redeemer that we must build our foundation.  And that if we do that, all the powers of darkness in the world (meaning all the really stupid bad stuff that happens) will have NO power to make bring us down - that is, no power to make us unhappy, miserable, or depressed.
Think about that promise for a little bit.  The counsel is to have hope in Jesus Christ, in Eternal Life, and then to live so that we can get it.  The call to build upon the rock of our redeemer is the call to step out of darkness and into light.  It's the call to stand in Holy Places.   Missionary work is hard.  Life is hard.  It's all work.  There are so many forces that can drag us into despair, but if we just trust and hope in Christ and Eternal Life, these forces that can destroy our happiness will have no power over us.  Why?  Because the happiness and joy that comes from living with our loved ones forever, and the happiness that comes from progressing eternally, is greater than any heartache or sorrow we will ever face.  The promise of Eternal Life is the promise of better tomorrows, but the promise of a wonderful today, no matter how bad the yesterdays may have been.  And this hope that comes from Eternal Life "maketh an anchor to the souls of men" (Ether 12:4).  We can't be moved if we trust in God and really strive to be disciples of Jesus Christ.
Then came the application.  When I first came to country, I had this idea of what the "perfect" missionary was and what I wanted to be.  Talked to everybody.  Always said the right thing.  Baptized a lot of people.  And never had a bad day.  But, I've realized that this idea of a "perfect" missionary was something I couldn't ever be - at least not with where I was at the time.  And over time, my idea has changed.  Like I said last week, it doesn't matter how many people I baptize or teach, but what counts is how much effort I put into helping people feel the light of the gospel in their lives.
My desire in this life is to be a beacon of light to people.  I want other people to feel like they have hope to start building upon the rock of their redeemer whenever they associate with me.  I really just want people to feel happier having met me, and to give a glimpse of what it's like to feel the light of God no matter how dark they may think their life has become.  And this can only happen by consecrating myself to the Lord, both as a missionary and as a son of God.  And that comes by being a disciple of Jesus Christ, to develop His attributes and to act accordingly.
I love you.  So much.
Until next week!
Elder Wedam

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Monsoons, Accents, and Miracles

August 12, 2013
Well, Family, Friends, The Usual Suspects (Including Fan Club)
We'll start at the tops.  First story.  Monsoons.
Wow.  That's all I can say.  Tuesday was near pitch black at 3pm.  Elder Pruner was feeling sick, and NONE of our plans worked.  Then came a rainstorm.  False.  Then came a deluge.  Coupled with the heat, humidity, and shear volume of rainfall, we were soaked.  Head to foot.  We ducked into a 평의점 for shelter, for like 30 minutes.  And we made friends with the cashier.  I did at least.  Then, the rain lifted and SUNSHINE.  It was a strange day.  I have never seen weather change so fast (even in Klamath Falls).
Next story is better.  Accents.
I took the strangest phonecall ever on Wednesday.  Elder Pruner and I have been working super hard to advertise our English class, and we made a little pamphlet explaining our program.  We pass them out like a stranger gives out candy when we're on the streets, and we hope that people have interest and call us.  We finally got a phone call.  I'll give you the translated version of it:
"Hey, you gave me a pamphlet yesterday about your free English Program.  I want to learn; how can I do it?"
"Well, we're teaching a conversation class tonight at 7 if you're interested"
"Really.  Well, can you speak English well?"
"Yeah.  I'm American"
"Oh.  Well, I don't want to learn the American accent; it's difficult to keep it up in Korea.  Can you do a British accent?"
"Wait, what?"
"Yeah, a British accent."
"I don't know.  I'm American."
"Give it a shot."
"Right now?"
"Okay."  Then I gave it my best shot.
"Wasn't that Australlian?  That sounded more Australlian"
"I have no idea.  I'm American."
"Could you try an Australlian accent."
"Tell you what, I'll come by your church tonight.  What church is it?"
"The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints"
"Isn't that the Mormon Church?"
"Well, that's a nickname"
"Okay.  Well, if I have time, I'll come by." Hangs up.
Yeah.  He didn't come to English class that night.  But I had fun on the phone with him.
Last story is the best.
We had two people come to church yesterday!  There's two stories I have to tell to get this to make sense.
The first person is Korean.  She is SUPER shy and really loves learning English, and I think she might be a little bit lonely.  But, Elder Pruner and I have a great relationship with her, so it's totally cool if we ask her to come to church, if anything to make friends.  She comes.  Sacrament is great - she paid a lot of attention and really loved the same talks I did.  Then comes Gospel Principles.  We'll pause here - you need the other story now.
The second person is American.  He's dating one of our members (who WAS less active... not anymore.  She referred him to us yesterday).  She was translating for him in sacrament meeting, and well, she left me to translate in Gospel Principles (I did so bad).  The lesson was about the great council in heaven, which evolved into something significantly off topic (...I was stressing out trying to keep up with the lesson and translate it in such a way that would make sense to somebody who doesn't know a lot about our church.  Not much I could do when the topic that came up was schisms within the Church...).  But now I can cut back to the first story!
So, while I'm translating for the American (again, I was keeping track of a lot of things), our Korean volunteers some information (IT NEVER HAPPENED BEFORE!!! I literally did a double take once what happened dawned on me).  And, she started taking steps to make friends with our Korean members... she really loved church yesterday!
Now, back to the second story.  I apologize for the lacking translation, but he was fine with it.  Then, it just seemed natural to invite him to meet with us for the third hour.  We talk with him, and really find out that he is SUPER interested in learning more about the Book of Mormon.  We introduce the Book of Mormon to him, and he wants to read it!  I was trying so hard not to sing from sheer happiness mid lesson!  The Spirit was so strong!
And that, my dear family and friends, was the week in a nutshell.  Let's go on to some other exciting news.
I learned so much.  Transfers are coming up, and yes, I'm nervous.  I could very well be transfering.  And I've been thinking a lot about my time here in 평택. I should probably explain a little bit more...
There's a mission wide push for missionaries to consecrate themselves to the Lord - it's advice that applies to every member, really.  And I've been thinking about this idea a lot.  I haven't been able to produce great numbers - some other missions have an average of 40 lessons a week.  I'm blessed to have 10.  I haven't had a baptism yet.  A lot of other missionaries have been blessed with the opportunity to do so.
We're promised great blessing if we can consecrate all our efforts to the Lord.  But I'm realizing that I shouldn't assume that I know what blessings will follow from consecrating myself.  Think of Mormon and Moroni - the last two prophets mentioned in the Book of Mormon.  I have no doubt that they were consecrated missionaries.  Read Mormon 9:6 - Mormon knows that he has "a labor to perform whilst in this tabernacle of clay."   He teaches of faith, hope, and charity, and he explains why we need them (see Moroni 7).  Moroni labored to compile the records so that the Lamanite might learn of the truth of God, yet the Lamanites hated the Nephites that would not deny the Christ (See Moroni 1).  Both these prophets had HARD missions, and they weren't able to prevent the Nephites from destruction.  Yet, I don't think that they were unhappy.  Mormon put his hope in Eternal Life, and had faith in Jesus Christ.  Moroni worked out of charity and love.
Yes, I would love to be blessed with tons of conversions, but if not, then what?  I'm satisfied knowing that I'm giving this effort my all.  Yes, I'm not perfect, but the Lord doesn't expect immediate perfection.  He just wants immediate progression.  And everyday I learn more and more about what it means to be a good missionary (and I mean this outside of being a full-time missionary).
The question I really care about is simply this: have I done all I could in my time here to strengthen the units I've been given a responsiblity to serve?  The answer is, yes.  With what I knew, I did my best.  With what I know now, I could do much better.  What does this mean?  I have a better idea of how to use my time wisely.  It's not just about finding new people to teach, it's about finding the people who need to be strengthened, whether it be by teaching them the gospel, being a friend, or just trying to show your love.
God lives.  Never forget that.  He knows us.  We lived with Him before this life.  We can live with Him after this life.  That's my hope - to stand in the presence of God with my family and friends, and to be able to spend eternity with the people whom I have come to love whilst in this life.
I love you.
Elder Wedam

Families Can Be Together Forever

August 5, 2013
Hey family!  Friends!  Others!
It shounds like this week went super well.  I must say, I'm glad to not be at home with a crazy flooring project going on.  That looks rather stressful.  And like a lot of physical work.  All I'm gonna say is "Nananana boo boo.  I get to walk around in 90 degree weather with 50% humidity."  Small victories, right?
Well, a year has almost passed.  And what an almost year it has been.  8 transfers, 7 companions, one tricompanionship.  Training, senioring, letter writing, proselyting, weight losing, friendshipping, gospel learning... it's been one packed year.
I've learned more about who God is and what it takes to live a Christ-like life.  I'm learning more about what it takes to be an effective member missionary, and really what missionary work is (hey, by the way, it's not just going on the streets and talking at people.  It's all about relationships, and having solid, eternal friendships).  It's impossible to document everything that I think, feel, understand in one letter.  And I honestly think that all that I learned can't be put into words, but it can be seen in how I talk, write, speak, and appear.  I know I've changed.  I've grown.  But I really expect that everyone has.  A year is suprisingly short, but there's so much that can happen in it.
The days here are still similar.  There's always something new.  But as I've grown to love the Korean people, I've realized that I care more about the people I meet and have come to love than I care about being comfortable.  And, I can honestly say that I'm doing the best I know how, and everyday, I learn how to be a little bit better.
But this above all.  I know that families can be together forever.  Fun fact.  I haven't been able to sing that song all the way through during sacrament meeting - or anytime really - after primary.  It's because everytime I sing it and think about the words, the Holy Ghost testifies to me that it's true.  Families can be together forever.  And what a glorious promise that is; the promise extends beyond just blood.  We're all one eternal family - we are all God's sons and daughters, and so friendships can be eternal.  That's something that I'm grateful for; not just because of all the friends I've met here in Korea, but because of the friends I have back at home whom I already know and love (and don't think for one minute I ever forget anybody).  Why is this important?  Because it means that there is a purpose behind every relationship we've ever had, have, and will have.  Our friendships and kinships started before this life, and they will continue after.  Why?  Because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, because of His resurrection.
So why do I labor?  I labor hoping that God will grant unto me the grace to fulfill my desires.  I'm hoping that by working diligently and giving my all to the Lord that I can one day stand in God's presence with all the people whom I have come, am coming, and will come to love.
I love you all so much!  I hope your Sunday/Monday becomes well.  Until next week!
-Elder Wedam

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Relationships and Christlike qualities

July 29, 2013
Family, Friends, Loved Ones.  Anybody Else,
Well, let me just start by saying THE OTHER COMPANIONSHIP HAD TWO PEOPLE WHO WANTED TO RECEIVE BAPTISM THIS LAST WEEK!  pardon the Korean verbage.
It was a nice service.  The ENTIRE ward came (to be fair, it was right after church and a fourth sunday, which means that the ward had an after church dinner), BUT THE ENTIRE WARD CAME.  Our ward mission leader did a great job orgainizing it, the spirit was super strong, and my goodness, I WAS SO HAPPY FOR BOTH ANGELA (that's her English name), HER SON, AND THE OTHER MISSIONARIES (Elder Lion and Elder Atkin).  And, the music was beautiful, the talks were nice, AND I JUST FELT THE SPIRIT SO STRONG.
Ten points if you guess how happy (albeit stressed - baptisms in Korea are a team affair, I'm finding out) I was.  I was just happy.  Almost in tears.  Like I get whenever I sing "Families Can Be Together Forever".  Yay!
The stress of training and senior companion-ing is, well, a lot, but hey, it comes with a lot of blessings.  Yes, I'm worried about the people we teach, and I always worry about Elder Pruner and making sure that he doesn't get discouraged with learning one of the toughest languages for English speakers to learn... and to make sure that he is involved with planning and teaching and finding (there is always the temptation to just do things my way.  But then I remind myself that I have no clue what I'm actually doing, and that other people usually have better ideas than me.  And then he gives me a really good idea, or at least a start, and we change it around just a bit to work in Korea).   But let me just say, with this added stress has come an increased love for studying the scriptures, and a dramatically improved Korean reading/writing/listening ability (speaking also has improved, but not as dramatically).  Oh, and there's been a dramatic increase in the capacity to love other people.  Yeah.  It's stressful, but hey, it's well worth it.  And, I'm figuring out what I like to do to blow off stress.  Write and talk to people (I LOVE talking with our investigators who are super interested in English - they're are really good... at least I think they are, but my opinion my be slightly skewed... and sometimes I get texts that just make me so happy that I can't help but laugh).  I also love living in these four-man apartments.  I've made some of my best friends living with a lot of people all at once.  Anywho...
Nobody we are teaching came out to church, but I'm fine with that right now.  What really happened is that I learned how to build a good relationship with people.  The secret is to be interested in their interests, ask them questions, and to just be nice.  I'm also learning that an honest well-wishing goes a long way.  I love the Korean people so much.  Everything here is just so fun and new!
Misisonary work is hard, but let's be honest here, relationships are never easy (see what I did there?  Missionary work is building relationships ^^).  It's fun.  I've never been so involved with trying to show people I love them (and not just tell them).  But I've learned a lot.
Speaking of things learned, I want to share this... I've been thinking a lot about what kind of person I envision Jesus Christ to be.  Like which qualities of His stand out the most to me.  And this is what I've discovered:
1) He seeks out the one who needs His help - My favorite story from the New Testament is the story of the woman with an issue of blood (I wanna say Mark 5, but I'm not sure).  The part that stands out the most to me is that Christ wanted to seek out the woman who sought His healing, even though He was on His way to help somebody else.  I love the fact that we can rely on the Lord whenever we need Him, and He won't be too busy for us.  If we but seek Him, He will seek us.  And He will minister to us in the way that we need.  I want to be the type of person who seeks out the one who needs help.  I may not be able to much, mere man that I am, but I can try and trust that God will do what I cannot.
2) He stands up for people who need a friend - I also love the story of the woman taken in adultery (See John 8).  I imagine when the Pharisees found this woman, they harassed her.  I'm sure the entire ordeal must have been difficult for her; I imagine the Pharisees and the scribes weren't exactly the kindest to this woman.  But Jesus Christ diffuses the situation by simply stating an obvious truth... that no man is perfect.  "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone".  Then, I love the last lines.  I'll try quoting them from memory, but if they be wrong, know that I am human:
"Woman, where are thine accusers?  Hath no man condemned thee?"
"No man Lord"
"Neither do I condemn thee.  Go, and sin no more"
Not only does Christ save this woman from the judgement of religious zealots, but he doesn't pass judgement Himself and admonishes the woman to "go, and sin no more"
I imagine Christ to be a friend to the friendless.  That's somebody I would love to be.  To be a true friend, judging not, but loving.  And then inspiring my friends to be better.
I love you all so much!  I hope this week goes by smoothly!  Keep me posted on news, like people fending off grizzly bears, monsoons that rival Korean Bath Houses, and houses that look like warzones!
Until next week!
Elder Wedam

Another Week, Another Won

Enjoy Ellliott's reflections on motivation and keeping discouragement at bay.

July 21, 2013
Familia, Amigos, 이매일을 읽은 모든 분들!
Yes, it is P-Day.  Again.  And a lot of report on.
One of the benefits of being in the 서울남 선교부 is that we can go to the temple once a transfer.  Last week, I went to the temple.  It was marvelous.  Although it was small, I enjoyed it immensely.  I learned a lot, remembered a lot, and really just felt a lot.  One of the joys of the temple.
And, we have seen a lot of miracles in our district; Elder Pruner and I had 2 investigators come out to church yesterday that we weren't expecting to be there, and Elder Anderson and his companion (yes, my trainer/now district leader and his companion, Elder Hodges) had a baptism yesterday, which Elder Atkin and Elder Lion (the other companionship in our area) were able to take their soon-to-be-baptized investigator to.  Yes, that is amazing.  I'm super thrilled.
Training is going just fine.  Elder Pruner is great.  He just has a lot of fire.  He's fun, smart, and well.  He's blessed.  I'm lucky to be his companion.  And, he asks good questions.  Yesterday, he asked a good question... it was along the lines of "what keeps you motivated when you're discouraged?"
And, well, we had a super epic comp study after that.  Scriptures were flying, the spirit was pumping, and well, we came up with this answer.  At least, this was the answer I gave him:
What helped me when I first came to country was to set goals.  And then to do everything I could to accomplish them.  It didn't matter much if I actually acheived them, it just mattered that I gave it my all, because when I did, God blessed me to learn the language a lot faster.  But, it changed since then.  My foucs hasn't been to become the most knowledgable misisonary on the pennisula, nor the most fluent foreigner in Korean.  My focus has shifted to trying to become more like Jesus Christ, to really become a living example of faith, hope, and charity.  And it shifted because my own needs, my own desires, have required a change.  I'm fine with laboring everyday, giving my all, and walking away with no baptisms.  And I'm fine with it because I realize that the thing I wanted from the mission wasn't to baptize everyone I meet, but to come to know who Jesus Christ is so that everyone I meet can feel His love for them through me - that other people can feel loved even when they don't feel like they deserve it.
So, really the answer to what keeps me motivated?  It's by really having a vision of who I can be, and believing that it's not too late to live up to that potential.  And then to never lose that hope - to keep it by study, application, and becoming.  Sometimes we stumble - sometimes I stumble (or fall flat on my face), but it doesn't matter as long as I get back up again - as long as we get back up again and continue to press forward.
I love you all!  I can't wait until next week!
Elder Wedam

I really know this is God's work.

July 14, 2013
I give up on this transfer count thing... 8-1? 7-4?
Hey ya'll!
This week has been super good.  First things first, I'm training Elder Pruner.  He's a sweet guy from the Bay Area of California.  He's really nice.  Full of the Spirit and eager to work.  Reminds me of what I would have been like if I were fearless.  We get along super well.  Granted, now that the stress of last week is over, I can focus on this week.  And really focus on building up 평택.  And, if you want a play by play of last week:
We have a small pool of 5 investigators, almost 6.  But, each of them have great potential to really progress on the road to conversion.  All of them have potential to come to church next week if we just ask.  And our ward is GREAT at fellowshipping.  That's the summary.  Here's the story, starting on Monday.
Monday - we get a call from a person whom I never met before (and whose name was in our phone because she met with missionaries 1 time last year).  She says she wants to learn english, and I call her back.  After the single most awkward conversation, we have an appointment with her on Tuesday.
Tuesday - we meet with her (her name is 김정하 , Kim Jeong Ha), and it's the single worst first lesson I have ever taught.  My Korean wasn't working, and we just didn't have a solid lesson plan.  But, we still set a return appointment for Thursday.
Wednesday - she cancels Thursdays appointment.  Which was actually a blessing in disguise (it'll make more sense in a bit).  I have to go to Seoul Wednesday night for trainer/trainee orientation on Thursday morning.  I have a good talk with one of my new found friends (he was at the mission home that night too, and he transfered to a new area the next day).
Thursday - The trainer meeting goes on way longer than expected, so we wouldn't have been able to keep our appointment anyways.  We come home, grab dinner, and meet with a potential investigator (she lives near our apartment).  We have a good talk, and she opened up a lot to us... she told us about some of her trials.  And, a former calls us wanting to meet on Friday.  We can't because we literally don't have time, but we invite him to church, and he says he will.  In two weeks.  And he wants to too.
Friday - We meet with 박기철, Bak Gi Cheol.  He pays me the nicest compliment ever (the thing is, I can't really accept it.  It was along the lines of "my passion to learn about religion again is back because of meeting with Elder Wedam."  I seriously just exist and be genuine - the Spirit does everything for me).  And he's still fired up about the Book of Mormon.  He gives himself a commitment to come to church in two weeks, and invites us to his house this next week to meet his wife.  We confirm our appointment on Saturday with Scott (the husband of our potential we met with on Friday) and Kim Jeong Ha
Saturday - Scott cancels because of work up in Seoul... and it's his wife's birthday.  We make her brownies, and she and Scott were super grateful.  We are able to meet with Kim Jeong Ha with a member who just graduated from BYU Hawaii.  He invites her to church, and she timidly accepts.  Afterwards, there's a ward activity Elder Pruner and I attended, and we improved our relationship with the ward.  Then, I try confirming our Sunday appointment with our new investigator, Moon Cheong Yeol, but he isn't able to meet.  But, we have a deeper relationship now - we had a good talk.
Sunday - Kim Jeong Ha comes to church!  And our ward members took care of her.  We talked afterwards a little about baptism, and I got a semi-yes to a really soft baptismal commitment.  Which is huge for her - she's really shy.  We set up another appointment on Tuesday, and invited her to come to church the next week.  Both of which were a yes.^^
So, yeah, we've been seeing miracles abound.  I really know this is God's work.  He is more than capable of doing it Himself.  I'm just happy to be along for the ride, albeit, I'm sprinting to keep up with it.
I want to share some really neat stuff I'm learning... that missionary work is all about building and maintaining relationships.  Its about being a genuine, sincere friend, and really seeking after other people's happiness.  I truly believe that is only possible by trying to become more like Jesus Christ.  If we want to be a good friend, we need to have faith, hope, charity, patience, knowledge, and humility.  We need to seek after knowledge and seek ways to help our friends be happier.  We need to be obedient and loyal to God and to our friends.  I love Alma 5:19 and 2 Nephi 25:23.  My goal has always been to know who my Savior is, and I know that is possible through striving to be like Him.
I love you all so much!  I can't wait to hear from you again next week!
Elder Elliott Wedam