I just snagged a few words from Elliott's e-mail to create this title. It's a good read! Have a great day! M
January 14, 2013
Quite a bit to talk about in this email. This last week has been crazy. And I mean that in the super good way ^^
First off, sorry that this is coming a little later - we have two missionaries going back home this transfer (they fought a good fight and are returning with honor), and today is the day we were getting transfer calls. Thought I'd give you all more up-to-date information. Considerate, right? Anyways, I'll be in Suwon for the next six weeks at least (I'm feeling fairly confident about this too - remember how I said there were 7 elders coming at the end of the transfer? Yep, there's another three-some in the country, and I probably won't have an emergency transfer in three weeks). I'm now sitting at a nice 3 different comps in field and starting my 3rd transfer. I'm still averaging a new comp a transfer, but at least it's a nice ratio, right? Elder Miller and I are still together, and he's a district leader now... Elder Campbell is going home (he's one of the two aforementioned missionaries... and he was the our District Leader), and we have a native, Elder Kim Il-Soo, coming in to take his spot (fun fact, Elder Kim was the assistant zone leader. He's good at English, and he loves to help missionaries with Korean. I'm pretty happy about that ^^). So, to summarize, our house goes as follows: Elder Miller, me, Elder Paskett, Elder Kim. Yeah, that's the super exciting stuff about transfers.
Secondly, great stories. I've seen some super awesome miracles this past week. We found 4 new investigators who we can meet regularly, we managed to get 2 of them progressing, and we walked away with 1 baptismal date. I'd be lying if I said the first half of the week wasn't miserable, cold, and just plain hard. The second half, however, really picked up. Quick story about our baptismal date... we were heading to church yesterday morning, and we saw this man (who incidentally looks like Uncle Jack... sort of. Except Korean), and he looked like he wanted to talk to us. We started talking with him, and the conversation went sort of like this:
"Are you going to (I can't remember the name of the church)?"
"No, we're missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints."
"Oh, I met missionaries like you before. When's your worship service?"
"Right now. Do you want to come?"
"No, that's okay. I just want to drink right now."
"Alright then. Can we call you once to see if you have interest in our message."
"No, that's okay."
"Then can we give you are number, and if you have interest, will you call us?"
So we give him our name card, 명험, and we don't think anything of it. Nobody ever calls off of them (so the rumors go - I've had quite a few calls off of them. True story). Then, Elder Miller got two phone calls from this random number during Sacrament meeting... he doesn't answer but calls back before Gospel Principles, and it's this guy we met. But there wasn't a ton of talk about anything super serious - just fielding a few questions. Then come Priesthood. We get a call with like 20 minutes left in Elders' Quorum... it's the same guy (his name is Choi Sang Seop... 최상섭), and he wants to meet. ASAP. He told us he'd be at the church in 10 minutes... so we go and meet him in front of the Church, bring him inside, and Elder Miller explains that our meetings our still in session, but if he wants to see the chapel, we could go and be in the last part of High Priests' Group. Choi Sang Seop wants to, and long story short (here, this means "what transpired isn't mine to tell over email," on grounds that it was most definitely his spiritual experience), we wind up at his house, teaching him about the Book of Mormon, inviting him to be baptized on February 24, and promising that through Christ's Atonement, he can overcome his vices and get his life back on track. I must say, I wasn't expecting that to happen so quickly... but it was a great end to an amazing week (or, a good start for an awesome week).
Then, our other investigators are pretty aight. We've got one who's 27 (Korean Age), and wants to learn English. And I think he has gospel interest - he sometimes speaks English to us in lessons, but I don't think it's for extra practice, but because he wants me to understand what he's saying (because the things he's said in English were super important... and still not mine to tell), but it's helped me see just how much the gospel can help anyone: both the sin-sick soul and the son who may be seeking the answers to where we came from, why we're here, and where are we going. It's also helped me remember that everyone - Americans, Koreans... anybody and everybody - has had experiences that have prepared them. Experiences that have softened their hearts enough to want to listen to our message. It's been a real faith-building experience - a prayer to find somebody who is prepared to hear the gospel goes a long way, or a plea to help me learn the language becomes an opportunity to speak to somebody on the street who knows enough English that I can, with some effort, communicate. It's been nice, and it's been helping me realize that missionary work in South Korea isn't just possible, but it's fun.
I'm starting to learn the value of having a good attitude and putting things into perspective. I may not be fluent, or even halfway decent, at Korean, but I can catch the gist of what's being said (when people don't talk to me directly), and can teach (with a ton of preparation) in Korean. And with a little warm-up, I can communicate and share some simple experiences with natives. And this is at the end of my second transfer (Elder Campbell had a pretty sick analogy... missionaries who were at the MTC for 12 weeks have 16 transfers in-field... and there are 16 hours in the missionary's day. So, each transfer is like an hour, and each week is 10 minutes. Right now, I'm halfway through personal study). So, compared to where I was when I first arrived, I'm making progress... it's like what mom told me - if you take two steps forward and take one step back, you're still 1 step farther than you were. Progress is indeed progress. And little by little is how we improve.
I've decided that if I spend the next 2 years fighting tooth and nail to learn this language, I'm totally fine with that. Last week, I realized that a lot of things have come easy to me in the past, but learning a new language isn't one of those things. It's hard, but you know, it's rewarding. It's helping me build an empathy that I didn't have before, or at least one that wasn't super well developed. It extends deeper than, "be nice to people learning your native language;" it's more of, "be patient with other people as they strive to overcome their own difficulties and challenges, whether they be physical, mental, or spiritual." It's been a blast - relying on grace to help me accomplish the work the Lord needs me to accomplish, and knowing that it won't come easily always, but it will mold me into something better than I was. It's not just working towards meeting goals, but working to become the person that Heavenly Father knows we can become - in other words, it's about living up to your full-potential.
I love you all so much! I pray for you daily, and I'm grateful for your prayers in behalf of me. I really appreciate them - there's strength in knowing that you have a fan-base the whole world round determined to see you succeed.
Ciao! Until next week!