Thursday, February 14, 2013

Clean, Cold, Concerned, Comforted and Consecrated

When the sun went down and the moon came up on Sunday evening with no e-mail from Elder Wedam, the monster inside me began to stir. Turns out Lunar New Year celebrations delayed the letter by just one day. So breathe easy, Folks, and enjoy his letter!  Meanwhile, I'll gather a little more cold weather gear and other surprises for Elliott's birthday package. Have a Happy Valentine's Day! M

Hey family, friends, and other people who may be finding these Korean Chronicles a worthy read,

I apologize, I should have mentioned that my P-Day was moved this week in honor of 선랄 (my spelling may be off due to an unfortunate sound-change with the pronunciation... in any event...), or Lunar New Year.  It's the equivalent to the Korean's Christmas.  Naturally, EVERYTHING shut down.  And the streets were fairly empty... President had us (meaning the entire mission) do some deep cleaning over the weekend.  I'm pretty sure that the Korean chemicals used for cleaning may pack a stronger punch than their American counterparts.... my skin is super dried out and stuff.  But it was TOTALLY WORTH IT.  Our apartment has the "Recently Cleaned" apartment smell.  It's like new car smell, but way more worthwhile.  Why?  Because I didn't have to drop 36+ grand to get it... I only had to log 14 hours of hard work.  But yeah, it took a lot out of me.  I have never been so tired after a cleaning spell in my life (it may also have to do with the fact that our heater goes out on a regular basis... our record cold was 12 degrees Celsius.  That made for a long night of little sleep.  Never fear, we've got a system figured out.  The long underwear you sent at Christmas may be saving my life right now).  But I digress, other things to talk about ^^

So, we've heard rumors in the mission field about some things brewing in the country up north (relative to my position), and I've heard 핵실험 muttered a couple of times (Erm, nuclear testing... btw, the only reason I know this is because it shares a root with another word that means center, as in the nucleus or kernel...).  Just to put some uneasiness at ease, could somebody give me a happier spin than "war"?  I'd settle for "things will be all right," or even "don't worry, you'll probably stay in South Korea for the next year and a half."  I'm really just curious for some details.  But if worse comes to worse, Mason and I may wind up serving in Anahiem (terrible joke).  Anywho... that was the last tangent.  Okay, lie.  This is.  Mom, please email me Mason's (Elder Harvey's) emails.  I enjoyed reading them a lot.  Super cool that he met Elder Cook of the quorum of the twelve.  I must say, I'm slightly jealous.  BECAUSE THAT'S SO COOL!!!  And, Aunt Christine, if you would like to, and he would like it, please, please, please forward him my emails (or snail mail.  Whichever he prefers)

Terry and Whitney, the couch looks great, and the callings in Teacher's quorum and relief society sound absolutely awesome (I wanted to type this sentence in Courier...)!  And I'm super glad to hear that Grandpa's A-OKAY.  And that Elder Harvey's leg is doing better - that's a pretty hefty stress lifted.  Super stoked and super happy to hear all that.  PS, mom and dad, while you still try some Asian cuisine, I would recommend some Kimchi Jjiggae (김치찌깨... the spelling may be slightly off.  I still can't hear the double consonants super well yet).  It's super good when done right.  You may have to try it up in Eugene (with Aunt Jerri and Peg, maybe Cafe Seoul or Noodle Bowl or Korea House).  Maybe March 8th?  Hahahahaha, I kill me.

Switching gears, small talk, over.  This last week was super cool.  One of our investigators, 남송현 (the one with a Buddhist background), is so awesome!  He literally has no Christian background, but he understands more and more about Christianity whenever we meet him.  I was on a split with Elder Schofield (he came to my area), and we taught perhaps the single best lesson I ever have been in.  We were teaching the plan of salvation, specifically, Life's Purpose (PMG fanatics will recognize this as agency, our life on our Earth, and the Atonement).  After sharing a few scriptures and expounding a little (Moses 1:39 - God's work and His Glory is bringing to pass our immortality and eternal life; Alma 34:32 - This life is a time to prepare to meet God; 2nd Nephi 2:25 - God wants us to be happy; 2nd Nephi 2:27 - Agency; Mosiah 14:1-6 - The Atonement of Jesus Christ was for us), and clarifying some points (namely, words and pronouns that were really unfamiliar to him), he asked perhaps the single most profound question ever... "This is why it's important to believe in God, isn't it?"

The answer to that question is absolutely yes.  The Plan of Salvation does explain why it's important to believe in God.  He wants us to return to Him, and He wants us to live with Him again.  He's provided a way through His Son, Jesus Christ, and by believing in God and having faith in Jesus Christ, we start our journey back to our heavenly home.

But more important than the question he asked was what it means for him personally.  He's starting to see that the message of the restored gospel is relevant to him; that we aren't just people from our church trying to bring somebody into our congregation, but that we're inviting him to take the steps necessary to return to live with God and enjoy eternal life.  That moment of "Ah-ha" made the ENTIRE week worth it.  It goes to show that even missionaries who don't have the best handle on the language (I've said that "Yeah, I'm tasty" a couple of times instead of "Yeah, I'm cool" a few times... there's danger in going off of context alone.  But hey, progress is progress is progress) can still do something.  It's like in Alma 37:5-6 (I think, thereabouts at least).... by small and simple things, great things come to pass.  It's true.  I acknowledge that in the grand scheme of things, In the grand scheme of things, I really am small and simple.  I'm young, not super competent in speaking (a foreign language.... or English for that matter.  I joke that I speak 3/4 of a language when you add up how much Korean and English I can speak), and I have trouble understanding some of the most basic of sentences (see the "I'm tasty" insert...).  But all that aside, I've got desire and trust that God will grant unto me what He sees fit that I have, as long as I do what I can to learn.  I'm beginning to understand that I won't be able to do this without His help... learn a language, teach, and be a consecrated missionary.  I'm working hard to change my attitude about a lot of things.  Yes, I'm not perfect.  But I'm learning a lot as I go.  Yes, there are some days that I could do more, but I recognize that I'm doing my best with what I've been given and understand a few things that I can change to improve.  This becoming a consecrated missionary, consecrated servant, is a process.  It won't happen overnight.  I've learned so much already, and I've much still to learn.  It's not overwhelming, but rather exciting.  I'm excited and thrilled that I have so much I need to improve on!

I love you all so much!  Take care, and please, stay safe and healthy.

Best of weeks,
Elder Elliott Wedam

Monday, February 4, 2013

Week 3, Transfer 3, Heartbreaks and Pick-Me-Ups

 Here are a few photos for you to enjoy.  I will post a few more next week. M.  

August 7, 2012 visiting a few sites with family
members just before reporting to the MTC
P-day in Gwanju  

December 2012, Baby it's cold outside
February 4, 2013

Well, this week should prove a much better letter than last week. Really, having two grumpy old Korean men telling you to hurry up really ups the pressure on writing quickly.  Like 10-fold.  But, first things first...

This last week was a little rough.  First in-field drop.  Yesterday. Heartbreaking, really.  It makes it really hard when you really started to like somebody after the first meeting and they reject the message, hard... especially when you know that the message is an integral part of your identity.  It was a blow... a real blow.

But, there were some other really neat things this last week.  이청용 is awesome.  Last week, he said that he can already feel a difference in his life after meeting with us - his relationship with his mom is better than it was and he describes his feeling as he reads the Book of Mormon as "interesting," and saying that reading it is becoming easier and easier.  He's so good, and so nice.  I think the thing that makes me the happiest is that he's giving us a chance to explain the doctrines of the Restored Gospel.  And he's giving it a fair shot; he reads the Book of Mormon and asks questions.  He's so cool - a miracle in every sense of the word.  Side note, he met with missionaries 6 years ago, but he wasn't interested then.  The missionaries he met 6 years ago started a miracle, and I'm happy to continue it for them.  That in itself helped with the heartbreak yesterday - maybe Elder Miller and I started something that another companionship can finish.

Other difficult things - as always, the language, but hey, it'll come with time.  There are some days that I can't understand a word, and other days where I understand exactly what I need and then some. Learning this language has been probably one of the most instructive ordeals of my life.  It's not just another language I'm learning, it's really a crash course in learning how to learn and grow.  It's been a test in trusting in the Lord and that He didn't send me to South Korea to fail (the most discouraging thing I've heard this last week is that the Church in South Korea is coming to a bit of a standstill).  I'm convinced that there's somebody here who is waiting to be found, though.  I'm absolutely sure of it.  There's just some weeks I'm more sure of it than others.

Other observations... I hate alley cats.  They give all cats a bad name.  I'm pretty sure they use them for zombie sounds in movies. I've woken up early in the morning to the sound of Baron's displeased kindred being obnoxiously loud.  Boo.

I love you all so much!  Take care, be safe.  Study diligently, and I'll get back to you in a week ).  I'm also happy to field any questions people may have too!

-Love, Elder Wedam