Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Great Big Announcement!

Hey family, friends, devoted stalkers, and fan club members (ordering doesn't imply importance, fan club members).  I've got one doozy of an announcement:

So, last Thursday, we had a combined district meeting, which came with one fairly major rule change.  Mom, dad, Alisa, Nathan, Terry, and Whitney, unfortunately, this won't be super exciting for you.  But for everyone else (particularly the friends and fanclub people), this will be exciting.

Writing me fanmail is now even easier!  President announced that missionaries can receive emails from anybody AND write emails to anyone... on the conditions that emailing everyone doesn't take more than an hour each week.  That being said, I realize this may change a few things:

First, emails back home may be more personalized... I'll be sending something a little more generic in a general email, but it's going to be much shorter than before... just for the sake of keeping a blog up (thanks mom, you're the best ^^).  It'll probably include some important going ons (like announcements, noteworthy progress with investigators, or a general overview of the week), a funny story (at least one happens every week), something I learned (via studies and application), a spiritual experience, and a goal/some accounting on said goal.  And then leftover time will be spent on fan mail. Exciting, no?  I think the decrease in quantity will more than be made up in the increase of quality.  So, expect gold-stamped, seal of approval emails back home.

Second, well, I can't think of a good second change just yet, which means the "First" was highly unneccesary.  So, we'll leave it at IT'S SUPER COOL TO HEAR THAT DAVID, SHAUN, SHANE, TYSON, and STEVEN ARE GOING AIRFORCE!!!! AND THAT DAVID IS ENGAGED!!!!  Alright, time to focus on more missionary related matters.

This week was super hard.  My sickness from last week evovled into a cold and then into a sinus infection.  The infection is gone, but I've still got a stuffy nose and slightly sore throat (again, good vocab is coming out of this... I can now explain my symptoms in Korean... silver lining of the week).  In combination with Elder Kim's back (it's been killing him as of late... actually, for the last few transfers), there wasn't much of a shot of doing a ton of missionary
work on the streets (with President's approval).  To be fair, we gave it our best shot, but I was bedridden for the first half of the week, and Elder Kim wasn't able to do much after Thursday.  That being said, we did have one day when we could go out... it just wasn't planned super well. and our tracting time wound up being less than effective. Combine all of that together, it's a bit of a downer of a week... but it wasn't a total loss.  I did learn a lot (for instance, not knowing the language and trying to be proactive with ward members will leave you either being the funniest, albeit oddest, missionary ever), and despite all of last week's hardship, I'm doing relatively fine right now.

On Saturday, we had a servive project... picking up trash along the river bike path near the church.  Before hand, a few members were taking a heavy bag out of a car, and anxious to use my becoming less-an-less limited Korean skills, I asked if I could help.  The members, grateful, handed me the bag and jokingly said, "It's heavy, right?"  I agreed.... but then what ensued was probably the single most epic game of charades played in South Korea.  All I heard was 찹기, which I had no idea what it meant, but the members where pinching their index finger and thumb together.  Thinking I understood, I put the bag on the ground and picked it up in the same manner (in hindsight, it was a really odd request... I couldn't, for the life of me, figure out why they wanted me to carry the bag in such a manner, especially if it was heavy).  Smiling and carrying the bag in this manner, I walked away.  When I got to the door, I realized that the bag contained giant tongs for picking up trash.  It wasn't until I got into the chapel that I realized just what happened (I should mention, I left the bag by the front door of the church).  Turns out that 찹기 means tongs in Korean.  And, I lack some charades skills.  It made me laugh, though.

Our members in 신풍 are super great.  There's one, Brother 김이천 (my spelling may be off... a lot of consonants still sound similar) who we visit every sunday in the hospital (or more accurately, we visit his mom with him), and we just talk.  He's super good at English and wants to go to law school in the states, so we just talk about law, gospel, and other things (it's almost for certain, I want to go to law school after undergrad).  Talking with him has helped me sort out a few things (along with reading the Ensign from last march's general conference).  Among which is that I just always need to try, and as long as I'm working towards keeping the commandment of loving God and loving my neighbors as best as I can, Jesus Christ will understand... it doesn't matter if I don't say things exactly perfectly, it just matters that I try.  It doesn't matter if my circumstances are less than ideal for tracting, it just matters that I open my mouth.  It doesn't matter if I'm not just perfectly obedient just yet, it just matters that I am as obedient as I know how to be... to put it best, it matters if I'm as true and faithful as I possibly can be with what talents God has given me.

Anyways, I love you all!  My hour is up, but until next week!

Elder Wedam

If you would like to e-mail Elder Wedam, please contact his me (his mom) for his e-mail address. I feel so happy about this news because I know it will allow so many to easily and inexpensively write to Elliott. He loves hearing from you!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

One of Those Tough Weeks, Ya Know?

Seems like Elliott has had a healthy dose of the very good along with some frustrations this week. Life, right?  We have to have the bitter to appreciate the sweet.  Hope your week is sweet!  M

March 11, 2013

Hey family, friends, devoted stalkers and other friendly types,

Well, again, I apologize about the super lame email last week.  I'll explain the canker sore bit... got one on the lower lip, outside.  The next day, the blister burst... I've been nursing a rather lame scab ever since.  Terribly inconvenient, but hey, it makes for good vocab practice when you field the question, "what happened to your lip" 5 times a day.  Words and phrases that I learned include, but are not limited to cold sore, fighting while tracting, lips, and somebody didn't make it home that night.  Anyways, I think it was stress induced.  You can only take so much not being able to pronounce a certain word (ironically, it's the equivalent to "bother" as in "what's bothering you") and have your house (with 2 natives and one missionary who returns home in 6 months) either get a little frustrated or tease you for the heavy American accent (yeah, I have trouble wrapping my head around that concept too).  Anyways, it's just been one of those weeks.  Today hopefully being the climax...  I'll explain in the next paragraph:

Finding a good place to email is super hard in South Korea.... internet cafes are few and far between, and public use computers (like in a library or a job search building) are really unreliable (because the institution may be closed or somebody cracking down hard on the rules).  So, we couldn't use the place we've been using for the past month, nor could we use the library (the computer part was closed), so that resorted to internet cafes.  The first one we went to... the computer had a virus, and I already ordered a drink so that I could use the computer guilt free.  Oh, here's the kicker.  Sometimes stuff under the non-coffee menu is actually coffee...  So, that was a nasty shock and a grand waste of 5 bucks...  Last, I think I'm coming down with something; I'm under the weather, and my goodness, I've been running on reserve energy for the last week (focus is completely shot right now... huzzah?)

So, now that I got the worst part of the week taken care of, let's move on to some happier things.  Like what went right.

I got the birthday package on Tuesday, and waited until Friday to open it.  It was awesome.  I love the slippers, candy, and everything that was included (like the 1G photo card from 2008-2009.... it put a lot of things in perspective.... high school until now =D), and the letters and card .  All in all, the birthday was super special.  My district made dinner for the entire district, and the ward mission leader bought me a cake.  IT was nice - a really good missionary birthday.  I was singing I was so happy.  Off-key, but singing nevertheless.

And yesterday was SUPER good.  We had stake priesthood conference... put a lot of things about missionary work in South Korea in perspective (note, this following translation is from a ward member who's pretty decent at English... again, this last week was an off week - not for the lack of spiritual experiences or growth, but just a lack of language and the stupid cold sore/email/getting sick thing):  South Korea needs consecrated missionaries and I need to be working harder to consecrate myself to this work.  I'd be lying if I said that I was a perfect missionary.  I do everything that I can to be obedient, and I've been working hard to change my attitude about tracting (oh, great story coming up) - let's be honest, referrals are a way more effective way to find people.  And tracting has just been ho-hum.

It still hasn't completely stuck, but I've been privileged to see just how many opportunities I have to talk to people (example, Elder Kim's back is a bit out of whack, so we have to go to the hospital once a week or sometimes have to work more out of the area book).  Aight, my parenthesis are a bit weird, that last little bit was a background, here's the example.  When we went to the hospital last week, I counted about 14 opportunities to talk to people on the busses, at the bus stops, or in the waiting rooms.... and it would have been all-natural, not chasing people down style of tracting.  And, then I realized that as a missionary, I've got this great opportunity to just talk to people and make friends and love people for more than just being a number.

I realize I didn't do that justice (remember, I'm sick, tired, and slightly out of whack from this morning).  Hopefully this next bit will make it make more sense.  Our mission has a standard of excellence of talking to 20 people each day... from Elder Holland.  Now, when I first heard this standard, I thought it was just 20 people a day, and end.  But, there's a good qualifier on that standard that I never realized until last week.... it's talking to 20 people OUTSIDE of finding activities.  That means just on the street as we're going from appointment to appointment.  On busses, at bus stops, at crosswalks, in waiting rooms, wherever.  The trick is to find an excuse TO TALK to somebody, not to find an excuse TO NOT TALK to them.  The result?  I had perhaps the single most fun tracting experience a few days ago... all based on the fact that the weather was warm and that I can't pronounce a good majority of words correct (Heavy American Accent for the kill ^^)

Next, I realized I haven't doing my part in the wards to be part of the ward, not just a missionary in the ward.  Yesterday, in the course of 2 hours, one of our members became a real person, and not just a photo and a record in the member book.  Yes, I really want to start focussing on members and getting to know members (it's a shame that it took me 6 months to figure this one out... lesson learned).  And it's giving me new direction in how I want to do missionary work and what type of missionary I want to be.  It's not just going out and standing on soapboxes; it's going out and being a real person and then inviting these new friends to be part of something so magnificent.

Anyways, I got to go.  I hope this week's email is better than last weeks.  Sorry about the 1 paragraph pessimism at the beginning.  This week, as hard as it's been, has been a really good learning experience.  I love you all.  Thanks so much for the updates!  I hope Spring Break is fun!  CIAO

Elder Wedam

Transfer 4, Week !

Elder Wedam titled this e-mail "Of Canker Sores and New Companions." I am not sure why.  It is apparent that he has been reading his mail from home & family, though! I learned a few things about our family from Elliott's letter. Ha!

March 4, 2013

Hey Family, I apologize for the lateness of this letter... to be fair, we had a zone-ish activity today.  Soccer and Ultimate Frisbee.  It was fun, I got to see Elder Anderson again today. 

I enjoyed the emails this week.  Whitney,  I enjoyed your advice on the little things of missionary work.  I'll admit, I love planning right now.  The days when we had a plan and stuck to it were the most productive... and the days when I actually have set language goals and tasks/ study goals and tasks are the most productive study days (my study programs have experienced a slight hiccup... I blame transfer week.  It'll pick up in a bit).  Oh yeah, and super good work on reading through Les Miserables (and you'd be interested to know that the English Studies are paying off big here in South Korea.  A lot of our investigators have read translated works written by big name English authors... like the Great Gatsby and The Crucible).  And Terry, campouts and mutual are pretty legit.  I never realized how awesome scouts was.  The Young Men's President and I were talking (in English.  He's fluent.... served in Anaheim.  Elder Harvey, sounds like you are going to have some pretty sick connections from the mission field), and he said that the whole point of mutual is to get some growth in the youth.... Scouts definitely helped with that.  Yeah, I can honestly say that BSA is a pretty legit program.  And I'm super happy to hear about the bread snobbery.  Good bread is good.  I've had homemade bread once while in South Korea... it was good.

Alisa, sounds like you're having a good time in Klamath... celebrating birthdays, bearing testimonies, and reading with Vera.   BTW, I think I can get pictures via email, I haven't read anything in the white handbook or the mission rulebook that says otherwise.  If I find something, I'll let you know (so send me pictures of das ultrasound, please).  

Mom and dad, curling sounds like a blast.  I enjoyed hearing of the escapades of moving said stone without toppling over.  And mom, there's no way I would have placed in the YSA bake-off; I'm out of practice on baking.  I've only recently started cooking meals again (and mom, thanks for teaching my how to cook creatively.  I can honestly say that meals have had infinitely more variety - and my Korean has improved by asking Elder 김일수 to do certain tasks in the kitchen.  Oh, fun fact, I'll be trying my hand at 김치지깨 this week).  Dad, I take it the State of the Union address was a little doom and gloom?  As long as there weren't any forecasts of nuclear war, I'm totally cool with it.  If there were, missionary attire may very well become HazMat suits, and an umbrella (why?  to keep the rain off and preserve the HazMat suit.  See, already thinking one step ahead =P).

And before I forget... I haven't received said package this past week.  It'll come though.  It'll come.  I hope.  I'll thank you all in advance for the gifts that you sent.  And you'll all get a thank-you letter at some point.  Maybe not for another month or two, but it'll come.  Promise.

So, this transfer.  It's a little rough with a native Korean speaker... only because of the language barrier.  But Elder 김일수 has a pretty good idea of my language ability and works around it.  He's super nice, super hard-working, and a peacemaker at heart.  I love him - he's already helped me so much with a lot of things, and he did it merely by being a good example.  He's super good

Alright, I hate to send this lame of an email, but the place where we're writing is about to close.... I'm super sorry - I hope you can glean more about my week from the long part about your emails.

I'm doing good, and gaining more understanding of what's actually important.  I've got a desire to be a good missionary, and I know what I have to do next to become the missionary and have the mission I know I can have.

The church is true, don't ever forget that.  The Book of Mormon teaches us so much.  It's been fun rereading some passages and realizing how much I actually missed the last go-around.

I love you all so much, have a good week, and thank you for being so awesome!

-Elder Wedam

Sunday, March 3, 2013

A Little Tough to Stomach

So sorry! I didn't realize I hadn't posted on the blog in a while. I have forwarded these e-mails via Dear Elder to my nephew in the MTC and my mind must have thought I had already updated the blog.  Well this should catch you up on Elliott's news.  We expect another e-mail late tonight, so check back tomorrow! Love, M

February 24, 2013

Hey family.  And friends.  Devoted stalkers.  Fan club.  And others.

Great hearing from everyone this week!  Alisa, Nathan, and Vera, Newport sounded like a blast.  I enjoyed hearing from all three of you!  And I appreciated the interpretation thereof.  It made me laugh.  Out loud.  Loudly.  That last one may have been a bit redundant ^^.  And Terry and Whitney, I'm excited to hear about your forthcoming bike-capades/ missionary works going on in Arizona!  I always love hearing from you each week, and I was super sad last week when I didn't get an update.  Life sounds super exciting back on the Western Front (Hemmingway had it all wrong, the Western Front is far from All Quiet).

Mom and dad, thanks for the updates on the extended family too.  Seriously, it makes me super happy to hear about how everything is working out.  It's a testament that God does take care of us.  I'm also super STOKED to hear about curling.  I eagerly await to hear about it next week!

I've got a great story this week.  I think it rivals Nathan's "liver-and-onions" story.
You know how I said that Koreans feed missionaries a buffet of food whenever we visit?  And there's this hope and mild expectation that missionaries will eat it all?  Good.  This is the foundation of the story.
We had a dinner appointment last Friday night at a member's restaurant.  This member was a fairly renowned chef, but has since scaled back to spend more time with his family.  He now runs a pretty small street-food restaurant; food that is high in calorie, high in fat, and it's all super delicious (순대 is a little tougher to handle.  I'm not a huge fan of blood sausage.  And pig liver - at least I think it was pig liver - is a little tough to stomach).  Anywho, I was doing good up until the end (I had two other meals earlier that day - with investigators), and then I started slowing down.  I simply announced that I couldn't eat another bite, and the missionaries kept pressuring me to eat.  Giving into peer pressure, I ate, and then I just couldn't stomach anymore.  Yeah, I threw up in the middle of a restaurant right after eating the meal in front of the owner.  I wanted to just curl up and hide under a rock... I felt so bad.  I apologized... I had no idea what else I could have done after the fact.  It's evolved into a joke now.  I understand what my limits to eating are, and I have new-found confidence that comes realizing that I can't do anything much more embarrassing that that. But seriously, I'm not super traumatized by it anymore.  It's just funny to think about now - the entire situation was just so weird.  Anyways, enough talk about this... just thought I'd share the funniest thing from this last week ^^

Oh, other big news... we found out who the new Korea Daejeon Mission President will be come July, and come July, a new mission will be opening up in Korea.  Check out the Church News for more info.  Super stoked... there's a possibility that I could be serving in a different mission that what I set out for (we've heard rumors on how the change-over will take place.  I'll maintain that I won't really know until July rolls around, but still, it's exciting).

Finally, transfers.  I'll be in 수원 still, but I'll be with a new companion.  Elder 김일수.  As you may have guessed, he's native.  Super nice missionary; he works hard and knows how to make people feel good about themselves.  He's not super good at English, but hey, it'll be a good opportunity to learn Korean and to work hard.  I'm excited ^^

I think that covers all the temporal things, let's get on to the good stuff!

This last week has been most edifying.  My new study plan for personal study has been working a little bit.  I really like having some questions I can think about during the course of the day (albeit, somewhat superficially, but it's more than it was before).  It's made a difference in my attitude throughout the day; it makes it easier to focus on being a missionary and thinking about the gospel and my investigator's needs.  Some things will change around, but it's a start.  This plan to take personal study with me throughout the day will work - it just needs to go through some refining.  And it won't ever be a perfect system, but it will become more effective as I work to figure out how to keep me more focused on my purpose throughout the day.  It's one of things I'm trying to do to have the companionship of the Spirit.

Speaking of which, I'm beginning to realize just how important the Spirit is when I teach.  Honestly, I'm craving to teach through the Spirit.  The effect that it has on people is amazing; there's nothing more rewarding that seeing the fruits of the Spirit, knowing that somebody has stronger faith in Christ and that you were a tool in the Lord's hands to bring it to pass.

I'm working to develop my faith and self-confidence, and all the while, trying to be humble.  It's been hard, I don't think of myself as anybody particularly special, but I know that the Lord has given me talents... and has prepared me for South Korea in ways I don't yet realize.  This missionary experience has been really good for me thus far.  It's helping me do things I've needed to do for a while ^^  PS, I love Alma 44:4.  It's great!

I love you all so much!  I hope your week is wonderful!  Stay healthy, be productive, and work hard!

Elder Wedam

The Heater Works again!

February 17, 2013
Heya family, friends, and other members of my own personal fan club!

This last week has been really good.  Our heater works.  Again.  Like it should be doing.  The consequence:  I've been sleeping a full 8 hours every night (a vast improvement from the 2 solid hours and 6 really perturbed sleep.  Just saying).  And, I'm way less tired and able to focus more in lessons (shocker, I know).  It's been nice.

Mom and dad... BTW, thanks for the updates and everything.  I feel significantly better about the 핵실험 going on up north.  It's true, however it plays out, it plays out.  The only thing I can do is just roll with whatever Heavenly Father sees fit and take the opportunity to learn and grow from it.  And that's one of the great things I've learned from serving thus far.  Just learn and grow from your circumstances, regardless of how difficult or impossible they may seem.  It's been nice just buckling up and learning how to learn.  I think UO v 2.0 will be much more productive than round 1.  PS, I know it's a little early to be thinking about it, but I really do want to do a double major.  Linguistics has crossed my mind, and so has computer science (but this idea will be explored more in-depth in about a year and a few months). 

Apart from the heater, I redesigned how I do studies.  And I think it's for the best (how can it not be.  It's the inspiration that came at church - which ironically had nothing to do with the talks or topics at church).  Basically, the thought came into my mind about how to make my studies last the entire day and not just for the two-and-a-half hours in the morning.  I've already got a system for language study (which, is being modified... language study v X.0 will be a vast improvement on v (X-1).0 - Elder Harvery, don't be afraid to modify and change up how you study every so often.  Chapter 7 in PMG is a gold mine for this), but I want a system that will help me think about what I studied in the morning.

Let me clarify real fast:
Studying roots in Korean has really helped me think about vocab and Korean throughout the day.  It's helped me pay more attention to what people are saying and to make connections to other words.  The key is to review, connect, take notes, and ask questions.  And it happens after logging in a good effort to have enough to do so.  I want to apply the same principles to my personal gospel study... throughout the day, I want to review what I studied, connect it to other things I've studied, to take notes as I make connections, and to be able to have a deep and abiding curiosity to ask questions that will help me learn or to solidify understanding.
What I've come up with... utilize the scripture bag for all it's worth and to bring along a travel size notebook for impressions and notes throughout the day.  During the course of the day, I want to review my notes, and ultimately, be able to present and organize my thoughts in a study journal.  Yeah, I realize it may not be the most in-depth plan, but, it takes time to develop.

That's another really important thing I've learned: to not be afraid to experiment.  Very rarely have I come up with a plan that was perfect at first.  It takes time, evaluation, and revision to develop a system that works for studying.  I'm starting to like having a scratch pad on hand to put all my thoughts down and organize them a little later.  In a few months, things may change.  I'll see how I like what I'm doing, figure out what I want to change, and then to change it.  And then after a little bit, evaluate, revise, and change again.  It's exciting.  I'm super stoked to see how it develops.  I'm hoping by doing this and focusing my thoughts, I'll be able to consecrate myself just a little more to missionary work.

I love every minute in South Korea.  It's a blast.  The people are super nice, the food is good, and the work is hard (I wouldn't have it any other way.  I like nice people, good food, and a challenge.  That's my idea of a good Friday night).  Yeah, there are some days where I'm super discouraged (some people aren't nearly as pleasant, and rather than say it, they show it by shunning you hard.  I had a man turn his head away from me - a full 180 degrees from my face - as he walked by me.  It seemed super uncomfortable to walk that way.  His choice, though), but then there are some days when you investigator just gets it and you can see it in their countenance.

I love you all, and I love hearing from you.  Mom, I will try to be more diligent in my picture taking.  It's something I would like to do for myself (is it bad that I have some selfish desire to do that?  I don't think so... but if it is, I'll change).  And I'd love to get the SD card in the birthday package.  I'm working on the 32 gig right now, so whenever won't be too late.  Glad to hear you got the letters though.  I hope you enjoyed them as much as I did.  And the terribly out-of-date info on them. Makes me appreciate email so much more.

Elder Wedam