Thursday, April 25, 2013

Of Investigators and Attempts to Meet Less Active Members

I must ask Elliott if he and his companion inadvertently invited a dead person to church activities(see #4 below). Hope this lovely season inspires you to live with a ready smile and a spring in your step. M

April 22, 2013

가족, 친구, fanclub members, devoted stalkers, and former 동반자

This last week has been SO DARN GOOD.

Let me qualify.  We still have no investigators (at least officially), and our days still compose of walking (a ton.  I may go for the Olympic Speed Walking Team in 3 years).  But what a week.  I've got four really sick things to report on!

1) We have a potential investigator who isn't an investigator yet because we weren't able to set up a specific return appointment with him.  Due to midterms.  He has a TON of English interest, but seemed alright with our 30/30 program (30 English, 30 Gospel in Korean). He's a college student - same age as me (big deal in South Korea. We're actually friends!).  Studies the equivalent of BioChemistry (and he takes 2 of his classes in straight English at his University.  He's a stud).  He called off an English Flyer (one of two we had permission to post last week).  I about cried of sheer happiness when he texted us.

2)  Another potential investigator.  We set up an appointment with him, but we didn't teach him anything when we met him on the street. Saturday at three.  Again, English interest, but I ain't going to complain.  It means that I'll be able to explain some stuff in English when I have no clue how to say it in Korean.  Boom.  He's also a college student, looking for a job.  Super nice.  Needless to say, when he wanted to meet, I about cried of happiness again (Last night... sunday was a wildly emotional day)

3)  We've been doing a ton of less active work recently (mostly updating the ward directory... something that hasn't been done for who knows how long), and have been finding some less actives.  One of the less actives we've been trying to work with was home (at least his less active sister was and his nonmember mother)... this was attempt number four at trying to contact him.  So, progress ^^ Never give up, right?

4)  And related to 3... we confirmed another address on our CMIS as a less active who lives at the address we had.  We only were able to meet with his older brother, who either told us that his younger brother was dead, or that he would give his younger brother our message (to give and to die are very similar in the past tesne.  just saying).  We'll be running by today to clear up any confusion I may have and to invite them to a few church activities.  All very exciting.

And about our talks yesterday.  I didn't deliver it exactly how I imagined (to be fair, our ward attendance yesterday was 93), but I said everything I wanted to say.  And I memorized the talk I gave. So, boom.  People said it was good.  I just need to apologize less. And one of the ward members offered me good council on what NOT to say while giving a talk (반말, 요).  Cool.  So, it was a good church meeting yesterday.  Sunday school was sick (I could go with the YSA yesterday. We've no investigators at church who stay for sunday school).  It was all about the law of consecration.  Interesting too, because Elder Benson and I have been studying the concept of consecrating ourselves unto the Lord.  So, I've been reviewing my notes.  ^^

It's been exciting to hear about going ons in life.  Whitney, the Korean spelling of your new-found favorite baseball player is 현진류 or 현진려.  I would opt for the first though.  I haven't seen any Koreans with 려 in their names... but I've seen 류 (In case you're curious).

Anyways, interjection over.

I love you all so much.  The church is true.  The temple is great - I haven't had an opportunity to go yet here (If I switch to Seoul South though...).  And the Book of Mormon is the word of God.  I know that as we read it, we can find the answers to all of our problems!

Take care, and have a great week!

Elder Elliott Wedam

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Darkness to Light

Hopefully some news from Elliott will brighten your day.  So sorry to have neglected these posts until now.  Thank you so very much for all the support you give to him as he serves in South Korea.

Week three of Transfer 5. General Conference was awesome!
April 15, 2013

So family, friends, devoted stalkers, fanclub members, former companions, and all else who may read these blog emails... (I'm sure there will be another group in the near future?)

General conference was amazing.  First, quick sidenote to explain where I'm going with this:

Serving in Korea thus far has taught me so many things, one of which being that attitude affects everything.  The work is hard, and down-right discouraging sometimes, especially when you don't have investigators to teach and the people you talk to on the street aren't  always the friendliest (which I may change tactics from straight street contacting and information gathering to working with less actives and part member families... more info later ^^).  To illustrate, I'll share an experience from last Wednesday (I promise, there's a happy moral to all of this)

That day, Elder Benson and I were trying to visit a less active member (최문용).  We decided to walk (a forty-five minute walk) and talk with everyone along the way (we were out of travel money AND there's usually more people on the street than on busses).  However, everyone I talked to asked me, "Why are you even talking to me."  Obviously, I answered honestly, "I'm a missionary from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints."  Usually, this ended with, "I'm not interested."  Which is totally fine (albeit, when you're asked "Why" 7 times in a row, it's difficult to be patient always). but then came the eighth man I talked to.  I asked him where he was going, to which he retorted, "Where are you going?"  I answered, "To our friend's  house." Then, came, in menancing tones, "Then get to your friend's house and don't talk to me."  Ouch.  That sort of sent me into a funk. After a bit, Elder Benson shared a wonderful scripture with me. Doctrine and Covenants 122.. which verses, I can't remember.  But paraphrased, it reads: If all the powers of Earth, Hell, and Darkness were to combine against you, remember that all these things are for your own good, and that you will be better off.

Cool, changed my attitude for the day (and, in a seemingly symbolic manner, the weather changed from dark and dreary to sunny and bright). We (Elder Benson) managed to get contact info for 2 potential investigators, and lifted me out of probably the single most unfortunate funk I've found myself in.

Some people (more as of late) still aren't the friendliest all the time, but hey, that's totally fine.  I know I'm working with what I know how to do and trying to think about how to get better.  Yes, it's hard, it'd draining (walking 8 hours every day kills you), and it's spiritually demanding (yay personal study/awesome opportunities to consecrate myself to the Lord each day).

The tie into conference, and my new favorite lines come from President Uchtdorff's talk:
"Darkness cannot exist in the presence of light"

Powerful words.  We need to work hard to allow the light of the gospel and the light of Jesus Christ fill our lives, and when we do, there is no darkness.  There is no despair.  There is no reason to doubt and fear.  It's faith, hope, and charity through and through.  Our attitudes and outlooks change everything.

Oh, and next week, our bishop asked Elder Benson and I to give a talk in sacrament... about temple work!  I'm super stoked.  First talk outside of introductions that I get to give at church... in Korean ^^

The church is true.  We are blessed to have a living prophet and apostles to guide us and lead the Church.  The gospel is the way to obtain the Peace of Jesus Christ - a happiness that can't be dimmed by the storms of life.  Every day, I can feel God supporting me, and I'm grateful for all your prayers on my, my companions, and all the missionaries's behalf.  The Book of Mormon is the Word of God.  Read it, treasure it, apply it.  And I promise that as you read, treasure, and apply, you will feel that it's the word of God.

Until next week!
Elder Elliott Wedam

Working hard and loving it!

Week 2 of this, the 5th transfer.
April 8, 2013
What a crazy week, everyone.  What a week!

This has been a week of miracles.  Elder Benson (within 5 relations of President Ezra Taft Benson... I think I explained relations last week), is a great example.  He has a great motivation to work, and it's rubbing off on me.  PS.  I love tracting now.  I don't even care when I get rejected because I LOVE TALKING WITH PEOPLE (and only understanding half of what's said to me.  Sounds like a college class, right?)

This last week, I have seen some SUPER sick miracles.  No investigators still, but hey, that's aight.  As long as I fall into the habit of talking with everyone, I can't complain.  But, I have literally seen people's attitudes change in front of my eyes... whether it be asking for a referal (and seeing somebody evaluate what Christ means to them), or by asking somebody about their family (to which they want to hear more about the message of the Restored Gospel)... it's all a miracle.  Yeah, there were some nasties this last week, but I'm not offended by them in the slightest.  I actually love waking up, talking with people, and figuring out where to work the next day.  Booyah!

Oh, yesterday I bore my testimony at church.  IT was super simple (like four sentences long), but the words flowed out, and I could feel the Spirit helping me testify.  I'm realizing I don't need to be a fancy speaker to be an effective speaker.  I just need faith and to have a sincere desire to invite other people to learn about our church.

Yesh, missionary work is tough.  It's slightly discouraging.  But it's fun.  Speaking of which, best rejection story yet: I was getting off the bus and started talking with this man who was walking the same direction as us.  Here's the conversation, translated:

Me: "Is there somewhere you're going?"
Him:  "Yeah, but it's far away  Where are you going?"

*Break in the story.  At this point, I was super happy; people never really ask me where I'm going, and it makes it so much easier to have a conversation when they ask you a question.  Time in*

Me: "Yeah, Emart."
Him: "Oh, I don't know where that is, sorry I can't help you."
Me: "I know where it is, you just take a -"
Him:  "Anyways, have a nice day!  Good luck finding Emart!"

Yeah, not sure what just happened there.  I laughed.  It was funny. Really funny.  Sometimes, this white skin of mine is a curse when communicating... people just assume that I don't know what I'm actually saying.  It's made for the best conversations (albeit, one sided) yet.

I'm glad to hear about the travels up north and that the family is doing super well.  On all fronts.  Vera sounds cute.  I'll try to compete with Brian for favorite uncle.  While we're on this topic, is there anything you'd like from South Korea?  I'll try to hunt stuff down, but it may take some time, considering that Korea is a big place, and I only get 1 day a week to try and find  things.  Just sayin...

Aight, back to missionary theme.

I love being out here.  It's hard work staying spiritually uplifted and fed.  I'm having a whole new appreciation for scripture study and what it means to ponder the words of life.  I know the church is true. I love the Book of Mormon, and I know that it's the word of God.  God lives.  He loves us.  And He is absolutely in control, for the Earth truly is His footstool.

I love you all, and I say all these things, in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

-Elder Elliott Wedam

Monday, April 1, 2013

Easter in Korea

I especially love the sweet testimony Elliott bears in this Easter e-mail. 

April 1, 2013
Well family, friends, stalkers, devoted fan club members, and former companions,

Super sad to hear about Baron... he was a super cool cat.  I'm sad to hear that I won't be returning to any pets back home... super sad. But, I'm glad that you all had a great time down in Arizona.  It sounds like a blast!  Shopping, food, and waterparks!  Super neat! And glad to hear that Easter was/is good.I totally didn't realize yesterday was Easter... it's not as heralded in South Korea as it is in the States... my only hint were the hymns at church, and the Sacrament talks.  Whoops.  But I had a good easter.  I actually got the gist of the topics yesterday, even able to pick out a few lines (we had talks on obedience, friends and fellowshipping, and the resurrection)/  Sunday school was fun too - we had one eternal investigator show up, and he's still in high school, so we attended the youth's sunday school.  I'm not sure what the topic was, but I can tell you that we were asked, "What parables did Christ teach with in the New Testament.... and which one is about faith"... the teacher was dropping mad hints about the mustard seed parable (which I have no idea how to say mustard seed in Korean... I have it written down somewhere.  Just need to study it), and then she asked us what our thoughts were on repentance, forgiveness, and the resurrection.  All in all, I was super happy to finally be able to participate in a church class.  Finally, priesthood and relief society was combined... all about attending the temple and being a temple attending people. It's one of the Stake focuses... Attend the temple and have a temple recommend.  And it was a good opportunity to talk with Elder Benson about how we can help our members attend the temple.

Then came missionary coordination meeting.  It was more fun than meetings past (I had an on day with the language yesterday - Tender Mercy #1).  I understood more than I normally do, and I understood exactly what I needed to.  Boom.  Awesome.

That about summarizes my church experience of Easter.  Yeah, that may have read like rambling, but in any event, I'm pumped that I could understand a little more.

Moving on to equally exciting things:  Dad, I don't hear much about the land up north... especially since I don't have a native companion anymore, and because the ward members talk to us missionaries about different things.  I just know that if there was any real danger, I'd be moved to safety... so until a full scale invasion, I'll pretend like North Korea is like Canada... there, but mostly harmless (I love you Nathan ^^).

So hey, I love you all.  So much.  I'm grateful for all y'all. Bringing it down to a more personal level, I'm grateful to have such a wonderful family, to have such great friends, and to have served with such great companions.  I'm grateful for all your prayers in my
behalf, and know that I pray for you every night.  I'm grateful for the letters and emails, and I want you to know that they are the bright point of P-Day.  The words of encouragement don't go unnoticed, and I often find myself reflecting on the spiritual gems of knowledge that you send me during the course of the week.

I know that this church is true.  I'm super grateful for the opportunity that I have to find and teach the people of South Korea, and I know that it's exactly where God wants me to be.  I love the Book of Mormon.  Reading it has been such a blessing in my life - in
times of trial, it's provided comfort; in times of confusion, it's provided clarity; in times of discouragement, it's brought hope.  I love the lessons taught in it.  I know it contains God's word, and by extension, I know that Joseph Smith is a prophet.  I know that it is
by small and simple means that God does work miracles, and that the day of miracles hasn't ceased.

I know that God loves us.  We are His children, and He has a work for each of us to do in order to help our brothers and sisters to return home.  We are literally in the similitude of His Only Begotten.  God lives.  He's mindful of us.  He wants to help us.

I love you all, and IU hope you have a great week!  Until next week!


Powerful Words-"Treasure Up"

Slight posting delay due to SPRING BREAK.  Bright, happy daffodils welcomed us home!  Hope all kinds of good things are blooming in your corner of the vineyard. I will post Elliott's e-mail address on facebook. Give me a call or drop me a line if you don't use facebook and would like to e-mail Elder Wedam!

March 24, 2013
Hey family, friends, devoted stalkers, and fan club members,

Well, I realized that I informed all ya'll of the rule change, I forgot to include the second half... my email address.  It's (posted on facebook now).  Alright, that part is out of the way, let's boogie.

This last week was hard (to be fair, this entire transfer has been hard.  Primarily due to Elder Kim's back being out of whack for the last few transfers... and the language barrier killed me in week 1). All in all, the lack of being able to hit the streets as hard as I would have liked has sort of killed me.  You can only work in the Area book for so long each day... don't worry, I've been compensating via studying Preach My Gospel and reading the Book of Mormon (finished i  today ^^ starting the next round as soon as I can get my hands on another English edition.... oh district leader!)  Apart from all that, and the incredible inability to be SUPER PRODUCTIVE (I have to keep reminding myself  Mosiah 4:27 - it's not meet for a man to run faster than he has strength), I'm still fine.  Every day, every week, I understand just a little bit more (so much so that it's scary... half the time I have to ask myself, "Did I hear that correctly?" Look out Gospel Principles class, Elder Wedam is able to participate now). And, I get letters from some people I wasn't quite expecting.  To a certain friend/fanclub member, yes, you are miss fancy shmancy.  I fully expect you to be the owner of the Duck Store by 2014.  Speaking of 2014 (dearest family), Christmas in Hawaii would be a blast.  We could also find some native Koreans and I could go crazy with my newfound language skills ^^

Sounds like the trip to Phoenix was eventful - I must say, I'm super grateful that Heavenly Father does truly take care of family while missionaries are serving Him (as diligently as they can).  I'm glad that the trip has proven to be fun!  And Vera making shark noises made me crack up (we have a little boy in this ward who is about the same age as Vera and is a BALL OF ENERGY).  Anyways, I digress...

Other big news, next transfer information... I'll be co-senior with Elder Benson.  He's one transfer older than I am... it'll be a blast. I've got a whole new set of concerns about next transfer, but hey, I'll deal with it.  Things will come, and I'll learn, progress and grow.  PS, I'll still be in 신풍시.

Speaking of growing and progressing, I've got some cool things to report on from my personal studies.  Mostly, favorite words from the Book of Mormon.  Unfortunately, I don't have time to explain each one, but maybe in the coming weeks, that'll fuel my letters?

1) Treasure Up - There's a lot of instances in the Book of Mormon where we read, "Treasure up the words of life,"  "Seek ye first the kingdom of heaven," and "where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."  I love the command to Treasure Up.

2) He remembered the great things the Lord had done for his fathers - The catch phrase of the Book of Ether (incidentally, my favorite part of the Book of Mormon).  When the Jaredite Kings remembered the great things the Lord had done for their fathers in crossing the great deep, they were righteous.  When they didn't remember, they were wicked.

3)  What will ye that I should prepare for you that ye may have light when ye are swallowed up by the sea? - The question posed at the end of Ether 2.  Perhaps my favorite question in the ENTIRE Book of Mormon... a reminder that we need to plan and act to qualify for the Lord's help.  Speaking of which

4) For we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after we do all that we can do - In 2nd Nephi (25:27 or 27:25? dyslexia is a killer). See above

5) Behold that ye are created in my image.  Yea, even all men were created after my own image - Ether 3 (also in Genesis and Moses). Powerful words... especially when we consider what it means to be an image or type.  We all have a purpose in life that in some way will help bring to pass the salvation of God's children; it's a shadow of Christ's work in bringing to pass our salvation.

6) Has the day of miracles ceased? - Second favorite question in the Book of Mormon.  No, miracles have not ceased.  The day of miracles is still alive and well.  The Book of Mormon is proof of this.

Alright, those are the 6 that come to mind right off the top of my head (and I may have paraphrased... but I hope I gave you enough information to double check me).  They're powerful words and powerful messages ^^  I hope I have time to expound them in the future.

Lastly, great story for the week.  We managed to find 3 new investigators (I'd only count 1 of them as an investigator... but I think we're going to drop him.  Reasons coming next).  We were working out of the area book, and called this man.  He was super nice, but one REALLY big catch.  He's 다단개 (I think that's the right spelling).  He's
a pyramid marketer - like Cutco Knives or Pre-Paid Legal.  And he tries to sell us stuff... that we don't need.  And he calls all the time... whoops.  Oh well, sometimes it's bound to happen, right?

I love you all!  My time is up, but I loved hearing from all of you! I'm glad that family members are healthy, and incoming family members are healthy too!  Take care this week, and I'll write again next (by way of desire and of commandment.  Best way to do it, right?)

-Elder Elliott Wedam