Monday, October 19, 2015

Because my companion, Elder Moore, is district leader, and therefore has to go on exchange with every elder in our district once per transfer, and because we have 5 teams of elders in our district, we end up going on a lot of exchanges. Last week, we went on three exchanges. Exchanges last 24 hours, so, taking P-day out, I spent half my time with a different companion. It was really awesome, especially because two of those exchanges were with the zone leaders, Elder Bean and Elder Eagar. They are truly incredible missionaries. When they are talking or teaching about something, the Spirit enters into the room and just grows more and more powerful as they continue. Elder Bean trained me and his trainee, Elder Littlefield (whom I actually know from the MTC), about being spiritually open to everyone, all the time. He made a comparison to "Amish friendship bread," which is dough which, when continually added yeast and flour, will grow and produce more and more dough. This allows the person to cut parts off and share it with others, while the dough just keeps growing. The yeast and flour here refer to our own personal conversion, the things that make us stronger and more like Christ, such as sincere prayer, knowledge, and, most importantly, charity. As missionaries, we grow and build knowledge and faith every day through these things. It is our commission to share these things with others. He bore testimony about the power of sharing. Like the friendship bread, we obtain more room to grow as we share pieces of our testimony and the Spirit with others. He talked about a lot of other things, but what I really learned is that I need worry less and share more. It is so easy to say, "talk with everyone." It is much harder to actually do. I've felt prompted throughout this week that I need to start with my companion. We need to be completely open and comfortable sharing pieces of ourselves with each other so that we, as a powerful team, can bring the Spirit to others in a way that will astonish them. 

The language has come along a lot recently. It takes a ton of focus all day to try to improve at the rate I want, and I still more frequently fall short of how hard I want to be working on it. Elder Moore's example of diligently working is very impressive, though, and I am getting lots of great advice from him. 

We had a great fireside at the mission office yesterday (Sunday). The speaker, Mark A. Peterson, talked about religions most prominent in Korea - Christianity, Buddhism, Confucianism, and Shamanism. I really loved it because I've been wanting to know more about what these religions believe. I knew very little about Buddhism and Confucianism, and almost nothing about Shamanism. He explained how each are similar to and different from what we believe. Each one has truth, and we don't seek to replace that. Rather, we want to add and build on the truths they already know. This is also a good way to help them understand what I'm teaching, they way Ammon helped King Limhi understand, and to be more open to the truth and spirit of what we are teaching. It was also very interesting to learn how Confucianism and Shamanism, thought hardly practiced at all today, is actually visible in every person in Korean culture. The respect of and deference to Elders, leaders, parents, and seniors is a very Confucian ideology. One very interesting thing I learned was that the ceremonies for ancestors that some of these religions hold are not ancestor worship, as we might tend to think. Rather, it is showing the same respect to their ancestors that they would have given to them in real life, such as bowing to them when greeting them. In fact, in our church, we do a lot of genealogical work and ancestral ceremonies in the temple. This is a similarity I've never seen before, and it is something I can use to introduce and relate the church to others in a way that may interest them. 

Another exchange I had last week was with Elder Yetter, who is incredibly sensitive to the Spirit's promptings. I learned from him how to recognize when we are receiving gifts or guidance from the Spirit, and I had an experience later in the week where this occurred. Elder Moore taught the first lesson to a student we met on the street a few days before. The lesson started a bit awkward, and Elder Moore and I were both praying for the Spirit. Our prayers were answered when we started to talk and testify about the Restoration and the Book of Mormon. I experienced a miraculous remembrance of vocab and grammar I'd never used outside of study before, and it come much more quickly and clearer than ever before. It may not seem amazing to think about, but I know it was a gift from Heavenly Father at that moment, not because of the difference in ability that could intellectually be measured, but because of how it felt. The feeling was that of the Spirit, allowing me to help our investigator understand the importance of what I was saying. It's not always easy to know if it is the Spirit that is blessing us, but I'm am starting to learn a little about it. It has more to do with how we felt when we received it than how we can try to logically come to a conclusion. 

Thank you for your messages, advice, and wisdom. I love to hear how everyone is doing, and I hope you are all well!

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