Monday, November 16, 2015

Stake Conference

This week has been incredible! A major highlight was stake conference, where President Whiting (Area Seventy president over Asia) came and spoke on Saturday andSunday. He spoke in English with a translator, so I could actually understand his talk. One of the most memorable things he said was that Seoul is filled with huge, beautiful churches. We can hardly go anywhere without being in sight of one of the lit-up red crosses. He compared them to them to the fig tree visited by the Savior in the New Testament. It was beautiful and large. But, because it had no fruit, it withered. It was of no worth. Only Christ's true church has fruit. He went on to talk about how in Asian culture, getting into the best university and the best jobs are of paramount importance. He told everyone that things, though worthwhile, should never interfere with the Sabbath or in feeling the Holy Ghost. It was a very powerful and spiritual talk, and I learned a lot about how some of us have to sacrifice different things that may be very difficult. Scholarship is culture in Asia, and this can make it very difficult to teach someone because all time is spent studying to pass exams. Church attendance and the Sabbath may seem like major roadblocks to this. President Whiting promised, however, that if the saints put the Lord first and keep the Sabbath Holy, they would have all they stand in need of. 

I've seen many miracles this week as I've sought to accomplish the zone commitments (challenge someone to be baptized every day) and our own companionship and personal goals. More than anything, I've learned about the gift of the Spirit. I've felt it so powerfully this past week, especially as I've focused my thoughts, energy, and strength on others. An ongoing goal or vision I have for myself as a missionary is to develop a Christlike love and charity for others. As I thought about this, Moroni 7:44-48 really stuck with me. Elder Bednar said in his Character of Christ talk that complete conversion occurs when we naturally turn out in love, meekness, compassion, and patience during even the greatest of trials. This is a great party of what it means to have charity. It can often be very difficult to overcome our natural tendency toward pride and selfish thinking. I have learned this week, however, that is can be actually be very simple. We need only consider whether each action invites a greater portion of Heavenly Father's spirit to dwell with us, strengthen us, and prompt and strengthen us to direct our thoughts and efforts toward others, or whether our actions and behavior inhibit it. 

I've gained a much more powerful testimony of the Spirit this week. I did not understand well how it worked before my mission. However, we had a lesson with one of our investigators who is extremely humble. When he felt the Spirit during our testimonies, he said he felt something, and he even asked if we would baptize him the next day. He struggles to understand much or what we say, and he doesn't feel or understand things much the same as most others do. Yet, he wanted to keep feeling the Spirit. There is nothing more wonderful than feeling an increase of our Father's Spirit. It is incredibly simple. If something is right, we can feel the Spirit's presence. If not, the Spirit will not be there. I know from my experiences that following the Spirit, though usually not the easier path, brings the most happiness. It inspires us with worthy goals and desires, gives us strength to act on them, and confirms that what we are doing is right. Alone, I really have no idea how to build more charity, patience, and meekness. All I can do is pray that Heavenly Father will bless me with the guidance I lack to do it, and He will do so through the gift of His Spirit.

I have also learned that humility is, perhaps, the most important factor in feeling the Spirit. Do we wish for correction, or eschew it? When others do or say things that offend or hurt us, do we take it meekly and patiently, or do we quickly irritate? Humility allows us to take all the whirlwinds of life with an eye single to Christ. We know we need and rely on Him every day, forever. Thus, we obediently seek only to do as he would have us do. We disregard anything that might distance us from His presence. It isn't easy, nor should it be. But as we do this, we allow Heavenly Father to lead, and He will work miracles. We have already gotten two people to agree to be baptized when we met them on the street. The Lord is capable of anything. We just need to allow Him to work through us by seeking and following His guidance through the Spirit. 

I don't have time to talk about all the amazing things that happen here, because there are so many every day! I hope everyone is doing well. Thanks for your messages, encouragement, and advice. Have a great Thanksgiving! (That's this week, right?) 

In answer to your question, we don't do hardly any knocking on doors. There are always people to talk to on the street in Seoul. Not sure what we do when it gets cold, but when it is raining a lot we try to do other finding activities. This could mean scanning through our area books (all FOUR of them) looking for people that look promising to call back up. We have a current investigator we found that way. We also do streetboards, which are boards with questions like "where do we go after we die?" and we ask people to come put a sticker on one of the questions. Lately, we have had a large focus on visiting members and building relationships. In Korea, that is extremely important, because members will not give referrals if they don't have a solid, good relationship with the missionaries. We also work a lot on English class, because there are lots of Koreans who want to talk to native English speakers. We hand out flyers and try to advertise it. We share a spiritual thought at the end of class, and this is a way that is often very effective and getting people interested in the church and spending lots of time with missionaries. 

A lot of time is also spent trying to visit less actives. This part is difficult, because the address system here is ridiculous. We can spend hours just looking for one or two houses. Still, we are trying to work on this, because there are fewer than 10,000 active members out of more than 80,000. So, we are trying to work on bringing people back, but the main focus right now is helping members start doing missionary work. 
Jangwi - we travel this street every day and take those blue buses all the time to go to the stake center in Gireum

So far, this is the most delicious meal I've eaten in Korea.

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