Monday, December 19, 2016

New Companion

My new companion is great! He's from New Hampshire and is very focused, eager, and energetic. One of the things I like the most is that he is always smiling and happy! We're happy to be working with him. 

Nick leaves next week! We are still meeting but he is basically just busy getting ready to go. We're going to miss him! Besides that we had a great miracle on a bus the other day. We just starting talking to the person next to us, and Elder Horne asked him if had every thought about the purpose of life. The answer was actually, "Yes, a lot." We shared about Christ and the Book of Mormon and gave him one. He seemed very thankful to get it and touched as we got off the bus. He is going on vacation this week, but we hope he will meet missionaries when he comes back! The interesting thing about this is that we didn't actually end up meeting the person we were going to meet, but there always seems to be someone we are intended to meet. 

We caroled to a bunch of members yesterday! It was lots of fun. I enjoyed it, and I hope the members are touched by this Christmas season. We've got a Christmas party coming up that we are getting ready for. We hope to have a lot of people at church on Christmas! 

Have a great Christmas everyone!

​Sunset over Wonju

​Elder du Plessis invented deep-fried Kimchi this week


Package from home

Monday, December 12, 2016

He is the Light of the World

Transfer calls have come, and Elder du Plessis is leaving to be district leader somewhere else! I am so thankful for Elder du Plessis! The last two transfers have been great. We have progresses so much together, and I have worked well with him more so than any other companion. In our two transfers, we have had no conflicts whatsoever. He is focused on his mission, on those we are teaching, and and becoming better. He has a strong testimony of the gospel. I know he will make a great district leader! I'm going to miss him. 

So Nick this week has been super busy getting ready to go to Canada. We met him once and talked about eternal goals and blessings. He is understanding and believes what we teach very well. We'll keep meeting up until he leaves and seek to have as many spiritual experiences with him as possible, so when he goes to Canada he will be well prepared to meet missionaries there. 

I've talked about this a lot recently, but I have seen such an impact from this in my life that I can hardly say or think of something else. I want to talk about how important it is that we keep our lives focused on the Savior. I have not been a person of many words through most of my life. Any of those who know me can attest to that. But I have something to say about the Savior.

In a message for a member that Elder du Plessis and I planned, we shared about the Savior as the light of the world long before His birth, at His birth, throughout His life, at His death, and ever afterward. Mosiah 13:33 teaches that prophets from the beginning of the world prophesies of Him, bringing light to those long before any had seen him. His birth was marked by night without darkness and a new star in the sky (3 Nephi 1: 15,21). The entire earth saw this light that drew many, literally, to the Savior. His life was full of miracles, signs, and wonders (Mosiah 3:5-6). When the Savior died, so did, literally, the light of the world (3 Nephi 8:20-21). There was no light to be found for three days, the time before the Savior rose again. Again, after centuries of darkness, the Savior appeared in light and great glory to the prophet Joseph Smith, dispelling the darkness that held him hostage (JSH 1:15-17) and restoring the light and truth of His gospel, never again to be taken from the earth. What is this light? It is the knowledge of Jesus Christ, through whom we can change our lives, become better, and find a perfect foundation for eternity that brings everlasting joy. I know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. He did perform the Atonement. I know this because I have felt the enabling and changing power of it in my life and the Holy Ghost, which brings His fire and sanctification into our hearts and souls. This is real. Remember this and act accordingly at Christmas at every other moment of our lives, and we will come to know who He is and who God is, and we will come to know them. 

Have a great Christmas season, everyone! 

Monday, December 5, 2016

Always remember Him

Last zone meeting was a particularly spiritual one. It seemed to focus on all the things that I have been focused on and want to improve. One of those things is to always keep our focus on the Savior. There were two examples shared: Peter leaving the ship to walk on the water to the Savior, and the people of Ammon burying their weapons of rebellion. The connection, which I've never seen before, was quite powerful. If there is anything that pulls our thoughts or feelings or actions away from the Savior, then we we need to forsake those things. As I tried harder, among all the things we do each day, to keep each thought and action focused on Christ, I have felt a difference. As I have set goals to forsake one of my own weapons of rebellion each day, I have felt a difference. I can testify that the Savior is, in fact, the center of the Father's plan for us; so much so, in fact, that if one were to take Him out of it, the plan, the scriptures, prayer, and everything would lose all meaning. Just over the past few days, focusing on the Savior with intent to forsake whatever is keeping me from Him has brought these things to life in a new way. The simple doctrine of His gospel as contained in the Book of Mormon is the most precious of truths. 

This week, we met Nick again and taught him the plan of salvation. He's been reading a lot of the Book of Mormon! We are really excited for him. He is planning on going to Canada soon, but we are working to help him exercise his faith to prepare for baptism. 

Wonju feels a lot more Christmasy than Seoul did! There are light over the streets, big Christmas trees, Christmas music (Michael Buble the other day), and so on. Pretty exciting! I hope you are all getting excited. 


Tuesday, November 29, 2016

We slipped into the negatives this week (in Celsius)! Been cold, but we've seen lots of success. As a district we are getting going on all the Christmas stuff! Christmas streetboarding, Christmas music practice, Christmas planning, etc. 

This week Nick was in Seoul to see his family, so we haven't been able to meet with him. He is moving to Canada soon, so we are just praying for the opportunity to keep meeting with him till then. Other than that we found a new investigator who actually approached us first last week. He attends church quite diligently, but is very open and interested to hear our message. 

I thought I might share something great I learned about overcoming pride: we should strive to recognize it in ourselves, but not focus to much on the pride in ourselves. After all, the longer we keep spending thinking about how prideful our humble we are, the longer we are spending still thinking about ourselves. We just to to act, to forget ourselves and go to work! That means serving, uplifting, sharing, and simply striving to make others happy. By continually thinking that way, then acting that way, the service and love for others will become part of our habits, then our character. Pride will disappear among our good works. 

Love you all! Hope you had a great Thanksgiving. 

This week we visited the historic town center of Wonju

​First snow in Wonju and the first time Elder du Plessis has seen snow!

​Went to a member's house yesterday and had this delicious tangsuyeuk.

This week Elder Diamante, our zone leader, came down to Wonju for an exchange. This was a really cool opportunity for both of us, because he served in Wonju for a large part of his mission. We taught Nick, who was originally Elder Diamante's investigator, as will as the branch president. It was clear just from the way these two wanted to see him and spoke with him how much charity he had for them. In Korea, a common way to refer to others of different age with whom you have a strong relationship are "older brother" and "younger brother," and Elder Diamante certainly had that relationship with these two. It is amazing to see the difference that charity makes in others. When we honestly and genuinely care about the happiness of others, it is a powerful force for trust and change. 

Consider the unconditional love of a parent. What do we, as children, actually do that earns us this kind of love? It is actually very strange to think about. Why do they love us? We certainly don't contribute much in return for life and everything that we have ever been given. The only answer can be that it comes from God. Hence, the scripture in John 13:35 - "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." The source of love is our Father in Heaven, most powerfully manifest in His Son. Therefore, the most powerful manifestation of our discipleship to Him is in our love for others, and I have seen the difference that that love can make. 

This week, Nick will be in Seoul, so we may not have much chance to meet with him. We are getting ready for Christmas already, and are excited to do 25 days of service. Sharing the Savior's love by service can change hearts, so we hope to change some hearts!

Have a great week everyone!

​Cheese Ddeok Donkaus (probably romanized wrong) - definitely not traditional Korean food, but super delicious!

Monday, November 14, 2016


This week I've seen one of the greatest miracles on my mission, which was our investigator, Nick (not his real name). We sat down again to teach him about baptism through endure to the end. Normally, he has quite some difficulty understanding the doctrine and the Book of Mormon. This time, however, as we were reading just the first few verses of 2 Nephi 31, he simply understood everything. He understood the entire gospel, even the parts we had not yet taught. The way he explained baptism was like a gate, which amazed us, because that's often the way we explain it, too. We then drew the picture of a gate and a path leading to eternal life. He then explained that the Holy Ghost was like a guide on that path, and that when we make mistakes we lose its guidance, but can get it back by repenting. We hardly said anything, and truly experienced the Holy Ghost teaching him. He then sincerely said that, this time (he has learned this lesson from missionaries before), he understands and wants to be baptized. When he prayed at the end of the lesson, he spoke with such sincerity. When he thanked Heavenly Father for us, the missionaries, tears came to my eyes. We set the date and will work with him each day to get him ready. He has a few challenges to overcome, but I believe he can do it. We are so excited and happy for him! 

Another great miracle was an investigator we found up north of Wonju. He actually asked us if he could come to church, and afterward we met with him and taught him the Restoration. His prior knowledge of doctrine and churches was really surprising. We put a lot of focus on Priesthood and shared about the significance of being called of God. We plan on continuing to meet him. 

Other than that, things are just going as usual. We streetboard, tried survey proselyting for the first time, and are getting ready for Christmas events. Hope you all have a great week!

​Just a cool sunset picture from the bus coming back from zone meeting

​What we found in the church, because I didn't take any other pictures this week. No idea what it is.

This week we saw many miracles, including finding and teaching two less active members. One of them was quite a miracle, because we arrived at the house when the mom had just stopped by for a few minutes. We were then able to teach her and invite here to take the lessons, which she hasn't agreed to yet, but seemed interested. 

Another great miracle was meeting our investigator three times with members. Nick is struggling a bit to learn and understand, and I've seen just how valuable and important it is for us to have members there who can more clearly explain some things, especially the difficult language of the Book of Mormon. He didn't come to church, but we plan to invite him again and teach him to keep the Sabbath Holy. Hopefully, this week, he will be progressing again! 

These two experiences reminded me of the truths that Elder Bednar taught about praying in faith as well as Elder Yamashita's story about the missionary with a prosthetic leg who was called to a bike-riding mission. Sometimes, it is difficult to see or believe that we can accomplish something. But when that missionary received his call, his response was quite amazing. Rather than simply pray for the strength to accomplish what had been asked of him, he acted. He started working his legs on bikes and preparing to be able to do it. He sought for a way, not for an immediately resolution. Nephi 3:7 teaches us that when the Lord commands, he provides a way. Faith includes praying to act as we know we should and then acting with all faith to accomplish the things that have been asked. 

This week, we spent a couple hours searching for less actives in a place a little south of Wonju. The first building was a cliche abandoned building, which spiders and webs covering the whole thing. We spent a long time searching for the next one with just an old address (the system has been updated) and directions that it should be somewhere in front of the college. We something in Korea we call less active "hunting," because all you can do is try to follow a series of numbers and addresses that are often not written on houses and don't follow a clear pattern, so you do a lot of wandering. We finally found it, though, just at the time that the member had come home for just a few minutes. Despite the odds, the Lord had provided a way that was unknown unto us until the moment we got there. Hopefully we will be able to meet again and start teaching the family again. 

​Elder Bednar conference - I am in the top left area 

​Elder Bendar Conference, outside. I don't know where I am

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Happy Halloween

This transfer was only 5 weeks instead of the usual 6 because of a mission president seminar coming up. Me and Elder Du Plessis are staying the same, so I guess that's all for that. 

This week we've made the most progress with Nick. We sat down and talked very plainly as we applied HTBT principles with him. Elder Du Plessis had the impression to ask him why he thought we wanted to meet with him. This created a good atmosphere to explain our sincere desire and love for him, and that we therefore wanted to meet consistently to teach him the things of most importance. Since then setting appointments has become much easier, and I believe he will be progressing again at the end of the week. 

We also had a great miracle when we visited a less active family's house again and finally met them. The mom was really happy to see us, and told us we could visit her at her cafe because there was no man in the house. Then, a few days later, the daughter called and said she heard we visited, and she wanted to come to church again! She attended BYU for several years, but hasn't been to church for a while now. We hope that when she becomes active again, she can help her family come back too. 

We had a Halloween party last Saturday! It was lots of fun and lots of preparation. Halloween isn't really celebrated in Korea except just within the church, and that because of all the American missionaries who put on parties every year. Hope you all have a great Halloween! Thanks for all your replies and messages. 

Transfer calls came! Elder Ryu is going to be a single Zone leader out in Taebaek, which is freezing right now! That was pretty funny. I'm going to be district leader in Wonju and will stay with Elder Du Plessis. That's okay with me, because he is great! 

Decorating for Ward Halloween party

​Halloween Party - Elder Steward, Elder Du Plessis, Elder Ryu, me, Sister Boss, Sister Lee

​Delicious Deokgalbi at a member's house 
 Wonju at sunset. With a giant cold front moving in. 

A (very) cold front

Monday, October 24, 2016

Elder Bednar comes to town!

Fantastic week this week! Wednesday we went to Seoul and back for a combined mission conference with the Seoul South Mission. It was one of the most spiritual and learning experiences I've had. There was too much that I loved to list my favorite part. In general, what I learned most was not from anything he said, but from the way he taught. It was basically a three hour discussion between everyone, not just him. The amazing power that this taught us about learning by faith and not just passive reception, and also by exercising agency and doing more, was electrifying. It was essentially an opportunity to witness the power of the most basic principles of the gospel in effect. When we pray, we pray not just with a desire to act, but in a way that ensures we will act. He also started the question and answer session by saying, "If you prepared questions for this beforehand, don't ask them." And yet every one of us had those questions answered - by faith, and by the Spirit, not by passively becoming a passive learning object at the hands of Elder Bednar, rather than an agent to learn for ourselves. 

The Spirit from this meeting continued to Thursday, when Elder Du Plessis and I saw many miracles. We went out to Hwengseong to visit a member and a less actives. We weren't quite sure how the timing of buses was going to work, though, so I was texting the member back and forth to try to figure out how we could visit. When we finally decided that if we were both in Wonju at 4:00 we could meet. We then grabbed a bus ticket with two minutes to spare to get to the less active's house. The whole timing of the day worked out miraculously, because we only knew which bus to take because of a person who had giving us directions last week. On that bus, we realized we didn't know where to get off, because we had never been that way before. I turned to the lady behind me, who had just gotten on, and asked if she know where the address was. She told us we needed to get off at the very next stop, which was only about a minute away. Then she told us to walk down the road to the right. When we did, we started seeing that it matched the one on our picture from a map, and we were able to find the house faster than I've ever found one before, despite being further away than any I've tried to find before. The person there told us the less active had moved. On our way back, someone called and wanted to meet, so we set an appointment. Then we caught another bus that just so happened to be going exactly where we needed it to. It stopped for a while in Hwegseong, where it just so happened that the member we had originally wanted to meet got on. We both ended up in Wonju together, so she wanted to take us to a restaurant. Then, during the message, she shared about some struggles she was facing, and how she hadn't been to church in four weeks. I felt prompted to share the story from general conference about when segregation was first ended in Africa, and church was combined for the first time. One family felt mistreated, and the girl complained about this to her mom afterward. The mom replied that the church was like a big hospital, and everyone was sick in their own way. This seemed to help here, and I feel that the whole day worked out the way it did so that we would meet and be able to share that. She came to church yesterday.

We are currently striving to talk to everyone, work with the members, and find new investigators to teach.

Have a good week everyone! Elder Jones, hope your meeting with Elder Bednar is life-changing as well!

Elder Bednar Conference

Out in the Country (last Thursday)

It's rice harvest time!

Monday, October 17, 2016

Lots of travel this week

This month is pretty wild and involves a lot of traveling and time-consuming activities. We had general conference last week, this week we had district conference up in Gangnung, and next week we will head to the Seoul South mission for Elder Bednar. District conference was great, though. We actually stayed up in Gangnung with the Taebaek and Sokcho elders in the Gangung elders' house, which was a new experience. 

A lot of members in Korea are converts, which means that talks often include someone's conversion story. This was definitely the case in the district conference. I especially enjoyed one talk where the member first met missionaries on the street. He received a book of Mormon and read it.  The very next day he found the missionaries again and asked to be taught. Many of the members have amazing conversion stories, and it inspires me to give more of myself to each person I meet. We are often told to do 100% OYM, which means open your mouth and talk to everyone possible. When you talk to so many people, it is easy to get it a routine and hand out cards and copies of the Book of Mormon without much of a thought. But when I hear the members talk about the first time that met missionaries and how inspired they felt when they heard about the restoration and read the Book of Mormon, I realize again that every person is so precious. A line of testimony, a Book of Mormon, or a sincere invitation to learn more can change a heart, and as servants we merely try to be vessels of the Spirit. 

We weren't able to meet with Nick for a lesson this week, but we still call and talk with him each day. Other than that this week has mostly been spent doing finding activities. We have some really great potential investigators we are excited for, and also very excited for Elder Bednar! 

Have a great week!

I got your package! Love it, thank you! I've already eaten most of the candy. I got it early because Elder Ryu went to the office for a leadership training and lugged back a bunch of packages for us. Otherwise it probably would have waited till November's zone meeting. Thanks again! 

Look who was at District Conference! Elder (now brother) Kimtaewan! 
​Look who else was at District Conference! Tim, our investigator from Nokbeon! And also Elder Bradshaw.

​Look who else was there! Elder Peterson!

​Gangnug area is actually the area the next olympics will be 

Monday, October 10, 2016

Beyond the mind and into the heart

This week our greatest miracle was finally being able to sit down and teach _____. He has been an investigator here for quite a while, but we have been uncertain about his sincerity in learning the gospel. When we sat down to teach him, we planned to start again from the beginning and help him see how significant it is to him that the Lord has restored truth to the Earth through the Book of Mormon and living prophets, and to test and see for himself through prayer, study, and even through the awesome opportunity we had to hear from those prophets at general conference. As soon as we sat down, we had only asked a few questions about how he had seen God in his life when he really opened up and described some difficult experiences, how they worked out, and about some of his worries. We were able to testify with power that the restored gospel would bless his life and extend the invitation. The Spirit was there powerfully, and I felt humbled as I felt it and learned again that I am not the true teacher. He accepted the commitment. Unfortunately he did not watch general conference, but maybe we can select a talk or few that will fit best for him. 

General Conference was fantastic! I felt at the end that my needed improvement was to enter into a more heartfelt spirit of worship and really come to know Christ. I never really understood before my mission the central messages of this gospel. I knew lots of topics frequently taught - prayer, church, commandments, scriptures, etc...but I never understood that these are all part of one great whole, and that whole is Christ. The precious truth that Heavenly Father, the God of all creation, loves us more that we can comprehend needs to move in understanding beyond the mind and into the heart, every day. He loves us so much that he sent his perfect Son so that we would not be alone, cut off from his presence in a feeble effort to learn and grow on our own. Christ, who was and is the God of Israel, the Creator of the Earth, and in every and all ways our joy and hope needs to be written deeply in my heart and the heart of every person who desires to return clean and unspotted to our Heavenly home. That's why we meet every week to worship and remember Him, pray in His name, and learn about him in the scriptures every day. 

I know as we seek to feel God's love through applying Christ's Atonement, our hearts will be changed. We will find joy. 

Have a great fall everyone. It suddenly got cold here in Korea. Suit season! 

​Misty morning outside the apartment

The other side

Friday, October 7, 2016

It's getting colder.

Things are getting colder here in Wonju! We climbed a mountain today in the pouring rain. I'll send some pictures! 

This week on Thursday we saw a pretty great miracle when we traveled to Yeonsei University to meet a Chinese potential investigator named Peter. When we got there, it turned out he had invited two of his friends to meet with us, as well. We ate with all three of them and shared some basic principles. I really like teaching Chinese investigators because they have no background and little foreknowledge at all of what we are talking about. It reminds me just how precious a knowledge of a loving Heavenly Father and us being his children really is. We also introduced the Book of Mormon, though this was a little difficult because we had English and Korean, but they don't quite speak either of these well enough to understand the Book of Mormon. So, we ordered some Chinese ones, and we'll meet them again this Thursday with them. It's probably going to be a very interesting lesson of mixed English, Korean, and Chinese. 

My new companion is Elder Du Plessis! He is from South Africa and is super awesome. He is very kind, patient, and humble. I don't think you could say anything that would ever upset him. He is very desirous to be obedient and to serve. He also can grow beards like crazy and has a cool accent. It's actually very refreshing to meet people on the street and be able to say we are from somewhere other than the U.S., because that is always what they expect. 

This week a spiritual lesson I learned was the importance of trust and courage to follow the Spirit. Thursday morning when we prepared for our investigators, it occured to me that I needed to make sure I had the first vision memorized in English for them. As I was sitting on a bus coming back from Yeonsei I felt like I should talk with the person behind me. Even though it seemed like it would be very awkward on a quite bus, I turned around and said hello. It turned out that he was from New York, and as we talked it was obvious that he was very familiar with church and the Bible. I was able to share the Restoration and the First Vision in English, and he accepted a Book of Mormon. This experience taught me, again, that the Spirit can guide us in what we need to do every day; and, if we will follow it, we will see miracles. 

Have a great week everybody! I actually don't get to see general conference until this next weekend, but I'm looking forward to it. 

Me, Elder Peterson, Nick, Bak Irheung

​View from a restaurant high above Wonju

​Base of Chiak Mountain - random chicken that was wandering around

"Waterfall" (By the way, it was pouring rain.)

​Another Waterfall

​The Peak - in the middle of the cloud

​Rock Tower on the peak - it was actually really cool because the wind was blowing hard and there was so much mist that it was just swirling all around us

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

This week two really talented music elders came to perform with us for members and out on the street as we contacted people. One of the members we visited is being worked with by the sister missionaries, and after we performed for her, she told us how much it meant to her. She had served a mission and had a testimony, but hadn't come to church in a long time. She said that a few days earlier she had been thinking a lot about how she wanted a strong relationship with God again, and had prayed for help and answers. Then, the sisters called and asked if we could come do a small performance in her home. She was very touched by that, and by the music when we came. She said that it was an answer to her prayers. That was a really cool experience! 

As far as our investigators, this week has been a little hard. We haven't been able to meet with Nick for a long time, and have lost contact with Wang Ju. Jeffrey, who was very interested and progressing toward baptism, suddenly texted us and told us he was moving to another country in three days and needed to prepare. When we called back, he had already disabled his number. We were really disappointed by this, but we know he is going to have an opportunity to hear the gospel again in the future. 

Transfer calls came! Elder Peterson is going out to Donghe, by the ocean. My new companion is Elder Duplacey from South Africa. I'm excited to meet him! 

​Me and Ham Hee Seong, a member here 

Monday, September 19, 2016

Chuseok Conference

Chuseok conference happened! It was super good. President Sonksen started us in the woods above the mission office. The theme for the conference was Joseph Smith. We talked about him, heard testimonies about him, and watched Joseph Smith: Prophet of the Restoration. What struck me was the persistent and great sacrifice the prophet and the early saints went through. Again again they were persecuted, driven out, and put through the worst of trial and hardship. I felt a need to remember that sacrifice. Sacrifice is a very powerful thing. It teaches us what our greatest priority is, and is the true test of where our heart is. If our heart is set on Christ, then we, like the early saints, can endure all things.

During Chuseok people generally gather with their families in their hometowns and have large meals of traditional food. I don't know of a main dish, because there are just a lot of different things they eat. They also may play a tradtional came called Yutneori, which I probably romanized wrong. It is a board game with two teams and four sticks marked on one side. Depending on how the sticks land, a game piece will move forward or backward. It is pretty similar to Sorry in the U.S. We played that at Chuseok along with a few other games, ate Subway (because every Korean restaurant was closed), and stayed the night in Seoul before coming back. It was lots of fun and a very spiritual experience. Also, Elder Bednar is coming to Korea in October! 

This week we haven't been able to meet with Nick or Wang Ju. We are disappointed but will keep trying. The English class member, Brother Kim, is still learning and progressing. 

This week were were blessed with a golden investigator! We met Jeffrey out in 횡성 a week or two ago, and he came to English class. We started talking afterward about what we do as missionaries, and he was very impressed. We taught him the Restoration yesterday with the branch president, and he said he had attended church since the army, but was a little disillusioned by the fact that there was one Bible, but many different interpretations and teachings. Branch President Kim told him that the first prophet of our church in this time had asked the very same questions. The lesson was great, and he accepted a baptismal date. We are very excited for him!

Me and Elder Peterson

Mission Office

Hill above the Mission office