Sunday, January 24, 2016

This past week has been amazing! Elder Huckvale is great, and is so good at talking to everyone about the restoration. He makes sure to testify to everyone we meet about the Book of Mormon, and we already have a week full of miracles and return appointments. We pray that they will show up, and that we will be blessed with a great harvest this transfer! 

Things are a lot different in Jangwi with only one team of elders. The last few days of working with Elder Huckvale, however, have been awesome. Elder Huckvale is so good at recognizing a need and getting a top of it. He also is making sure I am getting involved and listening actively to what is being said, which has been one of my biggest problems. We taught a great lesson to our investigator, Brother Kim, and the Spirit was so strong. It has been awesome teaching Brother Kim because he is so humble, and the prayer he offered was very powerful and sincere. He has a baptism date set for next Saturday and is working toward it with fervor. We have another investigator whom missionaries have taught for about eight years now, but seems like he is very convicted now to quit smoking and keeping commitments, and he is eager to meet with us. Besides this, we already have a bunch of appointments and potential investigators this week who we are really excited for. 

We watched a worldwide missionary broadcast last Thursday with Elder Bednar, Oaks, Chistofferson, and some other general authorities. I felt the Spirit so strong that everything they were teaching - meeting needs, teaching by the Spirit, working with members, and receiving inspiration. The theme was "Teach Repentance and Baptize Converts." Listening is something that really stuck out me in the missionary broadcast, and I realized that just because I am often not the one speaking doesn't mean I don't have just as much responsibility. To truly meet our investigators' needs, I need to become fully engaged, all the time. It is, in fact, the missionary not speaking who has the primary responsibility to discern the investigator's understanding and receive inspiration of what to say.  

I'm super excited to be working in Jangwi with Elder Huckvale - we've already seen so many miracles and met so many people with potential. I hope just to do all I can to be a vessel for the Lord's message and Spirit. This new exchange and the missionary broadcast really inspired me to work diligently, patiently, and fearlessly according the best of my knowledge, strength, and ability, seeking the will of the Lord first and trusting in him to do the rest. 

Bishop asked me to think of and share some things that I wished I had done prior to serving my mission. That list is extensive, but the first is something that jumped out at me early in the MTC: Scripture mastery. In general, knowing the scriptures, especially the Book of Mormon, then the New Testament, is so valuable. Using Korean scriptures, which I still can't understand, knowing the exact reference is important. 

Second: I wish I had studied Preach My Gospel Chapter 3, lessons 1-3 (especially lesson 1). A firm understanding of the BASIC principles is what allows us to share a powerful message so someone on the street. PMG is amazing, and it helps us become instruments in the Lord's hands. Something that the Korean language taught me is what "missionary" really means. "선교사" (seungyosa) literally means teacher of holy things. Of all the things missionaries do and are, what we ultimately need to become is powerful teachers. Studying PMG and the doctrine in chapter 3 allows us to become such. 

Third: Share the gospel! I wish I had done more to simple stand as a representative of Christ when opportunities presented themselves. We ought never be afraid to share a message of joy, love, purpose, peace, and eternal blessings. If we are really converted to Christ, we will never be afraid to open our mouths to everyone to declare His word. As someone once said, "I fear no man!" 

Thanks for you messages, love, and prayers! I hope you are safe, happy, and warm, because it is super cold right now. 

​Our District - Left to Right - Elders Huckvale, Crisp, Kimshihyeun, Kimtaewan, Sister You, Sister Allsbrook. It was very cold. 

Seoul Temple. Much bigger than it looks.

Eating at Ashley's Buffet - Huckvale, Kimshihyeun, Kimtaewan, me
​Jangwi Observatory

The way up.

​Panorama of our area. The observatory is in a place called Dream Forest. 

​Me. Jangwi Observatory. Cold day.

​This is the other side of our area, as seen from the other side of the Dream Forest Tower. So cold.

​Namsan Tower. According to Elder Huckvale, anyway. 

​From the other side of the observatory again - the picture before was at max zoom. Namsan tower in the distance. 

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Wow! Lots of changes this next transfer. We don't have transfer meetings any more, for one. Also, Jangwi is becoming a combined district with Gireum again, after just being changed last transfer to being its own district. We are losing a team of elders in Jangwi, and Elder Kim (my companion) and the other Elder Kim (Elder Huckvales's companion) are being transferred out. Elder Huckvale and I will be companions, but a new team won't be coming in. That means we both get our own full-size refrigerator...

Anyway, this past week Elder Kim and I have developed much more unity and ability to teach effectively. We plan together effectively and are very open with each other. I feel we have both progressed a lot this past transfer. I was very surprised at transfer calls when I realized he was already leaving. Though I was very disappointed, I'm very excited to work with Elder Huckvale. Both are very great missionaries and examples. I've learned so much about how to share and grow with our companion openly and effectively. Last weekly planning, Elder Kim Tae Wan felt very assured and confident in our ability to improve. Since then, I've noticed him striving even harder and more powerfully to share our message. We prepared a 5 minute restoration message that is both powerful and effective, and I'm so disappointed we will have few opportunities to continue to share it together! Truly, I'm so thankful for Elder Kim, and especially for his humility, which I believe is one of his strongest attributes. He seeks always to improve and progress and is never content or satisfied with mediocrity. He has a strong testimony of the scriptures and the Savior and a desire to share and serve the Lord and is a great example. 

Anyway, the new investigator we got a couple weeks ago has been pouring over the Book of Mormon. There is so clearly a link between our degree of humility, intent, and ability to feel the Spirit. We were devastated when he called last week and said he can't meet or come to church anymore. Then, suddenly, when church came around, he showed up! I don't know why he called and told us that, but he agreed to meet again like usual, like nothing had happened. We are praying to be able to learn and discern his needs and concerns. 

One small thing I decided to start doing was listening to general conference talks each morning as I prepared for the day. I really only did it to get a bit of a spiritual boost in the morning, but I've found that my testimony and understanding of the importance of having living prophets has grown dramatically. Their testimonies are so powerful, and their teachings and wisdom are a treasure. I've found that I reflect back on their words occasionally when I experience something that makes the truth of their words so clear. What really stuck me is how they say the same things and declare the same truths that prophets from the very beginning have declared. Their words, however, are specific for our time. They provide an anchor against changing values. I know that sounds cliche, but it has become so clear on my mission as I have left the things of the world. Nothing we face in our time is new - perhaps it has just been amplified by technology. The pattern of belief and disbelief in the Book of Mormon so clearly illustrates the same thing we see in the world, in others, and maybe even in ourselves. Prophets are here to ensure that God's truth and light are continually pouring out so that He can make known His love and plan to us.

Hope you all have a great week and remember the Savior throughout it! Love you. 

P.S. I love reading you messages Elder Jones! Your experiences are such an example to me. Keep it up!

Around the world Ping-Pong on P-Day. Elder Kimshihyun, Elder Huckvale (my new companion!), Elder Kimtaewan (my current companion), and me.   ​

​The side-by-side language study method. Actually works pretty well.

Jangwi Church Building

Just a random picture.

Monday, January 11, 2016

This week has been the best one of my mission so far! Zone Training was incredibly powerful and spiritual. We were committed to read the 몰몬경 (Korean Book of Mormon) within the next three transfers and get a spiritual witness through the Korean Book of Mormon as well as the English one that it is true. I decided to do that and started over in 1st Nephi. I've been amazed by how much more I can already understand. I've been blessed so much the past few weeks for my language ability to progress in leaps and bounds. The most significant difference in what I personally did had little to do with my language study or efforts. It had everything to do with opening my mouth and trusting in the Lord. 

The following experience may seem very simple, but it has been one of the most profound on my mission in which I have seen the Lord bless me with utterance. Yesterday, while streetboarding, my goal was to change and repent by talking with EVERYONE within my range of streetboarding ability, regardless of whether or not I thought they would respond. I also determined that I would simply stay joyful and enthusiastic regardless of how others responded; I wanted to send that message to everyone I contacted. The result was miraculous; almost the first ten people we talked to stopped for us. Right as we were about to finish, we talked to one more person who was standing off a little aloof from where we were streetboarding. We went up and talked to him, and he was interested and listened to our lesson about the Restoration. He took a Book of Mormon and agreed to meet again. 

On the bus ride back, everyone that sat next to me was actually very willing to talk. I was able to converse with them and leave a message and, hopefully, a seed. When we got back to the house, I was feeling the Spirit more powerfully than ever before in my life. I reflected on how the only change I really made was a decision to not fear to open my mouth. I didn't know what I would say to everyone, but I just made sure to say something. The Lord took care of the rest. There was still a multiplicity of mistakes and things I could have done better, but I felt when I got back that the Lord was pleased with my efforts. Truly, when we simply give all we have to offer, drastically insufficient though it may be, the Lord pours blessings out upon us by the Holy Ghost. Elder Kimtaewan and I then had a very powerful companionship study in which we planned how to teach the whole message of the Restoration in under five minutes, which was another zone commitment. The Spirit was there as we shared and testified of the first vision to each other and sought the best way to teach someone in a very short amount of time.

I was also struck today when I noticed all the people leaving on missions soon from Lolo Ward! A mission is our opportunity to obtain powerful and lasting experiences and knowledge such as that recorded in the scriptures. Thank you all for your great examples! 
​Buying the speaker at e-mart last p-day. Think Walmart with about half the normal length and width, but stacked up on five floors. That's Elder Huckvale. 

Speaker I bought with Grandma's gift money.  Thank you Grandma.  Now I can listen to Conference Talks and Tabernacle Choir in the mornings.

Monday, January 4, 2016

2016- A new year!

2016! As this is the full year that I will be serving the Lord, my goal is something that President Nelson and President Sonksen both talked about: Having the Gospel of Christ inscribed on my heart. I have a bunch of other goals intended to get there, but this is the vision I have for my mission and what I am working to become.

The language is progressing fast and I feel much better about teaching and talking to people. I've been blessed with a companion that I can speak all Korean with, so constantly speaking in Korean has by far been the greatest help. I also feel my planning ability and the follow-through with our plans has increased, especially with contacts, which we finally got back up after a few rough weeks. We have also been incredibly blessed with our current investigator. I was on exchange during the first lesson, and unfortunately will be on exchange again during the second one this week. I have met him several times, though, and he is incredibly humble. Humility really is the key to feeling the Spirit and getting answers. He also avidly keeps commitments, even marking up the Book of Mormon like crazy when he read it, so he is acting with real intent. It is all we need to do, it seems, to point the way, and he will go the rest of the way running. 

I've learned this past week a lot about casting off the natural man and praying with real intent. I find in myself that same cycle seen in the Nephite nation - wholehearted and avid seeking the Spirit of the Lord and following it gradually gives way to a more idle and complacent attitude, until quickly I see results of that path and repent and return. Avoiding this cycle has everything to do with forsaking the natural man. Like the King Lamoni and the people of Ammon, we must absolutely forsake the things that cause us to relapse. 

 I felt that, in this case, that would mean forsaking idleness and the natural man by praying with real intent whenever and wherever I needed to. At church on Sunday, this is what I focused on. Often it is hard to focus for a long time, especially when it takes a great deal of focus and energy to understand what is being said. This time, however, I said a prayer for help to actually be fully engaged. I remembered that this meant I needed to forsake the easier road of just sitting there - praying with real intent. Even if it was mentally exhausting to repeat Korean in my mind for three hours, the difference was dramatic. Though I didn't understand everything, I almost always knew what the person was talking about and where their direction was. I was even able to participate more readily. I know I was blessed with the gift of tongues just for doing all I could. I will try to remember this to always avoid that Nephite cycle - recognize what the problem is and pray for help, acting with all I can muster to do what I can. The Lord will take care of the rest. 

I hope you all had a fantastic Christmas and New Year! Set some goals and go for them. Keep Mosiah 3:19 in mind if you ever feel discouraged in accomplishing them. If you really want to accomplish something or become something, you must forsake whatever it is that holds you back or makes it difficult. Thanks for your love and messages!
​I love it! Came at just the right time, too. I used it yesterday when it suddenly got really cold.

​Playing Phase 10 with Elder Kim Tae Wan, Elder Huckvale, and Elder Kim She Hyun hiding behind my head.

Christmas Lunch

These are Tyler's companion's (Elder Kim) mashed potatoes.

Tyler was really craving mashed potatoes in Korea.  They don't have potatoes.  So we sent him some instant potatoes, not as good as fresh, but should satisfy the  craving.  These are Tyler's potatoes.

This is a buffet where they just bring the meat out and we cook it ourselves and basically eat it off the grill.

​Christmas English party in Gireum! That's Elder Yetter coming in from the left and me and Elder Littlefield in the background.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year everybody!

This week has been pretty awesome. On Christmas day I skyped my family, which was actually Christmas eve in Montana. It was so awesome to see and hear them! Hope everybody had a great Christmas and has a great New Year's Day too. Happy Birthday, Mom! 

On Christmas day the mission choir had their last Christmas peformance (they've been touring the stakes of Seoul) in Jangwi, which was so cool. They were amazingly good and professional, and it finally felt like Christmas when they came. Also, right afterward, I got a Christmas package from home! I got some great winter stuff, tons of candy, a custom family 2016 calendar (which a love), and lots of cool things. Thank you family! 

​Presents under the Christmas tree - there was a lot more candy that I got, too, which isn't in the picture. That's Elder Huckvale to the left, going over his Christmas stuff. 

By the way, I learned repeatedly from Elder Kim Sheheun this week that Koreans do not eat rice plain. Apparently my tendency to eat my whole 돈까스  (a delicious pork steak that can be found in most Korean restaurants, even though it is actually a Japanese food) before eating any rice was upsetting him. Also, I've eaten Kimchi fried rice (I tried romanizing the actual Korean word for it, but Elder Kim was reading this and laughed and told me not to) many times now, and it is so good! I don't know what they put in it, but it is just bursting with flavor. 

This week I've seen a ton of progress in the language. I've changed my language study from studying really hard throughout just language study and during lunch to working continually throughout the day, taking just a minute or two at a time to look at a word, see if I have it memorized, and say a few sentences/forms with it. Along with that, I've been speaking a lot in Korean to everyone, especially my companion. This has helped me so much with speed, memorization ability, and listening ability especially. I finally feel I am starting to understand what people are saying, and I feel that this is a blessing I'm receiving for working with patience and diligence, rather than trying hard for a short time and not continually. I read a scripture (Ephesians 12:1-3) that was an answer to prayer and struggling to accomplish everything, especially the language. It says "let us run with patience the race." The night before while praying, I had a thought come that I needed to focus more on improvement piece by piece, emphasizing more on working without pause or lag than sprinting as hard as I could; that this is cross-country, not a sprint. The next morning I found that scripture, which talks about running the race with patience, and avoiding being weary or faint in mind. It really spoke to me, and I've sought to apply more patience and consistency to language study. The Lord has truly blessed me with the gift of tongues and more focus and patience in the language. 

I've found that the gift of tongues directly accompanies feeling the Spirit. For me, it is not a sudden understanding of everything that is being said, nor a perfect ability to speak it. But when my focus has been on sincerely trying to bring someone unto Christ, the times when I feel the Spirit working within me the strongest, it is like my mind is quickened. I am able to convey a powerful message and testify of it - perhaps not eloquently, but in a way that the Spirit can be made manifest. I have an ability to focus on someone's words and quickly pick out what I know and understand their meaning. It is a great blessing. 

For the past week, I've been studying Alma 40-42. I've been astonished by all the amazing things the scriptures contain. I was trying to get a firm and simple grasp of what the three chapters explained, and I settled on this: agency and our divine purpose. Why are the plan of salvation, Atonement, redemption, and punishment just? Why did we have to live in a fallen world? These chapters pose so many questions. All the questions these chapters pose can be quite simply answered. In order to become like our Heavenly Father (which was our desire and decision), and having already inherited the divine privilege of agency, we needed to leave the home and grow up. He lovingly created a plan for us to do so. We would come to a place where we could freely exercise our agency to either become more like Him by repentance through the Savior or not to do so. When we die, we will be restored to a physical body unmarred by the effects of the Fall, but the manner in which we chose to use our agency during this life will determine what we will be restored to spiritually. If we didn't choose to become like Christ or our Heavenly Father by following His gospel, we will not be like Them after death and judgement. This time right now is our opportunity to accomplish our purpose. Thus, it is a preparatory state - a time to commit our agency toward following Christ, our example, light, path, and Redeemer. 

Thanks for your messages and support. Have a great new year! Send me lots of Christmas pictures! I love you all.