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.