Monday, February 29, 2016

​Bishop Baengjaewon took us out for lunch today

Map of Seoul Mission
Transfer calls came! I'm leaving Seoul and heading way east to Taebaek. So excited! I've heard it's high in the mountains, freezing, and beautiful, so I'm looking forward to it. Apparently the branch only has about twenty people or so, so it will be a big change. My new companion's name is Elder Dye. 

Anyway, serving in Jangwi has been awesome. The ward and members are awesome. Some profound things I've noticed in the past week have revolved around members. In district meeting, the zone leaders talked about how we can sometimes be caught up in the stress and business of our work and forget to take joy in it. Sometimes, we need a reminder that the reason we are here at all is because our message is one of joy and rejoicing. We exist to be happy. 

Satan tries to convince us that the natural, carnal desires of this life are happiness. He even tries to discourage virtues of patience, temperance, charity, and all other Christlike attributes. Ultimately, however, we know that obedience to the commands and instructions of Him who knows all things brings the greatest joy and safety for eternity. Despite Satan's best efforts, I noticed this week that those members who appear the most happy and joyful with their lives are the ones that with the greatest diligence and zeal seek to follow Christ, particularly in spreading His word and serving His children. It is important for us to realize that hard work and following the straight and narrow path, especially through repentance, does not mean all work without fruit or joy until we finally have endured to the end and reached the gates of eternal life. Rather, pouring out our souls in the Lord's work brings the most profound and deep joy we can experience in this life and in the next. It does require more on our part than the counterfeit joys of Satan. But, I testify that it is more than worth it.

When we recognize and praise the Lord for all the blessings we have received from obeying His commandments, we receive this joy. This joy increases the zeal with which we seek to accomplish the Lord's will and lose our own. As we do this, we are further blessed and prospered. The moment we feel to follow our own will or whims, however, this joy is diminished. What we want for ourselves will never be as good as what our Father, who has all knowledge, wants. That is why humility is so important and pride so destructive.

Thank you for your messages! Love you all. 

Monday, February 22, 2016

This past week's focus has primarily been finding a new person to teach. We are still doing recent convert lessons and less active lessons consistently, but we no longer have an investigator (because our last investigator got baptized). So, our studies and efforts have been geared toward opening our mouths, talking to everyone, and improving the quality of our street approaches and teaching skills. As we've done so, I've learned a lot about humility, repentance, and prayer. I'm in the last chapters of Alma right now, and they also fit right in with this topic. 

First of all, I was focused on building the Christlike attribute of humility. I prayed each morning and throughout the day for opportunities to be humbled, then reported back in the evening about how I acted on these opportunities. The difference has been incredible. Primarily, I was struck by how ready I became to repent at the first recognition that I could be doing something better, like opening my mouth to more people or using language study time more effectively. I realized that the depth of our humility determines how quickly we can change into the person the Lord wants us to be, largely because our humility allows us to see that the Lord's will is so much better than our own. Humility prompts us to act with greater faith, hope, and diligence in prayer and action to change. 

The people of Nephi throughout the long war with the Lamanites demonstrate with profound clarity and repetition the necessity of humility. Moroni and those desiring to follow Christ work with diligence to protect their homes and families. Try to liken this to yourself. Imagine a hostile and frightening nation, led by wicked and hateful men like Amalickiah and Ammaron, has invaded and taken over much of your country and killed many people. In this case, a people who might have been strong against them is weakened by those who are prideful and want power and strength for themselves. They succumb to the whims of the natural man as they are blown about by the "flatterings" of a few wicked men on several different occasions. But, is what the king-men and dissenters are seeking actually power or strength? Elder Bednar describes the natural man in the MTC as being like the cookie monster - "I want cookie! Give me cookie now!" They are so easily hooked by the shiny lures of Satan. Ultimately, their actions and grab for control did not lead to prosperity, power, or strength. They lead to weakness in a nation that caused much sorrow and destruction. Nor did these actions lead to greater personal and spiritual strength, control, or greatness, but to gaping spiritual weakness. 

So, we see that our natural impulses, desires, and wisdom amount to virtually nothing. Humility, though it can mistakenly been seen as weakness, leads to a great desire to submit our will to God through following His Son by repenting. Thanks to the Atonement, repentance is the greatest source of strength we can possibly imagine or obtain. It involves forsaking our will to the Lord's through pouring our souls unto Him in prayer. He responds by granting to us the strength to change and forsake the natural man. He blesses us with joy. Prompted by our humility and through Christ and the process of repentance, we obtain truly great stature and strength. A foundation of Christ allows us to weather whatever storms or trials Satan sends our way (Helaman 5:12).  Elder Oaks taught that our purpose in this life is to obtain the spiritual stature to return to live with Heavenly Father. Christ showed and provided the way for us - we need only have the faith to forsake our pride and follow Him. 

Thanks for your messages, love, and prayers! Have a great week!
War Museum

Temple P-Day with Elder Huckvale
Elder Huckvale looking down the barrel of a very large gun.

Monday, February 15, 2016

This past week we had p-day & record organizing, New Year's conference, and Deep Cleaning day. That took a big chunk out of chances to do other activities, so outside of meeting with our recent converts, a couple members, and a less active, we haven't done a lot. This week, though, we are hitting the ground running. The past week has been very inspiring, in large part because of the very spiritual conference we had. Another really great part, though, was when I met with Elder Kimhanjung, the AP, for passing of Certified Teacher in the mission's language progression program. He talked about the importance of setting goals and specific, effective plans in everything we do. It was exactly what I needed to learn and apply. Though I had goals and plans, he showed how to actually directly implement them in the most effective and beneficial way. When he said we were going to work on a proselyting approach, I thought we were going to just practice together, but he actually took us outside to use it in real life. It made such a difference to already know and have a plan for how I would introduce our message. I realized that, in everything we do, a specific goal, planning, and preparation is required in order for us to see the great outcome we desire. When I see a need for improvement, I need to decide exactly how and what I will do better, then do it. It seems so simple, but it makes a profound difference. 

I've also been struck recently in the Book of Mormon by the principle of preparation set by Captain Moroni. His efforts to fortify, strengthen, and prepare physically, mentally, and spiritually for the Lamanites is what worked such a great miracle. In one battle, over a thousand Lamanites were killed, but not a single Nephite. Though no doubt difficult and troublesome to go through all the effort Moroni did, it was because of this that they were spared. Preparing in every way we can is what will bring success and miracles. Diligent preparation seems, to me, to be very related toward overcoming the natural man. When we seek to be vigilant in every possible way, overcoming our tendency to procrastinate or consider something not needful enough to worry about, we become far stronger. Zarahemnah and the Lamanites attributes Moroni's success to his wisdom and preparation, but not to God. However, ultimately, a diligent of follower of Christ will seek in all ways to be prepared at all times for whatever comes their way. Thus, it is because of Him and His teachings that these things occurred.

Thanks for your messages and I hope you all have a great week! 

Monday, February 8, 2016

Today is Chinese New Year! Chinese New Year (pronounced like "soul are" in Korean - say it without space) is HUGE in Korea. The streets were packed on our way to the PC room today, and the place is filled up. Lucky we got spots. 90% of the people here are playing League of Legends...kind of a big deal in Korea. Anyway, on Chinese New Year the streets basically turn into a parking lot. Everyone is visiting family. Eating spam or salmon are most peoples' new year tradition. Stores sell spam in fancy boxes with oil and/or seasoning. Some members actually gave us some spam yesterday. Wish I'd gotten pictures of some of it...maybe I'll snap a picture of the street when I leave. 

Besides that, Brother Kim got baptized on Saturday and confirmed yesterday! It was so cool because he seemed so happy because of it. I know he was prepared and led to us by the Lord, because he was a golden investigator - incredibly humble and completely diligent in keeping commitments.

I've been thinking a lot about why Brother Kim received such quick and profound answers to his prayers while others struggle to find an answer. From what I've observed, I've found this pattern to receiving revelation:

1: Humility. The Spirit cannot enter into a heart that has not room for it. 
2: Real Intent. We receive an answer when we fully intend to act on whatever the answer is. 
3: Faith. Seeking diligently in the Book of Mormon and praying are acts of faith that allow us to receive a confirmation that that which we now know and have received is true. 

Brother Kim exemplifies these perfectly. After hearing our message, he read the Book of Mormon avidly, marking it up, studying it, and taking the message to heart. He even answered the baptismal interview questions using scriptures from the Book of Mormon. He kept every commitment, and he was entirely prepared and desirous to change his life according to the witness he received. 

Anyway, I hope everyone has a great week. We have New Year's conference tomorrow and deep cleaning on Wednesday, so that's exciting. Wish I had time to explain all the awesome things I get to see and experience every day, but, in summary, spiritual experiences are some of the most valuable things we can receive. Something profound I've seen on my mission is how spiritual a study of the Book of Mormon can be. Whatever our struggles are, I know the Book of Mormon will give us strength to overcome them. It is a gift from Heavenly Father. It is true, and the implications of this are eternal. Never forget what a confirmation of the truth of the Book of Mormon means - everything inside it is true, and everything spoken through Heavenly Father's prophets is of such importance. 

새해복 많이 받으세요!
​I edited an English paper for a friend of someone in the ward that I've never met. It was for a science article that he wanted to publish, and he sent me this as thanks.

​Me, Brother Kim, Elder Huckvale, Sister Sonksen, President Sonksen. Elder Kimtaewan came back and baptized him, which was very cool.

Monday, February 1, 2016

We've really been blessed the past couple weeks with a lot of people we are working with. We have also been focusing a lot on asking everyone on the street to meet again, which has resulted is a lot of return appointments. In fact, last Thursday, we had almost a full day of just appointments. Unfortunately, all but one of them fell through, so we are going to do better this week at explaining why we want to meet again. Elder Huckvale and I have been working on a 5-minute Restoration lesson that we could share together. It's actually really hard to keep it that short, especially because neither of us talk very quickly in Korean. But, it is amazing how powerful a simple, short message of the Restoration can be. I think it was Elder Cook that promised we would have more success and baptisms if we could perfect and do better in sharing simple, short messages. This is very helpful for people on the street, which is our primary contacting pool, because they usually don't have much time. 

Anyway, one person that I started teaching with Elder Kimtaewan last transfer is getting baptized this week! I've talked about him before as being humble, and it is so true. He is the most humble person I've ever met, and that is why he was so ready to accept the gospel. He avidly read the Bible every day before we met him, and now does so with the Book of Mormon, marking it up and taking notes on every page. His prayers are super humble and powerful. We taught him the 10 commandment, law of chastity, word of wisdom, and Sabbath day observance last week. When I asked him if he would live these laws, he replied so humbly, yet confidently, that he would live them "Yorshimhi," which means diligently and with conviction. Truly, he is a golden investigator. I've learned a lot myself about what it means to be baptized as we've taught him what it means. You are given constant ability to access the Spirit, are cleansed, become a member of the church, and receive a covenant of mercy and salvation. He already loved Heavenly Father and Christ before meeting us, and all we did was point the way to the fount of living water - the church that continues to receive His word like it did in Bible and Book of Mormon times - and he is so happy to have found it!

The joy and spiritual strength that come from faith in the Restoration, that Joseph Smith actually saw the living, physical Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, is incredible. As I share the first vision nearly every day, I've tried hard not to allow this to ever become habitual or routine. Like the scripture the asks, "And now behold, I say unto you, my brethren, if ye have experienced a change of heart, and if ye have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, I would ask, can ye feel so now?" (Alma 5:26), I hope we all remember and continually feel this as the bold, powerful message that it is. Teaching Brother Kim has strengthened my own testimony of the Restoration and its evidence, the Book of Mormon, and all the amazing things that it implies. 

Thank you for your messages and updates! So excited to hear about all the people from my home ward about to serve missions. Also love hearing from Elder Jones! It's really cold here, too, but we have no snow. I've also been thinking about our need to contact investigators daily, so your experience really helps. 

Love you all!
Elder Huckvale last Thursday, his 1 year mark.

We went to Pizza hut for Pizza festival.

There were 4 of us at the observation tower, and yes, we were the only one's crazy enough to be out in the cold.