Monday, March 28, 2016

Hello! I hope everyone had a great Easter. I know I did! This week we've been orienting all of our proselyting efforts around Easter. Most Koreans know about it, but very few (if any) actually celebrate it. Still, we took the opportunity to teach and bear testimony of Christ as God's Son and our Redeemer as much as we could. 

I'd like to share some of the impressions I've had this week about overcoming weaknesses. In Ether, we are told that we all have weaknesses so that we can be humble. We are promised, also, that our weaknesses can become strong. The question that we have to answer, then, is how. We all have things we wish we could do better. We may even wish that we were more humble. We may wish we were more charitable or more patient, or that we had greater strength to overcome temptation or addictions. No matter what our challenge is, the answer is the same: our Savior. 

From here, there are many things that could be discussed or learned about how we obtain the Savior's promised blessing to overcome weaknesses. I would like to talk about gratitude and humility. Remembering our Savior and His sacrifice for us is the most powerful way I've found to bring this things about - it's what we do every week in Sacrament meeting, and especially during Easter time. When we really understand what it means when we testify that He is God's Only Begotten Son, we begin to understand how much He really did for us. He, like His Father, is perfect. He is equal in knowledge and power. He was and is the only one through whom salvation can come, because He was the only one able to accomplish the enormous task required of Him. 

What was that task? It was the task of descending from His throne above below every person who would every live. It was descending below every weakness, sickness, trial, sin, and death of every person who ever did, does, or will live. It was descending from a position of absolute glory and perfection to a position below the combined imperfections and weaknesses of every person. More than that, His task was then to lift each and every one of us back up all the way to perfection. Having descending below all to place all on His shoulders, He then, being perfect like our Father in Heaven, can lift us all up to His degree of perfection and glory. The magnitude of this task is incomprehensible to us, but we know that by obeying Him and His commandments, we can be lifted with Him to eternal life. The words descended and lifted up help us understand His central role in our plan and purpose. Christ himself taught this to the Nephites in 3 Nephi 27:

 13 Behold I have given unto you my gospel, and this is the gospel which I have given unto you—that I came into the world to do the will of my Father, because my Father sent me.

 14 And my Father sent me that I might be lifted up upon the cross; and after that I had been lifted up upon the cross, that I might draw all men unto me, that as I have been lifted up by men even so should men be lifted up by the Father, to stand before me, to be judged of their works, whether they be good or whether they be evil—

 15 And for this cause have I been lifted up; therefore, according to the power of the Father I will draw all men unto me, that they may be judged according to their works.

 16 And it shall come to pass, that whoso repenteth and is baptized in my name shall be filled; and if he endureth to the end, behold, him will I hold guiltless before my Father at that day when I shall stand to judge the world.

This Easter, we remember what Christ did for us. We remember that because of His sacrifice - his condescension below each of us - and His glorious resurrection that we will all be resurrected too. Every weakness can be purged and forgiven through Him. 

So, we are back to the question of "How do I receive this gift?" We follow Him. He descended below us all and paid everything for us to receive His fullness, but in order to allow him to lift us up, we need to do our part in clinging to Him. Part of this is gratitude and humility. Consider His example is verse 13 - He came to do His Father's will. One of the most powerful gestures of humility was made in the very beginning, when Christ told His Father: "Father, thy will be done, and the glory be thine forever" (Moses 4:2). Savior, Redeemer, Master, Lord, and Jehovah are just a few of the names that describe Christ. He is the Savior of mankind, worshiped by all those with hope and faith in Him. This is why Satan wanted this role - for glory and power. Christ, however, takes none of the glory of this calling to Himself, but gives it all to the Father. 

We should follow this example in our own lives. Fulfilling our desires for improvement and progression, overcoming each of our weaknesses and becoming more Christlike, is our purpose. But as we improve and and weaknesses grow strong throughout our lives, let us never forget He who made this possible. When we feel the strength of the Spirit working in us to build us up or build others up, let us give all glory to the Father. Imagine the spiritual strength that comes when our every thought and prayer is "Lead though me on, and the Glory be Thine Forever," recognizing with all the gratitude and love we can muster that it is Christ who is our strength from the beginning to the end. It is by clinging to Him and His every word that brings joy, strength, glory, and happiness previously unknown into our lives. We gratefully and anxiously turn outward toward all others in a Spirit of love and meekness. We can never be brought down for the joy that comes of being converted to Christ. We submit our will to Him more naturally than we submit to the natural man. And, always, we remember that it is He to whom all credit and glory belong, not to us. 

I know that Christ is the Only Begotten Son of our Heavenly Father. He is our Savior and Redeemer. I know He lived and died for us, and we will all live again. 

Have a great week everybody!

​Just a normal dinner at the house with Elder Barr, Dye, and Welling

​View from the window when it decided to start snowing the other day

Monday, March 21, 2016

Gift of the Holy Ghost

Hello! Sounds like everyone is doing pretty great. Is a flash flood just a normal thing where Brittney lives?

Korean is going great. There's a lot I don't understand, but when people are talking about gospel or church things I usually understand them and can say what I want to say. Besides that, it's just lots of studying and SYLing (Speak Your Language). The mission uses a program called LPP (Language Progression Program), which I've not sure if I've told you about. There are certified teacher, master teacher, and King Saejong achievements. I got certified a month or so ago, and am working on Master Teacher now. This week, I'm getting a talk ready for next Sunday about Easter.

We do teach English class on Tuesday and Friday. We have a couple less actives we are working with regularly, and a whole ton more that we try to find throughout the week. Most phone numbers don't work, and all the addresses are the old system that has absolutely no logic or organization to it, even when looking at a map. So, we end up searching for houses as best we can to try to see whether or not they still exist. Most of the time, the house is gone or the member has moved. Besides that, we just got a new investigator this week with lots of interest, and have a few more that aren't progressing right now.

Oh yea - answering Dad's question, we've eaten curry, raman, kimchi, intestine soup, rice cake, Kimchi stew, fatback (kinda like thick bacon, and that's actually what it translates to according to the dictionary), and dumplings. This things are often mixed together with vegetables and spices. We eat rice with every meal. In Korea, if you eat anything without rice, it is not considered a meal. A common polite greeting is to ask someone if they have eaten a meal. You can literally ask if they ate a meal or if they ate rice and it is synonymous.

Anyway, sounds like everyone has something fun coming up. Thanks for the pictures! 

Love you!

This has been a great week! We were blessed to have an investigator led to us who wants to hear our message and shared some very powerful life experiences that have drawn him closer to God. 

I've seen a lot of personal growth this week as I've sought to be more humble, loving, sincere, and bold. I've always struggled and felt like I haven't done well enough with opening my mouth. I felt like I was always prompted to talk with lots of people during the day, but often didn't do it. During my exchange with Elder Barr, that's what I told him I wanted to improve on. His commitment was very simple, but very helpful and inspired: to pray for the Holy Ghost in every single prayer. I thought about how related that is to living the gospel of Christ - we are to continually to repent and change, which change is enabled by Christ and His Atonement. The way we receive the knowledge, strength, and purification we need to change is given by the gift of the Spirit, and we are commanded to receive the Holy Ghost in our confirmation after baptism. I've thought about the promise that weaknesses, which are given for our humility, can become strong. The desire to make this weakness strong has really driven me this week to do better, and because of the exchange I realized (again) that I can't do it on my own. I need the Spirit to strengthen and uphold me. One of the greatest feeling of joy we can receive is that of having done our Heavenly Father's will, and it is through the Spirit that we can do this. 

One frequent concern we receive as missionaries about the necessity of having more scripture or revelation than the Bible. I've thought a lot about that this week. Some people actually struggle to understand that the Book of Mormon is something different from the Bible. People will call it the "Mormon Bible" or just the "Bible." They often think it is just another translation of the Bible. In many cases, people have grown up with the belief that has been held for about the last 2000 years - that the Bible is the perfect and only word of God, and that anything more is unnecessary. As I thought about this, I reflected on the fact that from the very beginning and all throughout history, Christ has been our light, guide, rock, and Savior. From the very fall of Adam, which brought about our time to face temptation and sorrow, He was there to call all unto Him. He did so through Adam and prophets after him - Enoch, Noah, and on. He sent prophets and gave them power and authority to preach His word unto all. He did so even until He came. He suffered and died to pay the price for our shortcomings and mistakes, and every other effect of the Fall. Then, in what may be the most powerful and important event in history, He rose from the dead. His sacrifice provides us all with a way to be lifted from the carnal and evil of the world to return to a loving Heavenly Father above.  He is our Savior and Redeemer from the beginning to the end, and His work did not end there. He continued to guide His church through apostles and prophets, even appearing unto Saul, so that His word and gospel could be proclaimed and all would come unto Him. He did so until people used their agency to reject His prophets and apostles again. They changed truths and ordinances of His gospel, and His power and authority was taken from the Earth. The fountain of truth and light of His word was gone. 

When the time was right, our Savior again restored His gospel to the Earth, and once again His light and guidance was poured across the Earth. He again blessed His people through His power and authority of the Priesthood. He called apostles and prophets again to establish His church and bring it and the message of repentance to all the world. Like He Himself, Christ's church is living. It is an ever-flowing fountain of knowledge and truth. While the Bible truly testifies of Him, we need to be guided by the actual source of light and Salvation, which is the Living Christ. As Elder Jackman put it, "I know that because He loves us, He has not left us alone. He has provided us with a beacon or light-house so that we may sail with guidance in the midst of the storms. A prophet who can receive that revelation to direct our ways." Our course is straight and narrow. The plan established for our happiness and progression is Christ, and there is no other. So, why isn't the Bible enough? Think of Christ as our compass - our light and guide - on a journey through storms and darkness. We are safe if we go where the compass points. But, what if the compass only guided us partway through our journey, then ceased? We would immediately be lost and know not where to go. We need our compass - Christ - to constantly be with us, constantly guiding, constantly calling us back to Him by His word and power. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is His Living Church, led by His endless power and authority. It is only through the Living Christ that we can obtain salvation, and thus it is only through His church founded on His true gospel, blessed with His Priesthood, that can bring salvation through Him to His children. 

Thank you all, love you, and have a great week! 

Elder Tyler Crisp

​We went to a Paleozoic museum last P-day

​The legs actually moved

Thursday, March 17, 2016

The Center of the Plan of Salvation

This past week has been great! We went to zone training in Gangneung up north, which took most of Wednesday because of the long bus and train ride. The training was great, though. It was all about revelation and teaching by the Spirit. My testimony of personal revelation has grown as I've experienced it through prayer and scripture study, as well as studying Preach My Gospel. 

I've been studying the Pearl of Great Price recently, and the great message it teaches about Christ as God's Only Begotten Son is powerful. I wondered why Heavenly Father performed everything from the very beginning - from the creation of the Plan of Salvation onward - through His Son. As I studied, it occurred to me that seems Heavenly Father directs us always towards His Son. Christ created the Earth. We were made in His image. He has been the power through which Heavenly Father has blessed us and led us to Him from the very beginning. Our greatest desire has always been to become more like Heavenly Father. Knowing that Heavenly Father is all-knowing and glorious, the source of all truth, the "Beginning and the End," and the most loving person in the universe, we see that this is a very lofty goal, far beyond our reach as mere inexperienced children living in His presence. So, he gave us an opportunity. We would leave His presence, like an earthly child leaves their parents, to learn and become stronger spiritually. We would taste of the bitter and sorrows to understand the good. We would learn to use His gift of agency righteously, productively, and toward a joyful end. Satan's mistake was to seek greatness and glory by shortcut, without going through these things. But there is no shortcut. Like working a muscle, we can only grow through some discomfort and trial. 

The center of the Plan of Salvation is the Only Begotten of the Father. Without light, strength, and guidance, how could any of us on the Earth, away from the source all these things, ever come to obtain them? God's Son, being as perfect as Him, was the only one qualified to provide these things to even one of us. He is the one who has done His Father's will from the very beginning. He showed us the way. Above all, He, though perfect and already like our Heavenly Father, stepped down further than any of us so that He could lift ALL of us all the way back to His Father. There was none other that could do this, which is why we testify that Christ was, in fact, the Son of God. From the position he willingly descended to, below the trials, sufferings, and sins of all mankind, he is able to then lift us all the way up to a goal and glory that it beyond our ability to comprehend. Though we still need to do our part to hold fast to Him, if we do so, we can reach heights beyond our previous understanding. I know this is true, and I know Christ is the Son of God and that He lives. That is why we are to always remember Him. 

Have a great week and thanks for your great messages!

Happy birthday Dad!

Even though Taebaek city is only 30,000 people, it still feels bigger than Missoula because it is built inward and upward like all Korean cities. It is way nice to be in the mountains, though. The bus ride to zone conference this week took about two and a half hours, so I snapped some pictures. 

​Me and Elder Barr. Ocean outside the train station near Gangneung, where we had zone training.

​Taebaek City from the apartment window

​Taebaek Branch building. Look at the name of the building right behind's kind of funny.

​Passed by the ocean. Unfortunately not in our area

I've heard there are good hiking trails, so hopefully we will do that when it warms up a bit more. Not sure what we'll encounter, but in Seoul it was cats.

Monday, March 7, 2016

New area in the mountains...Taebaek.

I'm pretty far from Seoul - one of the farthest areas, in fact. In an old picture of our mountain hike, I might have sent one of a huge tower in the distance. I got to see it close up on the taxi ride to the bus station in Seoul and see what it actually is. It's more than twice as big as any other building in Seoul, I think. 

The ride to Taebaek was totally different because it was all mountains. Korea's mountains are pretty awesome. I don't have a whole lot of pictures yet, but I'll send the ones I have and try to get some more. 

It is actually warmer here than it was in Seoul. The Branch is very small, and the branch president has been is his calling for about twenty years. Elder Dye has been serving for about fifteen months. He likes skiing and running, and was also in a band of some kind. He plays guitar and a couple other instruments. 

The Taebaek are is super pretty. The mountains look very cool. A couple days ago we went to a town that was a two-hour bus ride away and it was surrounded by super cool-looking mountains. It's safe to say that this area is prettier than Seoul. 

We pretty much just do street contacting, calls, and look for less active members. One problem we've run into is that Taebaek City is shrinking, so it seems like everyone that we have met or taught has moved or will be moving soon. I still haven't met the branch president, because he is in Japan right now. Elder Dye is actually first counselor and does pretty much all the administrative stuff. Yesterday he presided and conducted sacrament meeting and did all the tithing stuff. 

Thanks! Love you!  

New area and new companion! Elder Dye is great - he is from Utah and was in a band apparently. He's super smart and has been in Taebaek for 1 transfer. There are two other Elders in the district named Elder Welling and Elder Barr. 

Me, Elder Dye, Elder Barr, Elder Welling

Taebaek is actually pretty warm right now, but I've been told that I just missed the really cold spell. Hopefully it stays that way. Taebaek is very pretty and is surrounded by mountains, but doesn't have a whole lot of people. The area is super big (the largest in the mission, I think), and on Saturday we took a two hour bus ride to get to a different city named Jeoungseoung (spelled wrong). Taebaek is on old mining city that is actually shrinking like crazy because the mines are closing down. It has few than 50,000 people, so I think it is smaller than Missoula. The branch itself is super small - only five members came on Sunday, along with six missionaries. Thus, I got to bless the Sacrament for the first time in Korean. 

I've learned a lot this past week about Christlike attributes. The more I think and seek to develop them, the more I see how closely related they all are. But, I'll try to talk mostly about virtue and hope. Until recently, I don't think I really understand what virtue was. My understanding, as I've studied it in PMG, is that it is the truest and most sincere desires of our heart. It comes when, by faith, we act diligently with hope on the seed or tree that is within us. When we see the great joy that comes from following Christ, our faith and hope increases, and we seek with even greater diligence to obtain more knowledge of him and act according to it. We seek not just to experiment on the word, but to actually have it written in our hearts; we strip ourselves of pride and forsake whatever imperfect thought our feeling we hold, and we do this because of our ever increasing hope and faith for His promised blessings. A virtuous person naturally repents quickly and completely. They no longer even have desires to sin, and pride or temptation becomes abhorrent to them. Virtue and hope allow us to maintain joy even during problems or trials because they keep us rooted firmly in Christ while looking steadfastly and patiently forward. Alma 32 describes the process of building Christlike attributes perfectly. When we remember the great promises of the last three verses, along with the joy and fruits we have already received, we can work through any problem we have with energy, peace, and joy.

Thanks for your messages - sounds like Lolo ward is going through some changes, so that's exciting. Love you all & have a great week!