Monday, August 29, 2016

The wind under our wings

Our investigator came to church yesterday! It was so great. The members noticed him and really welcomed him into the branch. He really seemed to like it. He has been studying the Book of Mormon and been praying regularly in his search for light and truth. We need only have the Spirit with us when we teach him, and I have no doubt he will grab on to it. Unfortunately, another gentleman we are working with was out of town and was really tired on Sunday when he came back, so he wasn't at church. But, he is also doing well, and is also desirous to keep the commandments we have been teaching him. Both are struggling with addiction to cigarettes, but I know through faith in Christ they can overcome it.

Over the past couple weeks in Wonju, I have tried to keep in remembrance the most important lesson and doctrine, which is Jesus Christ. Every transfer, every zone meeting, and every conference, I feel inspired to renew my efforts to give everything I can all day, every day. There is a time between these uplifting events, though, where the anticipation, excitement, and eagerness of the serving the Lord seems to grow thinner, more difficult. I have searched for how I can keep the same eagerness and joy of daily service in my heart. The answer is remarkably simple. We must always remember Christ. Through faith in Him, as President Uchtdorf describes, He becomes the wind under our wings. Why? Because Christ is not just a lesson among many, but He is THE lesson. He is the Son of God, meaning the foundation and hope of our lives and a better tomorrow. Everything we speak of and teach is from Him and through Him. I know that He is our Savior. I have found the strength to press forward by continuing to feast upon His word, become filled with His hope through the Spirit, and share that with others. 

Have a great week everyone!

Wow! The house and yard look amazing. That looks like it was a lot of work. You know, in Korea, to have a house and yard like that would cost a fortune. When Koreans see a house like that, topped with a fountain, orchard, and everything else, they first think, "Wow, you must be rich!" Our house is going to feel so huge when I get back. I'll have to remember never to take things for granted. 

Sunday, August 28, 2016


Wonju is awesome! There is a lot to do here to build the branch, and I'm so grateful for Elder Peterson's commitment to do everything we can for the people here. I looks like we have a lot of great people to be working with. So far, I have met Wang ju, who is pretty golden. He has a sincere desire and humility to find truth. He said he would come to church, too! The branch had an American-style barbecue last Saturday, put on by the mission's senior couples and President and Sister Sonksen. Everything was from the U.S. (bought from the base), so it was a genuine American barbecue with hot dogs, potato salad, chips, baked beans, and jello. The members seemed to like it a lot. There, I met Nick, another one of our investigators. He is fluent at English and really cool. Elder Peterson and I have plans this week to meet some of the part-member families and less actives here, as well as visit the members. 

I've learned recently about the importance of diligence with prayer and seeking revelation. The Lord wants us to take great care with the things that he gives us. Kind of like the parable of the talents. When we feel impressed to do something or learn something from scripture study, it is important that we apply it, grow it, and develop it in every way we can. The more we "arouse our faculties" and strive to follow Christ's example, the greater the witness, knowledge, and revelation we will receive. Through our diligence, we show that we can be trusted with more. 

Thanks for your messages and support! It means a lot to me. Love you!

Wonju is great! It is a little cooler than Seoul, but I think everywhere is cooling down now, so it might just be the timing. Elder Peterson is great! He has a lot of faith and is doing a lot for Wonju Branch. He is from North Carolina and played trombone in high school. He is pretty big into music, and is actually leading the branch choir each week. He's been in Korea for 11 transfers, which are each six weeks. I am on my ninth. He is also SUPER good at Korean. 

There is so much going on at home! There must be a lot of grass now. How do you water it all?
Our apartment window! 18th floor!

​Elder Steward, Ryu, Peterson, Me

Monday, August 15, 2016

Back to the Countryside

Transfer calls came! I am going back out to the countryside again, to an area called Wonju, which is next to Taebaek. Instead of 30,000, though, it will be 300,000, so I guess "countryside" is relative. Anyway, I'm super excited! I've loved serving in Nokbeon and I've learned a lot here. I'm grateful especially for the investigators that I've taught and working with Elder Carmen and Gildea. My new companion's name is Elder Peterson.

As I thought about my time here in Nokbeon, and how I could improve and do better in Wonju, I found that what I remembered was not the planning, working, proselyting, or any of the other stuff we do as missionaries. My thoughts were about the people, and particularly whether or not they had come unto Christ. My goal for Wonju is to serve with this in mind, and every night, to ask myself, "Have I brought anyone unto Christ today?" Then I can better keep my destination in mind - not just to teach a lesson, to learn Korean, to learn more members names, but to actually love them enough to reach further out to the hearts of every person, and to more people each day, to bring them the Spirit. 

We have had a bunch of meals with members come up since Sunday when the leaving missionaries gave their farewell talks, and tomorrow is temple p-day, so we're pretty packed right now, which is great. Hopefully I can meet Brother Samuel, the less-active we are working with, Tim, and a couple other members before I go. Unfortunately Jimmy is still on a trip, but he is in good hands!

Thanks for your messages, faith, and prayers. Love you all! 

​Lunch today - seafood Jambbong! Elder Gildea, me, Elder Brown

​It was super good!

​Brother Yun took us there today. He is awesome!

​There was shrimp, octopus, mussel, and clam - here is the remnant

​Nokbeon living quarters with Elder Brown

​Me, Elder Bradshaw, and Brother Lee, our awesome English Class Coordinator

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

This week we had a really special experience when a member suddenly called and asked for a Priesthood blessing for her mom. I was nervous, because I had never given a blessing in Korean before. But, we went, and I sealed and Elder Gildea gave the blessing. It was most powerful to see the member's faith in Christ, and therefore in the blessing. This made me reflect on how important it is to always be prepared in our faith. Like Elder Holland once said, lightning may strike. We don't know when or where, but, like this member, we all must at some point experience a deep trial. It is at this point where the true stature of our faith will be tested. As for this member, she was prepared enough in her faith of the Savior that, no matter the outcome, she could maintain hope. The sweet comfort that comes at a time like this can not be bought by any means beside faith. As for me, I know that Christ is our Savior. Through him we can receive all the promised blessings of peace and assurance of life after death and of eternal life with family. Nothing created by man can replace the hope and joy of the Savior.

Along with that experience, we had a great week. On exchange, Elder Gildea with Elder Bradshaw found an investigator over in the Newtown area named Brother Ahn. As I heard it, they were walking along when this high school or college teacher came up behind them and started talking. They went and sat down in a cafe about 200 meters away and taught the Restoration. Then, when they asked for his phone number, he actually got up and got his phone from off a different table, meaning he had already been in the cafe when he saw them pass by and had chased them down the street. Elder Gildea and I taught him again on Tuesday, and he is really great! 

We were able to meet Jimmy again this week, but he is going away again on another trip again. Tim is leaving for college in a few weeks, so we plan to help him increase his faith so he can keep learning and be baptized when he meets missionaries out in Gangweondo. 

Love you all! Have a superb week.

Elder Gildea is great and super hard working. Korean is coming along great - I'm starting to understand more and more all the time. Love you all! Have a great week!
Pictures of our area from a random apartment building.

Elder Gildea

Pictures of our area from a random apartment building.

Pictures of our area from a random apartment building.

Pictures of our area from a random apartment building.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

2016/07/31--Simple Truth

This week has been great! We weren't able to meet with Jimmy, who is on vacation, or Tim for most of this week, who is also on a trip. But, were were able to meet with some others pretty unexpectedly that we were able to teach. Also, the Bishop here in Nokbeon has a goal to get eighty active youth coming by the end of the year, so we've started focusing on how we can help him accomplish that. Other than that, we've tried spending time visiting members and finding new investigators.

On Friday, though, President Sonksen's mission president from when he was a missionary here, President Brown, came and spoke to all the missionaries. It was an incredible meeting, especially when we learned about the impact President Brown had in Korea when he was here. A lot of what he did had a huge impact on the history of the church in Korea, and he shared some incredibly powerful stories, like being part of the first stake organized in Korea. He talked about how the first missionaries in Korea, who started their missions in a time when Korea was in dire circumstances after the Korean war. People lived in cardboard houses with roofs made of flattened soda cans. People were so eager to meet with the missionaries that they never had time to proselyte - they were just always teaching and setting more appointments. It was super interesting and enlightening to see how the church as it is today came to be, and see how Korean history has made it what it is right now.

As we meet new investigators and talk with people on the street, we usually teach the Restoration lesson more than any other lesson. This week, a lot of people opposed the idea of a restoration, the Book of Mormon, and such. It has occurred to me as I continue to teach, testify, and invite, over and over again, just how significant the promise in Moroni 10 is. There is no end to the doubts people can express about it, but the fact that the whole matter is so readily, simply, and easily resolved that it shows Heavenly Father's love even more powerfully. If you want to know, all you have to do is to read it and ask Heavenly Father if it is true. Heavenly Father does love His children, and he wants all of them to know about Him and His truths. A witness of the Book of Mormon, and answer from God, certainly resolves any doubt our concern about the truth of the restoration. First, you must just desire to know.

Thanks for your emails and messages! Have a great week everyone!

This is Jimmy

Not sure if I've sent this one yet - left to right - Tim, me, Lee Dongseon, Elder Manwaring, Elder Bradshaw, Elder Carmen, Jeoung Suhyeong, Sister Mun Hyejee, Sister Park, and Sister Cameron

2016/07/24--Go forward, not backward

This week Jimmy was on vacation, so we weren't able to meet him. Tim, though, we've met nearly every day and taught him some commandments and read in the Book of Mormon with him. He is keeping every commitment, which is so awesome! Right now we are helping him to get a testimony that Heavenly Father is there and that the Book of Mormon is true. Though he keeps the commitments, a change of heart is crucial in true repentance. This past week, I've thought every day about the importance of where we place our hearts. A significant part of our purpose is what we choose to prize, what really means the most to us. What our hearts are set upon will be the thing that grants us a reward. If we prize power and riches, then we will have all the reward through eternity that the power and riches obtained in this life can buy - which is nothing. If we set our hearts upon God, we will have all the blessings and rewards that He wants to give us - that is infinite. We need only choose, but not just with our minds, but with all our heart. 

This past week was a little disappointing because many of the great potential investigators we've met haven't wanted to meet, as well as our other investigators and the less actives we are working with. As I've kept trying to give every day all that I have, I've been so thankful for the Lord's help in keeping my mind set toward the future, to the things I want to accomplish, rather than toward all the many ways I've fallen short in the past. In D&C 128 we read, "Brethren, shall we not go on in so great a cause? Go forward and not backward. Courage, brethren; and on, on to the victory! Let your hearts rejoice, and be exceedingly glad." I used to think dwelling on shortcomings was good to keep me humble, but I've found greater humility as I actively seek to overcome them each day, trusting in the Lord and witnessing all that He will do for us. Faith and hope overcome sorrow and frustration when we always keep in mind goals, objective, and dreams, especially over long periods of time. 

Have a great week everybody!

Ran into my former companion at the temple.  He's home now.

Just the street near the church in Nokbeon