Monday, October 24, 2016

Elder Bednar comes to town!

Fantastic week this week! Wednesday we went to Seoul and back for a combined mission conference with the Seoul South Mission. It was one of the most spiritual and learning experiences I've had. There was too much that I loved to list my favorite part. In general, what I learned most was not from anything he said, but from the way he taught. It was basically a three hour discussion between everyone, not just him. The amazing power that this taught us about learning by faith and not just passive reception, and also by exercising agency and doing more, was electrifying. It was essentially an opportunity to witness the power of the most basic principles of the gospel in effect. When we pray, we pray not just with a desire to act, but in a way that ensures we will act. He also started the question and answer session by saying, "If you prepared questions for this beforehand, don't ask them." And yet every one of us had those questions answered - by faith, and by the Spirit, not by passively becoming a passive learning object at the hands of Elder Bednar, rather than an agent to learn for ourselves. 

The Spirit from this meeting continued to Thursday, when Elder Du Plessis and I saw many miracles. We went out to Hwengseong to visit a member and a less actives. We weren't quite sure how the timing of buses was going to work, though, so I was texting the member back and forth to try to figure out how we could visit. When we finally decided that if we were both in Wonju at 4:00 we could meet. We then grabbed a bus ticket with two minutes to spare to get to the less active's house. The whole timing of the day worked out miraculously, because we only knew which bus to take because of a person who had giving us directions last week. On that bus, we realized we didn't know where to get off, because we had never been that way before. I turned to the lady behind me, who had just gotten on, and asked if she know where the address was. She told us we needed to get off at the very next stop, which was only about a minute away. Then she told us to walk down the road to the right. When we did, we started seeing that it matched the one on our picture from a map, and we were able to find the house faster than I've ever found one before, despite being further away than any I've tried to find before. The person there told us the less active had moved. On our way back, someone called and wanted to meet, so we set an appointment. Then we caught another bus that just so happened to be going exactly where we needed it to. It stopped for a while in Hwegseong, where it just so happened that the member we had originally wanted to meet got on. We both ended up in Wonju together, so she wanted to take us to a restaurant. Then, during the message, she shared about some struggles she was facing, and how she hadn't been to church in four weeks. I felt prompted to share the story from general conference about when segregation was first ended in Africa, and church was combined for the first time. One family felt mistreated, and the girl complained about this to her mom afterward. The mom replied that the church was like a big hospital, and everyone was sick in their own way. This seemed to help here, and I feel that the whole day worked out the way it did so that we would meet and be able to share that. She came to church yesterday.

We are currently striving to talk to everyone, work with the members, and find new investigators to teach.

Have a good week everyone! Elder Jones, hope your meeting with Elder Bednar is life-changing as well!

Elder Bednar Conference

Out in the Country (last Thursday)

It's rice harvest time!

Monday, October 17, 2016

Lots of travel this week

This month is pretty wild and involves a lot of traveling and time-consuming activities. We had general conference last week, this week we had district conference up in Gangnung, and next week we will head to the Seoul South mission for Elder Bednar. District conference was great, though. We actually stayed up in Gangnung with the Taebaek and Sokcho elders in the Gangung elders' house, which was a new experience. 

A lot of members in Korea are converts, which means that talks often include someone's conversion story. This was definitely the case in the district conference. I especially enjoyed one talk where the member first met missionaries on the street. He received a book of Mormon and read it.  The very next day he found the missionaries again and asked to be taught. Many of the members have amazing conversion stories, and it inspires me to give more of myself to each person I meet. We are often told to do 100% OYM, which means open your mouth and talk to everyone possible. When you talk to so many people, it is easy to get it a routine and hand out cards and copies of the Book of Mormon without much of a thought. But when I hear the members talk about the first time that met missionaries and how inspired they felt when they heard about the restoration and read the Book of Mormon, I realize again that every person is so precious. A line of testimony, a Book of Mormon, or a sincere invitation to learn more can change a heart, and as servants we merely try to be vessels of the Spirit. 

We weren't able to meet with Nick for a lesson this week, but we still call and talk with him each day. Other than that this week has mostly been spent doing finding activities. We have some really great potential investigators we are excited for, and also very excited for Elder Bednar! 

Have a great week!

I got your package! Love it, thank you! I've already eaten most of the candy. I got it early because Elder Ryu went to the office for a leadership training and lugged back a bunch of packages for us. Otherwise it probably would have waited till November's zone meeting. Thanks again! 

Look who was at District Conference! Elder (now brother) Kimtaewan! 
​Look who else was at District Conference! Tim, our investigator from Nokbeon! And also Elder Bradshaw.

​Look who else was there! Elder Peterson!

​Gangnug area is actually the area the next olympics will be 

Monday, October 10, 2016

Beyond the mind and into the heart

This week our greatest miracle was finally being able to sit down and teach _____. He has been an investigator here for quite a while, but we have been uncertain about his sincerity in learning the gospel. When we sat down to teach him, we planned to start again from the beginning and help him see how significant it is to him that the Lord has restored truth to the Earth through the Book of Mormon and living prophets, and to test and see for himself through prayer, study, and even through the awesome opportunity we had to hear from those prophets at general conference. As soon as we sat down, we had only asked a few questions about how he had seen God in his life when he really opened up and described some difficult experiences, how they worked out, and about some of his worries. We were able to testify with power that the restored gospel would bless his life and extend the invitation. The Spirit was there powerfully, and I felt humbled as I felt it and learned again that I am not the true teacher. He accepted the commitment. Unfortunately he did not watch general conference, but maybe we can select a talk or few that will fit best for him. 

General Conference was fantastic! I felt at the end that my needed improvement was to enter into a more heartfelt spirit of worship and really come to know Christ. I never really understood before my mission the central messages of this gospel. I knew lots of topics frequently taught - prayer, church, commandments, scriptures, etc...but I never understood that these are all part of one great whole, and that whole is Christ. The precious truth that Heavenly Father, the God of all creation, loves us more that we can comprehend needs to move in understanding beyond the mind and into the heart, every day. He loves us so much that he sent his perfect Son so that we would not be alone, cut off from his presence in a feeble effort to learn and grow on our own. Christ, who was and is the God of Israel, the Creator of the Earth, and in every and all ways our joy and hope needs to be written deeply in my heart and the heart of every person who desires to return clean and unspotted to our Heavenly home. That's why we meet every week to worship and remember Him, pray in His name, and learn about him in the scriptures every day. 

I know as we seek to feel God's love through applying Christ's Atonement, our hearts will be changed. We will find joy. 

Have a great fall everyone. It suddenly got cold here in Korea. Suit season! 

​Misty morning outside the apartment

The other side

Friday, October 7, 2016

It's getting colder.

Things are getting colder here in Wonju! We climbed a mountain today in the pouring rain. I'll send some pictures! 

This week on Thursday we saw a pretty great miracle when we traveled to Yeonsei University to meet a Chinese potential investigator named Peter. When we got there, it turned out he had invited two of his friends to meet with us, as well. We ate with all three of them and shared some basic principles. I really like teaching Chinese investigators because they have no background and little foreknowledge at all of what we are talking about. It reminds me just how precious a knowledge of a loving Heavenly Father and us being his children really is. We also introduced the Book of Mormon, though this was a little difficult because we had English and Korean, but they don't quite speak either of these well enough to understand the Book of Mormon. So, we ordered some Chinese ones, and we'll meet them again this Thursday with them. It's probably going to be a very interesting lesson of mixed English, Korean, and Chinese. 

My new companion is Elder Du Plessis! He is from South Africa and is super awesome. He is very kind, patient, and humble. I don't think you could say anything that would ever upset him. He is very desirous to be obedient and to serve. He also can grow beards like crazy and has a cool accent. It's actually very refreshing to meet people on the street and be able to say we are from somewhere other than the U.S., because that is always what they expect. 

This week a spiritual lesson I learned was the importance of trust and courage to follow the Spirit. Thursday morning when we prepared for our investigators, it occured to me that I needed to make sure I had the first vision memorized in English for them. As I was sitting on a bus coming back from Yeonsei I felt like I should talk with the person behind me. Even though it seemed like it would be very awkward on a quite bus, I turned around and said hello. It turned out that he was from New York, and as we talked it was obvious that he was very familiar with church and the Bible. I was able to share the Restoration and the First Vision in English, and he accepted a Book of Mormon. This experience taught me, again, that the Spirit can guide us in what we need to do every day; and, if we will follow it, we will see miracles. 

Have a great week everybody! I actually don't get to see general conference until this next weekend, but I'm looking forward to it. 

Me, Elder Peterson, Nick, Bak Irheung

​View from a restaurant high above Wonju

​Base of Chiak Mountain - random chicken that was wandering around

"Waterfall" (By the way, it was pouring rain.)

​Another Waterfall

​The Peak - in the middle of the cloud

​Rock Tower on the peak - it was actually really cool because the wind was blowing hard and there was so much mist that it was just swirling all around us