"Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. " --- John 8:10

Monday, August 26, 2013

Slowish Week the First. May There Never Be a Second.

Don't set terms with God. As we work and as we trust him, he can and wants to give us more than we can imagine. When we bargain with him, setting terms, we waste the Lord's time, express distrust of his intentions, and subject our selves to our own limitations. Instead of setting terms, go to work, do your duty, and soldier on like your life depended on it, because someone else's might.


So at this point we don't really have any actual investigators. In follow up to last week's email, our dying potential investigator is still just a potential because he is still in the hospital. We're going to try to get out to see him this week.

In further, though unrelated followup, that axe murderer guy is officially an axe murderer. That cop is very dead. Sort of a tricky situation, especially once the ward leaders found out. They told us to keep him away and cut him off, but President, correctly, gave us the go ahead to keep working with him. I just can't see Jesus telling someone to not go to church. But yeah, its a very tricky situation.

I did sub in for a couple of appointments this week. While the Zone Leaders were gone, me and the other ZL's greenie teamed up a couple of times. The first time, we were partnered with a couple of Elders from the east coast. Aka, the middle of nowhere. I got to work with Elder Black. He's a super hard worker, really focused, and genuinely caring about the people. While I was with him, the four of us went to a meeting with a guy named Simon. He's Korean, but he speaks a good load of English, so I sort of ended up taking point. He claims to have read the whole BoM before, and he very well could have, but he clearly didn't understand it all. He believes that Joseph Smith was a true prophet and that the BoM is the word of God, but he also believes in Catholicism and doesn't understand or see the discrepancy. So he goes to Catholic church, and doesn't see the need to be baptised into our church because he was baptized Catholic. My explanations went over his head, but at least we get where he's coming from. I don't think that I'm going to be working with him in the future cause he's not my investigator, but he was an interesting guy to be sure.

The one other sort of meeting I had this week was just introductory stuff with a guy who just finished off his military service. In Korea, all Korean men have to serve in the military for 2-3 years. So this guy had met the missionaries two years ago and took the Book of Mormon to the military with him. Got through first Nephi. Liked it, but found it hard to believe. I was sort of on point there too, until Elder Chisholm (the other ZL) got back and took over. He was super nice and genuinely interested, but again, I probably won't work with him again. The fun part of that encounter, besides getting a chance to teach a little, was realizing that, as long as I'm creative, I can say a lot of the stuff that I want to in Korean. Really simply, but enough to teach people. So that's good news.
My typical week was a lot of jundo. I got 43 by myself this week along with 6 phone numbers. So hopefully one of them turns into an investigator!

Other than that, I got passed off for the first lesson. I don't know if they do this everywhere, but here there is a languange program where you practice teaching in Korean and whatnot. You have to memorize a bunch of vocab and some scripture references, and then teach a lesson. So I did the first lesson this last week. Hopefully, this next week that is right now (I'm not sure how to describe time anymore) I can get through number two.

I also played horse's patoot for FHE this week, and met a crazy South African lady. We were in McDonalds when we were ambushed by this lady who was spewing all kinds of fun stuff about talking rocks, and animals being more favorite than people, and something about racist all over us. For about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, in the background, her pirate-husband just grins knowingly and gives us a nod on our way out. So that was fun.

Spiritual thought for the week comes from Matthew 20. You know the parable about the dudes that work shorter hours getting payed more and whatnot? If not, go read it really quick.

Now that you've read, I wanted to emphasize something that stuck out to me while I was studying it. The initial workers, the ones who were later upset, set their wage with the master at the start of the day. Before they started working, they set terms. The later workers did no such thing. They were hired and they started working, trusting the Master to deal with them fairly. With the later workers, the lord was able to be generous with them, giving liberally to each man a sum that was probably larger than they expected. The early workers had chosen justice for themselves. Don't set terms with God. As we work and as we trust him, he can and wants to give us more than we can imagine. When we bargain with him, setting terms, we waste the Lord's time, express distrust of his intentions, and subject our selves to our own limitations. Instead of setting terms, go to work, do your duty, and soldier on like your life depended on it, because someone else's might.
Whitlock out.

Elder Whitlock (very back, middle, head above the others) and his zone, headed to a service project.

 View of Seoul from the top of the mountain where they performed service by cleaning and beautifying the environment.

Elder Whitlock (far back, second from the right) with his Zone.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

So I'm Teaching An Axe Murderer?

I'm almost out of time again! That means that ya'll have done good work! Thanks so much for all the letters.

It has been an interesting week.

To address the alarming title, I'm only teaching the guy in English class, he works with some other Elders for churchy things, but I am in fact teaching an axe murderer. Or at least, so it would appear. He's a super nice guy, very humble, submissive and receptive. Also quite strong and he just got out of prison. He spent eight years there and just was released onto parole with a tracker anklet on an insanity plea. His crime? Attacking a police officer's head with a hatchet. We aren't sure if the guy died or not, but spending eight years even with an insanity plea makes us wonder. But like I said, super nice. Brought us some apples. Calls me teacher. I like him. And for now, he likes me so that's good.

Our newest investigator is an older guy who doesn't seem to be all there. He's got a lot of self esteem issues, feels really alone and whatnot and he's also dying of diabetes. He also seemed really receptive, but before we could get past an initial meeting, he was hospitalized, so we are waiting for him to be released. These are the kind of people that I most want to help. The people who are humble enough that they recognize their reliance on Jesus Christ.

Other tidbits in rapid fire:

Me and my companion have started waking up early to do some Insanity 90x. My body is displeased.

Every time I ride the subway I see an advertisement about the Festival of Colors back home in Utah. Makes me happy, especially to see the mountains again.

We did a service project where we hiked a mountain and picked up trash. There wasn't much trash but the view was great (alas, I had not a camera) and the top of the mountain was a little grove most memorable for spiders that were FISHING for us. Like, from the trees, we would see these little spider threads descend with live wriggling grubs. It was terrifying. Did I mention that I don't like bugs?

My jundo (street contacting) skills have continued to grow. I say hard things in Korean, but I know enough to not be super awkward with the language on the street. 

Tips for future missionaries: More important that knowing how to say something is knowing what to say and being confident with how you say it. If you show weakness, you are written off. If you are bold and confident (which is a quiet attribute) people listen.
Be good socially. I don't care how much football you played in high school but you need to know how to be comfortable talking to people. If you aren't, don't stress it, just work on it until is it fun and easy for you.
Learn to push without pushing them down, or as Paul puts it, "Be bold, but not overbearing." Balance is key.
Learn to care without caring. A bit harder to describe. My advice is to learn to honestly not give a care what people think of you, but to care about them anyway. Two attributes necessary to that are humility and love. You need to be able to naturally and truly care about people while not giving a care if they don't like you.

Soapbox over.

"There is no fear in love, but perfect love casteth out all fear."

Til next week,

Whitlock out.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Address Change...

Please send letters and packages to the following addresses:


Elder Joshua Paul Whitlock
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Korea Seoul Mission
PO Box 210
South Korea    110-602


Elder Joshua Paul Whitlock
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Korea Seoul Mission 
Samcheong-no 9 gil 45
South Korea     110-230

Korea Seoul Mission Office
011-82-02-734-3653   - phone
2016818@ldschurch.org  - e-mail

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

This Week in Sparknotes

Alright, so this week I actually had a pretty good amount of emails to respond to and I did that first for a change. Consequently, I'm about out of time. I actually had a lot to write about this week, but "there is too much. Let me sum up."

This week I:

Moved into an apartment over a daycare center, which used to be part of said daycare center. My walls are papered with rockets, astronauts, and ufo's. Some of which glow in the dark. I'm in heaven.

Stole some art. From a trash pile, granted, but it actually looks pretty sweet. They are very Asian style landscape paintings so we have them displayed in our apartment next to the rocketships.

Had a morning where we proselyted in someone else's area to help them out ('cause of my ZL companion). They hadn't had any success for weeks. We got in there and, by the grace of God, got 6 phone numbers and 5 appointments in 6 people talked too. None of which are from our area, so we won't teach them, but it was fun. We returned to our area and struck out that night. So that's what missionary work is like, I guess.

Remembered to mention, for Grandpa's sake, that I live right next to Costco. So my diet is similar to college, but in larger doses. Be excited.

Worked on a doctrinal epistle... explaining why a belief in the Bible necessitates a belief in an open canon of scripture. Jeffery R Holland had some interesting things to say about it a few years ago, and I watched said talk (“My Words … Never Cease”) in the Gym at the MTC.

Fatally dropped a Book of Mormon on a bug that was making a run for my yo (bed). Headshot.

Started reading Jesus the Christ.

Got halfway through Jesus the Christ. I like that book.

Set a personal jundo (proselyting) record of 12, with 7 of those being alone.

Set an all-time record for most shallow jundo of all time when I literally just handed a guy a card and walked away.

Attended the choir from hell. All Korean, singing in Korean, when I can't read fast enough to keep up in Korean. Then I was moved, rubbed chocolate powder onto the ward mission leader's shirt, found gum on my suit because someone had placed their gum on my scripture case, and all of this while my voice was gone so that I couldn't hit anything more than like four notes. In Korean. Does anyone have a worse epic fail they would like to share?

Came home from the choir from hell and listened to the Prince of Egypt soundtrack to make me happy again. Success. That was a dang good soundtrack.

Met with a guy who wants us to teach him English. I get to name him. Win.

Rediscovered the depth of my reculturization when I accidentally coined the phrase, "Et tu, Judas?" (For those of you who felt like I dropped Korean there, that is a famous "quote" from Julius Ceasar, who actually said "Et tu, Brute?" or Even you, Brutus?)

And I'm out of time. Love you all. Probably.

Whitlock out.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

On the Far Side of the World

We got off the plane in Inchon and started swimming our way though the sauna that I had mistaken as our airport...


Elder Whitlock with President and Sister Christensen, shortly after arriving in Korea.

 Alright, so Korea Week the First happened.

We got no sleep, but when we woke up at three to catch the plane it didn't matter. Unlike week one, I didn't need the spirit to keep me going (heresy?) because I was just too excited. The past couple of days had been spent saying goodbyes and writing cute little notes to each other. It sort of felt like graduation, which I guess it was. So I have more pictures, but I forgot to bring my camera today. Anyway, we went to the airport, and hopped on a plane to Dallas. Despite what out leader taught us in the MTC, a nine hour flight to Korea was flat out hilarious. Granted, everything is hilarious at four in the morning. My Dallas flight was characterized by two minute spurts of sleep interupted by me flipping out as the first thing I saw on waking up was the ground really far away. Imagine walking into a spiders web that no one else sees accompanied by an internal Gus scream. I would have loved to sit by me, but everyone else was actually asleep, so my honor/anonymity has been retained. When we landed in Dallas, I hurried over to McDonalds for the last bacon, egg, and cheese McGriddle. It was delicious, so thank you Murdocks. My district loves you all now for the breakfast you provided us.

Then we boarded the Beast. A massive international American Airlines jet bound for Inchon. Maybe now is a good time to disclaimer that I don't know how to spell Korean city names in the English alphabet very well. Inchon is Korea's international airport that is right next to Seoul. But first the Beast.

I sat on the aisle in the middle section, which isn't a bad seat, but I couldn't see out any windows. Not that I could have anyway. For the entire flight all the windows were closed, plunging the plane into a sleep-able, but gloomy darkness punctuated by tiny TV displays projecting various movies.  I got through a lot of Book of Mormon, then an hour of sleep, then studying law of chastity dahno, then repeat. 

We got off the plane in Inchon and started swimming our way though the sauna that I had mistaken as our airport. Holy humidity, I'm never dry here and it's hot enough that I'm usually sweating. We met up with our APs because President Christensen, who is super cool, was attending the Korean version of EFY. Apparently, its a pretty big deal. The APs took us to the temple where we stayed the night. Usually we would go to the Mission home, but there were too many of us to fit, so they had us sleeping in the temple and being oriented in the church next door to the temple. The next day we went to Gwanghwamun, which is like Seoul's Time Square and where I am currently typing from, and jundo (street contact) people. What that involves is making some sort of an approach, talking to someone that introducing yourself and trying to get their number/set and appointment/give them a business card of your own. We actually found a guy who "wanted to learn his English through the Book of Mormon." We referred him to the area where he lives.

That is fairly typical actually. Missionary work here is different from most of the rest of the world. 70% of Korea is in love with American culture and America in general. The other 30% are about Korean traditional culture, but are usually pretty moderate with a few radical anti-Americans. So this place is different, actually a lot different, hence the title, but the culture is very Americanized. There are tons of people who speak English, and almost everyone knows at least some and wants to know more. Additionally, while there are obviously exceptions, a lot of church in Korea is really just for show or out of habit.  The average Korean might belong to a religion, but not really care too much about it. So the most effective way we can do missionary work, at least as I'm being taught now, is to act like fun Americans, get some stylish hair style, and go make friends with people, many of whom will just want to learn English, then try to create interest.

For example, I've been to two lessons so far and they were both with guys of about my age who spoke pretty good English and wanted to practice. At least initially. One of them wanted to be baptized and the only thing that stopped him was his mom signing the consent form. The other guy is brand new, so this was the first time we met with him. Me and my companion, Elder Coats, played pingpong in the church and talked with him for a while then I kind of transfered from the Walking Dead to Mel Gibson movies to The Passion of the Christ to Christ/feelings about religion. This was with a guy named (everyone has an English name that they've chosen) Gerard. He feels like God exists, but only as a mental thing. Like, if you believe in God, he exists, but if not than no. Really subjective and psychological. So we talked about that for a bit then convinced him to let us talk to him about the Plan of Salvation with him in a week and went to go get a snack.

That might have been the highlight of the week so far since it was the only "lesson" I've really been involved with.

Part of that is because of Elder Coats. He's a zone leader. There weren't enough missionaries to train all of us (my group makes up a third of the mission) so anyone who wasn't training already and was competant was assigned a greenie. Elder Coats is still the zone leader, which doesn't usually happen, and he still has all of his zone leader duties, so between training me and that, we get less proselyting time and more time where I'm stuck in the box where we live. Elder Coats and his old companion lived in a little apartment designed for one that fit two ok but doesn't at all work for four. I'll send pictures next week, it was fun. We're actually moving today, so that will be my Pday, but it should be with it.

Elder Coats (Josh's zone leader and first companion in Korea) and Elder Whitlock

Elder Coats is from Idaho. He is big into sports of all varieties and he has been in the mission for the longest time, so he's got the most missionary experience, if not Korean experience (which he's great at, but he's competing with actual Koreans). He's a patient teacher, which is good because the MTC taught me to speak only high form to people always, but when I do that people look at me like I'm crazy. Middle form is kosher in most circumstances here in the Seoul Mission, and I am still trying to learn it.

Church was fun. I don't know what was talked about really, but I introduced myself and apparently did a passable job. The people here are super nice, and especially in my ward. The kids...I didn't know I missed seeing kids so much, but I did. They are super energetic and mildly spazzy, but really cute. The bishop is nice and the ward mission leader speaks some good English, so that's good. I think I like it here.

Spiritual thought for the week: Watch The Character of Christ from Elder Bednar. It's an MTC Christmas devotional from a couple of years ago, and I don't know if you can find it anywhere, but if you can, watch it. I don't want to spoil it, so I'll cut there, with an invitation to turn outwards when you naturally would want to turn in. 

Know that I love you all.

Whitlock out.

PS: My mission president lets us take two hours for email, so I will probably have time to respond to whatever ya'll want to send me. So DO IT!