The Weekly Postings of a Mormon Missionary In Korea
"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, September 2, 2013
The Month Mark Report
Missionary work has many different faces. Serving in God's Army (which I've never seen so don't take that as a reference) involves a lot of different duties. It also involves fighting on many different fronts. There are areas where the amount of progress is epic, where people are being baptized and genuinely converted by the thousands. I like to compare that to the western front of WWII. ... the struggle ... came with a certain amount of accomplishment. I can't think of a single large battle where the Germans defeated the Americans. It was a big, successful push to glorious victory. That's not where I am.
Korea is like the Eastern front. The Eastern front was a place where two men would share a rifle and each carry a clip. They would be sacrificed by thousands, fighting for every inch in bloody, costly warfare. That is a bit like where I am...
Now that I'm a month into the field, I feel like I've sort of got an idea of the flavor of my mission. I want to talk about it so that people know a little more about what's happening with me.
Kind of a blunt intro, but here we go.
Korea is an interesting place to be a missionary. The people are super nice, love Americans, and speak a lot of English. But they are not interested in the gospel.
Missionary work has many different faces. Serving in God's Army (which I've never seen so don't take that as a reference) involves a lot of different duties. It also involves fighting on many different fronts. There are areas where the amount of progress is epic, where people are being baptized and genuinely converted by the thousands. I like to compare that to the western front of WWII. Not to diminish the struggle, people were fighting hard there too, but it came with a certain amount of accomplishment. I can't think of a single large battle where the Germans defeated the Americans. It was a big, successful push to glorious victory. That's not where I am.
Korea is like the Eastern front. The Eastern front was a place where two men would share a rifle and each carry a clip. They would be sacrificed by thousands, fighting for every inch in bloody, costly warfare. That is a bit like where I am.
Korean is one of the hardest languages in the world for an English speaker to learn. So I came in here without a rifle, having to depend on my companion to do the work for both of us. But the real thing I wanted to write about is the lack of effectivity. We are here doing the work that needs to be done, fighting, but not effectively. We hit the streets for hours every day talking to people trying to find someone, anyone, who is willing to hear our message. We talk to literally hundreds of people every week. Hundreds. Why? Because we have time. In the last week, we taught a grand total of one actual lesson. One. And that was above average.
Stats at the end of the week are different here too. Most places talk about "lessons taught with member help", "other lessons", "referrals received and contacted", and "new investigators". We talk about that because it's in our planners, but not in the same way. "Other lessons taught" for us includes anything where a commitment is made to do something later. So if we meet a guy on the street and he agrees to meet with us the next week and sets a time, regardless of if he shows up, regardless of whether or not he ever picks up the phone again, it counts as a lesson. And if we get 8 of those in a week, we're lucky. Then there's the other stat that we report on: jundos. We are expected to get a minimum of 140 jundos in a week. Those two stats are the only ones that we are usually capable of actually planning for, because here we don't get "referrals", we rarely have any lessons for members to come to, and "new investigators" is not dependant on what you have scheduled for the day because in 90% of set up appointments, the other people don't show up. The church is almost entirely built of people that were converted in my mission president's generation, or the children of those people. And that's only a remnant, cause we have an 80% inactivity rate.
I tell you not just to tell you, but also to explain what may have appeared to be a lack of focus from me. The reason I don't spend a lot of time talking about investigators and lessons is because they don't really happen. I could talk about jundo, but jundo is just a blur. Yesterday I talked to 24 people, got one phone number (which I can usually get more of, granted, but they don't turn into investigators), and zero appointments. I'm working hard, I'm focused on my purpose, but we are losing this battle. We need a miracle.
I spend a lot of time thinking about how to fix this, how to change it. So does President, of course. He's doing an amazing job of experimenting and adapting. But the fact of the matter is that we need member help, and bad. In the last week, my zone talked to 1500 people and found three new investigators. Last month our mission got five baptisms. However, out of the seven member referalls that my companion has recieved, five of them were baptized.
I don't know how we can do more, but I have to figure out how. I have to believe there is more I can give. I have to believe that even though it's been a long night on the eastern front, the dawn is coming. I refuse to give up hope or surrender to the faithless apathy that surrounds me. But I need your prayers. Korea needs your prayers.
And more than that, missionaries need your help. Now, my family lives in a very, very Mormon part of Utah. But everyone knows someone, someone at work or school or a family member that needs this gospel in their lives. We need you to be bold, but not overbearing. We need you to love people around you enough to push a little and to help them to find what you have found. Perfect love casteth out all fear, so be fearless. Meet your missionaries, try them, find out if you can trust them and then help them. We don't need your food, we need your friends and your loved ones, because they certainly need us. The gospel is true. I know it is. It was given to us to help us, and there isn't a person on earth who wouldn't be better off with it. Korea may not want the gospel, but it needs it. I see it all around me, and I feel it to the core of who I am. If you have felt that fire, if you can feel it now, then please don't let it die. Let it drive you. Let it guide you. Let it spread.
I know that as you do this, as you act on the Spirit and boldly share this message with the world, you will find the happiness that it brings you now magnified. As you do so out of pure, sincere love for those you share it with, you won't create a chasm between you. Either they reject it as an eccentric but well intentioned manifestation of your love for them or they accept it and become your brother or sister. Either life goes on or it goes up.
I bear witness of these things in the name of my Master, my Lord, my Redeemer, and my King, Jesus Christ, amen.