It's so good to hear how things have been going back in the Land of the Migook (America). Sounds like most of you are doing ok, even if my grandpa keeps making excuses to not leave the hospital. Poppa, don't make me come over there and plant a potato in your IV fluid or so help me I'll do that thing I just said that I would do.
I think my threats are kind of weird. Not so scary as confusing. I either need to work on them or work out more I think.
Not that working out is always a good idea. Wednesday this week I was trying to get some push ups in at lunch time on our house pull up bar. You know, the ones that are advertised as being push-up-able? Lies. As I was going down, the bar slipped forward on my floor causing me to fall forward and smack my face on it in such a way that my two front teeth almost punched through my bottom lip area. Sort of a big gash, but no real pain. Miracle. I didn't go to a hospital or anything (Mom, don't freak out, President said it was ok for me to go to one, that was my choice) but never the less it has healed up really nicely. Now, it is almost completely healed and during the first night it closed up in such a way that I could eat again. Miracle. I've heard that mouths heal especially fast, but it was still pretty cool to watch.
Scott may have chosen a good career path. The human body is pretty cool.
The next day (Thursday) was New Companionship Training Forum, which was made up of companionships of under 6 monthers who need additional training. We talked a lot about how to effectively hold council together and me, my companion, and the sisters in our ward sang a musical number (sans practice that day, courtesy of my choice to eat with Elder Singer before the meeting instead). Then there was a question and answer thing. I learned a lot it was really good. Scary thing was that I had forgotten my backpack at Gwanghwamun (Seoul's equivalent of Times Square) including my scriptures and patriarchal blessing and what not. But, when we went to look for it, it was in the same spot untouched. Miracle. Can you imagine that happening in America? Props to Korean integrity.
Later that night, I was super thankful for my companion. We were coming back from an appointment and some drunk guy grabbed me in the street by my collar. I tried to get past him but he wouldn't let me so I shoved him off and tried to walk past and he grabbed me again. Repeat twice. Then he pulls back, puts his fist in my face and starts yelling some sort of unintelligible gibberish, then starts doing Taekwondoe (sp?) while screaming "Taekwondoe!" I was so ticked.... So my companion grabs him and tells me to leave. I do, and once I was out of sight, the guy cooled down and left. Turns out it was all just a misunderstanding. He apparently was comparing, favorably, the smallness of my head with the size of his fist. So I'm thankful that my companion understood well enough to avert a potentially damaging situation. Or he lied enough to defuse me from making things worse. Thanks, buddy.
The next day was my birthday (yea...). So mazeltov to me. It was actually really good. I got a nice big birthday package from my family while I was at the new comp forum including new music, Ovaltine, letters, pictures, and brownies, all of which is the equivalent of gold over here. Thanks again family! Love you!
Honestly, the rest of my day was pretty average. I ate well and enjoyed the music and letters, but other than that, just another day of representing God. Not a bad way to spend a birthday, I suppose.
The next day I got one more birthday present, or maybe I should say three more. We were on our way to jundo and the sisters text us over to the church. We show up and there are a bunch of high school sophomores prepping their musical singing/dance routine for their school performances. We listened. They were great. We gave feedback on how they could improve. There wasn't much. Then we sang our song from the forum to them and set up a time to meet up later and play ping pong, invited them to the Halloween Party, took a picture with all the girls (you remember that Americans are gorgeous thing I talked about?), and I got the numbers of all the boys, none of whom are members. In fact none of them are members besides one of the girls, who plays piano for the ward choir. The whole thing had been set up by said girl's mother, in one of the most brilliant feats of member missionary work that I've heard of to this day.
This ward has caught the fire. I'm amazed at the efforts of 길음 ward. They are great at fellowshipping, finding, and exemplifying. No ward is perfect, but this one is fantastical.
People always talk about having the faith to move mountains. They talk about it as if through pure belief, if you are faithful enough, mountains will magically pick up into the sky, travel, and reset themselves. I'm sure that, if it is needful and God tells you to do it, that is a thing. But I would suggest...that it takes just as much faith, and maybe more, to have faith to move the mountain yourself. True faith is moving the mountain one rock at a time.
...Why does God ask that we exercise our faith that way? Well, can you imagine how strong you will be after moving an entire mountain of rocks? Can you imagine how much you will grow? That's what it is all about people. And if the mountain seems too high, your task too daunting, then just remember that you can pull with the Savior. He's put worlds together... . A mountain is a cake walk.
********************** Hello everybody! This is my first email sent on my first p-day on the first day of the first week of being a real missionary! My 12 week training program period wrapped up yesterday. The joy. I feel so...valid. Legit. Genuine.
(In real life, nothing has changed about my outlook but officially, this is a mediocre deal.)
That goes for both me and my companion. As far as I'm concerned, we have made the jump from co-junior to co-senior, even though technically neither of us are certified to be so yet. That's ok though. This week, if all goes well and God smiles in my general direction, I should be wrapping up pass off. ...I've had to do three different sessions as opposed to the usual one [pass off of the fourth lesson], teaching commandments with the first lesson, alone, and with my companion. ... No hiccups thus far, but I've still got "with companion" to do and that should be done tomorrow. After that, I have a ZL final on Wednesday and on Friday, happy birthday to me, I'll try to finish off AP final, becoming an even more real missionary.
This week we jundoed in a cool little forest/park thing. Apparently it is some kind of "hopefully North Korea will like us again" thing. I don't know. But it was super pretty.
We also helped a member to move out of their house with all the other elders in our house. Pretty fun. Physical labor was a nice change of pace and was really relaxing for all of us. It went pretty smoothly for the most part, but there were a couple of times where I had to ninja balance (not my strong suit) on a wall and pass a refrigerator from a stairway above me to the moving truck below. Possibly the sketchiest moments of my life, but that's ok. At least there aren't attack dogs here. Isn't that right, Uncle Mike?
In reward for moving him, the member treated us to Pizza Hut, which is very different over here. In America, Pizza Hut was great, but it was like a normal pizza. Sort of. Here it is luxury pizza. Not like in a comparison sort of way, they just make the pizza very different. And it costs a lot more. What ended up happening is that every bite turned into a party and we all ate way too much and it was glorious.
But that was only the start of our magnificent food week. This week we focused on attracting people to our English Class, predominently college students from Korea University. We went down a couple of times to English flyer or jundo and both times we hit up a Mexican restaurant on campus. So bomb.
I don't know if I've mentioned this yet, but college students are my favorite. Unlike high school students, they usually have time to meet, they are nice, are a little more persuadable, and are generally easier and better in every way to every other type of potential investigator. 항상 학생을 사랑해요!
I also got my Korean name this week. My companion has dubbed me 이광오 (Ee-Gwang-Oh) which means light hair. With a real name like Whitlock (White-locks), it seemed to fit.
Spiritual thought this week comes from last week's zone meeting.
People always talk about having the faith to move mountains. They talk about it as if through pure belief, if you are faithful enough, mountains will magically pick up into the sky, travel, and reset themselves. I'm sure that, if it is needful and God tells you to do it, that is a thing. But I would suggest, as my zone leaders did, that it takes just as much faith and maybe more to have faith to move the mountain yourself. True faith is moving the mountain one rock at a time.
My throw-in to their message is why. Why does God ask that we exercise our faith that way? Well, can you imagine how strong you will be after moving an entire mountain of rocks? Can you imagine how much you will grow? That's what it is all about people. And if the mountain seems too high, your task too daunting, then just remember that you can pull with the Savior. He's put worlds together, people. A mountain is a cake walk.
Sometimes, doing the right thing, even the thing that God tells you to do isn't going to yield immediate results. Sometimes it is just to give you experience. Other times... we just have to show God that he can trust us. We have to show him that we are willing to do his will before he can make it more fully manifest to us. In the end, that is what life is all about, building that relationship with God. Showing him that not only are we worthy of his trust through acting on what he gives us, but by showing that we trust him enough to do so.
All right. I'm back with a little more time this week, so hello to the world!
Things are going really well out here. I'm about a week and a half into my new transfer (which I don't remember if I talked about) and loving working in 길음 (Gireum)!
Gireum House Kitchen
My Study Area
My companion is a Korean. We get along really well. He's a super nice guy with a big testimony and on top of it all, he speaks Korean like a fiend. Figures. Working with him has pushed me to work harder language-wise and my abilities have already improved a lot. The big challenge of working with a Korean, I've found, is that other Koreans talk to his level, so my understanding has done been defenestrated. We are also from the same MTC generation.
Even though we are both new and inexperienced, we've been having a lot of success. We came into an area with a couple of maybe investigators, and this week we had a good run finding people. We ended up getting nine lessons for the week (including street lessons) which is an all time high for my mission service, so fiesta!
This last week also included my first taste of training. One of the greenies in my apartment went on an exchange with us while his companions did their Zone Leader duties and I got to teach him to jundo. Loved it. Sooooo much fun. It's nice to see how much I've progressed, even though there is still a super long way to go.
We also got to watch Conference this week. It takes a week for them to translate it to Korean, so we ended up watching it just this last weekend. Loved it. Everyone has already heard about how bomb conference is as a missionary, so I won't go into that, but my favorite talk was President Uchtdorf's spiel (Come, Join with Us) about why everyone should join the church and how much stuff we do, followed shortly after by Elder Holland 's talk (Like a Broken Vessel) about depression. It was also nice to see President Monson a little bit more recovered from the loss of his wife. President Uchtdorf has grown in my eyes by his lifealert joke. Pretty sure me and the old friend circle all busted up on that one.
To mother, when Corrie Ten Boom (Concentration-Camp-Lady) was brought up, I could just sense your satisfaction from across the ocean.
Just one quick miracle for my spiritual thought for the week. I guess this is a story that has been told, but it is a little different when you experience it.
We were out jundoing at the end of a long day. I have been trying to be better about responding to potential spiritual promptings, regardless of whether or not they make sense to me. Normally, we jundo at cross walks. It is pretty easy, and less awkward, to start a conversation with somebody when you are waiting for the light to change. Plus, there are always people where we go. Usually after I jundo to someone, I go back to the corner and wait for someone else to show up. I was coming back to my corner, and was going to go strait, but one guy stuck out to me. He was going right, and the light had just changed, so it was out of the optimum aproach time, but I felt like I had to talk to him. So I followed him for a little bit until I caught up to him and I was like, "Alright, Lord. I got this. This is what you want me to do, so give it to me."
I say hello and get the most direct rejection I'd gotten all night. I'd say I was discouraged, but rejection is just a thing now so it doesn't really affect me. I was a little disappointed though.
It wasn't much later in the night that I talked to a guy named -----. Things went super well, he spoke fluent English, he's really smart, and even though I couldn't find a specific need to teach to him, he agreed to meet me again and I set up my first full street appointment. I've gotten other appointments before, but always from calling someone back later, and he just gave it to me.
The moral of the story is this: Sometimes, doing the right thing, even the thing that God tells you to do isn't going to yield immediate results. Sometimes it is just to give you experience. Other times, as I believe was the case for me, we just have to show God that he can trust us. We have to show him that we are willing to do his will before he can make it more fully manifest to us. In the end, that is what life is all about, building that relationship with God. Showing him that not only are we worthy of his trust through acting on what he gives us, but by showing that we trust him enough to do so.