"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

Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Work

This week the most notable thing that happened was that Elder Whiting from the Seventy came over for a mission tour. I asked him a question, and he answered both of the two seemingly unrelated questions that I had written down. He also called me in for an interview after the thing. Apparently I'm supposed to punch him the next time I see him. Exact obedience, right?

This week is temple week, so I get to see the new video (finally)! Also, since we live a ways away, we are going to be bunking back home in Gireum for the night so I'll get to see my old pals. It's going to be a night to remember! 

I actually do have some investigators. I don't talk a lot about the work, especially with regard to investigators, because even when I'm feeling fine about stuff my lack of success tends to worry other people. Also, most investigators don't tend to last very long and I don't want to burden other people's weeks. 

Last week we had two people with baptismal dates. One we referred to a different mission area because he is moving; the other one didn't make it to church again, so if he is going to make his date, he's got to come the next three times in a row. He's been keeping the Word of Wisdom fairly well, so that's cause for celebration, but keeping appointments and other commitments is proving difficult. There was another guy who didn't have a baptismal date, but was reading all the way through the Book of Mormon after the first meeting, who we had to refer to Seoul as well. Got dropped by another guy because we did a 40 minute lesson instead of the hour that he expected. Another guy is barely an investigator. We met him once and things seemed fine, but he took a trip to his hometown and hasn't made it back to town yet. 

We do have a couple of the cutest Chinese investigators ever! They are a couple and they are super smart and speak English. The fourth baptismal invitation didn't go down, but that was because they know what a big commitment it is. The problem is that they are scared of not living up to that commitment once they move back to China and things get more difficult socially. They surprised me and Elder J by making it out to church for the whole time this Sunday after a Sabbath-day lesson that came across a little weak to me.

We also met two Catholics yesterday. They both handled the Great Apostasy pretty well, but are going to be busy for a long time, so I don't know when we'll see them again.

So yeah, there are people on my radar.  All is not lost.  There are things happening.  But when people read the above they think that I live in a constant state of "wants to jump in front of a train," which isn't the case. I'm happy and fine. It was hard, but I've been hardened, so to speak.

More next week, love you!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Easter Edifies

I don't feel like most of our learning in this life is supposed to come from textbooks or classrooms; most of it is experience. Often painful experience. But as we learn and become stronger, we can be confident that those experiences were given us for a reason.... No struggle need ever have been for naught. No cloud need go without it's silver lining.


Guess who has been saying that wrong in Korean for the entire week? Guess who figured that out last night?
My life.

부활날 말고 부활절...


As you may have expected, Easter isn't that big of a deal in Korea. We performed an Easter hymn for ward choir. I can't remember its name in English, sorry.

I got all the way through the Isaiah chapters in the Old Testament study manual that I found. That guy saw some things! I'm on into Jeremiah, which has proven appropriately lamentatious.

I went on a less active hunt with Elder S on an exchange. Complete fail. It was in a less populated part of the city and not a single one of them was home when we went. Time to shelve less active work for a while.

Also, you remember that massive jar of Nutella? Well it has been mostly empty for a while, but we never had the heart to throw it away because there was still some that you could scrape off the sides. Well, I sort of broke one night and went at it with a spoon for about 45 minutes and devoured about every scrap of Nutella left in the bottle. I'd be impressed if I wasn't so appalled.

We encountered a fair number of people who wanted to argue with us this week. A couple of JWs, a...전도사? (there isn't really a word for this in English. It's like a guy who is paid by his church to jundo or...proselyte? or something to people on the street. Anyway, he's sort of like a missionary for the church of SATAN!!!) who was representing the _________ church, which appears to be some form of Christianity that has everything valuable about Christianity taken out in favor of obsessing over weird last days prophecies, and also a guy who was flat out convinced that because if people don't eat food they die, but if they don't have faith they don't die, food is more important/powerful than God, therefore God doesn't exist. Does someone want to attempt to explain the grammar for this paragraph?

Also, just ate a bacon hot dog for lunch. "Looks like meat's back on our menu, boys! Wragh!" They just barely opened this place up right next to the college that we usually jundo at. Wow, I miss hot dogs and bacon!

Continuing on the food vein, the place that we eat at more than anywhere else is this little place called...don't laugh, it makes more sense in Korean, "Pork Cutlet Town". Everything there is big and cheap. They've recently begun to include some seaweed on my favorite fried kimchi rice, which I consider significant.

Spiritual thought this week might not come as a shock to any of you enlightened people, but I was supposed to teach people about the Spirit again in district meeting (which, by the way, is probably the worst idea ever. I'm the least competent expounder of the spirit, and yet that always seems to be my topic. Actually, maybe that's why it is always my topic. Anyway) and I came across a line in PMG that says something to the effect of "The spirit always edifies."

Well, I was really confused. In my experience, things that I've considered to be spiritual in nature have often come to me rather harshly. Sometimes even painfully. Yet, the spirit always edifies? My experience is backed up by scriptures. Look at Isaiah prophesying the horrors of the end of things as we know them. Look to Nephi viewing the destruction of all of his entire family, his entire nation. Think of the Savior weeping for the wicked of Jerusalem. Sometimes the truth hurts.

The problem arose from my lack of understanding regarding the word edify. I always associated it with good feelings like peace or reassurance. But it really connotes something to the effect of education + strengthening. It improves the mind and character and helps one to grow intellectually and morally.

Sometimes, the truth hurts. The spirit, which teaches us truth, sometimes hurts. And, when we remember that God, who communicates with us through the spirit, is our teacher, sometimes good teaching, even perfect teaching hurts.

I don't feel like most of our learning in this life is supposed to come from textbooks or classrooms, most of it is experience. Often painful experience. But as we learn and become stronger, we can be confident that those experiences were given us for a reason. And even if they weren't, even if we are just the victims of chance and circumstance then we can find a reason. No struggle need ever have been for naught. No cloud need go without it's silver lining.

Love you all, and have a wonderful Easter.
Elder Whitlock

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Spoilers and GenCon

Nothing to compete with Jake's situation (his friend is serving in Chile, where they just had an 8.2 earthquake, and he just got transferred to the epicenter of said quake), but my house is getting rocked hard right now. Apparently the city of Chuncheon was built with a poopy plumbing system (pun intended. That's where I'm at right now), so they have decided to overhaul the entire thing. It's sort of annoying when you are out and about, but when you are doing study in the morning...Elder J about lost his mind this morning, and I did lose my mind on a handful of occasions. 

Made General Conference a lot better by comparison. I could talk a lot about GenCon (comp study today just got us through half of the first session) but I'll limit myself to only a handful of rather disorganized thoughts.

Woooo Gilbert!^^

Elder Holland is gearing up for war. Actually half of them are. Maybe we should too.

Don't try to use analogies in the same category as Elder Anderson. He'll bring the trailer down.

Apparently the Church didn't change its mind about gay marriage and abortion. Who woulda thunk?

Lots on the "how" of doing member missionary work. Consider yourselves trained, cause I certainly do. Lets go get em.

I loved conference. I wrote down three pretty big questions and had them all answered in the conference, whether by what they said or what I thought. 

We went into Seoul on Saturday to watch with the two zones that made up what was my first zone (Dongdaemun) when I got here. President came and the ZL's brought Costco muffins and the like, so it was pretty great. We also had this awkward hour long break in between the first two sessions, so the Chuncheon Elders went over to Korea University and I got to catch a glimpse of Gireum area again. Memories. :) Priesthood session got out pretty late, so me and Elder J rode an ITX train back home. That's a more expensive, more luxury train that runs on the magnetic propulsion thing that you all heard about in Physics class. Super nice. The next day was Sunday and we all stayed in Chuncheon and watched it on the bishop's computer. All our appointments punked, so we got to go contacting for the rest of the day. And here we are.

A couple of random other thoughts.

My companion used to work as a salesman in an electronics store selling car sound systems. While he worked there, he got pretty into cars and has taken it upon himself to teach me everything he learned. This week we are starting small, just recognizing the difference between BMW 3,5, and 7s.

Also, we took a taxi to visit a potential investigator that lives in what we thought to be a hospital, but we now believe may have been a mental hostpital and got terribly lost. The taxi driver put the address we had into his GPS and started driving us out of town. 17$ into the trip, I had him pull over and we took a bus the scenic route back to the city. Probably one of the most beautiful sightseeing opportunities I've ever had.

See, Korea is in this sweet part of the year where they have tons of cherry blossom trees that look like...I don't know, snow? Popcorn? Apricots? Those provide accents for the other green trees on mountains and create perfect majesty. We actually are taking a sightseeing trip back that direction today, so I'll try to snap some pictures.

Also, I may have indicated that Chuncheon has less Outback than Bruno Mars has blackness, but guess where the bus home from the above mentioned fiasco dropped us off? We got off and THERE IT WAS!!! Other missionaries may talk about miracles. I guess they happen here too, they are just a bit more delicious.

Also, contrary to a report that I recieved relating to the Captain 'Murica movie, it would appear that Scarlet Johannson (sp?) will be making a return in Avengers 2. Which will take place, in part, in the lovely city of Seoul! The crew moved in last week and started filming. I have heard specifically of her and Cap being sighted, so they'll be there. I don't know who else. I'm just really hoping that someone in the movie says something really funny in Korean that only I understand.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

The Chuncheon Champions?

These are the people that the gospel was made for. The people who are captive. Shackled to the gutter they lie in, but gazing at the stars. Willing to change. Begging to change. Condemned to oblivion, but awaiting their savior.

The prodigals who return home, and weep in the arms of their father who has run out to meet them.


Still working on the district name for the transfer.

No General Conference this week, unfortunately. That will be this coming Saturday and Sunday. We did have a Zone Conference though, and that was almost as good, right? Right? (sigh)

Found out that our temple day is the last week of the transfer, which I am not happy about. The new video is here, but I still haven't seen it.

This week we met with one of our investigators. I'll hold his name back, but he is dealing with just about every problem that you can possibly imagine. We were teaching him last night and he just sort of opened up and told us about how he is into tobacco, alchohol, hard drugs (which is an insanely big deal in Korea. This is only the second person I've met with that problem and when Elder K heard, he was incredulous). His family relationships are nigh on non existent. He used to fight a lot and served time in prison. His arms are covered with scars on about every stretch of skin imaginable from where he cut himself when he was younger. He struggles with depression, contemplates and has attempted suicide on a handful of occasions. His body has been so destroyed by everything else, that he is in pain nearly every waking moment, on or off of the drugs.

These are the people that the gospel was made for. The people who are captive. Shackled to the gutter they lie in, but gazing at the stars. Willing to change. Begging to change. Condemned to oblivion, but awaiting their savior.

The prodigals who return home, and weep in the arms of their father who has run out to meet them.

"You gave me so much more than I could ever ask for,
But I turned and followed a road that left me hollow,
And still you waited for me to come back home.

You brought me home."

Bring them home everybody. The Savior stands at the door and knocks, but I don't think he'd mind us giving them a call for him every once in a while.

Elder Whitlock