"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, April 27, 2015

Passing Stones

...I testified to the contrary, that God lives, he loves us, and that through faith and repentance we really can access real power, not just some psychological facade, but real transformative power that leads us not just to courage, peace, and confidence, but also to freedom. 

However when given a plain choice between the two, he still chose to follow the devil...

Still rolling with the Creed cover bands.

Today is my third to last P-day in the sovereign nation of Korea and we're going to make the most of it. Got President's permission to duck out of studies a little early and go on a hike at Bukhan Mountain  I've been looking at that mountain for the last couple of months waiting for today. I've mentioned a couple of times how much I love Korean mountains and this may be my last chance to experience one, but it's one of the best ones in the mission. Should be great.

We've been working with a Satan worshiper for the last couple of weeks. We met him again without much fruit last Saturday. He's addicted to most things you can be, acknowledges serious rage issues, and even sometimes cuts himself and drinks his own blood to help himself feel strong, and in his mind it is working. He believes in God, but doesn't believe that he's aware of or cares about all of us and that all of the prayers he's offered in his life have been fruitless. [My companion] is rapidly progressing in understanding, but I still had to take a pretty weighted point for the lesson. I testified to the contrary, that God lives, he loves us, and that through faith and repentance we really can access real power, not just some psychological facade, but real transformative power that leads us not just to courage, peace, and confidence, but also to freedom. 

However when given a plain choice between the two, he still chose to follow the devil.

It's interesting that [this investigator], in his choice to follow the father of lies, is more honest than almost all of the people who "believe in Jesus" that we meet day to day. That's the silver lining that I'm clinging to: that there may still be some sort of hope for him. This week we can't meet, but he's been charged to think seriously about whose side he's on and report next time we meet. He also knows that we can't help him at all unless he's trying to move in the direction of Jesus Christ.

One of the interesting things that we can see from the case study of [this investigator] is that the reason he hates church so much is that he feels completely powerless for more than a week at a time after going. He can't even summon the physical strength to go outside.

Though Satan's power is real, and scarily so, even that small brush with the power of Christ is sufficient to clear out all of the power the devil is exerting in him.

Sort of a weird email, but I think about this a lot lately. 

In less dark news, President Ringwood came for a mission tour this week. Great stuff. Emphasized that companionships who teach a lot seem to have no real problems. They're going to be trying to get the ward mission leaders in our area responsible for helping the missionaries hit a certain number of sit down lessons every week moving forward....

I did get called in for an interview again. Really good stuff. This wasn't the focus, but he did spend a lot of time persuading me to take up running. You guys know how I feel about cardio. I am loving the weight set in my house though. Benching this morning was really fun. 

As far as the airport is concerned, I just want to have our nuclear family there. And the same thing goes for that night. The next day if people want to come over, that's fine, but I want a night with just you guys.

Other than that, the only request that I have is that in the car on the way back we listen to Into the West. I'll probably cry.

Spiritual thought for this week. I may elaborate on this more in my talk, but when we say "endure to the end" what do we mean by the end? What are we enduring towards? I think that the end of the book of scripture about the end contains the best answer. The only answer that has any worth. Revelation 21: 6. Helps to keep things in perspective.

Love you guys. 

Elder Whitlock

The "Sistrict"

Monday, April 20, 2015

Cast and Crew

You may have noticed that I'm getting a little lazy with the topic lines. From now on, I'm probably just going to insert the names of Creed cover bands that I used to play bass for. We've produced so many recently, that we decided to have a tournament based on such qualifications as most true to Creed, who would president prefer you to listen to, if the two threw down who would win, and other similarly arbitrary categories last P-day. Salem came out on top, but my personal favorite was Cast and Crew.

If you were wondering how we measure President's approval, we do actually have a fairly good idea about it. Between months of missionaries trying to figure out what was and was not cool (if you remember, I actually outlawed everything that wasn't MoTab in Chuncheon to avoid this discussion) and the fact that we know his favorites are the Piano Guys...who actually came and played last week…

Abandoning the previous boring thought and casting off to the realm of vaguely interesting, we did in fact go to a Piano Guys fireside yesterday. Turns out that two of them (producer guy and cello guy) served their missions in Korea. There was even a woman in the crowd who had served in producer guys district in the crowd. The focus was definitely spiritual/churchy talks over music, though we got a bit of that as well. Producer Guy and Cello Guy were my favorite speakers, and not just because I was impressed at how much Korean they remembered.

Just before we went over there, I also went to a baptismal service. I went back up to D___ and baptized M__'s friend L__.   I got the call to do so on Friday, otherwise I may have given you some notice. If you don't remember L__, he first came to church when he was invited by M__ the first Sunday of this year. He was impressed with the testimonies and thought to himself "If this church isn't true, then how come there are so many people here saying it is?" and decided after his first visit that he believed in it. We helped him know how to confirm his belief through prayer and the Book of Mormon, which he feels like he has done. The biggest obstacle between him and baptism was his girlfriend. [She] had just sort of invited herself into living with him and he couldn't get her to leave. I'll explain more about [her] in person. It's kind of a sad story. But L__ eventually decided that if she wouldn't go, then he would, so he made a run for it to avoid her following him and she called the police to report him as an illegal. Now things have smoothed over a bit. She has a new boyfriend and L___ has some room to breathe again. He's planning on moving back to Nigeria next month and is looking forward to getting in contact with the branch down there.

What else has happened this last week?

Elder H__ and I went on exchange last Tuesday. Took the whole bloody day, but we put together a new system to better facilitate LA work throughout the area. Went through a bunch of records, divided each person in them by the area they live in, split them up into twelve areas, and made a folder for each one that has the names, contact info, and a map of the areas involved, as well as a sheet that allows for the missionaries to keep track of the work they do. I about lost my mind staring at the computer all day, but, theoretically, this will help us do a much better job at reaching all the lost sheep we can.

The next day was also a very organizational day. I convinced the N___ districts to do another street boarding activity with me. We did one the week before last and it was a smashing success for my team. Inside an hour I got 5 street lessons. Later when calling collected numbers we set one more and there's another guy who wanted us to call today because he was on a trip in Japan. And heck, one of them met! So. We picked up a Satan worshiper.

Not going to go into much detail on that one. He's basically a troubled kid that never got over it and is 29 now. Has some psychological problems, but I really want to help him. I don't think he's so far over the line that he can't come back, though I doubt that it is going to be a quick turn around. I've always joked about how I wanted to perform and exorcism on my mission, and this may count. But it will be slow.

But back to street boarding. The exciting thing is that I convinced the district to try flavoring the activity with a nice healthy dose of controversy. The idea is that if you go out there showing pictures of recent tragedies (crashed planes and what not) and ask people why God didn't stop it, they are more likely to have some form of care than they are if you simply philosophically hypothesize with them. I didn't think they'd go for it, but...should be fun.

[By the way,]I only contend with people who really deserve it. Like the guy yesterday who started pointing us out to all of the other people on the train and talking loudly about how we were a bunch of frauds who knew no truth and were intent on deceiving true believers of God. Said that we didn't believe in God or Christ and that our religion had nothing to do with the Bible.  I tried being civil for five minutes before I put the man in his place and left the car. Ignorance is a titanic irritant.

Anyway...hoping to hear from ya'll soon. Let me know if you name the boat. See you in a few!

Elder Whitlock

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Cherry Blossoms and Zombie Apoclaypse

Seoul [is] a fun place to live as a missionary. 

This [is a] riverside road I walk almost every day. It is a 10 minute walk from the apartment.

The cherry blossoms at night were too visually impressive to not snap a picture.

Random Grandma's line dancing under the the bridge along the same road as the cherry blossoms. Does anyone need to know more?

This week I visited a part of town on the extreme fringe of my area. Got off the train and was all, "Good Night!" There was nothing there. Like nothing. It looked like the Zombie Apocalypse had broken out while I was on the train. In one hour of walking we talked to two human beings.  It was more dead than a Walker.

Also, got a bunch of weights from my last companion from Dongducheon in the mail. Tried out the benchpress on a couple boxes of Book of Mormons and on the third rep hurt my tricep, so hopefully I heal up soon. Stretching. Still do it.

Tried dog soup last week for the first time. The service at the restaurant was a joke, but the dog wasn't that bad. We didn't get enough to get us full, so we got some Korean style fried chicken, which I passionately believe to be the most delicious chicken in the world with the potential exception of Outback's Alice Springs Chicken.

General Conference was totally sweet. Favorite talk far and away was Elder Ringwood's (Truly Good and without Guile) but I was getting my mind blown from the get-go through the finale. Decided to never go climbing while listening to Elder Holland's talkDid you have a favorite one? If I listened right to all of those, I need to get married or something.

If you want to feel my love you might need to save your tastebuds for the next time Conference rolls around, because I'm totally making crepes.

Love you! 

Elder Whitlock