Thursday, 29 July 2010

Monday, 26 July 2010

Week 3 in Korea

Ok, so I've seen this DVD at the MTC, but man, The Restoration has some of the best cinematography! Showed it a couple of times this last week to investigators, so powerful, so well done. I like the Joseph Smith story too, but we'd probably never show that to investigators. But I think it was done by the same people, a lot of the same footage is used, and Leo Paur has a couple nice little appearances in it. Anywaaaaay...

Third week in country, first time going on splits. So there was this big 3-day training for Zone Leaders, District Leaders and Trainers this week. So I got to have an American as my companion for the first time in Korea. What was odd though about the exchange, is my trainer went and stayed with our DL, and our DL's companion stayed with me in Siheung. So someone who's never been to my area, and someone who's only been in Korea for two weeks period... running around with no idea where anything is! We started the exchange by admitting to each other, "Ready to get lost for three days???!!!!"

It was exciting though. And yes, we would get lost everyday, and I'm talking epically lost. But we're put where the Lord needs us. The very first day, my companion had sent me and Elder Hafen (the American I was on exchanges with) to travel waaaay out to visit some less active members that he hasn't even met. After a half hour on the bus, and an hour of asking for a lot of help in finding the place, we found it. Knock Knock, "Who is it?". Answers the member's wife. "It's the missionaries, Is Kim Du He there?" "He's at work, I'm busy, can't meet now." Fun times.

So that killed our visit and our plans, so we had close to two hours of nothing planned until our next appointment, so we decided to walk to our next appointment instead of taking a bus. We get to a point in the road, where we have no idea where either one will take us. "We want to be over there. but that seems impossible without a helicopter." Elder Hafen suggests, "let's just walk up these hills and try to knock doors." Blistering hot heat, uphill. And the further we walk up, the more we realize that there's only random Hardware and garden stores on this hill. We're in a VERY random place. Elder Hafen says, "We're gonna find someone."

"I trust you," I said. Another 10-15 minutes uphill, and we're drenched head to toe in sweat...

All of a sudden we hear a voice, "Hey!" What, someone is speaking English to us. "Up here." Still couldn't see where the voice was coming from, way up a small pathway a Korean man was yelling, "Come up to my house." He sounded exactly, and I mean EXACTLY like Andre the Giant in "Princess Bride."

"I told you we'd find someone," Elder Hafen said. We were in the middle of nowhere. I looked where the man was yelling from, I have no idea how he saw us. He invites us in, and there's SIX other people in the house. They've just finished eating. And they offer us their chairs, some food, and put a huge fan on us to dry us off. The man's name is Kwang Yeol Na, and he lives off and on in Seoul, and Seattle. This was just one of his places, and it was a total party Karaoke house. We start explaining who we are, and why we're in Korea. And we keep trying to find out how on earth he saw us... (he never explains how, but just says he knows that we were sent from God).

The cool beverages, and the cool air is just what we needed. Then another one of his friends shows up speaking perfect English. He's built like an ox, and explains that he used to play college ball for Temple, lives on and off in FL and Korea. I think both these guys are very well off. So Elder Hafen and I are just amazed that we're able to be in the middle of nowhere, and all of a sudden be sharing the gospel with 8 people within the matter of a second. Out of nowhere, one of the people has a guitar in their hands and is just noodling. I say I can play guitar, they make me play a couple songs and Kwang and his friends love it. Kwang is about Dad's age, and said he is a hippie, that's probably why we clicked so well.

The next couple of days went just like that, lost, but exactly where we need to be. I didn't have my camera, but we took a picture with Kwang and his friends on Hafen's camera. I'll get a copy soon.

What's odd though, is he wanted us to call him back the next day, but he never picked up. The same with the the man I sat next to on the plane. after running into him again. Both of those finding experiences built my faith and are great stories to tell, but they haven't chosen to act on those experiences. Our investigators who are progressing and keeping their commitments, are the ones we've found simply putting our nose to the grinder and going out and finding people through hard work and persistence. Good ol' fashion missionary work.

We'll have some miraculous things happen to us in our lives, but it is the things we do on a daily basis that are what will build our faith the most, and keep us on the straight and narrow path.

Too many stories to tell, not enough time.

Love you all,
Elder Reyes

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Week 2 in Korea!

OK! Week 2... First off... Mom broke her foot??? No one told me that. That sucks. How? When, where? Anyway, while you are eating steak from Dallen, I ate what I thought was really good ham last night... turns out, dog. Sorry dog lovers, Fido was delicious.

Alright, I've been leaving my self IOU journal entries, with the big events of the day written on a post it note I stick on the page of my journal for that day. Not a good idea. But either I'm so exhausted at the end of the day, or there's something that I want to study, that it's hard to spend my last waking hours writing about myself. That's even more exhausting. So I've been trying to get back to properly writing in my journal. Consider these emails the abridged version of my tales.

Last Monday, we did a basketball contact to a group of twentysomethings... sounds fun, but we do it in full on missionary attire. Sweating like crazy! On top of that, those guys schooled us so hard!!!! They were so good. But I call shenanigans because it was a 9 foot court, which I'm not used to shooting on ever. Later that night we taught a lesson on the street to a kid who didn't seem all that interested, but had some of the best questions I've heard from anybody I've taught so far. Again, amazingly, I was able to answer all of his questions. I say something, and I'd look at my companion and ask if I answered it properly, and to see if if there was anything he wanted to add. "No, that's the answer."

I finally got my translator this last week. The thing is amazing. It was like Christmas when it arrived. I didn't realize it was touch screen!!! So hi-tech. But the thing is made for Koreans, I can use it for what I need it for. But since all of the menu buttons and instructions are in Korean, i have no clue had to change the clock setting or date. Dec 8 2009 it is. But it makes my studying so much faster, Thank you sooo much!

I had dinner with the Bishop's family, I showed him some pictures from the photo album, and freaked out when He saw that we had gotten to meet Ezra Taft Benson. He absolutely loved him, and had me tell him all about the experience.

Thursday was not so pleasant as the rest of the week, due to one 15 minute incident. We were in the church building, since that is where we do 90% of our teaching, and we hear someone yelling up a storm inside the church. Some drunk grandpa was furious, and when he saw my companion, he got even more angry. Yelled stuff I didn't understand, and then started slapping my companion in the chest. We called the cops, and told him to get out. Apparently he was angry that our church locks our gates, so that kids from the neighborhood don't use the parking lot as a playground, which the neighbors end up complaining about the noise. Yelling grandpa was mad because his two granddaughters would play in there. There's literally more than a dozen of some of the most beautiful parks you've ever seen within a 10 block radius of our church. I don't get it.

Ok, so I hadn't seen proper rain yet, but be careful what you wish for. Friday and sat it rained like no other!!!! It's a 1:30 walk from our Apt to the church, and in that time, my pants were drenched. Everyone shuts down when it rains. They stay in there houses, and don't go out. Brutal. So we knocked doors sat, and that was brutal too. Luckily it just makes me giggle uncontrollably when a door gets slammed in our face. My comp takes it a lot harder. 3 apt buildings, 19+ floors each... phew.

Sunday, great church meetings. One of our progressing investigators came to church, and we gave her a soft baptismal commitment when we taught her afterward. So great! It was super windy all day. And people kept giving us food...there's a giant watermelon taking up half our fridge.

Ok, love you all. hope Mom gets better fast. Hope everyone s going ok. Let me know what's happening with everyone!

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Week 1 in Korea!

Hey fam, How's it going????!

A lot to talk about:

Missionary work is exhausting! But it's amazing. On the flight from SLC to LAX i sat next to a woman. I offered her some Altoids, and she seemed nice, but then she turned on her iPod, buried her face in a book, and said almost nothing almost the whole flight. That is until we were about to land, she pulled out some Altoids gum offered it to me, and then we couldn't stop talking. She's from Austin TX, so we talked about SxSw, and she used to live in Philly so then we argued about Pat's and Geno's, and she lives in Korea Town in LA, so I got to teach her some phrases, and then tell what I learned in the MTC, while I translated the doctrine into English... sneaky sneaky. She was surprised at how much I had learned, as far as she could tell, and explained that she took Spanish for 6 years, and can't hold a conversation. I testified that the speed of my learning was only possible by the hand of God, and that it's because I'm doing the Lord's work. I gave her a pass along card, seed planted.

Then on the 14 hour flight from LA to Seoul, I sat next to a very nice Korean man, named Pok Sang. I gave him some chocolate at the beginning of the flight, and we were instant friends. I pretty much used every Korean word I knew to keep the conversations going throughout the flight. He spoke spoke some English, but I believe I spoke a bit more Korean. We had a blast, and I gave him a pass along card, and wrote my e-mail on it. I thought to myself, "Hopefully the good impression will be lasting, so he'll be nice to some Elders if he ever runs into any." But there's 20 million people here, so I threw the needle into a very big haystack... more on that later...

We arrived at the airport, and it was as hot and sticky as a Sana, and it has been aside from a couple of the nights here. It was sad to get separated from the Elders in my district going to Daejun (sp?), but I know I'll see them again someday. We got put on a bus for an hour to the mission home.We ate a huge feast, sent e-mails, and then went to the mission home. We woke up the next morning to another huge meal, and began training. Our MTC districts spent our last couple hours together singing some hymns, and stuffing our faces.

Then we met our trainers. I got paired up with a native from Busan, his name is Elder Lee... pronounced "E". We then separated, and went our respective areas. When it comes to an American getting a trainer, I won the Lottery. Elder Lee's great, and he's made such a great impact where we serve in 시 흥, (Siheung "She-Heung"). There's only about 70 members of the ward, but they're all so strong. Elder Lee already had a baptism set up for Sat, so I would only be in Kore 5 days and have my first baptism (granted she was already committed).

I'm definitely not in Seoul proper, I'm in an area that was part of the Seoul West mission, which just combined with Seoul, just a couple of days before we arrived. There's a lot of city around, but we're not far from the country.

It was a grueling 2 hours from the mission home to Siheung, carrying a 35 pound backpack, and carrying a 50 pound back up and down stains to ride the subway.When we got to our apartment, I was soaking wet. We rested for a bit, took showers, unpacked, but then it was time to get to work.

We street contacted for a while, where I made sone awkward stabs at trying to have a normal conversation to find out their religious background etc. Asking is easy... understanding is haaaaard. Then we went to visit the two oldest members of the ward. On the way there, I noticed a high school student walking behind us, I said hi, and asked where he was going. He said he was going to the hospital, I asked if everything was ok, and he explained that it was just a check up. I said I'd pray for him, kind of an awkward thing to say to a stranger, but he was receptive. We started talking, and we asked if he had some time for us to teach him a lesson, he excitedly agreed. Wow! First day, first lesson. We taught him the restoration, and I shared the First Vision, I had a picture on hand and he was intrigued that Heavenly Father and Jesus are two beings. We have another appointment with him this week.

Then we got back, and Elder Lee started making calls, then he handed the phone to me. "Here, call this investigator, make sure he's reading and praying and set up another appointment." "Are you serious!" I asked. But I was able to do it! So amazing.

Thursday, went deep into the country for a service project. Dirt roads, cornfields, houses made out of mud and bricks. Smack dab in the middle of steel shops, and a Hospital for the mentally disabled. We spent an hour at the hospital... very humbling experience, but very fun too. Amazing souls! Later that day we taught a lesson with a couple of Members to a man who has investigated the church off and on for a few years. Very smart, very successful, but doesn't believe in God. But he loves the church, and knows there is something special about it. We showed him "Finding Faith in Christ", and he teared up.

It's so hot hear, I've never eaten so many popsicles and ice cream in one day before. The first few days I was always thirsty, no matter how much I drank. I would drink so much, but never had to go to the bathroom, I would just sweat it out. But now I down some Gatorade in the morning and I'm fine throughout the day.

The first day my trainer told me, don't expect to eat like this everyday. Because we had some feasts at the mission home. But the members keep feeding us, I'm always so full!

Saturday, we prepared all the final arrangements for the Baptism of Kim He Sun. She's 18, and friends with the Bishop's daughters. Then I taught English class for an hour and a half... so FUNNY! "My ideal man, is tall, faithful, and very rich." That's the conversation they want to have.

I met the Bishop, who loves music, especially the piano. He loves to sing, but he sounds like Kermit the Frog belting out Opera. I practiced "I need thee every hour" and he loved it.

Than we had the baptism, and they had me play "I Need thee" on guitar. Everyone already freaks out that I sound Korean when I speak, but they really freak out when I can still correctly pronounce when I sing too. Only 25 or so people showed up, people are very bust in Korea, but it was a great service. I'll have to send pictures soon.

Afterward, they took us to a place called Papaya. It's the most colorful restaurant I've ever been too. Apparently only little kids and High School girls eat there, so Kim He Sun loves the place of course. They had the weirdest food too, they ordered spaghetti, and fried rice. And then they serve it with white toast, which you spread what tastes like butter and marshmallow cream on. I turned to my companion and said, what style food is this??? He said, "American." I explained that I've never had a meal like this in my entire life! The spaghetti tasted like Spaghetti-O's. But they ate it up like it was steak. They did have awesome dessert though. It was like Halo Halo on steroids. It was a Pho sized bowl filled with the normal Halo Halo type stuff, but then topped with Kiwi, watermelon, strawberries, ice cream, corn flakes etc. So good. Only weird thing... it had cherries in it... cherry tomatoes! So weird, but again, they ate it up.

Sunday: Church! They had me come up and introduce myself and bear my testimony. I had only met 1/3 or so of the members, who had all been shocked at the fast that I have no accent when I speak Korean. So when I start talking, people's jaws just start dropping and they all start buzzing. I hear some Sisters saying, (in Korean obviously) "Oh, he's from Korea?" "No, he just said he was from LA." They were so LOUD! It was funny though. I'm just glad I had the chance to earn earn their trust out of the gate.

Then we had a special Zone meeting, since the missions had combined. To my surprise, my MTC companion is in the same Zone! So great to see him. Also, one of the Sisters from the group in the MTC that left before us was there too. I told my old companion Elder Hilton, "Wow! You look wiped." He said, "So do you." I looked in the mirror, and noticed, "Whoa! I do!" I'm so exhausted some nights I don't have time to right in my journal.

Ok, so last story... and it's a good one!

So after dinner on Sunday, we go street contacting again. We are walking down some random street and I see a man who looks familiar, I think to myself, "Did we contact him before?" Then he notices me, and he starts freaking out. It was the man I sat next to on the plane!!!! 20 million people... I could have been sent to dozens of other areas. I could have been contacting some other place. We could have walked down another street. In fact, he doesn't even lived where we saw each other. He lives an hour away. He was just in our area visiting a friend, and he was 20 yards away from getting into his car and leaving to go back home. We exchanged numbers. We caught up for a sec, and the Spirit was so strong. After he left, I said to my companion, "God wants that man to be baptized."

Missionary work is amazing. God's influence is in everything we do, and everyone meet.

I love and miss you all.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Arrived in Korea + photo!

Hey fam, just a quick e-mail to let you know I arrived in Korea safely. The flight was gnarly, but I had great conversations on both flights. SLC to LA in English, and LAX to INC in Korean. It's amazing how far offering Altoids or Chocolate Covered Macadamia nuts can go in opening up an instant relationship of trust.

I love you all! Sorry I wasn't able to get a hold of all of you when I called at SLC. LAX we had to rush directly to our gate.

We just finished a beast of a meal, it was amazing!

-레 예 스 장 로