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.

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