Monday, 27 September 2010

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Week 12 in Korea

Ok, so I thought "Chew-Suck" was just three days, but really it lasted pretty much the whole week. At least the streets were deserted the whole week. And when we'd go and visit members during the weekend following, they were all just chillin' in the jammy jams with "I just woke up when you rang the doorbell" written all over their faces.

So much fun, so much food. So sore. We played soccer on Wednesday for 5 hours! Never, ever, ever a good idea. But it had rained all the day before (the subways flooded! My socks were soaked so much that I rang them out and a good cup of water came out), and it was perfectly overcast and cool the entire day. Also, our Zone got customized uniforms, and we couldn't let those go to waste.

The next two days we just ran some errands, cleaned the house, and napped... YES! Napped, that never happens! We spent 48 hours not in missionary attire, it was soooo weird. When we finally put our shirt, ties, and name  tags back on, it felt so good. How is it I feel more comfy in a shirt and tie??!!!! It felt good. But just talking to people again kinda felt weird, too. I almost don't want another break like that. At first I thought it was nice to "not feel like a missionary for a couple days", but at the end of it, I couldn't wait to get back out and WORK! Meet people, and share the gospel!

I hope that urge doesn't go away. We have such an amazing message. And it can bring so much happiness. The week ended perfectly. We now have a baptismal date for mid-October. It's the Dad of a part-member family, and everyone is super excited! But...

We get transfer calls today, so we'll see if I'll be here for it. The bishop freaked out when he heard there was a chance that I may leave. So he called the Mission President demanding that I stay here for at least one more transfer. The bishop here is amazing; he has the PERFECT family. I knew we got along really well, but I didn't  realize just how much he trusted me. But I'll wait to see how it all turns out. I know they've been wanting to get me closer to Seoul, so we'll see.I 'll let you know all the haps next week.

Love you all!
-Elder Reyes

The wind is blowing through the library windows, and it sounds like music! Like August Rush stuff happening right now... weieeeeiiird. Sounds like a 30 foot tall giant is chanting.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Week 11 in Korea

Ok, so a few days after I siad I wouldn't get to email until Wednesday, they sent us a text that we could email today! False alarm. Anyway, 추석 ("chew-suck", it didn't make me laugh until I Romanized it) week has begun.
Ok, so at the beginning of the week I went on exchanges with the Zone Leaders again. I went to "Bong Hwa" with Elder Grant, specifically so I could fellowship one of the youth in that area, named "No-Jun-Jol". His dad is a former Bishop, and is in the latter stages of battling Pancreatic cancer. Because of all the things going on with his dad's health, his faith has waned, and he declared that when he turns 20, and is no longer "forced" to come to church, he will go inactive.
We had a full day planned before I'd get to visit that family. But it was a day filled with miracles. We were street boarding at 1:00 (a terrible time to do that finding activity.) There are never males out at that time, and Elders aren't allowed to proselyte to women. So we had these goals set, and with how it went for the first half hour or so, it didn't seem possible. We picked up our street boards, moved across the street, and found a staircase to reevaluate our goals, and say a quiet prayer. Even though we were doing horribly, we actually increased some of our goals. We went out, and were able to find some amazingly prepared people. There was a point where Elder Grant and I were both teaching full-on lessons to different people at the same time. Then, after we had reached our goals, we were getting to ready to pack up. I saw a man crossing the street coming towards us. I said hello. We started talking to him and he was super open to everything we said. He then asked us out of the blue "So how do I get to your church?"
We had a couple of appointments that went well, and then we had a meal with an investigator. I swear there was more meat on the grill towards the end of the meal than there was at the beginning. What we ate between the three of us could have easily fed six people!
So it's the end of the night and I finally get to meet this family again. I was excited to share some of my experiences with No-Jun-Jol. We get there, and No-Jun-Jol and the rest of his class are stuck at school (teachers can do that here, even though it was 8:00!) But I still played some songs for the family on the guitar. The last time I met this family, the dad never got out of bed, and that's the case most of the day. But as I was playing "Blackbird", he came out, and sat in the living room with us. Then the Young Men's leader who was there with us asked me to share how I came to know  that the Book of Mormon and this church are true. My Korean isn't that good yet, to be able to share my whole story in the language, so Elder Grant helped translate. The spirit was so strong. Even though I didn't get to talk to No-Jun-Jol, I was meant to visit that family that night. The mom was in tears. And the dad was very touched by the music and the testimony I shared. He shook my hand as we were leaving for what felt like 5 minutes, and just looked deep into my eyes. I've never experienced a more intense or meaningful "thank you" like that before.
Even though we set out with a plan and a goal, sometimes our Heavenly Father has more important things waiting for us. So when we think that things are going wrong because they're not going according to how we planned, or expected them to go we just need to recognize the miracles taking place. Sometimes we don't realize until afterward, but it is amazing when you feel it in that moment... "Ohhhh, this is what is supposed to happen." "THIS person, is who I was supposed to talk to."
When you can recognize those things, frustration turns into patience, doubt becomes an undeniable faith that God is watching over us every step of the way.
-Elder Reyes

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Week 10 in Korea

First off,

Next week is a three day equivalent of Thanksgiving out here, and they said that doing missionary work is NOT the most productive thing to do. So we get basically 3 P-Days in a row! So... I won't be e-mailing until Wednesday, the 22nd.
Ok, so this week I had some of the best and worst moments of my mission so far...

I had a two-day exchange with an Elder who was in the MTC with me, but came the transfer after. He's a greenie (has only been in country 3 weeks) and I'm on my second transfer, having only been here a little over 2 months. We would be spending 2 days together... by ourselves in my area. It's what MTC nightmares are made of!!!!
The first day of the exchange was fine, mainly because we had our service project and English class taking up a big chunk of the day. We wanted to go street boarding, but it was raining, so we just street contacted at a big bus stop. The Elder I was with is pretty timid, so it was fun getting to get over breaking the ice with people. We ended up getting 3 phone numbers; 2 of which we set up return appointments with. It felt great for me because I usually just let my companions handle that part, so I got to learn a lot more different way to go about sparking their interest.
Then we had English class; and since Elder Spangler is a great artist, it made the language barrier a lot easier to break when we'd say some vocab they didn't understand. One of our students has friends in LA, and wants to visit there, so I got to talk a lot about my hometown. They both freaked out when I told them that my mom works at Paramount Studios, and that I've gotten to interview a lot of famous actors. What was really funny though, is when I said I interviewed Drew Barrymore, a man was like "Yeah, she's very famous here in Korea... E.T." I said, "She's done other things too... but YEAH! E.T.! She was in that."
The next day went smoothly, just a whole lotta contacting in a subway station since it was pouring rain like none other. That night, after the exchange back Elder Lee and I taught one of the best lessons if not the best Lesson I've taught so far here, in Korea. It's the first time that we were really able to teach in unity, and we were able to utilize our member who taught with us very well. It couldn't have gone smoother, and the Spirit couldn't have been stronger!!!
The next day, we had all of our appointments cancel on us (the rain is like Korean Kryptonite,) and every single one of the 5 less-actives we tried to visit wasn't at home, or had moved... perhaps "moved," if you catch my drift. It's hard when you spend an entire day working your butt off, and then have nothing really to show for it. To top it all off...we noticed our fan, (our brand new fan,) wobbling. One of the propellers was cracked, and the entire propeller eventually just cracked off. I taped it back on, and my companion said that it wouldn't work. It worked smoothly! I said to him jokingly, "Oh ye of little faith." 10 minutes later the propeller broke off... "Oh me, of little common sense."
We wanted to go out and contact, but again, rain. So we buckled down at the church and started calling records as far back as 2005! It was hard, but found 2 people who wanted to meet.
Sweaty, hard day. But it ended okay.

Even though things fall through some times, ya just have to push forward, and things fall into place. But if you don't push forward, and just wait around for help, most likely, it won't come. You have to be active, always trying to make the best of the situation.
"... Be faithful and diligent in keeping the commandments of God, and I will encircle thee in the arms of my love." D&C 6:20
Love you all,
Elder Reyes

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Snapshots from Seoul/Siheung


Week 9 in Korea

Typhoons!!!!! I experienced my first typhoon this week. The wind woke me up at 5am, and kept blowing so hard that I couldn't fall back asleep. It felt nice though, it was the closest thing I've felt to AC in our apt. But it stopped around 8 or so, and didn't feel like that big of a deal. My companion was mad, because he was expecting more action from the typhoon. "That was it???!!!" he screamed out the window.

But then we went outside and began our day... our area got wrecked. Store signs fell onto cars and totaled them. Any type of "sale" banner was shredded to pieces. Trees were broken in half. The wind was more powerful than it sounded.

In our area, we've haven't had an English class since my first week here. A lot of other areas are finding investigators through English class, so we've been praying a lot to find people, and finally get it going again. (There's no point if no one's interested, which has been the case, even though we've passed out thousands of English Fliers.) 
That changed this week. We haven't been able to do anything really to get the word out about English class, but people just keep coming up to us on the street, wanting to learn English from us. That has never happened to me before in Siheung. On Wednesday, we were contacting, and were having a hard time finding people to talk with (we can only talk to males.) So after 30 minutes of not seeing anyone, we finally saw a man about to walk into the bank, we pounced on him, but he was clearly not interested. (We were kinda desperate just to get to talk to anyone that day.) Even though he didn't seem interested, and was obviously busy, it just felt like the right thing to do. As my companion was talking to him, a lady saw us, and came out of the bank, and asked where our church was. After a lot of back and forth, it turns out she is a member who has just moved into our area. She also just happens to be from the same town as my companion, and her sister was his Gospel Principles teacher. Here's the kicker though -- she has tons of friends who want to learn English!

Later that day, I talked to the first cool (non-missionary) American person I've met here in Korea. I've tried to talk to a few I've seen, and they don't just reject you, but they epically reject you! It's hard too, because I can speak English perfectly, and can express my self fully, but they don't want to hear it. But I can barely speak Korean, but people are willing to listen.

So I saw a guy walking, and I said "Hey! What brings you to Korea?! Where are you from?" He says, "Alabama." He hesitates, not sure of where I'm from and says, "Ya know, America." I said, "Yeah, I know, I'm from LA."

He was here visiting his wife's parents, and I started talking to his wife in Korean. He exclaimed in his full Southern drawl, "Ya can spake Korean, too? Yuh must be raaail smart!!!" He ended up being a Pastor for a Nazerene Church. He was so colo though, and when we explained what we were doing out in Korea he was so amazed, and excited. "Now I'm strictly Nazerene, but that's sum good work ya doin."

There's a family we've been meeting with, who investigated the church a year or so ago. The mom and the dad are too busy to go to church on Sunday because of their laundry business. But their daughter goes to another church. When the daughter, who's about 12-23 yrs old, told their pastor that her family was meeting with the missionaries, and about the Book of Mormon, the pastor said that "missionaries are Satan, and that church is the devil." He probably thought he was helping put a stop to that familiy meeting with us... But when the parents found out what the Pastor told their daughter, they no longer liked that church because of how disrepectuful the man was, and said that "No good church would bash another Church that way."

The work here is amazing, the people are amazing. And we've got a whole board full of investigators again! It feels so good to teach this wonderful gospel, and see the hope and understanding it brings to people.

It's odd, the things that make me feel at home. I was riding in a car with a member to lunch, and it felt like I was just riding around Burbank, getting ready to watch a movie. But the thing that makes me feel the most at home is praying for my family and friends. Praying for their individual needs. Even though I can't speak face to face, I feel close to you. Like home.

-Elder Reyes