Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Week 16 in Korea

Ok, I have so many pictures to email you but not nearly enough time. With the temple today and taking care of some other things, I've only got about half an hour... but here's what's happened this last week.

It went from burning hot, to brisk, back up to warm, and then yesterday it... I don't know what. In the morning it was fine, and then within a couple of hours it was frigid cold. I have two scarves, but I was on exchanges so I just ended up buying some cheap one. The weather here can turn on  a dime. The wind felt like knives. But now I'm all snuggled up since I was able to stop by the house.

One of our investigators, Lee Hyun Su got baptized on Saturday! His step-son also was baptized!!! I baptized Lee Hyun Su, the first baptism I've had where I did the "dunking." My companion baptized his son. It was a little intimidating, because our mission president and the stake presidency was there because we had a big missionary event in our ward for the entire day leading up to the baptism. But I was able to do it first try. I thought I was going to drop him! He's taller than me and he's got a bit of girth. Putting him into the water was fine, getting him out was a struggle. The spirit was so strong, and another area's Elders brought out two of their investigators to watch the baptism... they got their baptismal interviews right after the service!

On Sunday he received the Holy Ghost and was confirmed a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. HE was on cloud nine the rest of the day. He wants to baptize his biological son and daughter as well. He brought them both to the baptismal service and to sacrament meeting. He also told us that since he stopped drinking and smoking, his younger brothers who picked up the habit from him growing up have started to cut back, and he really wants to share the gospel with them. It's so amazing, I could see and feel the difference in him after he received the Holy Ghost. He has new life in him... a constant companion watching over him and guiding him. Now we're preparing him to receive the priesthood. His family, especially his wife, are the perfect support system for him.

I saw and was able to teach some amazing well prepared people this week, but I don't have time to give you all the details. Maybe next week. All I can say, is miracles are happening all around. It's truly humbling.

-Elder Reyes

Monday, 18 October 2010

Week 15 in Korea

First off, I'll be going to the Temple next Tuesday, so I won't be emailing on Monday. So I'll be emailing later in the afternoon on Tuesday. Hopefully I can get some good pics for the plaque. The only thing is, I'll be on exchanges the day before, and so I may look a little... ya know, tired.  Awesome news, one of our investigators got interviewed last week, and he will be baptized this Saturday. His step-son will also be baptized. Lee Hyun Su is amazing! He's so prepared. He's a miracle that just walked into our Church. Anyway...

The mission is really just flying by. But when I tell people how long I've been in Korea people still say, "Awwwww." Case in point, I played guitar and talked for a stake fireside. Thanks to the chord book Mom sent, I was able to put a cool medley together, with High On The Mountain Top, How Gentle God's Commands, All Creatures of Our God and King and Be Still my Soul. Anyway, when I began my talk, I said "I'm Elder Reyes, I'm from LA. I've been in Korea for 3 months." And every sister let out a big "AWWWWW." What was weird though, is they had me talk with a spotlight on. It made sense for the musical number, but for a testimony??? Kinda weird. I spoke about how being in a band and being a missionary are very similar. Like how I was always away from home, so now when people ask me if I miss my house I say "Not really, I'm kinda used to it." Or how whether it was a good concert or a good contact all depends on how it is received by people. I spoke for about 6 or 7 minutes, and bore my testimony of this gospel. It was a miracle though, it's the longest I've spoken Korean, not teaching a lesson. Just talking. I had written what I wanted to say, and my companion translated it for me, but I only had time to memorize a fraction of what I wanted to say. It always feels like there no time to study, and I felt extremely unprepared.

As the fireside was about to start I was reading over some notes, and one of the Zone Leaders said, "What is that? Notes? You won't need those!" I replied, "We'll see, it won't look very good when I have to start reading them midway through my talk." But I said a little prayer for help, as I've been doing this whole last week. Still, "What was I gonna say?" I finished playing, and put down my guitar. I patted my suit coat to check if my notes were there, they were, but I dreaded the thought of having to use them. I began speaking, and immediately I was amazed that I was able to just say what I had somewhat gotten memorized. Then, as it got nearer to what I hadn't gotten a chance to get down... I just kept speaking. As the words were coming out of my mouth, it was like a movie, and I was just watching myself talk. Everything I wanted to say, was coming out of my mouth... I was even cracking jokes! I kept thinking to myself, "What is happening???!" The whole thing was surreal, especially since they had a spotlight blinding me. If anyone has had bright lights on them, even just a flashlight (when you get pulled over by a cop), you know you can't see anything. At times, other than people laughing at a joke, it felt like I was alone in a room. It felt even stranger, bearing my testimony, not being able to see who I was bearing it to. It was like talking to no one. Even if I was talking to no one, my testimony would be the same. The Church is true, Joseph Smith was a prophet, and Thomas S. Monson is a prophet leading Christ's church today. Jesus Christ is our Redeemer, and God lives, and loves each and every one of us.

"...take no thought how or what ye shall speak, for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak."
- Matthew 10:19

Elder Reyes

PS. Give Adam a Happy B-Day hug for me.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Week 14 in Korea

Five mosquito bites on my face... good times. I thought the cold weather took care of the mosquitoes, but now I'm on the hunt every night. I hear them buzzing in my ear and no matter how tired I am, I shoot up like lightning, grab my electric racket, and go on the hunt. Mosquito repellent, mosquito pads, they still get ya.
Anyway, I finally got a chance to SEE General Conference. They broadcast it a week later out here, so they send Korean dubbed to the wards, and broadcast it in English for the missionaries at Stake Centers. We had investigators coming, so we had to stay and watch the Korean dubbed. Obviously it was great for the investigator and they of course come first... but I didn't understand most of it. I understood the main topic of what they were talking about, but when it comes to stories and analogies, my Korean ability is just not there yet!!!! So I'll have to wait for my copy of the Liahona to come so I can read the talks.
It was just really nice getting to explain to people what General Conference is, and who the people speaking are. "A living Prophet and Apostles of Jesus Christ are speaking." That just never comes up when you come from a family of members. The question usually is, "Do we watch it online in our PJ's or get dressed and sit way in the back of the cultural hall?"
Last week we had FHE with a part-member family. It was just about the funnest thing I've gotten to do on the mission. Who knew playing card games with 7 and 10 year old kids could be so much fun? BTW, I got whooped every time. We have a baptismal date set for the dad in two weeks, but it was just amazing to see how much peace and joy singing hymns, sharing scriptures, and doing an activity as a family can bring to a home.
It was a great night. I hope the family did something great for Dad's b-day. I hope some Yahtzee was played, but more importantly I hope everyone got to feel the Spirit that is brought by being together as a family. It's strange to think that half the kids are married. I can't imagine how different your lives will be when I get back, but no matter how much changes, we'll always be family... and it's only going to grow. 
-Elder Reyes

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Week 13 in Korea!

Transfer calls came...
And I'm staying here in Siheung for at least one more transfer! Which is great, because now two of our investigators have baptismal dates. Last Monday was the longest day ever, waiting for that call. It takes a while to adjust to a new companion, and I'm sure it would take even longer adjusting to a new area. But I'm glad that I get to stay. My bishop was super excited as well when we got to tell him the good news. I was so convinced I was going (after hearing some stuff through the grapevine) that I even started packing. Now my stuff is just really organized.
This week was a week of baking. There's a basket in the church that people put food in for the missionaries. And the last couple of Sundays, we've had an epidemic of apples put in that basket. Like... more than two people could possibly eat. My companion had a recipe for apple bread, and we just got rid of all the apples by baking apple bread and giving half a batch to all the members in our ward.
Brown sugar here is pretty fake, and butter is ridiculously expensive. Even margarine is super expensive. We ended up getting what my companion called "fake margarine." I didn't think that was possible, but when we used it, I saw just how bad it was. It was like working with clay, not butter. It's gross, but amazingly it tastes great in the apple bread. it just melts anyway.
So we've been putting a lot more focus on building stronger relationships with the members, (the bread was part of that), and we've seen so many blessings from doing that. It's weird though, because they all seem indirect, but I know that it's because we are showing our appreciation to the members we do have, miracles are being put into our path.
We were able to visit less actives that, before, were "never there" or really were never there. We visited a family that lived in by far the nicest/biggest apartment and apartment complex that I've seen here (it was more like a luxury hotel: gym, outdoor theater, fountains that are Vegas-style etc.) The son sat with us as we talked to the mom, and she just happens to be from the same hometown as my companion. The daughter refused to come out of her room when the mom asked her to. It was great talking to the mom, but I felt a real disconnect with the kids. As we were leaving, the mom opened the daughter's room (which is bigger than our entire apt) and told her to come out and say bye to us. She didn't. But when the mom opened the door, i noticed a piano in her room. So I asked, "Who plays piano?" The mom said the daughter did, and asked if I wanted to play something. I said "Sure." I came in, the daughter was in the corner reading a book, and I asked if it was ok. Then i played "Don't look back in anger." The kids absolutely freaked out, and loved it. The mom said "they'll never forget that." We left, and the daughter came out and really excitedly said bye to us, and the son, sniffling with a cold said, "See you next time!"
We were street boarding on friday, and this kid came up to me and said, " I belong to your church." It took me awhile to recognize him. He got baptized by my old companion earlier this year and went almost instantly inactive. It had been a real regret for my former companion, and his companion at the time (who is now the Zone Leader.) They both always talked about him,and had even visited him before, and he told them to not visit. So just the fact that he came up to us was a miracle in and of itself. But we told him to come to the church the next day, and we'd play some ping pong. He did, and we just talked mostly about just everyday stuff. No pressure. But when he was leaving he said, "I'll be at church tomorrow."
Yesterday, he was there! And so was one of the less actives we visit constantly. Then after church, we visited one of our active members. Her kids went inactive, and her husband wants nothing to do with the church. He literally slammed the door in our faces just a month ago when we visited and she wasn't there.
This time we were dropping off some Liahonas, and when he answered the door, we were a little scared. But we came in and talked to the wife for a little bit. She started to pack up some food for us as a thank you, and then all of a sudden the husband asks, "So, tell me what's different about your church." My companion and I looked wide eyed at each other, and preceded to teach the first lesson. I think the wife just kept packing more food for us so we could teach her husband longer, we left with two ginormous bags of food, when I think she was just gonna give us a box of Kimchi to begin with.
Amazing things happen when you show appreciation for what you have been given, instead of being upset over what you don't have. When you are truly grateful for what you do have, then God will give you more.
-Elder Reyes