Monday, 27 December 2010

Week 25

Hello family! I hope everyone had a great Christmas. It was amazing getting to talk to all of you. I can't wait to see some pics.
I'm still in the hospital... still kinda sick. Really, really, really tired. It started snowing a little bit ago, but now it looks like its already stopped. I'm dreaming of a white New Years.
So, I got sick last Wednesday. Stayed in bed all day Friday. Felt good. Got back to work. Felt sick again Tuesday night. Picked up my awesome greenie Wednesday morning. It was strange being at "Trainers Training." Seeing those jet lagged faces come in the room.... Their group was about the same size as my MTC group. The entire time, Elder Mejia and I just kept whispering to each other, "This is really weird." My trainer is one of the Office Elders still, so it was cool having him there too. Now that I think of it, I didn't snag a picture!!! Shoot. I need one with him and my trainee. Anyway. I was in and out of it the whole morning, already adding to the surrealism of the whole experience of getting a greenie. There were so many people who were instrumental in making me into the missionary I've become:
Lee Ji-Min was there taking care of paper work. And then these other Elders were also training:
Lee-Jeoung Hyun, my second companion. Elder Grant, my first Zone Leader. And Elder Hafen, who is kind of like my second trainer, seeing as I spent a week total with him my first transfer. They were all there, and they just kept telling me how proud they were, seeing me train so young.
They started announcing the trainers and their greenies. My name was called third, "Reyes. Won-ju. Elder Yoo."
Everyone started laughing, I yelled "4 for 4!" Four companions, all of them Korean. Elder Yoo speaks very little English, but it will be a great blessing, I have already learned so much, being forced to speak Korean almost 24/7. His older brother was actually my AP when I first came in, so he already knows a lot of what is expected of him. We did a little street contacting role play. And then we went outside. He asked, "What are we doing now." I said, "Contacting." He asked, "to who?" "To People!" He asked, "real people?!"
I told him not to worry, "You're Korean Elder, you already know how to speak the language." He was still pretty scared, but did great.
It was a long ride back to Elder Mejia's house, where we would stay. And I felt like I was gonna pass out the entire time.We got to the house, and I just laid on the bed. And started calling all of our members. " Hello brother (so and so), sister (so, and so). We're in Seoul, but I got my new companion, he wants to say hi." I did that for a good hour and a half, while laying down, on the brink of throwing up. That night I had the chills, every inch of my body was sore.
I got up in the middle of the night to get a drink of water. My body was too weak to get up the ladder of the bunk bed, so I just went back to sleep on the floor.
The next morning was our Christmas Mission Conference. I was still pretty bad, and slept through most of it. I got up to watch the skits and musical numbers for the talent show. Then fell back asleep. I started shivering after the conference ended. And they decided I'd better go to the hospital.
They brought me in, took my temperature, FREAKED OUT, stuck a q-tip 4 inches up my nose to check for swine flu, got a shot to the butt, (the first of several), and then put me in my own private room. My entire zone was with me for all of this. They were amazing. This is a whole lot for a greenie to handle his second day as a missionary, but he did great. He really took care of me. The next morning, I woke up, followed the study schedule as usual, and then knocked out.
The hospital I'm in is in Elder Eisenhauer's (who I was in the MTC with) area, and he's a bit under the weather as well. So his companion took my greeine out to get some missionary work under his belt, and Elder Eisenhauer and I have gotten to spend the last few days, including Christmas and Christmas Eve, hanging out together. Which is amazing, because  he's one of my best friends. I'd like to hope having him around has sped up the healing process.
I'm on an IV half the time in here. And I;ve got a big ol' TV in my room that I can't watch as a missionary. I've been catching up on General Conference talks, and worrying about my area.
I can't wait to get back out on the streets, the now very cold, below freezing streets. The work needs to continue, there are people who need to get the chance to hear about the gospel. I love you all, have a Happy New Year. I'm so grateful that I got the chance to hear your voices.
Tell Billy and Jess congrats, and that I got there package. Tell the Stake Presidency thanks for the taffy. And tell Bob Weger I got what he sent as well, and give him a big hug for me.
-Elder Reyes

Monday, 20 December 2010

Week 24

I'm in Seoul, on some insanely ghetto computer. Half of the keys are faded, and the space bar is jammed!!! I have to pound on it like a stapler. I look like a crazy person in here!!!! Let the typos and errors begin...

I will be calling home on Christmas Day(my time). I'm so excited to to hear your voices. I'm planning on calling after study around 11am-12pm ish. Some time around there. So be ready. Be together. Play Yahtzee. Eat lots of food. And open presents at 12 midnight like us anxious Filipinos do it... no waiting Christmas morning for us.

Ok, so another crazy transfer call came. Like I said in my last e-mail, I knew they had been planning to make me go senior companion. I knew I'd probably get a younger missionary, who's only been in the country for a few months. Word just travels fast in the mission. As you could tell from my last e-mail, I was a bit worried. But there's no need to worry...

Transfer calls came and I'm staying in my area... as a TRAINER!!!! I'm getting a greenie! I've only been in the country 5 months!!! When I got that call, I felt like I got hit by a car... but like a really nice car, like a Benz. So the guy who hit me is rich and will take care of my medical expenses.

Anyway, the other Filipino i was with in the MTC, Elder Mejia, is also training. We're the youngest non-Korean missionaries to ever train in the mission. It's going to be intense. They sent the departing missionaries home a week early, to get home in time for school and Christmas. So Elder Mejia and I have been together since last Wednesday, and we'll get our greenies this Wednesday. Exciting. So Elder Mejia and I have been going back and forth between our areas to cover appointments.
Having that young of missionaries together, has been a blast. Yes, we're confused a lot of the time, but that's how we grow. I feel like I've grown so much in the language and as a missionary just in the last few days. I've always had Korean companions, so I've used them as a crutch... now that crutch has been kicked out from under me, and I've gotta learn how to communicate and get things done on what I have.

Because we don't speak Korean anywhere near perfectly, I've relied so much more on the Spirit this week. And the miracles are amazing. I know we are being blessed for our efforts. We taught a man on the street. And  he brought up that in Revelations, it says that "whosoever addeth...". We explained that that that was written before the Bible was put together, and called the Bible. And that Revelations was written before many other books in the New Testament. In any other case like this, contention comes in, and the Spirit is gone. But this man was different, I could still feel the Spirit. He was willing to listen to what we had to say... even in the BITTER cold. And even though he couldn't disagree more. He just didn't believe that there is a living Prophet, and Apostles today who receive revelation. At first we just reasoned with him, and asked, "Do you pray?" his answer was... "of course."

"Do you receive answers to your prayers?" recognizing where we were going, he tried to reason that personal revelation is different. But his fence and his logic was broken. We took that opportunity to testify that God loves his children now, like he did in Bible times. That Christ guides his Church through a living prophet and Apostles today. That the Book of Mormon is the word of God, and testifies of the Bible, and that Jesus is the Christ. That through reading the Book of Mormon, he can know for himself, through the power of the Holy Ghost, that it is the word of God, and Christ's Church has been restored.

He was nice to begin with, but now after doing that. There was no "logical" argument. It was just our testimonies. We gave him the Book of Mormon, and he said "I want to read this. I'm going to read this." We plan to meet him this week.

So I don't have much time. there's so much else that I can say. But I will tell you when I call, and catch up. I love you, and can't wait to talk to you.

Tell Everyone I wish them a Merry Christmas.

Also, James and Hill!!! I got your package. Thank you so much. I couldn't wait. I just opened everything the second got it! Love you! 

-Elder Reyes

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Week 23

Ok, First off. Thank you sooooo much for the Thanksgiving package. I just got it this past Wednesday. Please thank President Morgan for me as well. I haven't been able to make the root beer yet, but I'm excited to.

My breakfasts have consisted of Nutella sandwiches, and finally my tea has honey in it. I gave gummy bears to one of our investigators, and it practically exploded his brain. Thank you so much Mom for putting all that together, I know only you would buy that many different kinds of honey.

OK, a couple of other things:

Beginning Jan 1st 2011, the new address for packages will be:

Elder Elijah Reyes
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
Korea Seoul Mission
Samcheoung-No 9 g:145
Seoul-si 110-230
South Korea

Secondly, I will be calling home on Christmas day here in Korea, so it will be Christmas eve in the states. I don't know what time exactly yet. But pick out a time when you can all be together for me to call. And I'll try to work to that. Let me know.

Ok, so here's what happened this week. But I have to back up to last week, Saturday, when we "grabbed and pulled" a man to the church. We were walking and we saw a man and said 'Hi' to him, and explained that we're missionaries. He said, "From that church right there?" We said "Yeah, do you want to come and see it?" He shook his head 'no', and said, "Yeah, ok."

We taught him about the restoration, and he seemed to like it. But when we tried to set up a return appointment, and get his phone number... he kindly refused. We taught a great lesson, and the Spirit was really strong, so I was disappointed that he didn't want to meet again.

Flash forward to this past Wednesday. We're in the middle of our District meeting and the man calls! He wants to take us out to dinner. Miracle. But first, before we can meet him...

My Zone leader, Elder Hatfield, and I go on exchanges that day since he had to interview our Baptismal candidate, Gun-ha. So we rush back to my area, and we pick up Gun-ha and take him to the church. He's been so excited to get baptized. He's a rowdy 13 year old, and he loves learning about the Gospel. He won't pay attention to anything you say, or behave for anything else. But the second you start teaching about the Gospel, he's as attentive and behaved as a juror in a courtroom. On the cab ride back to the Church he asks, "Wait, so what's repentance again? Ok, what's 1 tenth of our income again?" we say, "You mean tithing?" He excitedly yells "Yeah, I'm so ready for this."

We get to the church, and Gun-ha clears a table, slams his fists on the table and tells Elder Hatfield, "Let's start. I'm ready." After the interview, Gun-Ha runs out and gives me a hug, "REEEEEEYES!" Elder Hatfield says, "he wants you to be the one to baptize him by the way." Gun-Ha, so amazingly prepared.

Ok, afterward. We meet the man from Saturday. It turns out he looked up our church online. He said he listened to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and "I felt something. I felt inspired." Elder Hatfield explained more extensively the Book of Mormon, and the man kept telling us, "Wow! I read all about Joseph Smith, I can't believe people wanted to kill him." Another great lesson, he's obviously felt the Spirit, and so we have plans to meet him again this Wednesday.

Saturday: Gun-ha's baptism. A lot of technical difficulties with the Baptismal font. But it happened! Gun-ha put in his Baptismal clothes hours before he needed to, and was just excited the whole day. His mom came, and that was amazing. It was her that referred her son, but with her work schedule, she hasn't been able to come to church, or take the missionary lessons. She sat up front with her son, holding his hands.
I sat next to her. She didn't know any hymns, but Gun-ha was already an expert, and opened up the Hymn book for her. When my companion and I sang "I feel My Savior's Love," she closed her eyes, and just took the feelings of the spirit in. The water was bitter cold, but as soon as Gun-Ha was baptized, he said, "Wow! The water is warm all of a sudden." As we were drying off, he said, "Next! Priesthood." We ended by singing, "Teach Me to Walk in the Light." As I sat, clothes still damp from the quick change out of my Baptismal clothes, I couldn't hold back the tears. It was an amazing service.

Ok, so I don't know what's going on with transfers. I'm writing this from another area. There's a big chance they are going to put me with a younger missionary, so we'll see how that goes. It's scary, and I don't feel prepared, but I know God will prepare a way for me if that is what will happen. I find out tonight.

I love you all, and I can't wait to hear your voices.

Tell Auntie Gigette Happy Birthday for me!

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Week 22

I haven't really looked at the soles of my shoes, even when polishing them. I looked down at them the other day and I couldn't believe how much rubber I've left on the streets of Korea. It's nothing compared to Elders who have been out here almost two years, where their socks are sticking out of the bottom, but it's just something that reminds how long I've really been out here. An Elder went home last transfer (Elder Prue, who lived with Conor in Iraq), and he said in his farewell testimony, "I have prayed for one slow day, and I haven't gotten one in two years." There are no slow days on the mission. There are busy days, busier days, and days where you fall on your face at the end of the night and know that you did everything you could have done that day, and the Lord helped you do the rest.
Yesterday was definitely one of those days. This last week, felt like that almost everyday. But my companion and I had a pretty amazing thing happen to us yesterday. We met a kid 2 weeks ago, who used to live in Australia, so his English is stellar. He has a strong belief, and really wants his Dad to come to church. We've been so excited to meet him, and he's always willing to meet us, but he's had to cancel on us the day of both times because of tutoring (high school kids get home past ten most nights because of tutoring.) So he canceled on us yesterday, and so we moved some stuff around, and ended up meeting with a man of another faith, who we met earlier this week. He's pretty old, and really had no interest in hearing our message. We were nearing the end of this "going nowhere" lesson, which we were having in a Bakery of all places, and all of a sudden a kid starts knocking on the window. It's the Australian. He's super excited to see us, and explains that his school is a block away, and it let out earlier than he thought. We had no idea where he attended tutoring, and we moved around our schedule drastically, and just met where the other man asked us to meet him.
We finish up our other lesson, and then get to teach this amazing young man. He asks some great questions. We explain more about our purpose here in Korea, the Book of Mormon, and get to talk about prayer. He already has a strong testimony about sincere daily prayer. He said "I stopped praying for a long time, and onl;y prayed when things got bad." I asked, "Do you feel a difference when you pray everyday, as opposed to the time when you only did during hard times?" Of course the answer was YES! But it was just great to hear him explain the difference it makes.
So even though we had that lesson that went nowhere, it gave us the opportunity to meet someone truly prepared. We were definitely being guided by the Spirit in changing plans. Sometimes the bad things are just preparing us to receive the good.
There's a Korean saying that translates to "The ground gets harder after it rains." Sometimes the trials we receive are just strengthening us, and are a test of our faith, that make us worthy of receiving the blessing God wants to give us.
-Elder Reyes