Monday, 28 March 2011

Week 38

K, just finished a trip to the dentist. Last week, I was flossing, and POP! I flossed part of a filling right out of my mouth. I finally got to see the dentist today, but here are a couple of weird things. He had bad breath... not a good first sign, it's like seeing a skinny chef, you just can't trust them after that. Then, he didn't use gloves! Wow. Everything else was state of the art, and the place was really nice. I had to shell out a large sum of cash, too. No fun. It looks like Ramen for the next year... oh, wait, that's what I eat already anyway.

Ok, so I'm at the Seoul Mission office, and half of the keys I'm using, I can't see what letter it is. I still type with only a few fingers, so this is hard. Also, my spelling is bad enough as it is. I know it is "i before e accept after c", but I just don't apply it to my spelling. Now matter how many comments I recieve.

My companion is still sick, and we've spent most of the week in the house again. It's a little tough, and Elder Choi feels really bad, but I know how he feels, and it's just not smart to go out in this cold while he's not 100%. It rained/snowed slushies the other day. And it was snowing sideways when we left Won-ju this morning. Somehow, sunny again.

During this time I've been able to tweak out on updating our area map, and other records. And I've gotten in some extra study, too. That extra study came in handy when two of the three speakers yesterday didn't show up at church. I gave an impromptu talk in Korean for the first. I just jotted down ideas in English, and went up there and spoke in Korean. My Korean still isn't great, but I was so happy that I was able to at least make some kind of sense up there. Whenever I have to give a talk, I can always feel myself speaking beyond my abilities.

It's so important to prepare well, "If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear." But sometimes you get a talk thrown in your lap, or sometimes an investigator has a concern that you've never had to resolve before, and you just have to rely on the Spirit. We are so lucky as members of the church to have the opportunity to have the Holy Ghost as a constant companion. I began my talk by saying, "When I teach about the Holy Ghost, it's to investigators, I'm not sure what new light I can shed on this for you."

But the importance of it can be felt in the account of Jesus Christ's ministry to the Nephites.

"Any they did pray for that which they most desired; and they desired that the Holy Ghost should be given unto them." 3 Nephi 19:9

Even though Jesus Christ was among them, they still wanted to have the Holy Ghost. They could feel it's power, testifying that this is the Christ, but without the constant companionship, that testimony can fade.

As members, we need to always strive to be worthy of the Spirit. We need to be actively search for ways, and things that invite it into our lives, and into the lives of others.

-Elder Reyes

Monday, 21 March 2011

Week 37

So like I said last week. I thought I'd be leaving 원주 to fulfill some other leadership responsibilities elsewhere, but when the call came, I am staying!!! But sadly Elder Hall left last week, but the funny part is is who he is now serving with... Elder Yoo, my other greenie. So my two "sons" are serving together in Geum Chon. So funny. I don't know if that's ever happened before, especially not for missionaries that young. When I'd tell other missionaries that I'd be staying and who Elder Hall is now serving with they'd ask, "So who's you new companion?" When I'd respond I don't know yet, they'd scream, "No way! Again??????"

I'm training for the third time in a row. I have been in country for 7 transfers, and I have trained for three of those transfers. That's almost half my mission!!!! On Wednesday when we went to transfers, I ran into the AP Elder Lee Yoo-Geen (who is also from LA) he said, "You're getting an interesting new companion." I didn't want to know what he meant by that, but it all made sense soon enough. At trainers training, the only other person who was training for the third time was Elder Hafen, who is going home after this transfer. I haven't even hit my year mark as a missionary, let alone in country! I'm shooting for the trainers high score I guess.

As the greenies started introducing themselves, one Elder stood up and said he was from LA, my eyes darted to Elder Lee, "I see..." Sure enough, when the names were called, the two Elders from LA were put together. His name is Brian Choi, and he is a Korean American, and is fantastic a Korean already which makes it a much easier for me this time around. He plays guitar, and piano, and is waay more legit than I am on it. He's also has some great similar backgrounds with some of our investigators so I am really excited to see how this all turns out. I have such a strong testimony already that we are supposed to serve together.

Sadly he was sick in the MTC, and is still getting over it, so we've had to take it easy this week. But we've gotten a lot of work done at the house.

This mission is nothing but surprises.

James and Free's parties looked like a blast. That's so cool that so many people were in town. I wish I could've been there.

Take care, sorry, most of my time was spent filling out reports. But everyone be safe. And I love the pics. Send more if you got 'em!

-Elder Reyes

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Monday, 14 March 2011

Week 36

Happy Birthday to Free and James! I was talking about DZ Discovery Zone and Chuck E. Cheese with a family who used to live in America, and it made me think of all the times we went there as kids. I'm sure if we saw those places now, they would seem so small, but back then they were gigantic. I hope you have great birthdays. It's James' tomorrow, right? At least where you are. It's already his here in Korea.

Did you do anything to celebrate Grandma's birthday? Please give me pics if you did. Anyway...

I spent the first half of this week in meetings and on buses and trains. I had a crazy day last Monday as you can tell from the lack of substance in my last email. I was with a missionary who will be leaving back to America this week, so we went around and saw some sites. We split a Quiznos sub for lunch.... and I don't think I've ever spent so much money on such little amount of food... luckily it was delicious. And luckily we met with a member that night who took us out to a fancy Italian restaurant, with fancy food and fancy chairs. I may or may not have broken a chair... ok, I definitely broke a chair in there. Shhhhhhh...

I can't believe I spent so much time traveling before. Or at least, I can't believe I was able to handle it so well. It's still exciting, but it wipes me out like it never did when I was touring. It may have something to do with the fact that I'm texting investigators in Korean, and I get motion sick very easily. Or it may be due to the fact that I never get to take a nap on the mission. Whereas in the band, I think I took a couple of naps a day in some form or another. That, or maybe it's because I just want to get out there and work. The less motivated I feel, the more I know and feel the urgency of this work snapping at my heels. It makes me work harder oddly enough. When i feel down, just throwing myself into this work is the best remedy. Getting to testify of this gospel ona  sometimes minute-basis, is an amazing feeling.

You can feel and see how quickly the Spirit works on people. Yesterday we came up to a man who wanted nothing to do with us. I said, "Oh, you seem busy. Since you're busy is it ok if we leave you one of our name cards?"

He took it and I explained as I handed him our card, what we are doing in Korea. He took it and nodded his head like "Yeah Yeah," i might as well have been saying "blah blah banana bana fana fo fana" and it would have gotten the same response. But then something caught his eye, he stared at the card, and said, "Wait, so what's this all about?" We talked to him and taught him about the Book of Mormon for over 20 minutes, and plan to meet again.

Yesterday we finally met a soldier who has been having sacrament on base with a couple of members for nearly the last 6 months. We've met with the fellowshippers before, but this is the first time we met with Park Song-Ho. His fellowshippers are an RM name Lee Han-Eueng, who served in New York, and went right from his 2 year mission into his 2 year mandatory army service for Korea. And the other is Kang Tae Gyeoung, who is a recent convert of about four years who got baptized while studying in America. It was by far one of the most amazing lessons I've ever been apart of. He's truly been prepared by the Lord. And it was just letting the Spirit do the talking. When we committed him to Baptism he said yes about a dozen times.

The whole experience getting into the place was pretty bizarre. We had to go to the front gate and explain who we were meeting. The front gate has all sorts of pointy, sharp things that would mess you up pretty bad if you tripped and fell. Plus, a bunch of people with guns saluting you is pretty intense too. Am I supposed to salute back?

Last week we also ran into a less-active woman that I hadn't seen since Christmas. Her Mom has been sick, and so she's had to take care of her. I said I miss her sons. And sure enough she brought them to Church yesterday. I had only gotten to visit her once before, and since I'm pretty sure I'm leaving this week, so we visited her today and sang her a song. She treated me like I had seen her everyday, and that I was leaving forever.

I'll give you the full story next week if I do leave, but after the meeting last Tuesday I'm pretty sure this is my last day here in 원주. Again 생일축아합니다 to Ka-el and free. I have good presents in mind for you... sorry you'll be getting them late.

Love you all!
-Elder Reyes

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Week 35

I'm a little short on time this week. I'm not with my companion, I'm on exchanges right now, and we are going to spend the day running around Seoul, and I need to do some updates for my translator. So forgive me if I can't inspire and uplift under these circumstances...

This week we had our District Conference for all of the Branches here in my Zone. It was so great to see all the members form all the different areas make the 1 1/2- 2 hour trip for the meeting on Saturday and Sunday. Members in this area are so few and they really have to show their support. But seeing all the Branches gathered was such a nice feeling. It is strange being raised in a ward with hundreds of members, and then my greenie area having close to 100 people, then coming here to Kang Won Do area where some of these branches have less than a dozen people who attend. It makes me appreciate how important a ward and the Leadership in wards and branches so greatly affect the members. They had a question and answer session where our Mission President presided, and some of the most basic and unique questions came up.

Love the ward or Branch you're in. I don't know the status of the Filipino Branch, but I hope it is doing well. Stake and ward leaders have more stress than you could know. This last week has really made me appreciate all of the wonderful leaders I had growing up.

I will do a big catch up email next week with stories and all that jazz. Next week is transfer week again so I'll have a lot on my mind as I always do around transfers, where I'm throwing mini-hissy-fits in my brain. I've only served in two areas so far, and I've been so comfortable here in Won-Ju. I made it into, by far, the cleanest house in the mission... it's squeaky clean. It's a weird thing to get attached to, I know. But most of all I just love the people. It's so nice that I can really understand the members, and their personalities more now than in my last area, because I can speak the language a liiiiitle bit better.

I hope everyone has a great week. If for some odd crazy reason my email day gets changed next week, Happy early Birthday wishes to James! Emily, you're soon too, but I'm a bad brother in-law and don't remember the exact date. Sorry, it's just so much easier to remember Hillary's for obvious reasons.

Anyway.... love you all bye!

-Elder Reyes

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Week 34

As I sat slurping noodles with one of our investigators at a little noodle place (it's so small that there is just one big bench in the middle where everybody just sits) close to our church, a man and his family sat down next to me. I had my Book of Mormon face up on the the table (on purpose of course). He gives a glance and asks, "Your missionaries right?" It's just a whole lot of small talk after that but I got to explain why we're here in Korea. He and his family are just giddy because I can speak Korean, and there is just a great Spirit in the air. I asked if he works around this neighborhood and he says yes. I then ask, "What type of work?" His eyes shoot over to his wife, and he let's out a "fun is over" type of sigh, "I'm actually a pastor for The Seventh Day Adventist Church."

I tell him, "That's awesome!" He immediately lightens back up, and we talk some more. He could see that we genuinely love the Korean people, and are here for a good reason. It was just a great experience all around, his family couldn't wipe the smiles off of their faces if they tried. His family was actually moving that weekend, and I asked if it was okay to get his number to give to the missionaries in his new neighborhood. He loved the idea! We went to go pay for our food and say goodbye, and he yells at the waitress, "No, no, we got them!" Super amazing family. I texted him last night, to make sure it was okay to refer him, and he was still willing.

It was a great thing to happen because the day before I had a taxi driver rip on me for no reason. We get in, and the driver says, "Missionaries, huh?" I give the basic, "Yeah, we're missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints." "Can you understand Korean?" He barks, and adds, "Do you know what I am saying right now?"

I reply, "yeah, I can understand you. But I've only been here for 7 months so I don't speak perfectly, of course."

 "How do you teach people? You can't understand them!"

I explain that it's not our job to convince or persuade people, that even if we spoke perfectly, that that wasn't our purpose here. "What's your purpose. I don't understand you." I asked politely, "How do you understand me right now? We are sharing about this book. If you read it, you can know for yourself if it is true or not."

He grabs the book out of my lap, and starts flipping through the pages mumbling to himself, "What is thiiiissss?" He flips to a page and starts trying to read while driving and exclaims, "I don't understand this!" Then throws it back in my lap. I explain to him,

"You were reading the index."

He mumbles something else and drops us off.

Anyway, more things like that happened this week, as they do every week. The weather is going crazy again. It rained all day yesterday, and I realized its a lot easier to get people to stop and talk to you when you have an umbrella blocking their way.

It says in Preach My Gospel, "As you share spiritual experiences in your first meeting, they will recognize you as servants of The Lord."

I'm not suggesting you bear testimony to the McDonald's Drive Thru guy (unless directed by the Spirit to do so), but just take time this week to bear your testimony to someone you already know. Maybe not, "What's on TV tonight. By the way, I know The Book of Mormon is the word of God." But in a more natural setting, and maybe just a miracle you've seen in your life, or a scripture you read that morning. It can change the course of an entire day.

If you have time, email me a miracle you've seen this week!

-Elder Reyes