Monday, September 29, 2014

이메일 늦게 보낸다

(Translation courtesy of Google Translate: "Send e-mail later")

Hello! This week was an interesting one. Not a ton of time for email either, so I'll get right into it. We had Missionary Leadership Council today with all the Zone Leaders and Sister Training Leaders and President and his wife, so that's why this email is so late. It's like 7o'clock pm over here.

Me, Elder Goo (my trainer), and Sister Goo
(not related to Elder Goo, just a sister in my district.)

On Wednesday, we went on exchanges with the Assistants to the President! Super fun. I went to their area, Sheendang, with Elder Fonnesbeck, and Elder Lee stayed here with Elder Jung. It was a good exchange. We talked to a lot of people and taught a lesson or two and it was all in all a lot of hard work and good memories. Elder Fonnesbeck goes home in 2 weeks!! It's really crazy. And really cool to work with missionaries who've been out for a really long time and learn from them.

Elder Fonnesbeck!! Our foreign assistant to the president. 
(There's almost always one Korean assistant and one foreign assistant)

We lost 2 investigators this week... and they were probably the 2 with most potential. One is moving back to China and the other one said he wants to find a church that has a rock band where people stand up and clap and sing together. Pretty lame. So we won't meet him again for the next while because he wants to find a good "atmosphere". It's just sad to see peoples priorities get mixed up... they decide on the church they will attend based on how fun it is and how interesting it is, rather than basing it on things that are a little more important... covenant renewal, nourishment through the good word of God, etc. Anyway, so we lost a few investigators and our closest baptismal dates. But we have a few other people that we're working with that should progress and come closer unto Christ.

Elder Lee and I and one of our ward members. He's not crazy, I promise.

I have some not great news. We got a text from Elder Lee's parents on Thursday, telling us that his little brother had had a heart attack and was in surgery. We then called President and let him know and then Elder Lee called his family and got a scope on things. His brother, maybe 22 years old was just jogging and had a heart attack. On Friday, we just worked like normal missionaries while Elder Lee exchanged texts with his family about his brother's condition. And then President Christensen called Saturday morning, telling us that Elder Lee's father had called him and requested Elder Lee to go down to the south end of the peninsula so he could see his brother possibly for the last time. He left right away, and got to see his brother before he passed away Saturday night/Sunday morning. So I've been alone for the past 3 days, going on exchanges with members and other missionaries. I'll probably be alone until around Thursday, because Elder Lee said he would come back after all the funeral stuff is taken care of. Please keep Elder Lee and his family in your prayers. This was his only brother, and now it's just him, his parents, and his little sister. It reminded me of how fragile life is. Just one little thing goes wrong in an organ in someone's body, and that person moves on to the next life while the family and friends he leaves behind are devastated. But it's also a time to be grateful to God for the great plan of salvation and happiness. Elder Lee and his family will see his brother again. And they will all be resurrected and have perfect bodies which never feel pain or taste of death again. "For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive." 1 Corinthians 15:21-22.

Love, Elder Edwards

Sunday, September 21, 2014

에어콘은 완전 좋다

(Translation courtesy of Google Translate: "Air conditioning is completely good.")

Picture taken at the most recent mission conference.
A good week this week that involved A LOT of proselyting. None of our investigators but one could meet because they're all busy, so we spent a lot of the time out on the street talking to people. Proselyting is good, but it's just kind of frustrating because we need to meet with these people to get them ready for baptism!! Hopefully this week they won't be busy. We did have one investigator come to church yesterday. He's 26 years old and nice and a little shy and has a baptismal date for next weekend... but he's not ready yet. He slept through most of church and our lesson after church because he was really tired, and he doesn't usually meet during the week, so he hasn't had all the lessons and hasn't been keeping his commitments too well. He'll come around. It's interesting as a missionary trying to guide people to join this church, because they are already happy and comfortable. Them keeping our commitments puts them out of their comfort zone for a little bit. Which they usually see as not good, but they aren't seeing quite the big picture. So we have to help them see the big picture!

Elder Lee and I with 3 vietnamese kids. They're awesome.

We're teaching a Muslim man whose lived in Korea for a year now. He can speak a little English and is okay at Korean, but communication is still difficult. It's hard to teach an investigator about baptism when they don't know the word "baptism". And the church apparently doesn't have a Book of Mormon in his native language... lame. I think we'll try through the church website next time we meet him. We also met some kids from Vietnam, and they spoke zero English and knew maybe 200 words in Korean. That was really hard. At that point it's almost impossible to teach anything... lame. We were going to meet them again with pamphlets and a Book of Mormon in Vietnamese, but it turns out they don't actually live in our area. Something I've learned a lot while on the mission is language is IMPORTANT. Well, communication is important. And a lot of communication comes from words. It makes me grateful to have a family and friends who are all fluent in one language and can communicate easily and freely. That's a weird thing to be grateful for, I never thought about that before coming here.

The Eemoon elders!!

I went on exchanges to Eemoon with Elder Redd, the district leader there. He came to Korea with me, and he's awesome. He's an awesome missionary because he's FEARLESS. He talks to every single person on the street, even when it's awkward or the person is kind of far away, or for any other excuse, he always just talks to the guy. I learned a lot through that exchange about being more fearless... mostly because we did something on that exchange that was absolutely terrifying. Elder Redd is always looking for new ways to proselyte, and his favorite one right now is getting on the subway and standing at the far end of the car and then preaching to a crowded subway car. We wouldn't preach for long, we would just introduce ourselves and the Book of Mormon and then testify about it and offer free copies. Most of the time people ignored us, but we were able to give out a few copies of the Book of Mormon and get some phone numbers during the hour that we did it. It was honestly the most terrifying thing I've ever done. Getting on a subway full of tired and kind of cranky commuters and yelling to them that we're missionaries for The Church Of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and have a happy message to share in the form of a book, the Book of Mormon. So scary. But it was honestly really cool to conquer that fear and get more comfortable talking to all the people on the subway. I won't lie, I was shaking so bad when I did it with him for the first time, but it was cool to feel the fear go away by facing and confronting the very thing that gave me fear. I fear no man!

The sky is blue, the weather is cool, Dongdaemoon is awesome, the tank is clean... the tank is clean!!
Love, Elder Edwards

Laurel here: "The tank is clean..." is from "Finding Nemo." Yes, perhaps a bit on the random side. :) 

Crabs in the market. Mostly dead.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

동대문구 용두동

Dongdaemun district!!

A good week. Last Monday was spent cleaning ALL day. We emptied fridges (we have 2!), freezers, garbage cans, cupboards, and then cleaned them REALLY good with some powerful cleaning supplies. Houses get kind of gross after years of irresponsible teenagers live in them. And it doesn't help that this house is infested with cockroaches!!!! Everytime we moved something that hadn't been moved in a while, a new little gang of cockroaches would scurry in every direction while we squealed and banged them with sledghammers and sprayed them with some powerful bug killer. It was actually a pretty good day. We (the 6 elders in this house) all bonded together after that experience, similar to a group of survivors who endured and suffered through a great trauma or natural disaster together. The day after that we got to go to the temple in the morning and then have P-day! We didn't do anything super cool that day, but the temple was great and it was good to see a bunch of other missionaries that I know at the temple.

Elder Choi and I (he's a zone leader in another area).

There's not a ton of privacy in this house... we actually have two showers, but they're both in one room not separated by anything. And we have 3 toilets!! That's a pretty good number for us. And those are a little better because they're separated by stalls. Except the stalls don't have doors. And the bathroom is also the laundry room... someone just threw a washing machine in there and called it a laundry room as well. So basically, you learn to not be too shy here.

Mom, I'll just put the answers to your questions on here. That's cool, right?
1.   Tell us about your companion. His name is Elder Leewonhyung. He's 24 years old, has been in the army for 2 years (that's a requirement for every Korean male), finishes his mission this January, and super buff. He's really good at English due to living with Americans for the past year and a half, but we usually speak in Korean together.
2.   What are your responsibilities as ZL? Give zone trainings once a month. Take care of the zone. Go on companion exchanges with each of the district leaders (3) once a transfer. Attend the monthly stake presidents meeting and discuss missionary work. Be the model companionship in the zone. Strive to make this zone the model zone in the mission.
3.   Where do you live now? How many missionaries are there in your apartment? Right next to the church in a place called 동대문구 용두동 (you can google it, find the church, and then see our house.) There are 6 missionaries in this apartment.
4.   How many missionaries in the zone? 24.
5.   How is the city vs the country? BIG. One of the biggest differences is having so many people to talk to!!
6.   What is the ward/branch like where you are serving? It's good. I don't know a whole lot about it yet, but the members are really nice and work hard. Our ward mission leader is awesome and really works hard to fulfill his calling. This ward actually isn't that much bigger than Wonju branch... I think about 50 members come out every week.

Elder Lee and I at the temple.

Things are pretty good right now. Elder Lee and I are both healthy and happy and working really hard. I struggled a little bit with confidence this week... which is interesting because I never struggle with confidence. But I struggled this week with knowing what to say when we proselyte, specifically. I'm doing fine now, but it's really interesting to see the HUGE difference that I felt in my ability as a missionary when I had less confidence. I didn't feel as ready, prepared, qualified, or happy. And speaking Korean became SUPER hard. But I'm fine now, I have confidence, and the work is going well. 

Elder Lee and I picking small appleish things.

Elder Lee and I found 3 new investigators this week, and all three of them agreed to be baptized in October! We have changed our approach when we invite people to be baptized a little bit... First, we invite almost everyone to be baptized at the first sit down lesson with them. So we'll meet them on the street once for the first time, and then when we meet them in the church we'll invite them to be baptized. Second, we set a date with them, whether they feel ready or not, and then tell them that we will help them to be ready by that date, and if they feel ready, they can be baptized then. We express to them that it's okay if they don't feel ready then, that we can do it later if they don't feel ready, but that it would be good to work toward a goal (the date). And it works like a charm. Almost everyone agrees, and then they have a lot better idea of what our expectations are and what we are here to do as missionaries.

So now we have a lot of investigators, with 5 of them with baptismal dates starting at the end of this month and spreading through until the end of next month. It's pretty cool. I don't know how we're going to get them ready by then, but we're working hard to know the doctrine ourselves and to help them understand it. The work is really rewarding right now. It's really cool to do the Lord's work, to invite people unto Christ and help them enter into the gate of baptism.

I love you all!
Love, Spencer

Sunday, September 7, 2014

동대문에 왔다

Translation courtesy of Google Translate: "Came to Dongdaemun"

Hello! There's not a ton of time today, so this might be shorter and I won't be able to respond to any other emails... sorry.

I'm in Dongdaemun! Literally translated, it means East gate. And there are TONS of people here. Tons of people to talk too. Elder Lee and I had about an hour and a half of contacting time on the second day I got here (Wednesday), and we got triple the number of contacts I could have gotten in Wonju. It's so awesome. Proselyting is a lot more fun when there's enough people to talk too. We've already taught a few lessons, and have 3 baptisms lined up for the end of this month! Not all of them are for sure, and I don't know a lot about all of them, but it should be really good. 

Elder Leewonhyung = Elder Lee

Elder Lee is awesome. He's a really hard worker, he's not complacent, he's a great teacher, he dies (goes home) in January, and he's super funny. I'm having a blast with him and learning a ton. I thought that becoming a zone leader would be a huge teaching opportunity, not a learning one. But it has definitely been both. Being a zone leader is pretty cool. We had our first zone training meeting 2 days ago on Saturday, and it went well. Our zone covers 3 areas, and each area has 6-10 missionaries in it.

Our house is literally 20 feet away from the church... there's a big gate surrounding the church and the parking lot, and our house is INSIDE the gate. It's a big house, tons of room, but we have just one problem... cockroaches. Our house is crawling with them. Elder Lee and I moved a big board off the wall to rearrange the board, and 6 of the nasty little cockroaches had been chilling back there. We had a small fright which may or may have not included girlish screaming, and then got to work with some bug spray and a large rubber mallet kept in the house for the specific purpose of killing cockroaches. Today is going to be the big clean day that happens twice a year... So it should be really interesting waging war with nasty bugs. At least they're not spiders.

Me, Elder Leewonhyung, and President and Sister Christensen,
with me and Elder Lee wearing traditional wedding clothes
(it's Korean thanksgiving here, so tons of people wear them)

This weekend through until tomorrow is Choosuk, which is the Korean thanksgiving, and the second biggest holiday in Korea. Everyone goes to their hometown and chills there for a few days with family and eat tons of food and think about/make food for their ancestors. I don't know a whole lot about that part, but I heard they make food for their dead ancestors. So we had a mission conference on Saturday as well as a zone training meeting. Elder Lee and I wore sweet traditional wedding clothes, so we looked pretty awesome.

I love you all! I'll try to write more next week. There's so much to write about!
Love, Elder Edwards

Goodbye Wonju district :(

Elder Taylor and I and our pastor investigator. His hair is awesome.