Sunday, March 29, 2015

... 봄이 왔다. 완전 좋다

Translation courtesy of Elder Edwards: "Spring came. It's super good."

Time to email!

This week was pretty good. All of our investigators and potential investigators were either busy or didn't want to meet this week, so there weren't really any lessons. We had one lesson on Monday with a guy that we called off some potential investigator records, but he was either super shy or had some sort of social disorder, because he didn't say a single coherent word for the whole 45 minutes that we met with him. It was kind of awkward. But anyway, we didn't really have a lot of lessons, so we proselyted a fair amount and it was good. The rejections always feel worth it every time we find someone with a little interest who will at least stop and listen for a bit.

Waiting for the brownies that Elder Batschi made. :)

On Tuesday, Elder Batschi and I went on exchanges. They also couldn't really get appointments this week, so we were on our feet proselyting from 12 to 5, and then 6 to 8, and then made calls for an hour. On Wednesday Elder Jung and I headed down to Seoul for a "12 Week Follow Up" meeting on Thursday. All the trainers and trainee's do a program called "The First 12 Weeks" for the new missionaries first 12 weeks in country. We add on an hour to comp study and do things like role plays, learning how to teach the lessons, role plays, studying chapters in Preach my Gospel, role plays, learning about missionary work in general, and more role plays. It's good. The meeting was really good. Sister Christensen talked about patience and "waiting actively". Being patient doesn't mean just sitting around patiently and waiting for something to happen. It means hoping for something, understanding that we won't get it immediately, and then taking the appropriate steps to get there. Actively waiting. It applies to learning Korean, playing the piano, mastering a concept in school, becoming perfected, etc.

Brother Lee and the sisters. 
Brother Lee is an English class member and SO nice. 
He reminds me a lot of Grandpa Verlin.

Transfer calls came on Saturday! All of us will be staying except Sister McKloskey, who is transferring to Dongdaemun. It should be a good transfer. The weather is nice, the skies are clear, the winter coats are officially off, and life is good. Have a wonderful week!

Love, Elder Edwards

Card stamping... These are some of the cards that we use to proselyte, and we have to stamp our number on them. It's surprising the amount of time that gets taken up just stamping cards. These took me about half an hour after planning.

Sunday, March 22, 2015


(Translation courtesy of Google Translate: "Bath house = Heaven")

Howdy y'all.
This week was a good one. We started the week off with a trip to a public bath house on P-day... a member told us about one that's pretty close to our house, so we went to check it out. It's SWEET. Large, and a selection of baths ranging from rather cold to so hot that if you're in for too long you come out looking like a red lobster. We stayed there and soaked for a total of 2 hours. It was heaven. Afterward, we proselyted until 9:00. It was a really good proselyting session. We went super hard and talked to literally everyone that we could and were able to meet a lot of cool people and share the gospel a lot.
Time to email!

This week we also went street boarding as a district (4 elders and 2 sisters) on a large college campus during lunch hour when all the students were streaming from classrooms to go to lunch. We set up one street board and brought a boat load of Book of Mormons to give to people that were interested. Sometimes street boarding works really well and people come to the board because they're interested. But that's pretty rare, so we usually have to set up the board and then leave it and go talk to people to see if they're interested. It's interesting... you'd think that after almost 2 years of talking to random people on the street day in and day out, you would be very used to it and not have any problem with talking to people. While it has definitely gotten easier than the very beginning, there's still that small fear that makes it a little hard. Especially when a whole campus of college students is staring at the weird foreigners in suits with funny accents. It's almost a little embarrassing. The solution? Work. So I stuck a smile on my face and worked my tail off and talked to everyone I could for 2 hours. It's really fulfilling.

We didn't have a whole lot of lessons this week... A lot of lessons punked and people aren't picking up the phone. We were able to teach one man, Brother Jung, a second time. We taught the Plan of Salvation with a focus on baptism to get to the celestial kingdom. He accepted it all really well and committed to reading and praying more fervently so he can get that answer. He said he would think about getting baptized. Usually when people say "I'll think about it" it means "No", but Brother Jung seems to be really sincere. But he hasn't come to church yet because he sleeps in really late in the morning. They say that "Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise." But they also say that "Early to bed and early to rise makes a man stupid and blind in the eyes." I'm not sure which is true... I've personally experienced both.

Yesterday was Sunday and a really good day. When we talk about keeping the Sabbath Day holy, we also talk about serving other church members and other people who may need help, right? Yesterday was a really good service opportunity for me, mostly by way of translating. I conducted the music in sacrament meeting (a new girl moved to Choonchun for college, so she plays the piano now) and translated sacrament meeting into English for a girl from Russia. And then translated Gospel principles class into Korean for the Koreans there because our gospel principles teacher is a recent convert from China and only knows Chinese and English. So he teaches in English. And then translated priesthood meeting into English for that same Chinese recent convert. It was really hard and I had a nice headache at the end of the day, but it was really good to be able to help so many different people. (It's really awkward when you're translating from English to Korean and you miss/don't understand the first part of a story and then just sit there awkwardly not translating for a 2-3 minutes while this person tells a story and you have no idea what they're talking about and neither does the person you're translating for. Oops.)

Life is good and I'm really excited for the upcoming General Conference! Have a wonderful week!
Love, Elder Edwards

Sunday, March 15, 2015

여전히 잘 지내고 있음

(Translation courtesy of Google Translate: "That is still doing well.")

The temple!

This week, we traveled to Seoul on Monday night and then had temple day on Tuesday! The temple is so great. One of the benefits of being in Choonchun is that even though it's Gangwondo area over here, we still get Seoul benefits, such as a subway line and temple day. Sleeping in the temple reminded me of all the times we slept in the temple from way back when I was in Taebeck and Wonju... that was a long time ago! After we went through a session on Tuesday, we headed over to a place called Gwangwhamun to check out some palaces and museums because Tuesday was our P-day. Gwangwhamun is kind of like the Times Square of Korea, so it was really cool to go and see some of the historical stuff about Korea. I realized that even though I've been living here for over a year and a half, I know almost nothing about Korean history. So it was good to learn about it.

Gwanghwamun, and the 4 of us in a museum.

This week we also met with a man named Brother Lee a couple of times. (Side note: you may be wondering why almost every person I talk about has the last name of Lee or Kim. Well, it's because there aren't a lot of last names in Korea, and the common ones are REALLY common. There are SO many Lee's and Kim's and Jung's, etc.) Brother Lee is an alcoholic to the extreme... He's been addicted for 30 years and drinks enough to stay in a state of semi drunkenness every single day. It's really sad to see and kind of hard to deal with, because Elder Jung and I don't know the least thing about alcohol. We usually don't meet with drunk men if we can avoid it, but Brother Lee kind of has his head on straight and has a desire to quit. So we're going to see if we can't help him.

We met a few really cool people this week and taught the Restoration a few times. We even had 4 people commit to come to church!! In the end, not a single one of them showed up, but we'll hopefully be able to meet them this coming week and teach them more about the importance of the Sabbath Day. Our ward is awesome, and the members are so kind and good to the missionaries and care about being good people and good missionaries. We're working with them to get referrals and help them invite their friends to learn more about the gospel and it's blessings!

I read a lot and have been thinking a lot about "going about and doing good." Kind of related with what I said the other week about "ceasing not". We have a need to get out of our comfort zone and make sure that we're doing good and helping at all times. President Harold B. Lee once said that the gospel is "to comfort the afflicted and to afflict the [comfortable]." If we're comfortable and feel like we're doing good, it's okay to take encouragement from that, but it's never okay to get complacent! President Thomas S. Monson said (and this is the quote I've been thinking about all week):
"There are feet to steady, hands to grasp, minds to encourage, hearts to inspire, and souls to save.
Are we doing all we should?"

The thought that comes is "there's so much to do! And so little time!" It's my hope that I can learn to better implement the Savior who, put so simply by Peter, "went about doing good." (Acts 10:38).

The time flies and is far spent. I'm tired. But the work is good and so is God. I hope you all have a wonderful week full of good works!!

Love, Elder Edwards

A super creepy alley that we found that leads to a members house.

Monday, March 9, 2015

따뜻해진다!!... 드디어

(Translations courtesy of Google Translate: "...Finally gets warm!")

A cool little waterfall.

Yesterday for the first time in 4-ish months, I did not wear my big hot super good looking winter coat when I went outside. I like it when the weather warms up.

On Monday, after email we went to a buddhist temple! It was pretty cool. We took a long bus to a dam, then hopped on a ferry, and then went to the temple! It was pretty cool. But I like our temples better. Afterward we had family home evening with some of the families in the ward. The kids in this ward are CRAZY. Well, maybe not necessarily crazy, but they're kids and get pretty wild and noisy.

The buddhist temple!

It's been a week filled with lots of traveling on the subway to far places for zone meeting and to meet people in other parts of our area that are out of the actual city. Choonchun is very similar to Wonju in the fact that if you want to go anywhere outside of the city you have to travel really far, usually taking 30 minutes to 1.5 hours. In Dongdaemun it only took 10 minutes or so. But anyway, we weren't able to proselyte a lot because of all the traveling. It was interesting going to zone training meeting and just listening and learning instead of giving the training. But it was still a little stressful because the zone leaders asked me to translate for one of the Koreans there who isn't super good at English. But still, it was good to help.

On the ferry going to the buddhist temple!

It's nice to not be a zone leader or district leader anymore. I loved doing it and loved giving trainings and going on exchanges a lot, but there's something much more simple about just me and my companion, going out and working every day. I like training a lot, and Elder Jung is awesome. The difference between training an American and training a Korean is HUGE. One aspect is the Korean language... when training a new American missionary, a lot of the training and helping goes into helping them learn how to speak and preach the gospel. But Elder Jung is way more fluent than I will ever be, so it's nice not having to worry about helping him with that language. We work well together, and I'm teaching better than I ever have in my mission. We teach pretty well as a team... I just usually have to nudge his leg when it's his turn so he'll get talking. It's fun.

Buddhist temple--Elder Jung and I.

Brother Kim, our investigator with a baptismal date in May, has had his phone turned off and didn't come to our last appointment, so we completely lost contact with him for a few days. So we figured out where he lives by calling the last elders, and then went and visited him. His house reeked of cigarettes and he was sporting pretty big burns on his leg from when he passed out while making coffee. He's in really bad shape, and it's not really helping that he's smoking and drinking a lot. We're hopefully going to teach him today and teach the Word of Wisdom. Keep him in your prayers.

Doing dishes after a ward meal.

I'll share a cool experience we had yesterday when teaching a man that we had called up and agreed to meet. It was really nice... after talking about what he wanted to talk about for 5 or 10 minutes, he turned to us and said: "Can you please tell me in 30 minutes or so about the Mormon church and how it was founded?" I wish we got more people that asked that question. Usually we meet people for the first time and then have to change the subject and focus them in on the gospel because that's not necessarily what they were expecting when we met. Anyway, Elder Jung and I launched into the Restoration and taught it pretty well. The man had expressed his feelings about Jesus Christ earlier in the meeting (he believes that every man's ultimate goal should be to live like Christ... awesome), so when Elder Jung was introducing the Book of Mormon I had the distinct feeling that I needed to share 2 Nephi 25:26. It's an AWESOME scripture for missionary work, not only saying something about Christ, but something about the reason for the Book of Mormon and why the authors were writing it. I opened up to it and read it to him, and immediately the coolest, warmest feeling came over me and I knew it was true. It wasn't necessarily anything big, but it was definite. I live for those moments. When the words of Christ go straight into my soul and say "Yes, this is right. This is real. This is true." I don't think he felt it has strongly as me, but the Spirit was definitely there. I'm grateful for moments like that.

Elder Jung and I and the sisters in our district 
(Sisters McKloskey and Sister Wijethunge... she's from Sri Lanka) 
and the bishop and one of the kids in our ward!

Something that really stood out to me in my personal study this week was the idea of peace. Here are some of the scriptures that stood out to me:
      "These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer: I have overcome the world." --John 16:33
      "And he will take upon him death... and he will take upon him their infirmities... that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities." --Alma 7:12
      "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." --John 14:27
Christ really did suffer death, but not only that, he also suffered and took upon himself our infirmities. What does that entail? It means that not only did Christ redeem us from "death and hell", but he also suffered for our infirmities and trials so he could know how to succor, or help us. And that is where the peace comes from. That is where the strength comes from. From relying on Christ, who overcame the world. Is it any wonder that he is called "The Prince of Peace"?

I love you all! Have a wonderful, warm week.
Love, Elder Edwards

Sunday, March 1, 2015

동대문 스테이크 대회!

(Translation courtesy of Google Translate: "Dongdaemun Stake Conference!")

A little cold, but a good week!

Yesterday we had stake conference for the Dongdaemun stake, which Choonchun is a part of. So we got to go to the Dongdaemun stake center, which is the Dongdaemun church building that I lived right next to for the last 4 transfers. (Cool fact... they say that the Dongdaemun church building, also known as Yongdoodong, is the first chapel to be built in all of Asia. I'm not sure if that's true, but that building is definitely ancient.) It was really good to go and see all of the members and say hi again. President and Sister Christensen both spoke in that meeting, and President talked about coming to Korea as a missionary 40 years earlier and standing at that exact same pulpit and giving his first testimony on his first Sunday in Korea. One of the Choonchun ward members owns a bus, so we got to ride the bus as a big ward family to and from Dongdaemun (about 4 hours total). Buses are so relaxing.

Things are going well for Elder Jung and I. We're working hard and are meeting some pretty cool people. Choonchun is a college town with two separate colleges, so there's a ton of students. Students are usually nicer than older people and more receptive to the message. In Korea, there's a summer break and a winter break, each lasting about 2ish months. The spring break ended today, so students have been flocking in to Choonchun after spending the holidays at home. It's fun to proselyte to them.

In district meeting, Elder Batschi (the district leader) asked each companionship to share a miracle from the last week. Elder Jung stands up and says: "I played a lot of video games before the mission, but I don't miss them anymore. I think that's a miracle." He's so funny. He works hard and does whatever I ask him to do super willingly. I like him a lot.

Last night (Sunday night) was a pretty cool and crazy night. We had 3 appointments lined up... one for 5 o'clock, one for 6 o`clock, and one for 7 o`clock. The 5 o`clock appointment punked, and the 6 o`clock appointment came pretty late, so we started teaching him at the church at 6:30. His name was Brother Lee, and he's over 80 years old. We taught him and invited him to be baptized, but he didn't really understand any of it even though we tried to go really slow and do our best to teach to his understanding. Nevertheless, he didn't really understand anything. About 5 minutes before that meeting ended, a guy randomly walked into the room and sat down in an available chair. It was Michael, a Korean that we'd met on the street last week and who randomly decided to show up at the church. So we hurried up and finished with Brother Lee and said goodbye to him, then asked Michael to take a seat while Elder Jung and I hurried outside to figure out what to do because we had another guy that was going to come (our 7 o`clock appointment). As soon as we walked out of the room, we found Brother Kim standing there in the hall, who had walked from his house all the way to the church and was ready to be taught. Brother Kim is our investigator whom we taught once last week, and he has cancer and diabetes and memory loss and all sorts of medical problems, and we had called him on the phone the other day and agreed to meet next Tuesday. But he misunderstood and came last night. So, we had Michael sitting in the room waiting to be taught, Brother Kim standing in the hall waiting to be taught, and our 7 o`clock appointment about to arrive. It was really stressful and Elder Jung and I had no idea what to do. Luckily (and unluckily), in the end the 7 o`clock appointment didn't show and we ended up teaching Brother Kim and Michael together, mostly focusing on Brother Kim. We taught the gospel of Jesus Christ and taught about learning and living the gospel and how it helps us to overcome trials in our lives (which Brother Kim has plenty of). It was a really spiritual lesson and Elder Jung and I taught and testified and shared scriptures really well together. And Brother Kim agreed to be baptized on May 10th! We set the date pretty far in advance because he doesn't have a lot of time to meet because he's always getting surgery, and his memory isn't very good. But, he wants to get baptized! So we'll be working with him to get baptized then. After Brother Kim left, we taught Michael. Michael had just been sitting there for the whole lesson with Brother Kim, focusing half the time, and kind of mumbling to himself the other half of the time. Come to find out that he's not really all right in the head... He says he's from Germany and has an American girlfriend and can't speak English or Korean super well but also can't really speak German as far as we can tell... it was just a really strange meeting. But, he's coming to church!

Wow, that's a long paragraph. Hopefully it's not too difficult to read.

I really like the wording in Acts 5:42. "And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ." This is Peter and "the other apostles", after they had been arrested and tried and beaten and released on the grounds that they "should not speak in the name of Jesus". And then they walked out of there "rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name." They rejoiced? And then "ceased not" speaking in Jesus' name? That's bold. I think that's a lesson for all of us. No matter the circumstance, no matter the situation, ceasing not in being a representative of Jesus Christ. Ceasing not in being "anxiously engaged in a good cause." That's part of the baptismal covenant. "... to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places..." To cease not. To stand as a witness always. That's what we're asked to do. And according to the scriptures, the blessings that come to those people who "cease not" are enormous.

I love you all. Have a wonderful week!
Love, Elder Edwards