Monday, December 24, 2012

Mission Christmas Card

Her mission put together a video in honor of the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy, as well as to remind us all what Christmas is all about.

Enjoy! 
{Gwen}

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a_oUgYABMjQ&feature=youtu.be

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Merry Christmas


AHHHH!!! I GET TO TALK TO YOU TOMORROW! I GET TO TALK TO YOU TOMORROW!! I GET TO TALK TO YOU TOMORROW!!!!! yeah!!!!  Hehehe

I'm so so so excited!

Sounds like y’all have been having a fun week! i'm excited to tell you about MINE! WITH MY OWN VOICE!!! Hehe

First, Grandpa, CONGRATULATIONS!! BJ is soo stinkin cute!!
Second, I’M SO JEALOUS y’all got to see Bomi!  I miss her soo much!  She's amazing isn't she?? I’m glad y’all got her help with cooking Korean and I also laughed when y’all added salt to the curry...I actually hadn't thought about that.  I'm glad you were there for her. I hope you gave her a big hug from me!
Third, thanks to everyone who sent me the "Merry Christmas" messages.  Especially Sister Hatfield!! I LOVED your message. It just made me laugh and laugh and laugh.  Good times and fun stories.

So like everyone else, I will save most of my stories for tomorrow (EEK!!)  But there is one highlight that I want to share.

Yesterday, our investigator Yoon Ji  was baptized!!!  It was her dream to get baptized before Christmas, and after a busy week we were able to make it happen. Since I'm the new missionary in the area I didn't know very much about Yoon Ji; so, during our last meeting before her interview I asked her why she wanted to get baptized. Her answer really surprised me. I was expecting what most other 14 year old girls might say: they like the people, because of friends, church is fun... or the other more serious answers of: she enjoys what she feels at church, she feels it's right, etc. 

But Yoon Ji's answer was completely unique. She said told me with a twinkle in her eye that she want to go to the Temple. And she knew she needed to first be baptized. What a special moment to realize that this young girl already had a grand eternal perspective. Then at the baptism, after the ordinance, she got changed into her dry clothes. I had a minute to take her aside and ask her how she felt. She had no words, but again the twinkle in her eyes returned and a smile filled her face. We again talked about the Temple and what awaited her there when she goes at the beginning of the New Year with all the youth. I'm so excited for her! And I'm excited to continue to see her learn and grow.

My other stories I’ll save for tomorrow...like our Missionary Christmas Party, watching KungFu Panda 2 and then spiritually analyzing it (which is awesome) and all those fun things!!

I AM SO SO SO EXCITED!!!

I love y’all!!! AND I'LL TALK TO YOU TOMORROW!!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Becoming Korean

FAMILY!!!! Hello!!!

It was SOO FUN to open up my email today and see all the lovin from family and friends! I miss all y’all so very much! Thanks for all the birthday wishes =]!! It was a good one! We had President Interviews 2 days before and, because President's bday is on the 9th, the District surprised us with a delicious cake and candles at the meeting. Then me and my house of sisters went out to eat and had Baskin Robbins. I admit that the food was really really gross, so on my actual birthday we ordered in DELICIOUS Korean chicken and I was satisfied ^__^ 

The morning of my b-day, the sisters all sang to me and gave me small little, hand-made gifts, and then I opened up the box from Dad and found the beautiful new scarves and gloves and opened up the skirt and shirt!!! Thank you thank you!! OH and the new orthotics!?!! I. Have. Happy. Feet! Thank you!

That night after dinner we all sat around laughing and talking and doing more of the crafts Mom and Dad sent. It was a fun day. That night it really hit me that I was 22 years old and that was a little strange (especially because now I have to say I'm 24 in Korean!! lol)  But it ended up being a good day!

OH YEAH!! hahah That night, when our District Leader called, I decided to give him a hard time lol  That day I had gotten calls from President, the ZL's, and my old district leader... yet I didn't receive a call from my DL!  So Elder Han (he's Korean, but he's from New Zealand...yes his accent is awesome) called to apologize to me from not calling earlier. He got out his guitar and their 4 missionary house all sang Happy Birthday to me! haha best way to end the day!

The rest of the week went really well. We are trying to find the balance of things here in Sangin. Ever since I was a new missionary, this has been my first area that I came to a new area with my companion already having been there...it's be a strange adjustment. I'm used to knowing the area, the people, everything that's going on, and because I feel so far behind this week has been a little hard. I'm ready to know these people!!! They are so wonderful!  Well, the previous missionaries in this area did a good job with meeting with the people who were in need, but the schedule they made has been the schedule of things ever since...to the point that we have NO time to visit ANYONE else. 

My companion expressed her equal desire to visit other members, and really start contacting the LA. So this week has been a week of a lot of thinking and re-evaluating. After Christmas we'll be making some changes, and I hope that it will allows to give our attention to more people who are in need of support and love from the missionaries. Luckily the members are always willing to help so I think it will be good.

Dad's email title was "White Christmas". Well it looks like we will be having a white Christmas here in Daegu as well!!!! Of course the weather is cold, and there will most likely be snow, but our White Christmas will be the White of Baptismal clothes!!!  We get to have an investigator baptism! =] I am so excited. Though I have only taught this cute girl once, the other missionaries have taught her well and her desire to be baptized is HUGE. She is a young woman and she loves coming to church. Her family has given their permission, but they don't really make things easy for her. But, she has been coming out on her own and participates in everything that she can. Her baptism will either be at the ward christmas party on Saturday the 22nd or Sunday morning the 23rd.  Either way, her dream of getting baptized before Christmas will come true. I'm excited for her to have another special reason to really remember Christ, this and every Christmas.

Overall this week was fun. I've been praying hard to be able to recognize why I am in this area and with my companion. I want to be able to accomplish the work that is needed of me. And little by little the vision is opening up to me. It's always so neat to have the opportunity to do the Lord's errand.

Something really fun this past week!!! haha On Sunday I made another step towards becoming a Korean! Are you ready... I MADE KIMCHI!!!  It was fun!!! Though I smelled like Kimchi for the rest of the day lol

They call it "Kimchi Jang"  and it's a big get together. We have all the cabbage and the spicy pepper paste and we go at it coating everything. While people took turns making the Kimchi, there was games and food and just chatting. It was a really fun get together!! 

I love you all dearly! and I'm SO SO SOOO excited to talk to y’all next week!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
kiss love hugs!!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

I.am.a.popsicle!


THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU ALL!!  Thanks y’all soo much for all the birthday wishes!  It was fun to see all the messages from family and friends!  Thank you!!  It's strange to think that this will be my first birthday without any family members.  But it's all good because I’m serving with a very BIG family!! They just happen to be Asian. =]  No really, thanks y’all.  I miss each of you and love you even more!

Family! Hi!  So Daegu...
Oh my heavens!! It is sooo stinkin cold here it's not even funny!!!  Yesterday the blistering high was a balmy 32 degrees, but don't worry the weather cooled off to a nice 18 degrees that night -___-  yeah...But, where the cold makes things not so fun, the area COMPLETELY makes up for it!

Family, I AM SO HAPPY!! All the time!! I love this area, I love the members, I LOVE my companion, I love my house, I love my district, I love my zone, I love the other two sisters that are with us...I JUST LOVE IT ALL!! hehe  Seriously!  SO happy!!

Right now is really fun. I am at Elder and Sister Helms house! They are the missionary couple working with the military branch. They are from South Carolina and they bring the South to Korea. I get to talk southern with them, lol! It's great. They have a "Transfer Breakfast" tradition. The first Monday after transfers they have everyone over to their house for breakfast. Today we had biscuits and gravy with sausage!! I was in HEAVEN! I made sure and brought all the fantastic crafts Mom and Dad sent me and we were able to do them together with the zone. They were adorable and everyone loved the crafts. The Helms also have us all coming over for Christmas Day and we will just have a fun day of games and snacking and goodness. 

Speaking of CHRISTMAS!! I'm glad that y’all got one of my boxes! That one y’all can open up  when everyone gets together. It would be fun to use it a couple of times before Christmas so you can tell me what you think. Y’all decide how you want to do it. There is another one coming, with more individual presents; so pray hard that it comes when y’all are all together. 

So this week I got the packages from Mom and Dad!! Thanks!! Question: the "wait for it..." package... are the things wrapped inside so I can open the box or do I need to wait?  And mom: you said that some were for my birthday right? Just curious...

Gwendel, THANK YOU!  For the music and memory cards and candy!  We have been listening to the music as much as possible!  lol Gwen, you're such a goob! My personal favorites as I have listen to the music have been Barry Manilow (made me think of Mom!) The Jets {Gwen has no idea what she is talking about here, LOL!}, Hansen and of course Aretha Franklin hahahah 

Oh! Also! Remember me talking about Bomi? She will be in America on the 15th and she wants to meet y’all!! Her English is good, but make sure you talk simply and a little slow! haha But really she wants to meet my family! I believe she found the girls on Facebook, so you can communicate with her through that =]

And now for the BEST part about Christmas!! PHONE CALLS!! SO daddy, you were right! We will be calling y’all on Christmas Day for us, Eve for y’all.  So, President and Sister Gilbert were worried about the fees and such for missionaries, and so they gave us permission to have YOU call US on our cell phones. I don't know if you want to do that or just have me call the Conference call phone because either way that doesn't cost me money (which is the point) 

This week has been fun!  Sangin is a VERY BUSY area!! We are constantly going from one place to another with meetings and lessons!  It is crazy and absolutely amazing!  I love it. It has been fun to begin meeting all the members. It's a bit strange to not know anyone... but I'm slowly learning all the names. The ward LOVES missionaries and they are always willing to help us. Our ward mission leader is amazing. He used to be the Stake President and he is so organized and on the ball. At our Missionary Council Meeting he was there as well as the ward missionaries. When we talked about the people we were meeting, they were actually interested and gave help when we needed!! They he gave us a list the ward wanted to focus on and told us all about them.  It was amazing!! I have NEVER been in a meeting like that before.

Sunday was a fun day, but my favorite part was when the Youth Curriculum was introduced.  I am so excited for this new program!!!  As I was watching the videos I realized that not only will the teaching and learning be done as the Savior did, but it's just as us missionaries are striving to do things. It was a tender moment.  The Lord is preparing His people even more to take this everlasting gospel to the WORLD!!  I am so grateful to be apart of this glorious work.

Thank you for all the love and support.  For the birthday wishes! I'll talk to y’all in 15 days!! EEKK!!!!

love ya - mean it!
Kiss Love Hugs! 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

New Transfer and Extra COLD!


Darling Family!!

Hello!!! How is everyone this week!?! From the letters sounds like all y’all are doing great which makes me happy!! Oh how I miss and love each of you!

Well, y’all got the news a little early from Sister Kim!! I GOT TRANSFERRED!!!!! I had the feeling the call was coming. Actually I got the feeling of where I was going and who I was going to be with a couple of weeks ago. It was fun to see that I was right!! So...I have been transferred to 대구 상인  Daegu, Sangin Ward!! Daegu is known as the hottest place in the summers and the coldest place in the winters in Korea. So mom and dad, an extra big thanks in advance for buying me a wonderful coat and set of boots!! They will be put to good use!!

As for my new companion, I am really really excited to serve with her!! She is absolutely adorable and has the heart of an angel!  Her name is 윤진아  Sister Yoon Jin Ah!! Yep!! I have the privilege of serving with another Korean!!!! Some extra fun news is that in Daegu I will be in the 4 sister house!!! So there is Me and my companion, another Korean 추윤아 (nickname is Sister Charity) and Sister Chase!!! I AM SO EXCITED!!  This transfer is going to be so much fun. I have already heard such wonderful things about the ward I will be serving in.  The members are involved and they love missionary work.  There are some programs already in the making for Christmas, so I'm excited to see the miracles that come from those. 

I have to say that is was really strange to leave Shin Jeong; my home for the past 6 months of my mission!! It was hard saying goodbye to the members that I have served for so long and with all my heart. I loved them all dearly. It was definitely a teary goodbye.  I think the hardest goodbye was Sister Kim!! I love her so very much, like my own sister!  She was my friend, and mentor these past couple months. I knew her in my first area as well, so it will be strange serving without her being close by!  Before Missionaries leave for home they get to visit past areas their last two p-days. Shin Jeong has definitely made that list! 

My companion and trainee Sister Yoon had a really hard time this past week.  First, it was just the knowledge that transfers were coming up, and then it was the fact that the call officially came.  Last, was the days leading up to transfer days as I packed my bags, said goodbyes and prepared to leave. We had some long hours and night of tears.  I remember what it was like leaving my trainer and my heart went out to her. Her new companion is from my group of missionaries, Sister Cutler, and I know that they will learn a lot from each other. I am grateful that I had the opportunity to see Sister Yoon grow and that I was able to be an instrument in the Lord's hands in helping her learn and most importantly love. She gave me the a very sweet present as we departed. She has graduated college and her trade is making jewelry. She works with precious medals and makes her own stones with silver casted flowers. She brought some of her pieces that she has made to the mission and presented me with a BEAUTIFUL ring!! I'll send a picture later. She also had me choose another stone that she made and will be making me a necklace when she returns home that she'll send later. Her heart is so large and so sensitive, and most of her life she has spent building up her defenses; but it was my honor to see those walls begin to come down. As they did so, her heart was able to touch other peoples. I hope and pray that she will continue to do so. 

Some fun news from Shin Jeong! Sweet Grandma Kim, our convert, finished the Book of Mormon this past week and she is excited to begin the Doctrine and Covenants!! She always said that she didn't understand much, but she also felt so happy when she was reading. It was amazing how quickly she read and how day after day you could see the light of her faith and testimony grow!

This past Saturday at the Youth english and PMG class, we began a project that the mission has wanted to implement.  It's called the “Letter Project” and when the missionaries go visit with the members we bring with us the name of a LA or a member who is having a hard time and we all sit down and write a letter to them. Then the missionaries go and deliver the letters. This past Saturday with the youth, we all knelt down together and prayed to know who, amongst the youth, were in need of a special letter. From the names we chose we all wrote letters sharing our testimony, or favorite scriptures, and most importantly our love. It was neat to see all the youth thinking of those they hadn't seen in a while and having their hearts reach out in hopes that those people would come back to church again. 

Transfer meeting today was such a BLAST!! I seriously LOVE getting together with the missionaries!! It was neat; I heard the testimonies of the Elder's going home.  These missionaries are the ones that have really become my dear friends and I'm sad to see them go. It was wonderful as they shared their experiences and the things that really stood out to them.  After the testimonies, Sister Gilbert said something that I really liked!  She said: "The greatest testimony you'll ever leave is the testimony of how you lived your mission."  How grateful I am to be living my mission and living my testimony everyday and I'm excited to now share the love that I have with the people of Daegu!!

Thanks for you love!! I sent off the final Christmas package today!! ONLY MOM can look at it and wrap all the presents =]

I miss you all and I love you!! So far I haven't gotten any of the packages, but I’m assuming that they are coming soon! Love you! mean it!

Kiss Love Hugs!! 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

December


FAMILY!! Hello!!
How are all y’all doing this fabulous day!?! It was a fun week here in Ulsan Korea. 

We had a training meeting in Busan and it was, of course, a blast to get together with all the missionaries. My poor companion is having a hard time thinking that she is in her last week as a Trainee.  I remember my last week with Sister 이예정 and how scared and nervous I was to leave her and have to go somewhere else with someone new.  Sister Yoon has forbidden me to make any reference of transfer calls on Thursday, haha!

It's been amazing to see her change and grow over the last 12 weeks. They definitely aren't lying when they say that training is the hardest part of missionary work!! But President Gilbert's advice that he told me 12 weeks ago is very true; "Without hard things, we can't progress", and I have felt that I've progressed a TON these past weeks.  It's been hard, but I'll always be grateful for the refining moments I had with Sister 윤은지.

Transfer calls will be interesting this Thursday.  Currently I am the missionary who has been in our zone the longest, but because my companion is a new missionary, there is a possibility that she will be leaving.  So I might be here for another transfer, or I might go, or we will both go!  haha Really we have NO idea! I'll let y’all know next week though. Mom, you said that I should get an English companion but that might be weird!  haha I've only been with Koreans my whole mission; I'm not quite sure how to work with or live with another American!! ^__^

After the training meeting, the next fun thing was THANKSGIVING DINNER!!!!!! It. Was. So. Delicious! The Priedman family from our branch invited all of us over, and then they had an American family from the neighboring branch, {the Wood Family (they have 2 little girls who are adorable)} and then our friend Valeria joined the group.  There was homemade stuffing and mashed potatoes with gravy, homemade rolls (they were good, but I really missed Grammy's rolls), there was cranberry jello, fruit salad, and CHICKEN haha They couldn't find a Turkey.  Apparently Costco got about 200 Turkeys, and needless to say, those went fast. For dessert there was apple, chocolate and pumpkin pies. The pumpkin was so good!! Sister Priedman made everything from scratch, including the filling! So good! ((on the subject of pumpkin, I should tell y’all of the amazing change that has taken place with my tastebuds. I now, actually, GREATLY enjoy pumpkin, squash and the real shocker... Sweet Potatoes! (the yellow ones)... well, at least the Korean version of these things lol)

Overall it was just a nice relaxing night full of family time. I have to admit that it did make me miss y’all and our Thanksgiving traditions. I missed helping mom cook, and the chips and dip while we watched football. I missed the movie break, and of course, the week of leftovers and cold turkey sandwiches. But it was fun and I'm grateful I could still have a Thanksgiving. 

In y’alls emails you talked about Black Friday and all the crazy shoppers. There is nothing like that here!! And the stores actually waited till after Thanksgiving before they started putting up decorations! haha Weird huh!?!

Ok, so I've been talking about food... so I'll just continue (I promise I'm not hungry right now lol) Since I've been in Korea I have had a wide variety of meats! haha Well, since last night, we can officially add EEL to the list!! And actually...it was really good!! It was fun to watch the member prepare it as she cut it up and cleaned it out. Then she began frying it up and she coated it in this AMAZING sauce!! She mixed the spicy red pepper paste with a sweet grape juice sauce thing (Sorry, it was all in Korean. I don't know what it is exactly) and a couple other spices.  It was spicy and sweet and super good!  We ate it with rice in lettuce leaves.  We also had 3 different kinds of Kimchi (all at different ages).  The "best" kimchi was the 3 year old kimchi that we ate with some kind of pork (again...Korean name, not sure what it is exactly in English).  The meat and kimchi are cooked together and then you wrap the kimchi around the pork.. sooo goood!!! The member told us it was a "kimchi party" lol

On the subject of fresher food... Koreans are really really good about eating fruits and vegetables in their season. Really, if it's not in season, you either can't find it or it costs a TON of money.  But because they do this soo well, you end up eating the same fruits for m.o.n.t.h.s!!  Here in Korea was the first time I've ever had Persimmons and I have to say that I'm ready for them to be out of season!! There are 2 kinds.. the hard ones and the soft ones.. and the soft ones just freak me out! lol

The work this week was...well...it was kind of tough.  Every appointment that me made, including the back up ones, all got canceled.  But it's ok; this next week will be good. 

Kinda sad, one of the Elders in our branch had to go home for a couple of weeks because of medical reasons. Because of this, my companion and I are now on our own in Shin Jeong. This also means that we get to teach all their recent converts, which was fun. 

On the same day as our convert JuHee, two brothers SehMeen and SehJeen were baptized.  This week we taught SehJeen and it went really well.  But my favorite lesson was on Sunday and we reviewed with both the brothers about the Priesthood.  Then, they were about the be ordained to the Aaronic Priesthood.  After church I went up to the older brother and asked him how it went.  He replied with 성스럽다 which means like holy, sacred, solemn. It was a neat moment.

Sunday, the Elders also had one of their investigators get baptized!!! Actually, when I was with Sister Yeon, we were the first ones to begin to teach him and then the Elders came, so we handed them over.  His name is 김경수 (Gyong Su) and he is TOTALLY the "cool kid" personality and all. So teaching him was always a bit hard, haha! To see the changes that he has made and to see his heart softening has been really special. Then on Sunday, to see him shed some tears (while trying to hide it to keep up the "cool guy" persona) was awesome.  I know that his heart will continue to soften and he will be able to bless and lead so many people to this Gospel.  When I look at him I can always picture him at the MTC.

For Gyong Su's baptism I made him a scripture case for his Book of Mormon.  On it, I put pictures of Captain Moroni, the 2000 warriors and another picture of the warriors right after battle as they are helping those who are wounded.  On the top of the case I put the scripture Alma 53:20-21.  Thinking of President Eyring’s talk from Priesthood Session, I was able to pray about Gyong Su and really think about who he could become. 

Well the work here is moving forward. I LOVE being able to serve in this mission. I know that Heavenly Father is really aware of the people of Busan Korea, especially as we keep our sights and our hearts on a Temple. 

I love you all!! Thank you for everything!! I'm excited to share a bit of Christmas with y’all through packages, and I'm even more excited to talk to you within a month!!!!!!

Oh, and a follow-up from last weeks letter, when I talked about my gratitude from being a Wells-Longshore, I turned to Helamen 5:6 and thought that scripture applied really well.

You are in my prayers! Love y’all!

kiss love hugs 

Monday, November 19, 2012

PICTURES!!!

Chalene sent home her memory cards for her camera, so I thought I would share some pictures with all y'all! {However....I am not going to share all 1200 pictures and videos....sorry!}
Her name tag, CTR ring, and scriptures







COSTCO Pizza!
Familiar Places!
McDonalds!!


Getting caught in the rain makes your Husband cuter!

Working on their cute husbands!


Theme Park



Making brownies!!








3D Art Museum

3D Art Museum

3D Art Museum

3D Art Museum

3D Art Museum





GROSS! Squids!








Sunday, November 18, 2012

Nerd Moment


OK, real quick...today for P-DAY we are going to do ARCHERY!!! 
Needless to say, my nerdness is going off the scale!!! hahaha
I'm soooo excited!! And I may or may not have worn my boots and my hair in a braid so I can feel like Katniss!!
Don't judge, you know you love me! lol
pictures later!! 

Grateful to be a Longshore


My Darling Family,

First to answer a question: Aunt DeAnn (thanks for the email!!!) ---at the baptism I sang one verse in English for fun, mostly I sang in Korean. Really, I only sing in Korean now; it's actually a little strange singing in English or reading from the English hymns. Lol I'm excited to come home and sing in Korean for y’all!! I love it!!

This week has been a week of faith!! I think I mentioned in my last email that after the baptisms on Sunday we didn't really have anyone to teach...Which ends up making missionary work a little difficult, but we were determined to show Heavenly Father our faith and our love, knowing that doing so blessings were sure to follow... and they DID!!

To start off the week we got a mysterious phone call from a less active member in Gyeong Ju (same zone, different district).  He said that his girlfriend had questions about the church and he wanted us to meet with her! Later that week, they both just showed up at the church. An initial meeting turned into the first lesson. It went really well. The boyfriend’s personality is a little strong. We were able to have this less active member not only remember his own conversion, but also share it with us. During the lesson he was willing to help explain parts more fully and it was really good. Now we just need to get him back to church so he can be the best example for his girlfriend. She took the lesson well, though she is on the shy side. We are excited to meet with her again!! (new investigator #1)

Next, Thursday night we went and visited a Less-Active member at her part time job. It's become a weekly thing and she loves seeing us!!  As we were talking a few days ago, she mention that her daughter, who has not been baptized, wanted to go to church with her son!  We were excited at the prospect and mentioned that it would be fun to meet the daughter. Well, this week we show up and the daughter and the son are both there!!!  We ended up having a fun talk and getting to know the two a little better. The daughter is 11 years old (American 9) and she is adorable! We had fun talking and she agreed to come to church and meet with us every week (new investigator #2).

Friday night had to have been my most favorite night of all!!!! OK, it was about 7:30 at night and my companion and I were finishing up some weekly planning when we got a phone call from the Boo. The Elders had a referral for us! They explained the rather confusing situation...a member from the DeJeon mission was in Ulsan with her friend that wanted to learn more about the Gospel. So this member called the Dejeon Boo, who call the Busan Boo, who called us!! The elders gave us the information and told us to call as soon as we could.

When I hung up, I handed the phone to my companion and with a slight shrug said, "Well, we have time now". What a phone call that was!! As soon as the member answered she went off a mile a minute. Pretty soon our quiet evening turning a little crazy as we realized that we needed to go meet the referral that night because the member friend was leaving the next day.  So we run to the huge map and start searching for the apartment...apartment found! We literally RUN outside to catch a taxi...By this point it is almost 8pm and so we give our DL a heads-up that me might be home a little later then 9pm....A short taxi ride later and we arrive at the apartment.  The member meets us downstairs and takes us up.The meeting that followed was amazing!

This grandmother, the non member, Yoon Bang Ja, has a daughter that lived in America and had traveled back and forth many times. On one of those travels, she went to SLC Temple Square. She remembers how she felt when she was there and how kind everyone was. She has a really really good image of the church! 

While we were talking with her, her granddaughter comes out of her room.  We introduce ourselves and I strike up a conversation with the granddaughter as my companion continues to talk to Bang ja. The granddaughter brings out some English books and begins reading them.  Holy cow! Her pronunciation was awesome!!!! Come to find out, this little girl, 8, was born and raised in America and only recently moved back to Korea. hahah Well, needless to say, after that Angie and I just spoke in English to each other. You could tell that she was excited to use her native language.  And what an amazing girl she is!!

Angie has had a hard life.  Her mother has passed away and now her grandmom takes care of her. We talked about the churches she went to and she said that her favorite thing was singing songs!! So I taught her "I Am A Child of God" and wrote the words down for her.  She loved that!! After singing for a little bit, I asked her what other things she knew about God. She taught me some very sweet things; things only a little child can put so perfectly. On the same paper as the song, she wrote God+God=Love, Love+Love=God, Me+Me=Family, Life+Life=Happy Life, and then Jesus+God= love and happy.

After meeting with this sweet little family, not only did the grandma want to come to church with Angie, they wanted to find a building in L.A. they could go to when they traveled that way.  It was an amazing miracle!! (New investigators #3 & #4) The funny part is, the member who introduced us was baptized just a couple of weeks ago. I love missionary work!! And I love the knowledge that I have that Heavenly Father is aware of us and is literally waiting to bless us completely!!  

Sidenotes: As I read the emails this week I couldn't keep back the tears. How grateful I am to be a part of such a grand family. The Wells-Longshore name is something very dear to my heart. Thanks to everyone for making this name an honorable one!

My heart and prayers go out to Nick and Caroline. I love you both dearly. How grateful we all are for a Heavenly Father who loves us most, and a Savior who knows how to literally run to those in need. I can see Him drawing near to you at this time. And I know the whole family is doing the same. 

In Gwen's email she said that we have the greatest family in the world, and I whole-heartedly agree!! Thank you for teaching me how to love, how to serve, how to have fun and most importantly how to have faith.  I love you all!!!!!

I am grateful to bear not only the Savior's name, but my family name as I continue to serve here in Korea. 

kiss love hugs, and extra prayers

Monday, November 12, 2012

Oh HAPPY DAY!!! 항복해요!


Family Family Family!!! HI!!!

How is everyone doing this week??  I think everyone had a pretty busy one from the emptiness of my inbox, but that's all good...less time to read things and more time to write; for this week that works out perfectly!!

I'll have to go in order of the events of the week...So this past week we had a combined Zone Conference.  I have mentioned before, and will continue to say so, that I LOVE getting together with other missionaries.  Though this round was a little strange because there was a lot of missionaries that I didn't recognize!  It's fun to have new missionaries in the field, and I love how nearly all of my group that I came out with is training, fun times.

This conference was great and we were able to talk about Elder Bednar and Elder Holland's conference addresses. This time is always my favorite. This discussion is led by Sister Gilbert and we all get to learn from each other and from the Spirit as we share the things we studied.

The MOST exciting part about the Conference, though, was the announcement by President Gilbert. Currently in our mission we have a complement (the amount of missionaries we are allotted from headquarters) of about 85 missionaries with about 20 of those being sisters. Currently we have a full complement. But with the new and amazing announcement from General Conference, we have received news of changes that will be coming to Busan, South Korea.

Our Sister's complement will go from 20 to 38, and our TOTAL missionary complement will rise to about 140!!!!!!!! This means that every branch and every ward in our mission will have 2 sets of missionaries!! When President and Sister Gilbert came to Korea there were only 72 missionaries...by the time their service is finished they will have doubled in number!!!!!!!! When I heard this news I just started to cry, and even now I can hardly hold back the tears of gratitude!!! We are about to get a force of missionaries that is needed and will be essential in helping our mission rise to where it needs to be.  Our hope is to have a Temple here is Busan, and now I can see it even clearer on the horizon!

The BEST part is, I may still be here for the first wave of new missionaries. I AM SO EXCITED!! But... there are some other changes that accompany this one...because of the new year and all the new missionaries coming, the transfer schedule will be changing.  Currently I'm scheduled (FAR TOO SOON) to come home July 2nd, right? Well, now I'll most likely be coming home July 29th.  (President had originally said June 19th and that literally sent me balling my eyes out...but then he realized he miscalculated!) So... yeah...I don't know if that will affect anything, and I'll keep you posted on what the official outcome will be, but for now it looks like I'll be home more around the end of July. (Sorry mom...)

NOW!!! THE REALLY EXCITING NEWS!!
On Sunday, November 11th, (11/11) Koreans celebrated 빼빼로 (peh peh ro) Day (they give each other chocolate covered prezel sticks because they look like an 11.. it's one of their 4 valentine-ish day's lol) But, on that day, Shin Jeong Branch had a different celebration. This Sunday, 이주희 (JuHee), 오세진(seh jeen) 오세민 (seh meen) ((brothers)), were baptized and confirmed members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints!!!  It was AMAZING!! We had 3 baptisms in one day, and then in 2 weeks the Elders will be having another one. It was really fun because me and Sister Yeon (my last companion) where the ones who first starting meeting with and talking with the brothers SehJeen And SehMeen. 

That day JuHee looked so beautiful in her white dress.  They were all smiles.  I was given the opportunity to sing a solo at the service and I sang "I Feel My Savior's Love." Then, the youth sang "I believe in Christ".  This was especially special for JuHee, because that was the first song she sang, the first Sunday she came to church a couple of weeks ago.  She remembered that song and asked if it could be sung at the baptism.

The Saturday before, we had our last lesson with JuHee before she was baptized. Her excitement was contagious.  At the end of the lesson she asked us if she could tell US everything that she learned.  Her testimony is so strong and so sweet.  She already has a love for the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  And then to see her with the other youth later that day, it was as if she had been there all along. That was definitely a comforting moment when I realized that she would be taken care of.  She is going to bless so many lives with the light that she shines forth.

After such an amazing week, we definitely have our work cut out for us. This is always a hard moment.  You go from having people you are teaching, who are progressing really well, to starting again and finding more people.  But that means that this week I really get to show Heavenly Father my love and gratitude and my faith in Him.  And when you look at it that way, this week is going to be good!!

Things are winding down as being a trainer and my poor companion is having a hard time.  She is realizing that she is about to be put with another companion. I remember when that thought struck me as a trainee...it's always hard leaving that zone of comfort you've worked so hard to make. But I know that she will be able to learn so many other things from the other sisters in the mission!! I'm excited for her to experience more.

Hmm.. what else...
OH!! It was the GREATEST thing the other night!! We were walking back home from a members house at night and we passed the Hyundai Department Stores and the little kid inside of me just got giddy!! THEY HAD CHRISTMAS LIGHTS UP!!!!  It looks SOOO beautiful!  Instantly Christmas songs popped in my head and I couldn’t keep the giggle from rising to the smile on my face! I LOVE CHRISTMAS!! ^___^  (Speaking of Christmas, I've been shopping for y’all!! I'm excited to send everything soon!!)

This week I have been studying the Beatitudes and the Lord's Intercessory prayer! The Beatitudes are neat.  I take them as the beginning and the end results, and then have Alma 5 be the self-evaluation in-between.  It's also neat to see the progression of the Beatitudes from the physical to the spiritual until we are prepared to meet God again.

As for the Intercessory prayer, I have been studying John 17 for a week now and have yet to finish the chapter! It's SO AMAZING!! I really like verse 17, follow the footnotes, especially to 2 Samuel and then follow the footnotes from there.  It's really neat to see what "truth" really is!

Well I love y’all!! Thank you for everything!! For the love and prayers and just greatness!!

kiss love hugs!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Bring on the Cold!


Hello darling family!!!

I had the thought the other day of "wow! I got cold really fast!" and then I realized that it was November... crazy!  Time flies!  This week’s weather got quite a bit chilly!! On Thursday, I think, the temperature got down to 3 degrees!! (C*) A little ridiculous if you ask me... but all is well and my beautiful coat is keeping me warm.

This week was a busy one and this next week looks to be even more so!

It has been fun meeting with JuHee this last week as she draws closer and closer to her baptism.  She is SO EXCITED!! It's amazing to see the light growing within her.  One lesson that we had, we spent the first while just marking scriptures with her.  She explained (with great distress) that she was reading the other night and couldn't find the scripture references that we used during the previous lesson!! She looked and looked and looked!  hehe It was fun then being able to sit down, review some, and see her mark up her scriptures with great care.  Her thirst for knowledge and understanding is profound. 

A week from today is her birthday and by that time she will be a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  I'm excited for her!!

Out of the week Saturday had to have been my favorite day!!

We got up like normal, did our morning routine, but had to leave early to head over to our youth program; 1 hour PMG study, 1 hour English class.  There we talked about using the scriptures.  Everyone picked out their favorite scripture, and then, like a missionary would in a lesson, they had to explain briefly what the scripture was about, share the scripture, and then apply it to us and explain why it was so important.  It was awesome.  I love the youth of this branch! They are wonderful! 

Like in America, everyone is pretty excited about the age change {for missionaries!}, but it really only affects the girls.  Korea has been one of the countries where the boys were allowed to leave at 18 because of army service.  Actually, President Gilbert apparently has been sending in reports to Headquarters reporting on how the younger missionaries were doing. Pretty cool.

Now that I look back on everything, it all makes sense! haha Like, the changes in the MTC language teaching. They have shortened down ALL of the languages by weeks so they missionaries can leave sooner (all except Korean... it's too hard!) and other things like that.  It amazing too see how perfectly everything comes together, huh??  I'm SO excited that more and more people will be coming out on missions! We need them for sure!!

After youth program we had a lesson with JuHee, and we had Bomi teach about Enduring to the End.  She did a wonderful job, and again, she will be an amazing missionary!  After the lesson we had to do the new missionary study program (one hour every day of extra study) and then we rushed (literally,we were running.. my companion wasn't too happy lol I loved it!!) over to a nearby park where we met and taught our now newest investigator!!  She has been coming to English class and is ready to learn more about our church.  During our conversation we talked about how she loves to exercise, and just like how she enjoys the strength that comes from working her body, as missionaries, we can help her have a "spiritual exercise" with even greater and lasting effects. It was neat, and now we will be meeting her every week.

After that lesson we (literally) ran back to the church and prepared for our saturday night English class.  After English class we had treats and did a church tour.  Many of the people who come to class don’t really know what else goes on in the building.  It was fun taking them around to every room, and explaining the programs of the church, the leadership, the sacrament, etc.  There weren't as many people there as we wanted... but it was good, and they left with For the Strength of Youth pamphlets and other things.  It was really good.  By the time clean up had ended it was time to head home for the day. IT WAS BUSY! But it was tons of fun too. I like being busy...(though I don't like waking up the next morning still tired hahah)

The week ended perfectly with a Fast Sunday.  I love Fast Sundays. I love the spirit of the fast and the Spirit that is always there on the Sabbath day.

Thank you for all the emails and updates.  My prayers have been centered on home.  I hope you know that I love each of you and I am grateful for your support.  I love the Lakeland ward and all it's faithful members.  Thank you for your constant examples of love and kindness. 

Ready for some funnies!?!

So while we teach the youth English, we can't help but have a little bit of FUN!! hahah I love it when Koreans speak English, they sound so cute! Because there are some sounds in English that they don't use (and vise versa) we have discovered that words like Rural, Squirrel, and Plural are really really really really hard!!! As a bonus to class, we always work on these words at the end...I'm proud to say that they have progressed!!

Matt, this one is for you!  The other day we were riding on the bus to an appointment when a song came on the radio.. it was so unexpected I literally busted out laughing!! I couldn't help but think of our childhood adventures as I heard "Who Let the Dog's Out" on a bus in Ulsan Korea haha

I love you all.  Thank you for everything!! Have a good week!
kiss love hugs

Monday, October 29, 2012

No Words


Darling family,
Sorry this is coming to y’all so late, and it will have to be a short one too...

Today we went to an Amusement Park! haha Gyeong Ju World! It was a blast!  I love my district, though it's strange being only 1 of 2 Americans in it; good language practice though, right??

This week was full of some ups and downs.  We were excited this week to have a lesson with our other investigator JeeHee (she is the daughter of our recent convert).  Lessons with her have been going wonderfully!  Her faith has grown so much and, as always, I'm blessed to have the privilege to be able to see it happen. 

If you remember in my last email, I talked about weekly planning and setting up 2 baptismal dates for the two girls, and then we switched them. This led to the miracle of JuHee being able to accept the date of the 11th, the day before her birthday. Well, this lesson with JeeHee we were going to give her the date for the 18th.

As we were walking to the bus terminal to head to her house I had mixed feelings.  Part of me was excited to go, but the other part was telling me that it wasn’t the right time for the invitation.  I brought the concern up with my companion to see what she felt. She was skeptical. She didn't feel like there was any problem, and so I decided to trust her and we would keep to our plan.

The lesson with JeeHee was amazing!! The Spirit was so strong as we talked about Heavenly Father's Plan for us.  At the end of the lesson it was time for my companion to  give the commitment. When we told JeeHee the date that we had been thinking and praying about, her eyes went big.... "my birthday?" she said. At that moment I couldn't keep the tears from coming to my eyes.  We had no idea, but Heavenly Father did.  Heavenly Father knew that it was JeeHee's birthday, just as He knew that it was JuHee's birthday.  So amazing.

That moment I thought that the bad feeling I had early must have been a mistake.

After the lesson we are heading out when we run into our recent convert, her mom, Sister Yang.  We tell her the exciting news about her daughter preparing to be baptized.  Her eyes get big... "OH, I hadn't realized it was going so well..." Hmm... I realized with dread that we hadn't been involving the busy mother as much as we should have.  Sister Yang explained that it was good, but that she wanted to talk to JeeHee for herself. 

The phone cal that we got the next day wasn't very encouraging.  Sister Yang explained that after talking to JeeHee, she felt that JeeHee wasn't ready; that she wasn't taking things too seriously.  I am grateful for the mother's concern. Baptism is a big thing, something that needs to be prepared for with a sincere heart. But a part of me is afraid that because it took Sister Yang nearly 3 years to decide she was ready to be baptized that she might make JeeHee go through the same process. 

My poor companion has had a rough time with all of this.  And I'm sad because I didn't listen to the promptings as well as I should have.

But we felt that the date needed to be extended, and so we did.  Through this we can now see how to help JeeHee and her mom work more closely together in building up one another. Now everyone realizes again, that as missionaries we have a purpose and we will work towards accomplishing that purpose through the promptings of the Spirit.  Right now the hardest thing is just knowing what to do next....

Other parts of the work are going great.  We are getting busier and busier every week and it is so much fun!!.

I love you all, and you are in my prayers. Thank you for keeping me updated on home, I'll make sure to keep a certain beloved family in my prayers this week. 

Emily: I love the house!! It looks super cute!!! More pictures please!!
Gwen: maybe I'll see if we can send Mallory your way again!! He's always willing to answer questions... I'm really really really sorry that you missed him.  Thanks for the updates on your life!
Mom and Dad. I love you both!!! Thanks for being great!!
M&K... are y’all alive ^_^ ㅋㅋ(korean haha)

kiss love hugs! 

Monday, October 22, 2012

MIRACULOUS!


Family!!
Hey y’all!! So last week I wrote in the title of the email that it was a "week of wonders".  Well, if last week was a week of wonders, then this week has been truly miraculous! Where do I even begin!?!?!

The week began as any other. We were finding old members, and trying to see why they weren't coming out to church.  We had some amazing meetings with a few of them and it was good in being able to finally put a face to a name on a list.

Thursday rolls around and it is time for our weekly planning!  I LOVE weekly planning!  Though it lasts FOREVER it is wonderful to be able to really sit down and think about the area, to think about their needs and the people we are teaching.  It is fun to pull out the teaching records and, with a prayer in our heart, plan what we are going to teach and when. I love being about to think about all the people individually and really think about what Heavenly Father wants for them.

This session we were doing just that for our newest investigator JuHee. (Bomi's friend).  She came to church again that Sunday and she is just drinking everything up! She is so beautiful, inside and out. During weekly planning we got out her teaching record and we began to see what she had been taught and what we wanted to teach her that night for our appointment.

We decided that we would finish the first lesson, but that we would also extend her a baptismal date.  (A specific day that she could prepare for to make the sacred covenant of Baptism.)  We had done this process for one of our other investigators and made her date for Nov 11th.  For JuHee we decided to make her's for the next week, on the 18th.  After we made that plan, I had a prompting from the Spirit that I needed to change the weeks around.  I sat there looking at the calendar and I kept feeling that the weeks needed to be switched. JuHee needed to be baptized on the 11th.  I expressed my feeling to my companion and we decided to make the switch.

That night was a fun lesson. We met JuHee and Bomi at the church where we made pancakes and then had the lesson.  The lesson was wonderful!! The Spirit that was there was so strong and tender. We talked a lot about prayers and what the answer to prayers are like for individuals. I was again SO grateful for Bomi to be there as she bore her testimony about the answers to prayers.  The Branch President even joined us at the end of the lesson and bore his testimony as well. It's fun to have all this support.

The time came during the lesson that we were to extend the commitment to prepare to be baptized on the 11th.  My companion asked her if she would be baptized and she agreed.  Expressing that is was what she really wanted to do.  Then, I told JuHee that we had been thinking and praying about her a lot that day and during that week.  I explained that we felt that she could be prepared to enter the waters of baptism on November 11th.  When I said the date, JuHee's eyes lit up and a smile spread across her face.  "How did you know?" She asked. Confused, she then explained that her birthday was the next day and the 11th sounded like the perfect day!!!

I am so grateful to know and recognize that Heavenly Father truly knows each of His children individually.  He knew when Juhee's birthday was, and He knew that she would be ready to enter into that sacred covenant the day before.  I am grateful that He told us and that we were ready to listen.

The next miracle, came the next day.  And I will never forget that morning.  Like any other Friday morning, we were at home doing study. At 9am we get a call from President that we were not expecting.... OK... Let's back up... If y’all remember a few months ago, after Sister Yang got baptized, Sister Yun and I were preparing for another investigator to be baptized as well, the darling grandmother, Sister Kim HwaSoon. The date was set {Sept 9}, but after the interviews we were informed that we would have to wait a little bit longer.  For whatever reason, we needed permission from the First Presidency before she could be baptized. Then, because of General Conference and other things, we had been waiting 6 weeks.  Being able to continue to teach her and see her testimony grow and grow was amazing. The phone call Friday morning was from President telling us that the permission had been received and Kim HwaSoon could be baptized as SOON as was possible!!

That phone call was sooo special to me!! Sister Kim had been waiting anxiously for 6 weeks. She wanted to be baptized soo bad!! She was ready to make that step, but not just for herself, but so she could help her family members as well.  She knew that she had found the truth and she was ready to join in with all of her heart.

As soon as the phone call ended with squeals of delight, I remember just sitting there for a moment, and then falling to my knees in tears as my companion and I offered up our deep thanks to Heavenly Father for granting Kim HwaSoon the chance to be baptized.  As soon as the prayer was over we called her up to tell her the news!! The tears were renewed as we combined our joy with hers. 40 minutes later, after countless phone calls, the date and the time of the baptism were set=Sunday Morning at 8:30am!!!!!!!!!!!

Our last lesson with Kim HwaSoon as an investigator was a sweet one. We talked again about the covenant of baptism and she was just so excited.  And then, in her tender, simple prayer she thanked Heavenly Father to have finally been able to find the truth, after a long life of 73 years. 

Sunday morning my companion and I were at the church at 6am to fill up the font.  The Baptismal service was wonderful.  Sister Kim truly looked like an angel dressed in white, and you could feel the presence of countless other angels gathering in around her as she entered into her new life.  Her grandsons played a piano and violin musical number and my companion and I were able to talk about her grabbing onto the Iron Rod as now she draws even closer to Heaven and Home.  We then gave her a new Triple Combination with a picture of Lehi's dream in front and her name, baptismal date, and a note from us on the inside.

My joy is truly full!! It was wonderful to have JuHee at the baptism that morning and now she is even more excited for the 11th to come!! I am excited for her.  She is going to be, and already is, an incredible strength to the youth in this Branch.

The miracles continue in ShinJeong and I'm excited to see what this next transfer holds! With the spirit, and the ever growing companionship unity, I'm excited to be able to bless more and more lives with this wonderful gospel.

My study time this week only added to these spiritual experiences. This week I recorded 15 pages worth of what can be called my "Conversion Story".  It was wonderful to be able to look back on the years of my life and the months of this mission and to see how I have changed and grown.  In a personal letter I wrote to Emily I said that since I have been here in Korea I have felt more like "me". I'm not the same person I was before, or have ever been in my life.  I am learning and growing and changing, but in that change I feel like I am coming closer to my Heavenly Father, and in this journey heavenwards I am becoming whom I was created to be, I am becoming "me". 

I love this glorious work.  I love the change it brings to people's lives and I love the happiness it can, and does fill you with.  I am humbled that Heavenly Father has trusted me to teach these wonderful people.

Thank you for your constant prayers! I love you all and I miss you like crazy!!

kiss love hugs!