Monday, October 15, 2012

A Week of Wonders

FAMILY!!! HI!! How are all y’all doing!?!

So first, a couple of "thank you’s".  Thanks mom and daddy for the "hump day" (half day) package! It arrived PERFECTLY on the 11th!! Y’all planned well =] and I LOVED EVERYTHING THAT WAS INSIDE!!!  Thank you Thank You THANK YOU! (a card full of more thanks will be coming soon.) Emily, Gwendel and Grandpa, I also got y’alls package.  Gwendel... Bravo!! lol  It was such a treat to get those and I've already put to good use all the little goodies inside!  The earrings were fantastic!  Super cute, unfortunately they were too long.. but luckily my darling companion makes jewelry so she shortened them down for me! Thanks for those and everything else in between!! Ms. Beth and Big Mamma, y’alls package hasn't come yet, but I've been notified that all the lovin’ is from y’all =] Thanks for thinking of me!!

This week here in Korea what WONDERFUL!!  It was a busy week, but it was full of wonderful little miracles.  Because we watch Conference a week later then y’all, we had our Fast Sunday this last week.  The day of fasting was for our investigators and to know of our purpose here in Shin Jeong.  As I was ending my fast in prayer, the answer to my questions came in a simple reply: "prepare for Conference".  The excitement and anticipation I had for Conference was multiplied by thousands!! I could hardly wait for the weekend to come!! During that week Heavenly Father gave my companion and I some very tender blessings and miracles.

It was a fun week that began with a trip to Geong Ju, the capital of the Silla Dynasty.  There we visited the ancient city of BulGuk Sa.  The weather was perfect and the sites beautiful.  While there we took pictures as a Zone in our matching jackets!! After the picture was taken, a family approached us. They thought it was fun to see Americans and Koreans mixed and having fun, but they were most excited to see our black name tags!! They were from Canada and their daughter had served in Seoul about 5 years ago and they were back visiting Korea.  Small world.  The next encounter happened as we were leaving to head back when we passed another group of foreigners.  They again recognized who we were and one lady put up her hand and said "I'm the Mormon in this group!" haha It was fun to talk with them as well.  They were from California and in Korea playing a senior's soccer tournament (who would have thought!?)  It always fun to see how the church makes the world so small.

The rest of the travel this past week consisted of a Training Meeting in Busan (I'm happy to report that my companion and I are the ONLY missionaries who have done the training program every day without fail! boo yah) and then to HoGye for Zone Meeting.  That meeting was a bit sad as my first companion, and trainer, gave us her departing testimony.  She returns home next week at the end of this transfer and I will miss her so so very much!!!!!

After the busy travels, we were able to begin receiving the tender mercies of the Lord.  First came at the loss of a loved one.  Sister Yang's, our recent convert's, Father in Law passed away this past week.  We are also currently teaching her daughter and we got the distressed message from her, JiHee, that her grandpa had passed away.  It was a tender moment shared between us as the missionaries, servants of the Lord, and this sorrowful daughter of God when we were able to share with her words of comfort; our words mingled with the words of the Savior and His prophets.  The next night I was able to attend my first Korean viewing service.  The family members were a little surprised to see a tall white girl show up; but when they realized we were from the Church of Sister Yang, they welcomed us in.  Part of the service is to pay your respects to the family and the person who has passed away.  You go into a separate room that has the casket covered in white lilies, with a picture of the loved one.  Because of the Korean devotion to ancestors, many people will bow down.  As missionaries we went in, gave our respectful bows to the family members and simply said that we wanted to pray.  There, in front of the picture, I was able to offer up a silent prayer to our Heavenly Father for the comfort of this family.  

After we paid our respects, Sister Yang's husband thanked us for coming.  When Sister Yang had begun investigating the church, her husband also began the journey, but soon lost interest as his wife persevered.  In that moment of his deep thanks he also did something that he has NEVER done before, he asked for our help.  Instantly we agreed.  I am thankful for the organization of the church and it's leaders.  In a matter of minutes it felt like we had notified everyone who needed to know the situation and this family, in their time of need, were able to receive the help that they needed.  I am grateful that they were able to receive the support that they needed, I'm also even more grateful and humbled to know that Heavenly Father gave Sister Yang's husband the opportunity to feel the support of our Savior through His followers and disciples.  I pray and hope that his heart will continue to be softened.

On the topic of members, I'll share the next miracle of the week.  I have always been grateful for the examples and the light of the young women!! I LOVE Young Womens!! I love the lessons that I learned there.  In the Shin Jeong branch, there is one YW that has grown dear to my heart.  Bomi is a wonderful example to everyone around her!! She lives what she believes and she is constantly inviting her friends to come and see for themselves.  Since I have been here I have seen her invite her friends numerous times to our Saturday activities (seminary, mutual, english class).  She has also invited her friends to come to church.  

Last week’s Fast Sunday she did just that.  She invited a friend from school to come to church.  It was at school and Bomi was defending her standards.  This friend noticed and explained that she had gone to our church years ago with another friend.  She didn't remember anything, she just remembered going.  Bomi didn't hesitate inviting this friend to come again.  Last week we met JuHee.  She is amazing!!  She has such great light and love and she enjoyed every hour of church!  It felt like she had been coming her whole life.  That day we set up a "dinner date" with her and Bomi that weekend.  That weekend we asked JuHee if she would continue to meet with us... SHE SAID YES!  She is excited to learn and is thirsting for all the knowledge we can teach her.  She came to church again this last Sunday, during the General Conference sessions.  (she was even a half hour early so she wouldn't be late!! She arrived even before Bomi!)   She sat in attention, occasionally taking notes, and during the songs she began to open up and read, and mark her Book Of Mormon we gave her the past week.  When there was some things she didn't understand, she would ask, or simply reply "I'll learn that more during our lessons, its ok if I don't understand now".  I'm grateful to be able to have the opportunity to teach this dear girl!! (ps Bomi will be going to the BYU English Learning Center this January!! I'm so excited for her!!)

The next miracle this week happened with the girl from Colorado, Valerie.  Valerie is here in Korea teaching English.  We ran into her on the streets, and since then she has been constantly running into either us or the Elders!!  Her best friend since toddler years is a Member who served a mission in Russia and is now married.  She explained that she learned her standards and the goodness of Christ from her example.  After a couple of weeks of trying to get ahold of her, Heavenly Father let us meet again on the street! There we asked her to dinner with us and the American Family in our Branch.  She accepted!! Sunday night dinner was perfect! (and delicious! I haven't had enchiladas since the MTC!!)  At the end we talked about Christ, and shared 2 Nephi 25:26&28.  We talked about who He is and why, as missionaries, we teach of Him.  We talked about the blessings that have come to us because of Christ and the changes we have made because of Him as well.  It was a wonderful lesson.  My poor companion got a taste of what it's like for the foreign missionaries when they first come to Korea (having a lesson in a language you don't fully comprehend).  But her simple testimony in broken English, I feel, was the highlight!!  Like JuHee, Valerie agreed to meet with us again and begin reading parts of the Book of Mormon.  It amazing to realize that I'm not a missionary just for Korea, I get to be a missionary for the world. {Valerie keeps a blog of her adventures if you want to read more about her:}

The crowning moments of the week came on Saturday and Sunday as I got to sit at the feet of the leaders of this Church and be taught by them.  It was an amazing time. With the Conference dubbed in Korean, the Priedman Family allowed me to borrow an iPod and headphones to listen to it in English.  Conference was amazing!! I don't think my companion quite understood my giddy excitement, but I couldn't hold it in!! I got the hear the Prophet's voice!! I got to learn for the leaders of the Church and from the Spirit.  It was amazing.  The themes of family, repentance and discipleship really stood out to me.  I loved all the stories about the Apostle Peter. They were especially tender because my chosen "mission theme", or scripture, was quoted often in the words of "Lovest thou me?... Feed my Sheep".  

Here in the Korea Busan Mission, President and Sister Gilbert are urging us missionaries to go the next level.  To rise higher and rely on the Lord.  To do His will and be worthy of it.  I felt that that was the theme of this Conference, for me.  We are doing good, but we need to do better.  We need to be refined more from the Atonement.  We need to repent, or change, ourselves so we can be the servants He needs us to be.   We need to reach out more.  Forgetting ourselves and taking upon us the Character of Christ; which is to turn out.  We need to show our love always.  We need to love God.  We need to forgive.  And we need to be firm in our faith.  There are so many other things that I learned, but I'm still in the middle of processing them all.  

The end of Conference was a bitter-sweet. As a missionary in Busan I don't have the blessing of being able to attend the sacred halls of refuge of the Temple.  There are so many days when I would give anything to spend a day in the Lord's House.  Not being able to go to the Temple has been very, very hard.  But, as I listened to conference, as I gathered with the Saints of the world to be taught by the Prophet and leaders, I felt again like I was in the Temple.  The Spirit was so powerful.  It was hard to leave the Church building on Saturday knowing that I had to go back outside, into the world.  And Sunday, as the words of "God be with you till we meet again" were sung, I pleaded to be able to stay a little bit longer in the 'temple' of the Conference spirit.  But the song and the answer to my prayer gave me a promise.  God will be with us until we meet again.  Whether that again is at the next Conference, when I return home from my mission, or when I can again physically enter into the Temple walls, I know that God will be with me.  And I know that I can continue to have my own personal 'temple time' as I follow the counsel that was given at Conference.

I love this Church.  I love this Gospel.  I love my Savior.  And because of this love I am striving hard to “feed His sheep.”

Thanks for all the love!! I miss you all dearly and I'm praying for each of you constantly! May God continue to be with you!
Kiss Love Hugs! 

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