Monday, April 29, 2013


It's official! Christian leaves for South Korea next Monday, May 6th.

This means that if there are any final letters/packages/Dear Elder messages you want to send to him, you need to do so by this Wednesday, May 1st, or he won't get it. Any mail sent after this Wednesday should be mailed to Korea (we'll post the address in the sidebar soon). Let us know if you have any questions!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Week 7

The countdown has officially begun. In only 12 days, I will be stepping onto an airplane and flying over the Pacific Ocean, on my way to South Korea. Seriously, we can't contain our excitement. When we all first arrived here, we were greeted by all of the missionaries that had already been here for 6 weeks and after only 2 1/2 weeks, they all left. It's crazy to all of us to think that we are the old missionaries now, and that we are now the ones to be leaving.

But yes, this week has definitely been my favorite week at the MTC. Tuesday evening, Sister Benbrook, the Sister Training Leader (A new calling that they just created for all missons because of the huge number of sister missionaries now) and Elder Lee and I, as the Zone Leaders, got to all greet the new international missionaries as they arrived and usher them for the rest of the evening. There were six of them: a sister from Germany, an elder from England, two elders from New Zealand, and two elders from Australia. Simply stated, I love my calling. While all of the other Korean missionaries are studying, Sister Benbrook, Elder Lee, and myself all got to take the night off to spend the time with these fantastic international missionaries. Plus, Tuesday night was even better because as international missionaries, we all got to have reserved seating in the auditorium for the devotional that night and Richard G. Scott was the speaker. It was truly fantastic, the best devotional while here in the MTC by far.

So Tuesday was great, but Wednesday was even better. Why? Well, Wednesday is the day that all of the Americans arrive at the MTC and so we, as Zone and Sister Leaders, got to meet at of the new missionaries in the evening and give them a little orientation about the MTC. Once again, I love my calling. Then, on Thursday, it was the big "welcome to the MTC" meeting where the leaders speak to them for an hour about all of the procedures, rules, tips, ways to have fun, and other ins and outs of the MTC. Following that, we gave them an entire tour of the campus. Seriously, I love my calling. It's been so much fun to help all of the new missionaries during their first few days here. BUT, the fun doesn't end there, because yesterday, the Hanguk sarahm (Korean people) started to arrive and so this week will be a complete repeat of last week, but it will be in Korean. Oh my goodness, I love my calling.

Anyway, besides my Zone Leader duties, things have been going really well. I know so much more Korean now, it's really exciting. When I "teach" my "investigators", it's like I forget all of my Korean knowledge just because of the pressure of the situation. I've never really been good at role plays anyway. But the cool thing is, when I just talk to a Korean here at the MTC, I do so much better and I can understand and have simple conversations with them. So basically, I do bad in the fake situations but then I do good when it's real, so that's a good thing haha. The language is so different, for example, a few weeks ago when I showed an example of a sentence (which was slightly wrong, by they way. But it's fine, I was still learning) I kept putting "verb sentence ending" at the end of my sentences. That wasn't me explaining that there is simply a verb at the end of the sentence, but it actually is a thing. They have many different forms to end a sentence with and in whatever situation you might be speaking in, you have the end the verb a certain way. For example: kahdah means "to go". But if you were using it in a sentence, it would either be kahmneedah, kahyo, or karkahyo, or kahyahdwaymneedah, or kahyahhayo, or blah blah bah, the list goes on and on. It will never be just kahdah, that's incomplete. It always will need that "verb sentence ending". Yay for Korean. The cool thing is, I understand all of that now and am just to the point where concepts make sense so I just need to learn them all as fast as I can. Korean is way fun, I'm being serious. I'm so excited to be able to understand and speak it with ease in the future.

So I'm including are a little tour of the MTC, not everything is included. Pictures I'm sending include my dorm hallway, the bathroom where I get ready every day, the room where I sleep (and the messiness of my roommates), the cleanliness of my corner around my bed, the laundry room where I do my laundry, obviously, and some other pictures of the native Koreans, my companions Elder Hafen and Elder Ruff (Elder Hafen is on the right, Elder Ruff on the left. Elder Ruff, by the way, left for Vancouver a week and a half ago), and some other pictures of missionaries in my Zone. Also, I've been sick this week with a terrible cough and one day, I found these cough drops left on my desk. They're from my teaching telling me to get better. It was so nice, I seriously have the best teachers here at the MTC. You'll get more next week, there's a million to send.

Anyway, I've got to go, I'll write again next Friday because our P-day is changing, so don't freak out Mom when you don't get a letter on Tuesday haha.

Elder Graf

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Week 6


So much is happening, but when I sit down to write these emails every week, It's hard to remember anything haha. One thing to note though, is that fact that it is FREEZING. What's up with March being warmer than April? Seriously, this weather is a joke. Want to know what makes it even better? The fact that I brought zero coats or jackets other than my suit jacket. So P-days, service hours, or other times that I'm in normal clothes, I just wear a t-shirt. But it's okay, I'll soon be in 100% humidity and I won't want to own a single jacket.

Korean is coming along well, all the grammar forms are just making sense now. While I don't know nearly enough of them, the concept of the language structure is easy to grasp now each time I learn a new grammar form. Also, there's been a lot of Hanguk Sah r(lightly roll the "r")ahm (Korean people) arriving this week and a lot of them don't speak english. The awesome part is that I've been able to talk to them AND understand them about simple things like where they're from, their family, what they like to do, and where they're going on their mission, so that's been really cool. All the new missionaries going to Korea arrive tomorrow and the rest of the Hanguk sahrahm arrive next Monday. So these next few days are going to be so exciting. But do you know what that means? That means I've been out here for an entire transfer, that sure went by fast. My departure date to Korea is going to come up even faster, It's kind of crazy. So basically, what that means is, I have 2 1/2 weeks to become fluent in the Korean Language.

Going to the Temple every week has been so great, it's going to be weird to go two years without it. The Provo Temple, also, is surprisingly a lot more beautiful than it looks from the outside. Not that it's not beautiful on the outside, but I was definitely expecting a different interior. Also, someone told me that there were escalators inside the temple, just like the Jordan River, but there aren't. So I'm guessing that they've done some remodeling and it's since been updated to its more beautified state, removing the escalators and all. This morning, my district woke up early and we all went to the 6:40 session at the temple. Usually, the place is flooded with missionaries, but our walk over was peaceful, quiet, accompianied by a soft rain drizzle, and completely to ourselves. We're definitely going to do that every P-day now. Afterwards, we had breakfast at the temple cafeteria, and it was a fantastic way to break away from the repetitive meals at the MTC. Which by the way, aren't bad, but they definitely get old after a while.

Anyway, I said I would reveal the wonderful number haha, and as awkward as this is, I've lost 22 pounds. What? How does that even happen? Did I even have 22 pounds to lose? I guess so haha, but I'm definitely not in the norm here. All of the other Elders in my zone have gained anywhere from 5-15 pounds, and here I am getting "fit" instead of "fat". As I told you all before, I definitely wasn't going to be getting a missionary addition - and in Korea, that won't happen either. Three cheers for being athletic and not lazy like many of the other missionaries here.

But it's looking like my time is up, so I have to be going. I'll be getting on the computers most likely later today to send pictures, so you'll get those soon. Thanks again for all of you that send me letters/DearElders/packages!

Kaysayoh! Saranghayo!
Elder Graf

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Week 5

Annyeonghaseyo! Chal jeeneh seyo? (my romanization is terrible, just sound it out and you'll get it)

Only 3 1/2 more weeks left! I can't believe it, it's going by so fast. The MTC has been great though and I'm definitely convinced that this is the best time of year to be at the MTC. First, who likes March anyway, it's just a drab month - nothing even happens. So it was a good month to come here anyway, it made the month more exciting. Then, after a few weeks of being here, it was Easter. Seriously, there's no better place than the MTC to spend that holiday. No presents, no eggs, no candy, just the true meaning of that holiday - plus we had some awesome guest speakers (Bishop Causse and Sheri Dew, like I told you last week). So that was perfect. Then, just a week later was General Conference. As you all know, it was wonderful, but it was especially wonderful because so many talks were about missionary work - it's kind of like they directed their talks to the 65,000 current missionaries and 30,000 on the way. By the time I leave the MTC, the weather will be perfect in Korea and it'll be Mother's Day so I'll get to call home after being there for only a week. I'm telling you, this MTC stay is so perfectly timed, it's awesome. So now here I am, completely supercharged and pumped up about everything, and I only have a mere 3 1/2 weeks left - bring on Korea!

Elder Ruff, my temporary third companion, was supposed to leave today but he has been indefinitely put on hold. He's just waiting for them so decide when to send him, it could be tonight, it could be over the weekend, nobody knows. Hopefully it'll be sooner than later, I just feel so bad for him - having to stay here while he knows he could've been in Vancouver already. It's been great having him here though, he's been a huge help with all of our Korean and a good addition to our clan of Elders. Don't worry mom, we'll take a picture. About pictures, I'm sorry for not sending them. It's just that whenever we come to the computer lab to write emails, it's so spur of the moment and I never have my camera with me. I just need to carry it around with me all day on P-days so I'll have it ready whenever we come to the lab. I'm taking pictures though, don't worry - these things are being documented.

Korean is fun, the MTC is fun, everything here is just such a good time. The food is fine, I don't know why people complain about it. Also, I realized another contribution to why people gain weight here in the MTC. While we all have gym everyday, "gym" is a very flexible word. Most people just play four square, half court basketball, or volleyball. In other words, they all just stand around. Luckily, the Korean Elders are deciding to get "fit" instead of "fat" in the MTC and most of us opt to going to the fitness center instead of the big gym. The fitness center is great. It has dumbells, benches, lots of weight lifting machines, and a cardio theater where we can watch mormon messages on the big screen while running on ellipticals or biking on the spin bikes. I have all those movies memorized by now, but it's great watching them everyday. The best one is definitely the father one, it's just so applicable, powerful, and the examples in it are perfect. My favorite part is the quote at the end by the Quorum of the 12 Apostles where it says that out of all of the titles of diety and power, God has asked that we refer to him as father. But yes, I'm definitely getting fit instead of fat - anyone care to guess how much weight I've lost? Send me a guess in your letters, I'll reveal the number next week, it'll be competition. Winner gets a signed picture of me hahaha. Okay, partly kidding, but partly serious.

Anyway, I've got to go. But I love hearing from you all! Here's a heads up though - if you wrote a DearElder to me, be sure to include your address so I can write you back! Some of you didn't and I don't know how I'm going to answer all of your questions because I don't know where to send the letters haha. But again, friends and family, thanks for all of your support, jokes, stories, and encouragement that you've sent me in your letters.

Kayseyo! Elder Graf

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Week 4

One month this week! Can you believe it? This week is my halfway point for my stay at the MTC. It feels like I've been here for only a day, but home feels like years ago. Like seriously, It's like a fading distant past haha. I'm trying to imagine what it'll be like after the full two years; it'll be so weird.

Anyway, a lot has happened. One, I've had a new companion for a week now (we were paired up just hours after I wrote my email last week). His name is Elder Ruff and I've actually known him since elementary school so it's pretty cool. The reason he was paired with me and Elder Hafen is kind of a crazy story. He was scheduled to leave for Vancouver Korean speaking last Wednesday but in a last minute doctors appointment, they randomly discovered that he had pneumonia. Crazy right? So he was forced to stay behind as he watched all the other Vancouver elders leave and he's now recovering (though he's practically completely better) with me and Elder Hafen. He's scheduled to leave on April 9th so he has another week left. I would rather go to Korea with a terminal disease than stay here for an extra two weeks. Not that this place is bad, it's great, but Korea will obviously be so much better.

Anyway, in other news, we had some wonderful speakers for our Easter devotionals. We normally have two devotionals every week; one on Sunday and one on Tuesday. But because of it being Easter on Sunday, we had one in the morning and one at night. So far we've had some great speakers: Steven B. Allen and Lawrence E. Corbridge to name a few. We never know who is speaking until they come and sit on the stand 5 minutes before the devotional starts so it's always a stressful crazy thing. Because of how many missionaries are here, not everyone fits into the auditorium so you have to line up really early if you want a spot. Otherwise, you're sent to the overflow. Think of Conference and the standby line, that's what it's like.

Easter morning, all the Korean districts waited in line for 2 hours because we were pretty positive it was going to be someone special. We got awesome seats just 5 rows from the front of the pulpit, we were so excited. Then, the doors behind the pulpit opened and Thomas S. Monson walked out with his wife. Okay I lied, it was Bishop Causse from the Presiding Bishopric, but it was still really cool. He talk was great, and his French accent was even better. For the rest of the day, we had our normal meetings and study time and because Bishop Causse came in the morning, we figured no one special would be coming at night. Half of our district chose to just go to the overflows but my companions and I wanted to try for the auditorium. When we got there, it was already full, but the ushers (I'm telling you, it's like conference) helped us find seats down in front on the side. Luckily, it was totally worth it because when the doors opened, Sheri Dew in all of her glory walked out. Her talk was incredible, as always, so I'm definitely glad we decided to try for those seats.

So something I haven't done is share with you my basic daily schedule. Every morning, I wake up at 6:30 and get ready for the day. Breakfast is at 7:20 and then after that I go to my classroom. The entire day is spent in the classroom practically. It's personal study time from 8:00-9:15, then we have time to go back to our dorms to get ready for gym at 9:30. Gym lasts until 10:20 and then we have 30 minutes to shower/ get ready and go back to the classroom. At 11:00 we have missionary portal assessments (online tests on Preach My Gospel, the Missionary Handbook, and Korean) and then lunch is at noon. After a 45 minute lunch, we start personal language study. That lasts for a good hour and at 2:00, we teach our "investigators." 3:00 marks the start of language instruction. This is actually with the teacher, learning new concepts. That lasts until dinner time at 5:00. At 6:00, we teach our "investigators" again (different ones though) and then at 7:00, we have gospel instruction. This is just learning the basic gospel doctrines and how to teach them as a missionary. That lasts until the end of the day and at 9:30 we go back to the dorms. This schedule changes a little from day to day (such as days when there's a devotional), but it follows the same basic outline.

Korean is coming along pretty well. I still don't know that much, and the only words I know are gospel words. If I had a conversation with a Korean, I practically wouldn't be able to understand them and the only things I would say would be "I love Jesus Christ. I know The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is true. Will you be baptized?" (pretty forward of me, huh?). But in Korean, it actually translates to "I Jesus Christ love (verb sentence ending). I Jesus Christ Latter Day Church true is (plain form) (marker that turns it into an adjective) that thing am knowing (present progressive verb sentence ending). Baptized will (future tense verb sentence ending)?" So yeah, there's a little taste of Korean for you. As far as how to speak it, I would love you email you words, but they aren't teaching us the romanization here because it would be a waste of time to learn, so I don't really know how to sound it out in english. But I'll try to teach you a sentence, it's one we say for fun a lot. Nay oordlee nun harlsoo eesim needah! If you say it right (from my sounding it out, good luck), you will say "yes we can!" How exciting.

Anyway, I'm running out of time, so this will be if for this week. Kaysayoh!
- Elder Graf