Monday, July 29, 2013

Having a Cow

Wow, I love being a missionary.   Seriously, coolest thing ever.  This week we found and met with three different new investigators.   Two of them are college-age siblings.  They called us because they saw our English advertisment in the newspaper.  The first time we met, we just introduced ourselves and what we do as missionaries/English teachers and how we teach English for 30 minutes and then talk about or church for the other 30.  They said they would be fine with the 30/30 program and we scheduled to meet again.  Then, we met again just barely on Saturday and it was super good.  We taught them common phrases and expressions for 30 minutes and then took them on a tour of the church for the other 30.  During the tour, we talked about why we come to church and who God is.  They don't have any religious background, but they were really open to our message.  We showed them how to pray, and they said the would when they got home.  At the end as we were saying goodbye, they both said that it was really fun to meet with us and that they're excited for next time.  Sweet!
Then, later on Saturday, we had our big English Class.  About 10 people came this week and I was going to be teaching the class while Elder Ward worked with the kids who don't have many English skills in another room.  But it's okay, I actually know English so teaching it can't be too hard, right?  Anyway, I wanted to share with them popular and fun phrases to say in English.  One of them: "Don't have a cow".  Oh boy, I didn't think that one through.  As the time came for me to explain it to the class and why we use it, I went into a little too much detail.  It went something like this:
"So, 'don't have a cow'... This is a really common phrase usually used when you're telling somebody to calm down.  This is what having a cow means:  Giving birth to a baby is really painful I'm sure."    ......ummmm.... In my mind, I was thinking why did I just say that, over half the people in the class are over-40 years old korean moms.  How would I know about child birth?  But I already started to dig my hole, so of course it would go deeper.... I continued.... "Child birth is no fun.  Someone who gives birth to a baby is in a lot of pain and is freaking out, probably really angry and loud too"....  WHAT IN THE WORLD WAS I SAYING..... "So imagine this:  Giving birth to a cow.  Cows are really big right. Like. Really big." ....awkard.... "If you were giving birth to a cow, uhhh"   ....I started realizing how awkward I was sounding and tried to dig myself out... "Well, hmmm, cows are big...... ummm,  yeah.  heheheh, birth is painful right?  Um, so cows and birth with pain and freaking out.  Yeah, that's right... freaking out.  Don't have a cow"
And that's how I explained it.  Hahahaha, dang it.  I'm not sure they quite unstood.  It probably also didn't help that I was using hand/arm expressions when I was describing how big a cow is and what it would be like to give birth to it.  Anyway, they're all fluent at English now. Yay for English.
Anyway, it was a great week.  Full of funny stories, full of missionary work, and full of Korean - that part is getting better.  We're getting spoiled too, one of our past-investigators who is REALLY rich took us out to a fine dining restraunt on the side of a lake where food on the menu was over $200.  That was INCREDIBLE.  Also, we just got our transfer call and I'm staying here in Gunsan, Elder Ward is leaving.  So I'm here until at least September!  Yeah!  Too bad for Elder Ward though, he really did so much for this place and all the members/investigators are going to miss him.  Anyway, until next week!
Elder Crap

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Back to Primary

I remember when I was in primary and Mom would stand next to me and whisper in my ear everything I needed to say in my talk.  Then, when I was in Valiant 10 or 11 or so, I was old enough to read my own - that was a big deal.  And yup, that was basically yesterday.
So my talk was in Korean, that's pretty cool, right?  Was it understandable?...... mmmmm sure, haha, ask the members.  Basically, all week I worked on it.  First, I chose a topic - faith.  Then, I wrote it out in English.  Then, I spent the rest of the week translating it.  I wrote the entire talk in Korean and finished late Saturday night.  I didn't have anytime to practice it before, but I knew most of the words and grammar forms so I felt pretty confident.  So there I was, sitting up on the stand, and I realized that I would of course forget everything the second I said "hello" up at the pulpit.  But it's okay, I had it all written out right?  Right. So that's what I did, haha, I just read my entire talk.
It turned out okay, I guess.  I mean, I only butchered a couple words.  As I started my talk, I tried to make a lot of eye contact at the beginning, but as the talk went on I slowly stopped doing that as frequently and just keep reading it.  By the time I finished, I realized I hadn't looked up in five minutes.  Dang it! haha, oh well.  I bore my testimony on faith, said how important it was, forgot to honorify God when I said he will bless us (that's a big deal in Korean) and said amen. DONE.  So I read my talk like I was in Primary, but all the members afterwards said it was good.  I asked a 15 year old member what it was on and he said "faith, right?" and that was enough success for me haha. 
First talk down, hopefully I won't have to give another one for a while.  I'm actually out of time to write anymore, but REALLY QUICKLY, this last week was really good.  Transfers are coming up next week, so I might be leaving Gunsan.  That'd be really said, I love it so much here.  We found more less actives and 3 new investigators, how cool is that? Super cool.  Anyway, so we're doing really good.  Until next week!
Elder Graf

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Piece of Cake

This week was FULL of planning.  Two weeks ago, President Shin came and told us about his new goals for the mission - to have 2000 active members per stake within 3 years.  So, Elder Ward and I did the math and figured out how many people we need to baptize and how many we need to re-activate by the end of this year for our ward to be on track towards the stake's goal.  Right now we're at 25 members, and by the end of the year we need to have 60.  So, we got to work and spent hours looking through the hundreds of people in the old church records again and marking where they are on our map.  Because of Old-Korea's street/address system being basically the most random thing in the world, finding them on the map is hard enough.  Then we have to go find the house in person, sometimes it's impossible.  There's so many people, and we definitely have a long way to go.
Later in the week, President and Sister Shin came and visited our house for interviews.  When we informed them about our master plan of 60 people and how we're going to do it, Sister Shin just said "Easy! Just baptize 20 people and reactive another 20!".  Piece of Cake, right?  Haha, I love how positive and determined our mission president and his wife is.  It's a big goal, especially for Gunsan, but it's TOTALLY possible and President and Sister Shin completely believe it is as well - 할수있어요!  So we got to work again, and BAM - found two new investigators and five less actives.  And, the investigators came to church with us yesterday as well.  Awesome, right?
So, the work is going well.  There's a lot to do, there's not enough time, but it's going to be all worth it.  So there I was on Sunday after church, feeling all postive about missionary work and all when the 1st counselor in our ward came up to me and announced that I would be giving a full talk next week in church.
World.  Shattered.
You would think that they would have learned their lesson a couple weeks ago by making me give the opening prayer when I said that we're grateful that we can partake of the flerbeadlkjf.  But nope, they apparently have the courage to listen to me butcher their language up at the pulpit for 20 minutes.  Piece of Cake again, right?  Right.  Haha, whelp, you'll DEFINITELY be hearing about this upcoming talk in next weeks email, I'm sure it will be a riot.
Anyway, that'll sure be fun.  Talk to you all next week.
Elder Grape

Monday, July 8, 2013

Star Spangled Banner

Another Monday already?  The heck?  Where does the time go on a mission??
Anyway, life is a party as a missionary as always.  Today was kind of a let down though.  Our whole district decided we wanted to go to the beach in Buan (just to play on the beach, not in the water of course).  Super cool, right?  We bought water guns, a volleyball, towels, and we were READY.  We even got approval from our Mission President (don't worry, Mom, this was allowed).  Anyway, Elder Ward and I woke up early, got ready, and quickly went to the bus terminal for the 1 1/2 hour ride to Buan.  There, we waited for the rest of our district to arrive from their areas.  When they got there, we all went to eat lunch and then started to go to the beach.  But first, we checked the return bus schedule to see what time we all had to leave to go back to our areas and OF COURSE, Gunsan had one bus leaving in 20 minutes and another in 4 hours.  Because 4 hours would be too long and we wouldn't get back home in time, we had to take the bus RIGHT THEN to go back home.  So we went to Buan just to eat lunch and then leave and come back home.  Everyone else went to the beach without us.  Oh well, other time I guess.....  Haha it was fun seeing a new city though, especially a beach/touristy city like Buan.
Lesson learned, check return bus times before you go.  But anyway, mission work in Gunsan has been going really well.  This last week, our new Mission President, President Shin (pronouced sheen), came.  He is incredible, we are all so excited to be working with him.  He's definitely set the bar for us high.  While investigators are awesome, he really wants to make the focus also on members and less actives to strengthen the wards and stakes.  Right now, our stake has about 300-400 active members.  It's President Shin's goal to make every stake in Korean have the church standard of 2000 active members per stake.  So Elder Ward and I quickly jumped on finding all the less actives we can even more than we were before.  So far we've only found two or three, but we still have about 300 more to hunt down. 
As far as investigators go, we had an awesome experience this last week.  We're teaching this wonderful person named Hahni.  She is from the Phillipeans and is married to a Korean.  She can't speak Korean though, so we had her attend the American Air Force Base Branch with us this last week.  Earlier in the week, Elder Ward and I noticed it was the Fourth of July, and then said something like "cool" and that was the end of our celebration.  But at the Branch on base, the branch president during the meeting's opening said "We will now begin our meeting by singing the Star Spangled Banner after which brother so-and-so will offer our opening prayer".  It was kind of nice to have that small slice of home and July 4th while we are over here in Korea.  Yay for America!
Anyway, that's the end of my time, so I have to go.  Until next week!
Elder Graf