Monday, August 26, 2013

Hold your horses

Another week down, can you believe it?  I have no idea how time is going by so fast.  First, my 100 day mark came and went in a flash and now my six month mark is next week.  What the?
Anyway, how fast time is going doesn't matter.  All that matters is the fact that I'm using all the time I have to be the most effective missionary possible.  And we did that this week, even though nothing went as planned.  To start off, we had 8 different investigators we wanted to meet with.  Then, they all for some reason decided that they "didn't have time to meet" and that they "appreciated our help these last few weeks" but they "won't be able to meet with us anymore".
So. We then knocked on doors.
And we knocked, and we knocked, and we knocked.  And then were slammed, shut, and never answered.  BUT, it's okay because we're missionaries, right? Right!  And there's always other opportunities to preach the gospel.  However, it was an opportunity I wasn't expecting at all.  You see, on Saturday, our 1st counselor called and asked if I would be able to give a talk in Sacrament meeting the next day.  "Excuse me, what did you say?".  Anyway, he wasn't kidding.  Luckily, I had no problem with it this time.  My last talk, I knew about it a whole week in advance and it took me the whole week to prepare.  I was super pumped Saturday night because preparing for it was super easy.  Yeah! My Korean is getting better!
Anyway, Sunday came, I gave my lovely talk on missionary work and how members can be involved. Afterwards, members were coming up to me saying how much I've improved, how good it was, etc.  Success!! The only problem was this:  Just because they thought I could give a talk at the pulpit (one that I've written before hand, as well), they now began to think that it means I'm practically fluent.  So the rest of church was spent with them jabbering to me, trying to have deep and detailed conversations.  I was all like, woah now, hold your horses - I don't know Korean!  Haha, I might be able to teach or give a pre-written talk, but don't expect me to be able to talk with you about Korean politics or the differences betweem Korean and Japanese customs or whatever else they were talking to me about.  That will come in time... maybe....
Then, today (Monday) was P-day.  So we FINALLY went to Sunyudo Island - a beautiful small piece of paradise an hour off the coast by ferry.  It was wonderful, I'll send a couple pictures.  It was also $30.  So it was definitely a one time thing.
Well, I'm out of time.  Wish us luck this next week!  Hopefully my giving talk days are over (they're not).
Elder Grape

Thursday, August 22, 2013

100 Days and More

Well it actually happened! I have now been in Korea for over a hundred days.  The big day was August 14th, and I had planned to celebrate.  You know how in elementary school, all the kids bring fun posters with the number "100" built out of 100 marshmallows or pretzels or pennies or whatever they choose in order to celebrate the 100th day of school that year?  Yeah, well I did!  And so in true Korean (and elementary school) fashion, I built a number 100 out of grains of rice, put it on a poster, took a picture, and celebrated.  My companion wasn't as thrilled as I was, but it's a big deal right?  How many other times am I going to be able to say "Today is my 100th day in Korea"?  None.  So it was a big deal.
Anyway, this week was the end of 방학, or summer vacation, for all of the Koreans.  So, because it was the end of their time off, ALL of our investigators were out of town.  Literally.  All of them.  So how many did we get to meet with?  None.  Yup.  So instead we spent all day, every day, trying to find new people.  We hung up english flyers over the whole city, tracted in countless apartments, and talking to people on the street every night from 6-9 in the 시내, or downtown/shopping area.  We met wonderful people, had quality conversations, found new english class hopefuls, but we still didn't find any solid investigators that were interested in the gospel.  But that's okay.
Sunday, after a long week of trying every day, was a wonderful day to break up the norm.  First, you know how in "A Christmas Story", the asians try to sing Deck the Halls and they say "Deck the harrs with bourrs of horry. Fa ra ra ra ra ra ra ra ra."?  Yeah, that's no joke.  Koreans literally, for the most part, can't say their "l's"  so it comes our sounding like an "r".  So if you want a good laugh, just look at the Hymn "All Creatures of our God and King" (I think that's the English name) and imagine the chorus being sung in a Korean ward.  Because it was, and bless their hearts it was hilarious.  I love my members, they are fantastic singers, but that song may or may not have brought a big smile to my face on Sunday during church while it was being sung.
Then, we ended church at our Korean ward in Gunsan and left immediately to go to our Air Force Base Branch.  This week, we had a grand total of two in attendance.  Elder McDonald and I passed the sacrament, Elder and Sister Riding (a senior couple over military relations in our mission) gave the talks, and Elder McDonald and I taught Sunday School.  All together, the six of us participated in one of the best church services I have ever attended in my life.  Going to a ward of 400-500 people in Utah, it sometimes hard to focus on the true purpose of everything.  But when there's practically no one there, and everyone that is there truly cares for the gospel, the spirit is incredible.  Towards the end of our sunday school lesson, Sister Riding was crying because of how touching the whole atmosphere really was.  I seriously love attending that branch so much, I'm going to be very sad when I'm transfered away from it. 
So that concludes my update this week.  Another week full of work, work, work, and rewards.  I truly love being a missionary, it really is going to be my best two years, as corny as that sounds.
Until next week,
Elder Crap

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Raccoons and the restoration

Another week down.  So I'm sitting here, trying to think about what I should write, and I honestly can't think of anything.  Usually, I have a pretty cool story to tell or something funny that happened but, thinking about it, this week was pretty average.  Hmmm.  haha, oh well, I'll walk you through it anyway.
So It began last Monday, P-day.  We emailed, shopped, went home, cleaned the house, Elder McDonald finished unpacking and moving in, and I studied Korean for 4 hours until we had to leave the house at 6.  That's basically all I do in my extra time.  Study Korean.  It's good though, I'm really starting to actually learn it for real now.  Hopefully I'll learn it fast.
Tuesday was our first district meeting of the transfer.  We have some new people in our district so it was fun to get to know everyone that I'm going to be seeing each week for the rest of the transfer.  After district meeting, we spent the rest of the day trying to find less actives and then we had a dinner that night with one of our members that night.  Korean food is incredible, I'm never going to get tired of it. 
Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday were kind of all the same.  Full of talking to people on the street, searching for missing less actives, meal appointments with an investigator (they took us to a really nice american restaurant), and meeting with investigators.  We don't have that many investigators right now.  You can count them all on one hand.  But it's okay, because we're going to try to find more - hopefully we will.
Now, this is where it gets fun.  Saturday night, one of our members called us and told us that we were going to be teaching our youth in church because the youth teacher couldn't make it and that we could choose the topic.  So what did we do?  We taught them the first lesson.  Haha, it's practically all we can do.  So we went in there and had an hour long discussion about the restoration and why it's important, it was actually really good.  At the end, we committed them (we're missionaries! Of couse we committed them!) to pray about the message of the restoration to find out for themselves if it is true.  Haha, it was pretty awesome.  Then, the rest of the day was spent doing the same exact thing we did on Wednesday-Saturday.  However, at around 8:00pm, a pack (herd?) of 6 asian raccoons crossed the road infront of us.  Of couse, we snuck up to them in the bushes and tried to get close.  They eventually came to us and were sniffing us/ walking around us.  It was pretty funning.  Two young boys (11 or 12 years old) saw what we were doing and came in to join.  I started talking to one of the boys and then ended up talking about our church to him, and gave him a Book of Mormon.  He was really excited to be talking to an american and couldn't stop saying thankyou (in english) after I gave him the book.  I never thought raccoons would help me teach someone about the Book of Mormon, haha.
Anyway, so it was an average week, sorry for it to sound boring.  But, hey!  It's not!  Because I'm a missionary! And that's a pretty cool thing to be.
Elder Graf

Sunday, August 4, 2013

The Start of a New Transfer

This week has been full of ups and downs. After we received our transfer calls last Monday, Elder Ward began packing his bags and I began to think "How in the world am I going to do this?" I'm only a third transfer, and now it's up to me to take the lead in all of our teaching situations and dealings with members and non-members alike. The days went by very fast. We spent our last few days together visiting with all of our members and investigators so that Elder Ward could say goodbye to them (they all loved him so much, he's been here since January). Wednesday night, our last night together, was spent having a goodbye dinner in the church with close ward members. Before we knew it, Thursday was here and it was time to go to the mission office in Daejeon to switch companions.

I can't believe my time as a greenie is already over. Elder Ward was really the best trainer I could've asked for. I'm so glad for the opportunity I had to be trained by him. We got to the mission office, found our new companions, said goodbye, and took off. My new companion is Elder Mcdonald. He's in his 14th transfer, so he's almost done with his mission. He also looks korean, but he was adopted into an American family when he was a baby so he's not really korean. The very first thing we did together was go to Costco, yes they have one in Korea and Elder McDonald had Adam Farrell's (an old missionary that is home now) old costco card. We stalked up with costco kettle sea salt chips, costco muffins, and got a slice of costco pizza on our way out. Ahhh, It was so nice.

Then my job began. It was really weird, but all of the sudden I could speak so much more korean than I thought. I was telling taxi drivers where to go, making phone calls with our investigators, introducing my new companion to the members, and giving book of mormons out to people on the street. I don't really know how to explain it, but all I know is that the Lord is helping me do this. I'm not fluent at all, I know nothing. But when I need to say something that is related to what I need to do as a missionary, I can say it. It might not be detailed or perfect, but I'm able to still say all that I need to.

Yesterday when we were riding the bus, I felt like I should say hi to the person next to me. So I did and after chatting for a little bit about where he's going, where he lives, works, etc, he told me "Wow, your korean is really good". I laughed and just said "No, I'm just a missionary. Have you heard about the book of mormon?". Haha, anyway, I ended up giving him a copy. Its incredible what the Lord can help me do.

Well I'm running out of time, but I'm doing great here in Gunsan. The church is true!

-Elder Graf