Sunday, October 27, 2013

And then the cold came

Prior to my mission, I heard all sorts of things about Korea's weather.  "You're going to die from the humidity!"  "The summer is just non-stop floods and typhoons!"  "You've never experienced a heat such like Korea's..."

Eh.  That's what they all said.  Then I arrived here and it really wasn't that bad.  There wasn't a single "typhoon", it never really rained more than it rains in Utah, the humidity was just so-so, and the temperature stayed in the wonderful range of 80-90 the entire summer in good old Gunsan.  So it was really not that bad.

Well, I also heard these comments "You've never experience a humid winter before.  Get ready to freeze"  and "Korea's winters are colder than you can even imagine".

And I believe it.  It's not even November yet, the temperatures are still in the 60's during the day, but I am freezing! I don't know what's wrong with me, haha, maybe I'm just too used to the heat and now that it's starting to go away, my body doesn't know what to do.  Each night I put on my heavy winter pea coat on top of my suit because I'm just that cold.  It's only October!!  What I am I going to do come winter!?

Okay so it's probably not that bad....  Maybe I'm just over-exaggerating.  But over-exaggerating or not, I set our apartment temperature at 84 degrees Fahrenheit and it's going to stay that way.

Anyway, that's the weather update.  As far as missionary work goes, this week, as I told you last week, was transfers.  While Elder Kim Daewon and I aren't changing, Elder Bowman (the other elder with live with) got a new greenie.  How exciting!  His name is Elder Jo and he is Korean.  However, two years ago he started going to school at Salt Lake Community College where he found out about the church and decided to be baptized.  One year later, he came on a mission - awesome faith, huh?  The kid's a stud, he's super cool, and his testimony is really strong.  I'm really exciting to be serving in the same area as him, I'm definitely going to learn a ton.

Testing week ended last week, so all of our investigators should be able to start meeting with us again.  We still meet with our chinese guy, the family, and a few other college students.  Wish us luck as we teach them this week!

Okay, that's all for this week.  Also, thanks for all the birthday letters/wishes/presents/etc.  You're all the best!

Elder Graf

Sunday, October 20, 2013



Can you believe it??  They already came again!  And the verdict is:

I'm staying in the same area with the same companion.  Cool huh?  So I now have until the first week in December to see this area grow.  I'm super happy that I'm staying here, I just barely am starting to feel like I'm getting a good understanding of this area and how I can best help the people here.  So now I have at least 6 more weeks to do it!

So this last week has been BUSY BUSY BUSY.  We, for the first time in our zone, had an English Village.  A lot of other churches and businesses do them, so our mission decided to try it out in each of our zones.  An English Village is a mock American town.  "Customers" come into our church, which has been completely decorated, and "travel" to America in which they make stops at the airport, a restaurant, the hospital, a clothing store, a movie theater, and finally church.  Each stop is really just a different room in the church that has been decorated to fit it's theme.  So in the end, it's a big event in which Koreans can practice English in many different situations without going to America to do it.

All week long, we were preparing for the Village - advertising about it on the street, hanging up fliers all over the city, and making decorations all day and night.  Finally, Saturday came and the Village was open from 1-5.  It was a success - lots of people came and they all really enjoyed the activity.  We even found new investigators out of it!  So we'll be meeting with them later this next week.

Anyway, that was the main event from last week.  Sometimes I feel like I'm on a mission in Korean to teach English, not the gospel.  It's kind of interesting.  But it helps us find investigators so it's worth it!

Anyway, I'm out of time - I've got to go.  Thanks for all of your support!  Talk to you next week!

Elder Graf

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Conference and a baptism

All week long, all I could think was "Conference, conference, conference.  Why can't it just be conference already."  It was a.... hmmmm... harder than normal week.  And all I wanted was to sit in a room and watch 10 hours of conference!  Haha, well luckily, Saturday finally came and wow, wasn't it worth it?

I don't want to get all sappy, so I'll withhold all the good details, but I will say that I love this church.  I love this Gospel.  And conference was just what I needed to remind myself of the gospel's truthfulness and recommit myself to following the Lord.  We have a Prophet on the earth leading us in the same exact church that has been on the earth from day 1 - how cool is that!?  It's so happy to know this truth, and it's so sad to think that there are people in the world that simply don't know about it.  

That's why I'm a missionary.

Elder Uchtdorf's talk was my favorite for this point.  Our church, it's missionaries, it's temples, leaders, organizations, ins, outs, ups, downs, etc - they all exist because the church is TRUE.  We are part of the ETERNAL plan of our Heavenly Father - it's FULL of happiness, joy, and peace.  There is nothing negative about it.  So I'm a missionary for this church not to get stats, numbers, or just fulfill my 2 years because that's what Mormons do - but to bring people to the Gospel so they can be part of God's plan for them.  It's that simple.  And it's AWESOME.

So as you can tell, I loved conference.  The only thing that could top conference would be actually witnessing somebody join God's plan through being baptized.  Well, luckily, there was one.  Sunday night, just 3 hours after conference ended, the sister missionaries in our area had a baptism for one of their investigators and it was incredible.

Their investigator is 22 years old and has really struggled with the idea of baptism for a long time.  Yet, overtime she came to understand why it's so important and finally was baptized yesterday.  As part of the baptismal service, all of the missionaries sang the primary song "When I am baptized" for a special number.  It was so sweet because during the last verse, the girl being baptized opened up a songbook while she was sitting down and starting singing along with us, with tears streaming down her face.  Then, after she was baptized, we all sang primary songs together for about 20 minutes.  It was beautiful, there's just no other way to put it.  

I know this church is true and I can't wait until I have the opportunity to see one of my own investigators make the eternally significant decision to be baptized and join God's one true church.

Wish me luck for the last week of the transfer!  

Elder Graf

More Pictures!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Sunsets and new pets

Well it's October!  Does it feel like October? No, not at all.  The weather here is still burning hot, the leaves are as green as ever, and fall time won't start to set in until end of October/beginning of November.  Luckily, I live in a city with a ton of trees - the streets here are lined with huge, old trees.  So it's going to be beautiful once the leaves start to change.

Anyway, although it's still hot, starting this weekend we have to wear suits.  Conference weekend is a week later here in Korea to allow for the translated DVDs to get here.  And it's the mission rule to wear suits from conference in October to conference in April.  It's going to be death.  But it's okay because it's made me have to buy new suits finally and I found AWESOME suits for only $50! Score!  So I might but a couple...  But I'm super excited for conference.  I've already heard all the news - 15 million members, 80,000 missionaries, but I'm dying to hear the talks.  I'm jealous all of you have already heard them all.

So missionary this last week has been great.  A couple weeks ago, we got a phone call from a guy telling us he saw our flier and wanted us to teach his son English.  No gospel interest, just English.  Well, we don't do that, so we told him we would teach his son English but also share gospel messages.  He said that would be okay, so we've been meeting with this kid (he's 11) every Wednesday for the last three weeks.  They live in 조치원 (Jo Chi Won), a countryside city about 45 minutes away from ours.  Two weeks ago, we gave him the Book of Mormon Stories book (the cartoon-ish one)  and asked him to read it along with the Book of Mormon so the stories would make more sense.  Then, last week when we met, he had read all the way up to Alma 50-something in the cartoon book.  He shared with us which parts he liked the best and says he really likes it.  We then asked the Mom to join in with us and we were able to share with them how the Gospel blesses families and how we would like to teach their son English, but we also want to teach family the gospel together.  She said they would think about it.  The family has tons of potential!  We hope that we will be able to start teaching them all and they will be interested in learning more.

Anyway, missionary work is great, but I decided it would be fun to spice some things up a bit.  There's a mission rule that says no pets of any kind... but if we're planning on eating it, I deemed it okay to buy something living.

So I was walking down the street and I saw massive crabs (giant aerobie for size comparison) for sale for only ONE DOLLAR!  Of course I bought it.  The thing was dangerous, snapping like crazy at me.  I got a cardboard box and put him inside - naming him Phil.  He was the best crab in the world.  On the bus ride home, with the cardboard box on my lap, I decided that I couldn't eat him - he was new my friend - how could I do that? I then realized I had no idea to cook a crab anyway...  Plus, he was worth a lot of money.  $1 goes a long way as a missionary...

Anyway. I took him home, made a place to put his box, and then texted the other elders saying I brought home a surprise.  Phil was snapping his claws like crazy.  I thought he was hungry, so I started looking for food.  What do crabs eat?  Algae?  Fish?  Seaweed?  Ah yes! Seaweed!  So I gave him some kim (dried seaweed).  Hmmm, he didn't do anything with it.  Then I realized he was a little dirty - he needed a bath.  I then took him to the sink.  Carefully put him inside, turned on the water, and started to give him a nice shower.

That's when it happened.

He started bubbling at the mouth and after thrashing around for a little bit, he slowed down little by little.  What happened!?  "No, don't die! I birthed you!"  Then I realized crabs are saltwater animals and I just soaked him in freshwater.  All of his little tiny cells couldn't handle the change in water and they decided to rupture.  Stupid saltwater cells.

So Phil died.  So much for that.  His funeral has been postposned... he is in our freezer right now ... I think I'm going to try the whole reviving thing once that technology is available.  Walt Disney, anyone?

So that was my week.  Onto another week of hot temperatures, exciting adventures, and General Conference to top it all off!

Oh, and I'm including pictures of the sunset from the other night here.  Pretty cool, isn't it?

Elder Graf