Sunday, January 19, 2014

A Baptism

Before my mission, I had no idea what the religious scene was like over here in Korea.  When I first landed at the airport in Incheon and was on the 2 hour bus ride to the Mission Home in Daejeon, I noticed a few things while I looked at the window.  Lots of apartment buildings, lots of trees, and lots of crosses.  Even now as I look out the window from the cafe where I am typing this, I can see 5 different crosses sticking out above the buildings on the horizon.

Korea is the Asian Bible Belt.  There are more church buildings in the cities here than there are in Utah - I'm not kidding.  There is not a single place in Korea that you can go without a church in sight.  The only difference is, they are all for different churches.  Some are Catholic, some are Methodist, some are Presbyterian, and some are Korean-exclusive Christian churches.  Long story short, mainstream Christianity is huge here - Mormonism is not.  Therefore, missionary work is hard.  Some missionaries get four, five, or even six baptisms in their whole mission here in Korea.  But, at the same time, many missionaries go home with none.  As far as my mission goes, I have had none.  We've taught plenty of people and had wonderful experiences doing so, but joining the church has just been too hard of a thing for all of my investigators to do.  That is, until yesterday.

Yesterday, Elder Otterson and I had the wonderful experience to see Diane (Her Korean name is pronounced Dah Een) be baptized and confirmed a member of the church by her father.  Diane's brother, Dom (Korean name: Dah Oom), also received the Aaronic Priesthood yesterday as well.  When we first met the family a little over a month ago, they wanted nothing to do with the church.  But then, after we visited them a few more times and they started to come out, we could see their hearts start to change.  The father became enthusiastic about the gospel again, the mom felt the love from the members, their son, Dom, started to have faith in god and a desire to serve a mission, and Diane expressed her desire to be baptized.  We started to teach them as a family and yesterday it all came together with smiles, tears, and a wonderful experience for all.  We are so happy for their family and their new-found love for the church and the gospel!

So there's my update this week.  Maybe missionary work in Korea is hard.  Maybe I won't be getting the 20+ baptisms that other missionaries are getting in other places in the world.  But at least I am seeing the blessing that the church can be in people's lives.  I know that Diane and her family will be happier and stronger with the gospel in their lives and I am so happy that I was able to help them in the process.

That's all!  Until Next week!
Elder Graf

PS - I PROMISE they are happy.  It's just Korean culture to not smile in pictures.  The second the picture ended, they were hugging and smiling and all.  

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