Monday, April 21, 2014


Right now, things are going pretty awesome.  Throughout my mission, I've had lots of great moments, but I've also had a lot of ".....this is it?" moments too.  The mission was supposed to be an adventure - full of miracles, fun times, and success.  So then why was I wandering the vacant streets all day hanging up fliers, occasionally teaching English to people, and then wandering the vacant streets again trying to find people to talk to.  When it's just the same routine day after day, it's gets a little, well, depressing.  This definitely wasn't the experience I was expecting...
Then, I came to Daejeon.  
All of the sudden, I was a missionary!  We have tons of investigators, we are riding the subway and running accross the city all day to get to appointments, we had THREE different people come out to church this last week (on my entire mission, I've only had an investigator come out to church twice), we're too busy on some days and have to even cancel appointments, and one of or investigators is getting baptized THIS SUNDAY!  The fact that my companion and I have been best friends from day one just makes it even better.  I've only been here for one week and I've already decided that I want to stay here for the rest of my mission, it's just that perfect.
So this week we were working super hard, had a good time, and then before we knew it, Sunday came.  We woke up, got ready, met one of our investigators at the subway station (the one that is getting baptized in 6 days) and went to church together.  It was my first Sunday in the ward, so I gave a talk in Sacrament meeting to introduce myself and share stories about the blessings I've received from serving my mission.  I had the ward laughing and smiling and nodding and halfway through, it hit me that I was just completely naturally and comfortably speaking Korean.  "Wait what?" I thought, "since when was I able to speak Korean like this?".  My entire mission, the language has been really hard for me.  But all of the sudden, I'm able to just do and say everything I need to without even thinking about it.  Of course, I still have a ton to learn and I'm nowhere near fluent, but I can actually say "yeah, I can speak Korean" to people and mean it when I say it.  Pretty cool, huh?
So church was great, we taught a lesson to our investigator afterwards and then rode the subway back with him to his house.  He's 18 years old and is super ready for baptism - his testimony is so strong and he wants it more than anything.  I'm so happy that FINALLY I'm not trying to convince or trick somebody into joining the church, but instead just helping somebody that already wants it.  Can't wait for this Sunday.
After that, Elder Skinner and I went home for companionship study.  We had two member visits scheduled for the night and wanted to be well prepared for them.  Following a laughing attack while we were trying to sing our opening hymn together (and 3 prayers to get us to stop) (and 2 other hymns 25 minutes after we gained control of ourselves in order to get us focused again) (I'm telling you, we're best buds) we started studying together.  What to share to our members?  Our favorite scriptures?  Our reasons for coming on missions?  No, no, none of that seemed right.... then.... I looked at the calendar.
It was Easter!
What the?  A holiday?  I forgot those existed!  Well of course we knew what to share to our members now!  We quickly planned our message, ran to the Subway station, and then took a taxi from there to where our first member lived.  We then shared with the family the Easter traditions we do in America, what they represent, and then together read "The Living Christ" document written by the Apostles in 2000.  Elder Skinner and I bore our testimonies about the main reason we are here in Korea - and that is that Jesus Christ came to this earth, atoned for our sins, died for us, was ressurected, and that even now today, He lives.  The spirit was so strong as we shared that simple truth.  We said goodbye, ran to the subway station, missed our bus out to Saejong (the new capitol city I told you about last week), and therefore ended up taking $20 taxi to get us there on time.  It's okay, I don't need to eat this week.  Haha, anyway, we got there, and shared the same message about the meaning of Easter to them.
As we rode the bus home from Saejong, Elder Skinner and I talked about how awesome the day was.  3 church attendances, a lesson to our investigator getting baptized, and 2 amazing member visits.  "Dude, I want to serve with you for another transfer - this is just too good" we told each other, and laughed our way home.  And of course, upon our arrival, we borrowed 4 eggs from our neighbors, boiled them, and decorated them to cap off the night.  Happy Easter Everyone!
Elder Graf

Monday, April 14, 2014

I'm in Korea now

It's a whole different world, this is not the country I've been living in.  

Last week, I spent my time saying goodbye to all of the wonderful people I have met over the past few months.  They were all sad to see me go as well and were kind enough to treat me to delicious restaurant trips and goodbye presents such as late night cake deliveries and long letters expressing how much I've helped them.

It was so hard to say goodbye, I'm going to miss them so much.  But I will definitely remember all of the wonderful experiences I had with them during my time in Dangjin.  Thursday came, my bags were all packed, and I headed out to Daejeon to meet my new companion.

Elder Skinner is his name and coolest companion ever is his game.  Haha, I'm super lucky to be serving with him, we have a ton in common with each other so this next transfer will be lots of fun.  Mainly though, we both want to work super hard in our area.  Which brings us to....

Yuseong/ SeJong!  My area!  After we met each other at the bus terminal, we took off to our area.  How did we get there, you ask?  The subway.  "Wait, you mean, we're not going to walk for miles through rice fields?", I thought in my mind.  The two of us took the elevator underground, carried my luggage onto the subway, and we were off.  As I was riding the train, I began to realize that everything I had been experiencing in the countryside was long gone - I was in a city now.  Taxis, subways, massive buildings, and thousands of people everywhere.  It was a whole new experience, and I was so excited to be jumping right into it.

So I've been here for a few days now, and things are going awesome.  We have great investigators - two of them even came to conference with us over the weekend.  One of them is actually scheduled to be baptized in two weeks - so we're really excited!  The area is amazing, especially SeJong.  It's a BRAND NEW city.  Everything in it was built within the last two years.  Korea is moving their capitol from Seoul to the new city SeJong because that is where is used to be hundreds of years back.  Two years ago, it was all just rice fields, but now it is a sprawling modern metropolis that is growing every day.  Basically, it's everything that I am interested in doing - so of course I would be sent here.  President knows me well.  Our main area is Yuseong (one of the neighborhoods in Daejeon) but we are given the special assignment to work in SeJong as well to start a branch there as the city grows.  Basically, it's what I was doing in Dangjin, but on a whole different level.

I'm so happy that I am here - it's a whole new world!  Already, I'm able to look back on my mission so far and learn so much.  I'm so excited for my time here in Yuseong/Sejong to see and learn new things and add to my Korean adventure.  Wish Elder Skinner and I good luck this week!

Elder Graf

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

And then I have to say goodbye

After a week full of meeting with people, teaching english, teaching gospel, sight seeing with members, visiting less actives, walking through endless farming fields, hanging up flyers, taking pictures of beautiful blossoms, knocking on doors, going to stake conference, returning home Sunday night exhausted, and then waking up this morning to the rooster outside our window and thinking "Wow, it's already been six weeks?",  we sat and waiting for our transfer calls to come.
I started in Gunsan, a countryside city next to the sea.  Then I moved to Cheongju, a sprawling metropolis in the mountains.  Following that, it was back to a countryside city next to the sea, Dangjin, and now - any guesses?  It's following the patern and I'm headed to a sprawling metropolis in the mountains once again.  This time, it's Daejeon.  Yup, smack dab in the main city of our mission.  My area is called Yuseong (pronounced yoo suhng) and my companion is Elder Skinner - he's been in the mission for a few months.
Am I excited??  Of course!!  City is awesome!  So much life and activity, it'll be tons of fun to completely change my environment.  I'm also really glad I finally have the opportunity to go senior with an American companion - now I have no cushion to fall back on when it comes to my Korean (that's a good thing). But am I also sad to leave Dangjin?  No doubt about it.
During my time here, I've had highs and I've had lows.  It's a mission, so I guess that's expected, haha.  But out of all of my areas, it was in Dangjin that I really learned the most.  It was here that I had the biggest tasks, the most investigators, the hardest trials, the most support from members, the greatest examples from others, and overall - the best time.  I will never forget the miracles we saw here - the big ones and the small.  I hope to forever stay in contact with all of the wonderful people I have met - it will be really hard to say goodbye to them over the next few days before I go.
Now as I leave, I also enter the second half of my mission.  I've been here in Korea for a while, I've learned a lot, and I'm ready to take all of those skills and lessons and apply them full force.  Basically, it's kill it time - and I'm 100% ready!  I'm really excited for everything that I will experience in the next coming weeks and months.  Bring on Yuseong!
As I say goodbye to Dangjin (and the countryside) here's some pictures from the past few weeks.  Beautiful, isn't it?  (Korea, not me ;) )
Elder Graf