Sunday, June 29, 2014

A Third

Sorry for skipping last week.  I promise, a ton happens each and every day - but now that I've been a missionary for so long, the every day things of teaching lessons, street contacting, and setting commitments with people is all so exciting, but when I sit down at the computer to write my big weekly update, well, I all-of-the-sudden can't think of anything interesting to write about....
.....and I'm facing the same problem right now....
But, I know I have family who is just DYING to hear from me.  So fine, haha, I'll write something and hope it sounds interesting enough.
Things went rather well this past week here in Korea.  We started meeting with this new guy out in a little town called Daepyeongni (I dare you to try to pronouce that correctly).  He is really cool, super nice, and loves to take us out to eat.  He also is open to listen to what we have to say and happily took the Book of Mormon from us when we offered it to him.
The week continued on as Korea lost in their match against Belgium.  Who knew the World Cup was so awesome??  I bought myself a Korean Soccer Jersey a few weeks back and have worn it over my white shirt and tie inside the house whenever it was game day.  No, we didn't watch any of the games.  But, oh, we could hear them.  The ENTIRE CITY was watching.  And whenever anything good or bad happened, you could hear the screams and shouts and stomping and horns and clapping of every single Korean in the country.  Sadly, like I said, they lost in the third game and were kicked out.... but apparently America is still going forward?  I ask my investigators daily for World Cup updates, haha, who knew I was so in to soccer.
Speaking of Soccer, Saturday came and we had a massive stake-wide soccer event.  The missionaries were invited and we all headed to KAIST (Korea's MIT) and played game after game at the stadium there.  My skills are nothing compared to the Korean's, but it's still tons of fun.
Sunday came, our investigator came to church with us, and the night was closed off with a delicious meal at a members house.  Before we knew it, it was Monday again.  But, not just any Monday - it's transfer Monday - ALREADY!  The call came, and we're staying again.  Skinner and I are super surprised (He's been here since January) but we're really excited for another 6 weeks! 
Hope you're all having a fun summer vacation!  Don't have too much fun without me!
Elder Graf

Monday, June 16, 2014

Tag along companions

So Elder Christofferson came a few weeks back, right?  Right.  Well he actually came in the first week of the new transfer.  So, all of those missionaries who went home last transfer missed him by one week.  They came to Korea for 2 years, worked super hard, found out an apostle would be coming to speak to them, and then found out it was actually the week after they would be going home and so they would miss it.  To some of these missionaries, that wasn't really all that fair, so President Shin made some arrangements and allowed those missionaries to extend for a extra 3 weeks (if they wanted) so that they could still be around for Elder Christofferson when he came.  Out of the group, two missionaries made the choice to stay (the others were all like "Please - I've been here for two years, I can see Elder Christofferson on TV in October") and President has been using them as "Traveling APs".  What does that mean?  Well, because there really isn't anywhere to put someone for merely 3 weeks, they have been given the special assignment to travel around the whole mission and be with each companionship for 3 or so days in order to give training and/or give them something to do before they go home.
That's when last week, we were joined by Elder Orr in his last stop of his mission tour.  And, instead of 3 days, he was with us all week until the day he went home.  It was tons of fun, and really interesting as well.  Over a year ago when I came into the mission, Elder Orr was in my district.  He was just a normal missionary in the middle of his mission, earlier than where I am now.  And now, he's going home.  Where did the time go?!
So all week long, we worked super hard, found a new investigator, taught tons of lessons, and committed our investigator Jason (code name from a few weeks back) to talk to his dad about baptism again.  If his dad says yes, he could be baptized tomorrow, the kid is extremely ready.  Then, on Thursday, it came time to say goodbye to Elder Orr and send him off to the mission office to go home.  We celebrated with a picture and a chicken buffet restaurant and sent him on his way.  He was a super good missionary - Zone Leader and then Traveling AP - so it was really great for us to spend his last week with him.
Now, for this week, Elder Skinner and I will be joined again by somebody else.  This time it's Elder Williams, one of the other elders who lives in our house.  His companion, Elder Park, will be going to the military for one week (it's required for all Koreans to do one week-long check up military service each year, so even though they're missionaries, they have to take a week off and do it).  So, for this whole next week, the 3 of us will be combining all of our investigators and appointments and doing them all together.  Should be fun!
Anyway, I'm out of time, but wish us luck!  Oh and here's a fun picture of Elder Skinner and I at a Buddhist temple.  We ran into it the other day and couldn't resist taking a picture.

Elder Graf

Sunday, June 1, 2014

By the way...

So I forgot to tell you all a few months back when it was announced to us..... And I also forgot to tell you last week that it would be coming up.... So allow me to enlighten you:

This last weekend, Elder Christofferson came and visited our mission!  First, he gave an exclusive missionaries-only fireside on Saturday morning. Then, he spoke at a region-wide devotional Saturday night followed by a special Stake Conference down in the south of the mission where he dedicated the brand new (and beautiful) Stake Center.


Of course, it was all wonderful.  Let's start at the beginning...

We woke up bright and early Saturday morning, determined to be the first ones to the church.  We wanted front row seats and we weren't going to let anyone take them from us.  We all showered (some other elders spent the night for the meeting) and were on the Subway by 6:00 AM.  Just under an hour later, we arrived at the Stake Center on the other side of the city and discovered that we were indeed the first people there.  After 30 minutes, others began arriving as well and not before long, the entire mission was there.  We ended up at first sitting down in the front, but then the APs pushed us back 6 rows because the mission choir would need to be in the front.

..........okay fine.

Anyway, Elder Christofferson arrived with his wife and 3 other seventies and their wives.  They all spoke to us one by one until finally it was Elder Christofferson's turn.  For weeks now, all of the missionaries have been debating what he would say to us...  "He's going to slam us all in our seats and rebuke us for not serving diligently enough!"  some would say. "No, come on, he wouldn't do that, he's too nice" others would reply.  "But I heard from a friend who's on a mission that when his brother's cousin's aunt's nephew was on his mission a few years back, Elder Holland came to a mission and practically yelled at them the entire time because the spirit told him that they weren't living up to their mission's potential." to which I would think to myself "I'm surrounded by idiots," but instead enjoyed the show.  Finally the moment had come and Elder Christofferson stood at the pulpit.

What a shocker!  All he did the entire time was open the floor for missionaries to ask questions for him to answer.  At first, NOBODY raised their hands (terrifying, anyone?)  but after the first few questions, the ball was rolling and it was impossible to be called on in the sea of arms.  Even though I didn't get to ask him anything, in the end, other missionaries asked really good questions and it proved to be a wonderful hour listening to and watching an apostle ponder and think and search through the scriptures and share his answers with us.  After the last question was answered, he took 5 minutes and blessed us as a mission and as missionaries, bore his testimony, and then left.  We were ordered to immediately leave the church in order to clear it for other meetings.

However, that was only round one.  Round two was the night devotional, and if you had an investigator to bring, you were allowed to attend...

Our investigator (lets give him the code name Jason) was extremely excited to come.  He is 17 years old and really likes us missionaries.  The only problem is his dad won't let him join the church and so getting him excited about anything gospel-oriented has been a little difficult recently.  However, when we asked him if he would want to come, he responded to us with a definite "It's an apostle, isn't it?! That's a big deal!!" and we were off.

Jason the entire time was paying attention like none other.  He was laughing with Elder Christofferson's jokes, asking me questions when he didn't understand a gospel principle (like what the millennium is), and was smiling almost the entire time.  After the meeting closed and Elder Christofferson was being ushered out of the chapel to his car, Jason told me "Elder Graf!  Quick, take a picture!" and he was opening my backpack to get my camera out.  I tried to turn it on, but there was no battery.  "Ahh, Jason, no battery!" I said, but then got a slightly-against-the-rules-because-they-told-us-to-NOT-follow-him-outside-but-genius-idea.  "Wanna go shake his hand and get a picture outside?!?" I asked, to which Jason said "LETS GO!" and took off busting through the crowd in the chapel waving goodbye.

After shoving our way through masses of people and running around the stuffed-packed parking lot, we caught up to Elder Christofferson as he was being ushered into the backseat of the car.  Jason just went straight up and said "hello!" in English, sticking his hand out to be shaken.  Elder Christofferson turned around and saw him standing there, to which he stuck out his hand and shook it, thanking Jason for coming.  I was hiding 10 feet behind at first, but I then ran up next to them and blurted out "This is my investigator".  What was I trying to do, show off to the apostle??  Haha, whoops.  But then Elder Christofferson shook my hand as well and with a smile said "That's wonderful" looking at Jason, and then back to me "Keep up the great work, Elder."

Alright, I can die now.

Haha, the two of us said goodbye and left his car beaming.  Jason was actually cheering "I shook his hand! I shook his hand!" as we went back to where the other missionaries and their investigators were.  We found Elder Skinner and told him what happened, to which he then took off with our recent convert who was baptized a few weeks back and did the same thing right before Elder Christofferson's car left.  Success on both parts.

Anyway, I'm out of email time now, but as you can see, it was a fantastic week.  Next time an apostle is coming, I won't keep it a secret from you all.

Elder Graf