Monday, August 18, 2014

When the Pope comes to Korea

What.  A week.

From Monday last week to today, I have been to and done and seen so much.  First, Monday was spent going to an awesome Buddhist temple up in the mountains.  While there, we received the phone call from the APs telling us that Skinner would be leaving and I would be training.  Right then, we began texting and calling all of our investigators and members.

From Monday evening to Thursday morning, every single second was spent running around (what felt like) the entire country and meeting with everyone and their dog.  Skinner wanted to say goodbye to everybody, but it's better phrased that EVERYBODY wanted to say goodbye to Skinner.  On Wednesday, we had FIVE lunch/dinner meals with five different people and they were all MASSIVE.  I don't even know how we did that without throwing up...  somehow we managed.

Thursday came and Skinner and I made our way to the mission house.  Right as we got there and I, as a trainer, was taken away to the meeting for trainers and Skinner was ushered to meet his new comp and leave, the reality of the situation hit me.  "Wait... what's going on?  You mean Skinner and I can't be companions anymore?"  Haha, I had no idea how good of friends we had become until we weren't allowed to be friends anymore.... this whole split-up-from-companions-that-you-actually-get-along-with thing is no fun.  It's okay, we still have California and Caribbean cruises with our future wives awaiting us in the future.

I was taken to the church building where our greenies were all anxiously waiting for us in the upstairs chapel.  They had them all line up in a half circle by the doors to the chapel and then in one big movement, swung open the doors and us trainers flooded in to find our little babies.  The excitement was crazy as everyone met each other for the first time.  I found him (wasn't too hard, he's 6'6"), hugged, and our companionship began.

He's super cool!  His name is Elder Godfrey and he is from Calgary, Canada.  Right off the bat, he told me about how excited and thrilled and stoked he is to be a missionary and just wants this to be the most incredible and uplifting and amazing experience of his life.  I had just 5 words for him.

"Well then, Welcome to Sejong."

Oh, ever since Thursday, he's been just the greatest greenie anyone could ask for.  He is MORE than willing to try EVERYTHING.  Food, the language, street contacting - you name it - he has no fear.  When I was a greenie,  *spoiler alert* I dreaded the language and talking to people on the street.  But he literally has no fear.  What an amazing thing it has been, he's already helped so much in all of our lessons and will be a perfect partner for these next upcoming weeks.  Of course, there are hilarious face-palm things that he, as a greenie, does, but I'll save those for sharing after the mission ;)

To close off this email, as you all know (if you watch the news at least)  the Pope came to Korea last week.  It's a pretty big deal, the Pope doesn't just pick up and travel like that all the time.  He hasn't been to Korea, or Asia for that matter, in 30 years.  His visit brought millions from all over the continent and as the leader of 1/7 of the entire population of the world, he rightfully so is and important figure.  Of course, when I found out he was coming to Daejeon, I HAD to see him.  But not only that, I HAD to do it as a missionary ;).

Well, seeing him actually turned out to be impossible.  Apparently, you had to be someone either super famous and rich or super poor and a charity case in order to get a ticket.  So instead, on Friday morning, Elder Godfrey and I decided to let out our anger in the form of hanging up English advertisements all over the bus stations, subway stations, and streets surrounding the stadium he was speaking at DURING the event.  Bahahaha, it was hilarious.  No, we didn't do anything disrespectful and we were sure to keep our distance, but we did push some boundaries I guess....  Oh well! When in Korea!

As you can see, things are going great.  Our investigator didn't get baptized this last week because he wants Skinner to baptize him and Skinner wasn't able to come back up to Daejeon.  So we just rescheduled it and it's still going through.  Wish Elder Godfrey and I luck with everything else!  

Elder almost-saw-the-pope Graf

Monday, August 11, 2014

The last week of 18

This week was probably the fastest week in my entire mission, no joke.  Elder Skinner and I have now been companions for 3 transfers - that's a REALLY long time.  No problem though, we're best friends, so it's been nothing but good times, but now that we've been together for so long - we have our system down.  We know what each other will do and say in a lesson, we know how to plan together and set unified goals, we know each other's deepest thoughts...  we have it all down.  Therefore, the time has just for some reason begun to BLOW by.  This last week was week 5 of the transfer, our (potentially) last full week together, and boy were we busy.  I'll walk you through it.

Monday was sleep day.  I was tired, he was tired, we needed our rest before jumping into the new week.  Come Tuesday, our appointments began, and we were traveling all over our area from city to city to meet with our investigators.  The people we met with this week range from teenagers who look up to us like celebrities, old Korean men full of wisdom about the world and its spiritual aspects, only-interested-in-learning-English-from-us-by-lie-about-being-interested-in-the-gospel adults, and a wonderful miracle of a person we met on the street a few months back.  More on him later.

Half-way through the week, heaven came in the form of two packages from my family.  Honestly, those things mean everything to us missionaries.  I opened them up and was welcomed with candy, treats, needed supplies, and - last but not least - my long lost camera that broke a few months back in the subway station, was sent to America to be repaired, and then was sent back to me.  I almost cried from joy.   Ever since getting it, I've used it oh so diligently.  So much so, that the battery actually died today..... and then I realized that there was no battery charger sent in the package.....  so I once again have a problem....  to be continued.

Sunday came and so did two of our investigators (to church, that is).  One of them is the teenager who wants to be baptized but his dad won't let him, and the other is the wonderful miracle of a person we met on the street a few months back that I referred to a paragraph or two back.  When we first met him, he really liked us and wanted to meet, but didn't have much church interest.  But then, all of a sudden two weeks ago, he called us up and told us that he was sorry for not being better earlier, but now he wants to change.  He promised us that he will come to church every single week from now on no matter what.  This Sunday was the second week in a row that he came, actually, and afterwards, we taught him a little bit more about the plan of salvation and why the gospel of Jesus Christ plays a key role in it.  Long story short, he's getting baptized this next Sunday, the 17th.  Awesome, huh!?

So our week was great. We were busier than ever, we set a baptismal date, and we felt rather accomplished.  Our last week together closed, and we anxiously awaited for the transfer calls this morning........  drum roll please.....

I'M TRAINING!  Our mission FINALLY is getting greenies (we've been in a drought do to the age change and just waiting for everyone to graduate high school) and one is coming my way this Thursday.  Who?  I have no idea.  All I know is that Elder Skinner is leaving for the south of the country, and I'm staying here in Sejong to train.  I'm really excited - can't wait to put my skills to the test.

So, it's been a really good 3 transfers together.  18 weeks went by extremely fast, it's been a really good time serving with Elder Skinner.  Hopefully my next companion will be good as well, wish me and my greenie a good week!

Elder Graf