Monday, August 26, 2013

Augusut 26, 2013 - HOoraH! NO time to think of a title!

August 26, 2013

So guess what.  P-day is actually tomorrow this time. Because we're goin’ to the TEMPLE! It's been so long since I've been  - a good 8 or so weeks. And the SEOUL temple! Same, but different :) super excited.
It's going to be short this week, which is too bad cuz it was a GREAT week! (but i was in Korea. as a missionary. Of course it would be great :))  And a copy of my letter to Pres. Christensen ‘cuz then you’ll hear more about what I did.

This was a wonderful week. Lots of work, lots of miracles. People and the area are progressing!
First of all - one of our investigators was baptized yesterday! It was super exciting and satisfying in the best sort of way - that I didn't really do anything, that it was all between her and the Lord. She's planning on receiving the Holy Ghost next Sunday. Her journey also really stressed the importance of members to me.  Her friend did more for her than I'm sure I ever could.

One of our investigators is leaving for Thailand in about a week and a half. She is ready to be baptized, and she said she would be, but her situation with her parents is rough. When she mentioned being baptized to her mom, she was told that she would betray the family if she was baptized. Our investigator said we could help by helping her parents understand. We will possibly meet them this week.

We had lunch with another investigator this week, and she said that she had talked to some of her students about us, and we're going to meet them tomorrow! She is progressing as well, and recognizing more fully the nourishment she gets from the gospel. She said she was hoping to find "something" by meeting with us; I think she is beginning to recognize that "something."

Our other investigators are progressing well, some faster than others. I love serving in 중랑! The best people are here - the investigators, the ward members and leaders, Sister Gardiner - I feel like I'm learning lots and am able to do a bit of good for others, which is something I was worried about when I came to Korea and couldn't really speak Korean. I learn every day how it's not the language that matters, but the Spirit. And I'm sure I still have a lot to learn in the field.

Miracles! Of course, the baptism! And once again, how much of it wasn't us as missionaries. So much of the hand of the Lord preparing her, and friends supporting. I was honestly surprised about how quickly it happened. And then yesterday, we were 전도ing, and I had a strange desire to pass out all of the pass-along cards we had - it was a different sort of prompting than those that I've recognized before. And Sister Gardiner helped me to recognize that, but on our last card, a 학생 came up to us and started talking, just a very nice, open conversation, and we're going to meet with him again next week on the sidewalk.  And that was our wonderful week!

Yes! So one of our investigators was baptized! And it really was all the Lord and her friend. Missionary work works best when the members take the lead – there’s a friendship and support that a random missionary can't offer. It was the BEST and reminded me why I am here. Eek. Scatterde thoughts. pretty much. It's really exciting in a "that was cool!" way, but also in an eternal sense, which is the best!
A couple of other random things:

We ate with members this week - and had American food! Hamburgers and tacos, a rarity in these parts. They got them from the army base over here, which is the only place you can really buy lots of kinds of American stuff. 

Also, the old ladies are so funny. I saw one looking at us through the bus, so I bowed to her, and she mouthed to me "You're pretty!" Hehehe. That's an awesome thing about being a foreigner; all the old ladies tell you you’re pretty and that your Korean is good :)
And I don't have much time. LOVE! BYE!
Sis Thomas

Monday, August 19, 2013

Augusut 29, 2013 - Miracles, hiking, camels, and such


August 19, 2013


Time for fun things, report of the week! Pictures first: I rode a camel last week right after I emailed y'all :) It's been on my bucket list, and it was actually a pretty lame ride, but I rode a camel! (I got permission and everything, don't worry :)) and then there’s a view from our house (one with the trees), and a view from the 35th floor of our ward mission leader's house (their family is the best. They're super fun and fed us delicious food ;)) but the picture doesn't do it justice. Seoul is fantastic. And then a picture of...something else. I forgot :) 

P1000514.JPG  P1000541.JPG  P1000535.JPG

And if we ever find a post office, a letter will be on its way! After three weeks, I had time to write like half a letter...It doesn't say anything exciting, because I say everything in the email anyway, but it's just always fun to get a letter. Like I said, even if it has the contents of the Declaration of Independence in it. Hopefully the letter is a little more exciting than that, but no guarantees :)

Woot! This week was GREAT! And looking back seems like it started forever ago, so much has happened. Yes, so last P-day we went to the zoo. The animals are the same ;);.  It was funny though.  The Korean sister in our house would teach us some of the animal names and we'd walk around saying "monkey! monkey!" and people would look at us funny. Oh, the adventures of a foreigner :).  (I got my foreigner card today! I'm official!) And then we delivered cookies to some less active sisters - they were kind of ugly cookies, but hopefully not too bad (separate but related note - there's a recent convert in our ward who we help with English often (English is a big deal here. I've started talking to some people just because they're excited to try out their English on a native speaker. It's fun!) and she was talking about how if/when she goes to America, she wants to eat "USA cookie" and "USA bread" because they're so delicious :) (But bread really is different here. No Great Harvest. It's not bad though! Also, there are little toast stands on the sides of the street :) (I don't know how many parentheses I’m into right now :)))))) And then we did a service project with the missionaries in our zone and cleaned up a  mountain - I was excited because I've wanted to go hiking... Service and Hiking? Can life get any better? I submit that it canNOT! And then we had family home evening with the ward (on Tuesday, so they can do FHE as a family, then another with the ward if they like) and played ping pong - I'm awful. AWFUL. Anyway, we had a lot of meetings and activities this week, so I promise I'm also going to talk about lessons and investigators and miracles soon :) We also had a Sister's Conference for the whole mission, which was super fun and uplifting - church isn't as spiritually refreshing as it usually is because I don't know what anyone is saying. Thank goodness the Spirit is the same throughout languages/countries/etc. But I realized just how young our mission is - as in I recognized more than half of the people there from the MTC; probably the majority of us have been out less than two months. This is going to be quite an adventure :)
So by Thursday night, we finally had time for lessons. Yay! Lessons are the best. So we have one investigator who is leaving for Thailand in a couple weeks. She's fantastic.  We're actually going to go play with her and a member later today for P-day. But lesson-wise; we're feeling stuck; sometimes, it's hard to know how to help. She believes, but her parents are strongly Catholic, and she is hesitant about breaking from that family tradition. And I respect that. We don't want to be "that pushy missionary", because my purpose for being here is not baptismal statistics. It's to help people be happier and come unto Christ. But through making covenants, we can receive that additional guidance and peace - anyway, a hard spot to be. (and hard to explain fully in the few minutes I have to email. Obviously more thoughts and feelings and gospel principles and stories than that.) So we continue! Another one of our investigators, the one who speaks pretty good English, is also great :). We talked about a lot of things this week (that's one thing I like about her, we just talk. It's not a lesson. That's ideal, because I like just talking to people about awesome things!!) A couple things I want to share, because I loved the whole discussion - she said that she likes meeting with us because she sees a different "energy" in the missionaries than everyone else, and she likes that; she wants people to be able to see that in her. At first she thought it was just in the missionaries, but as she met and talked with the members last week, she thinks that it's more of the people in our church that have that "energy". She then talked about how confusing religions and truth is (and really, especially in Korea, religion is confusing. There are churches on every corner, meeting every day of the week, with their "전도서s" (kind of like missionaries, but more like run around and yell at everyone to repent and come to their church. (I very much want to avoid being a "REPENT!" person, because that sort of force and overbarance is not a part of the Gospel. In that sense, it was very helpful for me to hear what she had to say about our "energy" - the Spirit :))) and that everyone has their own opinion, and there are parts that are right about everything it seems, so how do you know what truth really is?  And then she said she met the missionaries, who told her that she could know and could find that truth for herself. That truth that doesn't change as opinions change. What is real. And for me, that is one of the best things about this Gospel -- that I can gather opinions and listen to everyone, but when everything is crazy and changing, I have this secure base that I can always return to because it's so real -- in every circumstance. I love it! :D
Anyway, that's most for this week :)
Love you all!
Sister Thomas

Monday, August 12, 2013

August 12, 2013 - So I'm not sure what happened this week. It was awesome.

August 12, 2013

 Yep! Korea is awesome! The people are awesome! I love the people we're meeting with - we have the best investigators, the best ward, and there are lots of really nice people on the street. Like, really nice and friendly. Koreans love foreigners - though I've probably been asked what my heritage is here more than anywhere else, and everyone keeps saying that I look like I'm from the East (Sister Gardiner keeps having to tell me that they say that, though, I never understand that sentence...) - especially when they try to learn Korean, and as a general rule, they're just really awesome, nice people, including the ones who don't want to listen to us, usually. Funny event of the week - a boy came over and asked for our number, and said he wanted to be our friend -- like in a college boy sort of way. Ha. I wasn't always sure what he was saying, and Sister Gardiner said she didn't know how to handle that... so we ended up telling him about the English class that we do with the Elders in our ward, and got his number for that. Anyway. It was funny :)

We're teaching quite a few investigators actually, which I really enjoy. One is a 할머니 (grandma) who lives alone, and is so funny. I never quite know how to read her (possibly because she's speaking Korean :)) we teach her some English before we teach her about the Gospel. Sometimes I think we're just there to teach her English, then other times she’s really interested in the Gospel, then other times I have no idea what's going on, and so on and so forth. We were teaching about service and the purpose that it gives - Like really, I love service. It makes me feel like I'm doing things and accomplishing more than just for myself, which is just one reason why missionary work is GREAT! :) - and then she started asking about the commandments out of the blue, because "I'm going to need to know them if I'm going to live them." So we told her about some of the commandments, then she just wanted to learn English words about them...And probably a whole lot more is going on that I'm not picking up on. It's an adventure everyday here :) 

We have another investigator who started as an English interest (I think) and she's pretty good at English, which is nice for me, because when I really can't figure out how to say something in Korean, I can say a bit in English. Side note - I'm learning (continuing to learn) a lot through learning Korean. More than just Korean. Patience, and patterns of progression, and that the Spirit is more important than Korean (which is hard to remember sometimes, when everyone is speaking Korean...) but I'm not in Korea to learn Korean, I'm here to bring people unto Christ at every point of my mission. Anyway - she's awesome, too. I really like the way she thinks, maybe because it's kind of similar to how I think. And we brought a member to meet her this last week, and they talked for quite a while, which was GReAT - members are really crucially crucial in missionary work. People need to not only learn about the Gospel, but also have friends in the church; and there is a potential to fill all those needs. I love friendly people :) Anyway, we talked a lot about Ether 12:6 and 12:27; about being made strong in Christ, about how sometimes you don't always know before you do.  An interaction of faith and action. Yep :)

Well, I'm going to send this email off. Maybe more stories if I remember them :)

Sister Thomas

Monday, August 5, 2013


August 5, 2013

BEST BEST BEST BEST place :) I can't believe I've only been here for a week.
It was a great flight! I made some great friends on the plane (like, talking for 2.5 hours straight with a high school student who is GREAT - I love happy, friendly people, an American elementary school teacher, and a Korean lady). And I was super jet lagged.   (AH! I don't know how to send pictures right now. I'm in some weird sort of public computer place - lots and lots of gamers here. It's school break in Korea. ) As you can tell, I was going to send a picture of the airport there. AAWESAH! hehehe :) The first night, we stayed in the temple - something I probably won’t get to do again. And we met some sisters from Busan going home; they told us about Korea, missions, etc. The next day we went and 전도ed  (proselyted) for a little bit - and gave away a Book of Mormon! I was companions with Sister A (actually,  when you put this on the blog, you should maybe change names - I've heard that's a good idea.) who is a native Korean, but it was GREAT because I could actually understand most of what was going on, and talked as well! Not like, well, but also :) I'm actually VERY happy with how much Korean I can speak right now. I'm nowhere near fluent, but I can say and understand WAY more than I dared hope for. It's a crazy blessing that, after 2 months of studying in a classroom, for not even the whole day, I can say and understand so much. I've started up conversations with all kinds of people! And like I said most of them are great. There have been like, 3 who pretend you don't exist, but I consider that nothing compared to all the nice people! That’s only, like, 3 percent :)

My companion is Sister Gardiner, who is WONDERFUL! She's on her second to last transfer and is the best - super supportive, and helpful with Korean - she speaks really well and picks up the conversations I start when I don't understand what they're saying anymore :) My mission president and his wife are awesome. I haven't gotten to know them super well yet - there were 30 of us that came to Seoul, so there isn't a whole lot of time, but it's okay! There's time for that later! And he says “hello” to the Webb’s, so pass that on :) The food is great! Different, but great. And there's actually quite a bit of American food around, if I so fancy -- like COSTCO. I thought you'd appreciate that, Mom :) I have a great companion, great area, great investigators, great ward, and a Costco! Can life get any better? I submit that it canNOT! ^^(that's my attempt at Korean typing/texting ㅎㅎㅎ (a sort of hehehe in Korean ^^))

My apartment is pretty decently sized, for what I generally hear of Korean apartments (I've only been in 1 so far) - and has 6 sisters living in it :) kind of cramped, but I actually really enjoy being around/getting to know more people :)

I think things are generally pretty cheap - I've only bought food so far, and a couple language books, but clothes (from what I've seen - people are selling stuff all over the place, it's kind of like a reeeeeally big street fair, in a way) look like they’re pretty cheap! But shopping later, we have work to do!

We have seen so many miracles! I’ve only been here a week! One: that I can say/understand so much. A long way to go, but it's amazing. And I really couldn't ask for a better ward, companion, etc. (Previously listed in a non-exhaustive list). And I've started talking to a bunch a super friendly people, and quite a few who are interested - whether it be about the gospel, or about how our church is different, or just why I'm learning Korean/here in Korea - it's so FUN to tell people that I've only been here for a few days! hehe, and they always tell you how good your Korean is.) And we had one lady come up to us on the subway, and we (Sister Gardiner, mostly) talked with her for a long time - she asked questions we hope people ask - how is your church different, about commandments, why there are so many churches, eternal family, etc. :) It really was a miracle. And I've run into so many people who speak English, and who not only speak, but who want to talk to us, as people and a little about religion.) And then I've met one of our investigators, who is great. She came to church this week (in time to see me 인사 - introduce myself at the ward - quite the adventure, more about the ward later) - in a SKIRT! haha, Sister Gardiner was so happy about that, I guess she's come plenty in pants, which is great, but she wanted to wear a skirt this time! hehehe :) And a less active member came to church as well - (I'm not sure how much to use names, and I'm awful at remembering them anyway).  She's a middle school student, who's pretty good at English (everybody here learns, but some are definitely better than others) and we talked for a good 45 minutes after church :) Mostly getting to know her, which then reverted into helping me with Korean :) She's so great!

The Ward is wonderful too. Great bishop, Great friendly people - I don't think there was a single person who didn't come up to me after Relief Society. I gave a short testimony in Relief Society, a prayer in gospel doctrine, and an introduction in sacrament meeting. WOOT! And a lot of the older women were helping me as I was speaking in front of the congregation, finishing my sentences and everything :) hehe. They're wonderful! And I guess we have a meal after church every week, but we didn't this week, since it's Fast Sunday, but I'm excited!

Whew. Just a couple adventures. I understand now why people's emails are so long. Sorry to make you read it all. BUT! There's so much to say! hehehehe I LOVE KOREA! AND KOREANS! AND BEING A MISSIONARY! Lots to learn, lots to do! YEAH!
I hope I answered all of your questions too! If I didn't let me know! You know how I like talking, especially when I'm ridiculously happy!
LOVE! 사랑해요!
Sister Thomas
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