Monday, September 29, 2014

Never thought I'd help at a traditional African wedding~

Maybe I'll just start at "Sunday" this week, because that's what I remember best! 
Well, J___, who will be baptized this week (the member's joke about her as "the third missionary" because she's our age and is always with us at church and activities :)), and M___, who is Korean but speaks English super well (we had a good lesson on Saturday with her and R___, a brother who has recently found Christ and the Spirit again, they're good friends from family home evening (magic happens there!).  She seems to understand the Spirit a little better, which is a step up; she doesn't have much of a concept of God and is a little skeptical, though wants to know at the same time, anyway), and ___, a sister who the Pihl's met at the army base (she's been watching the missionaries come in and out for about three years, and a couple weeks ago met them on the train and told them she wanted to come to church, brought her sister last week and husband this week (though unfortunately, neither of the speak English, so it's a little hard for them at the English branch...) -- all three of them came to church this week! (How's that for a run on sentence! I've discovered I'm a very circular talker.  I start in one place, get off subject explaining, add in a couple of opinions, and then bring it full circle to the original point. I've met a couple more circular talkers like me here :) though unfortunately, circle talkers like us require a lot of time...)
And then we went to the post service on Camp Casey, a short sacrament meeting for soldiers who can't get off to base to come to the full meeting (usually they keep them on the base for a while so they don't run off and get in trouble in the "ville" or other sketchy places that I've never been nor want to go...), where S___ didn't come (pout. She promise for like, the past three months :() and spaghetti dinner after! We do that every Sunday now, the B___ family heads it up, Sister B___, wearing her tiara and blue mascara and apron, cooks all the soldiers spaghetti and "rollsticks", and the kids decorate a surprise dessert for us and make everyone eat it before the spaghetti's done :) (a real blessing, because without spaghetti dinner, it's really hard for us to eat on Sunday, since we are about an hour away from our area~). We had a great lesson with J___ and Sister B___  about the gospel of Jesus Christ~ I'm so thankful for the "perfect brightness of hope" in the gospel.
Also, A___ was baptized either yesterday or today! Hehe, I'm not exactly sure :) She's a very special person that most people don't really understand. Originally a kind of smart, mean, funny shell about her personality, but a very hesitantly, drivenly, sincere and deep inside. She's one not to put in a box. We've all been working with her for months; she doesn't want formal lessons, but through her own personal study, and finally fasting, she went from no concept of God to, finally, baptism. But technically, it's a secret - she and the Pihls went all the way out to the coast to be baptized in the sea. It is a very special, private event for her. I'm so happy. She's one who will stick it out till the end~ It's amazing to see the change the Spirit has worked in her over the past few months~
And then we headed over to S___'s house to help her out with her wedding! It was really interesting being in the middle of it; it was a little hard because we were needed to help things run semi-smoothly and keep things under control, but we were never briefed on how things were going to play out~ but anyway! After a lot of stress with late photographers and dresses and bridesmaids that didn't show up and such (African timing is significantly later than normal; if they say they'll be there in # minutes, times it by 2 and add 5 more minutes :)), we got there! I don't have my cord for you today, but I wish you could see the costumes - Bright, colorful dresses, matching man's clothes, head wraps, etc - maybe google "Nigerian wedding clothes"? Friends kept throwing money at them, and there's a special ceremony with a kola nut, and a cup (a little drama in the back room, "no, we CAN'T use wine! We don't drink!!! Go S___! ) They came in dancing and we were prepped for costume changes. Lots of members from the ward came. We saw a lot of S___'s friend that we've either taught a little or asked to teach them, it was great.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

It's Been a Good Week

It's been a good week!
I'm learning to delegate all over again - That is one lesson that, unfortunately, I feel like I have to learn again every situation .  Hopefully, one day it'll be natural :)  But companionship is less stressful, misunderstood, or polar. Hooray!
So we have quite a happy story for this week! C___, from China, married for a year to a soldier (one of the mushiest couples~ they're adorable :) ), her family has started joining the church over the course of a few years.  She joined with her aunt, uncle and cousin eight years ago, and has been praying for her parents ever since. Her mother joined a year ago before she was married, and her grandparents, staunch Buddhists, joined a few weeks ago, and her father, around the same time, decided to be baptized as well.  So he and his wife came to Korea for a couple weeks so that Brother S___ could baptize him. So we met him on Friday, taught for four hours, Sister S___ translating into Chinese, and then Saturday morning, too; interview (our zone leader speaks Chinese!), and then baptism on Sunday! Wow! But it was beautiful to see this family come together!
An even more beautiful element; our companion, Sister L___, has a similar situation - she and her sister joined the church over eight years ago; she's been praying for her parents.  Her mother was baptized a few weeks ago - her father is still against it, but so was Brother L___. There is hope :) The Lord is good, and it's beautiful to see these things fall into place :)
Unfortunately, Sister Lee will probably be going home for a bit,  She got her letter from the Birmingham mission, and things are turning out a lot more expensive than she expected -- a LOT. So she's going home to talk about it with her parents, but will probably still be spending lots of time with us. If you can keep her in her prayers, that would be great! 
Lots of other great things, but I'm running out of time.  J___ felt the Spirit at the baptism, and is so excited for hers in a month! We met a family with four kids last night (the girls love us, and know a recent convert, M___!).  We heard back from an investigator that's been out of contact for more than a month and a half,  and all kinds of other goodness and fun-ness. And my wallet was found! In Bosan! A miracle in and of itself :) 
Well, lots of love, I need to email Lauren a little!
Have a lovely week!
Sister Thomas the Elder!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Come unto Christ~

We've spent a lot of time this week saying good bye to people with Sister F____, trying to help Sister L____become oriented to missionary work among all the craziness of appointments and cancellations. My new companion, Sister T____, is from New Zealand, has been in this country about as long as I have, and I think it'll  be good and it'll be fun. It's a weird transition from Korea to America, and there have been some bumps in the threesome, but it should work out alright.
There really isn't a lot to report this week investigator-wise, between traveling hours to meal appointments with members, introducing to members, last-minute appointment cancellations, and a mission conference, and now a day of cleaning, there hasn't been a lot of other stuff going on~
But I do want to share a little expeirence with prayer yesterday - After church, we had a half appointment (made, but not confirmed) with an investigator, who has a history of standing us up over the past few weeks, so we really needed to confirm with her so that, if not, we could go to the bishops house for dinner about two hours away~ she wouldn't answer her phone, and wasn't home - So we prayed to find her, opened our eyes, and hear "hello!". It was another investigator, M____ , off to a wedding with her friend. Kind of fun :) We talked to her for a bit, then went to the investigator's house again - and saw her daughter running down an alley. And so we met H____! And guess what - she cancelled our appointment (we're worried about her!). So we went to the bishop's house. So just a little expeirence to express that Heavenly Father truly does answer the little prayers, especially to forward His work!
This email feels really empty this week, but hopefully this will share a little bit more Spirit~ 
It's a beautiful depiction of the reality of the Atonement in lives. it's Youth'y, but I love it :)
Love you all, and hope you have a beautiful week!
Sister Thomas the Elderrrr

Monday, September 1, 2014

Another week of adventures!!

Yep, it's another week of adventures! 
New companion! Sister C L, a resident of U___ (yes, the ward I'm serving in!) Super funny, cute, and about as Korean as you get :) She's doing a great job learning English for day five - but there are a lot of things to teach, and absolutely no time to do it! (technically, we're not training her, so we don't have an extra hour to go over the missionary basics...) We've had lots of fun adventures~ her mother received the gift of the Holy Ghost, we found a less active member on the street, and taught the P___'s (missionary couple) neighbor (a beautiful lesson full of the spirit, Sister P___ understands the gospel so well, and the potential it holds for people as they work to just make life better and humbly accept the Lord's guidance~ I've learned a lot from her), had all kinds of appointments cancel, horribly stressful three-hour weekly planning, transfer calls~ Sister F____ is leaving :(, a pizza lunch with a member back home from school in Hawaii with all the missionaries, a lesson with a Chinese sister who introduced her Korean friend to us where everyone was translating for each other the whole time, meeting with J____teaching about the restoration and law of chastity - she's getting married! It's amazing how miracles, "coincidences", are happening in her life! Don't you love the guidance of the Spirit?
Well, everyone's waiting for me. I'll probably split right now. Game time!
Love you all!
Sister Thomas the Elderrr