Thursday, June 19, 2014

Richard I'm Enjoying Your Posts

And you shouldn't be the only one posting goes.

Out of expediency, I'll just post the letter that I sent Adri this week.  She asked for the content. (Yes someone did actually ask me to tell mission stories.... ?!)

Destressing the mission?  About all I have on that front is serve, do the work, cultivate the spirit, and take the time to enjoy life at the same time.  Also remember that current challenges will pass, and new blessings (and challenges) will follow.  You will have companions of all stripes as you've already figured out.

Side note: Yes, that is right, most toilets in Korea are level with the bathroom floor tile and you squat over them.  You were also expected to bring your own TP to public toilets.  It wasn't provided.  Picture of typical toilet below:
  In our apartments though we generally had western style toilets...

Many people look back on their missions and note that certain missionaries tended to get certain types of assignments.  In the first half of my mission, I was often a 'nurse'.  Many, but certainly not all, of my companions needed spiritual and or physical nursing.  In the latter part of my mission, I had a lot of greenies and sometimes had a companion with a transfer or two of experience.  I believe I had five true greenie companions straight from the MTC, and several more that had less than three months in the mission when we became companions.  Also, I was often assigned to 'dead' areas where baptisms had not been happening.  One Elder, Elder Jones, looked at me and told me exactly where I would be transferred based on his theory that this was the case.  He was right.

Speaking of Elder Jones--he was in the same house as I was in Changwon.  He and Elder Zollenger were there and Elder Crane (Greenie) and I transferred in making it a four elder area. The mission did not provide extra furniture, and Elder Z stuck to a policy of finder's keepers--they were here first so they got the wardrobes, desks, beds, mission provided bikes, and dressers.  We got an empty room.  I bought a clothesline and we stretched it all over the room to hang up our clothes. 

Elder Crane was more bothered by this than I was. It worked out okay though.  Elder Crane was a 5 foot nothing body builder.  So lifting weights was what he wanted to do on P-day.  Language was hard for him--mostly because he was self conscious... He was the one that I convinced that if he would just say the first phrase of the door approach, I'd say the rest.  

He finally got the courage to knock on a door and say when a middle aged woman answered it:  "Annyounghashimnikka?  Urinun kyowhe songyosa imnida,"  Which is:  Hello, we are missionaries from the church.  

However what came out of his mouth was a little different:  "Annyounghashimnikka?  Urinun kyowhe songyo hamnida. or "Hello, we do church sex."    The door slammed in our face and he demanded to know what I was laughing about.  For some reason it took a week to get him to try speaking in Korean again.

Anyway... something more uplifting.... Elder Jones...

My second area was in Bangojin.  One of the people we taught there was a young man in his early 20's two discussions and then he didn't show for the third.  He also didn't answer his phone or door again.  Another investigator that didn't pan out.

Over a year later, Elder Jones was transferred there.  A young man walks up to him during his first week and asks if he knows Elder Glass.  He wanted to finish the discussions and be baptized.  Said he had a testimony.  His work had changed from 10 hours a day five days a week to 14 hours a day seven days a week--so he missed his appointment with us--but as soon as he was back to shorter work days he sought the Elders out, finished being taught and was baptized.  

I had several good companions, a few absolutely great ones, and a good share of companions with difficulties.  My last senior companion was sick every day except P day and Sunday mornings.  Dragging him out of bed was often not even possible.  I studied the language and the gospel and the language--and did everything I could think of to get him out of bed.  It was his last month in the mission and he had been dead for a while.  Immediately after him, I got my first greenie to train.

As soon as Elder So got to our apartment, he called his family up and spent thirty minutes on the phone profusely apologizing for being a horrible son.  That was the beginning of an interesting two months which culminated with him locking himself in a room in the house for three days and refusing to come out unless I'd fallen asleep.  The only way I was sure he'd been out was the dirty dishes left in the kitchen sometime each night--oh and flour tracked on the floor.  

When he did leave the room finally, he disappeared from the house completely for three hours.  When he came back he demanded an instant transfer because in his view I hated him.  Explaining that this wasn't the case didn't make any difference.  He didn't get his transfer--and this was a problem with subsequent companions.  Unfortunately he ended up serving a 13 month mission.

Great companions (there were more but this is a sampling):  Elder Wright.  He was a happy go lucky Elder who enjoyed life and worked--I pushed a little bit on the work side, but not much.  He was the one who taught me to use nunchaku on Pday.  He is also the companion I caught the rat with and the one who believed that the best bug killer was spray deodorant lit on fire and used as a blow torch to kill the roaches.

Elder Perrin.  Elder Perrin was determined to learn the language and be the best missionary possible.  Learning the language was not a gift he was granted.  He worked hard, cared about investigators and missionaries, and had a strong testimony.  I once heard him give a twenty minute talk in sacrament meeting that even I as an American couldn't understand.  Yet he was one of the most effective missionaries I knew.

He worked, he loved, and he bore testimony.

More than once he taught or bore testimony of a principle and an investigator who was seeking the truth looked over at me and asked 'What did he say?'  I don't know what he said, but I know it is important.  I know it is true.'  He taught with the spirit and that spirit bore testimony of the truthfulness of his message even when those hearing didn't understand the words.  He brought the spirit that converted--all I had to add was the words that explained what we all then knew to be true.

Child baptism--and a success?  
Once Elder Jo (greenie) and I received a referral to teach an eight year old boy.  His sixteen year old brother was a member but lived in town at a boarding school.  His father had died and his mother was a Catholic.  She was not interested in hearing, but was okay with her son meeting with us.  An Yong Jin (the 8 year old) lived far from town.  We took a bus (20 minues) to a train (45 minutes to an hour) and got off at a small station on a dirt road.  We then hiked through rice paddies, over a mountain, and back down the other side.  On a dirt road there we crossed a bridge over a small river.  There was a young kid playing on the bridge and we asked him if he knew Yong Jin.  He hesitated as if he was trying to think of who that was and then said yes.

'Have you seen him lately?'


Do you know where he lives?

He pointed to a grass roofed hut a little way up the foot of the next mountain.

We walked there.  It was a small house maybe 12x12 feet total with one lightbulb hanging down from the ceiling.  His mother welcomed us and called for her son.  He didn't come and we talked for a while.  Finally she apologized for his absence and promised he would be there next time.  On the way home we talked to the kid on the bridge again.

Next week at the same time we went to his house again.  Do you know who answered the door?  The kid on the bridge!  It was Yong Jin the whole time.  He showed up for the rest of our appointments--listened and understood, but I don't think he understood what we were required to teach about the law of chastity--he was a little young for that.  Yong Jin was scheduled to be baptized and I expressed my concern about his ability to remain active.  The mission president responded:  "I was eight when I was baptized." 

Okay then.

Twice a week Yong Jin made the hour and a half to two hour journey to go to church--both on Sundays and Weds--all by himself.  His older brother hadn't wanted to perform the baptism because he didn't feel worthy.  I told him to go to the bishop and get worthy.  His brother needed him to baptize him.  He did and the baptism happened.

Eleven years later I was back in Korea and in the temple.  The older brother was one of the officiators!  He took me aside and reintroduced himself.  He then told me Yong Jin had just left on a mission.  Just after being set apart and before leaving he had the opportunity to baptize his mother!  The family was going to be sealed in a few months--the temple was in Yong Jin's mission.

In another area, my companion and I went home for lunch.  Didn't usually happen.  The phone rang and I answered it.  A man in his early thirties was on the phone and explaining that he was searching for the truth.  When could we meet?  

We went to his school where he was a graduate student and met in an unused room.  He wanted to explain to us what his search was about before we started. 

He explained that his mother had always wanted him to be a Buddhist monk. He had gone to live in a monastery and be trained.  After some time he was taken through an initiation ceremony.  He explained that this was a secret ceremony and not known to the general public.  It was during this ceremony that he felt strongly that this was wrong--something was missing.

He explained he had been required to promise not to reveal the details of this ceremony but felt that we needed to know in order to understand why he left.  He proceeded to outline a ritual with such striking resemblance to the endowment that we told him we understood his reasons for his search and encouraged him to keep his promises about not revealing the ceremony's details.

We taught him about Joseph Smith's search for the truth and it was quickly evident that he felt the truthfulness of our words as borne witness to by the Holy Ghost.  After well over an hour of talking, he knew and told us he knew he had found what he was searching for.  However he concluded that of all things he could not do to his family---one of them was becoming a Mormon.  He didn't feel he could disappoint his mother this way.  He could become a christian, but a Mormon christian he feared was more than she could bear.  We never met him again.

One final story.  Or a pair of them.  or maybe three.  First area.  

Elder Jensen and I were working hard.  We had been asked to pray that investigators would find us.  So we did.  And they did.

A man walked up to us and asked if we were missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  He was looking for the true church and knew he needed to be baptized.  Two weeks later he was.

We taught a father who was Buddhist in tradition and agnostic in belief.  His wife was Presbyterian.  She was so excited that he was interested in our message about Christ that she wouldn't come into the room so as not to scare him off.  She 'did dishes' in the kitchen while listening intently and flashing us big smiles while her husband's back was turned.  When we talked to her alone she expressed her joy that he was accepting the gospel.  

After several meetings they stopped answering the door and our phone calls.

A few days later a knock came at our door.  A six foot tall skinny Korean Presbyterian minister simply walked into our house without an invitation as soon as we opened the door.  He began accusing us of teaching lies and leading people to hell.  It turned out that the mother had gone to her minister with the good news and he told her to change course immediately.  

The minister would not leave nor have a civil discussion until E. Jensen and I literally stood up on either side of him and 'helped' him up.  We then walked out the door with him between us, locked it, explained we had work to do, and told him goodbye while walking away.

Later E. Jensen was batting at a baseball pitching machine while I stood nearby and tried to talk to the crowd gathered to watch him.  (Not an effective proselyting method.)  The preacher showed up and effectively turned the crowd into a group of very angry individuals.  We were trapped between them and the fence and things were not looking pretty.  Additionally the preacher was using vocabulary we didn't know and speaking quickly so we couldn't tell what he was saying well enough to answer anything.

After a short while a very short lady in her 60's made her way to the front of the crowd and faced the preacher.  She spoke slowly and plainly:  "I know these two young men.  (We had never met her.  Perhaps another set of missionaries?)  I'm not of their church.  I'm Catholic.  But I tell you they are good men and teach nothing but the gospel of Christ."  

She paused and looked up into his eyes.  

"You are not concerned about that family going to hell like you say.  That lady was making contributions to your collection plate.  That's what you'll miss.  That's all you care about."

He stopped talking. Shook his head and walked away.  The crowd dispersed.  We never did find the lady.

Finally same area:

We were knocking doors in an apartment building and a young man (19) answered.  He was interested, and accepted a Book of Mormon making a second appointment too.  The next time we visited he had been drafted and was in the army.  But his sixteen year old brother was there and had read the whole book!

We taught him.  The next discussion he invited two friends to listen too.  Before he was baptized he had referred around ten friends many of whom were progressing.  He had asked for permission in helping to teach them--which he did well.  A month after we met him he had the priesthood and baptized two of his friends.  Other had been baptized as well from his efforts.

The work is worth it.  At times it is just enduring through trials and obeying.  At times you spend us much effort trying to help other missionaries as doing the work of taking the gospel to those who don't yet have it--but your fellow missionaries are Heavenly Father's children too.  Just like investigators, unfortunately not all of them choose to endure to the end.  But many do.

love you,  


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