Anyeong Ha Shim Ni Ga, Euro Boon!
It seems crazy that another week has gone by so quickly here at the MTC but everything is really moving forward! Tomorrow, (Friday the 11th) marks the official halfway point for me in the MTC. So far we’ve spent a month here preparing to go out to hang-guk and only have one more month left before we board our plane! In many ways I feel like it is crazy how much I’ve learned and grown here in this past month, but, at the same time, feel like I have so much farther to go before I can function as I really hope I will be able to.
One thing that is a major confidence boost with this is my ability to talk about the gospel and teach lessons in Korean. Elder Kunde and I can teach the first 3 discussions in preach my gospel pretty well and answer/ask good questions. It is really nice to know that when I get there, if I had to teach about the restoration right off the plane, I think I could do it, albeit simply. Talking to teachers and older MTC missionaries they all say that by the time we leave the MTC we will be able to teach lessons, talk about the gospel, and read from the scriptures pretty well. I think this will be amazing, but there is still so much to know. I find it strange that although I can teach that Heavenly Father has a plan for us to return to live with him, if someone asks me if I like to play soccer, or what my hobbies are, I have no idea what they’re saying. I think that although the MTC will prepare me a lot with the language and spiritually, it will really take arriving in Busan to actually learn how to function. The goal is to just be as prepared for that as possible!
This week was really good and unique in that we celebrated the 4th of July here at the MTC! It was actually a really nice change of pace and a probably the most unique 4th of July I’ve had. I’ll never have another 4th of July at the MTC as a missionary again, which is cool I suppose. We had a pretty normal day with class and lessons and such and then in the evening had a special 4th of July devotional. We heard several special musical numbers, listened to a talk about how we can find freedom not only politically through America but spiritually through Christ (sounds very MTC huh?), watched 17 miracles, and then watched the fireworks from the stadium of fire from the temple grounds. I’ll be honest it wasn’t the same as sitting on the rocks at the Kirkland marina or watching from a hay field while working in Montana, but standing out watching the fireworks with the guys was definitely a memory I will cherish. As a missionary, sometimes the little things really make a big difference.
Another fun thing I got to do this week was be involved with hosting the incoming missionaries yesterday (Wednesday the 9th). 664 new missionaries came into the MTC. It was kind of weird to remember that first day that I came with Justin and Joseph and saying goodbye to Mom Dad and Laur at the airport and think, wow, I’ve been here for 4 weeks. Im one of the old missionaries now. I worked traffic and directed all the cars coming in and dropping people off. I got to wear a orange vest and use a walkie talkie, I know pretty legit. It was sad to see families saying their goodbyes and more than a few times I had to remind some crying moms that we had to keep the lines moving. Even though it was hot and nostalgic, it was a great change and felt good to help our the newest batch of missionaries.
Lessons in hang gu mar are moving forward and I can really feel my language learning speeding up. As we get better at understanding the basics of the language, learning new grammar forms and conjugations simply involves changing the ends of the verbs, which is really nice. It takes a lot of diligence and hard work to memorize as much grammar and vocabulary as I can but it really is coming. This week I’ve come to know conjugations like through, when, if, and because. This has helped with lessons immensely. I can now make phrases like, when he prayer, Joseph Smith restored the church. Or, If you ask God, he will give you an answer. Or, through Jesus Christ’s atonement, we can live with God again. I really believe that these simple truths are powerful and help with teaching a lot.
I really like a learn a lot from our Korean teachers Brother Gunnel and Brother Scoville (we call him Bro-ville). They are both returned missionaries and BYU students. It is comforting to hear about their missions and see just how much Korean they were able to learn over their own 2 years. Even though they only speak Korean to us, we can understand more and more of what they say to us everyday. Brother Scoville even told us that his roomates all complain because he speaks in Korean in his sleep. As a sleep talker myself, i’m kind of excited haha.
Elder Kunde and I have been teaching really good lessons this week and have seen a lot of progression in our investigators hwang hyeong je nim and Kim hyeong je nim. We taught a really great lesson to kim hyeong je nim about baptism and were able to invite him to do this and address a lot of his questions and concerns. It really is powerful to teach our investigators and the spirit is really strong.
Elder Kunde and I had an especially great experience in teaching last night. We were told that we were going to teach a less active member who recently returned from his 2 year mandatory Korean military service. Elder Kunde and I prepared a lesson about his feelings on the church, faith, and prayer, and planned to talk about Joseph Smith. However, 5 minutes before we went in, we were told that plans had changed and we were going to help him live the word of wisdom. Never having taught this before, we didn’t really know what to do, especially because we knew how to say none of the vocabulary in hang gu mar. All we had time to do was find some scriptures, write down some vocab words, and grab a pamphlet. We went in and he expressed to us that he wanted to serve a mission but had trouble quitting smoking. We were able to share some scriptures about obedience and told him that if he tried to quit that Heavenly Father would help him. However, as we taught I felt like we weren’t getting through and that he wanted some more advice. Towards the end of our lesson we suddenly felt prompted that we should offer him a blessing (which we said we would give later). He accepted this and was grateful. I really think that this was the help he needed and it was amazing to find that not only can we teach the word of wisdom on the fly, but that the spirit will help us to tell him the things he needs. Experiences like that show that missionaries really are blessed.
On Tuesday we had the opportunity to be addressed by Elder Neil A. Anderson of the quorum of the 12 apostles who talked about “Things that Are not Seen.” He taught that the unseen things are often eternal where as the things we see are often temporal. He talked all about the spirit, how we can recognize it, and how important it is that we have it to be with us in our lives and lessons as missionaries. I’ve probably already talked about the spirit in my emails, sorry, but, I really see this every day. It was powerful not only to hear from Elder Anderson, but to discuss this in our district devotional review afterwards. I can honestly feel the spirit so much here and have really come to see that it is how you feel that is more important than how you think. The only way to become converted to the gospel is through the Holy Ghost, no matter how good a lesson is, or how much logical sense it makes.
I’m grateful for the lessons that I learn here at the MTC and the spirit I feel. I feel so surrounded by truth and am constantly reminded that I have a loving heavenly father who not only cares for me, but all of his children. Wish me luck as I go forward and know that I think, pray, and care about all of you.
Resu Jang No