Everything continues to go well here in 광안! I guess the big news is that there was a huge rainstorm here in Busan this past week that has been causing all kinds of craziness. It was actually last Monday during P day so luckily my companion and I were at our apartment napping, but it just started pouring rain and there was tons of thunder and lightning. I didnt think much of it but later on I heard that there was lots of flooding all around the city and there was a lot of damages. Some of the subway tunnels started to fill up with water, I think a bus was knocked over, and a lot of houses were damaged. Things in 광안 are mostly on hills so not much happened but in another part of the city right near the mission headquarters, a mother and daughter were killed in their car when they tried to drive into a tunnel filled with water. Needless to say, there has been a lot of rain here.
Because of this, later in the week on Friday, our zone (South Busan) and the Busan zone met together at a park and were able to do service by cleaning up damages from the storm. There were about 40 missionaries, the AP’s, the office elders, the senior couple, and president barrow and his wife who attended. We got to wear these legit flourescent yellow Mormon helping hands relief organization vests and they armed us with rakes and tools to pick up garbage and clear away debris. The park is located along a river which flooded and knocked over lamp-posts, structures, and carred trash and destroyed building materials all over. We worked for several hours and made a lot of progress. I think we might end up in a Seoul newspaper or something too, who knows. It was great to work with the other missionaries in helping the community and help make a good name for the church here in Busan.
The other big change is that this week we had stake conference! It was interesting how similar things are actually to stake conferences back home in the united states. We met in a larger church building in another part of Busan and there were several meetings over both saturday and sunday. The speakers, which included a few missionaries, various members, the stake president (who lives in our ward) and president and sister Barrow, all addressed us and all the members in attendence. Somehow I neglected to get a translator for the meetings (probably because my companion and i misjudged the subway timing and were almost late) so to be completely honest, other than president and sister Barrow, I didnt understand a lot of what was said, but it was a powerful and uplifting meeting nonetheless. It was great to see everyone from our ward there and for the Sunday morning session we were able to bring one of our investigators, 정대영 형재님 with us as well.
On Wednesday this week I was able to go on my first companionship exchanges too! Whereas my companion is district leader, we went on exchanges with the zone leaders in 해운대. I went to 해운대 with elder 정 and elder Luke stayed here in 광안 with elder Vilchis. It was really cool to see a new area, apartment, church and teach lessons with a new companion. It was my first time serving with a Korean companion, who only spoke to me in Korean, which was definetly not easy. However, even though i didnt always understand what he said and often just replied with yes, serving with elder 정 was great. I taught english class in 해운대, did some proselyting, and met with a few of there investigators. One of their investigators was a korean accountant for a large company who had pretty great english and after I told him i was interested in accounting he told me all about his job and gave me advice. We taught him a great lesson about the Plan of Salvation. We met with another man, David, who is an American teaching english in Busan who is actually from Bothell Washington! I was able to lead the teaching a little more because we taught in english, and it was also at this point that i found out that elder 정’s english is super good! I guess he was just trying to help me improve my Korean, which I actually am super grateful for and am glad he had the patience to put up with my slow Korean.
Another exciting things is that Elder Luke and I found a new investigator this week and were able to set up to teach him lessons in the future! His name is 박신근 형재님 and he seems really interested! We met him while proselyting around a University here in Busan for our english class. We were able to talk with him and found out he is 29 and is studying english as his major but he used to be a music major for playing the French Horn. He also told us as we spoke to him that he has a member who is a member of our church and wants to learn more! He came to our english class and we were able to meet with him afterwards to explain what we do as missionaries and get to know him a little better. He was super nice and asked us great questions like “how is your church different than other churches.” He said he saw the Book of Mormon musical which he thought was really funny too… Even though i dont know how much it makes a good name for our church, it helped us find a new investigator so im not compaining! We gave him a restoration pamphlet and we meet with him again tomorrow and are hoping for the best!
Other than that things here in 광안 have been pretty normal, full of meeting with our investigators and recent converts, trying to find less actives, meeting with members, teaching english classes, and doing service (including Pop Song again – this time we learned Honesty by Billy Joel). We have a few regular progressing investigators 정대영 형재님, 윤영운 형재님, and 박재회 형재님.
정대영 형재님 is about 18 years old and has been meeting with the missionaries for a while but has amazing faith and has progressed a long way. He comes to church with us regularly, attends youth activities and seminary, and we teach him lessons about twice a week. He is a great kid and even though I can only say so much to him, I have really come to love him. He has had most of the missionary lessons, and despite being really excited and wanting to be baptized, because his parents really dont like Christian churches, they won’t allow him to be baptized until he has met with us for a year. His is so dedicated and strong through it all and I really respect him a lot for it. We hope his parents will come around and have tried to see if we can meet with them but no luck yet. We’re just trying to help him as much as we can, look for oppurtunities and hope for the best!
I dont think i have time to tell more about the others for now but we had a really funny story from meeting with 박재회 형재님 this week. He has met with the missionaries for a long time and keeps invitations but is progressing really slowly. We decided to really emphasize prayer in our lesson to him and invite him to pray better every day. After sharing some scriptures and talking I asked him, “what experienes have you had with prayer?” He shared some really long elaborate story I didnt understand but it seemed pretty positive so I was excited. It wasnt until after the lesson that I asked my companion what happened and he said that his story was about how he has a testimony of prayer because he likes to go hiking and one time he prayed to the moon and his ankles didnt hurt. My companion said he explained to him that we should only pray to God and taught further, but i definetly did not pick up on any of that. I still have some korean learning to do for sure!
As usual, I have written a novel this week, but all is going well! I have really seen that so much of the things in our lives can be related to the gospel and that the gospel can help give us guidance in our day to day lives. Whenever we talk to someone I find that there are small truths that relate to a teaching of the gospel I can bear testimony about. Looking for how things relate to the church and Christ’s tachings can help us grow our testimonies and make good decisions. Have a great week everyone!