I’ll be honest it has been one of the harder weeks of my mission so far this week but things are already really starting to fall into place!
I think the hardest part of everything has been adjusting to having a new companion, especially one from a different country speaking a different language! Despite a few really long feeling planning sessions and relatively quiet days I think things have really started to fall into a good rhythm with working with Elder 이홍빈 (Lee Hong Bin pronounced E-Hong-been – Hong Bin Lee). Elder 이홍빈 is from Seoul and has been out on his mission for about a year and 8 months. He has served in every zone in the mission as well. He is the oldest in his family with two younger sisters and went to college in Seoul before his mission studying Traditional Korean Medicine. It has been really good to work together because he is a well experienced missionary but of course, the adjustment has not been without it’s challenges. I think one of the hardest things is simply adjusting to working with someone who isnt Elder Luke. There are little things that Elder Luke and I were used to doing that I simply took as standard whereas other missionaries do things differently, not necessarily . Small things like buying food and cooking separately rather than together or deciding what to do on P-days just vary from missionary to missionary. Things have been pretty seemless in regard to me being able to show Elder 이홍빈 around our area and explaining investigators and members in that I feel like I have a pretty good grasp on where things are/who people are and we have good maps and records at our house. Probably the hardest things is being able to communicate effectively with eachother. Me not really being able to speak english is really a blessing and a curse. Right now it kind of felt more like a curse but I can already feel myself learning SO much. I never really realized just how much english Elder Luke and I spoke english until now. Elder 이홍빈 actually knows a lot of english vocabulary from learning english in school but his speaking and grammar are just really slow. It actually works out pretty well in that I can usually understand the jist of what he is saying from the grammar, but if I dont know a specific word he usually knows it in english so we dont have to work at translating the whole sentence. In many ways it is super nice to be working with a Korean early on because I can learn so much. If either of us have a question about how to say something in the other’s language we can trust that how they phrase it is natural and that the pronounciation is right. I am sure that over the next few weeks things will slowly get easier and easier as well. It has also been interesting trying to make sure I understand everything. Sometimes a member or investigators will tell us something that I simply dont understand and even though Elder 이홍빈 cant really translate on the spot like elder Luke could, when I bring it up later we can slowly make sure we’re both on the same page. I think that is the main difference in working with Elder 이홍빈- we can do misionarywork well and communicate with eachother, but it just takes more time to make sure everything is all good.
Other than the new companion things have been pretty normal in terms of missionary work this week. Our area is still pretty slow in that we are down to one investigator (who we have taught all the lessons too), which of course means lots of finding. It can be pretty draining to work all day trying to talk to people and not having much success on top of getting used to a new companion but it is just all part of being a missionary right? 정대영 형재님 is still in the same situation with his parents and we’re still working with him and our ward mission leader to see if there is anything we can do but in the meantime we are reviewing parts of the lessons, reading the Book of Mormon with him, and basically trying to help him be the most baptism ready investigator ever.
Other things these week were of course english class and our pop song service activity as well as helping the other missionaries in our district in setting up and executing a huge halloween party in 해운대 and attending a funeral for one of the members in our ward. The Halloween party actually turned out super good with sweet decorations, bowling, bean bag tosses, a lazer maze (made of string), face painting, a pinata, eating food on a string, jeopardy, and of course a spiritual message. I think in the US it would really be something more handled by the ward but in Korea it was assigned to and executed by the missionaries. Even though it wasnt in of our area we were able to help our a lot with the party and lots of people turned up and really enjoyed it. On a more sad note one of the members of our ward 이복일 형재님, who has been in the hospital with stomach cancer passed away this last week and it has been a pretty major event in the ward. I was actually able to meet with him and his wife once for dinner with elder Luke before he got sick and we visited him the hospital to give him a blessing a few weeks ago as well. Yesterday and today there have been several services for him including a memorial service, an encoffening service, and a cremation service at a cemetery. It was actually a really big honor because my companion and I were asked to be two of the pall bearers (is that what it’s called? – the casket carriers) at the services today. Although I didnt understand all of what was happening there was lots of traditional korean food and ceremonies as well as church hymns and prayers offered by our ward and stake leaders. I really realized how blessed I have been to not have attending many funerals before this and also realize the blessing of understanding the plan of salvation within our church.
To make a long story short this week has been a little bit hard but things carry on and I have learned so much about what it means to be patient. Working with a new companion and coming on a mission have really taught me a lot about how important it is to be patient with yourself, others, and trust in the Lord’s timing. I see that in all phases of missionary work – the language, investigators, companions, and everything along with it. I think that is an important lesson for everyone with work and school and family and everything we have to do. If things arent going the way we want or things are hard all we have to do is do our best and then endure and looking back, it will be for our benefit. The whole point of us coming to earth was to learn and grow and experience things right? (oh, and get a body too).
Well I hope all goes well and you have a great week! Know that all is well in Korea and the work goes forward! Take care and remember you are in my prayers!