I guess I will get straight to the big news: I have been transferred! I am now serving in 해운대 (Haeundae) with Elder 김인수 (Kim Insu or Insu Kim). I guess the other big part of the transfer is that I am part of the zone leader team. Because I am still a young missionary I am an assistant zone leader to Elder 김인수 but am still involved with all the activities and decisions of a zone leader. I have to say that this is a transfer that I definetly did not expect but am super pleased with my new area, companion, and calling.
I think it is super rare but 해운대, my new area, is actually in the same district as 광안, where I was trained. I think it is particularly funny because not only do I already know where the 해운대 house and church and other frequent spots, but because I have done several exchanges with the zone leaders over the last few transfers I actually have met several of their investigators, know some of the members, and have taught 해운대 english class. It was funny because on Friday Elder 이홍빈 and I were going to the post office to send my stuff to 해운대 when suddenly the thought came to us, why dont we just go there? I think it my have been the easiest transfer of all time, we just took my suitcases and rode the subway for about 30 minutes and we were there.
I am both super pleased with 해운대 and Elder 김인수. 해운대 is probably one of the most well known (and richest) parts of Busan and the entire Busan mission. Even more so than my last area, 광안, it abounds in giant skyscrapers, busy streets, subways, buses, and all the people and bustle that goes along with it. While 광안 had Costco and the famous Diamond Bridge and Busan Fireworks festival, 해운대 is home to the famous 해운대 beach, 장산 mountain, and Centum City, a super new glitzy part of town with BEXCO (a giant convention center), two famous skyscrapers called the iPark and Zenith, lots of apartments, and 신세계 department store (boasted as the largest department store in the world). Talking with Korean missionaries from Seoul they even say that Centum City is more upscale than 강남 (Gangnam, the part of Seoul that that PSY Gangnam style song is about). Even though 해운대 is full of foreigners, wealth, and all around Babylon-ity there is a good ward with about 60-70 people that come on a regular basis, who are all super kind. They 해운대 missionary house is super new (they just moved to it last transfer) and is right near 장산 subway station and about a 5-10 minute walk away from the church.
I guess another new thing about serving in 해운대 is that I live in a 4 man house. 해운대 has two teams of elders (the zone leader A team, and Elder B team) and one team of sisters who serve in both 해운대 and 광안. The B team is two more Korean elders, Elder 김현모 (Kim Hyeonmo or Hyeonmo Kim) and Elder 박강산 (Bak Gangsan or Gangsan Bak). I think it will be a bit of an adjustment getting used to serving with a B team, and living in a house with 3 other Koreans, but I am super excited. They all speak good english but I am sure I will have plenty of opporunities for my Korean to improve. Elder 김현모 just finished being trained and attended BYU Idaho before his mission and Elder 박강산 just finished training and attended BYU Hawaii before his mission. I have only served with my companion Elder 김인수 for a few hours so far but I can already tell that he is amazing. He is 23 and before his mission attended BYU Provo for 2 years after which he also did his 2 years of mandatory Korean military service. He speaks almost flawless English, has served as a district leader, zone leader here in 해운대 for one transfer so far, and also trained another missionary at the same time I was trained by Elder Luke. I can already tell he is an amazing missionary, my guess is he will become AP soon as well!
Although I still have a lot to learn about my new area and to be honest it is all a little bit overwhelming at the moment it seems like we will be quite busy. Along with our district meeting and twice weekly english class we have a service project on Tuesdays serving food to the homeless, have zone leader responsibilities including SPM (a meeting with the stake president where we present information we gather about all of our zone’s missionary’s investigators, recent converts, wards, and areas) MLCM (Mission Leadership Council Meeting – a meeting with President Barrow, the AP’s, zone leaders, and Sister Training Leaders) and other Zone meetings/Zone Conferences we plan, and about 4 solid progressing investigators and a few others. Next week we also have a big mission Christmas meeting and a ward Christmas meeting we have to plan for. I dont exactly know what it will mean to be an assistant leader,but from what I understand from Elder 김인수 and President Barrow I am involved with all the activities of a zone leader, hear all of the information, and discuss things with Elder 김인수, but Elder 김인수 will make the final decisions. I see it as a really great opportunity to lear about mission leadership and all that I can from Elder 김인수’s example. Although there is a lot to do I cant wait to really get at it an give it my all.
My last week in 광안 really turned out to be a busy and a bit of a sad one due to all of the goodbyes! I never really realized just how good my area and ward were until I have had to say goodbye to it all. Along with our normal activities we were asked to carry the casket at another funeral of a different ward’s member with some other missionaries, had our ward primary program on Sunday (which gave me lots of flashbacks to being in primary in my home ward and was totally adorable), taught a really good lesson with 정대영 형재님 who also introduced us to his younger brother who the 광안 elders are going to meet with, and had my last english class and pop song service activity. Saying goodbye to all of the ward members was really hard and they even had us over for a big meal/party at one of their houses on Sunday evening and gave me a big paper that all of the ward members signed/wrote their thank you’s on. Although the area had it’s fast and slow times and easy and hard times I honestly will miss 광안 and am excited I am not too far away.
Well I am writing a monster email it seems but one last request is that you search out the Church’s recently made He is The Gift christmas video. Our mission and I think all of the missions in the world have really been focused on sharing this video with members, investigators, and everyone on the street. It really reminds me of the true meaning of Christmas and how much of a gift Jesus Christ and his atonement to us all. I know that he lives, he loves us, and through his atonement we can become clean and return to our heavenly father!