I trust that everyone had a great thanksgiving and is enjoying the start of December! I sometimes almost forget that it is the winter time here and that it is already December. While I am sure that there are Christmas decorations being put up and Christmas songs starting on the radio, here in Korea, except for the occasional culture question in english class, if you are not careful you might not even notice what time of the year it is!
Even though my thanksgiving this week was not of the turkey and stuffy variety it turned out to be a good day nonetheless. In the morning we went to our South Busan zone meeting where we met up with all of our zone to hear talks, bear testimony, and do teaching practice. During the meeting the office elders presented a new church video that we have been asked to focus on in our proselyting efforts. I think it is called something like “He is the gift” but it focuses on the true meaning of Christmas being Jesus Christ. Our mission has even made special business cards with a QR code link to this video that we are supposed to give out and introduce as we talk with people in the holiday season. I’ll have to see how it turns out once we receive the cards, but I am excited to give it a shot! The rest of the meeting was good as well focusing on two scriptures 2 Nephi 1:21 and 23 as well as how we can help our individual wards to do better social media missionary work. Following the meeting we all went out for a lunch of 돼지 칼비 (pork rib meat, that was cooked Korean barbecue style at the table) 된장 치개 (I don’t know how to explain it really but it is like this fermented bean sauce soup) and of course all sorts of Korean 반차 (side dishes – kimchee, radish, onions, peppers, raw garlic etc). Also, the day before when I went on exchanges with Elder Pickard in 해운대 the 해운대 English class had a big potluck party which even included a pumpkin pie from Costco, so at least that part of thanksgiving was the same (but not as good as my mom’s of course). We finished the day by teaching, singing and translating “Hello” by Lionel Richie to the blind people at our pop song service activity and searching for less active members. It wasn’t a typical thanksgiving but delicious and fun all the same.
I think I may have mentioned it a little bit in my last email but we also had an interesting experience to meet and have a gospel discussion with a man that we met on the street last week. When we first talked he told us that he was a member of the 신천지 church which is a specific Korean Christian denomination. Before going to meet with him I asked elder 이홍빈 about what sort of church he was and he explained that they have some interesting beliefs including how the second coming with occur in Korea and some other things. Another interesting rumor that I heard about the 신천지 church that is kind of well known among the missionaries is a practice they have of 추수꾼 members, or as elder 이홍빈 translated it into english “harvesters.” Basically the idea is that members of this church pretend to be super golden investigators, become members of different churches, seek leadership positions, and try to destroy them from the inside. There is a story in our mission of one of these people who was baptized and then immediately started asking “how do I become a Bishop?” I dont know how much truth there is to these stories, but it made me very interested to see how our meeting was going to go. When we met him we found out that he was a 전도사 for his church meaning he is an evangelist/preacher/missionary. We met him outside of a department store on some benches in this giant underground subway station/shopping area called 서면 and even though I couldnt understand everything that was going on we actually had a really good discussion about our and his church’s beliefs and the Restoration which included him sharing many scriptures from Revelations with us. We must have looked strange sharing Bible verses in a subway station and although I highly doubt we will meet again or he will continue investigating the church, it was a good experience.
Kind of on that same vain, we got a call the other day from an atheist man from Australia Elder Luke and I met with a few transfers ago (dont remember how much I wrote about it then) named Noel who said that even though he wasnt interested when we talked last he wants to meet with the missionaries and investigate the church! He had moved so we referred him to closer missionaries and I dont know what will come of it but I think it just goes to show that even if a discussion doesnt seem like it will amount to anything there is always a chance that what you do will make more of a difference in the future.
I guess another big thing this week was that I taught the Gospel Doctrine class in our ward on Sunday! While in the past one of the members had done it, as he has been on vacation, the missionaries have been switching off doing it. I taught about keeping the sabbath day holy and included stories about regretting sleeping through Sundays before my mission and one time having to go herd cows on Sunday while in Montana because a few had gotten out. I was pretty nervous but I really prepared a lot and it actually turned out really well.
Today for P Day we returned to 이기대 which I had been to before with Elder Luke but this time all together as a district. We did a lot more extensive hiking around the area and explored all the cliffs and tide pools and bridges. I think it is really one of my favorite places I have been to in Busan and we had a great time there again today! Elder 이홍빈 and I also went shopping, ate lunch, and bought a new toaster because our last had broken.
This week I have also learned a lot and thought about how we can find peace and comfort through the gospel. A few weeks ago a member of our ward passed away from cancer (I think I wrote about attending his funeral) and ever since then his widowed wife has been having a really hard time. We were able to visit her this week and talk for a while and share a message with her that we hoped would give her some comfort. We talked about the ressurection and shared D&C 19:23 about finding peace through Jesus Christ. I have really seen through good and hard times as a missionary that if we remember prayer, scripture study, and do all we can to learn about the gospel we can find blessings through its teachings.
I hope you all have a good week!