This week, and especially yesterday has been a pretty amazing week full of 떡국 (rice cake soup, a traditional Korean New years food), meetings, and miracles here in 해운대 with Elder 김인수.
I guess one of the big things of the week has been the new year! Happy new years to everyone! In Korea they celebrate both the lunar and the solar new year and even though this week was the solar new year and not the lunar new year (which is the biggest holiday in Korea) it surprised me just how much hype there was around it. A really popular thing to do is to go see the first sunrise of the new year and although missionaries often get to do this along with their ward during activities, because our ward didn’t have that kind of activity sadly we weren’t able to. The night before we taught English class and talked all about the holiday, making goals and new years resolutions, and then the next day, on new years day, visited one of the members in our ward, sister 이정희 (the stake relief society president), with the B team and the sisters ate 떡국 and had a really good time.
Other than that and some thinking about my resolutions for the new year things most of the week this week have just been full of lots of zone leader responsibilities and preparation. However, this weekend, especially yesterday on Sunday, we were able to work really hard and see some pretty amazing things. One of the big things for the week was our SPM (stake presidency meeting) on Sunday which we had to do lots of preparation for. Luckily Elder Kim is Korean and can type super fast, but we had to call every team in our zone, collect information about their progressing investigators, recent converts, ward mission leaders/member coordination meeting, ward missionary meetings, English classes, and suggestions for the stake presidency, type it all up in a big report, and then present it at a meeting on Sunday with the Stake presidency, president Barrow and the AP’s, and the Busan Zone Leaders (we are South Busan). I have to say that it wasn’t particularly difficult but just took a lot of time. The hardest part was just to understand all the people that the missionaries in our zone are working with at a deep enough level to answer any questions the stake or mission president have for us. It is also surprising to me just how much paper work missionaries have to deal with.
Along with SPM preparation this week, on Friday we had our MLCM (Missionary leadership council meeting) which we attended at the mission home in 온천 Ward. All of the zone leaders, sister training leaders, the AP’s, and president and sister barrow met together, we had our council meeting full of talks, teaching practices, and discussion of the mission, ate more 떡국, and watched Meet the Mormons (a pre release before it is released in Korea). This week we have our zone meeting on Tuesday where we as zone leaders meet and refer a lot of the information from MLCM to our zone. So last week was also full of thinking about what we want to teach, making assignments, and preparing our talks that we will give tomorrow. Also on Friday and Saturday Elder Flint the foreigner AP came on exchanges with us which was really fun and a good learning experience as well.
Even though the week included a lot of missionary leadership responsibilities, we were still about to meet a lot of our investigators and see a lot of progress,especially with one of our investigators 박지훈 형재님. 박지훈 형재님 is a 17 old high school student that Elder 김인수 and Elder Himmer met on the subway last transfer. Ill be honest he is probably the most prepared/interested/golden investigator that I have met in Korea. He is really busy with high school (which is super crazy hard in Korea) and studying science, but has kept all of our commitments super well, is super interested in the gospel, kind of quiet, but really honest and smart. We met him once during the week while on exchanges with Elder Flint where we invited him the church this Sunday. He came to church for his first time, stayed for all three hours, we taught a super amazing member present lesson with him, and extended the baptismal invitation which he excepted and is preparing for the end of the month! I will just be honest in that last sentence, pretty much any one of those things would have been a miracle from the missionary work I have seen/done so far in Korea and all of them happened. I was pretty nervous about Sunday’s lesson for a few reasons, a few being that Elder 김인수 expressed that he felt it would be best if I lead the lesson, it was 박지훈 형재님’s first time at church, it was our first time teaching a member present lesson with him (which I will be honest member present lessons from my experience can either be really good or really not so good), and we were extending a pretty big invitation. Despite these things it being fast Sunday, I prayed super hard, fasted, and everything went seamlessly. It was a really testimony to me of the importance of missionary work and the power of prayer and fasting.
But wait! The miracles don’t stop there! Directly after church we went to SPM in 온천 which went well and then got a ride back to 해운대 with president Barrow and his family who was attending a ward fireside we had planned that night. We and especially the B team had put in a lot of effort during the week to plan a New Years/family centered fireside, make all the assignments, prepare our own portion, and invite everyone that we could. The fireside turned out super amazing. It included an adorable musical number of God Gave Us Families by the primary, an activity of writing down our new years goals. a few testimonies about families from ward members, another violin and flute musical number of I Stand All Amazed, a skit that we missionaries did of an example good family meal and a bad family meal environment (i.e. arguing, texting, not praying etc.), a couple Mormon messages, talks from our bishop and President Barrow, and then a meal all together of, yep, you guessed it,떡국 . I don’t know how but the meeting turned out both super spiritual and super funny. Not only was the meeting super amazing, but also the meeting was really well attended with several Haeundae Ward less actives and 2 recent converts, one of the sister’s investigators, and possibly one of the biggest things of all, a non member family referral from the Bishop’s wife. Elder Kim Insu and I are already in touch with the family, they show strong interest in the gospel, and the bishops family is super excited and involved with it all. It has taken a lot of work from Elder Kim Insu and I, and Elder Kim Insu and Elder Himmer before me as well, to serve and earn the trust of the members in order to get to this point. After the nonmember family left the Bishop’s wife even told us that she has wanted to refer this family for a long time and has been waiting for the right missionaries to come to the ward to refer them. I really see a lot of potential not only in the (RARE) opportunity to teach a referral (and a family referral no less) but to be able to get more referrals from the ward if this goes well. I am really excited to see where these progressions will take us and also really think that there is a lot of potential for Elder Kim Insu and I here in Haeundae.
This email is a monster but I really feel extremely blessed and thankful for all of the great things that have come to me this week and throughout my mission. I have really seen so many miracles this week and am looking forward to more to come. Have a great week and know that everything is really great in Busan Korea!