(August 17, 2015)
Well it has been another strange week of running all around the Korea Busan Mission but I think everything is getting settled back down to normal!
I guess the most exciting thing to happen since my last email was a trip to the most famous, touristy, beautiful part of Korea, Jeju Island. On Sunday night we met president and sister Barrow and Ben at the Busan Airport to catch our flight to the island. I have to say it was really strange to get on an airplane again, considering the last time I had been on one was more than a year ago flying to Korea from the MTC! The trip was surprisingly short, only about 45 minutes (my bus ride to Andong was longer), and without too much excitement. I sat next to a man who actually lives in one of my old areas, 해우대 Haeundae, and invited him to english class there and talked to him about the church. We got into Jeju in the evening, got a ride in President Barrow’s rental car to the Jeju Zone Leaders apartment where we slept for the night before zone conference the next day. Surprisingly Jeju city itself did not seem too different than the rest of Korea. Other than a slight touristy feel, nicer weather, and a lot more foreigners, I dont know if I would have been able to tell it apart from the rest of Busan.
The next morning we work up early for our zone conference on top of Mount Halla. Hallasan is the highest mountain in Korea, a really old volcano, and is located in the center of the island in the middle of a giant national park. Because the hike itself takes about 4-5 hours each way, and we expected to travel slowly due to conducting zone conference along the way. We decided to start the hike at 7 am. That meant catching a 6am bus from Jeju city, and waking up even earlier than that to get ready and buy some water and granola bars with the mission credit card. We all met at the mountain at 7, had an opening prayer, sang an opening hymn (photocopied a few days before), and set off. The hike was really nice and pretty, with a well established trail and lots of hikers due to it being school vacation time. We stopped off along the way periodically to give announcements, listen to talks from President and Sister Barrow, Elder 김종석 and I, and do a teaching practice by the Zone Leaders. The hike took a while, and was pretty extinguishing, but we finally made it to the top. From the peak of the mountain you could look down over all of the island, and down into the crater where there was a small lake. We heard our main message of the conference from President Barrow seated on the side of the trail near the peak, overlooking the whole island, it was really cool. We then refilled our water bottles in a natural spring and worked our way down the mountain. At the bottom we printed out certificates saying we hiked the highest mountain in Korea, all traveled to a restaurant in Jeju city where we ate Korean Barbecue and finished the rest of the conference. Although tiring, it was an extremely beautiful hike, and also a spiritual and effective zone conference.
President Barrow and his family took off to the airport that night, while Elder 김종석 and I stayed at the Zone Leader’s house for another day to do exchanges. I served with Elder WIllis while Elder 김 served with Elder 박강산. We had a good exchange where we conducted Jeju Branch Family Home Evening, did our morning study, had area meeting with the sister missionaries, and then Elder Willis and I proselyted our way to the other side of the island (a small town called 서귀포 Seogwipo where the other branch and missionaries are located). We checked out one of the houses that we have there which is currently vacant and cleaned and prepared it in case we need to put in more teams of missionaries there over the next few transfers. Along the way Elder Willis and I were able to teach several people the message of the Restoration and also give out a few Book of Mormons. After coming back from 서귀포 I met up with Elder 김 and we went to the airport for our flight back to Busan. The Office Elders picked us up at the airport and we went back to the mission home to sleep for the night.
The next day we headed off on again more exchanges, this time me going with the South Busan Zone Leaders in my old area of 해우대. We went to district meeting, had area meeting, visitied a few members and proselyted in the afternoon, ate dinner, and then had a lesson with one of my old investigators in the evening. I had a really great exchange with Elder Jacobsen and Elder Leftwhich, but I have to say it was both great and strange to sleep in my old house, study at my old desk, and go back and see members I knew and teach investigators I used to meet with. We worked hard and had a really nice exchange.
After meeting back up with Elder 김종석 at the mission home, we had a great lesson with one of our investigators who I talked about in my email last week, 김선우 형제님. We taught more about the gospel of Jesus Christ, answered more of his questions, and invited him to read Alma 32 and read, pray, and ponder about the Book of Mormon. We also invited him to be baptized and he said he would when he receives an answer to his prayer.
We then launched into preparing for the Sister’s Specialized Training Meeting we held on Friday with all of the sister missionaries in the evening. We had a late night of throwing together our messages, and translating 4 different videos that president Barrow wanted to share with the sisters. The meeting the next day went super well and included a great morning session and then an afternoon lunch/cooking activity where all the sister missionaries learned to cook various Korean dishes.
The next day Elder 김종석 and I loaded up in the van and made the 2 hour drive to 대구 Daegu to move the 상인 Sangin, Zone Leaders house. It was honestly probably one of the hardest moves I have done so far. The house was absolutely huge, houses 2 elder teams, is located on the 5th floor of an apartment building, and was filled with a ton of furniture (stockpiled there over time as other houses closed/moved because it is so huge) including a huge sectional, 7 desks, and about 5 wardrobes. Despite it being expensive, we gave up on carrying everything down the stairs ourselves and making 10 trips in our little van and called in the big guns. We called a pickup truck to help us move all the furniture and a ladder truck (pickup truck with a huge lift on the back that goes up 11 floors) to carry all the stuff down through the window. Despite all the help it was a really long and tiring day but we finally got it all done. We ended up throwing out a lot of excess stuff, dropping off their washing machine at another sister team’s house whose washer had broken, and bringing an extra air conditioner back to Busan with us in the van. It was a crazy day but the 상인 elders ended up with a really nice house right next to the church and a lot less old broken furniture.
Yesterday, we went to church in our ward of 온천 and then traveled with President Barrow in the Afternoon to SPM in 울산.
Well. That has been my week. Full of fun adventures, lots of stress, and lots of good experiences. I hope you all have a good week!