I will skip right ahead to the big highlight of this last week: 중리 ward conference. Pretty much everything that we did this week was in prepartion for the our annual ward conference which we had yesterday. We visited members and shared messages regarding the theme of ward conference and inviting them to think about the topic, prepare in advance, and invite their friends, we met with all of our investigators and encouraged them to come out to the meeting, we made announcements and talked to people in english class, we called and visited as many less actives as we could to let them know, and even deep cleaned and prepared the church thoroughly. The night before the evening we returned to our house at 9 o’clock and ended up planning for an hour and 20 minutes on the phone non-stop calling, texting, inviting, and reminding everyone we know about the next day. We basically ate, drank and slept ward conference this week. The members were a huge help as well and based on the previous week’s ward council each different auxiliary organization made goals for specific less actives they would visit and invite, and specific investigators we or the sister missionaries are meeting with to greet and fellowship. It was a lot of work but everything culminated into a great meeting on Sunday.
On Sunday all of our normal members were in attendence and we were also visited by the each of the stake auxiliary president’s, the whole stake presidency, and an area seventy Elder 정태걸 and each of their families. Combining these people, the sister missionaries’ and our investigators, and less active members, we had 79 people in attendance (almost double our 40-50 people weekly attendance and 1 person short of our 80 person goal). Sacrament meeting was focused on our bishop’s selected theme of 3 Nephi 9:20 (turning to God with a broken heart and a contrite spirit) and there was a bunch of great talks focusing on the sacrament, repentance, and the atonement. The missionaries and young single adults of the ward also did a special musical number where we sang the hymn Joseph Smith’s First Prayer all together and instead of singing the third verse, Elder Stradling recited the Joseph Smith’s explanation of the first vision from memory. We had 5 investigators and church on Sunday, the sisters had 3 or 4 as well and we had a great gospel principles class which was atttended by both Elder 정 and our stake president, President 이 where we learned about who God is and how we can develop our relationship with him. I think the most stressful part for me was the priesthood portion of the meeting, where I was asked to teach the lesson for the Elder’s quorom. When I received the assignment last week I didnt think much of it but somehow on sunday I ended up giving a lesson in Korean to an Elder’s quorum about double its normal size and attended by and area 70 and the stake president. I taught based on Elder Ballard’s talk from the May 2015 general conference titled The Greatest Generation of Young Adults which I think turned out surprisingly well. We discussed how we can all increase the depth of our testimonies and our personal devotion to God. After the church meeting we all ate lunch together where our investigators and all the members were able to mingle together, and then taught our investigator Bryan from the Philippines after the meeting’s end.
It was really great to see all of the member’s and our efforts turn out and to see such an amazing church meeting on Sunday. It really made me wonder just how much would be possible if the missionaries and the members treated every Sunday in the same way we worked toward and prepared for that Sunday.
Other than ward conference Elder Stradling and I had a pretty good, normal week. We went on exchanges with the zone leaders, where I served here in 중리 with Elder Hoyne (from my MTC district), held our english classes on Wednesday and Saturday, did both of our service projects on Friday, and visited various members, investigators, and less actives. Elder Stradling and I were particularly blessed to find 2 new investigators this week, both of which we were able to find and meet from calling former investigators in our area book. We taught them both the restoration and I am not sure what will happen in the future, but they took everything well, and we were really blessed to mix some new blood into our investigator pool. (maybe that expression sounds weird/creepy in that context…)
Well I have already written a monster email but I wanted to add in a funny story from the week. On Wednesday we had our district meeting, here in the chapel of 중리 ward, which I will preface by saying is a really old brick building built long ago. Our district of 12 was all in attendance and everything was going on as normal when suddenly, in the middle of Elder Hoyne’s talk, one of the sister missionaries screamed. We all turned, and from under the stage a large (I am talking large) rat comes scurrying out from under the stage and toward to door to leave the room. We ended up just having to continue the district meeting with me saying “dont worry everyone, I will call the building coordinator after the meeting, lets keep going.” Upon further investigation we found out that the rat had chewed itself a path under the stage and was living behind the large storage drawers underneath. After calling the building coordinator and following his instructions, Elder Stradling and I set off to buy rat traps (the giant sticky paper sheet ones) and anchovies in sesame oil as bait from the open air market near the church. We bought 4 big traps and set them out in the kitchen and under the stage, and after a few days returned to a dead rat which we promptly disposed of before ward conference the next day in the trash cans behind the church (not after thoroughly debating the question: how does one dispose of a dead rat?). It was really gross, totally terrified the sister missionaries, and was a good example about one of the roles of the missionaries that you would never imagine sitting in primary singing “i hope they call me on a mission.” Now all we have to do is hope that there arent any more…
Last of all I will share a spiritual thought. One time during an interview president Barrow shared this thought with me:
faith + patience = results
This was a principle that I have really seen over the course of my mission. It is not only when we have faith, or when we are patient, but when we combine these two things that we can see miracles and success in missionary work and our lives. I truly know that God guides me as a missionary, and that here in Korea I am doing his work, not my own. As we trust him and wait for his timing, he will bless us.
Have a great week everyone! Watch out for rats under the stage…