(November 2, 2015)
All the great things sister Kim gave us that night
Random Korean Bell thing
Boat ride in the islands
The hike to the top
The View from the Top!
Elder Lees here reporting in from 대구(Daegu) Korea. We come to you live from the 중리 ward church building clerks office. As I write this email I cant help but notice just how cold it is. Daegu is known to be one of the coldest parts of Korea and also one of the hottest parts and while it is only Fall, it already feels like winter. Outisde the parking lot is covered in leaves (which we will probably end up sweeping later…) and the park outside our house has changed almost completely to shades of orange and brown leaves. We have busted out all of our winter coats and sweaters and set the boiler to keep things warm. It honestly feels like just yesterday that I was walking these same streets in short sleeves and burning up with Elder Mitchell. I am sad to see what the real winter will actually bring to us.
This week was a bit of a slower one for Elder Stradling and I. Despite our many efforts, we were not able to meet with many of our normal investigators and havent seen much progress in finding lots of new ones. We spent many of our days this week proselyting and visiting members and less actives but all in all kept ourselves doing something productive all the time. We have especially seen a lot of progress with our investigator Bryan from the Philippines. We met him several times this last week and are making good progress with all of the lessons, currently working through the commandments. He has a strong testimony of the restoration, has already been to church several times, is reading the scriptures and praying daily, and it looks like he will be really ready for his scheduled baptismal date on the 15th of this month. Many of our other investigators have been hard to meet this last week, but we also have seen a lot of great things with the less actives in our ward. Every Sunday after church we go out to visit less active members with one of the old bishops of our ward and have already seen several people come out to sacrament meeting. Just yesterday we met with a man who has started coming back to church and on the way out he even told us to let him know when the next ward temple trip is and that he is interested in going back. It is really great to see people coming back to the church and their desire to live the gospel.
One of the other highlights of the week was a large ward picnic that our ward members and several other members of the stake joined us on this last Saturday. Instead of a ward Halloween party, our bishop planned a large ward trip to a small island on the southern coast of Korea called 사량도. Throughout the week we worked hard to invite all the investigators and less active members that we could and by Saturday we had a bus full of people for our trip. After getting permission from our mission president to go, we left early in the morning, boarded a bus, and road a few hours away to the southern coast of Korea in 남해. After eating a lunch of Korean 회 (raw fish) there we all boarded a small boat and road for another 40 minutes or so to a medium sized island among the hundreds in that area. On the island we admired the small village that was there and went on a hike to the top of the mountain where there was a suspension bridge and a view overlooking the island, and all the surrounding islands as well. It was probably one of the prettiest and coolest places in Korea that I have ever visited. I ended the day with a ton of really cool pictures and an awesome experience. Despite having a super good trip, all of us missionaries couldnt help but feel a little bit guilty, because desipte spending the day getting closer to the members and talking with the investigators and less actives that were there, it felt more like a vacation than a missionary activity. It really felt more like playing than serving. I think we all learned a lesson about talking a day off to go on a big trip with all of the members, and it amounted to a kind of bittersweet day and a cool experience all in all.
On Friday night Elder Stradling and I also had a really cool experience that I would liek to share. I will preface this experience by saying that this week Elder Stradling both started off the week by catching colds. Elder Stradling caught it first and passed it on to me later on in the week and although we never threw up or were too sick to keep us from going out and doing missionary work, we both had bad caughs, runny noises, and I ended up losing my voice. It was just the amount of sickness where we were not debilitated, but it made it hard and uncomfortable to go out and work. Anyway, on Friday, we finished an exchange that we went on with the 수성 elder B team in the afternoon, did our service project teaching english at a children’s library, and went to 수성 for me to do a baptismal interview with one of the zone leader’s investigators. After the interview and taking a few city buses back to our area, it was about 820 at night and freezing outside. We had on our sweaters but were both really cold and not feeling super well because of our colds. Our plan for the night was to go and visit a member that lived near our apartment and share a quick message before returning home, however on the way home we just kept thinking up excuses not to go. We thought, it is cold, we still havent eaten dinner, and we werent able to do the 12 week program (a training program we are supposed to do an hour of every day), let’s just go home to our warm house and relax. As we were walking down the street we talked over these things but decided, no, let’s stay out for the last 40 minutes, visit one more member, share one more testimony, and trusted that we would be blessed for it. As we kept walking and were almost right in front of the members apartment complex we got a call from another member living in the same apartment complex. After saying hello, brother Jung says: “Elders, where are you?” I said in what was left of my voice “oh, we are outside kind of near your house actually.” and he said “quick, come over to our house, my wife made you some food.” We arrived at their house to see that his wife had just finished making 닭 죽 (Chicken porridge – sounds gross but is basically the equivalent of korean chicken noodle soup and is super good and perfect for when you have colds), and upon learning that we had colds and that we looked cold, fed us a ton of warm food, gave us more to carry home, gave me a big scarf to wear home, and even sent their daughter out to the small mart near their apartment to by us a jar of 유자 차 (Chinese citron tea which is good for people with colds). On the way out amidst our profuse thank yous Sister Kim told us “dont worry about it, when I saw you too come in all I could think about was my own son who is out serving a mission.” (her son is currently serving in the Washington Federal Way mission). The whole experience was a huge testimony builder to me of first how loving and great the people of Korea are, how kind the members of our church are, and how much God loves us all and takes care of his missionaries. I honestly believe that because Elder Stradling and I made the decison to stay out and work hard that night God blessed us not only with a family to visit and share a message with, but exactly what two cold, sick elders needed to keep going and stay healthy. After planning Elder Stradling and I drank about 3 glasses of warm tea, a large serving of porridge
Well writing that story took forever but needless to say Elder Stradling and I have been very blessed and are carrying on well! I love you all!