(February 15, 2016)
For my Birthday the Dustins, the senior couple in my area that takes care of the military branch, had us over to their home, fed us lunch, and even made me a cheescake!
Doing SPM. We borrowed a second phone so Elder Suttner and I could both make calls and I strapped the phone to my head with a scarf so that I could type and talk at the same time. It might have looked a little strange
Elder Long (one of the members of the B team that lives in our house with us) and I found face masks in our house, so naturally we had to try them. It also looked a little strange. But they are surprisingly awesome.
Well my first week of serving here in 수성 (Suseong) has officially come to a close! And it has been a great week at that!
The beginning of the week was 설날 (the Korean Lunar New year), one of the biggest holidays of the year, which made for a quiet few days where it was hard to meet with members or investigators. Elder Suttner and I took advantage of that time to meet the people that we could and then fill the rest of our time proselyting, planning for our zone this transfer, and preparing for our Stake Presidency Meeting.
One of the biggest things of the week was our monthly meeting with the 대구 (Daegu) Stake Presidency (SPM – stake presidency meeting). Once a month the stake presidency, missionary work high councilor, President Barrow, the Assistants, and the Zone Leaders, all meet together to plan and discuss the progress of missionary work within the stake. As zone leaders, it is our responsibility to contact our missionaries and collect a report on the progressing investigators, recent converts, ward mission leaders, and english classes of all the various wards and branches and then using this report, contribute to a discussion about how we can improve and what strengths and weaknesses we noticed. Because the meeting was on thursday (the transfer started on monday) and Elder Suttner and I are not Korean, all these preparations and work made us very busy and a little stressed. We spent several hours on the phone calling all of our 18 teams of missionaries, typing up a 6 page report in Korean, and then looking for trends and things we can discuss. There were probably quite a few typos and I didnt feel as prepared as I would have liked, but we had a great discussion together and the meeting turned out great. We focused a lot on how to get more of our recent converts callings, the priesthood, and to the temple and talked about how we can strengthen the smaller branches in the stake.
We also made an extensive plan of what goals we want to establish for our zone (baptisms, certification, etc.), which district meetings we would visit, what P-days we would plan, when and who we would go on exchanges, and all the other fun responsibilities of taking care of our zone. I think we ended up with a good plan and are looking forward to a busy transfer. One new things that we decided to focus on as a goal, was a new key indicator that we would track, which we refer to as a 추수 (korean for harvest). What it entails is finding someone new, teaching them an “other lesson”, giving them a Book of Mormon, and receiving their contact information. We originally wanted to make a goal of giving out Book of Mormons but felt that if we also tried to teach those people and receive their contact information it would be more meaningful and better way to find new investigators. Our goal is for each team of missionaries to do one of these a day.
Other than taking care of zone things, we spent a very busy week meeting with our investigators and visiting and getting to know all of our members. I have to say that I really love serving in this area. There is just so much to do. The members are so amazing. We have a huge Korean ward full of about 150 members and a smaller military branch of about 50 American members from the area that either live nearby or serve/live on one of the military bases. Our Sundays turn out to be very long because we attend church back to back for about 6 hours, but both meetings are so great. It is really strange to be serving in a larger more American like ward because it really reminds me of my own home ward. Whereas in other areas I was able to know each of the members, and felt so needed in the operation of the ward (helping teach classes, prepare the sacrament, etc) here there are so many great members that I feel like all we have to do is find teach and take care of investigators. It is really nice. The members are super interested in missionary work and super nice to the missionaries. On Sunday they set out a basket in the hallway for members to put in extra food and items they wanted to give to the missionaries, and by the end of the day there was so much food in it that we dont have to go shopping this week and a member had to drive it to our house because we couldn’t carry it all.
One cool experience of the week was a lesson that we had with one of our investigators, brother 이동준 (Lee). He is an investigator that was found through english class, has met with the missionaries for a few weeks and has a baptismal date at the end of this month. On Saturday, of of the members of the stake presidency (a member of our ward) and his wife invited us over to their house for lunch. We originally had an appointment with brother 이동준 for that time, but decided it would be a great opportunity to do them both together. So we called the member we said we should bring him by and went over there together. We enjoyed a really delicious meal together and all got to know each other, and then had a great discussion afterward. The subject of our investigators baptism came up and he shared with us that he loves the missionaries, coming to church, and the members, but is still unsure about if he is prepared enough. He told us that he was surprised he could be baptized so soon whereas in other churches people study together for months before coming members. When he expressed that concern the members we were with stepped in and bore the most sincere and amazing testimony. We all talked about how being prepared for baptism is critical, but that learning the gospel is the quest of a lifetime and that baptism is an act of faith. We encouraged him to pray for himself and that through study and prayer he can receive a spiritual answer of what he should do. It was such a perfect example to me of the power of working with members. We were able to meet together in a members home, have a great time, and share powerful testimony. We were able to help our investigator develop friendship with the members and hear another perspective than just the missionaries. And we were able to allow the members to help and participate in this great work. Member missionary work is more than just giving referrals to the missionaries, but it is helping to teach and fellowship. I am so grateful to be in a ward where the members are so loving, helpful, and active in our work.
I wish you all a great week and hope that you can get involved in this great work and receive the blessings that go along with it!