Monday, August 26, 2013

Week of August 25 2013: Bugs and Birds Were Making a Song

Dear People,

I really can't believe every week how fast things have gone by. I know
I've said that a lot, and then said that I know that I've said it a
lot after that, but it's still true. But I think it's a good
thing---if time didn't go by, we wouldn't be able to experience any of
those things that happen over time. Which I guess leads me to how this
week went. It was pretty similar for a while weather-wise, except the
past few days started to get a little cooler, and it rained a bit. I
don't know---instead of the weather, maybe I should talk about some
people instead. I don't think I've actually mentioned it before yet,
but our area also has sister missionaries, which is actually pretty
different from before, in a good way. There are three of them, and
they're all from Utah, which is great. They're all really funny and
happy, but also work hard and do things they're supposed to, so it's
really good. We usually all meet together at the beginning of the week
to plan for what we're going to do, and to make sure plans aren't
colliding or anything. We talk about who we're planning to visit and
things like that, with a chalkboard in the church, and when they go up
to write theirs it's almost always really full and they have a lot of
specific people they plan to visit. Whenever they see any members
around, they always say hi all together, and everyone always smiles
and is happy to see them. We also teach English class together with
them, which is pretty great. Usually there are a few crazy kids, or a
few of the members bring theirs, and a lot of middle-aged women who
want to learn English, and the Sisters can actually help them/calm
them down as needed. A week or two ago, after introducing ourselves,
as part of the class we sang "Popcorn Popping", out of the Primary
Songbook. The actual singing was fun for, even though most of it is
pretty esoteric and kind of more difficult---language-wise and just in
terms of the ideas presented ("It wasn't really so/But it seemed to
be", even in English can be a bit troubling to think about). And of
course, the Sisters were singing the loudest and clearest so everyone
else could hear well. It was just nice, is all.

This week we also spent a bit of time looking for the houses of people
who are less-active, who we called and their phone number is either
deactivated or didn't answer. I know that doesn't sound very fancy,
but something that eventually has to be done. It's something I
actually like, even though it usually takes an hour too long to find
the address. But it's always good to get to go to a new neighborhood,
since we're around our church most of the time, and to actually see
the real people around there and what they're up to. I probably have
talked about it before, but most of the actual houses here are older,
since most people live in apartments, which around here are really new
and fancy. It's pretty interesting/cool to look across the river that
runs through here and see big green hills with trees, and right next
to it big tall towers or stacked clusters of pretty high-class
apartments (a few of the names: MajesTower, Exordium, Exilu). A few of
the people we've talked to, including one less-active member we met
last week who has lived here his whole life, said Ulsan didn't really
become a big city until about 20 or 30 years ago. Before that, most of
the area was just fields and farmland, which some of it still is, but
that when he was younger, all of a sudden one day apartments started
to be built. So it seems like most of the houses here are from that
era, and are really cool. They usually have a fence around them, and
on the outside stairs leading up to the roof, and in front usually
tons of plant boxes, water tanks, or other assorted old things that
don't really look like anyone uses them. We tried to visit a lot of
people who live in places like that, and it didn't turn out too
well---but we did get to meet some interesting people on the way, and
hopefully will be able to see them again.

I guess now, since we don't have too much time, is the investigator I
think I mentioned before---Brother Hahn, who speaks English well and
worries about fore-knowledge/pre-destination. We were able to meet him
again this week---he's pretty busy, since he's a college student and
is applying for a lot of government jobs---and it was really good. We
talked a bit about commandments, and why we have them---something that
it doesn't seem like we stop thinking about ever. While we were
thinking about how to help him learn about them, we found a scripture
in John 14:23, which I really liked. Sorry I don't usually share
scriptures that much in e-mail; I figure you guys have most of them,
but this one I think was very special for us and for him. He mentioned
before that he really wants, it's one of his greatest desires, to have
a heart-to-heart relationship with God, but he's had trouble feeling
it at other churches, on his own, and just doesn't know how to find
it. I think honestly this is something I've wondered and thought about
a lot personally. But when we found this and talked about how we could
share it with and apply it to him, I really felt its truth for me, and
know it was something I needed to learn as well. I know that Heavenly
Father places things, experiences, and people in our lives that are
exactly what we need, because I have felt that so much, even when I
was too stubborn to realize it.

This week we also sang something in sacrament meeting with all of the
missionaries---since one of the Sisters got transferred because
someone else is sick and she has to go help them out. It was "Joseph
Smith's First Prayer", which I don't think I've ever really sung that
much before. We sang it, and one of the Sisters who plays violin
really well also played for part of it. Except the regular accompanist
didn't know what the plan was and stopped playing for the second verse
when the violin came in, so she suddenly was just playing by herself.
Everyone else looked over a little surprised/freaked out, but I think
it was actually the best part of the whole thing. It was pretty
powerful, actually. I also, after singing it for a while, started
thinking about the lyrics a bit more. The second line of the first
verse, I think is really cool---벌과 세들 노래 하니/온 숲이 으막이었네, which means
roughly "bugs and birds were making a song/and so the whole forest was
music". Especially lately, with all the bugs and everything, I think
that applies to us pretty well.

My companion is great, and doing well---it's interesting to see how
similar we are in a lot of ways, but also the differences that help us
to learn from each other. I'm so grateful for him, and everyday for
all of you. I know this gospel God has given us means we can always
have this happiness, and I love you so much. Thanks for everything.
Keep it up.

-Elder Campbell

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Week of August 18 2013: Four Fans

Dear Everyone,

It always seems like this time is going by far too quickly.
Specifically e-mail writing time. It never seems like I can start
writing to you guys early enough, because I read all the things you
send and think about all of you and the things you're doing. But then
it makes me happy that you guys are all, for the most part, happy and
doing things that help you to be that way. This week has been pretty
great. Elder Flint, my companion, are doing well. It turns out he went
to Snow College last year, and possibly met Nelsen (Campbell) once,
which is pretty interesting. He's really nice, funny, positive but not
in a stupid way---in general it's really great to be able to be here
with him. I think I should maybe describe our house, for my own memory
and for some of those who requested it. We live in a pretty big
apartment complex not too far from the city hall here. There's a
little playground, big parking lot, lots of big buildings---like most
apartment complexes here. Our apartment is on the sixth floor of one
of the buildings, so it's not too high up or anything like that.
Except for the bathroom there are two other rooms---one the other Elders
here use for their clothes, and one we use as our study/clothes room.
We all sleep in the main room, which has the kitchen-related-area, the
other Elders' desks, and then there's the balcony where the clothes
dry and everything. It's a little older---there's lots of other
people's older stuff. There are four fans, which we use usually when
we do anything. When we leave our building, there are usually lots of
people just sitting on the benches and chairs outside, who are all
really nice and friendly. Some people just have blankets on the ground
kind of like a picnic, which is cool. Across the street from our
apartment is a big intersection where lots of people go to
work/school, actually with lots of trees, and usually in those trees
cicadas. The streets here are really wide, also---lots of buses going
around, taxis driving crazily, things like that. Our branch's building
is pretty close---about a 15 minute walk, but it's a nice walk,
including what just looks like a playground but at certain times of
the day when lots of little kids come actually has water coming out of
it, like a little water park for free in your own neighborhood. The
building itself is pretty close to the city hall, so there are lots of
people walking around the street in front of it, and on the opposite
side of the street about 5 different stores that only sell towels. So
it's a nice neighborhood, really. This week we went there a lot---for
English class, to make a flyer for a church tour we were planning to
try. We also met a less active member for the first time, who hasn't
been able to come to church for a long time. His name's 이두선 (Brother
Lee (Eee) Doo-sun), and he's a really cool, interesting guy. He works
with distributing children's books, but also wants to become an
author. In his spare time he also designs lego-like tools/toys that he
wants to sell to a company in Germany, and he studied computers
science at the University of Ulsan, and also was an apprentice to an
artist in Seoul for a few years. We ate lunch together, and then went
and talked on the University campus, since he still lives pretty close
to there. He's incredibly busy with work, but says he'll try to come
to church, and wants to meet with us sometime again.

We also met with one pretty amazing investigator that the other
missionaries already found before I came here. His name is 한요성
(Brother Hahn yoh-sung), and he also studies at a university nearby.
His dad is a preacher at a church around here, and he's gone to church
and read the scriptures since he was young. But he's also worried for
a long time about pre-destination/foreknowledge-type problems---that
if God knows all things, he knows how we will act and what the outcome
of our lives will be, and so there's no purpose in living. But through
meeting with him a few times and sharing about that, especially things
from good old Mormon's book, he's been able to come to understand ore
about our agency and the nature of God's love for us and what he wants
us to experience and accomplish. It seems like he's really been able
to find peace and answers to his questions, which is really
great---and he also says he wants to be baptized, because our church's
beliefs are right and are the real things that God wants people to
believe. He's a really nice, sincere person, and I'm really glad I got
the chance to meet with him and help him a little bit, but I know the
other missionaries did so much more than me. We also went to a branch
activity this week to a valley an hour or so away from the city. It
was a national holiday, so a lot of people actually had vacation time,
and went there together. Unfortunately we weren't able to swim or
anything---it actually reminded me a lot of going to the canyon in
Provo. We kind of just stayed with some of the young men, a few of who
were pretty recently baptized, and got to know them better. After
that, we met with someone who came to the church just to play
basketball, but actually has a lot of interest in learning English and
questions about Jesus's teachings in the Bible. So that was pretty
great. One thing I'm trying to do better is to help the other
missionaries, and always think about them---it's hard, but going well.

I love you all so much---you're doing amazing things, and it's because
of your examples that I can do anything. I know this gospel is true,
and am so grateful to our Father who provided it for us, and all of
you for helping me to learn and understand it. I love you---keep it

-Elder Campbell

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Week of August 11 2013: Sonic Landscape

Dear Beloved Group of People,
This was pretty good as far as weeks go. I think there's a few things I just wanted to mention first. The weather here is pretty much the way everyone says it is---pretty hot. I realized I haven't actually had any way to know what the temperature is for a long time, and what with the differences in science, etc., even when someone told me the real temperature I wasn't sure if it was actually hot or not. But a few days before someone did, and then found the equivalent in Fahrenheit---it was about 37 in Celsius. I hadn't actually thought it was that hot. I guess we've kind of just been getting used to it, what with being here every day and everything. But anyway---that was one thing that seemed pretty important. There were also a few things about the surroundings I wanted to explain about, that I think are pretty interesting. First of all there's the fact that there are so many cell phone/computer/fan/speakers/all electronics stores here, near each other, and that they all play loud music in front of them. Our neighborhood now is pretty much the more dense part of the city, with lots of wide streets and big huge department stores. But just the interesting part is that in some places there are three or more of them right near each other, and they're all playing different songs in front of them, and that it ends up sounding really interesting, or maybe annoying---it can be both, I think. Just the different songs going in and out of phase, traffic, and things like that all combine to make something special and unique. And I guess last of all, which is something that started a while ago but I forgot to mention, is the cicadas. They're pretty much all around everywhere here---they attach to the trees or the big office buildings, and then just make a noise that I really was sure was a machine at first. I'm kind of glad about these things, really, and so I wanted to share them with you guys.
This week was also pretty good in other ways---I got to get to know my new companion, Elder Flint, the members here, and the other missionaries a lot better. Last Monday, after e-mailing you guys, we went to the area nearest ours, which is called 방어진 (Bong-oh-jin), which is right next to the ocean. It was pretty cool, temperature-wise, and we just got to sit around and play board games with the other people in our district. It wasn't a super-exciting-planned activity type thing, but it was fun and everyone got to know each other a little better. On Tuesday we ate ith the other missionaries in our house with a family in our branch who work really hard and are really great, and also have a few-month-old baby who hangs around there. We talked for a long time, and got to know them, including that the mom, Sister 오정란 (Oh jung-lan) used to live in Jinju, the first place I served---so that was nice. On Wednesday we had interviews with our mission president, which was great. He works really hard, and is kind of an understated guy, and I'm really grateful to him. We also got to, as usual, talk with his wife, Sister Gilbert, during everyone else's interviews. I think it's easy sometimes to think that I've already heard a lot of these kinds of things before, and that it all ends up runing together---but I realized that the most important part is hearing other missionaries' insights and experiences, which are all unique and different and always help me learn important things. They were all able to share a bit, about their challenges and the ways htey've recieved the Lord's help with them. I don't know---it was just good. We also ate with a cool, funny member of our branch just a few days ago. He teaches at an elementary school, has two twins and one little daughter, and is really funny and nice. His son talked for a long time when we went about the beetle he's keeping as a pet, and how it has different sleeping/eating habits than other beetles, and things like that, which was pretty cute. After we ate and talked for a while, the dad shared about how the missionaries helped his dad a lot, when he was less-active for a really long time, and how it wasn't one specific missionary's visit or message that helped it to happen, but all their service over a long time. I don't know---it was really nice, and reminded me of how many other missionaries have contributed to helping the people here, and that we can actually help the mmebers for good.
There was also one really interesting experience we had this week, which has never happened before. We were buying vinyl sleeves for our area book at a stationery store, and ran into a guy who asked if we were from Utah. He said he works for Hyundai, and that he went to Amercia for work a while ago, to Utah. He said he stayed with a family who were members, and had really good experiences with them, and so has good thoughts about our church. We asked if he wanted to know why they were so nice to him and about the church, etc.---of course, he's really busy, so he was kind of less interested. So we gave him our phone number and left. But about twenty minutes later, he called us, and asked if we wanted to eat dinner together, he said, "to repay the kindness I recieved in America". So we met him and his whole family at (of course) a T.G.I. Friday's in a big department store near the church. We talked for a while, and got to know him pretty well---his family was really nice, and it was really great. They're all really busy, but said maybe we could meet them later on. I don't know---it was just a cool experience, and reminded me of how many other people's effort is helping the work we're doing. We don't have too much time left, but last I guess I just wanted to talk about how recently we've been going to a big park near our house in the evening to talk with people. It's called 대공원 (big park), and we've been going pretty often. We got to talk to some really good families, see some cool trees/skateboarding students, and other cool things. I don't know---I'm so grateful to be able to be here doing these things, and I hope I can do the things the Lord needs me to. I'm so grateful for you guys and everything you've given me, and I hope you're always happy and know how much I love you and know the Gospel is true. Keep it up---I love you guys.
-Elder Campbell