Monday, September 23, 2013

Week of September 23, 2013: Harvest Festival

Dear Everyone,
This was a really good week, with lots of good people helping each other and things like that. Weather is pretty much the same---it's weird to think it was so much more hot just a while ago, and now that it's just a little cooler everything seems different. But if there's one thing I think I've learned the most repeatedly and emphatically, no matter how things might change, it would be that I can always learn from the examples of people around me in some way. 

A few of those people: the members of our branch generally, and the sisters specifically. We visited this week a family who are pretty young---they have a daughter, a son, and a baby girl, who are all funny and crazy and cute. The husband and wife both work at a restaurant together, and invited us to come and visited them. When we went, the mom and all the kids were there together, while she was working. The daughter kept asking if she could go to the playground across the street even though there were no other people, and the son was doing funny things. They work pretty far away from where they live, and where their kids go to school, and it seems like it is pretty hard sometimes, but they're always happy and nice and working hard in everything. It's really inspiring to see them, and they're so helpful. We asked the mom if there were any less-active members she knew we could help out, and she told us about a few people and helped us to be able to find them. It was really nice. And during church, they also give talks and are teachers for classes of groups of people that are hard, and teach primary and everything---I don't know. I just kind of realized this week after visiting them how awesome they are.
We also talked a lot with one of the investigators who the missionaries were meeting for a while before, but kind of just stopped for a bit. He's a really interesting person---his name is 장 (Jong), or John, and he teaches kids after school like a tutor. There are lots of places students go to study after school, that are a little more official, but he just teaches them in his house. He also speaks English pretty well, because he lived in San Francisco when he was in the Korean army and stuff. Basically he says he believes in the philosphy of Buddhism, but is pretty suspect of religion in general, and so doesn't really subscribe to any one. But he really likes learning about different ways of believing, and so goes to lots of churches, including starting to come to ours randomly a few weeks ago, even without anyone directly inviting him again. So we decided to try to meet with him to see why he specifically wanted to come back to our church. We visitied him at his house and talked just briefly about God, and read a bit of the Book of Mormon together. He said he doesn't deny the existence of God, but that he doesn't know for sure whether he believes if He exists. After that the kids he tutors came, and so we talked with them a little bit, and then played about 5 minutes of a game kind of like "Monopoly", except with different world cities, and a space travel involved. That was interesting. 

This week also was a pretty big holiday, about the harvest, called 추석 (Choo-suk), and so part of it was kind of hard because we weren't supposed to go visit people without being invited. So some of the other people in our district, from a different part of Ulsan, came to our area and we went and tried doing a survey-type thing in a big area near a lot of stores where there were lots of people walking around. It was fun, but a lot of people were kind of focused and busy with buying things. But we still talked with a lot of people who said they were going to their hometown to meet there family and do stuff with them, and how fun it was to do that. It made me think of you guys, but also of how important and special it is to be with our families, and how everyone does that at whatever big time of celebration, and just how good it is. That night we met with the guy named John again, and talked for a long time about churches and religions. We agreed that religion should help us to be happy and do the right thing, and that a lot of other churches and other institutions don't really help us with that. But he said he'd come again to church and learn, because it seems like it would be helpful. It was an intersting discussion, and my companion, Elder Judd, bore his testimony really strongly and I think it was really meaningful for him.     
Also this week, a little less interesting and meaningful, we changed our phone plan. So everyone got a new phone, and the old one died, so that there was a time where we couldn't contact each other, and then we didn't know the new phone numbers. The Sisters in our area also didn't get theirs for some reason, so there was no way to contact them at all, which made certain things a little harder (planning activites, etc.), but I guess reminded us that it's possible to do things without phones. We went to the bus terminal to pick up their card, which people do a lot here, just sending things on the bus, and then met them for the English class we do on Saturday. One student we met a long time ago, who's been busy and hasn't come since then, came again, and it was good to see him again. Then we went out to dinner together, and gave him a copy of the Book of Mormon---he said a while ago he got the Bible as a present from a friend of his, and so we thought it would be a good idea. He seemed really to be grateful and interested, and even though he'll be busy said he wants to meet again soon. So things were pretty nice---and then we just walked around a lot, and Elder Judd got to talk with lots of people and see the great and intersting and pausing things about our area. He's a really funny, nice, cool guy, and I'm glad to be able to be here with him. 
Yesterday, we walked to the house of one of the American families in our branch who live here, and ate with them. We talked a bit with them, he liked their kids, and then we talked about the Book of Mormon. Both of the parents had a lot to say, but also made the kids talk a lot---and then my companion also shared his feelings. I remembered all the times the Book of Mormon has helped me, but more how it's helped people around me, and what an amazing and good thing it is that Mormon abridged. I was grateful again for a family who also believe and seek hard to personally, and also to help each other, understand the things it teaches. I'm grateful and think about and love you guys all the time, and I hope you know that. I promise to be as good a representative of you as I can. I know the Gospel is true, and it's brought us all together, and will bring us all together with eveyrone else around us. I love you guys---thanks for everything. Keep it up.
-Elder Campbell 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Week of September 16, 2013: Shoes That Squeak

Dear Family,
This was a pretty good week.  First of all, as dad mentioned, it hasn't been too hot---or too cold at all. It was a little windy for a bit, but it went off. And now it's just good. I don't know why some of you didn't get the e-mail from last week, but that was a good one, too, ending with going to a different area with Elder Lee (Ee), from my last district, to his area in 포항 (Poh-hong), in a different part of Ulsan.  We bought a chair for the house there, and then went to teach their English class, which was interesting. There are always different people around there, but usually are all interested in English and less-common phrases and things. One of the members who attends there came, because she lived in Utah for a long time, and it turns out she also went on a mission to Taiwan, and so speaks all languages. It was fun and interesting. Then we went back to Busan to the mission office, to meet the new people who came. They were all interesting. After just having a meeting with them we did a practice-proselyting activity, as usual. We just walked around the city and rode the subway, and everyone I was with was really excited to meet and help the people in Korea. It reminded me of how great it is to be here---to serve all the students, all the older people, everyone with their phones, cute little kids who wear shoes that sqeak every time they step. Then we came back the next morning and found out who our companions were. My awesome, really cool and great new companion is named Elder Judd, and he's form Syracuse, Utah. We didn't actually do the activity together, and so we pretty much met each other for the first time then, but he's really great, smiley, tall, nice, humble. After we figured out everything, we waited for the office missionaries, both of whom I know pretty well and are really nice, to finish taking other people places, and then they drove us through the city and over to where we could take the bus back here. We rode the bus, and he looked out the window pretty much the whole time, really excited to see everything. We just talked about the area and the people here, and then got off and tried to go back to our house with a bunch of huge bags to take. We ended up taking a taxi, and talking to the driver, who's been working here for about six years or so, and said this last summer was the hottest one he remembers. We got back to our house, and took everything up there, and just talked about everyone here. We have a book with pictures of all the members in it, so we just looked at that and talked about it. It was nice.
The next day we took a long bus ride and went to visit a less-active member who hasn't been to church for a long time but likes the missionaries, and really likes the "Liahona." He still gets it every month, and apparently studies it really deeply and thoroughly. He says he likes how the things it talks about are easy to understand, and can really be applied in our lives. He also asked us to help him to buy something for his work from a website in English. Really the problem was just a silly computer thing---required fields, and so on. But he was really excited about it. He showed us all the things he could do with that computer program---saving things, downloading them and putting them in a different place. It was interesting, and nice because he was so excited about it. Then we went and talked about something from the last General Conference---it was President Uchtdorf's talk to the young women about journies. It was really good. His daughter and his wife were both there at the time, which was pretty different. His wife isn't actually a member, and the past times we've met him she usually stays in a different room or doesn't really talk. But this time she stayed and listened, and even asked some questions about the pre-mortal life; it was pretty great. Elder Judd bore his testimony very sincerely, and everyone was able to feel how strong and nice of a person and missionary he is. It was a really great experience. Then we met the next day, after our English class, with Brother Hahn, the member who was baptized last week. He's doing really well, and we just talked about Joseph Smith, the priesthood, and others with him and one of our members who just came back recently from a mission. It seemed like he was able to understand some things he was confused about, specifically what the priesthood is, and why we have it. While we were preparing for it, and talking about it, I personally thought about and realized how great it was that Heavenly Father provided a way for us to recieve the blessings of the gospel and to serve each other. I don't know---it was really good. Then on Sunday, we had our first long weekly planning time, which was a little hard at first---but we were able to finish it, and go and talk with some people just around our house. They were all nice, especially to Elder Judd, since he's still learning about things.
I realized this week the importance of being excited and working hard to do the things we've been asked to. My companion is really enthusiastic and excited, and I just hope I can show a good example and help him to have a really great experience. I know you are all doing that for other people around you, helping them to be good, being excited and working hard with all the things you do, and making the world a better place. I don't know---maybe it sounds silly, but I love you guys. Thanks so much for everything---keep it up.
-Elder Campbell 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Week of September 1 2013: The Most Important Thing In Your Life

Dear Family,

I hope everything is going well on the other end of things. I think about all of you every week, especially when it comes time to write like this to you---about you're good examples, you're funny things you've said, all the things we've done together, and then I imagine the things you're all doing right now and the people around you who are so lucky to be a part of it. I'm reminded of you guys by the people in our branch. I guess it is a group of people pretty similar to a big family, in most ways---everyone has their different roles, but all work to help each other and have a good, enriching time together. This week we got to see them a bit, but also just to walk around, too, partially to tell people about a big activity we did this week. I don't know if I mentioned it before or not, but a few weeks ago the sister missionaries were thinking about, as a branch, watching and inviting non-member people to come and see one of those church-produced movies the kids are always talking about. Everyone was pretty excited about it---we talked about it a lot, and then realized kind of until this week, right before we had to do it, most of the preparation was still unfinished---inviting people, figuring out who would bring what and set it up where, and other small things. So we figured it out, and then went out to tell people about it with all of
the missionaries in our area (seven, total). There's a particular kind of activity we've done before that a lot of people seem to like, and so we tried it again to share about this activity. Basically there's a big poster-board someone made a while ago, with five or six sections---money, family, friends, health, etc---in answer to the
big question written at the top, "What's the most important thing in life?". There's also a layer of vinyl covering the board, and aspeople come up, they put a sticker on whichever one they agree with.  Maybe it sounds silly or not very reverent, but apparently people are very interested in those kinds of things, and afterward are pretty
willing to talk about why they picked what they did, and it seems to be helpful for some things. So we tried it at a place around here where a lot of students are walking around at night, when they're done with school. We were able to talk to a lot of people, and some of them seemed a little interested in coming---although it's pretty hard to
tell sometimes. On the day of the activity, we also had to teach our English class, during which we tried reading the introduction to the Book of Mormon aloud, and talking about the contents. That actually turned out pretty well---but as soon as we finished, we had to start getting ready for the activity. One of the Sister missionaries
apparently knows how to make slushies, and also learned from one member (the wife of a foreign family here) how to make caramel for popcorn. So they started making slushies with a blender, and popcorn in a pot on the small burner in our church's kitchen. Both of those reminded me of things---the first of a time while we were walking around and went past a slushy machine in front of a convenience store, with no other markings on it but a big sticker that said in plain text, "Fresh Slush!". The second reminded me of a lot of some memories I've had with all of you. It was pretty late, and so I made some of the popcorn since all the other stuff was done. Unfortunately, the pot was just too big and the burner just too small to get very hot very quickly, so the popcorn actually kind of just sat for a while and some got kind of burned before it would even start to pop. But in the end
it worked out okay, and lots of members came. The movie was "Joseph Smith: Prophet of the Restoration", which luckily I've seen a bit before. After finishing all the other food stuff, we went in to watch
the rest of it. Maybe it was just the event, but there were some parts that were pretty powerful---healing kids sick with malaria, things like that. It reminded me of the amazing blessing we have to live in this time where we already know about these things. After it finished, one of the Sisters bore her testimony about Joseph Smith, very nicely and very simply, and it was really cool. It also turned out there were some new people who we met during that activity before, and we got to talk with them for a bit. Some were maybe people who wouldn't usually have anything else to do on Saturday night---one I remembered seeing during our activity, who kept walking back and forth past us after participating. But they were nice, and I know those are the kind of
people Jesus would have gone to and invited and talked with the whole time. After the members all left, we finished cleaning all the leftover stuff, and took a taxi home pretty late. But overall, really good.

We also met again this week a few times with the investigator I mentioned before. He's really cool---before now we were really only able to meet once a week, and that was more than I think he thought he could because of his schedule. He studies at the college here, but also lives pretty far away, in a city between Busan and Ulsan, and so he usually has to take an inter-city bus to meet us here. But he's also just studying for a lot of tests all the time. Not just for school, but to apply for jobs, which is what he says he's most stressed about. One time this week when we met, he said he had just finished taking one of them, and was completely mentally exhausted. So we just talked a little bit about what he's doing, how we can help, then ate and prayed together. But he's okay---he's doing really well, actually. I think I mentioned before how he was worried about God's
foreknowledge, and how he believed that God existed but kind of said himself he resented Him. But after talking for a long time with us, and especially with one member who really helped him, he said his idea of God has changed, and that it feels right. He's also been pretty miraculously able to stop drinking coffee---he said himself it's not that addictive, but I know especially that students who need to study for a long time, diligently (which is exactly him) often need those kinds of things, and it's hard to stop, but he was able to. We're planning to meet with him at least a few more times, and especially to read the scriptures/the book Mormon abridged together, since he says that's still sometimes confusing to him. But I know God has helped him and us, and it's really great to be here with him.

Lastly, I keep thinking about time and how it's gone by---and then I think that it has been going by for a long time, and other people have worried about it, too. And then I think about scriptures that explain that God is the same, unchanging, and constant. I know that because of Him, and Jesus Christ, we have all reason to hope, and to know things will be well. I love you all, and hope you're happy and know how much love all of you and know these things are true. I also recently read Matthew 14:23, and I think it is pretty good. Keep it up.

-Elder Campbell