Monday, October 28, 2013

Week of October 28 2013: The Barbershop

Dear Everyone,
It's so great to be able to be here and to write to all of you together like this. It's also sometimes hard to know exactly what I should say---what would be helpful, without making it too much for all of your busy lives. To put it all in one thesis statement, I guess,  I'm so grateful, more than anything, for all the people around me all the time, and don't ever want to make the mistake of taking them for granted. This includes all of you, but lately and more specifically the other missionaries, leaders, and members here who are all helping me, and especially Elder Judd. 

This was a great week for all of us. One of the missionaries who was serving here was went to the other area in our district, about a forty minute ride by bus from here. The missionary who came to replace him is someone I met a long time ago, but I really liked, named 정장로님 (Elder Jung). He studied comic-drawing at school, is really funny and positive, and in his own companion's words, seems kind of like a character from The Muppets. We met on Tuesday with him and all the other missionaries in our area to talk about the things we need to do together, and it felt really good---everyone here is just really great and hard-working, especially one of the members named 이자매님 (Sister Lee (Ee)), who I think I mentioned a bit before. She's from here originally, and this is where she found out about the church---but she moved when she got older to Switzerland, where her husband is from. Her kids all grew up there, all speak lots of European languages as well as Korean, and she basically visits here a few months of the year and helps out missionaries as much as she possibly can. She comes to all of our meetings, helps out with all the activities and things we have, and brings food and little cartons of 두유 (soy milk) for everyone.  She also has been helping out when we do lessons and visit people, including the member who was baptized last month, 한형제님 (Brother Hahn). 

We met him this week just to talk about how he's doing and feeling---he's been looking for a job for a long time, and taking tests in order to find one. As a result, he hasn't really had time to study the scriptures very much, which he said at first he had trouble understanding, anyway. We met with Sister Lee (Ee) to talk about that and what we might be able to do specifically to help him with that, and then because there were no other men in the church we had to go outside to talk---and while we were walking, she talked about the scripture Jesus quotes when Satan tempts him to miraculously create his own bread, saying that we need to be using and reading the scriptures everyday in order for them to beome a part of our lives and our selves. It made me realize that this is something I guess I've kind of been taking for granted, that as missionaries we have time to do that. So when he got to the church and we met him, we talked about it, and she shared her own experience of joining the church in high school, and then becoming less active becuase of her not setting aside time to study scriptures. Then she gave him a bag of stuff she bought for him at a stationery/stuff store: a giant notebook, a four-color pen, and crayons for him to study, mark, and then in English write the scriptures with. She said it's a personal practice she started when she had to learn her new language in Europe, and helped her a lot. Brother Hahn is both trying to learn English and needs to read the scriptures, so it seems like a good, if unexpected, way to do it. He seemed a little surprised, but also grateful, for what she gave and said---I was, too.
Some of the other people are people who have been around for a long time, but recently have changed a bit, or have started helping in a new way recently. One is named 장형제님 (Brother Jong (John)), who worked in the military in the U.S. for a long time, knows English really well, and is a pretty funny, interesting person. He tutors kids at the school near his house, which has kind of a road going through lots of plants next to a little brook, which is nice. In his house he has lots of old board and video games, and army clothes. He's very curious about religion and beliefs, but is pretty set in his own, and also in his skepticism about others beccause of hypocrisy, etc. Basically he's been meeting the missionaries for a long time, and a bit ago told us he wanted to invite one of his friends to meet us when we visited him on a holiday. We didn't get a chance to meet them then, so we thought we should try to ask him again if we could meet them, kind of as a last-minute measure. When we did, he suddenly thought of several people he wanted us to meet, and we left and went around his neighborhood and met people at the barbershop he goes to, a small clothing store, and the store he gets his glasses. It was kind of funny and sudden, but also a really great experience---we got to meet these people who he knows well, and to see how he cares for and is kind to them, and that they were a little curious to learn about the gospel. 

The day before that, we were going to visit one of the familes in our branch that I think I mentioned about to you before, who work together at a restaurant and work really hard and sacrifice a lot in general---정형제님 and 오자매님 (Sister Oh and Brother Jung), but because of my mistake and being a little rushed because we were late, ended up taking the wrong bus and going to a neighborhood I've never been to before. While we were trying to find the right stop to take the bus to get back home in time, we met two college students on the street---actually, they came up and talked with us first, who were interested in learning about English, and then started asking about which church we were from. We ended up planning to meet again at our English class, and they told us where we needed to go to take the bus and everything---it was great. 

Another one of the members of our branch came to our English class, sat and watched, and then on Sunday talked about some ways he thought we could be doing it more effectively, specifically in helping the people who come to learn more about the gospel. I think that's something I could apply more in everything---there are so many people we talk to everyday, and all of them are children of God, and I thought about how much better it would be to not worry about how they will think, or how we will seem if we invited them to learn about the gospel, but about how Heavenly Father would feel if we did and then they decided to. It's sad, but good how sometimes obvious things can be overlooked, but then when we remember them they can help us to realign our thoughts and priorities.
One other thing happened that was interesting this week---we took the bus to go to help the missionaries in the other area with a Halloween party they planned for their ward. In general, most people don't really seem very interested in it, but there is a kind of costume-party store in front of the church, and it seems like the past few days have been their happiest week of the year. But we took the bus, at about 6:00, not anticipating rush hour, and it ended up taking almost an hour and a half. Some of the people we invited were sitting on the steps because there were no seats, running around and yelling (they're younger students), and doing crazy stuff. But when we got there, it was really fun---lots of people wearing Halloween-themed costumes and playing games with little rice snacks. At the end, we all ate a combined meal of 김밥 (kim-bop) and Costco muffins, which was pretty good, actually. It was fun, and reminded me of all the trunk-or-treats and other things from before. Hopefully everyone has good, safe plans for this year.
Elder Judd is doing great---I'm again so grateful for him and to be serving with him, and just hope I can be better to help him learn all the things he needs to. I've been reading Isaiah and the Mormon's book during study recently, and am so grateful for scriptures, and have really noticed what a big difference it makes to read them and learn from other peoples' experiences. I know you guys already know that, but especially Alma 12-15 is pretty good recently. I love you and miss you all, but I know you're doing great things. Have a great Halloween, good family time, and be happy. I love you---keep it up.
-Elder Campbell

Monday, October 14, 2013

Week of October 14, 2013: Running In No Particular Direction

Dear Everyone,
This one will have to be pretty fast---I wish it wasn't, but we just don't have too much time left after going to the other city in our area to do some stuff with the other members in our district. This was a pretty exciting week in a regular way. The weather and other events are actually related this time, so it makes it a little faster. On Monday, we spent the P-Day part at the market near our church searching for cheap ties, unsuccessfully but seeing lots of good stuff in the process---displays of interesting food, cute kids and families buying cute/funny clothes, stores with retro Korean pop/show tunes playing out front, and lots of live seafood, including crabs in cardboard boxes covered with sawdust that were still alive and flailing around, and a few things that escaped and were running away in no particular direction. 
After that, we met someone who's been coming to our English class for a while, but we stopped being able to see for a while, and now lives and studies at the university here. His name is 박형제님 (Brother Pock), and he's a really funny guy---he studies English, and speaks well. For his English class at school, he had to make a video report, with a good plot and funny/fuzzy dialogue. Then we talked a bit about prayer---how we can pray any time, for whatever reason. It seems like a lot of people maybe don't specifically pray, but in serious or extreme situations, ask for some kind of help. I told him about one time that I kind of put off studying for a test, and at the last minute prayed a lot that I'd be able to do alright. I didn't specifically get answer that it would be 100% okay or see the test answers in the air above me, like some people probably have, but I just felt a natural sense that it would all work out alright---and it did. He said that was cool, and it seems like different churches and different people have their own way of solving those kinds of problems and worries. Maybe he's right---he seemed pretty stressed about school the last time we saw him, but was able to deal with it. But it was good.
After that, on Tuesday we did an exchange with the zone leaders here. Elder Judd went to another area, and I stayed here with one of the other zone leaders. We spent a bit riding the bus because I still make lots of mistakes and take the wrong one, but it was good, and we got to talk to a lot of nice and helpful people. People kept telling us a typhoon was supposed to come, and it did while we were riding the bus. It started raining pretty heavily, and so we hurried to find one of the less-active members of our ward our members had told us about but we hadn't been able to talk with on the phone for a long time. He teaches 검도, which is sword-fighting, and so we got to see the place where he teaches, with lots of swords, armor, old paintings, and big dodecahedronal balls for little kids. He said he hasn't been to church since he was a high school student, and just really hasn't thought about it for a long time. We just talked a bit about the Book of Mormon, and when Christ came to the Nephites, something he didn't seem to have a great memory of---but how he invited all of them to come unto Him, and how as members of his church we are commanded to do the same to other people---us to him, and also him to show good examples to others around him. He was really nice, although did seem a bit surprised when we came. 
After that, we took the bus to the church and met the other missionaries there, where everyone was so wet we took off our shoes and socks to let them dry. At night the wind blew pretty strongly, enough to break almost one companion's umbrella in every area here. The windows rattled kind of a lot, and it turns out one of them isn't totally sealed shut, so some water came in on our deck area---but we were able to dry it up with fans and other things. The next day we met again at a zone meeting, which was pretty good---we had some good discussions, especially about reading into and searching for the deeper meanings of scriptures, something our mission president has kind of been emphasizing. After that, we did another exchange with the missionaries in the other city here, by the ocean. I stayed here again, but it was fun---we got to do an activity, which Brother Pock from before was able to come to, and it was really fun. 
Finally Elder Judd and I got to come back here, which was actually really good---I missed him a lot. He's always nice to everyone, and tries to make things easier for them. That day was a little different---after coming back here, we just walked around a lot, putting up flyers for our English class near the river near the downtown area, and greeting and trying to talk to a lot of people. We also got to meet with Brother Sheem again, who's really great---he always seems really happy, and is just a sincere and genuine person in general. We talked about last week, when he came to the new member's baptism, and what he thought about it. After we talked about it a bit more, he said he would be baptized when he felt and thought our church was right. He's a really great person---he still remembers from a while ago when he learned about Jesus Christ one time at another church, about how he took all our sins upon Himself, and even though he sometimes he sometimes forgets things, he always remembers that part. It's really great to be around and to have met him.
On Saturday we came to church to watch Conference, which was pretty fun---not too many people from the branch came, so it was just us and the one sister from Switzerland who came from here originally and is visiting, and the new member who was baptized last week---we watched, and then ate food we each brought together. It felt good just to be able to listen to and think about the talks all day, but also energizing, since we didn't get to really do much else. There was a lot I liked---hard to remember, but especially someone from the Presiding Bishopric who talked about brother/sisterhood and inviting everyone to come with us and helping them feel welcome as Christ would, and also Russell M. Nelson had some good things to say---overall it was great. 
On Sunday more members came, and we similarly, after setting up the projector and things like that, watched, ate together, and talked a bit. Afterwards we practiced a song we were asked to sing for a Mission Tour this week, an event I didn't know about until recently, which someone from the Area Presidency is coming to do. 김자매님, our branch president's wife, helped a lot---it seems like she's had a lot of experience doing things like that at church events, which aren't really my "forte"---but hopefully it will go well. Then we went with the Sisters, which we've been planning to do for a while, and sang hymns out on a bridge near the river in the downtown part of our area, trying to talk to the people walking by. It was windy, but good. Sister Burton, serving in our area, who plays the violin, brought it, and played really well despite the wind. It seemed a little funny, just us singing hymns together, but it felt good. I'm so grateful for the Gospel and for the knowledge that gives us about how we're related to each other and to God and Jesus Christ. I'm so grateful for the members, investigators, other missionaries and everyone around us. I'm so grateful for you guys, and for the leaders in the church and for how we are all able to support each other and help each other to do the things we need to and want to. I hope you guys are all happy, and know how much I love and miss you. Keep it up---pray for anything you need. I love you.
-Elder Campbell

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Week of October 6 2013: Gifts

Dear Great Family,
Things are going pretty well lately, and it's good to hear from all of you. As some other people pointed out, it does seem to finally be getting to the different season now from the other one before, which is nice in some ways, but sad in others---the bugs for the most part are going away, although we did see some caterpillars by the bus stop the other day, so that could mean something. And the sky is turning grey instead of the clear brilliant blue it was for a while. 

People's schedules and habits are changing a bit, too. Most students have tests and things to prepare for, so they're a lot busier---but now that the weather's a little more bearable, some people seem to be more willing to meet. It's interesting how seasons control the way we act and things like that. But this week was really great. The especially good part, which was pretty much all the time, is being with Elder Judd. He's one of the most sincere and nice people I've ever met. Any time anyone even seems like they need help or are uncomfortable, he says something, and he always genuinely compliments everyone---other missionaries, members or whoever it may be. He never complains, he works hard, he's happy all the time. Everything about him is great. 

This week we were able to meet someone we met the week before, because of Elder Judd's enthusiastically greeting him when we walked by, and then deciding to talk to him again after we had to go back the same way. His name is 심형제님 (Brother Shim), and he's an interesting, amazing person. He works over in the other area in our district, a city called 방어진 (Bong-oh-jin), which is right next to the ocean. We went there a while ago on a P-Day with our district and saw huge jellyfish and things like that, which was great. He works over there where they make boats with his brother, and they live with their mom together in Ulsan. He doesn't have much background or interest in Christianity or religion really, but learned at a friend's church about how Christ died for us, and seems like he was really touched when he learned it. We first met him at the church, and then the next day he came to the church and asked if we could meet him again. We went, and after talking to the other missionaries' student investigators, met him and talked about the Restoration. He's really an interesting, well-listening, well-meaning person. He said he would try to pray, and the next time we met, he said it was really good to be able to speak with God about the things he needs and wants to know. It was really great---I felt again how powerful it is that we're able to pray to God, about everything, wherever or whenever we are, and how there are lots of people who don't know about that. Later in the week, we met again at the park where we saw him first, and walked around together for a while and just talked, which was new but interesting. He said he would try to read the book Mormon edited, too, and come to church. I feel incredibly lucky to have been able to meet him.
This week there was also a baptism for one of the investigators the other missionaries have been meeting. Most of them are young men---in high school or middle school, and live near the church, so they come kind of just to hang out a lot. One of them who's the oldest is named 김형제님 (Brother Kim), and he's a professional boxer. He just graduated from high school, and he's a kind of different but really interesting person. He's really kind and nice to everyone---he especially loves Elder Judd---they're about the same height, and pretty close to the same age. 

This week we had an activity with them, the other missionaries, and some of the young men from the ward, which was interesting---we shared a short message about serving each other, and then played a bunch of games with them. One of them is called 돼지돼지 꿀꿀, which means "pig pig, oink oink". Basically, one person goes to the middle of the room, puts on a blindfold, and spins around while everyone else picks a spot to hide in. The blindfolded person walks around until he finds someone. When he does, he says "pig pig", and the person he found has to answer "oink oink". He then has to guess who it was, and if it was right, then the found person becomes "it". It's pretty similar to Blind Man's Bluff from a while ago, which I think a few people remember. We played that for a while, which was fun, and then ate 김치볶음밥 (kimchi fried rice). Overall it was pretty fun. Then on Saturday, Brother Kim came to the church to have the baptismal interview. He seemed really at peace and confident about why he was getting baptized, and I think he's going to help a lot of people. The actual event was on Saturday afternoon, so a lot of members weren't able to come because of work---but a few did, some brought cookies, and we had a short, powerful baptismal service. They day before we got to meet one person who's been coming to the church for English class for a long time but hasn't had much time to actually talk about things. He recently moved to the dormitory at the university in Ulsan, and we met and talked a little bit, after he showed us his English class report on a huge computer. We had given him a copy of Mormon's book before, and asked i he'd read it. He said he read a bit of what we wrote at the front, but not the actual contents. We read a part together in Ether about faith, and he seemed to like it---it felt different from before. 
Lastly just a few things about people---one of the other missionaries here, who I feel bad I haven't told you guys about before. He's Elder Himmer, he says funny things at funny times, and is from Gig Harbor. It's been really interesting and fun to be with him here---except this week he had to get surgery for an abscess of some kind somewhere that wouldn't be good. So we had to go visit him at the hospital, which was fun, but not really too much. Also one of the Sister missionaries who's been serving here, who I also feel bad I haven't mentioned. She's from a city called Daegu, which is actually in our mission, and has been serving here until her Visa comes so she can go to her mission in the U.S., in Seattle. She's really funny, smiles, and always makes other people happy. She works really hard, and helps everyone---but her visa came this week, so she finally went back to her house, and now she's waiting to leave. It's said, but good for her. I'm really glad I've been able to be here this week and do all these things with great people. I know, just like hard things, that all these experiences are gifts from Heavenly Father who knows what I and other people need, and I'm so grateful to be able to be here right now. I love all of you---keep working hard, and look at Elder Judd-suggested Moroni 9:25 if you want. Keep it up.
-Elder Campbell