Dear Family and Friends,
Things are pretty good. I thought about what I should call you guys ,and realized that those aren't mutually exclusive terms. We're really all family no matter what, but you're also true friends in the best sense of the word. So I thought it'd be good to try that. Lately it's been pretty chilly, windy, and leafy. But I'm glad there's any weather, at least. And that weather's not the only aspect of life.
Lately we've been trying to visit the less-active members in our ward a lot. A few of them we've been meeting for a long time, and they like missionaries and the Gospel, too. They're very interesting people, and I'm glad to get to meet them. Mostly it's because of their work and careers that they haven't been able to come to church. There's 김형제님 (Brother Kim), who lives in a kind of far away apartment in the middle of a lot of hills. It's about a forty-five minute to an hour bus ride from our usual neighborhood. We went to visit him this week, and talked about the latest Liahona, with the conference talks in it. It turns out the Liahona is one of his favorite things to read out of all the other things in the world. He hasn't been to church in a long time, and says he doesn't know anyone there so it's akward to go. But he really, really likes the Liahona and things like that. We took the bus, which was kind of jerky and didn't have too many people on it, but had a pretty good view, and got to his house. He lives in a big apartment complex next to a river, and invited us in to sit down and talk about the new Liahona. He talked about a few of the talks he really liked, especially one of President Eyring's where he quoted from Moroni 7 where it talks about charity and love, and what they really mean. He says it's probably the best description of love he's ever heard, that even though it's similar to the one in the Bible that it just puts it in a way that we can really think about our relationships with others and if they're truly loving or not. We talked about that for a while, and he was very friendly and smiley, every once in a while he saying one of the things he's talking about in English, kind of to test his own memory---words like "charity" or "procrastinate". Then we asked him if he thought the talks were not just, as he always says, really great words, but if he thought they were true. He thought about that for a minute, but then said he truly did. He mentioned how the speakers are all serving and trying to help other people, not just to make money or anything, and how much they've helped his life. As we talked about them, and how they're leaders with true authority from God, restored through Joseph Smith, he started talking about how he likes Joseph Smith, but some doubts he's had about him in the past. He mentioned how he was martyred and died when he was very young, and how if he were a prophet, he would have been able to forsee the outcome of the events that lead to his imprisonment and death. He was a little more serious as he talked about it, and that was the first time I had ever heard him express that concern. We weren't able to give him a specific, thorough answer, but testified of al the great things in our lives and world that have come through Joseph Smith's bravery and faith. It made me think that maybe we'll never be in a state where we won't have a question or wonder about something like that---but the key role of faith and desire to believe and to know play in being able to have a surety of that.
Another one of the less-activem members is named 이형제님 (Brother Lee (Ee)), who really likes meeting with missionaries. He's also working right now to design a stacking/building kind of toy, and while we were eating lunch together he showed us pictures of the things he's made so far. It's a small geometric shape he made out of folding paper, that can be stacked and formed into lots of interesting shapes and neon colors and things. It's pretty impressive. He also showed us drawings of flowers he made that are very close to real life, and told us about how his parents wanted him to be a lawyer when he was younger, so he studied for a while and knows a lot about Korean law. He's a very talented, interesting person. We met inside a big department store, and went to some seats near the children's playing place. We talked about the parable of the unforgiving servant, and the need and importance to ourselves and others of forgiving them, and how the Lord promises to forgive us the moment we recognize our mistakes and start repenting and trying to be better. He said he really liked it, and always really likes when we talk about the Gospel with him---he just lives far away, and has a lot of things he's working on, so it's hard for him to come to church. We invited him, and told him how the other members wanted to get to know him and the interesting things about him. He said he's still not sure, but that's okay.
We also tried again something we did the week before this one to talk with new people. We went around the neighborhood close to the church, which has mostly restaurants, bars, 학원 (private places to study specific topics), and things like that, talked to the ipeople around and explained where the church is, what we believe and why we're here, and then invited them to watch a short video about it. We had a video of the First Vision in on of the rooms in our church, on a T.V. that you have to use a pen to turn on. We tried it for a while, but weren't able to find anyone who wanted to come in and talk right away. But we were able to find some people who were interested and said would come later, including a student wearing neon clothes and a hat that said "A.S.A.P." on it. We also talked to a lot of kind of drunker people, which Elder Judd found funny and interesting. It sometimes seems like they have the most interest in religion, which maybe means something, but I'm not sure what. One of them asked if he could write something in my planner, which it later turned out wasn't really anything comprehendable, but just a lot of letters---it looks pretty impressive, though. We also ended up meeting someone new in a small convenience store across from the church building. We were inside looking around, when he came around the corner into the same aisle and stopped and looked at us like he was expecting to find us there. He started talking in English, asking what we were doing and where we were from. He told us he was staying in a hospital nearby the church, and gave us his phone number so we could visit him later. His name is 림형제님 (Brother Lim), he's getting treatment for a back problem, and he's very funny and friendly and talkative. We went to see him a few days later in his hopstial room, and he brought out a bunch of juices, fruits, including oranges and 배 (kind of appley-pears), and squid-flavored chips. After talking for a long time in single word English about his family and himself, we asked what he thought about missionaries and religion in general. He said he used to see them a lot, and also that he goes to church with his family. He talked about how he thinks God is like a doctor, a fisherman, other things, and how grateful he is to Him for all the things in his life, especially his family. Then we told him that we believe the same thing, and how the Book of Mormon helps us to know those things. He seemed interested in it, and said he would read the first part. He also remembered where each of us had said we were from the first time we met, and other things like that, and seemed to really enjoy talking with us. We talked about it afterward, and both agreed that it was impressive to feel the Spirit as he talked about how grateful he is to all of the thigns God has done in his life. We went to visit him really quick last night while walking by the hospital he's staying in, and he said he read the first part and up to part of 1 Nephi. He said it took a long time to understand the Bible and thought the Book of Mormon would, too, but also after reading Moroni 10: 3-5, that he agreed God could help him to understand it. It was pretty great, and I'm really glad we've been able to meet him.
I'm really glad to be able to be here with all the great people and members and missionaries.(yesterday), Elder Judd and I went with the Sisters here to in front of a big department store, where there were Christmas lights and lots of people walking in front, and sang hymns and talked to people about the Gospel. It was pretty great---we didn't end up talking to too many people, and it started raining a bit, so we had to go early, but I was glad just to be able to be around a lot of the people we're here to serve, and that they could even hear a few words and expressions of the joy that knowing these truths gives us. I'm so grateful for everyone, especially my companion, and all the opportunities I've been given, especially through all of you. Keep it up, work hard, and remember that the Lord always wants to be with us and help us, especially when things are hard. I love all of you---keep it up.