Monday, January 27, 2014

Week of January 27 2014: Bananas Through the Window

Dear Everyone,

This was another interesting, good, nice week. I hope it was where all of you are, respectively. I hear it's been pretty really cold in some places. It has been here for a long time. Supposedly this is one of the coldest/farthest North places in our mission, and even though it snowed this last week it was a little warmer, which as usual lots of people are excited about. Last week we didn't do anything too special on P-Day. But that night we went to our branch mission leader's house to have dinner with his family. It was pretty great. His name is 이형제님 (Brother Lee (Ee)), and his family has three sons and one daughter. One of them just graduated from high school and is figuring out what to do, and the daughter and her little brother still live at home. We ate with them---just usual, rice with lots of side-dishes (different types of kimchi, similar things), and then as kind of the main dish 돈까스 (donkasuh (same as donkatsu)) and fried 고구마 (sweet potatoes). 

After that, we had family home evening together---we sang some good hymns together accompanied by a tablet, and then Brother Lee (Ee) shared a scripture that his son who's a missionary in Seoul did with them in one of his letters home, somewhere in 2 Corinthians, where Paul says he is the weakest and most evil of all men but is still strong. He talked about it with his kids---why they think he would have said something that doesn't really make sense if you just look at it, but if you think about how weaknesses help us to be humble which helps us to learn and become better, it makes more sense. It was really inspiring to see how he helped them understand something pretty complex and that can be hard to explain, in simple words and by relating it to them. He's a pretty great member and leader. 

After that we played a game called 윷놀이 (yoot-nori), kind of similar to Sorry, where you toss four sticks with different markings on them, and depending on which sides land up you can move pieces across a board towards a goal. I haven't really played it too much in the past---but for some reason ended up throwing the highest one a few times in a row, which everyone was excited about. In the end, we ate ice-cream (individual bars, which are cheap and pretty good) and then went outside to start going home to find it was snowing. It was pretty good first day of the week. 

On Tuesday, we went to try to visit a few of the people we have before that I mentioned who work at computer stores or hang out in coffee-shops---one of the older ones, named 박형제님 (Brother Park (Pock)), who was recently injured by a car, apparently got in an accident on his scooter, which I'm not sure why he was riding. I just hope he heals up soon. Most of the other people were all too busy with work to be able to meet this week---too bad, since we had some really good discussions with them before but it's been kind of a while. But hopefully we'll be able to meet them again soon. 

We also went to visit a member who plays the piano every week for sacrament meeting and teaches piano for her job. Her name is 박자매님 (Sister Park (Pock)), and she lives in a big apartment complex up in the foot of a hill a little ways away from where we usually go. She's really great, and has been helping us practice after church for a few weeks an arrangemnt of "Abide With Me". We took her some little chocolate snacks with a card, and she was really happy and grateful. We saw her on the street driving somewhere a few days later, and she pulled over and gave us bananas through the window of her car before she turned right---it was interesting. Her husband isn't a member and lives pretty far away for work, but she's a really great example and works hard for her kids and helps them to come to church. 

When we went to visit her, we also thought we might try to find people in the same apartment complex. It's pretty big, and seems to have lots of families in it. We went back later and tried without too much success. Most of the people were tired or just in the middle of something else---but were very kind in saying it, for the most part. We ended up talking to one guy who said someone was visiting him, but that we could come back later. We went back a few days later to see if he were still there---his door was open, and he said the same thing. We figured we would try a few more people nearby and see if we could talk with him one last time before we left. After a while of trying different houses, one man opened the door and came out to listen more. After just explaining a bit of who we were and the message and service project (our English class/program) we were sharing about, he stood there for a second and then told us to come in---not a very common thing to happen (the first it ever has to me). We went in to his small apartment, sat down and talked with him for a while. He was really nice, and said even though he's about 50 and doesn't think he could learn English well, and he's been Buddhist most of his life, we could come back and talk later. We just were able to talk a little about Christ---he said he's read the Bible before, and we decided to talk more next time. It was pretty amazing---the other guy wasn't at home anymore, but it was still pretty miraculous day. 

Lastly we met with a few of the people from our English class---two of them on Tuesday--for a kind of half-English half-gospel themed discussion program that our mission president introduced a while ago, which was great. We talked about the Plan of Salvation, and how it helps us in our lives to know our nature and the things we need to do to be happy now and forever. Both of them, Sister Park (Pock) and Brother Lee (Ee) seemed to like it a lot. We shared a lot of scriptures from 2 Nephi 2 and other places that explain some pretty complicated ideas really well, and it seemed to touch them. It was really great---Elder Pickard had found a lot of the scriptures beforehand and had a very specific plan to help them understand it and what we'll teach them in the future. I'm so grateful for him, his enthusiasm, good planning and love for the people we're meeting. We also met our regular English class early, talked about what we had planned to, and then went out to eat together because it's the last one before the lunar new year, 설날 (Soullar), and we probably won't meet next week. It was great to get to just talk to them and to have a good time together---I'm so grateful for their kindness, and their good nature, even though some of them aren't interested in learning about the gospel. 

I haven't been studying anything in particular recently---just the Book of Mormon and the New Testament. I've been really impressed with just reading the Book of Mormon closely, and how good it is. I know that sounds obvious, but when I just read it, wihtout either trying to analyze too much or not paying close attention, I am always able to learn something new and feel good and think about the great things in my life. I know you all can, too. We also had a meeting with the other missionaries in our zone this week on Wednesday. We got to see a lot of them, some of whom I've know from serving other places. I'm just grateful for all the people who are here, for their desire to help others, and that we can do it together. I know other people feel the same way about all of you, including me, and I hope you're happy and know that. I know that Christ is truly our Savior, and I'm so grateful for all of you and that knowledge. I hope you're all happy and good---I love you all. Keep it up.

-Elder Campbell

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Week of January 17 2014: Miracles

Dear Everyone,

This was a pretty good week. I feel like sometimes that's not just
what I say, but feel almost every time I have to review and think
back. I guess that's a good thing---and mostly due to the fact that
other people work so hard and help so much it's hard to feel like it's
not. We got to do more in finding our branch members' addresses, which
I think I mentioned before. The address system has changed, and it's
actually a lot easier in many ways. Before, every building just had a
number without any specific order or anything. The maps based on the
old system had not just geographic information, but next to each
little building the number that corresponds to it, making it all
pretty cluttered and hard to distinguish which thing is which. I don't
remember if I mentioned it before, but cities are divided into
different parts---kind of like counties and neighborhoods, if not
quite exact. The biggest are called 구 (goo), and there's usually just
one for each cardinal direction. Each of those is made up by smaller
other pieces, mostly called 동 (dong, as in dough). Our house is in one
called 평화동 (Pyoung-hwa, meaning "peace"). We'd already gone to the
city center and post-office to find the old addresses of our members,
and we just had to put them all in our church computer, which was
interesting. I realized I've never really thought as much about that
until being a missionary---there are so many people connected to the
church, and knowing their names and how to get in touch with them when
they need help is pretty essential to being able to help them.
Especially since there are lots of less-active members who haven't
come to church in a long time and we don't have their information
written down, we just have to try to find it so people can help them
out later. 

There's one in particular we met a few weeks ago just near
our house---he works at a restaurant delivering food on a little
motorcycle, and we saw him while he was walking to work one day. He
asked if we had a copy of the Bible we could lend him---we said we
didn't, but that we had the Book of Mormon. He told us that he was a
member here a long time ago, but hasn't come, and doesn't have
scriptures at his home anymore. But he's not in our branch's or the
missionaries' records, so we've been trying to go to talk to him
again. We sometimes see him on the street driving around for his job,
and he'll nod a little with his helmet. So we updated all of the
records of people we have right now, and have been trying to find and
update those like him that are a little unsure.

Also this week, we were able to meet with a bunch of new people, some
of whom I think I already mentioned before---but we got to meet them
again and actually talk about their personal beliefs and how the
gospel can help them, which was pretty great. It started after we went
to our district meeting in the nearby city called 구미 (Goo-mee), where
we got to talk with the other missionaries there, and eat together,
which was nice. Since it was the last one until the new transfer, we
guessed what might happen on the chalkboard (not my favorite thing),
and then took a picture together. It's interesting how all these kind
of traditions start---right after that we had to leave really fast. 

We did an exchange with the district leader and his companion, a Korean
missionary who just came recently. He's really great---Elder Pickard
and the district leader went to their area, and his companion and I
came back here. After hurriedly going to the train, we came back and
walked down the big street to meet someone named 박형제님 (Brother Park
(Pock)), who we met walking down the same street the week before. He
was smoking, but also nice and friendly, and listened more than other
people usually do. He showed us the place he goes usually to relax, a
kind of coffee shop, and said we could meet there later---so 김장로님
(Elder Kim) and I went there to see him. It's an interesting
place---not exactly a coffee shop in the usual sense of the word, in
that it's a little darker and the customers are a little older,
usually. But we met with him there, talked about his family and how he
hurt his leg (he got hit by a car), and then about our church.
Apparently, he went to school in the neighborhood of where our church
is now a long time ago, when it was pretty different---but he still
knew where it was when we described it, and he said very confidently
that he would try to come. We explained a bit about what it's like,
how we have a worship meeting specifically to remember Jesus Christ,
and asked what he knew about Christ. He said he didn't really know
anything, and when we described generally His mission, he said he'd
heard it roughly before. We invited him to come again, and it felt
very nice. He talked about how the older he gets, the more he
recognizes the need for religion in the world, and he had said the
first time we met him if everyone went to church, it would be good. He
said several times he would try to come, and after a short visit we
left. It was nice. 

After calling a newspaper's office to try to put an
ad for our English class in it (there already was one), we went on the
way to visit one of our less-active members who lives pretty far away.
We got to talk a bit more about Elder Kim's experiences---he actually
went to B.Y.U. for almost three years, and then went to the army for
the last two, and applied for his mission right after finishing that.
It's pretty inspiring to see how hard he's worked and sacrificed for
his country and other people. He talked about how he watches the
missionary training videos and thinks how different it is from
reality---he said that where we're serving, when someone calls back,
or their phone number works, it's like one of the miracles that people
talk about in those videos, which is pretty true. Then when we had
walked for a while, pretty far away, we got a text from our branch
mission leader, 이형제님 (Brother Lee (Ee)) asking if we could meet to
have our meeting with him. He works really hard at his job, and
usually gives up his lunch time to be able to do it, so we went to get
the bus going back towards there, and met an Australian English
teacher who used to talk to the missionaries a lot. He said it's weird
that we're called Elder, since we don't even have beards. I tried to
say I couldn't grow one, and he said the church probably wouldn't let
us, anyway---it was a short, interesting experience. He's funny, and
friendly, and maybe a little lonely. 

So we met with Brother Lee, and then he drove with us to visit the less-active member we were planning
to. He lives pretty far away, almost in part of a mountain, in a
little house by himself. He grows food for his living, and said since
it's been pretty cold the last weeks the ground is too hard to harvest
the things he's growing, called 고구마 (Go goo-ma, "sweet potatoes"). But
we talked with him, and how it's been hard for him the last while and
he hasn't been able to come to church---but he was really glad to see
Brother Lee, who also went back to see where he'd planted the sweet
potatoes, and discovered the ground is soft enough to till and then to
harvest. We're thinking about going to try to help him later on. Then
we went back home, ate dinner, and went out to try to talk to people
on the way to a less-active member's house. It was pretty cold, and
there weren't too many people outside, so we went to the less-active
member's house, and he came outside for a few minutes to talk with
us---the rest of his family were asleep, and he's in the military
right now while living at home, so goes to bed pretty early. We just
said we hoped he was doing okay, and gave him a little card and some
cookies we were meaning to from a while ago. He seemed happy and
grateful---it was short, but hopefully helpful to him. 

Then on the way
home, just before going on the street to our house, we went back out
to where there are more people to see if there were anyone to talk
with. There weren't, so we headed back, but saw a few people in front
of a restaraunt. We said hello, and one of them did back in English.
He asked for our phone number, and we gave it, and he said he would
call us later, and then went back inside the restaurant. It was
interesting---I wasn't totally sure if anything would happen, but the
next day on the way to catch the train to meet the others again, we
got a call from him, and he said he would try to com eto our English
class. It was pretty amazing---one of those things that Elder Kim
talked about, that doesn't seem so big, but is definitely miraculous.
I was really grateful.

After we met our companions again and went back, Elder Pickard and I
went to visit one more of our less-active members whose address we
weren't sure of, and on the way thought we'd stop to see if someone we
had met the week before was in his computer store. We'd tried several
times the week before, without being able to meet him. He wasn't the
first time, but we went somewhere else and then came back one more
time, and he was there. He invited us in, saying he'd just gotten
back, and we started talking about our English class, which we had the
first time we met him on the street (he was taking his little
elementary-school kids to their piano class), and then he started
talking about his religious background very intently. He started
researching about Christianity heavily seven years ago, and not much
before then, and now he's very active in the Presbyterian church he
attends. He kind of talked about a lot of different topics, but was
very nice and friendly. As we were talking, he saw a copy of the Book
of Mormon one of us had brought, and asked about it. We explained very
simply, and he said he had thought before, when he was thinking about
believing Christianity, all the great people in Korea and everywhere,
including before Christ came, who had never read the Bible, but lived
as though they knew it very well. He also mentioned that he thought
other people in their own countries and languages had recieved
inspiration from God and recorded it, and that the Book of Mormon
sounded like that. We shared a bit from 2 Nephi 29, where the Lord
says that he commands all people everywhere to write the things he
commands them, and that he is the Father of and loves all people of
all nations. In the end his little kids called him to ask him to make
dinner for them---he says he does almost everyday, and then comes back
to work, since his wife works further away. But he said we could come
back and talk again later, and he seemed really to like it. It was
really a great experience, and I'm so grateful we were able to meet
him and for his friendliness and desire to follow Jesus Christ.

There were other really good things this week---at church, the members
had an interesting discussion about the idea of foreordination, and
the fact that we were chosen before we were born, like Abraham heard.
The talks were also good, and in general, I think everyone felt the
Spirit strongly, especially during the sacrament part of sacrament
meeting---at least me. The two people we had invited, Brother Park and
Brother Choo, from a few weeks before, weren't able to come---the
first still felt bad from being hit by a car, and the other said he
slept in---but it was still good. It's strange how after getting into
a routine, things start feeling different sometimes---but I'm so
grateful for the great things I've been able to do and learn here so
far, especially with and from Elder Pickard, who's organized and good
at planning and scheduling, and always nice and funny. I'm so grateful
for all the people here, missionaries, members, and other people who
have helped me. I'm also grateful for the nature of the Gospel, and
this life, that even though we're imperfect, we can grow and develop a
little at a time, and even though things change we can remember the
blessings and the good things in our lives and it helps us to
grow---kind of like in Mosiah 4:11-12. Also really grateful to be able
to serve here in a great place, which is small but with good people,
and trains going through every half-hour like spaceships. I miss and
love you all. Thanks so much for everything---keep it up.

-Elder Campbell

Monday, January 6, 2014

Week of January 5 2014: Pizza School

Dear Nice and Loving People,
This was a pretty good time. I know it can't always be the same---but I'm grateful for the good ones that were there. One of them I think I mentioned the first part of last week. The weather got a little warmer. I guess some of you wish that would happen where you are---I hope it does. Specifically there was the person who came to a few minutes of church outside the doorway of the chapel last week. His name is 추형제님 (Brother Choo), and he's a very nice, quiet high-school student. When he came last week, he seemed just afraid and embarassed that he'd come late to church and didn't want to offend other people, so instead he said we could meet during the week, on the one day of winter vacation he had. We were going to meet on Tuesday afternoon, but he texted us and said it wouldn't work out all of a sudden---he had something to do with the other people at his school. So we asked if he could meet in the evening, and he said that was okay. So we went to the train station, probably the biggest part of our city, with spurts of lots of people coming out when the trains stop, and a big tree next to a volcanic rock out front. We sat down and waited there, and he called us a few minutes after the time we planned to meet---he was waiting, looking the other way, and hadn't seen us. We walked to a popular pizza chain called "Pizza School," and talked for a while waiting for the food. He's very nice, and curious. He's always texted back right away after the first time we met him, which was a while ago, when he told us that he'd met the missionaries on the street a long time ago and gave them his phone number but never got a call from them. He's funny, quiet, and likes soccer. He lives in the dormitory at the biggest high-school here, and then goes to his family's house on the weekend. He said he takes an economics class in English, which is pretty cool and ridiculous. He also used to go to a church in elementary school with his friend, and said he asked them to learn more about Jesus Christ and just what religion is, but they told him just to come to church first and learn it there. He sincerely has a lot of questions, and is very nice. 

While we were walking out on the same street we ended up meeting the branch president, and so he got to talk with him for a little bit---Brother Choo's dad is a P.E. teacher at an elementary school, and our branch president works in teacher re-training, so he said he thought he'd met his dad before. It was a very interesting, rewarding, good day. He was planning to come to church this Sunday, but when we called him, for whatever reason, he couldn't pick up. He was very sincere, and it was a really great time when we met him, so it seems like something just came up---hopefully we'll find out soon. Then we visited someone who the missionaries have taught for a long time, who works in the security room at an apartment complex here---he's kind of older, and isn't too interested in changing things, but he did talk a lot about how we could go around where the farms are here, a little out from the town, and ask the farmers if we could taste what they're growing, and could live that way if we ever needed food, because they're so wholesome and generous---I honestly believe it. 
This week we also met a few new people---all on the street, on the same day. It's not usual, so it was a pretty great experience. One of them was an older guy we met on the way to try to visit two less-active twin brothers. He was smoking while we walked next to him, but once we greeted him he put his cigarette out, and wasn't super talkative but also wasn't completely uninterested. He said he used to believe Buddhism a little, and right now doesn't have a particular religion, but that in general Korean people need to go to church more. We talked about his family---just his son lives here in the same city, and we talked a bit about how that's like our Heavenly Father, that most of us are away from him now, and it's hard, but when we meet him again it will be that much better. He seemed to like it, and when he started going a different way he showed us where he was going---a coffeeshop that he spends a lot of time in. We were on the way to visit the other less-active members, so he said maybe another day we could meet there and talk again. It was pretty unexpected, and pretty amazing. 

Later the same day, on the way back from where we were going, we were walking next to a dad and his two kids who were talking really loudly and funnily. We walked by and just said hello, and all of a sudden he got very excited, and asked about what we were doing. He stopped to drop his kids off at a piano studio with "Peanuts" characters on the windows, and talked a bit about the church he goes to, and what we're doing. He was a little surprised that we're called 장로 (elder), because it's usually only used for older members of a church or things like that---he seems like he was very active in the leadership of his church in the past, and was actually interested in our English class and other things that w'ere doing, mostly for the principle of them and not because he wants to come---he said he thinks different churches should help each other out, and wanted to talk to the pastor at his church about what we're doing. He showed us the computer store where he works, and then explained his name again in a very specific, clear way, and then explained why he said it that way, assuming se might not know. He was very nice and enthusiastic, and we went back to try to visit him at his store a few times---he was always out, and it seemed like to take care of his kids again, which is good. We called the number of his store a few days later and talked to him again, and he mentioned that if no one at other churches knows we're doing missionary work, they won't be able to help us. I guess I never really thought of it that way, just because we're not supposed to proselyte nearby other places of worship---but it was nice and different. I really appreciated his sense of unity in the work we're doing, and among Christians. We might not be able to meet him soon because he's so busy with his work and family---but he's been so nice to us, and I hope we can pay him back somehow.
We also did a lot of walking and trying to find addresses this week. On the 1st the entire address system of everywhere changed, and our branch president asked us to try to find out the members' new addresses whenever we visited them. We remembered a while ago when we went to another town's city hall and used a big fancy computer to find them out, and went to our city's---they had  a similar one, alhtough it was a little slower, and were able to find most of them. So we went to some of them, and some in the same other town from before, called 상주 (Song joo). It turns out almost all of them have moved or weren't home---but it was an interesting adventure to go up to find them. Some were in big apartments, others were in big hills with old houses that were all clustered together. Those days as well, because some people had the day off, were a little quieter---so we didn't get to talk to too many people, but we did get to see new places, and say hello to a few people on the way. We also had fast and testimony meeting here on Sunday, which was nice. A lot of people talked about their new year's resolutions, things they wanted to do better. A lot of them talked about their relationships with their families. We also got to teach the young men's class, which we usually do, and only one of them came---but we talked about coming to know Heavenly Father, and he was more attentive and participatory than usual. It was nice. I recently have been reading Jeremiah a bit, after Isaiah and things---it's interesting how much the Lord emphasizes his personal relationship with His people, and his disappointment that they turned from a living relationship with Him to one with idols who don't talk, live, move, or hear.

More than anything, I'm so grateful and have been completely dependent on the fact that Heavenly Father wants to and does communicate with all of us, and that we can reciprocate. Thinking about all the times where people didn't feel like talking, and comparing it to all infinity of small blessings He's given us without our thanks, makes me feel a little more good. I'm so grateful to be here with great members and an awesome companion who thinks things out well and is funny. I love and miss you all---keep it up. Thanks.
-Elder Campbell