Monday, February 10, 2014

Week of February 10 2014: Huge Robot

Dear Beloved People,

I hope everything is going well where you all are. This has been a
really great week---I've been able to learn a lot about how much the
Lord has given me in my life, and how much He truly directs missionary
work, even through imperfect people. It didn't have too much to do
with the weather, which has started going backwards---it was snowing
as we came to the place we normally do e-mail at, which I guess I've
never explained in detail before. One of the members of our branch,
김형제님 (Brother Kim) owns a 형대 (Hyundai (Hyunday)) service center pretty
close to our house, in between our house and the huge K.T.X (bullet
train) tracks. There's a little customer service area where people
wait while they're working, with a small high-tech coffee machine,
T.V. and chairs, and two computers. We usually sit here and write
while looking out the window at cars on lifts being worked on, and
every once in a while one of the bullet trains flies past. I like to
imagine where all of you are, and hopefully that gives a better idea
of over here.

I guess maybe starting from the end might be good. Yesterday we went
to the church like usual at around 9:00 to help get ready. We set up
the chairs, put the little seat-cushions our branch members like to
use on each one, put out the hymnbooks, turned on the huge heater in one
corner that looks like a huge robot, set up the sacramanet table, and
the white-board for Sunday school type things. At around 9:40 or so
most of the members started coming---the branch president had to go
somewhere, and couldn't come, and his one counselor, whose family
invited us to their house for the new year, also has to work a lot of
the time on Sunday, so the member who owns the car repair shop kind of
filled in. At first there were just two families there, about 8 people
total, so we just had Sunday school and priesthood and Relief Society
meetings together. It was nice and a little more intimate---we talked
about the Plan of Salvation and what President Joseph Fielding Smith
had to say about it. It was nice---the youth were able to participate
a little more, since their parents were with them, too. There was also
a nice part from the Teachings manual where he talked very plainly
about how Christ's coming and suffering and death were ultimately to
allow us to possibly return to God's presence---kind of a big-picture
reminder of the Plan of Salvation, how it seems to have a lot of
working parts but is really at its heart very simple and plain. Then
Brother Kim, who's very kind and smart and usually doesn't have a lot
of opportunities to talk, taught a lesson about the ark of Noah and
the flood. It was very interesting---a few more of the members came,
and after reading the actual story and talking about it together
simply, he emphasized the importance of thinking about how we can
apply it to ourselves today. He talked very thoughtfully about the
people at the time---how wicked they must have been to necessitate
what happened, and the faith of Noah in obeying the Lord's
commandments in the face of opposition and without a sure knowledge of
the future. I guess I haven't really thought about that story in quite
as much detail as some others, but it was really nice to have a good
discussion about it all together. Then we had sacrament meeting, where
there weren't as many people, including the Sister who usually plays
piano, so we sang with just the member conducting starting each hymn
off. The talks were nice, focusing on agency and the blessings of our
families. A few of the members and the people we invited weren't able
to come, so it was a smaller and different but still really great

I was definitely able to recognize and see a lot of the blessings that
I had been taking for granted this week, especially in a lot of the
people we've met recently. Even though it wasn't anything big or
immediate, we were able to meet and talk with most of them. One of
them I think I mentioned before a little bit ago---we met him trying
to visit someone else who had told us to come back later, and he let
us into his apartment right away. He worked before in a factory
nearby, but isn't working right now, so we were able to go and visit
him on Tuesday afternoon. His name is 이형제님 (Brother Lee (Ee)). He
lives alone, and his parents live somewhere else in the town here.
While we were eating peanut-flavored snacks, we asked about him and
his interests a bit more. He made lots of jokes---he asked if while we
were walking on the street we ever saw Jesus, and things like
that---but after asking it turns out he's read the Bible and remembers
it really well, especially in the New Testament about Christ's life.
We talked about how His life and teachings aren't just interesting
historical information, but truly the central way for us to find
happiness and peace in our lives. He seemed unsure about
religion---his parents used to be Buddhist but recently suddenly
started going to a Christian church, and he said after getting older
it seems harder to believe in things like that, but said we could come
back again to talk more about how Christ's teachings are important in
his life. He was very nice, and maybe a little lonely---but I was so
grateful we were able to meet him again and talk about what we did. We
also got to have a district meeting with the other missionaries
nearby, but for the first time in our area here. Because of
transportation issues, the missionaries from one area (called 안동
(Ahn-dohng) ended up getting there a little late---but we eventually
all got there and fit in our church. We ate first---we ordered out
from a Chinese restaraunt, where they serve noodles with black-bean
paste, and things like that---and then had a nice meeting. After, we
decided to go do a survey activity together to try to find new people.
It was a simple survey, just about peoples' first impressions of
missionaries, and then we gave them a copy of the Book of Mormon with
an insert in the front about the questions they have that it can
answer. It actually went really well---we got to talk to a lot of
people total together, and found a lot of people we could contact
later about the Book of Mormon and what they thought. It was really
fun to be able to work together with other missionaries like that,
which we haven't been able to do as much of recently. 

That night we also got to meet someone we had before the big holiday again. His name
is 김형제님 (Brother Kim), and he's originally from an area of China where
a lot of Korean people settled and started a kind of community among
themselves there. We met and walked to our church building. He talked
about how he went to see his relatives in Seoul during the new year,
and had to come back and work really early the next morning---but just
in an informative, not really complaining way. He's really passionate,
positive, and likes to talk. We showed him around the building, and
then sat down to talk about what he thinks about religion. We asked
what kind of things he had experienced where he originally lives with
churches. He said there is Christianity there, just not very
widespread---that a lot of people in that area associate it with
beliefs in healings and miracles and things like that. He seemed
curious about that part---he asked about the nature of healing, and
also about the belief that Mary was a virgin when Jesus was born, and
a few other kind of miracle-type things. We explained that those kinds
of things do exist, but that exercising faith usually has smaller,
built-up impacts on our everyday lives. He asked about having belief,
and was really very interested, and seems to have thought a lot about
it before. We talked about how when first try to believe, we have to
act order to know if it's true or not. He still seemed to have a lot
of questions, and said we could meet to talk more again.

On Friay, we went to visit someone we met briefly on the street a
long time ago and have been regularly going to his computer repair
shop to try to talk to him more, he was just too busy usually to do
it. Elder Pickard suggested we go, and even though it was around the
same time we had before when he was gone, we tried. He was there, and
we talked for a while---kind of about a lot of things, but also about
church and the program we introduced to him that our mission has been
starting, teaching English and the gospel together to families. He was
two kids who are already studying English at home with a tutor, and we
asked what he would think about just trying meeting once---and he was
very positive. His son also came in, and he asked what he would think,
and we got to talk with him for a little while. It was really great.
He and his family are faithful members of a Presbyterian church here,
and they all seem really great, and have great faith in Christ. We
decided to meet this coming Wednesdaysday with his family to try it. It
was a really happy, good day. Then on Saturday, we cleaned our church
building, which hadn't been done for a while, and then had our English
class. Amazingly, two people came for the first time---one we'd met a
while ago but had been busy and just hadn't been able to come before,
and one we had just met a few days earlier on the street. They seemed
to get along with the regular people who have come for a while really
well. It was really great.

Also on Friday, we were able to meet the older guy we had before at a
coffee-shop type place, at his new job as an apartment security guard.
It was the first time we were really able to talk with him by himself,
and he expressed a lot of hard things he's going through in his
life---how he had to start working to support himself, but he's also
kind of sad and depressed, and his work schedule is pretty
demanding---one day on and off, for twenty-four hours. We talked about
what we had before, and what he remembered---aside from that, he
talked about how we're all naturally sinners, and how he knows a lot
of the things he had or is doing are bad. We talked about how Christ
came to help us to overcome those imperfetions, and gave him a
pamphlet to read and learn more about while he works when he has time.
He said he would come to church this last Sunday, but didn't realize
he had to work that day---so he said he would come next week. Again,
it wasn't a huge event, but just a really great experience---it really
seemed to help him feel a litte better, and he said we could come
visit again.

This week we had a lot of plans that went kind of weird---when we
tried to visit the older man at the apartment, he couldn't totally
explain where he was well, and other things like that. But even when I
wasn't sure what to do, Elder Pickard always offered great ideas and
helped us to start thinking, and we were able to figure it out well. I
know how much Heavenly Father has blessed me with all of you, a great
family, and to be able to serve here with Elder Pickard, a great
companion. I'm so grateful for everything, for all the things we've
been able to do, and know that even if we're imperfect the Lord will
help his children to be able to understand the gospel and get the help
they need from it. I'm so grateful for the scriptures, and that it we
work together with "one accord" God will help us be able to serve His
other children. I hope you're all happy, and know how much I love you,
and am grateful for the gospel. I love you---keep it up.

-Elder Campbell

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