Monday, March 24, 2014

Week of March 24 2014: Questions of the Soul

Dear Everyone,

I'm so grateful all the time for every way in which you have all
helped me to learn stuff. I hope you're always doing well. I know it's
hard to do that, and I sometimes feel like I'm just writing it the
same way every week---but I really do sincerely hope that. The weather
is pretty steadily moving, which means other things are too,
especially people---Sunday night is quickly becoming the time when
people are the most visible, while just a few weeks ago there was no
one at all out at that time. Sometimes it's weird to realize changes
like that, but to other people it must be a relief.

I'm always glad to be serving here. It's not exactly like you might
expect, that because it's a smaller town everyone's really familiar
with each other. But in a certain way, it is like that---among the
members, or just people who live here. And since we often go to
similar places regularly, there are lots of people we get to see
several times in a week. And now that the weather is a little warmer,
people seem a bit nicer and more open, which I guess is only natural.
This week we got to go to the biggest city in our zone, called 대구
(Daegu (Day-goo))---it's one of the bigger cities in the country, and
because it's not too far from where we are people often go there for
business or just to shop and things when they have free time. We took
the train there on Tuesday morning, and met two really great
missionaries I've been able to know for a long time, 윤장로님 (Elder
Yoon), and Elder Hall. They are our zone leaders, and we were in the
(M.T.) C. together. We got to do a companion exchange with them, Elder
Laney staying in Daegu and Elder Hall and I coming back here. It was
really great---we took the train back, looked at the interesting view
(rice fields, highways, mountains with clumps of apartments grouped in
them, and lots of churches), and after putting everything in our house
we went over to the main part of where we usually go, in front of the
train station. While we were walking, we greeted an older man carrying
a bike, and he started talking to us about our church and how he used
to talk with the missonaries and wanted to learn English, although he
was really quite good already. He talked about how he used to go to
Catholic church, but then his daughter had kind of a breakdown and had
to go to a mental hospital for treatment, and that made him wonder why
God would allow something like that to his family---he said she's
getting better. We sympathized with him, and told him we're here to
help him, including if he wants to learn English. He seemed
appreciative, and asked where the church is, but in the end said he
will come if he wants to. It was very nice to meet him, though. We
went to the base of the overpass/skybridge next to the train station,
where we planned to meet 김형제님 (Brother Kim, originally from China),
and called him because we didn't see him. While the phone was ringing,
we turned around and saw him standing there smiling with his phone in
his hand. He said he had seen us standing up on the bridge talking to
the other man with the bike, but wasn't sure if it was us because he
didn't recognize Elder Hall. We laughed a bit, and then went to 이삭 토스트
(Isaac Toast), the first time I'd ever met an investigator there. We
ate a little, and then talked about the scriptures---he mentioned how
all scripture, the Bible, Buddhist or other scriptures, and the Book
of Mormon, seems like more than other books something that's a little
more special, that helps us to live happily. We talked about how they
provide a guide for us, and Elder Hall shared his testimony really
strongly. We then gave him a copy of the Book of Mormon in Chinese,
which we had gotten for him a while ago. I wasn't actually sure if he
was comfortable with reading it, but he seemed to understand it all
pretty perfectly. We talked specifically about the story of Alma's
people in Mosiah 24, and how they were able to find real comfort and
have their burdens lightened even in the face of hard tribulation and
work---he works at a bath house for almost 12 hours every day except
for Tuesday. He seemed to understand it, read the whole introduction
by himself in a few minutes, and said he would try to read the chapter
by himself later if he had time. It was really good---I just hope he
felt how we wanted to share a story with him he could apply to
himself, and why it's important to him personally.

That same day we also visited 편형제님 (Brother Pyun), the older
less-active member who lives near a mountain. The walk over was really
nice---we got to talk to lots of kind people, and each other (we're
from the same 동기---group of people who started missoinary work at the
same time). We talked with Brother Pyun about his family, and what
they do, and his dream---he wanted to become a politician, but said
he'd never had enough money. He also asked about what we're planning
to do---I said I'm still not totally sure, but trying to focus on what
I'm doing now and gradually think about and decide that. We read
together in 3 Nephi 18 where Christ gives the sacrament to the
Nephites, and explains so clearly what it means and why it's
important. He has in the past complained that the script of the Book
of Mormon in Korean is old-fashioned and hard to understand, but this
time he said it was all good, and said he would come to Stake
Conference on Sunday. We walked back, and tried to visit a few
less-active memers' houses that we haven't been to before. That night
we went and visited a brother who used to come to English class at the
church, and he was really nice. We went to the pain clinic where he
works, on the second floor of an office building above a clothing
store and beneath a pool hall, and talked with him there---he had
little chairs with massaging machines for people waiting, and talked
about how when he lived in Canada things like that and other interior
things were much more expensive than in Korea. We talked about his
family, and how he's doing, and invited him to come back to English
class. He said he would try---it was really nice.

The next day we went to 구미 (Goo-mee) for a district meeting. It was
really great---we talked a bit before, played ping-pong a little, and
then started. Everyone had prepared really well, and it was just a
great, helpful time. Usually a district meeting includes talking about
announcements and how everyone's investigators are doing, then a
language practice/lesson, then a short talk, and a longer
teaching-practice. We bear our testimonies at the end, and then
finish. It was just really nice---afterward we ordered lunch, ate, and
went to do a proselyting activity together. The Goo-mee missionaries
made a board with a few of the "Questions of the Soul" that the Book
of Mormon answers ("Preach My Gospel"), and we went to a kind of
crowded place and invited people to come and choose one and then talk
about why they think it's an important question. We were able to talk
to lots of people, and it was fun. After we finished, we took the
train back, and went to meet 민형제님 (Brother Meen), and after he talked
a bit about the local elections and English, we talked about prophets
and what they do. He explained in great detail what he thought about
each of the famous prophets of the old testament, and what they
did---and then when we asked if he thought we would still need one
today, he stopped for a minute, and then said probably yes. We talked
about the Restoration, and the Book of Mormon---he had been confused
that we only believed it, and not the Bible---and he seemed to really
like all of it. He agreed to try to read the Book of Mormon, and to
pray about it. It was a really simple, great talk. Then because Elder
Laney wasn't feeling great, we went to Lotteria, the kind of
in-country McDonalds, for dinner, and tried to talk to a few more
people before going home.

The rest of the week was pretty much taken up in relation to our Stake
Conference, which was also in Daegu. On Friday, we did another
exchange with the missionaries in 안동 (Ahn-dohng). They had two
investigators who would be baptized after Stake Conference, and they
needed to do an interview. The first was an older woman, about 80 who
lived pretty far away. The other is a younger man whose girlfriend is
their branch's president. They were both really great in different
ways---the older woman didn't understand a lot of what the Sisters
taught because she's pretty deaf, but said she desired to keep coming
and review again and better understand what she did learn, and was
pretty stubborn and cute and funny. The younger man was really nice,
as well---he really understood well what he had learnerd, and seemed
prepared to make a big change in his life by being baptized. It was
pretty inspiring to talk to both of them. The next day we went back to
Daegu to meet the other missionaries and go to the evening meeting of
Stake Conference. It was pretty great---all the leaders and other
speakers had prepared really well. There was an Area Seventy, 백장로님
(Elder Beck), who gave a really simple but powerful talk. It ended
late, so a member who used to be a taxi driver took eight missionaries
including us to one of the houses for the Daegu missionaries, a really
big apartment, and we ate together before going to sleep. It was
really nice.

I feel like there were a lot of specific events this week to talk
about, and we don't have as much time again---but I guess in general
what I felt and learned from most of them is that, as always, the Lord
is aware of us and is addressing our needs and wants right now, mostly
through other people. I also realized something obvious, but in a more
powerful way, before going to sleep on Tuesday, which Elder Hall then
talked about when we studied the next morning, but basically the
importance of remembering. Relating to the sacrament, if we don't
remember all these things we know, then the knowledge is hollow. If
it's not really part of us, and if it doesn't motivate us and change
the way we live and help other people, then it doesn't really mean
anything. I'm so grateful for church and the sacrament and family to
help us remember all the great things God has given us in our lives. I
love all of you, and am so grateful to be here, and to know the things
I know. I know they can bless everyone ,and will always help all of
you. Thanks again for everything you've helped me with, and I love you
all---keep it up.

-Elder Campbell

Monday, March 17, 2014

Week of March 17 2014: I'm glad they made it

This was another good time. I hope it is for all of you wherever you
are. I hope that all of the hard things you have to do don't feel too
overwhelming, and that you are always happy and well and fulfilled.
Things are going pretty well here. We were able to meet a few new
people, visit some of the less-active members we have been for a long
time, and have a good meeting on Sunday with all of the members. And
as usual, everyone is paying attention a lot to the weather, which is
getting warmer. Sometimes we see bugs going around, including little
butterflies, which were probably maturing all winter---I'm glad they
made it.

This week we got to meet some new people for the first time. One of
them is an older man, who we originally met on the street late at
night a few months ago, in a pretty unexpected way. His name is 안형제님
(Brother Ahn), he's about 70, and a funny, outgoing businessman. He
was originally really interested in learning English, and so came to
our English class a few times, and was curious about us and the
church. He invited us to go to lunch on Tuesday, so we left our house
a little earlier than usual to go try to talk with people before we
planned to meet him---we got to walk on a little path next to the
small river that runs through part of the city, past the main K.T.X.
(bullet) train tracks, and because it was a little sunnier than usual
there were actually quite a few people out. We were able to talk to
one, and he asked a little about us and seemed curious, but then said
he had to go. 

We walked to our church building, where Brother Ahn was
waiting. We got in his car, and he said he wanted to go to a place I
hadn't heard of before---as he started driving and explaining, I
realized it's in a different big province north of the one our city is
in, and I was pretty sure not in our mission boundaries. So we asked
if we could just go back to somewhere close by, and so we did---it
felt a little close, but it probably wasn't that big of a problem in
the end. But it was still good to talk with him by himself about his
life and his beliefs. He used to live in China for about 3 years for
his job, and learned a lot of Chinese from that experience, and said
he also went to the U.S. a lot for work, and so learned some English.
He also goes to a Presbyterian church nearby where we live. At one
point he went to get coffee, and asked if we also wanted some. My
companion, Elder Laney, started explaining that ew don't drink
alcohol, coffee and the two main kinds of tea that people drink often
(red and green). He was very understanding, but also seemed curious.
We had planned to go somewhere else to talk more about religion
afterward, but one of his friends called him, and he had to go
earlier. Before we left, he started asking more about why we had to
live that way. Elder Laney explained that God gave a commandment about
it. We talked a little about how God always sent prophets to address
the specific problems of people in every time and age, and how he has
sent them to us today, and gave to one of them a commandment about our
health. He seemed to understand, but still seemed a little confused
about why God would restrict our use of something He gave us. We told
him how much it's blessed our own lives, and asked if we could meet
again and talk more about it, and he seemed tentative, but said maybe
sometime. It was still nice to get to talk to him, and teach a little
about Joseph Smith and how through prophets we can know what will help
us to live happily.

On Wednesday, it started raining, and was a lot colder than it had
been, and we visited 노형제님 (Brother Noh), who's still in the hospital.
He seems to be still a little frustrated about his having to stay in
the hospital, but when we talked about the scripture we'd thought of,
he seemed better, and when Elder Laney suggested we bring the
sacrament to him on Sundays, he looked a lot happier. It's something
I'd thought about, but kind of just forgot, and I'm glad Elder Laney
suggested it again. After that, we went to a new neighborhood and
tried talking to people in their apartments. Some of them actually
wanted to talk---mostly just about how missionaries from other
churches came, and they wondered why we felt it was necessary to share
our beliefs with others. We simply shared about how much the Gospel
has blessed our lives. The next day was still pretty cold and rainy,
and it even started snowing at one point. We met 민형제님 (Brother Meen)
again, and talked about how our desire to have faith leads us to act
according to it. His son and family came here all of a sudden to visit
him, and so he had to leave early as well---but it was really good to
talk with him. That night we also got to visit 김형제님 (Brother Kim), a
less-active member who's in the middle of his military service, and is
really quiet and nice. He said he has more time now in the evenings
and on weekends, and he would try to start coming to church. We shared
a short message, and just got to know him better---it felt really
great, and I hope he felt comforted from our visit. 

On Friday, we visited another less-active member, who lives kind of far away and
close to a mountain range. His name is 편형제님 (Brother Pyun), and he's a
little older and farms for his living. When we talked, he mentioned
how the Book of Mormon language is really outdated and different from
how people really speak---we suggested he try to imagine himself in
the situations, and try to understand the stories and their message
more than each word by itself. He said he would try to come to our
Stake Conference, which is this coming weekend---it was really great.
That night we also met with 주형제님 (Brother Joo), a less-active member,
and after helping him with some English study he's doing talked about
the Restoration. He seemed very impressed by it, and I thik it really
helped him. He was impressed by Joseph Smith's determination and
actions, and I was too.

On Saturday, we weren't able to meet a lot of new people, but we did
get to do our English class, where almost all the people who regulary
come attended, about 6 people total---maybe it doesn't sound like it,
but that's a lot. It was really great to talk with all of them, and
share a short message at the end about Christ's mission. They all
listened carefully, and seemed to like it. 김회장님 (President Kim), our
branch president, came to clean the church, and drove us home. He's
really great. At church the next day, we talked about repentance with
the young men, Jacob and Joseph in Gospel Doctrine, and had a really
nice sacrament meeting. I realize every time I get to meet them how
amazing all the members and other people here are. I'm so grateful for
their kindness to me, to each other, and their good examples to all
the people in their lives. I'm so grateful for all of you, as well. I
thought a little bit about agency this week---not for any particular
reason, but just that Heavenly Father loves us so much, and that was
the greatest gift he could give us, to allow us to learn and grow and
become good people by following the greatest example of using agency
to help others in Jesus Christ. I'm so grateful that we're able to
learn through our decisions and become better people by helping each
other. I love my companion, everyone here, and all of you. I'm
grateful for the scriptures, and for the Church God restored through
Joseph Smith and how it's organized to help everyone (Mosiah 18). I
hope you're happy, and I love you---keep it up.

-Elder Campbell

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Week of March 2 2014: Buttered on Every Side

Dear Everyone,

This was another pretty great week. It feels like a really long time,
looking back now, maybe because there were some new things and some
regular things all together in one week---but it was really good. Last
week, we came back from the mission home in 부산 (Busan), and after some
extra meetings and other things, it turned out we had to wait take a
little later train than we'd expected. So we just talked a bit about
the people here while we were waiting, with some of the other
missonaries who were going the same direction as us, and got on the
train. We usually ride it a few times a week, just to go to district
meeting and other of those types of things. There were a lot of
people, so we weren't able to get any seats---we went to the car where
there's a little snack bar, tables, and a 노래방 (pretty much a karaoke
room), stood and talked with the other missionaries for a bit more
until they had to get off. We got back a little later, the main reason
we weren't able to do e-mails on Monday. This week we also got back
from another area a little later than we expected, so we won't have as
much time to write---it might be a little shorter, but I'll try to
include the important things.

The next day, we went to try to visit a few people, and also to try to
help my new companion Elder Laney could find out a bit more about our
area. We went to try to visit  이형제님 (Brother Lee (Ee)), who we
originally met in his apartment, and played Bach on the guitar before,
and has also been feeling sick the past few weeks. We went, and he
said he was still feeling a little tired, but better, so he couldn't
meet right then. I kind of thought he might be feeling like that, so
we gave him a little card with a scripture and just saying we hoped he
feels better, and to try to encourage him. He said thanks, and it was
nice. Hopefully we'll be able to meet him again soon and talk more
about how the Gospel can bless his life. 

That day we also went to one
of the members' car repair shop where we usually e-mail, and did that.
We also met with the two people we have been teaching for a while, 이형제님 and
박자매님 (Brother Lee (Ee) and Sister Park (Pock)), and our branch mission
leader 이형제님 (Brother Lee (Ee), who works really hard for his family)
also came and helped. It was interesting---we talked about prophets
and dispensations, and reviewed a lot of the things we had before
then, and then talked about the First Vision and the Restoration. It
was really good, especially since Brother Lee (Ee) had a lot of
questions. After the branch mission leader Brother Lee (Ee) shared his
personal testimony and conversion experience, the other one asked
about how members of most religions seem to have a similar
experience---something that gives them personal conviction about their
religion, and how it seems like that was the problem that Joseph Smith
was worrying about, that everyone believed strongly in only their own
church and contended with others because of it. It's a really good
question, and honestly one that I have wondered a lot about before.
The member Brother Lee (Ee) also seemed a little confused about how to
give a direct, specific answer to it, but just simply testified of how
sincere prayer and wanting to know the truth is the first step to
finding out for one's self, rather than just thinking that everyone's
thoughts and belief are already determined by their background and
kind of giving up because of it. I think he still was wondering, and
we still should try to help him understand better, but it was still
good. Afterward, we talked a bit about English, and about how students
eat meals at school ("lunch bag" or "lunch box"), and how when they
were younger Korean students used to do the same thing, in a box that
moms would make, called 도시락 (Doh shee-rock, a little box with rice,
kimchi, a fried egg and other things), but now mostly students just
eat at school. It was nice.

The rest of the week seemed to go really fast---we met someone we had
on the street a few weeks ago again in our church building on a rainy
day, after walking around the nearby neighborhood, trying to talk to
people and introducing it to Elder Laney. It started to rain a little
bit, and we bought some toast (buttered on every side) and went to the
church to meet him. He came, and after a short but good talk about
English, we asked what he thought about Christ, and his personal
beliefs. He answered very thoughtfully that he thinks Christ is our
Savior, that when we've already done everything we can and our
imperfections still remain, that he does the rest for us. It was
really good---he already knows so much, has great belief and
conviction, and also a desire to serve others (after retiring from the
military, he now volunteers in several places helping foreign students
with various things they need). We talked about Alma the younger's
conversion experience, and he seemed to like it. On Friday, we met
주형제님 (Brother Joo), a less active member, and read 1 Nephi 19
together, and talked about what it means to have faith in Christ. He
still has lots of hard things, but he steadily is getting better and
happier. On Saturday we met someone we had before, and it seemed like
he really wanted to learn and come to church, but for some reason he
wasn't feeling great, and after talking for a bit he asked us to leave
and not to call him back later. But we also met the other Brother Lee
(Ee) who works at a computer store, and talked about the Book of
Mormon, and shared 2 Nephi 33:10 with him.

Our branch had a really nice fast meeting, and the members seem to
really like Elder Laney. We planned for this week, got everything
ready, and met a new person named 강형제님, and he talked abouth how he
collapsed in 2003 and woke up a few months later in a hospital, and by
constantly exercising he was able to overcome his body's weakened
condition. He said he's focusing on making money right now and helping
his family, but we told him about the Book of Mormon and he seemed
interested, and said he would try to read the one we gave him. A lot
of interesting events, but really great to meet lots of people, and
again emphasized to me the power and truth of the words in the Book of
Mormon, that they are really inspired and were given to help us today
in our lives, and that they hold a lot of the answers to things we
wonder about, which we have actually been talking a lot about in our
mission recently. I also have realized how grateful I am for Elder
Laney, for his funny but sure, trusting and wanting-to-work-together
nature. And I'm also always grateful to all of you, for helping me to
learn so many of these things, and to be happy. I hope you're always
happy. I love you---keep it up.

-Elder Campbell