The Path of Christian Discipleship

The Path of Christian Discipleship

Monday, 15 December 2014

Desperate for a Bag of Rice

Anyounghaseo yoraboon!

I see lots of missionaries type some of their emails in their mission language. It is a struggle sometimes to find words in English, particularly missionary-related vocabulary, but it takes much too long to type in with the Korean keyboard. I hope you all had a great week! I had a strange realization a moment ago as I was reading mom's email: Christmas is in 10 days! Crazy. It really doesn't feel like Christmas. There is no snow and I have heard one Christmas song on the street! We have a little tree in our house, though, and Elder Hale has a David Archuleta Christmas CD that we listen to all the time, so I suppose that will suffice.

In answer to some of your questions: I have not yet arranged to skype. I will not lie and must tell you that we completely forgot! I get a computer this week, however, so that will make Skyping not a problem. When we Skype it would have to be morning our time, sometime between 8 and 11, if possible. We can do it on either the 25th or the 26th our time. Let me know what works for you and I will make the arrangements, and let you know next week exact times, etc.

In response to your question regarding faith, indeed, I have had many doubts, as I am certain is the case with most. In high school I was quite apathetic about the gospel, and simply "went through the motions" so to speak. I did have a very spiritual experience at Joseph's Legacy, which was perhaps the first clear and recognizable connection I felt with the Spirit, so my faith was stimulated to some degree as a result of that experience. 

To be completely honest, most of my motivation to participate in the gospel and to serve a mission was perhaps simply to meet expectations and please parents and other role models and leaders. This was sufficient to get me out in the mission field, yet I did not gain a self-sustainable testimony until I actually began my service. During my mission, however, I have experienced my most serious doubts, the overcoming of which (though painfully difficult at times), have solidified my faith. Perhaps my most serious doubt were directly centered on the Restoration, for as I observed Joseph Smith's eloquent writing ability, I considered the possibility that he simply wrote the Book of Mormon (which seems silly, since he only had a grade 3 education, so his eloquent writing ability was clearly a direct gift and blessing from God to further the work of God's kingdom ... but such were my doubts nonetheless).

There still are several questions that I have not been able to find answers to, yet one principle I have learned on my mission and as I have combated these several doubts, is that eternal and spiritual truth cannot be reasoned by logic to create a sufficient testimony. 

Spiritual truth has to be learned the Lord's way, namely through trial and faith. God's ways are, in almost every respect, opposite to the ways of man. Where man first reasons and endeavors to discover before acting, God has clearly demonstrated that if we are to gain the spiritual knowledge He has to offer us, we must first act in faith, then discover. 

Joseph Smith, for example, never witnessed any manifestations, nor received any revelation without first acting and asking. Elder Holland also taught that it is natural to have doubts, yet we can only overcome these doubts as we look to the proper source. If we look to reason and logic, we will find the confusion and uncertainty that characterizes human wisdom throughout history. We thought the earth was flat not too long ago, for goodness sake! The only certainty that we will find is the certainty that comes, gradually, as we seek truth the way the Lord has taught us to seek. 

I have a beautiful example of this principle, which happened this past week. One way a recent convert and less active members in our congregation found a little more certainty is in the feeling that they received after they both helped us serve a man that came into the church looking for rice this week. 

We had set an appointment with one of our recent convert members this past week, after which we planned to meet with a less active member who expressed interest in meeting with us. Our meeting with our recent convert went well, and at the end of it we felt impressed to ask him to stay with us to help us teach the less active member scheduled to meet with us immediately following his lesson. 

Our meeting with the less active member also went well, but half way through our meeting, we heard a knock on the door, which turned out to be a man with Parkinson disease, whose wife just lost her job a few days prior to his visit. Remembering that he had found help a few years back in our church, he again visited our building desperate for a bag of rice. We looked around the church for a bag of rice, and finding none, we headed to the store where each of us pitched in 10 dollars to buy a bag of rice for that man. 

After this act of service, both the less active member and our recent convert expressed how wonderful they felt. Our recent convert member even expressed his gratitude to us for inviting him to stay to teach our less active member. We had all learned about the gospel in our lessons prior to this service, but it was not until we got out and acted as we believed God would have us act, that we were filled with the spirit of His love, and with great feelings of peace and gratitude. :)

I had other things to talk about, but I have run out of time! love you all!

Elder Higham





Friday, 12 December 2014

An Important and Impactful Work

Hello Hello! 

It snowed!!! :) What an exciting time of year! I love winter! It was such a strange feeling to be so late in the year without snow! I am so happy! :)

First, before I forget, I do have some things I would like to share with my priests in Red Deer. :) I trust that the missionaries there taught of the importance of follow-up while extending the baptismal commitment. We extended a baptismal commitment this morning (which is why I am late to email). At first, our investigator flat out rejected us, but after asking a few questions to determine why he rejected the commitment, we discovered that his rejection was based purely on a lack of understanding.

He is Vietnamese and we are American talking about the gospel in Korean, so there are bound to be some misunderstandings :P He thought that we wanted his to get baptized right then, but after explaining that we want to help him learn and understand more first, he was much more open. If we don't follow-up on our commitments, even when we extend them, then we will not be able to teach effectively to our investigators' needs. 

As far as other suggestions, I would have liked to know how to work with ward council and with ward leaders before my mission, as they are the starting point for relationships in the ward, as well as the key to coordinating missionary work with the ward members. I very recently learned (and am still learning) how to work with ward council; it would have been nice to know what ward council is. Also, I didn't even know that PEC meetings existed before my mission. It would have been nice to get a better feeling for how wards work, because I didn't learn that very quickly on my mission. 

I am very curious to learn how the missionaries in Red Deer work with ward members. That would also be something to have the missionaries teach, since, from what I can remember and hear from emails, they seem to work with members quite effectively in that mission. If you could, I would very much appreciate it if you asked the missionaries how they work with members, or if you share some experiences in meeting with them. How often do they visit members homes? How many of those meetings are meal appointments? How do they prepare for messages to members?

I identified in Preach My Gospel this past week three major inhibiting factors in members' participation in missionary work: fear, a lack of knowledge/experience and lack of people to share the gospel with (for members that have been in an area for a long time and have tried to share the gospel with most of their friends). I wonder how the missionaries there deal specifically with these concerns. There is also another inhibiting factor perhaps unique to Korea that I would also like to hear your opinion on: the men here leave for work at 9 in the morning and don't return until 9 or 10 at night, most days of the week. Needless to say, this makes it hard for them to accept visits from us, as well as have family home evening. Thank you!

Anyway, we have not yet set up a computer for skype, but we have a recent convert in mind. He is going to enter his 2 year military service soon, so he does not have a job and has plenty of free time :) Now we just have to figure out a way to use his computer without asking him... 

I have not yet received any of your packages, but I am so glad to hear that you received my package! Did it arrive in good condition? I almost sent it by air; the lady at the counter saw I was a foreigner and tried to get me to spend the extra money to send it by air, but luckily I knew the vocabulary that I unfortunately do not know in English for "to send something by boat." Maybe there is no specific word for a phrase like that, Koreans love to be specific. It would have cost me around 60 dollars to send it by air, but the boat was only 16! I sent about two months ago, so I am glad it got there on time! :) 

I still have not yet found a micro sd card reader, but I my new camera has wifi, so I will see if I can send the pictures directly through email from my camera. 

I don't have much more time, but I will share one experience I had this week. We agreed, rather reluctantly, to meet our investigator at a restaurant for dinner, instead of the church, where we normally enjoy a more peaceful and quiet atmosphere. Despite the noise of the restaurant, we proceeded to follow up on his commitment to read the restoration pamphlet, then began to discuss some simple principles of prayer. Immediately intrigued, our investigator stopped us and quickly finished his meal, with the intention of going back to the church where he could formally learn how to pray.

Such innocent and genuine enthusiasm sparked in me a burning realization of the importance of my calling, which is to invite others unto Christ. I taught a man how to converse with his Father in Heaven. To most, and admittedly for the majority of my mission, this seemed a simple, insignificant reflex of missionary work, yet pausing to contemplate its eternal significance stimulated a fresh appreciation for the trust the Lord places in me to accomplish such an important and impactful work.

I hope you all have a great week!

Love Elder Higham

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Transfer Updates

안녕하세요!

I trust all of you are doing well. I suppose I should first report on transfer news! My companion became the new assistant and I am staying in 답동 with Elder Lee as my new companion. Elder Lee was in my district in the MTC, so I already know him quite well! He studied Korean at Stanford for a year before he came out, so his Korean is quite impressive. He is a thoughtful, reserved and mature missionary and I am very excited to learn from him as his companion. A major focus of self improvement recently has been discipline; discipline has always been a trait I have admired of his, so I am excited to learn from him! He is leaving 금천, where he has been for almost a year! 

We are also getting two more Elders in our ward, an Elder Hale, who is coming from my first area, 개봉, and who will be training. Thus, ends my time in a two man house, likely for the rest of my mission! I have been in a two man house for 5 transfers now, which has been beneficial in helping me to learn how to focus more entirely on missionary work. Four man houses are lots of fun, but they can be distracting at times, as I experienced a few transfers ago in 개봉 and 만수. But, Elder Hale has a very respected reputation in the mission for being a focused and hard working missionary. He accomplished veritable miracles in 개봉, where he trained two missionaries previously. I feel as though he should be zone leader instead of me! I suppose President wants to spread his goodness to as many new missionaries as he can. Wise man! I am very excited to learn from him. 

Since Elder Nemelka was becoming the new assistant, he was picked up yesterday by the office elders. Consequently, I had to find someone to be my companion, and therefore, I am now serving with Elders Green and Newbold until Wednesday. Planning has been interesting so far, as we have had to coordinate our previously arranged schedules in two different areas! It is fun. I am living in their house right now, with elders 문호빈 and 권대원, which has been a blast so far! I love living with Korean elders... they are so much fun! I did have to do stats last night by myself, as my companion went to the office, which took a little longer than usual, but being in this house is fun! Though my time to serve with Elder Nemelka was short, I thoroughly enjoyed it and learned a lot from him. I am confident he will assume well his new responsibilities in the office.

I am running out of things to talk about in email. Is there anything you would like to hear! I realize I perhaps talk about my thoughts on missionary work a lot as opposed to mentioning specific experiences. I have become so accustomed to missionary work that it is hard to remember what life was like back home. So, if there is anything specific that you want to hear, let me know!

I had an idea the other day to film myself doing various missionary activities, so that David and Jacob can understand a little more what missionary work is like. I filmed a segment of our last weekly planning and one of our daily planning sessions. I realized, however, that I cannot practically film anything outside of the house... but, I still think it would be good to see what mornings and evenings and records are like. Unfortunately, the new camera that I bought only reads micro sd cards, and seeing as I do not have a micro sd card reader at the moment, you will have to wait until next week for videos or pictures. Sorry! My new camera is much more impressive than I initially observed, however! I am SO glad I picked the cheaper camera. I will put back into my bank account the 200$ that I have left as a result sometime this week. 

Looking at one of our days this past week, I have come to realize how much I have progressed thus far on my mission in terms of using time wisely. During the first half of my mission, my days looked something like this: 8-11- study, 11-12 lunch 12-5 street contact, unless we have an appointment with an investigator 5-6 dinner 6-9 street contact, unless we have an appointment, or on days we are tired, return to the apartment at 8 to make calls to potential investigators and former investigators. 

I will recite the events of this past week, which, you will notice, are slightly different: 8-11 study 11-12 lunch 12-1 run to deliver lunch boxes to several senior citizens, so that we can complete our service project, which normally takes two hours to complete in one hour, then we quickly ran home to shower and change. After that we had to run to a school event that a recent convert in our ward invited us to, as his parents would not be able to attend. He invited us instead to see his art project and dissect a cow eye (my companion actually got sick and fainted with his head on the table during this particular activity!!).

While there, our recent convert introduced us to his friends and teachers (Our recent convert is a genius when it comes to missionary work!) We attended the aforementioned event from 1:15-2, then from 2:30-3 grab a taxi to drive to another area, where we met with one of our missionaries who wanted to do an evaluation for the Preach My Gospel Teacher Improvement program in our mission; from 3-4 we do the evaluation and walk to the bus stop, where we happened to meet some missionaries in the zone who were having a bit of a rough time. Talk to them for a brief minute to encourage them, thankful for the opportunity to be there at that moment of distress!

Then ride the bus back to our area 5:30-6, proselyte on the way to a meeting with a potential investigator for dinner. 6-7 eat dinner with Eddy, who comes to English class and wanted to talk to us about some difficulties he is having at work and in life generally. Though he does not believe in God, he asked us to pray for him and agreed to meet once a week to help us practice teaching the lessons in Korean. After supper we proselyte on the way to a member family with 6 children. From 7:30 on, we visit this lovely member family.

The mother seemed exhausted, with kids running all over the house. They struggle to come out to church sometimes because of the difficulty to get all of their children prepared and out the door. We taught them the importance of family prayer and scripture study, and then offered the kids ice cream if they would be ready for church half an hour early when we come to pick them up on Sunday morning. They agreed and the whole family made it to church on time this week! Hurrah! 8:50-9 run home, do some planning write in my journal, calls, calls, calls, jump into bed right as the clock sounds for bedtime. A jam-packed day, but it's a good life!!

Anyway, I am running out of time, love you all so much!

Elder Higham

Friday, 21 November 2014

Camera Stress!

Hello, hello!

It was good to see the pictures of Disney World! Looks like you had a ton of fun! It was kind of weird to see everyone else on a vacation like that. The good news is I still have a year left! I don't know my return date, nor do I want to know my return date!! So, I am a happy man right now! But when I get it, I will let you know. I have decided I am going to procrastinate thinking about university at least until I get my return date. Maybe longer... I don't think they let you extend for more than one transfer and we have been getting a lot of missionaries, particularly foreign missionaries, lately, but I will not go down without a fight! Maybe I should subtly mention that in my next interview with president... Don't send me home!

You will be pleased to know that I bought a camera today. I almost bought a nice one, but I felt so guilty carrying a camera so expensive, so I just bought a regular one. The one I almost bought was 350,000 won (about $355 Cdn). I know that mom wanted me to buy a nice camera, but then I imagined a conversation in my head that went something like this: mom and dad read my email together, where they learn that my camera ceased to work. Mom immediately suggests a very generous amount to put into my account, hopeful to get me a nice camera with all the latest gizmos and gadgets. Dad exhales slowly, proceeding with caution as he reduces the amount to a somewhat lower price, yet still higher than he would like. Stress! What should I do? 

The walk to the till with the more expensive camera was the longest of my life! Then, I realized that pictures are pictures and that I didn't even know what the descriptions detailing the quality of the cameras meant! So, I went with a 120,000 won ($125 Cdn) camera. It takes decent pictures, but it doesn't have any fancy colour functions or anything like that. I also realized on the train ride home that it only takes micro sd cards, so I have to buy a new sd card... technology! Stress! Koreans like to use the word "stress" a lot, in case you have not yet noticed. :)

I do not have a lot to write about, seeing as we have still not found any investigators. It has almost been a transfer now, so it is discouraging and frustrating at times. I have come to realize a more pressing concern, however; as elder Cook expressed in his visit to Korea not too long ago, our duty as missionaries is to build wards and branches. He mentioned several ways we do so, with convert baptisms only a part of his focus. As in my last area, we found, here in 답동, several areas and members which could be improved and strengthened. I'm sure there are different weak points in different areas, including Canada, in which the church has rooted; our major focus now for Elder Nemelka and I is to strengthen the weak points that we see in the ward as best we can, to enable our members to successfully accomplish their duty to share the gospel. 

We are still figuring out the best way to go about achieving our somewhat broad goal, but for now, we are visiting more members, active, less active and part members, to teach them what our mission has established as "20 minute practice lessons," during which we simply practice teaching the basic doctrines of the missionary lessons to members, according to their needs. Though the stated purpose for this program is to give missionaries an opportunity to maintain their Korean and teaching ability, I have found these particularly useful in addressing concerns of members and strengthening them effectively.

In a conversation with our ward mission leader, however, I heard something that has changed my perspective on member missionary work. He mentioned that, on his mission, he was terribly frustrated with the members' seeming lack of cooperation with the missionaries and apathy towards missionary work. His perspective changed, when he returned home and started a family, got a job and assumed many other responsibilities. He still understood that his duty to God was his top priority, but he found it a lot harder to focus on missionary work and on church callings, with so many other responsibilities. 

As much as it frustrates me, I understand that this is perhaps the case for members around the world. How do we help? I have started to be more patient, consequently, and more sympathetic towards members' concerns. I still see basic responsibilities, however, that are being shirked, a problem I am sure extends far beyond the area I am in, I assume. I so desperately want to help, as I feel confident that more focus on a few simple practices would be so beneficial for the saints I am endeavoring to serve, but I don't know how I can effectively help. I suppose all I can do now is simply follow the inspiration I receive, which, as Elder Bednar puts it, so often lights the path just far enough for us to take a few steps at a time. 

Love you all so much!

Elder Higham

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Inspired Zone Conference

Hello!

We are going to buy a camera for my companion today, but I will buy one next week; thank you for updating me on the bank account situation! When do you go to Disney World? 

To come up with an appropriate response to your question dad, I asked my companion. These are his words: "the sister training leader is the middle man between us and the sisters." In essence, I suppose that is true! :P The sister training leaders are responsible primarily for the overall welfare of the sisters in the zone. They go on exchanges with every sister in the zone (although we only have one STL in our zone now, so I don't know if she goes on exchanges with every sister or just every companionship), where they train them and report to us and to the district leaders on any struggles that they see, or any help they think would be beneficial. They also go to MLC with us every month, where they help us report on the zone. Our sister training leader in 인천 zone is sister Chao, who was in my district in the MTC!

We had zone conference this week, which was a completely different experience as a zone leader! I felt that our additional responsibilities and preparation, though exhausting, contributed to a more spiritual experience for me personally. Elder Nemelka and I invited our zone to fast before the conference to prepare to learn through the spirit, the results of which were miraculous and simply too numerous to mention! We made cookies and spend a little extra money to buy more pizzas for them during lunch, as they were fasting and would be hungry. :P We also got two dozen krispy kream doughnuts from one of our ward members, which we handed out during lunch to people who answered the some questions we prepared. The very first question I asked turned out to be the hardest; the only missionary that knew the answer was our German Elder Gehrig. The question was: "what is the capital of Canada?" No one knew except for Elder Gehrig! Yikes! :P 

Elder Nemelka and I had an interesting experience while we were preparing our training for zone conference. Our assigned topic was "Finding through the Spirit." Our first thought was simply to train on techniques for street contacting, since that has been the principle method of finding here for a significant period of time. As we were studying, however, we both felt that we should train on broadening our perspectives in our efforts to find. 

We mentioned some activities that we had tried in the past week, which consisted mostly of working with members, and trained on usage of materials that do not frequently get used by missionaries. Immediately following our training, at the conclusion of the conference, President Morrise made the very significant announcement that our mission is no longer counting proselyting conversations as a statistic, but instead will consider lessons taught to church members. In a discussion with him after the meeting, we were able to hear some of President's thoughts on this big change. 

He was quite honest and straightforward. He said that Korea needs a change in missionary work. The membership in Korea, though it is listed as 80,000, is not reflective of the active membership, which is substantially less. To give an example of the struggle that Korea faces, my previous ward's membership list consisted of about 35 active members and 500 less active members. 

He said quite simply that we need to stop spending our time on the streets and start helping the members to support themselves through basic programs such as family home evening and home and visiting teaching. He mentioned that our area president (President Ringwood) gave a talk a few months ago, in which he told us that missionary work in Korea is not the "work" of the missionaries, but rather the work of the members, whom the missionaries are called to support. Though I was shocked to hear of the change, I have come to really appreciate this timely progression in missionary work in Korea. It truly is an inspired change, and I am excited to see the results. If our stats from just this past week are any indication of the progression that will continue, then I am more than excited! In our zone, our baptismal dates went up from 2 last week to 7 this week, with an additional jump of 16 progressing investigators to 32! 

I also discovered in our discussion with president after the meeting that I was the vehicle through which president received the inspiration to initiate a greater emphasis of Korean learning, which has also changed the culture of our mission. As a result of President's push to learn Korean more effectively, many more missionaries are speaking much more Korean, setting goals to speak only Korean at certain times and consequently seeing miracles that President shares with all of us through his weekly email to the mission. 

I had set a goal to speak only Korean for a week a while back, during which I had to call president for some sort of permission, where I explained why I was speaking Korean and not English, as was normal a while ago. Apparently, he was impressed enough to make this a focus for the whole mission. He told me after zone conference of my role in that mission focus. It is a great feeling to contribute something to the mission, especially considering I went through a period of time not too long ago where I felt my efforts were anything but a contribution. 

Anyway, I am sorry there was not too much about our proselyting week in that email; I am simply so excited for these changes! :)

Love, Elder Higham

Monday, 27 October 2014

Another Great Week!

Hello!

Another great week for us here in Incheon again! I still seemed to have very little time to write in my journal, so this email will be somewhat in a journal format, to preserve some of the experiences we had this week. (I made an evening schedule last night that I will be following, and I have set a goal to write in my journal everyday again, so it won't be a problem anymore, I promise!)

I will begin with the culmination of the week. Yesterday evening, we went out to proselyte, having already far surpassed our goals for lessons and conversations, yet still short on our weekly goal of new investigators. About a half hour out, it started to sprinkle a little bit, so fearing that our suits would get ruined, we promptly started to return home, where we had planned to make calls. However, right before we getting home, the rain completely stopped, so we decided to walk past our house and keep working outside, where we met our new investigator, in the last hour of the day! His name, in romanized Korean is Kim sung chan. He seems to have a lot of interest and was very excited to meet us. 

Monday, we decided to use the church computers, as opposed to the PC방 that we normally go to, in an effort to better maintain the spirit. After emailing, we met our bishop, who was cleaning the church, so we had the opportunity we have been struggling to get, of serving him as we cleaned the church with him. There, we also had the opportunity to talk to him about some home teaching that we were hoping to arrange for our recent converts and some less actives that we had planned to visit. This resulted in our being invited to ward council this past Sunday, where we were able to discuss some of these concerns with the ward. They are awesome!

Tuesday evening, we had an interesting experience: we strayed a little from our daily plan in order to print off some records for another missionary team, which honestly could have been scheduled during daily planning the next day. This resulted in us not reaching the place we had previously scheduled to go to work, which consequently, had both Elder Nemelka and I feeling like something was wrong. We could not explain that feeling until we came home and realized that we had not follow our plan for the day, but instead put convenience as a higher priority than the work. 

Wednesday, we felt we needed to go back to the place we had designed to go the previous day to proselyte. This time, we were distracted by some legitimate and unexpected events, so we again contemplated going somewhere closer to to home to work as we were running out of time. Nevertheless, fully aware that we would only have time enough to walk there and back, we decided to go ahead. At the park where we decided to go, we saw the car parked of one of the less active, recent convert's in our ward, so we called to him. Despite the fact that he had been ignoring our previous phone calls, he answered this time and then actually showed up to church this past Sunday! He was in that area all week for an art gallery he was holding, so it was nice to know that God knew our weaknesses and provided us another day to find him!

Thursday we got to go the temple and saw the new video! It is incredible!!

Saturday, we felt that we should visit less actives in a certain area, despite our lack of data cell phones, which makes finding addresses nearly impossible. We struggled for two hours to find these houses, with very little success. I was tempted several times to abandon our endeavor in favour of proselyting, as our efforts seemed entirely fruitless. We continued, however, and a few moments later, we found a man who had lived in Orlando for 20 years and who had a surprising amount of questions about religion that he could never find the answer to on his own. We scheduled an appointment with him next week and are excited to teach him!

Also, on Saturday, I met a kid at English class, who speaks English fluently, with no accent, at the age of 10 ... which is really difficult for a native Korean. Want to know his secret? His dad made him watch English movies and television from the time he was little. THAT'S IT! He literally just sat in front of a TV for hours until he became fluent in English. His dad speaks very little English and the boy has never been to an English academy to learn English. I was astounded that he could become so fluent (with no accent) by that means. Thought you might enjoy this story, as I found it quite interesting.

I love you all, hope you have a great week!

Elder Higham

Monday, 13 October 2014

Qualify for Grace

Hola! 

Isn't it cool that speakers can speak their native language in conference now? I was hoping to hear president Uchtdorf speak german. Maybe next time. Did I ever tell you that President Morrise's son was companions with Presiden't Uchtdorf's grandson and found out that among his favorite movies is Jack Black's "School of Rock?" I smiled a grand old smile when I found that out :)

As mother predicted, I do have news of a new companion! I will be moving to 답동, to serve as zone leader of 인천 (Incheon) zone with Elder Nemelka. This will be my third area in Incheon, which, consequently, makes me the oldest incheon missionary by far! I will die in Incheon!! :P 

I was quite sad to hear that I will be leaving 부평, as I have gotten very close with all of our wonderful members, but I am excited to serve with Elder Nemelka. He is a very hard working missionary and speaks Korean very proficiently! It will be good to learn from him.

I will admit, however, I was a little intimidated by the notion of serving as zone leader. I feel that I am barely learning how to be a district leader! There are such wonderful missionaries in our zone, to whom I look up for an example, and who are seeing great success as a result of their efforts, so hearing that I was being assigned to lead them was a little daunting. It still is daunting! 

Yet, I found great strength in General Conference this past weekend. (It was so good!) I enjoyed President Uchtdorf's Priesthood session talk, "Lord, is it I?" in particular, as I feel his advice is the key to missionary work. So, David, Jacob, or anyone else who might be preparing for a mission, I highly recommend reading and re-reading this talk. 

Perhaps a mission is less of simply a mandate to serve than it is a call to change one's very nature, in preparation to become an instrument in the hands of the Lord. A comment in President Uchtdorf's talk supports this idea. He promised that as we make pursuing Christ-like attributes our priority, then we will become effective tools in God's hands. 

I think there are many missionaries who focus the majority of their time on studying doctrine in great detail, in attempt to understand every point and prepare a complete front against any who question or challenge. Studying doctrine is indeed absolutely essential as a missionary, but as we remember that we are emissaries of Jesus Christ, we realize that, in essence, we are the very message. Once we understand this great truth, I suppose bettering ourselves and becoming like Christ naturally should become the greatest focus of our service. In doing so, we qualify ourselves for grace, which God has explicitly stated He freely gives to the humble. Just as president Uchtdorf stated, that "the first step to discipleship is our asking 'is it I?' I would assert that our constant self evaluation as missionaries provides us with the greatest tool to become effective advocates of truth. 

In reflection of this talk, I have come to better appreciate the scripture I chose for my missionary plaque, in Ether 12:27. His grace is sufficient for those that humble themselves before Him and have faith in Him. This is exactly what we need as missionaries. Grace. As the qualification for receiving such, to humble oneself, are against basic human nature, we cannot afford to criticize, or judge others! We need to work on ourselves, tirelessly!

That is about it for this week. There were so many good talks in conference that I would love to talk about, but this one made the greatest impact on me.

Love you all so much! Have a great week!

Elder Higham 

Come Unto Christ

Hello again,

Happy Birthday tomorrow, Dad! Thanks for the great example and inspiration you have been through my maturing years, especially now, on my mission. I quite enjoyed your email this week, as I felt it was perhaps exactly what I needed to hear at this point in my mission. I can relate to the lack of faith that unfortunately sometimes is stimulated by a lack of visible success! I still work hard, but as you mentioned, there are times when I find myself simply going through the motions, not really expecting to see any baptisms. 

Additionally, I sometimes discover, after some self evaluation that my personal missionary purpose becomes distorted to "helping Elder Higham learn Korean," as opposed to helping others come unto Christ. Learning Korean is indeed a worthy endeavor here in Korea, but it definitely should not become more of a priority than sharing the gospel. So, thank you! 

I can't wait for conference!! We do, in fact, have to wait another week, before we can watch it with our ward. Elder Anderson and I had to print off a conference talk on the computer for a ward member yesterday and we opened lds.org to see a great big announcement, urging us to "watch conference live." Needless to say, my self discipline was tested. 

Speaking of General Conference, I recall mom talking about the Korean children singing in the General Women's broadcast and have a bit of information to add that you might find interesting. Those were the children in the 영등포 (yeoungdungpo) ward, the ward in which Elder DeMille now currently serves. They sang in the giant 영등포 building, where we have all of our mission conferences, so I have been exactly where those kids were, many times!

I want a Korean companion! Now, don't misinterpret my expression; I do sincerely enjoy working with Elder Anderson! I have learned so much from him and have thoroughly enjoyed the time I have spent serving with him! But, transfers are coming up and I will have finished training him, so it is likely that we will part ways ... in the which case I want a Korean companion! 

This fresh zeal was born Wednesday, as I went on exchanges with 김재겸, who having formerly served as assistant to President Morrise, now serves as zone leader in our 인천 zone. I quite enjoyed speaking Korean with him for two days; he is quite a proficient English speaker, but I didn't let him speak any English! He is going home next transfer, so he has had his time to learn English from the foreign missionaries! :) This glimmer of hope for a Korean companion is, however, simply a glimmer at best, since after I jokingly suggested to President Morrise that I should get a Korean companion sometime, he responded that it would likely not happen... But, I still have hope!

I did have an interesting experience with Elder 김 (Kim), however, that I would like to include. Last week, we received a less active couple as a referral from some sister missionaries serving in another area. For some reason, we completely forgot to visit them, until Wednesday evening, when I was suddenly enlightened to the fact that we had not visited them yet. I told Elder Kim, who, upon seeing the name, eagerly expressed that the sister we were to visit was actually in his MTC 동기 (I'm not sure exactly how that translates) ... they went to the MTC at the same time and were in the same district. 

Apparently, she married shortly after she got off her mission, then became less active. Elder Kim had the chance to see her and talk to her, friend to friend, about some of her concerns and share with her a talk that he just happened to have in his backpack, which addressed her concerns perfectly! That experience should not have happened! Indeed, the hand of God was visible, testifying to His presence and 감리 in this, His work.

This week I spent a significant portion of my studies in Preach My Gospel learning about the role of the Book of Mormon in conversion and missionary work. We discovered that several members of our ward struggle to feel the spirit and garner testimonies of the gospel. All of these members without exception are not reading the Book of Mormon daily. 

I read a talk from Ezra Taft Benson, who quoted President Marion G. Romney in his exhortation to read the Book of Mormon: "I feel certain that if, in our homes, parents will read from the Book of Mormon, prayerfully and regularly, both by themselves and with their children, the spirit of that great book will come to permeate our homes and all who dwell therein. The spirit of reverence sill increase; mutual respect and consideration for each other will grow. The spirit of contention will depart. Parents will counsel their children in greater love and wisdom. Children will be more responsive and submissive to the counsel of their parents. Righteousness will increase. Faith, hope, charity - the pure love of Christ - will abound in our homes and lives, bringing in their wake peace, joy and happiness." 

For some reason, I felt I wanted to share that. Love you all and hope you have a great week!

Elder Higham

Pday bike ride for the missionaries ... we loved it!

Elder Anderson and I in his selfie!

:)

Monday, 29 September 2014

Grateful in Every Circumstance

Hello again,
 
Another birthday! Happy Birthday Ben! :) Luckily, I have a calendar, else I would not be able to keep up with all of these birthdays! That calendar that you send me last year is awesome! I love it! :)
 
I heard about the Korean children in the General Relief Society broadcast! As you know I'm sure, sister Burton is the wife of the last mission president in the old Seoul West mission, which is now the Seoul South mission, so they quite enjoyed their visit to Korea a while ago. I quite enjoyed both of the talks they gave when they visited our mission. Did they sing in English?
 
We also studied President Uchtdorf's talk in Priesthood on Sunday, "Grateful in Every Circumstance." Although, I made the mistake of making a joke when I was asked a question; the teacher drew a glass half full of milk on the board, then asked me if I thought it was good that there was milk in the glass, or if I thought that milk was missing, to which I replied that we never seemed to have milk in our house, so it was good that there was milk in the glass. Following my comment, there was a five minute discussion in which we had to convince the ward that we were not starving to death... oops! :)
 
In all seriousness, however, I really appreciated that talk and lesson, as I felt it was the completion of a more general lesson I seem to have learned recently. In the experience of certain events this week, I again, unfortunately, yet temporally allowed my emotional disposition to reflect a discouragement that is perhaps naturally generated in response to these specific circumstances. I attempt now to convey in writing some emotions that I have experienced in the past few weeks, yet most intensely over a span of a few days this week, keeping as an excuse for my probable insufficiency the fact that I have not attempted such a venture in my native tongue for a significant period of time in mind.
 
As a matter of certainty, I have come to understand and appreciate the Atonement on a much more personal and comprehensive level; yet intricately entwined with this heap of fresh knowledge is also a better understanding of the great suffering that fundamentally underlines this expiating sacrifice. Of course, I do not make the blasphemous assertion that I now empathize with this suffering the Saviour experienced as a result of some of my recent obstacles; what I have been called upon to bear does not in any way compare to the monumental feat of the Saviour. Yet, I suppose, I have seriously ventured for the first time in my life toward the riotous waves of discipleship, upon which many much nobler than I have been tossed, buffetted and abused.
 
Indeed, these waves tenaciously and seemingly unceasingly assault the heart and soul and in moments of desperation, the common cry of frustrated agony seems to fluster unheard amidst swirling winds that agitate the drowning influence of life's greatest sorrows: "where is the dawn?" In such moments, the invariable response to our plight is recognized only as we discipline ourselves to look up, to see the Master's warm smile and beckoning, outsretched hands. Contrary to my initial understanding, I have come to discover that perhaps the influence of the Atonement is not to relieve us of trial, or even to bear us up noticeably at all times. As we rely in faith on the Saviour, He will not let us fall, yet at times, it seems, He will allow us to experience, in a very small way, what He experienced as He took upon Himself the pains and afflictions of the world.
 
A basic purpose of this life is to learn, and often, He who knows how to succor His people will see fit to let us learn through our suffering, for it is in such suffering that we discover two basic, yet eternal decisions: we can chose to succumb to the buffettings of the adversary, or we can look to the Lord for relief. The former may temporarily relieve some opposition at best, yet in most cases an abandonment of God will simply sever our principle line of hope, thus plummetting us to the depths of despair, as we frantically seek to replace such influence with other temporary sources. The latter, however grants us the chance not necessarily to be lifted immediately, but to be filled with hope as we look up, distracted from the trials that surround us and allows us to see the chances the Saviour gives us to find spiritual respite, with the treasures of knowledge we have gained in our journey. In His great wisdom and mercy, the Saviour will not always calm the storms of our lives, for such is needed to grow; yet He will never let us fall. Armed with such knowledge, I find such great peace every day, regardless of circumstance.
 
President visited our ward this week and he and his wife gave two excellent talks. I immediately appreciated sister Morrise's talk, as I recoginzed it addressed our investigator's current struggle to read the scriptures. I came to fully appreciate president Morrise's talk yesterday evening, as we visited a part member family. We planned to visit them to follow up on a service challenge we gave them last week, and as we got talking, the less active husband mentioned one of his primary concerns, namely, he felt he did not have as much faith as he once had. We began to talk about faith, referrencing some scriptures, then began to talk about why we came on missions. Elder Anderson talked about his decision, then I began to talk about my decision. I had planned to talk about how my faith grew mostly after I made the decision, then acted on it and started serving, yet something strange happened that I had never experienced before. I said one sentence at most, before my mind went utterly blank. I could not remember anything I had planned to say, even in the slightest. I struggled for several moments, then finally, the topic was changed.
 
Moments later, the sister missionaries, unaware of our presence, knocked on the door to visit the family, after which we left and the sisters went in. They talked to the couple, especially to the wife, who is an active member, but expressed the concern that she did not know how to recognize the spirit, the very topic president Morrise talked on. The sisters were then able to talk with her and help her. Though it was terribly frustrating at the time, I am very grateful for the experience that I had of a "stupor of thought." I know that God knew exactly what that couple needed to hear and that what I had planned to say was not it! It brings such comfort, knowing that God is in charge and will direct us in this His great and marvelous work. 

Have a wonderful week ... Love you all so much!
Elder Higham










Tuesday, 23 September 2014

The Price Paid

Hello all:

Happy Birthday David!!!! Again, It is not your birthday in Canada yet, but it is here in Korea, so happy birthday! I hope you all had a great week! I don't have much to report on and I have no emails yet from home, from which I can form this email, so I apologize if this email is not very interesting!

This week, I came to understand to a greater extent the blessings available through the atonement of the Saviour. I first read in Mosiah chapter 3, verse 7: "And lo, He shall suffer temptations and pains of body, hunger, thirst and fatigue, even more than man can suffer,

except it be unto death; for behold, blood cometh from every pore, so great shall be His anguish for the wickedness and abominations of His people." It is truly humbling to read of the Saviour's atonement. To think that someone so great willingly suffered so much for people so imperfect, that He might know exactly how to succor them and eventually lift them up to exaltation fills my heart and soul with such great joy. I find great comfort in knowing that He is perfectly capable and willing to help us in all of our specific challenges and concerns.


We fasted this tuesday, for our investigator 이희용 (ee hee yong), specifically to discover how we could best help him prepare for baptism. Fasting as a missionary is hard, I have discovered, particularly when you have no appointments, most of your members work until 11 at night and the weather is not as cool as you are used to! I was a little worn out and felt, more than I normally do, the pain of so many rejections and preconceived hatred on the street as we endeavored to talk to people. I fervently prayed for strength, yet my burden did not seem to be lifted in any degree. We had an appointment scheduled with our bishop, so we ventured to his house at the appropriate time and enjoyed a fabulous meal his wife made (she is an awesome cook!), after which we talked to him about how we could better serve the ward members. As he responded, giving us a few names of people to visit, I felt such an overwhelming feeling of peace and sense of contribution, which I had struggled to feel prior to our appointment with him.

Fast forward a little to Sunday. Again, we had no appointments. I was again feeling slightly discouraged. To be honest, I was feeling quite discouraged. All but one investigator dropped us, and we had to postpone his baptismal date indefinitely, since he struggles to keep all the commitments needed for baptism, and has gotten sick, so is unable to meet very frequently. We watch 'The District' videos as part of our 12 week training program for Elder Anderson, which are normally very inspiring and helpful, but for some reason, watching them this week stimulated some discouragement, as I watched one companionship struggle for two or so months without a baptism, then after hard work, having the opportunity to help someone receive baptism. I selfishly compared myself to him and got frustrated, as I have been working diligently for a year and have still not had the opportunity to see someone progress toward baptism.

So, Sunday afternoon, was a little hard for me. I again prayed fervently, but to no avail, it seemed. I wondered why I did not receive help immediately, as I have before. Nevertheless, I recognized my selfishness in the feelings that I was experiencing and continued to pour out my soul to God. Hours later, as we were about to return home, I received two simple, yet very clear promptings. The first was to work on our member book during dinner, which I had been procrastinating to do for a while, as opposed to watching a conference talk which I had been planning to do. I thought this was a little silly, as I deemed I could find much more encouragement from the words of the prophets and apostles, than from working on a member book. As I started to update information in the member book, and to write notes about the members, I was overcome with such a tremendous love for them, which spread to the Korean people in general. I was lifted beyond what I was initially expecting, which allowed me to perform cheerfully my duties for the rest of the evening.

The second bit of inspiration I received was to write in my journal in English. Lately, I have been writing in Korean, in an effort to improve my writing skills in Korean, yet I felt strongly that I needed to write in English. I found this also to be very beneficial, as it allowed me to freely express some of the feelings that had weighed me down throughout the day.

Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we do not only receive salvation, but we can be lifted to overcome every single trial that we face in this life. I have come to know this fact this week. As I noticed, we are not always lifted immediately; Elder Holland, in his talk "missionary work and the atonement" that mom sent me a few weeks ago (I have no doubt that this was also inspired, as it too played a key role in my discoveries of the atonement this week), says that he feels that in missionary work, we are often called upon to, in some very minor extent "walk the road to Gethsemane," that we might know, at least to some degree that price that was paid to lift us through life's adversities ... I know this to be true.

Thank you for your emails, I just read them :) Also, thank you so much for the package that you sent me this week, with all of your letters! I quite enjoyed reading them and feasting on the chocolate that you sent :)

Love you all so much!


Elder Higham





Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Sushi Saga

Hello again!

So, I am not going to talk about the fact that I have been out a year already, save to tell you that I have not received your package yet, but I am sure it will come soon! We go to the temple this week, so perhaps it will be there. Time goes too fast!!

I will supplement my weekly Korean culture fact for an interesting experience I had this week. To preface this story: Elder Anderson visited some more members this week, as part of our goal (to visit a member, or at least have some contact with a member everyday), which miraculously resulted in a referral from one of our young men! We planned to eat sushi together with him and his friend on Saturday, but his friend had another commitment come up, so he could not make it.

We told our young man that we would take him out for sushi instead, where we got closer with him and had the chance to talk a little bit about his friend as well. Then came the time to pay for the bill, which despite the sign in front, indicating a much cheaper price, the total for three people came to $60 dollars!! Thankfully, I had a little extra money saved up for emergencies! :P I did not realize sushi was so expensive! Its not even incredibly tasty! Perhaps my view of Japan is a little biased being in Korea, but I don't think I will ever eat sushi again... It was a good experience though! :)


This week, I conducted my first district meeting. Upon reflection of some of the recent trainings President Morrise has given, I set a theme for our district this transfer of lifelong learning, specifically in the areas of Korean learning, and the development of humility and patience. So, to begin every district meeting, we each share a Korean word/expression/grammar form that we have found to be useful recently, a tip on Korean culture, or report on individual progress in the attributes of humility and patience, all on a rotational basis. I will admit, I was a little nervous at first to give a training, but I was blessed to be supported by the spirit and presented the material much more clearly and more organized than I normally am capable of doing.

I will talk a little bit about our investigator, 이희용 (ee hee yong). As I previously mentioned, he has a baptismal date on the 28. One of my great fears, however, is to baptize someone who is not prepared to make the covenant of baptism, and as Elder Anderson and I were talking about him today in companionship study, we feel that perhaps he might not be ready. We are going to fast tomorrow, striving to discover whether we should postpone his baptismal date, or whether we should push for the 28th.

He is accepting everything very well; we flew through the two big committments that normally prove to be an obstacle for most investigators, namely the law of chastity and the word of wisdom; yet we have not been able to notice any change of sign of true conversion in his disposition, as of yet. Perhaps this stems from a lack of understanding; this past Sunday, for example, we were in our gospel principles class, where he was asked if he knew what the plan of salvation was, to which he responded he did not, despite our having already taught him the entire lesson... He does understand things a little bit more slower than most, which also makes Book of Mormon reading a little bit of a challenge. I have no doubt that he can get to baptism, but perhaps we simply need a little bit more time, to make sure that he understands the extent of the implications associated with baptism.

I was quite dismayed to hear of the death of M. Malenfant. I have learned many things on my mission, several of which I feel to have lacked in High School. Ever since being in his social studies class, I have regretted the pride that I was plagued with, resulting in my frustration with him in the way that he marked exams, as I deemed it to be against my style of learning. He was, in fact, a wonderful teacher and a good man and had a tremendous impact on the french program at Lindsay Thurber, as well as the French exchange program, which he executed impressively well! He will be missed by many, including me.

I hope you all have a great week, love you all very much!

I can't wait for General Conference next month!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Love, Dallin




From the mission talent show