The Path of Christian Discipleship

The Path of Christian Discipleship

Monday, 26 May 2014

Fortress Mountain

Hello everyone,

I posted a ton of pictures this week (most of them are from our zone conference this week) ... so enjoy! :)

On Monday for pday this week, Elder DeMille and I went to my last area in Mansu and met up with Elders Park, Godfrey, Berry, and Meeks, then traveled to these interesting local wetlands and saw a whole bunch of crabs, mudfish, and bird-watching huts. We spent pretty much the whole day there observing the "wildlife" and it was a ton of fun and adventure.

Watching the crabs below.

Beautiful bird-watching huts.
Elders Park and Godfrey.
So for zone conference this week, President Morrise decided to stray a little from our traditional conference setting, and held it on the top of 난한산선 mountain! We arrived at 9:00 a.m. and spent the day hiking up the mountain, pausing now and then to have meetings on the way, and then another at the top. It was quite the experience! Up to now, it sort of felt like there was nothing but city in Korea! As you can see however, this mountain area was so beautiful! If I remember correctly, it's the fortress where the King would go when he was threatened, as it is well guarded by an 11 km wall built by monks.

During the conference, I also learned some inspiring things. The theme of the conference was "Qualifying for the Work." More specifically, I personally learned that Faith and Charity are what I need to more fully develop to qualify myself for the work. Love is the foundation for the Lord's great Plan of Happiness, and is an attribute I must emulate in all aspects of missionary work. We learned that the greatest way to show love for others and for the Lord is to offer our lives, our personal desires, fears and discomforts to do all we can to serve our fellow "Korean" souls. Upon reflection, I decided that I do this in a way that perhaps does not yet satisfy me entirely, but enough to devote more attention to other endeavors.

Faith, on the other hand, is perhaps something I need to strive more diligently to attain. Not a basic faith in God, but rather maintaining a faith to find. The principles of faith that were outlined in the conference were as follows: Be believing, commit to act, pray, go and do your part and expect opposition. I feel that I do all of those quite effectively, save maybe the first. It was a mentality introduced to me early in my mission by an elder doing a training, where he expressed his opinion (observing the little success he seemed to have, compared to the great success others who did not work as hard as he had), that God sometimes gives more "success" (including baptisms) to those who need it, for whatever reason. 

Unfortunately, I sort of adopted this way of thinking, focusing only on working hard, and in a way almost letting my lack of baptisms be a demonstration of my hard work. Realizing how silly that was, I decided to work on having the faith that I would see some results of my labours. I then combined what I learned about faith and charity to summarize what I believe to be principles of power that allow us to see miracles: Have faith, act with love and diligence, and be in harmony with Christ's will. Though I have worked very hard for a long time, I realized that hard work must be predicated on those other principles as well. 

So, I decided to apply these the best I could this week and happened to get two new investigators! Fancy that. You'd think I would have thought of this sooner... :P Our first new investigator is a man who gets our daily english message (an old investigator in the phone binder), and he asked us to meet with him again. He met with missionaries in the past and even had a baptismal date set at one point, but somehow lost contact with the missionaries (I'm not sure how yet). 

Our next is a man we met on the street who expressed interest in our family english program. So we now have four investigators! I am too lazy to switch to the Korean keyboard, so I will write their names in english: Kim Dey Nam, Ee Meen Ho, Kim Hyoung Tey and Kim Yun Su.

Kim Dey Nam (it feels so strange to write his name like this!) came to church yesterday and was warmly welcomed by the ward, even to the point of some of our Relief Society sisters asking his age and then introducing him to the women in the ward his age! :P It was quite amusing. I think he had a great time at church and felt welcomed by the members. I love my ward!

Inspired by what we learned at the conference, Elder DeMille and I also decided to try some other new things during the week which really seemed to make a difference for a lot of people. For example, we took some silly pictures of ourselves, printed them off, then went throughout the week delivering them to members in our ward who had birthdays. It was a lot of fun and we received a ton of love back in return from the members who seemed so appreciative. One family insisted that we come in and join them for a full meal (which rarely happens in Korea!), while tons of other members said they want to start coming to our English class or start receiving the little English message we send out every day. A very rewarding week indeed!

These silly pictures were fun and very well-received.

This is the family who insisted that we stay for dinner cause they were so happy to see us with the birthday greetings. We really appreciated their warmth and kindness.

Well, that's all I have time to say for today! Oh, I did not get your package yet, but we go to the temple on Thursday, so I'm sure I will get it then from the office elders. And we have Elder Cook coming to speak to us at our mission conference this Saturday! I am very excited!

Love you all and have a super week!


Awesome walking trail!

Can see the wall the monks built to protect the fortress ... 11 km long!!

Elder DeMille in the tan pants.

This is a whole new side of Seoul I'd never seen before. So beautiful.

I don't know how old the wall and fortress are, but they've been around a while!

Almost reminds me of the great wall of China (mini version!).

Here's the fortress at the top of the mountain.

Close-up view of it.

Elder DeMille and I - great team!

Reunited with my MTC companion - so great to see him again!!

Our apartment building.

View from a window in our apartment.

We have a tiny, little balcony in our place.

This kinda stuff is pretty much all the greenery I'm used to seeing in Seoul, so that hike to the fortress was indeed a special treat for all of us.
Street level outside our apartment.
Don't know how Elder DeMille made these flowers appear red, but I like it!
Gotta learn how he does that!
Public transit in Seoul is an absolute wonder! So advanced, efficient, timely, comprehensive, clean, and affordable ... a definite feather in their cap for sure!
Hmmm, where did that carnation come from?!

Friday, 23 May 2014

Korean Camping

Hello hello!

I hope this finds you all happy and having a great time camping ... Canadian camping! When Koreans camp, they set up tents in a park and hang around for the day. When they go hiking, they get all dressed up in spotless, seemingly brand new hiking gear and walk on a trail in the city. It is quite amusing. ;)

To start, I will mention that I had some wonderful experiences this week ... First, I would like to thank Dad for the wonderful father and priesthood example he has been and is. I've had some experiences here in Korea that have really made me appreciate what a special father he is in a way that I'd never understood before. It truly is such a blessing in my life and has provided me with a clear vision of the kind of man, father and priesthood holder I want to be. Thanks dad.
I had a particular experience with the spirit this week that I deeply appreciate. As I mentioned in a previous email, I had been impressed while reading Preach My Gospel to start making a more serious effort to visit less active members. Elder DeMille and I spent the week hunting many of these people down, with absolutely no success ... not a single person we visited was home or lived where the record said anymore. 

However, we had stake conference this weekend, in which President Ringwood (our area president), another general authority (whose name now escapes me), and President Morrise were all in attendance. President Ringwood, when he got up to speak, informed us of that the topic of the conference was the Work of Salvation and noted that he'd been given specific instructions directly from President Monson on what to say in this little Incheon stake, as well as whom to invite (the missionaries and all of the youth were specifically invited to this Saturday evening session). 

During his talk, President Ringwood stressed two major points: member missionary work and less active member reactivation. He told of several stories of wards that have been very successful in reactivating many of their less active members and testified that we would see miracles if we worked together as members and missionaries to find less active members and bring them back into the fold. 

I look upon this experience with reverence and gratitude ... I suppose the Lord could have simply let me hear the instruction from President Ringwood on the importance of less active member visits, but He allowed me to experience receiving that inspiration directly for myself before the conference, and then confirmed that inspiration through President Ringwood. I have been studying lately how to be more able to understand spiritual promptings, and this was indeed a great blessing to me.

I suppose I will mention some things I learned in Preach My Gospel this week. Thank you for sharing what you've learned! I read in the first chapter, and found an additional answer to my search for the capability to understand more clearly the promptings of the spirit. I read one paragraph that stood out to me. It exhorts us to keep our expectations high. Lowering our expectations decreases our effectiveness, therefore lowering our desire, and as a result, we will have difficulty following the spirit. So, this week, I have set HIGH expectations, starting with being exactly obedient, a principle beautifully demonstrated by the stripling warriors in Alma 57:21 in the Book of Mormon. Their strict adherence to God's commandments brought miracles. I am therefore expecting the same as I strive to be exactly obedient here in the mission field.

I will cut this here, as I have some other emails I would like to answer. Love you all very much!

Love, Dallin

These huge apartment buildings dot the landscape in Bupyeong - rows and rows of them! Bupyeong (population ~500,000) is one of ten districts in Incheon, a suburb city to Seoul.
Night view in humid Bupyeong.
Lovely little nature in big concrete jungle.

Another angle.

It's been raining a lot lately ...

 Pretty much soaked from the waist down!

 Just another rainy day in Bupyeong. ;)

 Apartment in our new area in Bupyeong. Every apartment I've been in so far has been clean, modern-ish, and functional (and all have a clothes washer on site, but no dryer ... so we hang dry our clothes).

 Shot from the front door, through the kitchen, into our study/living room.

My trusty study desk.

My new comp, Elder DeMille, looks thrilled for personal study today!

These are the most comfortable "beds" I've slept on so far in my mission! They are actually much more comfortable than they look, though it did take some getting used to sleeping on the floor on mats. 
Definitely different but I'm used to it now.

Beautiful tract of green in Bupyeong!