The Path of Christian Discipleship

The Path of Christian Discipleship

Monday, 21 July 2014

Mistaken Miracle

Hello again,

First of all, Auntie Chris's party looked and sounded so fun! And all of the pictures of the water looked so refreshing! I'm happy you all had fun! It is so hot here! You can't escape it! I have resorted to sticking my head in the freezer regularly just to cool off!! It smells terrible because of the food trash we keep there, but it is worth it! Have I told you about food trash? In Korea, you have to separate food waste from other trash, so we keep our food waste in a bag in the freezer, so it doesn't stink up the rest of the house.

As for other Korean culture information this week, I went to another funeral while I was on exchanges this week in 계산, where I learned a lot about Korean tradition at funerals. When you enter the funeral home, there is a big arrangement of flowers, wreaths and candles, with a picture of the deceased person in the forefront. You take a flower out of a jar off to the side, put it in with the arrangement, then bow on your hands and knees, placing your forehead on your hands, twice to the deceased person, then turn and bow once to the family, who stands off to the side. Then, you are required to eat a bunch of food that the family provides, no matter what it looks like, or smells like, you have to eat it! Interesting.

We got transfer calls on Saturday evening! Elder DeMille will be leaving to 영등포 (Youngdeungpo), to "greenie break" an Elder Johnson. I will be staying in 부평 and training! I am sad to leave Elder DeMille, yet very excited to train as well. I think Elder DeMille and I progressed a lot together as a companionship; I have seen his focus on missionary work sharpen and am really impressed with the improvement in his Korean ability. Principally, I think I have learned how to be more charitble from Elder DeMille, something I value and am appreciative for.

In other news, it is Elder Berry's last week of missionary service, so we are going to a meat buffet with him today. I will miss him! He was a wonderful companion and I will always value his friendship. I don't know who I will call for help with Korean anymore, as he knew absolutely everything and explained it all so well!

I will mention one other experience I had this week. I saw the hand of God more visibly yesterday than I had for a while. This experience began in the MTC, where I met a sister preparing to leave for Japan. I'm not sure if you remember this, but upon her discovery of our assignment to the Korea Seoul South mission, she got excited and informed us she had a sister who served a mission, but had since become less active and was living in the Seoul South area. Her sister's name is Jennifer Bowman. I felt a strong impression at the time to write the name down in my journal. The sister in the MTC (I can't remember her name) desperately asked us to find her sister and invite her to come back to church.

Yesterday, I received a call from the office couple, informing me that there was a Jennifer Bowman in a 나누리 (Nanoori) hospital, who needed a priesthood blessing. I recognized the name immediately and promptly called the number. Jennifer answered, but quickly gave the phone to her mother, who told me that Jennifer had already gone through surgery and was recovering fine (the email that she sent requesting a blessing went to Elder Groessbeck's spam forlder for some reason, so he didn't see it until after her surgery). 

Before we hung up however, I had the chance to tell the mother that I met her other daughter in the MTC many months ago, and that she'd told me about Jennifer, and the mother was thrilled and wanted to meet with us. Unfortunately for us, however, they live in 강남 (Gangnam) area, so we're not able to teach them. Apparently, when Elder Groessbeck saw the email, he quickly searched 나누리 hospital on the computer and for some reason, there happened to be another one in my area that popped up first, so he sent the information to me (even though the referral should have gone to the missionaries in her area). 

I recognize the hand of God in that "seeming mistake" of giving me the information, and I am deeply humbled by the experience. I am still trying to figure out why I had this experience, however, as they are not in my area and I simply gave the information to the sisters in the 강남 area. Perhaps it was simply a spiritual witness for me in answer to my pleas to receive another witness of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon, which I have been attempting recently (in response to a challenge from the zone leaders). Perhaps, I was simply supposed to recognize the name to stress to the sisters in 강남 the importance of finding her, or to provide her with an experience that might soften her heart. In don't know. Regardless, I am indeed grateful to be a part of it and hope the best for Jennifer Bowman.

Anyways, I think that is all for this week. Love you all and hope you have a great week!

Love, Dallin

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Go Back to America!


I never know how to greet you; there are only so many ways to greet people and I'm starting to feel terribly repetitive at times! Anyways, in an attempt to remember some things that are different about Korea that I could share with you today, I kept a list throughout the week, but somehow that list did not make it here with me ... I will try to remember everything I can! 

Perhaps one of the first things I noticed when I came to Korea (aside from the motorbikes that drive on the sidewalks) were the 할머니 gatherings. Elderly Korean women hang out all the time, like kids on play dates, and do things together; these activities range from dancing together in the park, to squatting on the side of the street yelling at each other and laughing so hard that the whole neighbourhood can hear them! It's very unique, and I suppose men do it as well, but they mostly just drink when they get together. They aren't as creative. ;)

Another interesting difference is that around this time of the year, there is a type of bug that comes out in Korea. I don't know what it is called and I have yet to see it, but it fills the streets with a deathly screaming sound every morning!! When I first heard it, I thought someone was cutting metal outside our apartment. I will try to get a video of it this week!

The last thing I will mention about the Korean culture is the school hours. I hate to be negative in any way, but this is perhaps my least favorite part of Korean culture. Students in Korea leave for school around the same time students in Canada do, yet on an average day, they do not come home until 10 or 11 o'clock at night. They do get a break on Saturdays since they get out of school at 5, but they still have to go to school on Saturdays. In many cases, they end up working til 10 or so on Saturdays as well, as many people work very late in the evening.  It makes for such a long day for students and families, and makes it a little difficult to meet with members. I feel terrible for the Korean people and have had several lengthly disscussions with students from our ward about the stress and toll their schedules take. However, the contrast with the living conditions in North Korea, just over the border, is still quite remarkable.

We did manage to visit some members this week, however, and we received three member referrals! These are the first I have received on my mission, so to get three in one week was almost overwhelming! We were so excited. The first we received from a fairly recent convert (her and her daughter converted to the church two years ago and come regularly). She wants us to visit her son and get acquainted with him. We went over to their house yesterday to meet him and bring them brownies, it went well! 

The second we received from a member who has a friend that was interested in our English message that we send out every morning. We have not yet called him, but have started to send him the English message, and have communicated a little bit through text. 

The last was a 20 year old kid, who was brought to our English class by another one of our ward members. We got to meet him and will likely start our English 30/30 program (30 mins English, 30 mins Gospel) this week.

President Morrise, in an attempt to increase our teaching proficiency in Korean and to give us a chance to interact more with our members, introduced a new initiative, in which missionaries meet with members for 20 mins to practice teaching lessons with them. We have started to do try do these this week, first with our bishop. He was a little hesitant to let us teach him the lessons, as he seemed to feel that he didn't need them. It was a little bit of an awkward situation, as he directed any questions we asked to his daughter, who pretended not to understand anything we said... Nevertheless, Elder DeMille did an excellent job at staying focused and teaching the principles in the lesson (Elder DeMille lead out the lesson, to give him an opportunity to practise). 

On the way home, had another interesting experience: this lady followed us the majority of the way home yelling at the top of her lungs, telling us we were from the devil and commanding us to 'Go back to America!!' I am used to having people look at us on the street, as we are foreign and always in shirts and ties, but I don't think I have ever had so many people stare at me in my life!

The rest of our practise lessons went very well. We were able to get closer with some of our members and together feel of the spirit as we re-learned basic doctrine. Also, I was asked to give a talk this past Sunday in church, so, among other things, I formally introduced this new initiative during my talk. I will send you a copy of the talk (I will send an English copy too, don't worry!).

I'm sorry to say, I didn't study PMG a lot this week, as I was preparing for my talk and just finished another topic Book of Mormon study, this time with Faith as a focus, so I spent most of my personal study reviewing what I had written and compiling my learning into several categories.

I love you all so much! Transfer calls are this Saturday, so I will let you know what happens next week! Have a great week!!

Love, Dallin

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Summer Seoul Sweat!

Hello again,

In consideration of your request, I am trying to think of things I did this past week in Korea that perhaps might seem strange to you. It is quite difficult for me, everything seems so normal! If you have any specific questions about the culture, that would be very helpful. 

This week, we did go to a 감자탕 restaurant with our investigator and a ward member (감자탕 is a soup with cow bone and potatoes in it. You could probably look it up for a better description). While we were there, our investigator convinced us to try a 고추 pepper. I took a great big bite out of it and though I do feel I am fairly accustomed to spicy food now, my eyes immediately started watering and my fingers and toes started to go numb. When I started to see stars, I was convinced I was going to pass out, but I made it! I have a picture of my companion eating the pepper, that I will send to you. Powerful stuff!!

The only other detail about Korean life that I can think of right now is the HEAT! (probably because I am sweating profusely right now, as I type!)  I think the heat itself would be fine, were it not for the humidity. I have simply gotten used to being wet all the time. I don't have time to wash my clothes everyday, so sometimes I just have to pick the pants and shirts that smell the best... :)

This week did not go exactly as we planned it to go, as the majority of our appointments cancelled for one reason or another and we unfortunately had to drop some investigators. So, a greater portion of our week was spent out on the hot streets talking to people that clearly did not want to be out in the heat! We did have an excellent zone training meeting this week, however, with the Book of Mormon as a major focus. I realized during the training, that although I do have a very solid testimony of this church, I can always strengthen it.

Upon serious self reflection, I came to the discovery that my testimony is centered primarily on the experience I had at Joseph's Legacy camp, about the restoration. I know the Book of Mormon is true because I know Joseph Smith was a prophet. This, I believe, is perhaps adequate for most purposes, yet I want to strengthen my general testimony by reapplying Moroni's challenge to read and pray about the Book of Mormon, this time with a more focused and detailed approach, in an attempt to cement the Book of Mormon alongside the restoration and the atonement in the foundation of my testimony (I have done something similar to this with the doctrine of the atonement; there is sooo much to study and learn from that event, the study of which is truly humbling). 

As part of my language study every morning, I also read two pages in the Korean Book of Mormon. Sometimes I have no idea what is going on, but it has helped my reading ability a lot, which is a skill that not very missionaries bother to develop, I have noticed.

Since the majority of my studies has been focused on the Book of Mormon, I have not had too much time to study PMG lately, although there was an announcement recently made by the missionary department that requires missionaries to teach all 5 lessons before baptism. Since I have hardly looked at lesson 5, let alone taught it, I will focus on that this week.

I heard that Jacob and Dad went to a Korean bbq in the mall the other day. How was it? Korean bbq is SO  good!! All korean food is good! My personal favorites are 닭갈비, 비빔밥 and 불고기. I will let you figure out what those are. ;)

I am trying to think of more things about Korea. We have not been to any bathouses recently, because we bathe enough in our sweat... :) They are not much fun to go to in the summer time. My Korean is coming along. I have learned to LOVE Korean study in the morning! It is so much fun! The best part is, there is so much to learn in Korean, with all of the different grammar forms and very specific vocabulary, I know for sure I will never run out of things to study! Korean is indeed an impressive language and it is a pleasure to have the opportunity to learn it.

Well, I can't think of anything else. I hope you have a great week! Love you tons!

p.s. We got the package that you sent with all of the candy. Thank you so much!! :)

p.p.s I am sending a package soon with birthday gifts for everyone. If there is anything specific that you want, let me know!

Here are a few pics for the week ... enjoy!

In honour of Cananda Day, I proudly wear my colours!

Can't actually study like this for very long in the ridiculous summer heat/humidity!! ;) Oh, and I got my hair cut real short cause of the heat.

We go running every morning on this track just outside our apartment, so here I go!

Wish I could fly!

Elder DeMille after trying that HOT pepper ... it'll knock your lights out!

Koreans love Baskin Robbins ... and so do missionaries!!

With two of our investigators.

Green seaweed is a snack I've come to love ... and healthy.

As I said ... Korean is an impressive and challenging language.

The track we run on in the mornings, just outside our apartment.

Another view of the track ... some days I set up some hurdles from stuff laying around
and practice hurdles as well. ;)