The Path of Christian Discipleship

The Path of Christian Discipleship

Monday, 26 January 2015

Effective Member Work

Hello again!

I hope you all had a fabulous week! I sure did! What a great privilege it is to be serving a mission in Korea! I'm sorry David, but it is better than wherever you are going to be called, unless, of course, you come to Korea! Ha ha! I will pray that you get called to 부산 Korea Busan Mission! :) I am so excited for you to get your mission call ... to Korea! :) Not long now and you'll know too where you're going, huh? Exciting.

We had the opportunity to go the temple this past week, which is always a wonderful experience. We had some free time after going through the temple on Thursday, so we got everything done last week that we needed to around the apartment (our house is spotless!) So today on pday, we're thinking about going screen golfing. Screen golf is an activity that is perhaps unique to Korea? Don't know that I've seen anything like it anywhere else. It's basically a room with a big screen that displays a golf course, with a spot to hit an actual golf ball with an an actual golf club against the wall. Apparently, there are sensors on the walls, which allow the screen to display fairly accurately where the ball would have gone. After that, perhaps we will go to a bathhouse, or play ping pong! It has been a long time since I have done something fun like this on pday!

I talked with President Morrise at the temple this past week, where he informed us that he felt inspired to make working with and finding through members the major focus of our upcoming transfer period. My heart leaped for joy! He sent a text to all the zone leaders the other day, inviting us to prepare for the next mission leadership council by thinking of ways to work more effectively with members. Elder Lee and I have been working on this for a long time, so we are quite excited! I feel confident that our mission is being lead by the spirit; it is such a wonderful feeling.

We also attended a Stake Presidency Meeting yesterday, but were unfortunately not given a chance to report on the status of the missionaries in the stake (we didn't force any comments, in consideration of Korean culture, so I think they forgot about us). We were however, able to hear some concerns the bishops and ward mission leaders in our stake have regarding the missionaries, which we plan to address in the near future. 

One major complaint mentioned was missionary tardiness. David (and whoever else is preparing for a mission soon), please make sure you exert every effort to be on time to appointments - especially with members! Punctuality is a very simple way we can gain and maintain trust from members, especially considering the vast majority of 18-20 year old kids perhaps do not yet understand how to apply this principle very effectively.

After discussing missionary efforts in the stake, we observed a presentation on the combination of our wards and stakes, which lasted much longer than we anticipated. I think they forgot that we were there, because after the meeting, a member of the stake presidency told us not to disclose any information we received at the meeting! No worries, since we didn't understand most of it anyway, as the discussions were fast and somewhat heated! :P I am happy with my own little stewardship right now :) 

Our Vietnamese investigator, 진수홍 is still progressing very well! We had a high councillor from one of my last wards come to give a talk in our ward this week, where he praised 진수홍 in front of the entire congregation for his commitment to learn about the church. I think his public mention of our investigator really made him feel welcome and included. It will be a bit of a push to teach all the lessons before his baptismal date, but if he keeps accepting and progressing at this rate, I think he will be good to go for Feb. 14! Here's hoping!

I hope you all have a great week!

Love, Elder Higham

With my former companion, Elder DeMille  

Another day at the office! :)

With a fellow Canadian, Elder Payne.

Charity Never Faileth

Hello, hello! 

It is always so good to hear from you all! I hope Ben is alright! It's never good to travel to the hospital in an ambulance! I had a similar experience this week, but will talk more of that later (don't worry mom ... all's well).

We just got out of a lesson with our Vietnamese investigator, 진수홍. He got very busy after accepting his baptismal date of February 14, and therefore has not been able to meet for about a week and a half. We are not quite sure if we will be able to help him be baptized on the date he agreed to, but we taught the plan of salvation and the word of wisdom today and discovered that he has no concerns whatsoever following the commandments and standards we taught him ... which is a miracle! He is progressing well.

We also picked up another investigator through a referral we received from a less active member. His name is 손유철 (Sone yoo chol). He works as a police officer and works two days on, then two days off, so hopefully he will have some time to meet!

On Thursday of this week, I saw the spirit work through my companion and I quite visibly. We went on exchanges with one of our district leaders and I had the chance to take this wonderful missionary to my area for the day. We normally conduct the training portion of exchanges during companionship study in the morning, and this exchange was no different. I felt impressed to talk about "charity and love." So I shared some of my thoughts and we read about charity in chapter 6 of Preach My Gospel

As I began to talk of ways we can effectively demonstrate charity to our companions, my temporary companion shared that charity was a major topic of his studies recently. He'd been having some struggles with his companion recently and consequently had been studying charity to help their relationship. He opened up to me and shared many of his thoughts and feelings and I was able to guide him to find some things he can apply in his relationship with his companion.

Later that evening, when Elder Lee and I were back together, we went to visit a family we had been trying unsuccessfully to visit for a while, and whom I felt impressed to visit in our planning session the night before. Not only did we successfully visit them this time, but we also met with a less active member who introduced himself to us en route to our visit - as well as one of my former investigators (both of whom live in my previous 부평 area). We were able to refer both of these people to the Elders in 부평 area

These random appointments put us slightly off schedule, so we had to decide whom we should visit of the two other members we put in our planners. Elder Lee and I both felt impressed to visit an elderly sister who recently lost her husband. On our way to her house, we witnessed a man get hit by a car! 

I will not include any of the gruesome details, but we were the only ones there to help this injured man and the shaken young man who hit him with his car, both of whom were understandably distressed and in shock.

Walking home, I was filled with the spirit, knowing that I had been an instrument in the Lord's hands to help accomplish His work among some of His children here in 인천. It was a good feeling.

I send my love! I hope you are all doing well. I love this gospel; it brings me such great joy to be laboring here in this little part of the Lord's vineyard. I know this is the Lord's work!

Love, Elder Higham

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Every Member an Investigator!

Hello again

I hope you all are doing well. I am running out of things to include in these emails! We have one investigator and the rest of our efforts are focused on enabling members to participate in missionary work and to become self sufficient and strong in the gospel. Our investigator, 진수홍 (Geen soo hong) has a baptismal date for the 14th of February next month!! He works every night from 7 p.m. to 8 a.m., so it's quite difficult to meet him given his opposite schedule. Nevertheless,  he makes time to meet with us at least weekly and comes to church right after his shift every Sunday. Also, he works in a factory and since he doesn't have much time to do anything else when he is not working and sleeping, he reads the Book of Mormon in the intervals of the conveyor belt here and there. He is from Vietnam and just a wonderful soul! 

Our mission complement decreased this year to 150 missionaries, so we will be losing a significant portion of our missionaries in the near future. We will lose even more here in 인천, as the stake presidency decided to combine a couple of the wards in the stake. This new combined ward, which by my estimation will include roughly 180-200 members, will attend services in the giant mega-church they are building. I have never seen a church quite like this one. I have not seen the renovated Kentwood chapel, but I would feel safe to bet this church is around 6 times as big as the building you now attend! I don't know what we will do with all of the space in the building! I fully support our Stake Presidency and will try my best to help this stake in any way needed, come what may. 

We have Zone Conference tomorrow, during which we are planning to train our missionaries to work more effectively with ward members. From our observation, most of the missionaries get frustrated when members do not participate in missionary work as they hope, therefore they concentrate their efforts elsewhere. Our goal is to have missionaries treat members more like investigators, where they work and teach them gospel principles fundamentals of missionary work. We even made a slogan to accompany our training: "Every Member an Investigator." We figure if missionaries start to contact, prepare for, teach, and visit members as well as they do all of those things for investigators, we missionaries might have a better influence in building the church here in Korea. 

I don't know what else to write, but I do have a request! Please, please, please, do your home teaching! Whoever is reading this, do your home teaching! It is such a simple program, but it is absolutely critical in participating in the Lord's work. Please do your home teaching! :) 

Love you so much!
Elder Higham

Monday, 5 January 2015

The Power of Everyday Missionaries

Happy New Year! 

I hope you all had a wonderful New Year's party! Instead of partying here in Korea, they all wake up very early and hike up a mountain to see the first sunrise of the morning. As missionaries, we have permission to accompany our ward members to hike the mountain in the morning, but as we did not receive an invitation, we unfortunately did not get the chance to participate. 
Following the hike, everyone gathers together to eat a big meal. Also, everyone turns a year older in the New Year, so I am now 21 here in Korea! However, you apparently do not turn a year older until you eat a bowl of 떡국 (I don't know how to describe this in English!). I suppose I am still 20, since I have not eaten 떡국 yet! But I guess I'm still only 19 by North America reckoning! :)

We received our transfer calls this week: both companionships in our house will stay the same. It is, however, always difficult to say goodbye to several of our zone members each transfer! But such is the life of missionaries!

In my modest attempt to entertain you all, I will mention an experience I had with one of our district leaders on exchanges this past week! While Elder Bodily and I were talking to people on the way to a member visit, Elder Bodily offered to shake hands with one man on the street who was clearly intoxicated ... at which point the man, who wobbling down the street with his hands in his pockets, pulled a can of beer out of his pocket and placed it right in Elder Bodily's hand! Elder Bodily stood for a moment, surprised and not knowing what to do, then gave the can back to the man, who proceeded to give him a big hug and continue on his merry way.
I could not help but laugh, both at the sight of a stunned missionary with a beer can in his hand, and at the man, completely severed from controllable conscious thought, offering a great big bear hug, then continuing to struggle down the street, trying in vain to rid himself of the shackles that impaired his basic motor skills!! Good to find humour and laughter in the simple daily experiences!

In consideration of the New Year, I set some goals that I would like to share. Our district leader, Elder Hale, had us complete an activity last district meeting which he found in the back of chapter 8 of Preach My Gospel, which served as the foundation of my New Year's Resolutions. He asked us three questions, prefaced by a prompt to consider our last day in the mission field, to which we then responded.
The first question was: "What do you want to say you have done as a missionary?" My reply: I want to say that I exerted a consecrated effort to firmly establish the roots of God's kingdom here in Korea alongside the Korean people. The second question was: "What do you want to have become?" I responded that I want to become a dependable man, whom the Lord can trust with His work. Finally, to the question, "What differences would you want others to notice in you?" I answered that I would want people to feel that I care for them more profoundly than I care for myself.
I decided to refrain from very specific goals for the entire year, instead allowing myself to set weekly and monthly goals to achieve the general vision outlined in my responses to these three questions. I suppose, this will allow me to continuously evaluate my efforts in achieving what I desire to achieve this year, specifically before the end of my mission. 
This next experience is somewhat related to my previous remarks, as it outlines more specific efforts to achieve my vision to help the members of Korea establish the church in this area. Somewhat identical to the Susan Fulcher case (I am not sure if you are familiar with this case study, but it's a true story about a full-time missionary, Sister Fulcher, in Boston found in the book The Power of Everyday Missionaries), Elder Lee and I felt it would be a good idea to invite some of the members we have been closely working with recently to share a testimony reflecting their experiences with missionary work. Most of them refused for various reasons, but our bishop's wife shared a beautiful and powerful testimony of her experiences setting goals and performing missionary work for her deceased father and for her mother, who currently lives in 대구, but will return to 인천 in three months. Her testimony invited the spirit powerfully and demonstrated a wonderful example of member missionary work to the rest of the ward. I was so happy! 

Anyway, I hope you all have a wonderful week back at school!!! 
Love, Elder Higham

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Pleasant Little Miracle


Thank you for sending such a great email, mother! It brings me such great joy to hear of my family doing the very thing I am striving so desperately to help members do here: share the gospel. I will pray for you and your missionary efforts! I cannot begin to imagine the miracles we would see if every member of the church reached out to some friends the way you are currently reaching out. 

I looked at the book "The Power of Everyday Missionaries" the other day, as it was in our house and quite appreciated what brother Christensen mentioned about being qualified to find the people whom God has prepared. He mentioned wards and individual members simply taking seriously the command to share the gospel and veritable miracles that would ensue. He suggested that we must qualify ourselves as individuals and wards through our faith and our actions to have God trust us with the people whom He has prepared to hear the gospel. Conversely, he asserts that we disqualify ourselves to ever succeed in missionary work if we become complacent and do not demonstrate a consecrated effort to magnify our callings and share the gospel. I admit, I am not quite sure how this relates to your missionary work and, in retrospect, I am not sure why I included this, but I hope it becomes useful in some form.

It was nice to talk to you all this week. Seeing all of you ready to celebrate Christmas finally made it feel like Christmas! We had our ward Christmas party later that evening, which included our ward members presenting all three missionary companionships with a massive box of food, for which they had all secretly fund raised!! We were all surprised and very much grateful for their sacrifice, which was a testament to their goodness. We have a wonderful ward! 

We have been making more of an effort to work with the ward members lately, which resulted in a pleasant little miracle yesterday. We had planned to visit three members Saturday evening to share a message: our bishop's family, his second councilor with his wife, and another single lady in our ward.

We did not make any formal arrangements to visit them, as we find member visits are most successful when we make the effort to first go to their area and then call them immediately prior to visiting (that way they are less likely to make excuses to avoid a visit from us!). 

At church, however, the second councilor asked us if we would go with him and his wife to deliver some boxes to the very single lady we had originally planned to visit! We had lunch with all three of them, after which we were able to share a message with them. 

Also, immediately after church, the bishop's wife approached us and invited us to dinner at their house that evening. We were then able to discuss and help them with some of their goals for missionary work - just as we had planned to do! It's so wonderful to see the Lord's hand directly assisting His work in this manner, and to be a part of that small miracle.

I said everything else I wanted to say on Wednesday! So great to talk to you all!

Love, Elder Higham :)

What a blessing to be able to go through the temple every transfer!

My current comp: Elder Lee

Elder Hale and I.

If there's one thing Koreans have mastered, it's public transportation! Their subway stations are veritable museum works of art ... and all of their public transit is light years ahead of ours in terms of efficiency, technology, and infrastructure. It's really a pleasure to experience.

Just another day on the streets.

Our ward Christmas party.

The food package the ward fund-raised to provide for us! So blessed!! :)