Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Happy Seoullal (Lunar New Year)

So this past week wasn't too jam packed with events and appointments because it was Seoullal. From Wednesday to Friday Koreans celebrate the lunar new year together. It's pretty much vacant when we go outside and everyone is busy because everyone goes home to their hometowns and visits family. The younger generations dress up in the traditional Korean Hanbok and wish their elders (grandparents, aunts and uncles, parents) a happy new year by performing one deep traditional bow and say "saehae bok mani badeuseyo" (새해 복 많이 받으세요) which translates to "Please receive a lot of luck in the New Year" or "Happy New Year." Then the older generation gives them new year's money, or "pocket money." Now my question is why does America not have this tradition?? I want money! haha
So because everyone is busy all the missionaries got together by zone and we had training and celebrated Seoullal together. I tried my best to take lots and lots of pictures. So enjoy! We made our own dumpling tteokguk (soup with sliced rice cakes) and homemade kimbab. Which is a traditional Korean food that is customarily eaten for the New Year. The Korean New Year is similar to a birthday for Koreans, and eating tteokguk is part of the birthday celebration. Once you finish eating your tteokguk, you are one year older. So you age pretty quickly here in Korea. I'm already 22. I can definitely feel my body aging because every morning my body aches and makes cracking or popping noises. Definitely not a good sign. It's probably not the tteokguk that's the problem. Missionary work is taking it's toll on my body.
After making dumpling tteokguk and Kimbab together we all visited Chinatown and did a picture scavenger hunt. It was so fun! It was definitely a smart idea that I didn't bring my wallet. So many cool souvenirs. I thought of a majority of you when I saw things you might like. I just was bummed because it was all Chinese and nothing Korean.  There's a video I sent home of a Turkish man teasing people with ice cream. Seriously, he's hilarious and a good entertainer. Sorry nothing is in English and not really at a good angle. We all had a good laugh watching him though. After Chinatown we all met back at the church and here's the best part of the day... we watched Meet The Mormons! So fun! You have no idea how much I've been wanting to watch it. President Morrise and his wife and been talking about it and I was so anxious to see it. It was pretty good too. I liked that they showed members from all of the word with different backgrounds. And having all the TV shows that joke about Mormons at the beginning was funny. If you haven't seen it, definitely watch it. It's a great way to know more about Mormons and get the correct facts not just rumors. I'm sure a majority of you have already watched it though. I'm just so behind haha.
Other news is that I'm living with a Korean again. Sister Mortensen who is serving in Bupyeong is training and on Wednesday we found out she's training the cutest Korean greenie, Sister Gil. So it's been nice having her join our apartment. It also means we have to speak Korean a lot more too, but that's ok. Elder Dewey and Elder Andersen's investigator Sam is progressing like crazy still. A cool story was the about a week ago I was watching the Mormon message about fatherhood and it made me think about Sam  and how it would be perfect for him because he is a father. I had a feeling (the spirit!!!) that I should tell the elders to show it to them. Well, they did this past weekend and it was perfect! The elders called us later and said that Sam said, "if that's a Mormon then that's who I want to be." He's really excited for his baptismal date in March. Great right? It gets even better. Yesterday, I asked the elders before church started if Sam would be coming and because of Seoullal he had told the elders he couldn't. BUT after sacrament meeting he came! It was such a surprise! Turned out that he really didn't want to miss and he had an hour of free time before he needed to go so he came just for Sunday school and then had to leave. He's just so solid!!
Our investigators are still doing well. We were able to meet with Crystal again. She is doing so great! She even brought her cousin to our lesson and we played bingo together. :D
We are still thinking about giving her a baptismal commitment but just aren't sure how to ask or when the right timing is because she still has no clue what baptism is and what it even means to be baptized. We're going to continue teaching her and so far she's doing well. Today when we meet her, we plan on following up on how her experience with prayer has been going and then begin teaching her simply what the Plan of Salvation is. I love her so much and can already see her in a white beautiful dress one day going to the temple. She has lots to learn but if she continues to seek to find the truth in her life, I know our Heavenly Father will bless her and the Lord will help her find her way to Him.
We have lots of potential investigators so we've mostly been trying to keep in touch with them and our other investigators. We officially referred Esther over to the sisters living in her area. We met with our grandma investigator Catalina and she's hilarious! She is so good at writing in English too. She can write in cursive! I was so shocked! haha But she struggles with speaking so most of what we will teach her is through her practice and communicating with us in English. For our gospel message, we read the very first principle of the Restoration pamphlet with her and asked her what role God has played in her life. She told us a great story about her conversion to Christianity and cracked jokes with us. It was a great time. I was reminded of my own grandmothers and I couldn't help but love Catalina like I love them. She's a wonderful spunky fun lady. We commit her to read the whole restoration pamphlet and we'll see how that goes this coming Saturday. She has a great testimony of God already and I just hope we can help her continue to feel His love as we visit her and help her come to know more gospel truths that will bless her life even more.
I love you all so much!!! <3
Sister Kelly

Sunday, February 15, 2015

New Transfer, New Beginnings

Got transfer calls Sunday morning and no surprise I will be staying in Gyesan still serving with Sister Chestnut. Which is ay okay with me, because I kind of feel special being her former BYU roommate and now I'll be her last companion. I want her to be able to enjoy her last transfer and hopefully see some more miracles together. If there's any gift I could give her it would be that she could experience one of our investigators getting baptized. What a great going away gift that would be huh? Well, just my luck! This past week we picked up 2 new investigators. One in particular has so much potential if the Lord sees us worthy enough we might just be luckily enough to help her get baptized. What a miracle that would be! :D
We met 강미정 (english name Crystal) while flyering for English class last Tuesday. She showed lots of interest in not only learning more English but also about God. She asked Sister Chestnut if she believes in God and commented that she just doesn't know, BUT she wants to know. Sister Chestnut later told me that she had felt the spirit as she talked to Crystal and it was just natural and not awkward one bit! Amazing! We called her up and made an appointment with her and met with her on Thursday. She's so great! We're actually already Facebook friends haha. So do me a favor and add her as my friend will ya?? Thanks! She has zero religious background, so she has lots of questions about the nature of God and Jesus Christ. For our first lesson we gave her a brief outline of the history of church by drawing on the chalkboard starting with Jesus Christ and talking about the time period after his death to the restoration. She accepted everything we taught her and even read the whole Restoration pamphlet we asked her to read. In our 2nd lesson, we planned to talk about prophets and God's pattern of calling prophets eventually leading up to calling a new prophet in these latter days, but she has questions about God and His plan for us so we felt it was more important for us to teach her about that and later she'll be able to understand the other stuff. She willingly accepted the Book of Mormon and we asked her to read a pamphlet called "Who is God?" and commit her to study the Bible and Book of Mormon verses that it cites in the back. We also invited her to church. To my surprise she was more than willing to come, except she ended up not being able to because her dad came home from work and they ate breakfast as a family and she got sick as well :( But she plans to meet us again and is coming to our English class on Fridays so all is well! I'll be looking forward to telling you all how she is progressing.
At English class we had a really fun time. Each week more and more people our coming to our class its so great! We probably had about 30 this week. Advanced class was the biggest I've ever seen it. We had 2 ward members there and Sam, Scott, and Erika came again. Sam is doing great. He has a baptismal date for March 22nd!! Amazing!!! Our district is seeing so much success! So keep him in your prayers for us. I'm also hoping that Crystal will be ready by then and could potentially be baptized March 22nd as well. I'm praying for it!
Scott also told some funny jokes and made class really fun. So it was great time. One joke I wanted to share with all of you  but it might not work through email. Let's try it though
Goes like this:"How do you say M-A-C  D-O-N-A-L-D ?" "and how about M-A-C  A-R-T-H-U-R" And lastly how do you say "M-A-C  H-I-N-E?"
Well if the joke worked you should have just said Mchine but it's machine ya dummy! But it probably didn't work. It worked on me though haha
Anyways, I hope you all had a fantastic week. I love you all so much and I feel so blessed to have this opportunity to be serving a mission. It's a hard experience, but it's sooo wonderful and I'm so happy! :D
Sister Kelly

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Thrift Shop

"I'm gonna pop some tags. only got $20 in my pocket."

There's a reason I'm quoting that song and that is because I love thrifts stores here in Korea. They're amazing! Sister Chestnut was able to find a really expensive named brand coat for like $20! amazing and I got a blouse once for only $3 that I would have payed like $15 for at Target! Thrift stores not  only have some steals of awesome deals but miracles happen in them. For reals though!

This past week was super packed and we were busy, but one day we had some spare time on our way to do some less active member finding. We walked by a thrift store that Sister Chestnut tried taking me to once, but it was always closed whenever we went. But since we were in the area we tried going again. And we were so lucky, it was finally open!
As we were kind of looking at the clothing racks outside, Sister chestnut tells me about the old lady who works there. We both wanted to go in but the woman is very pushy when it comes to sales. I mean I don't blame her, if not that many people came into my store I would want whoever to come in and buy something. So Sister Chestnut warned me to not look too interested in something or else this lady would attack haha.
However, as hesitant as we were to go inside, I was really curious and wanted to and just as I stood in front of the entrance I saw a two woman maybe in their 30's with a little baby and a little girl inside. I heard the one holding the baby say to the other the word "name tag" and I gesture to where we wear our name tags. My first thought was oh great they noticed us. As soon as we walked in, the one holding the baby said to us in fluent English, "are you sisters?" and we hesitant to respond mostly unsure what to expect. And she continued, "from the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints?" And we both were like, "yes!" just really shocked to hear the church's name in English after so long. Then we talked to her and found out that she's a member. She is from the Philippines and  moved to Korea 3 years ago when she got married to a Korean (non-member). Her whole family are members since we was about 8 or 9 years old and she is actually going to go to the Philippines this week to get her 3 month old daughter blessed by her father. She's been wanting to come to church, but her husband wasn't open to it and she just was never able to come, but she said she'll come and her husband will take her to church after they come back from the Philippines. A complete miracle!!!
After we left Sister Chestnut and I were gleaming! I'm pretty sure I was even skipping for joy. I just never thought I'd be on a mission in KOREA of all places going to a little thrift store with my former BYU roommate! Just amazing!! The Lord's hand was definitely involved. That never would have happen on our own. He lead us to her when he knew she would be there. A complete miracle!!

Also, this week we heard how Sam is doing. Sounds like he loved church and wants to bring his whole family too. Sadly, yesterday they didn't make it because he got called last minute into work which he wasn't happy about. I mean who ever is? But he told the Elders he wants to meet twice this week to make up for it. So he's doing great and seems to be really interesting in learning more about the gospel of Jesus Christ. I'm so happy for that. We were able to meet with our investigator 조민지 who is the cute little college girl who has no religious knowledge at all. Surprisingly, we witnessed another miracle. I feel so blessed to be able to witness so many in just one week. 조민지 hadn't met with us in a while so we asked her if she remembered anything we taught her about last time and she had. Her words were "yeah... a little." so cute! Turns out she even had a question she's been thinking about which was "why can't I see God?" and asked us to answer it. We were of coarse more than happy to.

We shared parts of the first lesson with her. Talked to her about Joseph Smith and how he also had a question. We tried not to get too into detail about the Restoration with her because it would be way confusing for her not having religious background, but we focused on how she too can pray to God and ask him anything she wants. We taught her how to pray and about feelings the Holy Ghost will give her when she receives an answer and here's the miracle! She said she'll try it! We were thinking she wasn't really ready right now to receive the gospel because she wasn't open to even thinking about God but now she wants to. So amazing and I'm just praying and praying she receives an answer. We did tell her it will come over time and we may not always get answers right away but God always answers and He will answer her prayers.

Only other things that happened this week were that we were blessed with another opportunity to attend the temple. I know I say this every single time, but I just really love the temple. I always look forward to it and being able to be reminded of the sacred covenants I made there. I feel as though I'm cursed though. Everyone keeps talking about the newest video but each endowment session I attend I get stuck watching the really really old version. But it's become a fav now so that's alright.
After the temple a huge group of the sisters went to Taco Bell and to get ice cream to celebrate Sister Gooch's birthday. I really hope she had a great day. Are you reading this sister Gooch??? ;) haha Love ya!<3
Our elders had to move out of their apartment so now no missionaries actually live in Gyesan. At least for now until the elders find another apartment. The contract was over for a long time, and just no one bought it and so they never were kicked out, but now someone else wanted it and they were asked to leave. So they are living with Elders in other areas of our zone. They seemed to like their new apartments though so that's cool.

Love you all so much!!
Sister Kelly

Monday, February 2, 2015

Happy Groundhog's Day From Korea!

It's still weird for me when I remember I am a day before all of you back home. Anyways, this week my whole district and I witnessed a miracle! On Tuesday we had our usual English flyering, but we almost froze our fingers off. It was so bone chilling cold I couldn't take it. I'm such a wimp I know.
On Wednesday I got to go to Mansu on exchanges with my trainer Sister Chao. She's my sister training leader so that was really cool being able to be together for a day. We met the Mansu elders and ate Pizza together from the best and cheapest in Korea PIZZA SCHOOL! Love that stuff. I think I like Korean style pizza better than American. And afterwards we did preparation for English class. The only problem was the English textbook was misplaced. So, just picture a bunch of missionaries looking around in random places at the church building for it. Normally they have all the books in a basket but the elders looked and couldn't find it. After maybe 20 minutes of looking we decided we would just use a really really old textbook. While Sister Chao was making copies I was just being nosy and just looked around in some things and I ended up looking in the EXACT same place the elders looked, but the only difference was I looked UNDER the basket and there were the books just sitting there. Those elders didn't look under the basket!! Haha Well, just goes to show that sisters truly are smarter than elders.
Sister Chao and I had a great time talking and catching up. It was even a little hard to stay on topic during our studies the next morning. After our studies we met with their investigator and ate Shabu Shabu. I think that's how it's spelled. It was delicious! It was my first time eating it. I could tell Sister Chao was weirded out that I was eating food so well. When I served with her I didn't like pretty much ANY  Korean food but now I love a majority of it.
At 3pm we exchanged back :( which was a bummer but I was surprisingly pretty happy about being back in my own area so that was nice.
The best part of my week was definitely English class. Seriously! English class in Gyesan is the best!! We have so many regulars come so it's super big, and from our English flyering on Tuesday we had 2 new women come who both also want to do our family English 30/30 program. So great!! The best miracle was Sam. Sam is a man who the Elders met on the in the most vacant part of our area. So that was a miracle in itself that they even met him there. Sam had been texting them about how he was going to come to English class and was ONLY English interest, but like 5 minutes later he texted saying he's 70% English and 30% gospel interest. Well he ended up coming to English, and because he's really good at English he was in Advanced class with Sister Chestnut and I. Because he was new and the only other students are regulars Erika and Scott so we did introductions. Erika started and then Sister chestnut, and then when it got to me I mentioned how Sister Chestnut and I were roommates at Brigham Young University and then Sam says, "your 2nd leader" which totally caught me off guard. I mean I'm used to Koreans saying things that I can't really understand haha, but this I was like what on earth is he talking about and then I thought and thought and it hit me!! Brigham Young was the second prophet!! I mean I knew that but we sure didn't expect him to ever know that. Somehow he did though. Anyways, when Scott introduced himself he mentioned how English class is the highlight of his week and that lead to him and Erika sharing their personal stories about how they first came in contact with missionaries and how long they have been attending English class. I can't believe Scott has been coming for 5 whole years! Awesome! Scott also shared how other churches say we are heresy and how he doesn't believe that at all. I loved all of Erika's little side commented showing how she felt the same way. She's so cute! Sam seemed to think we didn't know that and told us how there are many churches in Korea that people consider a cult. Sister Chestnut and I just laughed and told him how it's nothing new to us. We have people tell us all the time how we're a cult. It's not news to us at all. Scott and Erika continued on about how they like the way missionaries live and act. Scott mentioned how impressed he was the we don't drink and we wake up at 6:30am and go to bed every day at 10:30pm. All I can remember is Sam turning to me and saying "wow there's so much I need to learn about your church." I just smiled.

I can't fully describe how much I truly felt the spirit in that classroom. I mean us sharing our beliefs and testimony is one way to invite the spirit, but having your English class members share their own personal feelings and testimony was amazing! Totally not what I had planned for the class to talk about, but it just was so natural and Sister Chestnut and I just sat in amazement as Scott and Erika told Sam all about us. Complete miracle! And it gets even better...
At 8pm all the different level classes get back together for a motivational quote and then we play a game together. During that I overheard Sam next to me talking to Elder Dewey about coming to church. My thought was what?! He wants to come to church now!! That's amazing!! Sunday came and he came with his cute son! It was so great!! I don't know how he felt about it all. He mentioned he was an atheist so it must have been weird for him, but I'm sure he had a good experience. I don't know his thoughts about church and if he'll be coming again, but I think he's going to start the 30/30 program with the Elders so that's great.
Miracles do happen! Always remember that!<3
Love you guys!!
Sister Kelly