Wednesday, May 21, 2014

May 18th Email

Annyeong Haseyo, everybody! Another week has come and gone here in the grape-growing Anseong of the Lord's vineyard.
We got to call home for Mother's Day on Monday, so happy Mother's Day to all you Mothers in my life (i.e. Grandmas, Aunts, Cousins. etc).
Then we had P-day on Thursday because we got to go up to Seoul and visit the Temple. Since we live in the farthest reaches of the Korea Seoul South mission, we literally spent P-day riding the crowded subways of Seoul to and from our beloved temple. But it was worth it, as always. We got to watch the session in Korean, and there weren't enough translators for every foreign missionary there, so I got to see it in Korean!!! Very suprised by how much I understood, despite the strange grammar they use in Ancient speak. Seeing it lots in English probably helped. ^^
The weather has gotten very hot lately! We had a cool spell with some rain last week, which was refreshing, but now we are starting the dreaded Summer! The tempurature just keeps climbing, and the hhumidity is definitely felt by the poor missionaries walking the streets of Korea. Sweat on, brethren!  I am just excited for the rainy season to hit; I hear it is like 3 straight weeks of rain so bad you can barely leave the house!! We plan some epic Door-knocking once that hits. ^^ hehehe Anyway, with the heat comes a feeling of fatigue, so my companion Elder Hale and I have been exhausted all week. The exhaustion is making me a bit funny in the head, and as a result Elder Hale is learning about my funny side a little more. He hasn't beat me yet, so I think he's fine... ^^
Elder Hale and I have become masters of How to Begiin Teaching! That's the basic "lesson" approach we take when meeting with new people and trying to find out if they have interest in our message of not. We teach basic truths, testify, and invite, just like any other lesson, and we have been getting smoother at delivering the message as a companionship. Sweet. We have a few new investigators as a result. God has been blessing us!
But the Biggest blessing (and hence the title of this email) came yesterday at church. One of our investigators (Lee, or 이효찬. 브랙 장로님, 그래요!)  has been coming to church for the past few weeks, and since he has lots of connections, he has been bringing different families that he knows over with him. Anyway, he decided to bring them all with him this week. Our branch literally doubled in size from my first week here, from 23 people to 57 yesterday!!! That was a crazy miracle, and we squeezed every last drop of possibilty out of it by making 2 family home evenings this week, the first being tonight! Our members were awesome at fellowshipping, and they will attend these meetings with our potential investigators. We are expecting a lot this week! Pray for us, and for these people's hearts to be opened!
For the record, our branch yesterday reached a point where it was big enough to rival some wards over here. If we can teach and let the Spirit convert all these Children of God, we will need a bigger building! ^^
That's about it for this last week. We plan to head up to the mission home on Wednesday for Zone Training on a hike! Should be fun! ^^  Thanks for the prayers and emails and everything else you do! 화이팅!
Elder Wilcox

Monday, May 12, 2014

May 11, 2014 Mother's Day

He sounds SO GOOD!!!!  Yes, I got my Mother's Day Call, making a great day even better :)

Here's his Big Email he was able to send even after talking to us on the phone:

Annyeong Haseyo, Everyone!
I am soooo sorry that I havent had time to do the Big Email in a while. Lots has happened, obviously, and I can't remember all of it right now. So, I will just fill you all in on my adventures in the past 2 weeks! ^^
 First off...: 고된 Week! Hard, tough week! 2 weeks ago. We are setting up our District in Anseong, with the newly arrived Sister Missionaries! Never before have 6 missionaries been assigned to Anseong at one time before, or been exclusively Anseong Area. Historical!! My companion, Elder Riley Hale, is the District Leader, and he has been Leading his District well! It's his first time (he is only 2 transfers older than me in the mission) as any kind of leader, so he is figuring it out. But so are we all! Anyway, during this hard week, we kinda got beat up a little for how things have been handled in the past here with other, less obedient missionaries. Specifically, our English Class program was the cause of much tribulation in the Land of Anseong, or at least in the hearts of us missionaries. We are trying to teach just one class a week, which is what we are supposed to do, but in the past with all other outlets controlled by relatively lazy missionaries that don't do anything, English has been the only way for my Companion to expand and meet new people. So we have been teaching English classes a few times a week, and not able to teach gospel lessons as a part. We got kinda torn apart by our Branch members when they found out, and so that was hard. To add to that, it was an awful week for our Korean ability, Elder Hale and I, so that made street contacting fun and not very effective. But good came of it, which I will tell you in a sec. We also had an investigator family come to church, but they left before Sacrament because (we thought) their kids got injured by the "monster" kids in our branch. They can be quite... energetic? That's not strong enough... Anyway, we thought they were done with us after that treatment. So, that was a hard week.
This week...: 복된 Week! Blessed week!!! In response to our diligent perseverance last week, God has seen fit to bless our companionship, district, and this missionary individually with a multiplicity of blessings as promised in the D&C somewhere... i read it a long time ago! We have again received the ability to communicate well in the Korean language, making lessons, contacting, and everything else go more smoothly. In addition, God helped me develop the Gift of Charity more in the past 2 weeks (through the fires of 고된 week to the blessed state of 복된 week) than in my whole mission. I think the reason is because of Consecration, or Sanctification. I studied sanctification in Personal study last week, and I evaluated my level of commitment and absolute Giving-myself-to-God-liness on a deep level. I found that while it is somewhat easy to give my Strength and Might to this work (because I am physically here in Korea right now, I can physically go talk and walk and do), I have struggled my whole mission on truly giving my Heart and Mind to the Service of God, which i believe requires a change of attitude, emotion, will, desire to match God's, at least more than they did before. That was after 고된 week, where I had said a prayer in desperation telling God that if necessary, I would gladly give up the a hard-earned and precious Gift of Tongues He had given me if I could have the Gift of Charity. The following days were my worst Korean-speaking days, but they were the days that I learned how to love the people I see on the street to a deeper level. God let me see them as He and our Savior sees them. That time changed my mission and my life. Luckily, God is merciful, and has again allowed me to build up the Gift of Tongues again this week, as well as helping me maintain the Gift of Charity, without which I am nothing (see Moroni 8?). This week, we saw the best lesson of my mission, taught straight from the scriptures and the investigator accepting a Baptismal commitment (which I was priviledged to give!! 1st time!!! ^^), and the same investigator who came to church last week coming again, staying the whole meeting because he likes our Family values and his kids love the other kids!! The complete opposite impression we thought we gave!! He also gave us a 식사, meal appointment that night. Delicious meat. Rodizio's got nothin on Korean 고기 Buffet! ^^
Well, that's about it! This time has been extremely important and life-changing for me, not only as a missionary but as a Son of God. I feel like while I still can't see so much, I can see a little bit clearer why God works the way He does, and how He works with us to accomplish His divine intentions. I testify that He is our Master, that His Son Jesus Christ is the Great Jehovah, and our Savior Mediator and Advocate with the Father. I testify that they love us more that we could ever imagine as mortal people, and that all They do is for our good if we will just align our will and actions to theirs. They have soo much in store for us! I love the work, and I love all of you! Thanks for your prayers, and I will try not to make you wait this long before the next Big Email! ^^ In the name of Jesus Christ, as one chosen to bear His name in a very real sense to the people of Korea, I humbly say these things. Amen. ^^
To those of you running State for Track, Good luck!!! Tell me how you do! ^^ All Emails are appreciated but not necessary... or are they? ^^
Elder Wilcox