Sunday, July 27, 2014

July 27, 2014 & Picture

Our District!! Elders: Me, Robinson, Song Gyun-Won, and Ely.
Sisters: Kim Yoon-Ha and Johnson 
We are eating Boo-Deh Chee-Geh, a soup that soldiers made during the war out of the leftover scraps of the american's meat (spam, hotdogs, etc) and their Kimchi and other native ingredients. Very spicy and delicious! They eat it boiling hot! ^^ Elder Robinson makes it in our house, but sometimes we go to this restaurant as a district and eat. Super Super good! I am hungry now... ^^
Yaaah!!! I hit my year mark this week!!! Where did my time go??? It feels like only a few weeks, since I was at Philmont with all ya'll, and then the MTC and then the blur of missionary life. It surprises me how fast time goes, even when I keep my eye on it. I've heard it said that the days are long but the weeks are fast as a missionary, but now my days are fast and the weeks are faster! Why?? ^^ I don't want to leave this. I have learned too much.

What I have learned is less the things that can be explained with words, but more the kind of things that take experiencing it firsthand and practicing. I have learned how to open my mouth and speak, even if I don't know what to say. I have learned how Alma felt when people wouldn't listen to his message. I have learned a little more patience, maybe not with myself, but with others. I am learning how to live with someone different than me in a peaceful and happy way (still not perfect at that). Other things include: study habits, time management, shopping and cooking and cleaning, how to sleep fast, and eat hot food faster. ^^ Among the biggest things I have learned or am learning is how to love. I still feel like I have made little progression since the MTC, but it is some improvement. It isn't easy for me to love people I don't know well, and whom I may not be with for long. But I have learned to recognize that God would have me love all men, regardless of how much I know about them. That's another big thing I have learned: What God expects of me. It's a high order to fill, but as I learn how to act, speak, love according to His commandment, He helps me learn more and faster and deeper than I even have before. And that is why I don't want to leave this time of intense pressure that elevates me to higher and higher heights than I have before imagined. But, I still have a few days more than a year to enjoy and put my back into this working time. And of course all the time after the mission. ^^ So, mostly I am learning how to learn, and preparing to progress for the rest of my life and beyond.

May the Lord keep and bless you and grant you the same progress-stimulating experiences that He allows me to have here in Korea doing the work of Salvation. There is always something to be done, whether to make ourselves better or to help someone else find the eternal path to perfection through Christ. Let's not waste a moment!
Elder "D" Wilcox

Monday, July 14, 2014

July 13 Email :)

Hello and 안녕하세요, everyone!! This is Elder Derek James Wilcox, typing from a computer room in Anseong City, Gyeonggi-Do Province, South Korea. This last week has been a huge one as far as stuff Elder Robinson and I did, and so it could take a while to type it all. I am prepared to sacrifice my remaining email time for this. It better be good. No pressure on me. ^^
Well, to start off, on Monday, we went to a 목욕탕 (public bathhouse) with about 10 other missionaries. There is a semi-famous one in our area about a 50 minute busride away from our house. My companion hadn't gone to one yet, so that was a priceless experience. It's always awkward to new missionaries to sit around in hot tubs with naked Korean men. I doubt this is legal for any other missionaries in the world, huh? But it's super refreshing. And I can kinda swim laps in the cold pool. hehe
On Tuesday we met with a new potential investigator named Jong-Sun. he is about 47 and I actually found him with Elder Hale, but he gave us a bad number and punked our appointment. But Elder Robinson and I found him again in the exact same place as before, but 4 months later to the day (last sunday). He gave us the right number, and we met him tuesday. He is super incredibly prepared!!! HE almost immediately accepted what we taught and we had a great How To Begin Teaching Lesson, where we introduce our message and show how it can bless their life. See Preach My Gospel. He even wrote down our next appointment himself, and asked what we would study! Restoration! ^^ We met him again Thursday.
But first, Wednesday! After great studies, which seemed to fill the week, we had District meeting. I gave what I thought was my best training yet, and we had really fun role plays on following up on a Book of Mormon reading assignment in a way that helps the investigator gain a testimony. Fun, Fun! Then Elder Fullmer from my district and I went on exchanges. While we were on exchanges, the other elders (my comp and elder Song) met 2 of our investigators, one of which just wanted to bible bash. After that lesson, they were discouraged, but the nest one they met was another Nepalese guy who is good at Korean. He was soo accepting! He decided to take the lessons, and they taught a basic Restoration lesson! ^^ While they did that, Elder Fullmer and I went hiking with a potential investigator who is 64 and runs marathons. #mydreaminvestigator ^^ It was raining, and really pretty. We testified a lot, and he fed us deliciouc meat for dinner. But when we invited him to take the lessons, he said he'd rather not be a burden on us and was firm when we persisted. But he decided to come to english class the next day!
Thursday, we started off doing some Farmwork!!! Something you can only do in my area and maybe 2 others in the mission, but none as frequently as us. We usually do it about 2 times per week. We helped a less active lady, and when we sang a hymn afterwards, she was crying. Maybe she'll feel something and come back to church! So sweet. Then, we exchanged companions back, and Elder Robinson and I met Jong-Sun again. We taught the restoration, all in one blow, in Korean, which was actually a first for me. All of my previous companions have gotten me in the habit of breaking up the lessons into parts, but you lose the power of the first vision when you do that. So, the lesson took an hour and a half, but we taught it all, shared scriptures, asked questions, and otherwise had the best lesson of my mission. And Jong-Sun accepted all of it. Wrote down his homework again (read, pray about BoM, etc) and said he would come to churchon Sunday. I even remembered what I trained on the day before and got permission to follow up every day with him! Such a prepared man. A huge miracle, and the coolest person I have ever taught. Then we had english class, and since lots of new people came with not very good english, I taught beginner with elder Song. Fun stuff. Then, in advanced or Free Talking class, our class members found out it was Elder Robinson's birthday on friday, so they bought a cake and lots of icecream, which is absolutely delicious in Korea (I know, I just got lower in some of your sight, I eat desserts now). They are super awesome, and 2 of them, michelle and gina decided to come to church on sunday for our new idea from the branch mission leader, an english Gospel Principles class. This is huge, because they have been coming to english class for almost 20 years, and never progressed at all or anything. So, another huge blessing. ^^
The next day, Elder Robinson's birthday, we wrestled for exercize (he's a wrestler, and we have a system: every other day we switch off between running around the park and wrestling on our mats. We sleep on mats called "Yo"s. hehe^^), and after studies, did our weekly planning meeting. We got done in time, and had our most effective planning yet. This next week will be a blast!!! We do work, son! ^^ After that we met a potential investigator, and ate Pot-Bing-Soo, a delicious Korean Icecream snack that's not too unhealthy. Then we played a little Ping Pong at our church (it's small but it has a ping pong table).  He started talking about his views on God and stuff, and I got hold of the conversation very well with some scripture verses I had memorized in Seminary. Everyone still in High School: Study hard!! We introduced our message in a way suited to his needs and the verses I shared, and invited him to take the lessons. But he got scared and said no, just call me later. Soooo close!!! We still pray for him and will try one more time. Then as a district, we went to a lessactive sister's restaurant, which sells mexican burritos with a Korean twist. My first mexican buritto in Korea! Delicoius, and she gave us lots of free food. She wants to come to church and send her kids on missions, but her husband is a nonmember and wont let her. We'll keep working on him, though, he seems nice enough. and he gave us free fries. ^^
Saturday was a special day, we got ready for sunday by holding a Soccer activity for our young men and their friends / our potential investigators. But no young men came out!! We only have 3 in the ward, but yeah... but we got referrals from our potentials! Lots of appointments made for next week. ^^ Then we attended our Korean class for foreigners (only in Anseong can you find american missionaries teaching Korean in Korea). I taught beginners class while our 2 Koreans taught advanced. I am sad I missed it, but I helped a Taiwanese less active! ^^ The Nepalese investigator, Tilak, came out and kept our commitments! Progression!! He's so cool. We need him to translate for Dharmaras, our other nepalese investigator who can't really speak Korean or english. We found out that in the whole world there are 2 branches that speak nepalese, one in Salt Lake city, and one in Nepal's capital. There are no BOoks of Mormon or pamphlets in Nepalese, so we have to either teach these guys korean and help them survive in a Korean branch, or teach english and send them to PyeongTek (a city next door with american service men and amrmy bases).
Sunday was hectic, as it is every week in the morning. We called our investigators who were planning to come, and Jong-Sun cancelled!!! He was in PyeongTek and couldn't make it. Michelle and Gina both came, and Elder Robinson and I taught Gospel Principles class in English. Super weird... but really good! They felt the spirit and committed to pray and ready every day to test God's promises to bless them. So great. They both had to leave before sacrament though. After sacrament (we say the prayers every week, and 2 of our young men pass), we had to go to a restaurant with a less active returning to activity. She was baptized a ffew years ago and did this kind of semi-shady stuff with missionaries then, so she thinks its OK, and if we say know, it could push her back away from the church. So, we did our best but went out to eat on the Sabbath. I have done that 2 times now on my mission. I am a sinner. ^^ Then we went to meet Jong-Sun, because we made a different appointment for the afternoon, but he forgot that one, too! I am starting to think he has memory problems, cuz he was late to our last appointment, too. He rides a wheelchair and could be partially handicapped. But he is all there. We made one last one for the evening. Then we taught another Korean class! Foreigners from nepal, phillipines, indonesia, sri lanka, etc are abundant here, but only have sundays off work. They work like crazy in factories, but I guess its a better chance then their home contries provide cuz i havent met one that was excited to go home. These guys were Cambodian and they agreed to learn about the Gospel too. We have Cambodian pamphlets and BoM. ^^ Then we got a surprise appointment with Dharmaras, who I mentioned earlier. He is still so super accepting and feels the spirit so easily. WE taught part of the Plan of Salvation through pictures and committed him to come to Korean class to meet Tilak, so he can translate our lessons for him. We're doing all we can to teach these guys!! But we meet with more foreigners than with Koreans. Funny! That evening, Jong Sun forgot the appointment again. Grrrrr..... So we made one for tuesday. We decided to call him about 1 hour before each appointment to remind him. Still soo much potential and he keeps commintments cuz he writes it down! We finished up our day with some street contacting, which surprisingly we haven't had time for all week! We feel like American missionaries, with so many appointments they don't know how to schedule everything! IT's awesome!!! ^^
Well, that was our week. We are working hard here in the Land of Anseong, and God has blessed us to start seeing the fruit of our labors. My companion recently asked me what I did in the pre-earth life to deserve all these appointments, but I was quick to correct him and not boast in my strength, for I know that I am nothing, but I boasted in God, who helps us and gives us power and wisdom to bring these our brethren again unto Him and work with Him in the vineyard. That is on huge blessing I have felt recently, is the blessing of not being tired, to have energy, enthusiasm, and zeal for the work. Until now, I have always been tired and just in the mindset of "make it to the next meal time". But now, I am blessed with the power and desire to give my very heart and soul to this work. I have worked to my best ability up until now, and God has finally heard my cries and given me the gift that I have desired. I testify that He pushes us to the very breaking point, but if we endure still even then, He blesses us with what we despereately need and builds us back up again. This week was a rebuilding week, for my testimony and my teaching skills, as well as KOrean and overall energy level. Elder Robinson is working with me and both of us are seeing so much improvement in ourselves. I love this gospel and the Atonement at it's center, through which all who are diligently seeking to improve and serve with all their heart might mind and strength can become servants of the Lord, Instruments in HIs hands to bring to pass His great and Eternal puposes. ELder Bednar gave a talk I read today in personal study for last General conference called Bear up their Burdens, or something. It talks about the burdens we all bear, and how the burden allows us to move forward on this path of disciplship of the Son of God. I love that talk and know it is true because I have seen it in my own life this week. I hope all of you read that and apply it to your attitude and your prayers, let the Lord lift and guide you in your personal journey to Him. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Love you all so much!! Sorry to talk your ears off again, but I have almost typed my fingers off... whew! THis is hard work. Time for a little P-day work out session. We have no better plans today. See, I still haven't changed beyond recongition, right? haha I am so grateful for this opportunity to change for the better. Talk to you all later. Have a great week.
Elder Derek Wilcox
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Monday, July 7, 2014

July 6, 2014

This week in Anseong was great! Unfortunatly, all of our investigators were too busy to meet this week. So, we found other people to meet instead! ^^ I have really felt an energy and zeal for the work that I haven't felt this strong before. I just love going out there and thrusting in my sickle! Physically and spiritually! ^^

On the farms here, we do a loooot of weeding. this involves cutting long weeds with a sickle. We also spend way too much time crouched over in the dirt scraping up the roots of said cut weeds. We also got to harvest potatoes and garlic once. The Less-Active lady we usually help planted really really late, so not any harvesting there yet, but the other active family has a healthy farm. I am soo grateful to be able to do this! In a missionary life, you don't get to use your muscles very much, so I am usually quite eager about the work we do. Usually. This last week we had to days in a row, which wiped me out. ^^ It's fun!

 I am soo incredibly grateful for a family like you guys and for the happiness we obtain through God's loving, peaceful message of the Gospel. Even if I haven't found someone else to share all that I know and the blessings I enjoy with in Korea yet, I have a firm assurance that if we all keep enduring and pressing forward in what we know to be true and leading with our faith for what we don't, we have the promise of the Father that we shall have eternal life, the greatest of all the gifts of God. That knowledge gives me hope and strength when i am tired or depressed, and I am learning how to turn this feeling into Christlike love for all my brethren and sisters I see on the streets and meet with. God gave me this opportunity to learn and grow, and also to let me obtain that desire for the welfare of the souls of His children and to do my small part of His huge work to bring to pass our eternal life and immortality! I am soo grateful to Him and His grace, His Son and His sacrifice for me and for us! ^^

Elders Wilcox & Robinson at the Seoul Temple

Sunday, July 6, 2014

June 29th Big Email :)

Hello everyone! Sorry sorry sorry for the big wait. I bet most of you have forgotten me by know, huh? ^^ I will try to hit the highlights of the past, what, 4-5 weeks?
Transfers! I am now Senior Companion, and District Leader of the Anseong District. Only me and 5 other missionaries. Small compared to others in the world, huh? But we like it that way. We are "Anseong Family"!!^^
My Companion, Elder Robinson, is from all over, has lived in Japan and Singapore, but most recently from California. He's a wrestler, and he lets me run in the mornings. That's a huge plus in a companion.^^ He is also a fun guy, and a good missionary! We're working hard.
We've done lots and  lots of farmwork, or i guess garden work, for some members of our branch. We usually help out on a farm 3 times a week instead of our morning studies, which can be kind of exhausting. But we are building our Branch, which is what our Presidnt want us to do. And we're figuring how to cope and study earlier. ^^
I had a hard experience 2 weeks ago, a lady on the bus told the guy I was talking to that we are a false church, and asked me to stop saying blasphemies because it made her head hurt. I didn't say anything, becuase she said her head was hurting, but I wish I would have testified to her and to the other guy. It hit me super hard to learn my first instinct was not to testify in the face of adversity, so I had a good cry and a really good prayer asking for another chance and help to testify. I met that lady again last week, and I did have the chance to testify, even though she was railing on me the whole time. I walked away feeling like a weight was gone from my shoulders, because God heard my prayer and let me have a second chance. I know he doesnt always give ones like that to us, but I am soo glad he did, even if it couldn't help the lady, becuase it helped me soo much.
This week! We taught soo many lessons!! Unfortunately, our investigators have been super busy and haven't been able to meet for a few weeks, so that prompted us to go find new ones! We met with lots of potentials this last week, and now we need to follow the counsel of Elder Ballard and follow up! Fun fun! ^^
Also, we found out that our Nepalese investigator is a rare find because there are only 2 branches in the world that primarily speak nepalese. One in nepal, and one in Salt Lake city. woww. So, we've gotta teach this guy Korean and then the Gospel. Or make him do what we did in the MTC and learn the language through the Gospel. ^^
During Personal Study this morning, I had a very strong feeling of the reality of the Savior's love. I was reading Jacob 5, the Vineyard parable thats like 80 verses long, and it just hit me how much the Lord loves His trees. He loves the people of the earth, who have potential to bring forth the fruit of conversion and glorify God through using His Son's atonement and becoming like their Savior. It hit me, and I began to truly feel what it means to love someone in the way the Savior does, the way the Father does. I came out here to share this message, that God has reached out in Love again through a latter-day prophet to prune the vineyard this last time and gather fruit, the fruit worthy of repentance unto Himself. And, as one holding authority, I am one of the servants called to labor diligently in the vineyard with the Lord and His Servant Jesus Christ, and I will keep pruning until He says the work is done. Even if I haven't seen a baptism yet, even if people on the street trample my words underfoot, I will be a disciple of Christ, and I will speak as pleasing God, not men, because He has trusted me with this wonderful gospel from birth. I know that God loves and knows each of us, that His Son Jesus Christ is our Savior, and that He lives! He speaks! He reaches out to us through His servants, and while few, we can be the Lord's hands in the work of Salvation because He wants us to experience what His Eternal Life is. That is the destiny for which God intented us to recieve, to be like our Father and save souls forever. How blessed we are to start now, even though we are far from perfect. If we have Faith in Christ, Hope in His plan, Charity and Love for Him and His sheep, and an eye single to the glory of God, like the savior has, then we are qualified and commissioned to lift where we stand and do the Work. I love this gospel. I love all of you, and I testify that our Master does, too. Let us prepare, act in faith, and improve ourselves though this wonderful opportunity to work in the Lord's vineyard wherever we are. Reach out to others, testify, pray for them. Love as the Savior does. If we do these things diligently until the end, I know that we will live in eternal Glory with our Father and our Savior forever. I testify of these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Thanks for your love and prayers, everyone! Keep them coming! ^^ I love you and wish you a great week!
Until next time,
Elder Wilcox