Monday, May 25, 2015

May 24, 2015 "A BIG Hug"

Hello everyone! Time for another Big Email! The weather has been really mild and warm here in Korea for the past while, but it's beginning to get hot now! It's already totally bright outside when we go running in the mornings! I am so blessed to have a companion that is willing to run, and another house mate/ District leader who is willing to trade places with him when he doesn't want to. ^^

This week in Gangnam was really really tough! Elder Arredondo and I got cancelled on about 5 times! On the bright side, we got to walk around the area a lot and get to know the streets. We don't ride buses here, which I love cuz walking around is just my style. We do have about 20 or more subway stations in our little area (crazy huge number, cuz this is one of the metropolises of Seoul) for when we need to move fast or leave the area for meetings.

We met some really cool people. We also met some really weird people. One of them was a man who came to English class and we all just got a weird vibe about him. He seemed kind of autistic, a bit. He was kinda creeping on me, so I wasn't sure what to do. He gave us KFC he had bought, tried to take a picture of me, and then left right when English class started. Confusing. Anyway, that happened right after getting rejected and railed on by some guy on the street about how our church is false and the Book of Mormon is not true. Well, I told him that I've got a witness, an answer from God that it is true, so while there's not much I can do for him, there is nothing he can do to me either. Just a normal missionary day.

I was feeling really really depressed after those 2 experiences, though, and feeling like I could do nothing right. I felt like if I was a god missionary, I could have left that man with a better impression of our church. And I just felt weird and out-of-whack from the guy at english class. On the way home for dinner, I was flipping my mission coin, and I looked at the words on the back, "Full Purpose of Heart". It hit me that all God asked of me was to serve Him and His Children with full purpose of heart. He never required me to be perfect at street-contacting or know exactly how to handle every situation, He just asked for my best effort.

The next day, I was still in a down mood, and in companion study we read from the Book of Mormon together in Alma 26, about a missionary named Ammon talking to his brothers and fellow missionaries after their service among the Lamanite people. He talks in there about a lot of things, but what stuck out to me this time was that he and his brothers went through a lot worse rejection than I did, and a lot more privation (verse 27). When they were depressed, the Lord comforted them. 

When we read this verse together, I felt like I was getting a big hug from my Father in Heaven, like He was saying to me, "It's okay, I understand. Just get back up and give it one more go, be diligent and I will give you success." I felt like the Full Purpose of Heart thing and this chapter combined to help me out of the little depression I had worked myself into. I feel like Heavenly Father picked me up, dusted me off, gave me a big hug, and comforted me like the little child I am to Him. He also showed me lots of ways that I can do better. First he reminded me that my purpose is to serve His other children and Him with my best effort. Then he showed me that when it's hard and I'm depressed, its another opportunity to develop and show diligence. I learned a lot more, but it would take all day to write. The biggest thing I learned, or was reminded of, is that God is mindful of each of us, and that He really does want to help us in our problems. We just need to turn to Him and do our best to follow Him.

 When we ask for blessings, He usually answers with opportunities for us to gain them ourselves.

I love this work, and I love all of you! I love my Father in Heaven most of all, for letting me learn and grow and have the opportunity of serving Him in this way as a missionary.

Thanks again! Have a great week, everyone!

Monday, May 4, 2015

May 3, 2015 Email

Another week has come and gone here in Anyang, South Korea. We were blessed with the opportunity to have an absolutely amazing Zone Conference with our zone missionaries and President Morrise and his wife, and his Assistants. We learned about "We are the Message" , one of our mission's themes. Elder Thorup, Sister Hoffman and I were able to give training on being the message to our church members by being excited and happy about the work to remind them of the Joy of the Gospel. We also talked about using the Book of Mormon to help everyone hear the Gospel Music mentioned in last General Conference. Then we went up into a mountain and received inspired training on asking questions to help others learn the Gospel music for themselves from Sister Morrise, as well as positively powerful training on the Power of Positivity from the Assistants. Then we came back to the church, and President led us in a time of seeking and receiving personal revelation about what it means to Come Unto Christ, and how we can do that personally, as well as help others do it. I realized that for me, I needed to reconfirm my testimony of the most basic principle in the Gospel, that of our Lord Jesus Christ. 

Yesterday as I fasted and studied, I was able to realize once again that Jesus Christ really did live and die, and that He lives again. He did and does everything for me and for you. The Spirit also helped me realize that because He lives, I can rejoice. I must rejoice! Interestingly enough, on this mission I have learned how to live more like Christ than ever before, but my weaknesses and shortcomings have been distracting me from the Joy that must be felt because of the Atonement of Christ. If I'm not happy when I'm this involved in His work, then I don't fully understand it and I need to complete my conversion. 

I also realized, thanks to my insightful companion, that if we truly understand the Gospel of Christ, then we instantly and naturally begin to share it with those we love. If we hesitate about sharing the Gospel, then we either don't love the people or we don't understand what the Gospel is. There have been too many times that I have felt like "I don't need to talk to this person, I have somewhere to go" or "It's P-day, its time for a break". But thinking of the lives of the apostles and all the Book of Mormon  prophets, I can't see any of them saying that. They truly understood the incomparably joyful message of Christ's Atonement, and they were eager to share it with everyone, no matter how they were received. They understood that all of mankind is on the same team, but many have just been confused by the devil to pursue less joyful things. It's our honor and opportunity to invite, to give them a chance to come back and enjoy the Joy of the Gospel.

I can testify that the Holy Ghost has witnessed to me that Jesus is the Christ, that He loves us and wants us to be happy and so He performed the Greatest Achievement in the history of mankind, the Atonement, so that we could have hope and joy. I also know by the same spirit that the Lord has restored, or brought back his one, complete Gospel through Joseph Smith, and that the Book of Mormon testifies of that truth, as well as teaching us plainly what we must do to feel the Joy. It has taken me a while, and I'm not anywhere near done yet, but I personally am coming to know the reality, intensity, magnitude and JOY of these truths. And I can share them with everyone that I meet. 

I am so honored and joyful to have this opportunity to serve the Lord and His children, and to better myself in the process, in this beautiful land of Korea. This, and my whole life, and my eternity, is all because my Savior performed perfectly the Greatest Achievement. How matchlessly loving and joyful?

In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Elder Derek Wilcox