Friday, November 10, 2017

Week Fifty-Seven: Elder Jackson

Dear People,

My new trainee is Elder Jackson. He reminds me of a mix between Sterling, Elder Calhoon, and Kip. We get along great. He helps me calm down when I start feeling responsible for the spiritual nourishment of all our 150+ less actives. He reminds me that we just need to be obedient and find new investigators. ​​For example yesterday I was getting stressed about something and he suggested we just go outside and talk to people. We looked at the map, said a prayer, and started going wherever we felt prompted to go. I felt like going to a park I've seen a few times but have never visited, but there was no one there. On the way to somewhere else we felt like going, I saw a middle aged man leaning against his car a good ways away from us. He was far enough that Satan convinced me not to go over to talk to him but as we walked past I kept looking at him and when we made eye contact I greeted him. He got excited and asked where we were going so we walked over to him and started talking. He apparently studied American history so he knew about Utah and stuff​​. He was catholic we talked about religion and it was really hard to get him to understand that we weren't just another branch of Christianity, but once he figured out our message he seemed very interested and asked if he could keep the pamphlet I had been reading with him. He wants to meet again so that could be awesome.

My brain has been so fried. I'm happy and working hard and learning, but my thoughts are just gone. I just need to slow down and focus on one thing at a time. 

One thing that isn't fried is my love of the Book of Mormon. I love it and know that it is true.

Ooh, another principle that was reinforced with me this week was the necessity of member missionary work. Members are just undercover missionaries. If I try to be nice and show interest in people or offer help it is often rejected because my motive can appear to be impure. "He's only talking to me so he can eventually talk about his church" Just talk to everyone! Be friendly, ask questions, make friends with people. I sometimes feel like it would be more effective if I didn't wear a tag and just wore casual clothes everywhere because then people would talk and believe that I wanted to be their friend and am talking to them because I am genuinely interested in them. That's were the real missionary work happens. The real Christlike fellowship from members. The full time missionary's job is to leave the heavy commitments and make sure they understand the doctrine.

I love you all, pray to know who will accept your friendship and be a real friend.

Elder Brown

​The Korea Burgerking guy. He's the mascot for a bagillion companies here cuz he's super handsome.​
Elder Jackson learning how to use chopsticks

I'm doing a video journal thing. This was an especially stressful day.​

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Week Fifty-Six: Smart Phones and Training Again

Dear People,

Transfer calls yesterday. I'm staying for my 6th transfer in Gwangyang and I'm training again! Apparently I still haven't learned the lesson that I was supposed to learn here. . . I've been here since April's general conference. This is going to be an interesting transfer.

My mind still hasn't processed that we are going to be using smartphones, I'll write about it later probably.

For the last couple months we've been planning this musical family home evening with the three branches in our district and it finally happened this Sunday. The night before I was stressed about how little I had been focusing on it and felt like I should have done more as a district leader for it. On Sunday morning I prayed saying I know I should have prepared better for this, and you have been giving us so much, but please just let this work out.  Seven investigators came. It was super awesome, everything worked out. 

I can't even think right now, so much is happening, I need to prepare for my new companion, but here's my spiritual message for the week. There is no faith without obedience. We won't have faith to see miracles if we aren't striving for exact obedience because we will know deep down that we are unworthy. We won't be able to believe miracles will happen, because they won't. 

Life's good, the church is true. Be good

-Elder Brown

Here are persimmon picking pictures from a couple weeks ago. I'll be able to send pictures every week now because I have a camera!

Week Fifty-Five

Dear people,

Really hard experience this week. We were walking to the church for an appointment and a woman driving slowly past rolled down her window and asked "Jesus Christ?" to which we naturally said yes. She immediately pulled over and got out of the car with her hands outstretched as if demanding we give her whatever we have. She super excitedly explained how she's a convert to Christianity for three years and has been going to different churches around Korea praying and trying to find one that was true to the Bible, but eventually decided that there was no true church. When she saw us she remembered that she used to cut missionary's hair before she believed in God and when she saw us she took it as an answer that we came from the true church. She started crying as she explained all of this and she talked really fast so we didn't try to interrupt her. She wanted to meet that day. She just seemed golden in every way.
Our meeting lasted three hours even though we only taught the first lesson. She loved everything in the restoration pamphlet, especially the great apostasy. She emphatically agreed that the the true church was lost. When we got to the first vision her countenance changed a little. It was clear that she was not expecting this. She seemed equally surprised at the Book of Mormon and I was a little worried but when we talked about finding out its truth through prayer she said "I've already received an answer". So that was kind of weird/cool. It wasn't a perfect lesson and we knew she didn't fully understand what we taught, but she was still super happy and wanted to come to church the next day so we were confident that in further meetings we would be able to clarify everything. At the end she said that it was all very new to her and she needed to process it.

Late that night we got a text that said "Don't wait for me at church tomorrow. The path I need to take is different from your beliefs. I would be grateful if you didn't contact me."
That was heartbreaking. The hardest part is that we don't even know her reason. We're praying for her and trying to figure out what to do. 

Sorry for the sad story but I know God has a plan for her and I think we will be able meet her again.
We also had a couple really positive experiences this week. Yesterday Brother Jung the man we've been meeting for English became a real investigator and he has a ton of potential. We also got to go picking persimmons at a member's farm. That was super fun, I have some pictures I'll send sometime.

Life's good. I'm happy. God lives. The church is true. Read the Book of Mormon.

-Elder Brown

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Week Fifty-Four: Naganeupseung

Dear people,

This week felt like three.

First things first, the blessings really do come after the much tribulation. The last few weeks have been super hard, so many disappointments so much stress, but Sunday night made up for everything.

Around the time I first started serving with Elder Hyun we got a notification that a sister from Seoul wanted to refer her boyfriend who lives in our area. We called her and she gave the typical response of "I think he needs some time, I'll call you when he's ready"  We called once more about a month later to follow up and she gave the same response. We asked for his name so we could pray for him, but honestly we just kind of forgot about them.
On Sunday morning we got a call from an unrecognized number. He Identified himself as the boyfriend and said he wanted to meet today. We called the girlfriend to let her know the news and ask for any useful information about him. Apparently she asked him to call us. She warned us that he would probably be pretty quiet because he's investigating the church for her and doesn't have a ton of religious interest personally, so we braced ourselves.
We met at the church and had a really awkward first impression. I don't know how to describe it, it was just awkward. We painfully transitioned into trying to teach the first lesson. When he showed interest in family I gave him a proclamation to the world tri-fold and said that I thought he would like it if he had time to read it later. He opened it up right there and read the whole thing silently. He proceeded to pick up the restoration pamphlet and read the entire booklet as we just sat there in surprised silence. This was a first for me so I didn't really know what to do so I just let him keep reading. When he was done he seemed really satisfied. He liked how it encouraged people to study out and pray about the message before just accepting it. Long story short, we sat together in the church for over an hour, and even though we barely taught anything and his face showed almost no expression throughout the meeting, before he left he said he received a "conviction" that this was the church he needed to join and had a really good time. That's a really nice thing to hear as a missionary. We said a really emotional thank you-prayer right after he left.

I'm so excited about him. His name is Sung-ook by the way, and don't tell his girlfriend, but he told us he wants to marry her. The church is true. Families are forever.

There was an outpouring of other miracles this week but I'm out of time.

The church is true, I love you,

-Elder Brown

I finally have pictures. These are from Zone Conference when we went to a 600 year old village that is still inhabited by people who have continued the lifestyle of the original inhabitants making it a living museum. It was the coolest place I've been to so far. So many persimmon trees.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Week Fifty-Three

Dear People,

A couple weeks ago we met a Brother Jung who called off a free English advertisement. Yesterday was the fourth time we've met him. The second time we met we shared Mosiah 2:17 about when you serve others you are serving God because he is part of a service organization and says he feels really good about serving. He liked that and agreed to let us continue to share spiritual messages as we meet. Yesterday we shared the initiative video "Because of Him" which led into a discussion about his feelings on Christianity. He sheepishly shared how he doesn't go to church but he believes in God and Jesus Christ. He expressed his frustration with all the different groups that all seem to believe the same thing but fight with each other. The way he said it was almost apologetically, like he was sorry for not knowing more. We struggled to contain our excitement as we testified that our message explains why that is and how the original church of Christ has been restored in all its simplicity. He accepted a Book of Mormon and restoration pamphlet and is excited talk about it more next time. 
Meeting these kind of people is what makes all the memories of the hard times melt away.  

Everyone in Korea has these kind of feelings about religion, they feel that Jesus Christ is important, but the churches are corrupt. They are sick of having it pushed on them by hired "proselyters" that walk around giving out material and give robotic messages. 
We are so blessed in Korea that we can, like Ammon, first show our true intent by serving through teaching English. Service is awesome. Serve.

I still haven't watched all of Conference in English, but so far my favorite talk has been the finishing talk by Elder Anderson. The Spirit confirmed his special witness of the Savior that he gave at the beginning of his talk and it made me listen with more intent to everything else he said.

The church is true.

I love you,

-Elder Brown

Week Fifty-Two

Dear People,

I feel so boring for never sending pictures, we just don't really do anything cool. We should probably start doing cooler stuff. We're supposed to get smart phones in the next month or two so that will help. 

Last night I arm wrestled a super drunk guy. We were sitting at a bus stop, the street was basically empty besides him, he walked up to us with a big smile and said "let's arm wrestle". I won. We gave him a Word of Wisdom pamphlet.

A couple days as we got onto a bus one of the only passengers shouted "Foreigner! Hello" I sat next to him and started some small talk. He seemed very excited that we wanted to sit with him. He talked about sports and English and a bunch of random stuff. For some reason it didn't feel right to bring up the gospel and we soon learned why. He talked really fast and used words I've never heard talking about the intricacies of Buddhist doctrine, so I was mostly quiet and let my companion respond. Elder Hyun would address him as "Brother" like we do everyone so at one point he stopped us and said "That's so strange that you call me brother" to which we apologized but he said "No it's just that I don't have any brothers." He started crying as he explained that he used to have two really close friends but they have since turned away from him and now he feels like he has no one. He further explained all the trials he was going through and after we listened to him pour his heart out he told us that we were just like little brothers to him. We got his number to meet again and later that night he texted us that "You two healed my heart tonight. You are my models."

We did literally nothing but listen to him. If we had just robotically given our little presentation about our church I don't believe he would have opened up to us. It's so important to love.

We only have two investigators right now and we haven't been able to meet with either of them for over two weeks so that's really hard, but we've been meeting cool people and are almost finding a potential investigator every day. On Saturday we did a proselyting activity in a train station and a few people played the grand piano that's available for public use there. I sang "Homeward Bound".

I've grown so much this week. I've never been more humbled in my life.

I am focusing more on the Book of Mormon and Jesus Christ. I used to think people who focused so much on Jesus Christ were kind of boring and I remember thinking that they didn't really appreciate all the other cool stuff about our church. Jesus Christ is everything. Everything else in the church is appendage. Everything else is just designed to help us get closer and learn more about Him. 

I love you,

-Elder Brown

Here is a picture of some bibimbab. I eat this sometimes. It's not even my picture another missionary sent it to me, I just feel so bad for not sending any pictures. I promise that members take pictures of stuff and I tell them to email them to me but they don't . . .

​Also here's the inviation for our musical fireside on the 29th. Y'all are invited.​


Week Fifty-One: One Year Older and Wiser Too

Dear People,

My year mark is on the 28th. Two years are short.

I just want to share one experience this week. We felt like we should try something new and take a bus to a part of our area where almost no one lives. Upon arriving, we realized the accuracy of my last statement. No one was there. We started walking to find a more central part of the city where there might be more people but stopped when we saw a super old, very sad woman walking out of a house towards us. She sat on a bench and we sat with her. She said she comes out to sit because her body hurts. We tried to talk about God a little and she told us that she doesn't believe in God or in anything else. "I don't know anything, go talk to people who know about God, there are probably some in that mart over there. Even if I died and came back to life I wouldn't know anything about God. " It was strikingly clear that nothing about the restoration or Book of Mormon would have any meaning to her and that the only thing we could do is try to help her feel that someone knows what she is going through and loves her. We testified accordingly and asked if before we go it would be ok if we could say a prayer with her. She didn't respond and just stared straight ahead. We said a simple prayer that her pain would go away and that she would feel God's love. She said Gamsamnida "thank you" and was silent until we left. 

The conversation lasted probably around 10 minutes because there was a lot of silence. I don't know if she felt anything by the end but I sure did.  Things like that help remind me that our message is not be complicated. If people really feel that the first principle "God is our loving Heavenly Father" is true, everything else falls into place: If God loves us of course there is a reason for our being here. Of course he would give us a way to be happy. I'm going to try to focus more on that principle.

Life is good, the church is true. I love you

-Elder Brown