Sunday, October 26, 2014

This Weeks Update

Dear Friends and Family,

It has been another fun and tiring week in Seoul!  We have done quite a bit of stuff this week.  Last Monday, I went shopping for some winter clothes, because I currently don't have any; but instead, I bought a bunch of cheap ties.  I got really distracted.  They had this whole floor filled with between $3-$10 ties. It was super awesome.

This week I have worked a lot on our mission language "Pass-Off" program.  We basically have to memorize a certain number of Korean words and teach in Korean to our leaders.  I have finished teaching lessons 1-4 to my district leader and will probably pass-off with my Zone Leaders this week.  In order to pass, you basically just have to demonstrate proficiency to teach the lessons in Korean.  Its mean't to be finished in a missionary's first 12 weeks but a lot of missionaries procrastinate. It's not that big of a deal; I should finish by the end of this transfer.  I'm not sure how clearly that was explained. Sorry in advance.

Here's quick update on our investigators: We didn't meet with any this week, and most have not responded to our texts our calls in a while, so we've had to drop about all of them.  We are still in contact with Paul and that's about it.  So it looks like we're starting over from scratch. Consequently, we contacted about 275 people on the streets this week.  And on the bright side, quite a few people agreed to meet again so we'll see what happens.

On Tuesday of this past week, we had interviews with the mission President.  It's always cool to get to hear from him and talk with him.  Although it only went about 10 minutes, it went well.  Then on Wednesday, we had our weekly district meeting.  It was super good and I learned a lot.  Our district leader encouraged us to raise the number of lessons that we teach each week, and talked about how we better reach that number.  Afterwards, I went on my second exchange with the district leader.  I continue to learn a ton from working with him.  It's interesting and cool to work with other missionaries besides your companion.

Saturday was probably the craziest day of the week.  We had our weekly missionary coordination meeting with Byeon Yeongoong.  He made us some super delicious meat again.  We had a lesson with a new guy named Muhammad later that evening.  As we were walking to a nearby bakery, we walked past about 3 concerts going on in one area.  There is always a party going on here.  Because of four big Universities that are here, it can get super loud and crazy.

Well I am continuing to have a ton of fun here.  I honestly have never talked with so many people, or for that matter seen so many people, in my life.  I have also never gotten stood up on so many hand shakes in my life haha.  Since we're foreigners, we use the phrase "악수해도되요?" a lot.  It means, "May I shake your hand?"  That's a weird question in any country, but I can get away with it since I'm white.  It gets people to stop and talk with us, sometimes. Again, thanks for all the support!

가장 좋아하는 선교사,

윌러 장로

                                      Chase got his Halloween Package with a duck dynasty "costume"!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Another Week in Paradise

Dear Friends and Family,

So transfers occurred this week and we added a new house member.  Elder Ashby is in his 3rd transfer, and he was with me in the MTC for about 3 weeks.  Now we have two really new Elders in the house.  This Sunday, at church, we had the epic primary program.  Instead of members giving talks like normal, kids from about 4-12 years old sing songs and give talks.  It was super awesome; Korean children are super cute.  There is also a family from America in our ward.  All of their kids speak Korean and English, so it was fun to hear them talk in Korean.  Everyone from the ward was amazed.

After church, the sister's investigator, Park Hanna, got baptized! It was really cool, and we invited one of our investigators, Paul, to attend.  He showed up late, missed the baptism, but we were able to meet with him after.  He is also trying to find if God exists.  We tried to help him recognize some of the answers that he has received, but he still isn't sure that he has received a solid answer yet.  We had a great lesson though, and he committed to read and pray every night.  It seems like we will meet with him more often now.  We weren't able to meet with any of our other investigators this week because all of the college kids have their midterms.  Every thing is super competitive here in Korea and everyone studies extremely hard.

The turn tables have turned this week! We have had very few dinner appointments while I've been here, but we had quite a few this week.  My mom's friend, Brian, invited us over for dinner this week.  I was able to have some long needed roast beef and mashed potatoes.  Plus he took us on the roof of his apartment complex for some spectacular photos while the sun was going down.  I'm not a good photographer, but if I say so myself, the photos are pretty amazing.

On the down side, only three women showed up for English class on Saturday, so we ended up passing out English flyers for a couple of hours.  Hopefully, that will boost our numbers.  We also did some fun street-boarding this week.  We go out into a busy place with all of the missionaries, a board, and some stickers.  The board has certain questions on it about what our purpose is, where we go after we die, we do we have trials, etc.  Then people put a sticker on which question they wonder about.  It gives us a super great opportunity to stop and talk to a ton of people.  It is becoming one of my favorite activities.  It works extremely well in ShinChon because of how busy it is!

So at the request of my mother, I'll give a little update on my Korean.  I am starting to feel more comfortable with it gradually.  I can sometimes understand people, and I can generally say what I need to in Korean.  Although its a super hard language and I know very little, it always seems that I have what I need.  In the house and with other foreigner missionaries we usually talk in English.  We probably should talk more with each other in Korean, but since we're all at different levels and capabilities, its generally difficult.

Lastly, I had another super cool experience talking with a man on the street as I was walking home.  He initially rejected my handshake and told me to go away, but after some loving persistence, I was able to connect with him.  I vividly remember the point when I shared my testimony with him.  I told him how much the Book of Mormon meant to me and how I didn't know where I would be without it.  I felt the Spirit super strongly and teared up a little bit with this random guy on the street (Luckily, I don't think he noticed the tears). However, I'm pretty sure he felt the Spirit because I felt it and a one point he even said, "Wow."  When I asked him if he would want to meet again, I received "No" for an answer, but that's okay.  I was just grateful for yet another witness of the Book of Mormon.

Hope everything is well back at home! Thanks for all the support and prayers, they are graciously appreciated!

The coolest missionary you know,

Elder Wheeler

Dinner with the "Tofu Travelers"

Sunday, October 12, 2014

GEN CON October 2014

Dear Friends and Family,
What a great and spiritually uplifting week.  I know everyone watched conference last week, but I did not because it had to be translated into Korean for the other members.  Luckily, I got to view it in English.  It was absolutely fantastic.  I mean not only did we have the opportunity to hear from the leaders of our church, but we had the opportunity to hear from a Prophet who was called of God.  I really learned so many different things from each talk and I receive some great direction on how I can improve.  I don't have enough time to write about each talk, nor can I perfectly remember each talk, but I may touch on one of my favorites. 
This Saturday was transfer calls!  Every six weeks, the mission president calls and changes our assignment, our companion, or keeps it the same.  First of all, Elder Julseth and I are staying put for at least another 6 weeks.  However, Elder Thompson is becoming a Zone Leader in our zone and moving out of our house.  Elder Ashby will replace him on Wednesday. I will certainly miss Elder Thompson and his deep insights, but he's still in our ward, so that's good.
Other than transfer calls and General Conference, not a ton happened this week.  Although we were able to meet with T.G.  He has been praying about once a week and hasn't received an answer yet.  So we talked with him about how to recognize the Holy Ghost and committed him to pray daily.  Overall, it was a great lesson.  Idongwon didn't meet with us this week because he has been really busy with school.  It looks like his Baptismal date may have to be moved back.  Koreans are really busy, so it makes meeting pretty difficult.
Today for lunch, Anyeongchan took us out for lunch to an awesome Chinese place.  I sent a picture of the shrimp dumpling I had.  It was pretty good and we had Baskin Robins afterwards.  He loves the missionaries and takes really great care of us.  He talked about how much he appreciated the work we do contacting people on the streets daily. Also, It was Elder Thompson and Elder Bishop's birthday on Saturday the 11th.  We had a fun little celebration after Conference.
Elder Bednar's talk during the last session of conference really awesome.  While I've been in Korean, a lot of people have asked, "Why are you serving a mission?"  I had a pretty good idea why, but Elder Bednar did a great job at describing why so many missionaries and members around the world are sharing this gospel with others.  First of all, we don't get bonus points in our church for doing it.  Elder Bednar described his son after he cut his arm.  His brother took him inside, and through lots of ointment and Band-Aids, made him feel a lot better.  The little child immediately went out and shared this ointment and Band-Aids with his other friends outside.  This act was instinctive.  He received so much help from the medicine that his next act was to share it with others.  Like this child, I have received so much help from this church and this gospel that I really desire to share it.  The feeling is hard to describe, but it is instinctive and out of a desire to help others feel what I feel everyday.
Even though I've only been on my mission for about 3 months, I've already learned so much and have come to know how true this gospel is.  I love the Book of Mormon so much, and it helps encourage me and guide each day.  And I have never been so happy as when I share the things that I have learned with others.  The comfort of knowing the truth is overwhelming and I invite those who are unsure or who don't know to find out!  Everything seems to go better and fall into to place when I put God first in my life.  Although trials are inevitable, God has given us the tools to overcome them.  I get rejected everyday by people on the street, but I am happy as I continue to do the things that he asks.  God measures our success, not others.
I thank everyone again for all their prayers and support! I love hearing from you!
Your Favorite Missionary,
Elder Wheeler

Chase with Elder Christensen

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Another Exciting Week

Dear Friends and Family,

Wow where to start....I got my haircut on P-day which was a very interesting experience.  When the lady asked me how I wanted it to look (in Korean), I had to have my companion help me out and then stick with the consequences.  In reality, she could have done whatever she wanted and I couldn't have complained.  Luckily, it turned out alright, but does look a little more Koreanish.  We did a ton of contacting people on the streets at the beginning of this week because we didn't have many appointments.  On average, we contact about 180 people a week and about 179 people deny us.  It's definitely tough, but its worth the one guy who is willing to meet with us again.

On Friday we had an awesome ward picnic in the morning.  It lasted from about 10 to 3:30 and we got the chance to do all sorts of fun things!  We played this epic game of dodgeball which is called blood ball in Korean.  I found it super fun although I did end up with a bloody knee afterwards.  We also played catch, volleyball, frisbee, and some basketball.  I got to know a lot of the members better and their "true" personalities haha.  Afterwards, we headed over to Chooncheon.  My companion served there for the first five transfers of his mission.  A transfer is 6 weeks.  One couple that he had taught for about 6 months while he was there finally got baptized!  It was amazing to be a part of.  Their ward has about 20 people in it and is way smaller than shinchon.  It takes about 2 hours to travel all the way out there.

On Saturday, we had our weekly meeting with our Ward Mission Leader!  He felt bad that he had to cancel the last couple of weeks, so he and his parents fed us.  They made tons of pork, rice, and kimchi.  I literally ate so much.  What made the meeting even better was that one of our investigators came!  His name is 최종각 (Che jong gak), and he is the man I met on the subway late the night after stake conference.  He was super interested in the Book of Mormon and we were able to teach him the first lesson.  Later that night, we planned for our week since we couldn't do it on Friday as usual.

On Sunday, we had some great lessons at church.  During the first hour, in priesthood, we talked a lot about testimonies and how important they are.  Surprisingly, I understood quite a bit of what was going on.  However, during Sunday school, I was completely confused.  An old Korean man taught us out of Isaiah using very high level vocabulary.  Probably an amazing lesson, but unfortunately, I didn't catch much of it and my companion was having a hard time himself.  Lastly, in sacrament meeting, Idongwon showed up, and afterwards we were able to teach him about the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  An awesome returned missionary from Korea joined us and really helped during the lesson.  Although Idongwon has accepted a baptismal date, he still has a long way to go in order to gain a testimony of the Book of Mormon.  He is a super great investigator and always very kind to us.  Lastly, we taught T.G. that night.  He really wants to know if God exists and how to receive that answer.  We ended up talking a lot about how God commands us to pray and read the scriptures.  We promised him that if he diligently read and prayed daily, he would receive that answer.  God will answer us if we show him our true desire to know the truth.  God requires that action on our part in order to reward us.

I have really come to see the blessings that this gospel brings to my life.  Although most people deny us on the streets, I have really never been happier.  Its so fun to be on a mission, serving others and serving God!

Your Favorite Elder,

Elder Wheeler