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Sunday, November 30, 2014

Sokcho!

Dear Family and Friends,
 
So, before I left for Sokcho, we had our last lesson with Jack.  He bought me a picture frame, and it was amazing to get to teach him for the last time.  Seriously, I love to talk with him about the Gospel.  Secondly, 안경찬 took us out for dinner and ice cream.  He also bought me a scarf!  He is one of the sweetest people I have met.  Then transfers happened!
 
Wow so what a crazy first week in Sokcho.  Elder Elwood is my companion, and he is from Provo.  He is 20 and went to college for a year in Prescott (Embry Riddle).  He's really smart and studied physics there.  The other Elders in our house are Elder Lanford and Elder Herron, and we're all getting along well.  All of them have been out for over a year.  Elder Lanford recently got called as the new Branch President so he's still figuring things out.  Sokcho is seriously different than Seoul.  There are a lot less people and not much public transportation.  However, its actually about the same temperature, but it started to snow today. 
 
Since there is not much member leadership, we are really involved with the ward.  This past week, we held a youth night and a super fun game night.  We played "Sorry!" and a Korean Game called 윷노리(Yut).  Everyone really enjoyed it.  Even the Less- Active Member that we are working with came.  His name in 이효재(Lee Hyojae), he's my same age, and has recently started to come back to church!  There are actually 8 active members in our ward that are all really solid.  This past Sunday I spoke in church again, which didn't go super well, but a lot of people were surprised that I had only been in Korea for 3 months.  After church every Sunday, we have an awesome meal with all the members.  Because it's hard for them to feed us all individually, we just do one meal together each week.  It was really good.
 
This week we also met with a family we are teaching.  We teach their son English for 30 min and then we teach the rest of the family the gospel for the last 30 min.  It was good to meet them and I look forward to teaching them in the future.  Oh, and then on Thursday of every week, we have this awesome service project.  We travel down to a Catholic Care Center, talk to the residents there, and sing songs for them.  It really is so much fun.  The hard part is understanding their Korean. Practically Impossible. 
 
Anyways, the area surrounding is really beautiful and I have really enjoyed talking to the people here.  They are just really nice.  I'm really excited to get some work done here.
 
Thanks for all the love and support!
 
Your Favorite Missionary,

Elder Wheeler

 
 
Beach in Sokcho





Sokcho Harbor

Elder Elwood and Elder Wheeler
Elder Lanford, Elder Wheeler and Elder Herron
Thanksgiving with the missionaries in the Sokcho Branch

Playing 윷노리 (Yut)


Service at the Care Center in Sokcho



 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Transfers

Dear Family and Friends,

So I guess I will start off with the big news.  This past Saturday was transfer calls.  Most missionaries stay in each area for a while, so I was pretty surprised when they told me I was leaving 신촌.  Elder Julseth will stay, become district leader, and train a new missionary again.  I, on the other hand, am headed out to 속초 (sokcho)!  속초 is located on the east coast and borders North Korea.  I will be serving in the most north eastern part of Korea. I have heard that 속초 is a beautiful area that is centered around a bay.  It is also one of the few places in the world where you can see snow on the ocean; so basically, it's really cold. I will probably have my first white Christmas there which also means I will be shoveling snow pretty often.  The branch (small congregation) there has 6 members in it, so quite a big difference from 신촌. There are currently six missionaries serving there (4 Elders and 2 Sisters) and one is the branch president.  I'll be serving with Elder Elwood.  I'll tell you more about it next week when I get there.  I'm really excited to head out there on Wednesday morning, but I will definitely miss 신촌 a lot.

On Sunday, I said my goodbyes to the ward and bore my testimony to them before I left.  I did okay during my talk, but I must have pronounced where I was going wrong because a lot of people thought I was going to an area in the Seoul South mission, just the typical everyday struggle in Korean.  But I'm really going to miss the people in this awesome ward. And we've just started to continually meet with Jack!  He scared us this week by not responding, but he just hadn't paid his phone bill.  He randomly showed up to church though, and we were able to teach him. Over these past few weeks, I have become really good friends with Jack, and he was super disappointed to hear that I was leaving.  He honestly is one of the best guys I have taught so far, and it seems like he has a really good chance to get baptized.  He just has so many great questions, and he has already made friends with a bunch of people in the ward.

On Wednesday, we met with Thomas for the first time after we ran into him on the street.  He is about 40 years old and is in Seoul taking care of his mother.  I really learned about the vital importance of listening during that lesson.  He told us a lot about himself at the beginning which could have been easily brushed aside if we were trying to push our message upon him.  But because we intently listened and asked questions, he was really open to what we taught him.  It seemed that he was much more willing to listen because he saw that we were there for more than a stat or reward.  

Lately, Elder Julseth and I have been talking a lot about three things that motivate people: fear, a sense of duty, and love.  Our district leader gave us the analogy of two sky scrapers connected with a beam.  He said that a two year-old toddler crawled out onto the middle of a beam.  A pedestrian seeing the situation tried to help, but didn't get very far because he was motivated by fear.  A fireman, assessing the situation, headed out onto the beam because of his sense of duty as a firefighter. But how far will one go just based on duty?  On the other hand, the father sees that his child is in trouble.  He is motivated by the child he has raised and does not hesitate to try and save his child.  As a missionary, I think one of the ultimate goals is to have love be your motivation for all you do, like Jesus Christ.  I think in some ways, I really do love the people here, but its pretty hard to love the person that pushes you away and tells you you're wrong.

Anyways, it was a really exciting week.  Next week I hope to have some amazing photos for 속초.  Thanks for all the support!

Your Favorite Missionary,
Elder Wheeler


Shinchon Ward

Example of poor English


Elder Julseth, Jack, Elder Wheeler

Elder Wheeler and a ward member 



Deacon in Shinchon Ward




Elder Wheeler and Jack before leaving Shinchon
Elder Wheeler and Elder Christensen (District Leader in Shinchon)

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Kimchi Fer Days

Dear Friends and Family,
I will start off this week's letter by talking about what happened today!  We did our Mission's Annual Kimchi making service project.  It was super crazy and awesome.  I really cherished the experience because it's pretty hard to find service project activities here.  Anyways, it consisted of people at each table covering piles of cabbage in this super good spicy sauce.  I was in charge of refilling tables with the sauce and kimchi and filling boxes with the kimchi.  While doing this, random Korean ladies were shoving kimchi in my mouth.  I literally ate so much kimchi; it got all over my mouth and clothes.  I am currently pretty tired because of all the running around we did.  There were also lots of Korean television stations there filming, so who knows, maybe I'll become famous in Korea.  That's a good start right?
In other news, we have picked up this awesome investigator named Jack or his Korean name is 김재미.  He spent a while in Hawaii so he speaks English really well.  He has tons of questions about our church, and he really wants to keep meeting with us.  He came to all three hours of church on Sunday and really connected with a lot of the members there.  I really enjoy meeting with him and just talking with him about all the wonderful things about our church.  We also met with a man named Tolli.  He is Chinese and is super interested in the Book of Mormon.  He was like, "God gave us another book? Can I read it?" We had a great lesson, but we found out that he lives in a different area.  Pretty disappointing, but he was excited to keep meeting with the missionaries in his area.
I might as well also talk about the Bath Houses here in Korea.  They seem to be everywhere.  It is basically a giant sauna with different temperature pools, steam rooms, and showers. I went to one for the first time last Monday, and it was super relaxing.  They cost 6 dollars and you can stay for as long as you want.  I spent a while trying to release all the stress of missionary work.  The Bath Houses here are probably one of my favorite things about Korea.
Lastly, English Class continues to go well.  We have added a lot of new members recently who are fun to talk with.  Although one member did call me ugly at one point. I was slightly offended.  We were making "even though" sentences and he said, "Even though Mr. Wheeler is not handsome, I still like him" (in a Korean accent).  Everyone just burst out laughing.  Missionary work is definitely full of surprises.
Thanks for the continued support and prayers.  I definitely need it!
Your favorite missionary,
Elder Wheeler

1st was a big picture of the kimchi making service project before it began.
2nd Is elder Manwaring on the right from the MTC and Elder Choi on the left from another zone


Elder Choi, Elder Wheeler, Elder Manwaring




 
Pictured Left to Right:  Elder Renfroe (ZL), Elder Julseth, Elder Day, Elder Bishop, Elder Wheeler, Elder Thompson (ZL), Elder Ashby, and Elder Christensen (DL).

Sunday, November 9, 2014

A Crazy Experience

Dear Family and Friends,
This week was pretty exciting because firstly we were able to meet with a lot of awesome people, but I will get to that later.  On P-day, we went to an all-you-can-eat meat buffet.  It was pretty good, except for the part that I ate intestines.  I wasn't sure what I grabbed until we started to cook it.  It tasted pretty nasty.
We met some amazing guys on the street.  We had just finished talking with a man on the street when another man came up and asked for a name card becuase he was interested in our message. That has never happened so far, definitely quite the miracle. After that,  we met a figure skater named Thomas who lived in California for 5 years.  He said he would read the Book of Mormon as soon as he left.  Things seem to be turning around and we're picking up more investigators bit by bit. 
The language continues to come slowly but surely.  I'm starting to feel more and more that I can actually do missionary work.  For the first few weeks, I just felt like I was dragging my companion down, but as I get more comfortable, the more progress we are able to make.  I am scheduled to finish the Pass-off program with the AP's (Assistants to the Mission President) tomorrow and then training is almost over.  It's crazy to think that I am almost finished with my first two transfers!
Two especially crazy things occured yesterday.  First, on Sunday after church, the zone leaders asked us to visit this super old guy that they met on the street.  He had written his address and drawn a map on a small piece of paper and had given it to the zone leaders.  His handwriting was illegible, so we were left wandering around.  After a little searching, I decided that this building looked good, so we headed into it.  Elder Julseth thought it was farther up the road, but for some reason I just really wanted to try this building.  We headed to the second floor, and it didn't look right, but I decided to give it a shot and the guy we were looking for opened his door and let us in!  It was a really crazy experience that I am sure the Spirit was involved in.  I didn't really recognize it at the time; I just thought I was following my gut.  The lesson didn't turn out well because we couldn't get a word in.  He told us for about 25min about Confucianism. However, it was a cool experience either way.
Then 15 min later, we met with a guy  that we had set up an appointment with.  I had met him on the street, and it didn't seem like he had much interest in what we were doing.  However, I ended up getting his number in hopes of future possibilities.  Turns out he had a ton of interest!  He has never prayed before, so he really wanted to learn.  After I said the opening prayer, he said, "I felt really peaceful."   We also taught him with an awesome returned missionary member, so that we could understand all of his concerns.  The lesson went super well and the Spirit was definitely there.  It was quite the privilege to be a part of it.  Elder Julseth mentioned afterwards that he is the most prepared person he has ever met.  We also found out he lives in the Seoul South mission!  It is so sad!  So we are referring him over there.  Although I would really love to keep teaching him, I know God has it all figured out.  There is definitely a good reason why he lives in Seoul South.  Overall, one of the most up and down days of my mission.
I have definitely learned a lot about God and His will.  Often times, I'd rather do it my way, but it never goes as well when I try that.  God is so willing to guide us; He just wants us to reach out and listen to him.  Its as simple as that! Thanks for all the prayers and support!
Your favorite missionary,
Elder Wheeler




Sunday, November 2, 2014

Sick Elders

Dear Family and Friends,

This week was interesting.  I will start with some of the worse parts of this week.  First of all, the other three Elders in my house got sick.  Not really headaches or sick stomachs, but just a lot of coughing, sneezing, and runny noses.  I somehow managed to avoid the sickness.  My health is currently stable, but I did get bit by a ton of mosquitoes last night.  Even though its cold, we ended up with about 6 mosquitoes in the house which were promptly killed this morning.  Other than that, all is well.

We also tried to make cookies this week for our recent convert. It's the only way we can think of staying in touch with him lately because he is so busy.  Anyways, we tried a recipe that our mission president's wife gave us, but I don't think we executed very well. They were alright, but when we tried to give them to him, he responded with "안먹어요," which means "I don't eat".  I think he gave a reason, but it was loud, so we couldn't hear.  Maybe because we made him really bad cookies last time.  Whatever the reason, the result was unfavorable.  One thing that I've learned on my mission so far is that I am terrible at cooking things.  Like, where are you mom?

We were actually able to meet with two investigators this week!  We committed Paul to keep the Sabbath Day holy and he accepted.  He thought it made a lot of sense, but since he already had plans for this Sunday, he couldn't make it.  However, we have high hopes for next Sunday.  We also met with 오민석!  It was awesome and he said he wanted us to come to his house and teach his family.  The sad thing is that he does not live in our area.  We will have to refer him over to the elders in 일산.  

One thing that I would like to share is my new founded testimony of goal setting.  Lately, we have been setting higher goals in an effort to find more people to teach.  One goal we set daily determines how many people set a specific time and date to meet with us again.  That stat is often times out of my control because people have their agency, but I do have control over how hard a try.   I set the goal of return appointments with 2 people on Tuesday of this week.  I really did all I could to reach the goal, especially asking every person I met to meet again, no matter how hopeless it looked.  Although I got turned down by a lot of people, I was able to miraculously meet the goal.  I know that when we set a reasonable goal with faith, and do everything we can, God will help fill in the rest.  I have already seen it time and time again.  Even people who I would not expect sometimes readily accept the invitation.

I know this gospel is true and I am so grateful for all the support and prayers.

Your favorite missionary,

Elder Wheeler