Sunday, December 28, 2014

Sokcho Week 5 Christmas Week

Dear Family and Friends,

Well this week was quite crazy.  Starting on Monday, it was almost constant preparation for the party on Tuesday.  We made some really cool decorations in my opinion.  Then, before we started cooking, we had a super awesome lesson with Brother Jeon.  We talked about the Gospel of Jesus Christ some more, especially 2 Nephi 31, and showed him the small but cool baptismal font in the church.  He really liked it, and asked when he could get baptized.  We also talked a little bit about proxy baptisms for those who have died.  Elder Elwood shared 1 Corinthians 29:15 and explained it well.  Brother Jeon said he had been trying to figure out the meaning of that verse for 15 years,  He was super grateful for the explanation and was already excited to get baptized for his father.  He is also really interested in Family History, but both of his parents escaped from North Korea so most of his lineage is sealed up in North Korea or lost.  He doesn't even know the names of his grand-parents.  Oh, and one more thing, we haven't taught him the Word of Wisdom yet, but he told us that he has already stopped smoking and threw out all his alcohol.  He is making some really cool changes in his life already. It's super cool to be apart of it!

After the super cool lesson, we started to cook for the party.  We made waffles (along with homemade syrup), some awesome cream soup that you pour over rice, and of course rice.  The members also bought some tasty chicken.  It doesn't sound like the best combination, but it worked out well.  We made a lot of food in hopes that the members would bring their friends, but only about 15 people were there (including us).  Not the best turnout but it was still really fun.  We first went out caroling and then came back in to eat.  After everyone had sufficiently finished eating, I dressed up as Santa and handed out the White Elephant presents.  It was so much fun to hand out the presents and be a Korean Santa.  Lastly, we played the White Elephant game, and I ended up with a cool piggy bank at the end of it.  

On Christmas Day, we happily opened the presents we had been sent and then headed right into to studies.  There's really not such thing as a holiday as a missionary, but it was still an awesome Christmas.  We got to head down to the Nursing home and sing some fun Christmas songs to all the women who live there.  Lets just say, it was a blast.  Then to end our Christmas, we made cookies and wrapped Book of Mormons for everyone in our building.  Surprisingly, it turned out really well and a lot of people opened their doors to us.  It definitely gave them a better view point on foreigner missionaries.

The days following Christmas were quite interesting.  For starters, a couple days ago, an old drunk man kissed my hand....I tried to pull away but he just went for it.  Probably one of the weirdest proselyting experiences so far.  Then on Friday, for youth night, we played the card game "Scum" and Spot it."  It was enjoyable and satisfying to see that my card playing skills hadn't left me yet.  On Sunday, we had a less active member of the branch come to church.  It was really cool to see him there.  Following the meal after church, Brother Jeon told me that his ex-wife was coming from Seoul the next day so he would be busy for the next couple of weeks.  However, he did promise to still come to church on Sunday.

Thanks for all the support this wonderful Christmas Season.  Hope everyone has an awesome New Year!

Your Favorite Missionary,

Elder Wheeler

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Sokcho Week 4 - Getting Ready for Christmas!

Dear Family and Friends,

Christmas preparations are in full swing here in Sokcho.  Since it's our job to prep for the branch Christmas party, we have already spent quite a bit of time putting up decorations.  Its a good change of pace with our normal routine of missionary work, but I'm still anxious to get out and talk to more people during this wonderful Christmas Season.  Since the new "He is the Gift" or "그분은 선물임니다" video came out, we have been trying to show it to a lot more people.  It is a really well made short video that certainly helps me remember the importance of Jesus Christ.  
Here is the link if you want to watch it:
Well this past Tuesday, we headed to Seoul for an awesome Christmas Conference with President Christensen and other missionaries.  President Christensen talked to us about how to better tune ourselves with the Spirit.  It is truly God through the Holy Ghost who directs this entire work.  I am just grateful for the opportunity I have each day to participate in this work.  During the Conference, we also went caroling in Seoul with copies of the Book of Mormon.  It was super cold and the wind was blowing super hard, but still fun.  We also had a fun P-day in Seoul that included ice-skating, a Korean Buffet, and a late-night visit to the Temple.  I'm not very good at ice-skating, but I was able to go slightly fast while still surviving.  And, of course, the Temple is always a huge blessing.  Since we are so far away from Seoul,  we don't have the opportunity to go very often, so I was really grateful that I could spend some time there.
Also during this week, we continued to meet with Brother Jeon.  An awesome older man in our branch told Brother Jeon to read out of the lesson book we read for Sunday School, and he did.  He read the first six chapters of the book and really liked it.  He really loves all the things that we teach him.  He is making great progress and is continuing to read the Book of Mormon.  Plus, since he loves hiking so much, he wants to take us hiking through the awesome mountains up here on one of our preparation days.  The catch is that he will probably be busy for the next couple of weeks with his wife in town so we won't be able to meet with him very much.  
Lastly, on Thursday, I went on an exchange with the Branch President (who is one of the missionaries who Chase shares an apartment with).  I had the opportunity to visit one of the members in our ward with him.  Her name is Sister Park, and she is an awesome mother of 3.  She is particularly great because of her great care for her mentally handicapped child.  It was cool getting to visit her with Elder Lanford who is so awesome with the members.  Even though it is a super tough and high stress calling for a missionary to hold, he handles it really well.
Well I wish everyone a Merry Christmas from Sokcho!  On this great holiday, I hope we can take the time to remember our wonderful Savior, Jesus Christ. Thanks for all the Christmas love!
Your Favorite Missionary,
Elder Wheeler 
Ice Skating in Seoul with the missionaries

View from Brother Jeon's apartment in Seoul

Christmas Decorations at the church

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Sokcho Week 3

Dear Family and Friends,
This week was packed full of some awesome stuff.  On Tuesday, I went on exchanges with the Zone Leaders in Gangneung.  I was with Elder Johnson for the whole day and, while I was there, we went to a sweet burger place where we met with a less active member of the church.  We then spent most of the time talking to more people on the street.  Actually, we had the opportunity to show a man the inside of our church for five minutes and possibly spark some interest.  Gangneung is a bigger city than Sokcho, but while I was there, I realized how much I already missed Sokcho.  
In the meantime during exchanges, Elder Elwood and Elder Gardner committed Brother Jeon to a Baptismal date!  He really loves the Book of Mormon and our unique message.  When he came to church again this Sunday, he told me how much he has already learned from the Book of Mormon.  He said it is really clear and straightforward, which is odd, because most Koreans have trouble reading the old writing style.  This experience again helped me see the power of the Book of Mormon.  Sometimes, I tend to take for granted the things I have learned from the Book of Mormon, but the truths that it contains are so helpful and enlightening.  
Returning to how awesome Brother Jeon is, he also donated a big winter coat to give to someone in need and, later that Sunday, he called me his son, teacher, and friend.  Basically, we are already super good friends and he has made friends with the church members in the branch.  Plus, we are meeting with him again tomorrow!
I really love Sokcho and the missionaries who I am working with.  I have already learned a lot from my companion and the other missionaries I work with.  For example, Elder Lanford, the Branch President, is super committed and works really well with the members.  It's a big comfort to me, as a missionary, to work with someone whose first priority is the branch.  There are a lot of amazing missionaries in this mission, so its easy to draw from their examples and become a better missionary myself.
One awesome thing about Sokcho is the many street vendors.  Since it is getting colder here, we have bought quite a bit of 호덕. 호덕 which is basically a super good fried pancake with sugar, cinnamon, and sunflower seeds in the middle.  They are only 50 cents, so I get them a lot.  
Thanks for all the support this Christmas Season!
Your Favorite Missionary,
Elder Wheeler
Church Building in Gangneung

Elder Johnson and his big burger!
Buildings in Gangneung

Buildings in Gangneung

Lake in Sokcho

Korean Vehicle

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Sokcho, Week 2

Dear Family and Friends,
Sokcho so far has been really great.  I really love our group of missionaries and the tight knit branch that we have.  A lot of what we do here is centered around the branch because it is so small. Currently, we are preparing for the branch Christmas party on the 23rd by making invitations, decorations, and plans.  It is really fun to be able to serve members along with investigators.  The weekly youth night we hold helps us connect to and support the vital youth in the branch, and at the same time it's also super fun.  This past Friday, we played Yahtzee and shared a spiritual message.
Speaking of investigators, we met an awesome man this week.  Another missionary who was going home, found him on the street with his Dad and referred him to us.  His name is Brother Jeon and he is 63yrs old.  He currently lives here in Sokcho, but the rest of his family lives in Seoul.  He has visited tons of churches, but to him, they are all the same.  When we taught him the Restoration, he was super interested, and was eager to read the Book of Mormon.  He even showed up to church this Sunday!  I already feel really close to him because of the personal things that he told us, including that he wanted to be like us.  It really is such a great privilege to be able to brighten someone's day through the message that we share.
We also met a young high school kid at a cafe this past week.  After buying a four dollar lemonade (nothing is cheap at cafes), we were able to talk about God and his interest in him.  It went okay, but it was mostly awkward because he was sort of shy.  We tried to connect with him more, but we didn't do a great job.  Most of the time in missionary work, things do not go as planned.  One thing I have learned so far is that I am always lacking in some area, but that is why we have the Holy Ghost. 
This week we also had an awesome Zone Training Meeting.  We had to take an hour bus ride south to the city of 강릉 (Gangneung) to hear the training.  Our Zone Leaders taught us on using time effectively.  They discussed how even minor setbacks of two minutes late mean a lot when repeated over a two year time span.  It was another great reminder of how everything we do is using the Lord's time.
Overall, I am so grateful for the time I have spent in Sokcho already.  Almost nobody speaks English, so I am forced to rely on my Korean, but I can definitely feel myself improving each and everyday.  Last Monday, we even had the opportunity of heading out to the beach!  Sokcho seems to have the best of everything.  Thanks for the support!
Your Favorite Missionary,
Elder Wheeler


Church Building in Sokcho

Burying Kimchi