Sunday, January 25, 2015

Sokcho Week 9

Dear Friends and Family,

This week was really a lot of fun.  I went on exchanges with with Elder Lanford again and with Elder Demordaunt, our new Zone Leader.  I really learned a lot from the way they talk with people and teach others.  With Elder Lanford, all we basically did was talk with tons of people. By the end of the day, we had given out 6 copies of the Book of Mormon and gotten quite a few phone numbers.  
With Elder Demordaunt in Gangneung, we talked to just as many people.  I was so tired by the end of the day because he is a hard worker.  Apparently, his Dad grew up in Blackfoot too, which I found funny.  We also taught two lessons: one to a less-active and one to two 25 year-olds who worked at a suit store.  When we talked to the less-active, he shared a lot about his conversion story and how he felt the church was true.  He definitely has a strong testimony, and he committed to come to church next Sunday.  During the lesson with the two 25 year olds, we explained about the restoration a little bit and gave them each a Book of Mormon.  Plus, one of the kids gave me two pairs of nice black socks.
One thing that I learned from both of the exchanges was how to better support my companion, especially while talking with people on the street.  I think for a while, I have mainly tried to talk to people on my own because I figured I could do it.  But it is just so much more powerful when both companions testify of each other's words on the street.  Plus, I always felt good when Elder Lanford or Elder Demordaunt backed me up after I testified.  Companionship unity is vital.
On Saturday this week, we had the Branch Activity for the month.  For the activity, we gave each team a pan of cooked sugar cookies along with frosting and decorations.  The goal, of course, was to make the best sugar cookie house.  The activity turned out to be a huge success, mainly because a less-active family that I called the day before ended up coming.  The father ended up bringing three of his kids who each loved the activity.  It was definitely a miracle in my mind.  One of the members also brought a friend, which was really cool.  
As for Brother Jeon, we finally saw him this week!  We asked him to read Mosiah 1-5, and on Saturday, we had a really good conversation about it.  He is still focused on getting baptized.  I'm really excited to get to start teaching him again. 
Thanks for all the support and prayers!
Your Favorite Missionary,
Elder Wheeler
A Battleship that pulled into port

January's Branch Activity


A "Bear Dog"

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Sokcho Week 8

My Dear Beloved Family and Friends (제 사랑하는 가족과 친구들),

I learned a ton during this exciting week.  First of all, I've lost quite a bit of my bowling skills, not that I had much to begin with anyways.  We went bowling as a district on Monday which was super fun.  For some reason, the shoes here are really slippery compared to American Bowling Alleys.  
On Wednesday we had Zone Training meeting.  We woke up and hopped on a bus to Gangneung where our Zone Leaders addressed us on the topic of "We Invite, They Commit, We Follow-Up."  Each month, President trains each of the Zone Leaders on a topic he has chosen and they in turn train us.  Anyways, we talked a lot about proselyting on the street.  It's really difficult to find a balance between persistence and not being rude.  Do you keep trying to talk to the man who completely ignores you/denies your handshake or do you just let him keep walking?  How far is too far?  Our Zone Leaders encouraged us to talk to more people when walking between appointments and to be loving, but more persistent.  After trying to apply it this week, we found a lot of success.  For starters, that night, we talked to a couple who later ended up buying us bread from a pastry shop.  Then, right before our house, we decided to talk to a guy and his son.  Turns out, he used to be an old investigator maybe 4 years ago and he wants to meet again!
When our weekly service project came around this week, we were prepared with a couple new fun songs to sing to the older ladies who live at the care center.  For one song, we even made a simple and fun dance to, which they really enjoyed.  When I first walked in the the center, one woman said, "우리 미남 오시내!" which means, "Our handsome man came!"  It was slightly weird, but really funny.  It's cool to see how much we brighten each one of their days by just coming and talking with them.
On Saturday night, after we finished cleaning the church, we had about 20min before our next appointment.  A 26 year old army First Lieutenant was scheduled to meet us at the church in 20min.  We were tempted to wait inside the warm church building until the appointment, but I just felt that we better talk to people on the streets for ten minutes and come back.  Because of that decision to make the most of the Lord's time, we met an amazing kid who was super interested in the Book of Mormon.  He even wanted to come to church the next day.  The 10 minutes of obedience that didn't seem like much, made a huge difference. Plus we met the army Lieutenant that night and committed him to read and pray about the Book of Mormon.  Overall, it was a really awesome night.  An update on Brother Jeon, we will start meeting with him again this week.  He has been really busy lately, so we haven't been able to see him.
Thanks for all the love and support!  Feel free to e-mail me if you have any questions!
Your Favorite Missionary,
Elder Wheeler (윌러 장로)
Bowling on P-Day
This one was a strike!

Chase's Apartment Building

Beach in Sokcho


Sunday, January 11, 2015

Sokcho Week 7

Dear Friends and Family,
So, the big news this week is that Elder Herron left and Elder Kim arrived.  He is originally from the Pusan mission and is just a year older than me.  He is super funny and through talking with him, my Korean has already improved a lot.  Plus, since this past week there was a ton of stuff that the Branch President had to take care of, Elder Kim and I taught and talked to a lot of people on the street together.  He teaches the gospel in a clear and edifying manner.  I have already learned a lot from him.

Also, the church announced this past weekend the new mission President who will come in July. His name is R. Craig Sonksen and he served in the Korea Mission from 1973-75. His wife's name is Melissa W. Sonksen.  I don't know anything about him, but I will definitely miss President Christensen.  He is seriously one of the coolest and most fair men I have met.
On this past Tuesday, we met with Brother Jo at a local cafe.  He bought us some super good hot chocolate and then we talked for a while.  It went well and I was able to understand almost all of what was going on.  He told us he was interested in continuing to talk with us but was pretty content with remaining Buddhist.  He was a really cool guy and we have another appointment on Wednesday.

On Thursday of this past week, we headed down to the nursing home to sing in front of the residents again.  I have already learned a ton of old Korean Folk songs because the older women love to hear us sing them.  At the nursing home, we also get fed and talk with lots of them about their lives. Then for our weekly youth night, we played a super fun game of signs.  Our Less- Active guy, who is the same age as me, showed up and we had a blast.  

Not a lot else happened this week.  It did snow yesterday during church though.  Brother Jeon was super busy this week since his wife is still in town so we didn't have a chance to meet him.  He is still doing well though.  

Thanks for all the love and support.  Korea is such an amazing place filled with wonderful people.  I have already learned a ton from their interesting culture.  I wish everyone the best back at home!
Your Favorite Missionary,
Elder Wheeler
Scenery in Sokcho

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle?

Elder Kim and Elder Wheeler

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Sokcho Week 6

Dear Family and Friends,

Happy New Year!  On New Years Day, we had the opportunity to hike CheongDeSan with our Branch.  We hiked to the top and watched the sun rise for the first time in 2015.  It was super beautiful.  A lot of people in Korea, on New Years Day, celebrate with a morning hike and then eat DeokGook together as a family. It is a big holiday in Korea because every Korean turns a year older on that day. The eating of the DeokGook symbolizes being a year older.

In Korea, ages are really different.  When a child is born, they are automatically 1 year old, then on the next New Year, they turn two.  So hypothetically, if a child was born on the 31st of December, by the time the child was two days old, they would be two years old.  I am currently 20 in Korea but only 18 in America.

Well after the hike, we headed to a restaurant with a member and ate some pretty good Korean food.  At most Korean restaurants, they send out a bowl of peppers.  The weird thing about these peppers is that some are spicy, while others are not.  They all look the same, so it is impossible to tell whether it is spicy or not.  Some missionaries refer to them as Russian Roulette peppers. Long story short, I took a chance and ended up in tears.  My mouth was on fire for about 20 minutes.  I had no idea anything could be that spicy.

Yesterday, I was on exchanges with Elder Herron since Elder Elwood and Elder Lanford spend a lot of time together doing branch administration.  Well during that exchange,  Elder Herron and I had the chance to visit a 70 year old man who we had set up and appointment with.  For about the first 30 min, he spent the time explaining why he does not attend church and why Christ doesn't exist.  Then when we finally got a word off, we asked him what he believed his purpose was.  He talked about his role as a father and how it was his purpose to raise his children.  We compared it to the role of our Heavenly Father and introduced the plan of salvation.  It started off a little hectic, but it turned into a pretty good lesson and he agreed to meet again.  And Brother Jeon on the other hand has been pretty busy with his wife in town so he wasn't able to meet.

Talking to people on the street went pretty well this week.  After weekly planning, we walked around the lake in Sokcho, talked to a lot of the people and had some good conversations.  It was super nice because people were not in a hurry, but just walking around the lake for exercise.  And last P-day, we visited some ancient huts.  The huts are really small because the people were really short back then.  I have heard that it was because of a lack of nutrition.  The Korean People are slowly getting taller with each generation because of the better nutrition.  The older generation here is short because of the Japanese Occupations, Korean War, and other tough situations.

Your Favorite Missionary,
Elder Wheeler
Ancient Huts near Sokcho

Elder Elwood and Elder Wheeler
New Years Hike

Elder Wheeler and Elder Herron plus branch members

New Year's Sunrise

View of Sokcho

Lake YeongNangHo in Sokcho