Sunday, March 29, 2015

Sokcho Week 18

Dear Family and Friends,

Well we had another interesting week with quite the hectic weekend.  On Saturday, Elder Elwood and I set up a place in the church to watch "Joseph Smith, Prophet of the Restoration" with Brother Jeon.  We ended up inviting two of our investigators Do-Yeong, and Brother Lim. The Sisters brought their investigator and the other Elders found someone of the street that day to watch it with us.  The movie was pretty good, and it made me remember how miraculous and amazing the restoration was.  We also had our monthly Branch activity and played some Minute-to-win-it games. It was super exciting and fun, plus we ate well afterwards.  We ate something called 쥬먹밥, which is basically just rice mixed with stuff from tuna to kimchi to seaweed, formed together into a ball.  I didn't really like seaweed before my mission, but the stuff they have here is so good.  Our investigator, Brother Lim, came to both the activity and church the next day.  He comes to church every Sunday, but right now he is not really making time to meet with us outside of church.  He is still super quiet so it's really hard to tell what he is thinking and help him make friends with the members.

This past Tuesday, we set up an appointment with a man who is farmer and basically lives out in the middle of nowhere.  He lives south of Sokcho in an area called YangYang.  After we spent the day talking to people in YangYang, we took a taxi out to his super tiny apartment.  He is a farmer out there and is a super nice guy.  He is 7th Day Adventist, lives in very modest circumstances and really loves the Bible.  When we met with him, we basically didn't get a word out while he explained to us that we are worshiping the devil on Sunday.  He was really kind to us and we opened and closed with a prayer, but we basically weren't able to say much. 

Jumping back to Sunday, Elder Lanford asked me to give a talk and that went well.  I spoke about why it is important to have a Christ-centered home and how to become more Christ-centered.  Although the talk was in Korean, I felt like the Lord helped me smoothly say everything that I needed to.  We also got transfer calls and Sister Lee is transferring out.  She was a little disappointed because Sokcho is just that great.  Elder Elwood and I will be together for another 6 weeks, which was a little unexpected, but I'm excited to continue to work with him and bring those who will listen to feel the love of their Savior Jesus Christ.

With Easter coming up this week, the church has released another sweet video called "Because He Lives."  

I'm pretty sure the church will be taking over the front page of You-Tube on the 4th.  I hope that you take a moment to ponder what is possible because He Lives.  My Savior has continued to mean more and more to me each day as I read of Him and as He continues to support me.  Thanks for all the love this wonderful Easter season.  Nothing helps others more than His Sacrifice and his Resurrection, so spread it!

Your Favorite Missionary,

Elder Wheeler

View of the beach from the restaurant Chase ate at on P day

Cherry blossom tree with fish hanging to dry

District Meeting

Minute to Win It games at Branch activity


Sunday, March 22, 2015

Sokcho Week 17

Dear Family and Friends,
Our attendance at church just keeps going up!  I am pleased to say that we had 25 people at church last Sunday (including missionaries) for the first time in a long time.  Two of our investigators were able to come and the sisters' investigator showed up.  With all the new people and more demand for different callings, Elder Lanford has spent a lot of time trying to figure it all out.  He didn't end up leaving the church until about 8:30pm last night.  Plus, since my companion is currently the branch secretary, Elder Shin and I have been on exchanges a ton this week.  I am honestly pretty sure that I have spent more time with Elder Shin than with Elder Elwood this week.  On Thursday, Elder Lanford and Elder Elwood went into Seoul for a Leadership Training.  When they came back, they told us about how over 100 missionaries are going home between this summer and the fall.  Due to the age change, the large groups who came in are soon leaving, probably causing our mission numbers to drop a little bit.
In slightly less exciting news, the cold I've been trying to fight through has finally started to improve.  My voice has been a little hard to find at points because my throat has been so sore.  It definitely makes talking to everyone a little bit harder, especially when they can't hear you.  One thing that has helped me a lot this week, besides Ibuprofen and cough drops, has been the constant reading of the Book of Mormon.  We have to finish up to Alma 3 tonight and I'm loving every minute of it.  It's more than just a cool ancient record of the American people; its God's words.  Reading it through like this just seems to put everything into perspective.
On Saturday, we had the Relief Society Commemoration in Gangnueng. We took a bus ride out there and performed the dance that we have been working on for the past little while.  Mostly, other branches just sang songs and played instruments, so our dance was quite different.  We got a lot of compliments after and everyone told us how it made the celebration a lot more exciting.  This week we also had the priviledge of meeting with Do-Yeong, who is a freshman in high school this year, and we taught him a lot about the importance of prayer and attending church.  His parents won't let him get baptized yet, so we're just trying to keep him active and continue to meet with him until he can take that next awesome step.
As for a slightly funny story, while Elder Shin and I were talking to people on Thursday night, we ended up outside of a restaurant and met this slightly drunk man.  He insisted that we eat with him for a little, and we finally agreed.  We were actually able to talk a lot about our religion with him and his friends.  We even met a less-active member of the church who works at the restaurant! The food was really good and we got the phone number of man who wants to meet with us.

Despite the sickness, this week was still great.  Thanks for all the love and support!

Your Favorite Missionary,

Elder Wheeler
Playing pool on P-day

Relief Society commemoration meeting

Singing primary songs after church

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Sokcho Week 16

Dear Family and Friends,

This week was as enjoyable and tough as always.  Right now, I'm actually dealing with a cold that I got last night.  It definitely doesn't help with missionary work by any means, but hopefully it will go away in the next day or two.  Other than that current set back, I feel like I'm doing quite well recently.  One thing that's been helping out a lot is a commitment that we got from the Zone Leaders on Wednesday.  The Conference we had was about the Book of Mormon, why it's important and how to use it.  They committed us to read the Book of Mormon in 30 days without using our personal study time.  They basically encouraged us to find time to read in the morning, and night and during meal times.  Even though I'm a missionary, it is still tough to find the time.  Anyways, right now I'm in the middle of 2nd Nephi, and it is super good.  I've already learned so much and gotten so much more out of it.  

This week I also went on two exchanges with Elder Johnson and Elder Lanford and I really learned a lot.  Elder Johnson has been using the Book of Mormon a ton lately on the street, and he showed me how to use it more effectively.  After trying to apply the principle, we met a man who asked us two or three times if he had to give us money for it.  Just through sharing a couple of scriptures, he already could feel the importance of the book.  Since Wednesday, we've given out so many more Book of Mormons each day. 

On Tuesday, we met with a man with the English name of Dan.  Surprisingly, he speaks English pretty well. He converted to Christianity about two years ago and is super good friends with his pastor.  He was curious about how "Mormons" were different than mainstream Christianity, and we had a super good discussion.   We were able to hook him up with a Book of Mormon and just really have a good discussion.  On Thursday, we met with a man who is Buddhist and basically just thinks all religions are the same.  Let's just say that was quite a tough lesson, but a lot of fun.

For church on Sunday, Brother Jeon and I blessed the sacrament together! It went really well, and it was super cool to prepare it with him before hand.  Unfortunately, we didn't have any investigators at church this Sunday because of some unexpected events in our investigators’ lives.  As for fun activities this week, we went to a meat buffet again last P-Day.  We always end up eating so much delicious Korean meat.  Literally, Korean meat buffets are one of my favorite things in Korea.

Thanks for the continuous prayers and support!

Your Favorite Missionary,

Elder Wheeler

The Expo Tower in Sokcho

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Sokcho Week 15 - District Conference!

Dear Family and Friends,

This week was really hectic and involved quite a bit of travel to 강릉 (Gangneung).  First of all, on Friday we had a pretty big missionary conference where we got to watch "Meet the Mormons." I know it's already on DVD back in America, but I really enjoyed seeing it for the first time.  President Christensen talked about how we can apply it to missionary work and gave some really good ideas.  I'm always super grateful for his advice and guidance because he is such a spiritual giant!  I also got to see some of the missionaries who I served with in the MTC like Elder Bluhm and Elder Manwaring.  Both of them were transferred out to the east coast this past transfer. At the conference, there was also a really big focus on the Book of Mormon and using it to change lives.  It was a great reminder of the power that book has to enlighten and bring the Spirit.

On Saturday, we had our district Conference with branches from 태백, 원주, 강릉, and 동해.  It was cool to see other Korean members from different cities; the feeling of unity was really strong.  For that Saturday night adult session, a member of the 70, 정태걸, spoke to us mainly about councils.  He taught that the concept of councils we use in our branches should also take place within our families and at work.  It was a really cool meeting; although, I wasn't really able to understand all of what was going on.  That night, we slept at the Gangneung Elders' house because of the long and expensive bus ride back to Sokcho.  They have a really big house compared to ours, so room wasn't a problem.  

On Sunday, our branch members car pooled over to Gangneung in two cars, one of which Brother Jeon drove.  They got to Gangneung safely, and Brother Jeon especially seemed to really enjoy the meeting.  We got to hear some beautiful testimonies as well as President Christensen and his wife's words, and again from our area 70.  After the district meeting was over, we had a huge meal together with some super good food.  The district conference was quite different than the stake conferences we normally have in America.  Everything went really well, and I was able to get some much need advice and inspiration to keep working hard.

As for this past P-Day, we went to a cool Buddhist temple right next to the ocean just south of Sokcho.  Luckily, a Buddhist monk that we met really liked missionaries, so he gave us a free tour around the place.  He even played some really big drum for us.  I really enjoyed the time we got to spend there and admire the cool scenery and carefully constructed Buddhist temples.

Thanks for all the love and support! 

Your Favorite Missionary,
Elder Wheeler
Buddhist Temple

Buddhist Monk

Buddhist Temple

Elder Elwood, Sister Evans, Sister Lee, Elder Lanford, Chase and Elder Shin Junho

Sister Lee, Sister Evans, Buddhist Monk, Elder Shin Junho and Chase

Sokcho Elders with Buddhist Monk

Elder Shin Junho and Chase

Elder Lanford and Chase

Chase marching to the beat of his own drum!

Zone Conference
MTC Reunion!!


Sunday, March 1, 2015

Sokcho Week 14

Dear Family and Friends,
There is just no end to awesome weeks here in Sokcho!  Since our busiest day by far was yesterday (Sunday), I'll start off with those details.  We had a new investigator show up at church and he seemed to like it a lot.  His name is Brother Lim (임), and he is 28 years old.  He has been attending our English Class for a while and even works with a Less-Active Member!  Anyways, we invited him to church, and he said he liked it and decided that he needed to read the bible more.  He's super quiet and reserved so it's really hard to tell exactly how he's feeling because his facial expression doesn't change, but I'm guessing he's interested.    During our Sunday school class on the New Testament, I was scrambling hectically to find scripture after scripture as our teacher switched from the New Testament, to the D&C, to the Book of Mormon, and back to the New Testament.  What made it crazier what that I was trying to help Brother Jeon and Brother Lim find those scriptures all in Korean...It didn't turn out super well, but everything was fine fortunately.
After Church, things got crazier.  The Branch President, Elder Lanford, had to do about 4 interviews and give 3 blessings, one of which was the Aaronic Preisthood to Brother Jeon.  I think I'm finally starting to understand a little bit about the sacrifices that Bishops and other church leaders make on a daily basis.  It all turned out well, but one can imagine the stress that a 20 year-old missionary/branch president would feel because of it.  Anyways, I was just glad that Brother Jeon got the Priesthood he is so ready for.  The blessing went really well, and I am looking forward to blessing the Sacrament with him next week!  Later that night, we met with Brother Lim again and talked about the restoration.  He seems ready to read the Book of Mormon, and he even accepted a soft baptismal invitation!
On Tuesday, we got on a bus and traveled to a smaller city called Inje that's part of our branch boundaries.  Even though our area is super huge, we usually only proselyte in Sokcho because it takes a long time to travel to other areas.  Anyways, it was a long bus ride, but we had the opportunity to talk to some cool people who have never heard about the church.  Our group of four Elders ended up giving out 10 Book of Mormons that day!  We also did a fun service project this week instead of our usual service at the Nursing Home.  We hauled coal brick things (연탄) on our backs to poor people's houses who would freeze without them during the winter.  It was some really fun hard work!

Last Monday, We also had a really cool and crazy experience with a former investigator.  He was doing really well and coming to church but then he stopped coming around the time Elder Elwood got here.  We hadn't talked with him in a super long time, but on Monday, Elder Elwood randomly suggested that we try and visit him.  We gave it a shot and he was there! We talked with him for a while and it looks like he's going to start meeting again.  It was a really cool miracle that I was super thankful for.  

Thanks for all the support again! This little town in Korea is one of the coolest places ever!

Your Favorite Missionary,

Elder Wheeler
Service project carrying coal to heat homes of those in need

Elder Lanford

Elder Wheeler and Elder Lanford

Sister Evans

Sister Lee and Sister Evans

Elder Lanford

Elder Lanford

Elder Wheeler

The group of volunteers for the service project

Sokcho District

Chow Time!

Sister Evans and Elder Lanford

Sister Lee

Sister Evans

Elder Shin

Elder Elwood (Chase's companion)

Elder Elwood
Elder Shin Junho


Elder Lanford, Elder Wheeler, Elder Elwood and Elder Shin Junho

Example of English usage in Korea
Elder Wheeler and Elder Shin

Elder Elwood and Elder Wheeler eating a home cooked meal
More dance practice for upcoming talent show