Sunday, May 31, 2015

Sokcho Week 27 - Combined Mission Conference

Dear Family and Friends,

This week was really fun and fulfilling.  The main part of this week was an awesome combined mission conference in Yeongdeungpo, which is in the Seoul South mission.  It was held at one of the biggest church buildings in Korea, and Elder Maynes came to speak to us.  We not only had the privilege to hear from him, but also from our mission presidents, President Ringwood and of course all of their wonderful wives.  The conference was inspiring, and we learned about the potential we each have and especially how to set and reach goals.  They talked a lot about planning and exercising faith through prayer to accomplish those goals.  The night before the conference, we were able to do a temple session.  It was great to have a chance to feel peace within the house of the Lord.  Living farther away from the temple has made me appreciate the importance and need of it.

This week, we had the miracle of finding out that one of our new investigators is actually a less active member of the church.  Elder Choi and I were both really surprised when we found out that he had actually been baptized about two years ago in Incheon.  We had a great lesson with him, and we're pleased to find out that he wants to come back to church, but he just has a couple of fears. 

On Saturday, we basically had a farewell party with all the members for our wonderful mission president and his wife.  They have both meant so much to us and to the members here in Korea.  Actually, the missionaries here in Sokcho did a really fun and embarrassing dance to an old popular song here in Korea.  The members loved it. 

As for our investigators, the awesome man with the baptismal date dropped us along with the pastor we were teaching. But we did have a great time teaching a man on the beach right outside of Sokcho.  We  thought we were going to teach him at his house, but he took us to this little pavilion on the beach.  It was a great lesson and he committed to pray about and read the Book of Mormon this week. 

Basically, this week has been just another awesome opportunity to learn and grow.  I still don't know a lot but this place has continued to pull and stretch me to the breaking point.  Sometimes it's really frustrating, but overall lots of happiness. Thanks for all the love and support!

Your favorite missionary,

Elder Wheeler

Seoul Korea Temple (5/27/15)

Elder Choi, Elder Lanford, Elder Wheeler and Elder Shin
in front of the Seoul Temple

Elder Wheeler and fellow Arizonan Elder Smith from the Seoul South Mission
 at the combined Seoul/Seoul South Mission Conference

Chase reuniting with MTC friends, Elder Andersen and Elder Picard,
at the combined mission conference (5/28/15)

Beach outside of Sokcho (5/30/15)

Elder Shin and Elder Wheeler at a beach pavilion

An investigator with Elder Wheeler

Members saying goodbye to President and Sister Christensen

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Sokcho Week 26 - New Companion, Same Great Area!

Dear Family and Friends,
I'll start off this e-mail by saying that we had another really successful Branch Picnic.  Since today is Buddha's birthday, a lot of people had time to come get together with us and just have a great time.  We played various games including soccer and jump rope.  Most importantly though, we had the great opportunity to spend some quality time with some less active members of the branch, some non-members, and our wonderful members while eating some delicious food .  Today has just gone really well so far, regardless of the fact that I'll probably be sore for the next week....
My new companion is really chill but he works really hard, and is obedient.  Since he's from Hawaii, he shows a lot of love and I'm just learning tons of new things from him everyday. As for some funny news, he has started to teach me Pigeon this week.  For those of you who don't know what Pigeon is, it's basically a mix of bad English with a few Asian Languages. Sometimes it's harder to understand than Korean!  Pigeon Word of the Day: Hemajang.  Ask your Hawaiian friends for the definition.

This week was also awesome because we had the privilege to set two miracle baptismal dates.  One was with our investigator Do-Yeong who is 16 and whose parents are pretty against him getting baptized.  However, we both felt during the lesson that we could reach a baptismal goal with increased faith, commitment, and hopefully a few meetings with his parents.  We are really excited to work with him to reach that goal this transfer.  
The other miracle baptismal date came yesterday in our first meeting with a man by the name of Brother Beck.  We originally met him on the street two days ago, and he told us of a nightmare he had where the grim reaper peeked his head out of the door and told him to come in.  He said that he could not sleep for three days.  He also said he went to his preacher, who told him that he need to have faith in Christ, but I think Brother Beck was still worried.  When we met, the spirit was really strong as we talked about our purpose here on Earth and our quest to return back to our Father in Heaven though the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  He was really open to try it and find more peace in his life.
One thing that I have learned a lot these past couple of weeks is the importance of trusting God and Jesus Christ.  No matter the troubles or the uncertainty that seems to be there, a strong faith in Jesus Christ and obedience to the commandments will lead us through.  It is just so important to rely on our Savior when no one else seems to be there or when all else fails.  In the end, it really just comes down to trusting God, our leaders, and especially the Atonement of Jesus Christ to help us overcome anything that we may be struggling with.  I feel like sometimes I have nothing left to trust other than my Savior and that's the time when I grow the most.  There is nothing more sweet that the feeling of the spirit and that pure understanding.

Hope everyone had a great week and Happy Birthday Buddha!
Your favorite missionary,
Elder Wheeler
Elder Wheeler by the harbor in Sokcho

Elder Choi by the harbor in Sockho

Fishers of men!

Fishers of men!

Fishers of men!
Look who is a pro at making kimchi!

The refrigerator at the church is stocked!

A missionary meal, complete with blue Gatorade!

Branch pic-nic on Buddha's birthday

Could this be Gray's long, lost twin brother?


Sunday, May 17, 2015

Sokcho Week 25 - New Companion, Same Great Area!

Dear Family and Friends,
This week was, first of all, really interesting because I got a new companion.  Elder Choi is from Hawaii and has been out on his mission for about 18 months. He's super fun and has been called to be our district leader in Sokcho.  He has served in and around Seoul, so Sokcho is quite the change of pace.  He has four younger brothers and one is serving a mission in Provo, Utah right now.  He played offensive line in Hawaii on the Island of Oahu, where he's from.
On Monday before transfers, Brother Kim took us all out to a Buffet and we had the chance to see MoonYeong there.  MoonYeong is a member here in Sokcho who is currently doing his two mandatory years of military service, which makes it hard for him to come to church.  We've been trying to get him to come out with us.
The trip to Seoul and back to pick up Elder Choi was relatively uneventful.  I was sad to see Elder Elwood go, but I'm sure he'll have a fun time in the city of Wondang.  When Elder Choi and I got back to Sokcho, we got started right away.  We met with a really cool new investigator and taught quite a few lessons to people on the street.  Luckily, Elder Choi is super good with youth and kids, so we've been having some good success already.
This week, we had fun digging up the kimchi which we had previously buried behind the church and Elder Shin got pretty dirty.  The kimchi smells delicious, by the way.  We eat that stuff like candy over here.  We also had a fun visit at the nursing home and continued to sing our classic Korean songs with them.  Service is just the best.  No matter what sort of bad or worrisome feeling one has, service just seems to melt it all away.  As for our youth activity, our less-active family showed up, and we played a really fun game of hockey with spoons and ping-pong balls.
As for our investigators, we have had to drop Brother Jin, but Brother Lim and Doyeong are both doing well.  We text them a scripture and remind them to pray everyday to help them remember Christ more frequently.  We're also planning on talking with Doyeong's parents this week and trying to develop a good relationship with them.  All is well in Sokcho! Thanks for all the love!

Your Favorite Missionary,

Elder Wheeler

Elder Wheeler and Moon Yeong

Elder Wheeler and Brother Jin

Elder Wheeler and the other Elder Choi (who was heading home after serving as AP)

Elder Wheeler and Elder Kim (whose parents now are in the Sokcho Branch)

Elder Shin, Elder Lanford, Elder Choi and half of Elder Wheeler

Elder Choi and a branch member as they were getting ready to dig up the Kimchi they had previously buried at the church

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Sokcho Week 24 - Transfers!

Dear Family and Friends,
This week was awesome! First of all because I had the chance to talk with my great family on Mother's Day.  Happy Mother's Day, Mom!  This transfer's calls were really interesting.  Elder Elwood is being transferred and I am getting a new Polynesian companion who is from Hawaii.  He's super awesome and funny so we should have a great time together.  I'll make sure to send some good photos next week.  In other sad news, the sisters' area is closing here in Sokcho due to the lack of sisters in the mission.  Elder Lanford is still Branch President and his companion, Elder Shin, is staying in the house.
This week we had the privilege of meeting with our investigators and picking up a new one.  Our new investigator's name is Brother Lee, and he is attending a Catholic church right now, but he's not super comfortable there.  What was cool was that when he walked into our small building, he mentioned how much peace he felt there.  We taught him parts of the Restoration before English class and then taught him English right after.  Koreans are actually pretty darn good at understanding English.
On Thursday, we spent some time serving Brother Kim again at his sweet Blueberry Farm in YangYang.  After serving at his Farm in the morning, he took us out to luch, and then we quickly hurried to an appointment in a remote part of YangYang.  It was pretty ridiculous to find the guy's house, but Brother Kim helped us out a bit by talking with the old guy on the phone.  One thing I haven't figured out is how to understand old, Korean men.  While we were teaching the guy, we kept seeing rats and mice running around in the background.  Sort of freaky, but we had a good lesson and committed him to read the Book of Mormon.
Lastly, Elder Elwood and I had the sweet opportunity of teaching a less active member of our branch this week.  We found out a lot about him and how he and his family want to come back to our church, but he has made a promise to attend another church.  He told us about how his family wants to attend our church because it is just such a loving and supportive atmosphere.  Since there are tons of less active church members here, we have been trying to focus a lot more on helping them.
Thanks so much for all the love!
Your Favorite Missionary,

Elder Wheeler

Yang Yang

Yang Yang

Sokcho missionaries with branch members

Elder Wheeler and Sister Evans

Sokcho branch members

Monday, May 4, 2015

Sokcho Week 23

Dear Friends and Family,

It was yet another interesting week here in Sokcho.  Seriously, a week doesn't go by without something exciting happening.  It's just such a different place than anywhere in Seoul.  One fun thing we did this week was help Brother Kim and his wife move into their house.  It was a ton of fun, but pretty darn tiring.  They had quite the heavy piano.  It was also pretty sunny so the other Elders got sunburned, but I luckily put on sunscreen.  I just couldn't get Brother Lochhead's neurosurgical warning voice out of my head (Thanks Rick!).  We also took a trip to the DMZ yesterday with a member from our ward.  Don't worry, I made it out of North Korea.

This week we also had the lucky break of picking up a family as investigators.  We are going to do the Family English Program with him and his daughter.  His daughter actually knows one of our members, so getting them to come to church is hopeful!  The father is a lunch box delivery guy and his daughter is about 11 years old.  His wife works and lives in another city.  As for our other investigators, Do-yeong came to church and we have met with him twice this week.  We are planning on visiting his parent's shop this week and seeing if we can get permission for his baptism.  He is motivated to be baptized and keep the commandments.

This week I also had the privilege to go on exchanges with Elder Lanford.  We went and taught Brother Jin who is continuing to progress well.  He really loves meeting with us, but he just doesn't have a lot of hope for his life.  We introduced the Plan of Salvation to him and we hope to give him that hope through that lesson.  Elder Lanford and I also went up northward to visit a less-active member of our congregation who lived up there.  Apparently he moved, but we did have the opportunity to go to a pizza place and eat with some high schoolers who loved talking to us.  According to them, the most popular kids at their school are in the band, so when I told them that I used to play the saxaphone, they were all really impressed.  

Thanks for all the love and support.  I love having the opportunity to continue to work here in Sokcho with some great people.  Brother Jeon still continues to email us and is going to meet with one of our members next week.

Your favorite missionary,

Elder Wheeler
Sokcho missionaries getting ready for service at Brother Kim's blueberry farm
View from the car on the way to Brother Kim's

Brother Kim's blueberry farm

Elder Lanford and Elder Shin
Elder Wheeler, Elder Lanford, Brother Kim, Elder Elwood and Elder Shin

Ready to learn English?

Brand new puppies!  They belong to the family Chase and Elder Elwood just started teaching this week.

Beach at DMZ

Elder Elwood, Elder Lanford, Elder Wheeler, Sister Lee and Sister Evans

Elder Elwood, Elder Lanford and Elder Wheeler at the DMZ

Sister Evans, Sister Lee, Elder Elwood, Elder Wheeler, Elder Shin and Elder Lanford at the DMZ
Buddha, Elder Elwood and Elder Wheeler at the DMZ

Elder Elwood, Sister Lee, Elder Wheeler, Sister Evans and Elder Shin at the DMZ

Elder Lanford checking out the view from Brother Jo's house

Brother Jo's beach house by the DMZ

Chase in front of a sign in the area near the DMZ that said Shinchon village (which was the name of Chase's first area in Seoul).