Sunday, June 28, 2015

Nokbeon Week 1

Dear Family and Friends,

This week was packed with activities and events.  On Monday, when I was still in Sokcho, we ate some delicious soup with a full sized chicken in it.  Brother Kim and his wife from our Branch took us out, and it tasted so good.  Brother Kim is just so hilarious. Then that night, we met with Sister Lee and had a great conversation with her.  On Tuesday, my companion and I met with Brother Jeon at another great restaurant before I took the bus into Seoul for transfers.  We had another good conversation, but Brother Jeon has seemed to change his thought process around 180 degrees.  I then took the trip into Seoul with Elder Lanford.
In Seoul for transfers, I met my new Korean companion, Elder Song Hyeon Bin, and we headed out together.  We live with another companionship - Elder Yetter and Elder Hansen.  My companion is Korean from the lower part of Korea called Ursan.  This is his 6th Transfer while this is my 8th in Korea.  Elder Yetter is from Mesa, AZ and Elder Hansen is from Rexburg, ID.  This is Elder Hansen's 4th transfer and Elder Yetter's 9th transfer in Korea.  For the record, transfers are every six weeks and each Elder gets about 15 transfers in Korea because of the 12 weeks spent in the MTC.  There are 8 Elders and 2 Sisters in our district.  The District and Zone Leaders all live separately from us in a smaller house.
As for the investigators that we are meeting with, one is a 24 year-old man who we were able to set a baptismal date with this week.  His name is Jeehoon and just returned from the 2 year mandatory military army service 1 month ago.  We have already taught him the first three lessons, and he is really interested in changing his life.  He has experienced some really tough circumstances.  Since his Dad works all day, he doesn't see him very much.  He lives in a one room house, eats Ramen noodles every meal, and has one pair of clothes.  He is a super kind guy, but lacks a lot of confidence because of his circumstances. 
On Sunday I spoke in front of the ward (congregation) for the first time. It was a little more nerve-racking than in Sokcho because there were over 150 people there.  I got them all to laugh though, so that's good right? They are all super kind, and we were even able to meet with the 1st councilor to the bishop and his wife for dinner on Sunday.  We had a great talk with them and about their son who has gone astray with drugs and tough friends.  They gave us a special assignment to meet with their son and his friends to set a good example for them.  My companion is awesome and just works really well with all the helpful members.  He is helping me a lot with my Korean, but more importantly he continues to push me to work harder.  I'm so excited to do the Lord's work here.

Thanks for all the love and support!

Your Favorite Missionary,

Elder Wheeler

Meal with the Kims

Sister and Brother Kim from the Sokcho Branch

Brother Kim, Elder Lanford, Elder Choi,
Elder Wheeler and Elder Shin (L to R)

Elder Lanford, Sister Lee and Elder Wheeler
Brother Jeon with Elder Wheeler

Chase in front of the meetinghouse in Sokcho

Doyeong with Elder Wheeler

Elder Choi and Elder Wheeler

Chase with his new companion, Elder Song

Chase with Elder Lee

Elder Julseth (Chase's first companion in Korea) and Elder Wheeler

Elder Wheeler and Elder Herron
(who was a missionary in Sokcho when Chase
first arrived there)

Elder Song Hyeon Bin

Chase's apartment in Nokbun

Chase's apartment building in Nokbun

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Sokcho - Week 30

Dear Friends and Family,

So, I'll start off today with an interesting story.  I was walking along the street next to a seafood restaurant with the owner standing outside. I started to talk to him about this prize wheel he had outside his restaurant, and he invited me to spin it (usually you have to pay money to do it).  After it landed on shrimp, he took me and my companion over to the fish tank, pulled out two living shrimp, broke them open in front of us and let me eat it. I was super surprised by the amazing taste of this huge shrimp while it was still squirming around in my hand.  Best Shrimp Ever!

We received our transfer call Saturday Night, and it turns out that I will be moving to a city in Seoul called Nokbeon.  I'm excited because I'll be with a Korean companion, but I'm also sad to leave this amazing and very interesting place (as one can tell from the above story). Elder Choi will become the Branch President for his last three transfers here in Sokcho.  The ward in Nokbun is about 150 members strong, so that will be quite the change from Sokcho. 

This week we had a couple interesting things take place.  This past Thursday, we went to Wonju, a bigger city outside of Seoul, for President and Sister Christensen's farewell Conference.  It was an inspiring and uplifting conference, but also slightly sad because our wonderful mission President and his wife are leaving on June 30th.  He and his wife are just so amazing.  Over in Wonju we had some delicious Doncas (Fried Pork Cutlet- Japanese food).  Plus this week, I got to go on exchanges with Elder Demordaunt who is finishing his mission this week.  He has just been an amazing Zone Leader and I have learned so much from the way he works, loves, and invites the spirit.  Although our exchange was cut short because of Elder Choi's pinched nerve in his neck, I still learned a lot.

This week we also saw a miracle when we visited Brother Jeon's house with a plate of cupcakes.  He didn't open his door, so we walked down the stairs, only to hear him calling my name from the 15th floor.  We were shocked to have him call us up and have the chance to talk with him.  He's doing well, just really confused at the moment about what to do. We have been working with about 4 less active members of the branch and they are so awesome and close to coming back to church.  We also are continuing to work with Doyeong, who won't get baptized this week unfortunately.  I think we are going to bring a member and talk with his parents.  Brother Lim is doing super well, progressing really quickly.  Lastly, we picked up a really cool new investigator this past week who attends another church right now, but is interested in learning about other churches.  He took a Book of Mormon and agreed to read it.

I am so grateful for the opportunity I had to serve here with these amazing members that I learned so much from.  I especially learned a lot about my Savior Jesus Christ.  I have been so blessed to be here and learn about myself, and how I can better live up to my potential as a son of God.  Sokcho is such an amazing place, especailly since I came to know my Savior better here.  This is pretty much how I view Sokcho. "And now it came to pass that all this was done in Sokcho, yea, by the waters of Sokcho, in the forest that was near the waters of Sokcho; yea, the place of Sokcho, the waters of Sokcho, the forest of Sokcho, how beautiful are they to the eyes of them who there came to the knowledge of their Redeemer; yea, and how blessed are they, for they shall sing to his praise forever." Mosiah 18:30 (I replaced Mormon with Sokcho)

Thanks for all the love and support!

Your Favorite Missionary,

Elder Wheeler
Sister Christensen serving treats at the last Zone Conference before
the end of President and Sister Christensen's mission

Elder Shin, Elder Landford, President and Sister Christensen,
Elder Choi and Elder Wheeler

Chase with Sister Christensen (6-18-15)

Meal in Wonju - Doncas (Fried Pork Cutlet- Japanese food)

Chase - ready to dig in!

Elder Demordaunt and Elder Wheeler

Elder Bluhm (Chase's MTC Companion) and Elder Wheeler

Elder Wheeler and Elder Osborn

Saying goodbye in Sokcho (6-21-15)
Elder Wheeler with Yoonsung

Elder Wheeler and Seokjae

Chase taking farewell photos on his last Sunday
at the Sokcho Branch

Elder Wheeler with a young woman in the Sokcho branch
who didn't want to take a picture with him!

The awesome members of the Sokcho Branch

A gold Audi

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Sokcho Week 29 - 100 Hours

Dear Family and Friends,

So this week, all said and done, was really crazy.  I definitely experienced some of the hardest things on my mission and some of the sweetest moments this week.  It all started with a hectic Monday.  After Monday morning spent talking to people on the street and emailing home, we took a bus ride out to a smaller town in an area north of Sokcho.  Since we had quite a bit of time, we decided to explore a less visited part of our area.  We spent about 4 hours there talking to people trying to share this great message, and we were literally rejected by every single person we talked to.  At one point, as we were talking to this college student, a girl shouted out behind us, "Cult!" which basically ended any continued conversation.  We felt like Alma and Amulek in that city, talk about modern day application!  Elder Choi and I had received a training last week from our Zone leaders on being positive, so we were pretty much silent about the whole situation, just trying to be patient.  After we left, we headed over to an appointment at an apartment building in Sokcho, but she was not there, so we decided to start knocking on doors in that apartment complex.  On the second floor we got to, a lady came out from her apartment, interupted a great conversation we were having with a man, and personally escorted us out of the building.  I was not in the best mood after that, but luckily my companion was there to help me out.  As we left the apartment, I just turned to my companion, and said, "Elder, we need to pray." After pretty much pouring our hearts out to God (I haven't really felt that dejected in a long time) and moreover expressing our frustration, we decided to go visit an old investigator who was close by.  As soon as we walked out of that apartment complex, Elder Choi and I immediately turned to the smell of some amazing garlic bread from the bakery right across the street.  We were basically hypnotized by the smell as we realized how hungry we were.  Right then, a man walking by stopped after we asked to shake his hand and invited us to eat bread at this bakery.  Being conscious of our money situation, I expressed a shortage of money.  Without hesitation, this man took us into the Bakery and bought us about $15 dollars worth of delicious bread, while the baker continued to bring out more.  I have never been more humbled and grateful by the grace and love of God.  I was in awe by the miracle that came at a time when I needed it most. I really felt overwhelmed by the spirit, recognizing an immediate answer to our prayers.  It is such a sacred experience to me that cannot be fully expressed here, but I feel inspired to share it so that others can see how well God takes care of us.  That day we talked to over 120 people on the street and went right to bed as soon as we got home.
Our entire week was full of amazing experiences that I am so grateful for.  Our investigator, Do-Yeong, came to church, and we were able to have some really great discussions about the Gospel with him.  We are still planning on him being baptized in a week and a half, if we can get permission from his parents by then.  He's a fifteen year-old kid, but he has a great heart and a desire to be baptized.  We also had a weird experience with an investigator that we met for the first time.  He is quite the interesting man, who at one point expressed we should talk more at the nearby beach.  Since we were having a good gospel conversation, we followed him, only to find that he had the intention of buying fireworks.  We stood helpless as he bought a thing of roman candles and shot them off at the beach.  We weren't sure what to do, so we called President, and he said we could watch.  We took some pretty hilarious pictures afterwards.
Thanks for all of the love and support.  There's not a lot of time to express all of my thoughts this week, so hopefully this phrase will suffice: Missionary work is awesome!
Your Favorite Missionary,
Elder Wheeler

Elder Choi and Elder Wheeler eating street food

Elder Wheeler eating in Sokcho

Man Elder Choi and Elder Wheeler are teaching

Lighting Roman Candles at the Beach

Elder Choi and Sokcho investigator

Elder Wheeler caught red handed

Chase trying to re-enact a 4th of July in Idaho?

Sokcho Branch youth night

Elder Shin blind folded at youth night