Sunday, January 31, 2016

Dongdaemun Week 2

Dear Family and Friends,

This week was about as interesting as it could be.  After an average P-day, we started an exchange with some of the elders in our zone.  I went with Elder Skinner who is a little quiet, but pretty funny.  The exchange started off pretty normal with a district street boarding activity outside one of the Top 3 universities in Korea, Korea University. Our actual ward boundaries are really pretty small, but we have two big colleges that attract lots of people.  The street boarding activity went well, and we met lots of foreigners.  After the activity, Elder Skinner and I traveled to an appointment with an older guy that we had met on the street a couple days earlier.  He was really cool and the lesson was going well until two Elders from another church who he invited showed up in the Cafe.  And of course, the investigator didn't tell either of us that it was happening...It was still a good conversation, except the actual investigator didn't say a word after the other people walked in.  Hopefully, we'll meet again later where we can actually explain.  

On Wednesday, we had district meeting which went well.  We learned a lot about preparing and planning.  I feel that as a missionary, we plan to be busy and effective, regardless of the number of scheduled lessons we actually have.  After the district meeting, we hurried back to a meal with a church member who took us out to a meat buffet that is about a two minute walk from our church.  To follow that up, the next day, we were treated to chicken unexpectedly at the nursing home that we volunteer at.  Too bad we had already agreed to go with an investigator to an American style buffet.  Basically I had no room in my stomach for the next two days. 

This week I also had the privilege to go on exchanges with Elder Yetter who is the new AP in our mission.  It was super fun because we have pretty much been in the same Zone or area since the MTC.  We both talked a lot about how far we have come and all the experiences we have had.  To start off the exchange, we headed to another area in our district that is just absolutely packed with people.  I've never seen that many people in my life before.  It felt like there were moving mobs of people walking past our board as we tried to get people to stop.  The next day was interesting  because we had the opportunity to pick up a new investigator named Eddy, who is 60 years-old.  He's really pretty good at English, hence the English name, but we teach him in Korean.  We a have met him twice and in between the meetings he was telling us about how he couldn't stop thinking about what we said and how he feels like it might be his time to accept Christ into his life.  We ended up talking about prayer to help him get that relationship with the Lord started.  We also visited a 80 year-old lady who hasn't been coming to church lately because she has been taking care of her husband.  We talked and prayed with her.  She showed us all of the awards she got from the President of Korea for being such a good citizen.  It was awesome.

The best day was probably Sunday.  We went to a special Young Single Adult (YSA) congregation's sacrament meeting with our investigator who is a YSA.  His name is Brother Byeon and he has continued to come a long way.  He's a little shy, but it looks like he will get baptized soon if he can find the courage to give up drinking.  The meeting with the young single adult's in our ward was just really spiritual.  I felt strongly during the meeting as they shared the new Asia North Area Plan with all of us.  After the meeting, we spent a while visiting quite a few members that we didn't end up getting home in time to eat dinner.  

Thanks for all the love and support!  I testify of the miracles of this Gospel and the happiness it brings.

Your Favorite Missionary,

Elder Wheeler
A stream

Church Building in Dongdaemun

The missionary apartment in Dongdaemun

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Dongdaemun Week 1

Dear Family and Friends,

What a wonderful and very interesting week.  After being in one area for such a long time, you could say it was hard to move, but change and new experiences are always worth it.  Basically, I moved into a missionary house that has been there for over 50 years.  It was built on the same lot as the church building, which was the first church building in Korea (i.e. lots of history)  The house is pretty big and meant for about 6 Elders, but it's just the four of us.  I'm serving with a Korean named Elder Kang who is awesome.  He is a convert and has a sweet testimony, plus he's fluent in Korean.  I'll definitely be speaking quite a bit of Korean for the next 6 weeks, although he is also fluent at English.  The building is the stake center and the number of people in the ward used to be quite a few, but now we're down to about 40 or 50 members who come out weekly.  They're all pretty sweet.  Plus, the bishopric is a bunch of newly-called 30year-olds who are absolute rockstars.  We don't have a lot going on in our area right now, but we have big plans to change that.

The investigator that we are working with right now is 33 years old and is named Brother Byeon.  He comes to all three hours of church and seems to actually enjoy it!  I taught my first lesson with him this past Sunday, and he wants to get baptized and follow Christ.  He just is struggling to give up drinking beer.  We have a baptismal date scheduled with him for the 21st of February.  Right now, we are also planning on focusing on the young men's group.  Right now we have two young men and they both graduate this year.  Once they graduate, we will have no young men's group for about 6 years.  Most of our goals focus around helping this ward survive and have a future.  We actually visited one of the young men this week because he didn't end up coming to church, and we had a sweet lesson with the whole non-member family.  Even a friend was there who asked to be referred to the sisters in the area where she lives!

Transfers this week also worked a different way.  Usually we have a big meeting where we meet our new companion and stuff, but this time, we just took a taxi right to our new area.  Sort of weird, but I spent the taxi ride well by teaching the driver the entire first lesson!  We also watched the world-wide missionary broadcast which was like the greatest thing ever.  It was so awesome to hear from the apostles as they gave such great advice on how to "Teach Repentance and Baptize Converts."  I'm so excited to be a more effective servant.  In other news, the weather here is absolutely killer cold.  I'm still not sure how I am surviving on these streets.  Apparently its like the coldest its been in about 15years....The wind is the worst part of it.  

Other than that, Korea is the best and super fun.  It still amazes me how there are lots of people still out on the street, but nothing opposes us sharing the gospel like cold, icy weather.  I feel like people have a really good reason to run away from us now hahaha.

Thanks for all the love and support!

Your Favorite Missionary,

Elder Wheeler

Elder Kang and Elder Wheeler

Bundled up for P-day

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Nokbeon Week 29

Dear Family and Friends,

This week I got a transfer call to the beloved area of Dongdaemun!  After living here in the Nokbeon ward for over 7 months, it is time to leave.  I want to say that the time has flown by, but since every missionary says that, I'll resist.  Nokbeon ward has just been way too much fun, and I have made so many friends in my time here.  It was hard to say goodbye on Sunday, especially to so many ward members that I have spent so much time with.  Dongdaemun is also in a different stake and is the oldest building in the mission.  Plus the missionary house is in the church parking lot!

This week was pretty busy and we had lots of cool success, but for some reason it was just super cold.  We got to meet with our 25 year-old investigator, Tae-Geun who also came to church.  We met with one of the members and the lesson didn't go super well.  He was a little argumentative, causing him and the member to talk most of the time.  On the bright side he did come to church.  He's okay with getting baptized which is awesome, but it might take some time before he's ready. Because I'm leaving, they are combining Elder Coleman's and our area into one.  So Elder Collins and Elder Coleman will do a good job with them.  We also went back to the Pool House where we found that sweet potential investigator, and he is doing really well.  We talked a ton about the restoration and he had some really good questions.  He is now officially our new investigator.  He opened up the Book of Mormon and was like, "These sound exactly like Paul's words" "Even if this was found on gold plates, these words would be amazing." Moral of the story: The Book of Mormon is awesome.

Speaking of the Book of Mormon, Elder Collins and I have been reading the Book of Mormon together daily, and I have been focusing a lot on it personally again, highlighting all the references to God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost.  It's so interesting to learn the role that they play and how much Christ has done.  What's even more fun is that Elder Collins and I are reading it backwards by chapter.  Never done that before, but its pretty sweet.  I know that book is true.

Things we also did this week include meeting with our recent convert and helping him get ready for temple proxy baptisms.  He should be ready to go next week.  Too bad I'm transferring and I'll miss the opportunity!  But I'm excited to be with my new Korean companion.  I'll definitely have the opportunity to speak Korean more often and hopefully I'll be able to forget English by the time I go home.

Thanks for all the love and support,

Elder Wheeler

Nokbeon District before transfers

Elder Wheeler and Elder Collins with Tae-Geun

Chase with the Nokbeon Ward Clerk

Chase with the bishop of Nokbeon Ward

Chase with the stake presidency
Last temple day with Nokbeon District

Last English Class in Nokbeon Ward

Chase with a Nokbeon Ward Member

Chase with a Nokbeon Ward Member

Chase with a Nokbeon Ward Member

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Nokbeon Week 28

Dear Family and Friends,

This week was quite crazy, disappointing and weird.  I'll start off with the disappointing news.  So, we met with our investigator Gyeong-Min twice this week but then, randomly, he texts us around 8:30 insulting the church and telling us how we are a cult.  I was really confused and ever since that he's been acting really weird, sending us political propaganda and stuff.  I'm not sure really what changed, but we're just trying to be nice to him and give him some space.  Hopefully, he comes around.  For some reason, there just seems to be a lot of very interesting people in this area, and they all find the missionaries...

On the bright-side, we found a sweet new 25 year-old investigator on the street, and he came to church!  In our first lesson, I invited him to be baptized, and he responded with, "Tomorrow?" He was actually fine with getting baptized the next day, but I explained the process and we agreed on a date in February.  He came for two hours at church and seemed to enjoy it.  He's been to tons of different churches, so he seems to have little fear of trying and experiencing new things.  Another one of our new investigators is a 70 year-old violin maker who lives alone.  He used to be a pastor, but now he works as the conductor at his church.  He's pretty darn musically talented, and his violins are super sweet.  He also offered to teach us how to make violins and went on to insist that this was one of the only places where I could learn this fine art.  I was tempted, but we don't have enough time.  Plus, he loved the Book of Mormon and he was excited to read it.  We'll see what happens!

We also had Zone Training this week which consisted of lots of different subjects, mainly focused around our purpose as missionaries to invite others to live His gospel.  I've come to realize more and more how we are to invite others to really just change their lives through Christ.  The gospel isn't just a one time experience, but a process that when done over time really causes growth and happiness.   I've seen that especially with Jee-Hoon, who has come so far.  He accepted a calling at church this week as a church building supervisor.  He just seems brighter and more of motivation has formed in his life.  This work is just the best!  Along with Jee-Hoon as our recent convert, we have also been working with quite a few less-active members.  One Less-Active's name is Eric.  He was born in California and actually went to BYU, but ended up dropping out.  He left because he got offended.  Well, he's just trying to feel God's love, but he seems pretty skeptical of it.  We gave him a reading assignment and hope he feels the spirit.  He seems pretty committed to give our church a shot again.  

Well as you can see, there is never a dull moment. Missionary work is the best.  Thanks for all the love and support!

Your Favorite Missionary,

Elder Wheeler
What's left over when missionaries eat at a Korean restaurant

Elder Wheeler with the violin maker

Elder Collins with the violin maker

Elder Apigo enjoying some Krispy Kreme

Elder Apigo and Elder Wheeler

The car chase would like to dive after his mission

Elder Coleman with Chase's Ferrari!

A cute little Korean girl