Sunday, February 28, 2016

Dongdaemun Week 6

Dear Family and Friends,

This week was probably one of the craziest weeks I've had on my mission.  It started off with temple day on Tuesday which included our P-Day.  Well, we were deciding where to eat lunch after the temple visit, but a couple places were packed with customers, so we ended up at a meat buffet in ShinChon area.  But boy did I regret that decision. The next day, I woke up at about 6:15 and my stomach was killing me.  I asked Elder Ridge for some pills and as he was getting them for me, I followed him into his room where I threw up everywhere.  I felt bad for throwing up in their study room, but my body felt even worse.  Let's just say I got really bad food poisoning to the extent that my back was sore for the next day because my spine put so much effort into pushing the food out.  Well, I'm completely fine now, but surviving district meeting, an appointment with an investigator, and English class was probably one of the hardest things I've ever done on my mission.

On the next Thursday, I had a miracle filled experience with Elder Ridge on exchanges.  We went to visit a less-active who was referred to us by a missionary living in the area right next to ours.  So we headed over there only to find his older brother who wouldn't tell us anything about his brother who moved.  So after the short conversation, we decided to knock on the door right next to it, remembering that in Preach My Gospel (PMG) it says to knock on the neighbor's doors when visiting a referral (surely a prompting from the spirit).  Well, two young men our exact same age opened the door, let us in and we proceeded to teach a lesson and set up a return appointment.  The kid's English name is Brian and he originally came to believe in God through a dream he had a year ago.  I again realized how important it is to follow PMG and how much the Lord is in control of His work.  All we have to do is obey and the Lord will bless us bountifully.

On Friday, there was a baptism in the area next to ours.  The investigator read the entire Book of Mormon in a month before he was baptized.  Plus, when he went to visit the temple a couple days before his baptism, he met his high school friend who had gotten baptized weeks earlier.  They were both shocked to find out that the other was attending the same church.  Our investigator came for the baptism but had to leave 10 minutes before the service started because his house water pipes broke.... However, it was an amazing baptism, even if the water was a little cold.

In other news, stake conference was this week, and it went really well.  Our 19yr-old investigator came to the Saturday night session with his new friends in the stake who he met thru playing soccer on Saturday mornings.  We also went to soccer this past week, and it was pretty fun.  More importantly though, we got to hang out with 3 non-member friends who the young man in our ward brought.  Then on Sunday our mission President and his wife both gave great talks in Korean.  I was especially inspired by Sister Sonksen who did such a great job.  The day ended with proselyting while handing out Hot Chocolate in a randomly big snowstorm.

My companion Elder Kang went home this morning because his two years are up.  My new companion, Elder Ashby arrives on Wednesday and for the time being, I'm doing missionary work with Elder Erickson and Elder Ridge.  Elder Ashby has been on his mission for 6 weeks longer than I have and he goes home in two transfers, which means I have 3 left.  Elder Kang and I had a great last week together teaching investigators, especially the new couple that we are meeting with. 

Thanks for all of the love and support.

Your Favorite Missionary,

Elder Wheeler

Elder Wheeler and Elder Kang eating
at a conveyor belt sushi buffet with
an investigator

Chase with Elder Kim and Elder Yetter, APs

Elder Wheeler with Elder Lee from the MTC

Photos from a trip to the zoo on P-day

Enjoying a snow storm!

Elder Kang and Elder Wheeler's last photo

Chase with his new companion, Elder Ashby

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Dongdaemun Week 5

Dear Family and Friends,

Talk about a week of miracles, specifically as we were walking to email today.  So we finish making calls to old investigators and outside on the sidewalk we see this guy on his phone just standing there.  We introduced ourselves and he just starts trying to talk to us in English.  After we convince him that I can speak Korean and that my companion is Korean, he finally starts to tell us this insanely crazy story.  Basically, he's been to a bunch of different churches, and his last church is forcing all of the saints to learn English and move to Africa because the Korean land has apparently been "cursed."  Not only that, but amongst his associations, his friends have been telling him that his brother who committed suicide and his mother who died from the shock of the entire event are both going to hell because they didn't attend church, and this poor guy is just suffering from all of the guilt for not converting his family before they passed away.  He is so distressed with all these things that he is in the middle of sending a text to his old church as we walk up the street and start talking with him.  Long story short, he accepted a baptismal date and agreed to come on Sunday all while just eating the Plan of Salvation right up.  I could just see the relief when we told him about the spirit world and the next opportunity his mom would have to believe in Christ.  The longer I'm here the better I understand how truly applicable this gospel is.  He lives in the area next to ours, so the missionaries in our zone will get a sweet referral.  

This week I also had the opportunity to go on exchanges twice with two amazing missionaries.  On Wednesday we went to 이문 for exchanges, and I spent the day with Elder Seely who is super successful as a district leader.  Its great to see how many investigators he is teaching and how many are progressing.  We also did a fun street-boarding activity where we had people write their dreams on this board.  I learned a lot from Elder Seely as a goal setter.  I was really impressed with how well he sets goals and achieves them.  We also went on exchanges with the Elders in 화양 who are struggling a bit.  I had the opportunity to serve with Elder Carmen from Michigan who surprised me with how well he listens.  He is just a really greater learner.

For other news with investigators, we are teaching this awesome couple who have one child as investigators.  They are just super nice and I'm so pumped about teaching a family.  Also one of the investigators that is our young man's friend is making great progress.  We met and he kept his commitment to pray.  He'll probably get baptized, but we'll need his parents permission first.  The mom told her son not to until he graduates high school, which is like a year away.  Since I've gotten here, we have seen so many miracles with a big increase in investigators and member involvement.  

This past Sunday, we went on splits with the bishopric after church and it was super fun.  We had agreed to visit a less-active and asked the bishopric to help us out.  I had the chance to tag along with the second Counselor as we took the sacrament to an awesome older lady and after we visited the non-member parents of the young man in our ward.  I was excited to finally use a car.  Way more effective...Plus, the bishopric seemed to enjoy it and recognize how much we are working with the less-actives in our ward.  

This work is so fulfilling and filled with miracles.  Thanks for all the love and support.

Your Favorite Missionary,

Elder Wheeler
Chase's Zone
Chase is in the back row, 5th from the left

Zone Conference Photo

Zone Conference Photo

A cold, snowy day in Korea

Elder Wheeler and Elder Kang

Elder Kang and Elder Wheeler with one of the districts in his zone.

Chase's desk (complete with family photo) with Elder Kang
in the background.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Dongdaemun Week 4

Dear Family and Friends,

This week was pretty special in Dongdaemun.  One of the biggest miracles that we were able to see was working with a friend of one of the young men in our ward.  One of the two young men in our ward is a recent convert, and he is super good at missionary work.  This Saturday morning, after joining the young men and the young men's leader in basketball and ping-pong, we sat down and watched the church made movie, "Meet the Mormons."  The non-member friend named Hyeon-seung said he felt something special while we were watching it.  He ended up telling us that he is interested and willing to learn about our church for three reasons: 1. Church Soccer Tournaments 2. Girls 3. Something to rely on.   Although it's only number 3, its definitely something to build on.  He was even willing to come to church until his mom told him "Don't go because that church is a cult."  That was pretty disappointing, but its sort of expected because that's the general opinion floating around currently because people have never been and don't really know much about our church.

This week we also met with a less-active member of our congregation who I called off church records.  He got baptized about 15 years ago and hasn't talked with missionaries since he left the church.  He originally joined because he played basketball with the missionaries and didn't mind church, but because of the intense pressures from work and his parents, he stopped coming.  We met him and he bought us some delicious food as we talked about his experiences with the church.  It looks like we'll be meeting more in the future.  He wasn't the only person to feed us this week.  We had a record setting 6 meals with members, investigators, and less-active members.  Two of them were buffets and the other ones sure felt like buffets.  I felt really fat this week to say the least.  It's hard to not eat a ton because its considered rude if you don't eat very much or leave food on your plate...

This week we enjoyed cleaning our house like crazy.  This missionary house has been around for about 50 years.  It is so old that our previous Mission President was trained in the very house. It was definitely a long, hard job.  Plus we had a long awaited conference with the AP's and President.  We talked more about preparing and Sister Sonksen gave a great training on forgiveness.

Brother Byeon is doing well, but this week when we met him at church he seemed pretty discouraged with keeping the word of wisdom and instead suggested just attending church without actually getting baptized.  He is such a good guy and the members really like him too which helps a lot.  It might take some time for him to be baptized, but he is definitely a really strong investigator. As for other things we did this week, we stopped by Costco with some other missionaries because they needed some supplies for an activity in their branch.  We also ended the week making Hot Chocolate out of a rice cooker for people on the street.  That was pretty fun.

Thanks for all the love and support.

Your Favorite Missionary,
Elder Wheeler

P.S. Korea is awesome

Making Dumplings with a Mongolian family

Sometimes, you heed the call to the mother ship!

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Dongdaemun Week 3

Dear Family and Friends,

This week was pretty interesting and ended with quite the big holiday, The Chinese New Year. The most time consuming event this week, though, was our Zone Training meeting along with the whole day of preparation before.  We talked and learned a lot about studies and preparing for the day in the morning.  It definitely helped me to realize how important it is to prepare for the day and use our three hours of study time effectively.  After the meeting, I went on an exchange with the district leader in Dongdaemoon and talked a lot about our zone's focus on preparation.  My district leader's name is Elder Erickson, and we came to Korea at the same time.  The exchange went really well and we were able to meet with a less active member of our church whose father is opposing the church really hard.  It was a miracle that we met him as he was walking outside his house, otherwise his father wouldn't have let us talk with him.  

This week we weren't able to meet with Brother Byeon because of the huge holiday that is occurring.  Usually for three days, everyone leaves Seoul and goes to their hometown to do a ceremony for their ancestors, called 제사(Jesa).  We were, however, able to meet with Eddy who is doing well. He keeps telling us how he is starting to feel a need for religion, but he's fearful of all the changes that will come with it.  He talks a lot, and it seems like in the future he will make a change and start coming to church.  Right now its a little difficult because his back is hurting him, and he is pretty well rooted in his ways.  As for other investigators, we are working with friends of the young men in our congregation.  We played soccer this week with a bunch of the young men in our stake because one of the young men from our congregation brought two of his non-Mormon friends.  We then had a lesson with the friend afterwards.  It went well, but it sounds like his parents are not very fond of Christian churches.  Regardless, my legs are feeling it from the hour plus of soccer that we played. 

Yesterday, few members came to church because they are all out traveling, but it was still a great testimony meeting.  Not a lot of people were out on the street either because of the holiday, so we decided to knock on doors at an apartment complex by our house.  Well, it was going pretty well until the apartment administrator came up.  He just started screaming at us for knocking on doors and trying to share a message, like he was not happy.... Oh well.  We've also been trying a variety of things such as calling old investigators and walking around high schools as the kids are released.   We've had quite a bit of luck calling people who have met with the missionaries in the past.  Unfortunately, we have to spend more time on the phone.  Lastly, we had a great visit with a Mongolian family in our ward who is awesome.  They broke out all of these interesting bread creations and dried yogurt, some of the strangest things I have tasted in my life, but surprisingly good.

Thanks for all the love and support during these holiday seasons.

Your Favorite Missionary,

Elder Wheeler
Elder Wheeler and Elder Jeong

Elder Kang with the family from Mongolia