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Oct. 14 2013

Hello!
Sorry I didn’t send a big letter last week. We were pretty busy and I had a lot of letters to send, so I didn’t have time to write my big letter.

Anyway, for a summary of the week I missed: we went to a big parade here in Cheonan. It was an international dance festival where a bunch of groups from lots of countries do their traditional dances and there’s also a lot of modern dancing as well. There were SO many people there! It was crazy! Also a funny thing happened. As we were heading home for the night, there was a traditional Korean dance group in their traditional outfits and passing handing out little candies. Then, out of nowhere, a fat, chubby, short lady in her Korean clothing(한복 as it’s called in Korean), came running straight toward us foreigners and as she was running, she pulled out a kettle of something and a little wooden ladle used for drinking and poured into it some white liquid. The face she made was hilarious. She was so excited to give us foreigners a taste of what she’s got and when she finally poured out the liquid, she basically put it up to my mouth. In a split second thought, I realized what was being shoved into my face. It was the most drunk liquid in all of Korea. Makoli(머걸리) or rather, rice alcohol. Seriously, this is probably the most drunk liquid in Korea. Millions of bottles are drunken every week. Anyway, I had to shove the lady’s hand away from my face and tell her that we don’t drink. Then as she subsided and looked puzzled, she looked over at the other american elder and started to give it to him! He didn’t know what it was and since he didn’t hear what I said, he just went along and was about to try the drink. Haha! But I had to tell the lady "No" and she finally went away. It was hilarious! I’ll always remember the image of this fat happy lady running up to us pouring makoli! haha!
Anyway, right now, our investigators are at a slump, meeting with us, keeping commitments, etc. But we’re doing okay. We’re focusing on finding new investigators and working with the members more. Everyone in Korea is SO busy, like they don’t get home until 8 or 9 at night. So it’s hard meeting with people, but we find times and our investigators are really nice and cool. We’re just trying to fuel their gospel interest. One investigator that we met last week is 김일환(Kim, Ir Hwan) He is a golden investigator, or used to be. He read the BoM 2 times through within like a month or something like that. I came here just as he was starting to go downhill. He’s been having a hard time with smoking and likes to read out of the Bible alot. He LOVES the gospel and Jesus Christ, but since he’s busy and pressured alot from his friend who’s a member, he doesn’t come to church. So we’re working on that with him. He sends his kids to church, so that’s good. But anywya, we met with him this past week and talked about the Book of Mormon with him and what he thinks of it. I asked him what the Book of Mormon means to him. His answer, although good, didn’t satisfy my expectations. He focuses SO much on the doctrines of the Bible, that he misses the simple doctrines and principles laid out in the Book of Mormon. It puzzles me that he read the BoM 2 times and doesn’t have a strong testimony of it yet…He says he likes it and that it’s a good book. But that really wasn’t the answer I was hoping I would get from him. These past couple weeks, actually for basically the whole transfer, I’ve given him time to think about everything and I haven’t visited him till the other day. I was hoping that giving him time would help him to progress faster in the end and want to learn more from us, but it seems that it didn’t do much. Darn. But we’re going to work with his kids to get them baptized and really active with the Primary and Young mens and everything. There’s a girl and a boy, but they don’t really like to talk to us, they’re really shy and the boy likes to play on his phone all the time. I’ll tell you more about them and how they’re doing next week.

So last week on P-day, I went to my first Buddhist Temple! It was SO cool! As we were going up the mountain and stairs to get up to it, we heard the monks doing their ceremony. It was the perfect time to go. They were doing their bows and had the knocking of a wood thing and they were doing some chants and stuff. Its hard to explain. Anyway, I took a lot of pictures and i’ll send one today with the email. But yeah, it was huge! They also had a HUGE bronse buddha. Okay, I gotta go. I love you all! I’ll try to send you all responses to your letters, it’s just that I don’t have a lot of time to write. Okie day! I love you all!

Love,

Elder Smith

Sept 23 2013

Well darn tootin! How ya been?

Haha! So this week was very interesting…it was the 2nd biggest holiday in Korea. 추석(Choosuk)! All it is is basically Korean thanksgiving. Everyone goes to their hometown, which is usually where their ancestors graves are, and eat a LOT of food together as a family. People in Korea usually used to live in the same place as their ancestors, they would never move very far if not at all. Now it’s different, but they still visit the graves. Anyway, then the other tradition of Choosuk is that the grandparents give money to their grandchildren.
So during Choosuk, which is usually like 3 days, just because of travel, we as missionaries have NOTHING to do because EVERYONE is gone. There is no one on the streets, all the shops are closed down and to visit anyone would be rude. So what our mission president had us do is to get together as districts or zones and have a 3 day training! And then a P-day on the actual Choosuk day. We basically did practice teaching to eachother for the most part, then we discussed together about learning the language and just how to be abetter missionary. It was so cool! I learned a lot.

Other than that, nothing spectacular happened. It was actually kind of disappointing this week. I kinda got depressed about it all the other night. All of our investigators are either avoiding us or can’t meet with us, so I have to figure out what we can to fill up our time effectively and since it’s my first time being a senior/trainer I’m still new to planning effectively and I’m also new to the area, it’s been a rough ride that’s for sure. But I’m not alone. That’s what I felt. In everyday, I feel the help of the Lord and feel his support and love. It’s wonderful. Like yesterday on Sunday, as I was talking to members after church, I wanted to introduce our new "Family English Program" with the Young Mens and Young Womens leaders so that we could find some youth or singles taht were interested so they coud learn english and possibly refer a friend eventually. So as I was talking, I noticed that the words coming out of my mouth were flowing naturally as if they weren’t my own words! I was surprised. It was so cool! So I know that I’m not alone, as long as I rely on the Lord. Anyway, I love you all! I hope you all have a great week!

Love,

Elder Smith

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Sept 16 2013

Annyoung Haseyo! There’s Konglish/Engrean for you…

So random fact about Koreans that I found interesting: They like to have expensive things and rarely keep things for a long time. Like, all the cars here in Korea are REALLY nice!! People usually get a new car every other year or after 5 years or something. They like nice things and aren’t afraid to go into debt for it either. Like, the coffee shop I’m emailing in right now has nice wicker furniture, and really nice computers and everything on the menu is REALLY expensive. It’s just a normal coffee shop, but everything has to be really nice all the time.
Then one of my investigators, Joe/ 박찬선, just got a new BMW the other week! He already had a NICE car!! He’s crazy! But he is pretty well off…

Anyway, this week was okay. Actually, kinda crazy. Since it was transfer week, we could barely get anything effective done. Elder Hansen had to pack his bags and clean up his desk and everything. He is opening up a new area right next to Cheonan, called Onyang. The branch found him a house on the 4th floor of a decent apartment building. The reason I say "decent" is becuase it doesn’t have an elevator, so he has to haul everything, his bags, his furniture, all the kitchen equipment, etc. up the 4 flights of stairs. Don’t worry, we helped him do it. Which leads me to the other problem he had. The apartment, when we first got there, it was disgustingly dirty. There wasn’t anything in it, but everything was dirty, teh kitchen had a coat of grease and the floors were really dirty. So all the Cheonan elders and Elder Hansen and his new Greenie got together to help clean the apartment. It took 2 days…It was bad. But everything is okay and clean now!
The other stress for Elder Hansen is that they still don’t have beds at their new house yet! So they have been sleeping over at our house for these past couple days. Haha!

Oh!! I forgot to tell you about my new companion!! His name is 박인오(Pak In Oh) He’s really funny and skinny, but handsome! His English skill is about where my Korean is. So it’s really nice at Language study, we talk about a topic, he speaks only in English and I only speak in Korean! It’s really fun! He corrects me and I correct him. Last time we talked about the verbs for clothing, cause they’re all different in Korean. (Like, to take off a ring is different from taking off your belt.) Anyway, He’s from 풍단 ward in Seoul. Which is actually just a subway ride away, a long subway ride though, like 2 hours. Anyway, he’s been a greenie for a month or so now. So I have to finish his training. But it’s really hard, because I don’t really know how to even teach an American how to do missionary work! So it’s definitively been a learning experience for sure. He’s really cool about it all though, which helps. He understands, and he works hard. So I hope everything goes well.
As for my Korean ability, I’ve have been surprising myself lately! I’m actually able to carry on a decent conversation now! It’s so cool! Thank you for all the prayers!! They’re helping!

So this coming week will be VERY interesting…this week is…bum bum BUM!!! CHOO SUK!! 추석. This is 2nd biggest holiday in Korea. EVERYONE celebrates it. It’s basically teh Korean version of Thanksgiving. They just eat, and eat and eat, and eat, and EAT! I’ve heard stories of missionaries in the past eating on Choo suk…they couldn’t eat for a couple days just becuase they ate SO much! Anyway, so for Choo suk, everyone in Korea gets together with their families and that means everyone leaves somewhere. So that means, for missionaries, nothing can happen…for days. So what President decided to do is, have the zone get together to work on Language and practice role-playing, etc. So that’ll be FUN!

Okay gotta go! I love you all!

Love,
Elder Smith

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Sept. 9 2013

Hi!So this week was a weird and awesome week, full of adventures and excitement! One of the weird things was…Elder Hansen and I on Saturday got to visit his dad! Huh? Is that even allowed? That’s what we thought too. Elder Hansen got an email from his dad saying he was coming to Korea. So elder hansen thought it was cool and then shrugged it off. Then later that week, we saw our mission pres. at a leadership training meeting and he asked Elder Hansen if he wanted to see his dad. Haha! So elder hansen hesitantly said, "Yes?" So we did. Oh, one cool story. When we were waiting for him at the train station, a guy came up to us, asked if we were mormons, took the Book of Mormon out of Elder Hansen’s hand, asked if we had a phone number, I gave it to him and then he left…haha! Then he came out of the bathroom a couple minutes later, asked when church was, then we got his phone number. Then he left as if nothing special happened. We were absolutely dumb-founded the entire time!! Haha! But anyway, elder hansen’s dad is SO HUGE. He’s 6 foot 4 and weighs over 300lbs.!! So we took him to a MEAT Buffet!! That’s where you cook your own meat and LOTS of it! Haha! So then later on that day, we met with one of our members and she took us to a "Wellbeing Expo"! It was cool. They had exhibits from a bunch of different countries and different foods and cultural dances and stuff like that. Dang it! I need to send you pictures. You’re starving. I keep forgetting to bring my cord for my camera…sorry. Anyway, so we were planning on leaving the expo so we could get to our English class, but our member didn’t let us leave, she was our ride! Oh well. But everything turned out well, the other elders took over well.
One thing that hit me while we were walking around, I thought, "What if my Mom or Dad or one of my brothers was here, how much differently would I act? How much harder would I work?" Cause throughout the day, his dad kept on saying, "Smith! When are you gonna give out that Book of Mormon?!" It bugged me, cause I wanted to, I tried to, but with a 300lb american following us all day, all the Koreans were scared and would just stare at him. But it made me think, I had to try even harder to talk to people. I decided I needed to act as if one of you were with me all day asking, "When are you gonna give out that Book of Mormon LeVan?!" Haha! But anyway, then yesterday I taught my first entire lesson by my self and no help from Elder Hansen. It was at a members house, practicing after a dinner appointment. I surprised myself. I knew more Korean than I thought I did! It was so cool! I’ve been having confidence problems, especially in teaching, but that boosted my confidence a lot. It was perfect. Then after that, we went out to proselyte. While we were walking, we almost passed by a kid, when all 3 of us turned around to talk to each other. Haha! It was weird and funny, but we knew that it was the Spirit that told us to turn around because we ended up talking a while with him and got his phone number and taught him about the BoM, gave it to him. He loved it! He went home and later on that night, he started texting us and said he loved the book! He’s soooo cool! I can’t wait to meet with him later! Which leads me to the next point….today we got transfer calls!!! Can you guess what happened? Probably not huh? Haha! Anyway, I’m staying here in Cheonan! But my companion is changing, I’m going to be with a Korean, half-training him. So that means I’m taking over the area! Whoo! Stress!! Anyway, that’ll be fun. I’ll get to speak Korean 24/7! Haha! Okay, well I have to go. I love you all!

Love,

Elder Smith

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Sept 2 2013

Hidy Ho!

This week has been one of extraordinary proportions! This has been the COOLEST week EVER!!!’

So the coolest thing that has happened so far on my mission happened this week…So here’s the story.
This past tuesday was Zone Conference, where the Mission Pres. comes down with the APs and we discuss things and we get trained and stuff like that. So during this, the church phone rings. It never rings, so one of the Korean sisters goes over to the phone, picks it up and talks to the guy. We go back to listening to Pres. as she keeps talking. Once she’s done, she goes over to my companion and I and says, " 소개" Which means "referall" in english! So we’re kinda freaking out cause we’re so excited, then she says "It’s a Buddhist Monk." Huh?? What?! How are we supposed to teach a MONK?! So later on the week, we call him and set up an appointment. He wants to learn English as well as learn about the Mormons…So when he shows up at the appt. he of course shows up in his normal Buddhist monk outfit, which is all gray and he has a shaved head. He is the coolest guy!! He’s always smiling! But the greatest part is that he brought a friend, he’s from Japan and is a Monk as well. They are going to go to New York to teach Meditation. So as we meet we got to know them a little more. So we asked why they want to teach Meditation, they said that they want people to understand each others religions, so through Buddhists learning christian methods of prayer and such, and christians learning meditatiton.
But the best part of this all is….they believe in God and Jesus Christ…..they recognize him as the Savior of the world and redeemer of mankind. We were shocked and utterly fascinated. They explained throughout the lesson. It was basically the same as our doctrine, except with a twist somewhere. I hope in the future they will understand fully. Anyway, they accepted the Book of Mormon with a zeal and interest. We invited them to read some of it.

Okay, I gotta go. I love you all!

Love,

Elder Smith

NOTICE: This email message is for the sole use of the intended recipient(s) and may contain confidential and privileged information. Any unauthorized review, use, disclosure or distribution is prohibited. If you are not the intended recipient, please contact the sender by reply email and destroy all copies of the original message.