Sunday, February 23, 2014

PSY vs Frozen

Fun fact from Korea: I have heard more of the Frozen soundtrack out here than I have heard PSY. I don't know if I've ever heard PSY once out here (shops play the radio all the time). I guess his popularity's as dead here as it is in Canada. "Let It Go" from Frozen is on the Korean's Olympics commercial, though. I thought it was the best thing.

Anyways. We are picking up new investigators!
I have to give them nicknames to protect their privacy. I'll start with Wise Guy, from Ethiopia.
We met him in a refugee home (we talked to a chinese guy... or tried to, anyways... and made friends with him and he took us home to the refugee home) with a bunch of other refugees. We talked for a bit, especially about the gospel, as all good missionaries should. It was an interesting conversation, and was dominated by an especially enthusiastic Christian (who's the sweetest guy), but we were interested in Wise Guy, because he asked this: "I believe in Christ and the Bible, but there are so many churches and different religions out there, how can I know which is the real one?"
... Uh... I know! I KNOW!!! Let me tell you!
So we talked to him for a bit, and we might get his Egyptian friend to talk with us, too. But so far, we've given him a Book of Mormon, and haven't done much else, because our last appointment (which was to be our second) kinda fell through. Oh well.

Second is Mr. Pear.
He's a dad, a super-stressed one at that, and a former investigator that we've met with twice and will be meeting a third time this week. We've mainly just tried to share comforting scriptures with him to help him feel the Spirit so far, but we're going to show him the Restoration video this week! I'm excited!
I don't have a good nickname for number three, but I'll call him Kim (김) good luck finding out which Kim he is. There's millions of them here. He's been a really awesome former investigator, had a baptismal interview and passed and everything, but because of his mom (fun fact: religious people in Korea are SUPER zealous. I haven't had a close encounter with one yet, but the stories of other missionaries scare me!), he hasn't been able to follow through with baptism. So here he is a few years later, hopefully not under his mom's thumb anymore, just starting college, and is really enthusiastic about the gospel. He's not so sure if he believes in God anymore, but judging by his teaching record, that won't be too hard for him. I'm so excited for him!

Our last one is another college student. His name is Yoon (there's a bunch of them too,so good luck). We tried to get him to church after a really good lesson. I'm not sure if he did, though, because we tried to get him to go to one that's not in our area (because the other one was closer to him). Oh well, we'll find out.

I'm running out of time, though. If I don't get back to you I will try to next week! thank you for all your support!
Elder Shaver

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Hello everybody!

This week has been rough, I won't lie, but it's also been full of really awesome things!

So the thing that stresses me out the most, of all things, is the language block.  I'm fine with the crazy new diet, sleeping on the floor (well, I'm still adjusting to that, but it's no big deal), I'm fine with going without my old music and hobbies, I'm fine with devoting all of my time to working my butt off, but as soon as I try to talk to someone in Korean, I freak out. If someone speaks English, it's fine, but I can't handle Korean that well, apparently. I don't know why, because it's one of the things that I knew was coming and had time to brace myself for, but it still hits me. I'm working on getting around that, but the week has been hard because I had to realize that, accept it, and motivate myself to tackle it. To anybody planning on a mission; if you get called to a language speaking mission, learn that language RIGHT AWAY. Study PMG too, of course, especially in the time leading up to you getting your call, but when you get your call, and if you need to learn a language, don't waste any time not learning it. I thought I worked hard at it (and I did), but if I could've seen how much it would've helped me adjust here, I'd have worked a lot harder.

But anyways, on a much lighter note:
Korea is still super cool. Here's something that completely blindsided me about Korea: There is SO MUCH religious excitement here! There are 전도사들 (street proselyters) EVERYWHERE. There are Christian Churches EVERYWHERE. If you look up you'll see a spire with a cross on the top of it or see the word "교회" (church) almost anywhere. It's NUTS! My MTC teachers kinda talked about it, but they never said that it would be this huge! It's kind of cool, though, because people notice us missionaries a lot more as we do things differently from 전도사들. They will hand out pamphlets without saying a word to you, while we go up and talk to people. They don't expect it, and it makes them curious (or nervous. That happens sometimes), which is a advantage that we take full advantage of.

We've had a few miracles happen to us this past week. We've picked up some investigators! Yay! From none to three in a week!

One day while we were just out proselyting, (which is a good story, but I don't have much time to write it all down, so maybe later), and teaching street lessons, an old investigator called us back and said that he wanted to meet. I'll call him 베. If you can't read 한글 yet, it takes two minutes, so go figure it out. He's a Physics guy, and has a big degree in it (I forget that specific detail, though), and he believes in the Big Bang, but is sort of looking for something spiritual... I'm not sure what yet, because he seems pretty set on there being no God, or that God is in everything and isn't a Physical being. But his line of thinking sounds a lot like the way I think, and his story sounds a lot like the beginnings of my own conversion story. PLUS, he speaks really good English! BOOYAH! I can work with this guy!

The second fellow actually came up to us just as we were getting home. Get this: he came up to us and said "Hey, I've seen you guys around, I'd love to meet with you."
... Wha? Uh, Yeah! We'd LOVE to! What's your number? He doesn't speak English, but I'm not worried.

The third guy is Really cool, but I'm actually out of time... I sent individual mails first since I missed them last time, but it really cut out of mass email time. I'm going to have to figure out a compensation of some sort. I'll finish today's next week and try to fit in next week's as well.

Love you all! I hope that I'll be able to figure something out.
This picture is of my MTC district with our new companions before we set off for our new areas.

Without Wax,
Elder Shaver

Sunday, February 9, 2014

안녕하새요 여러분!

I finally get to tell you what Korea is like!

 First of all, if anything to put my family at ease; I'm doing just fine. I love EVERYTHING about Korea! The only problems I'm having right now is talking to people ('cause I kinda can't hold a conversation for longer than 10 seconds without my companion bailing me out :P )

I got over the jet lag after the first night (miracle!) People here are super nice (miracle!) I have not tried any food that I didn't absolutely love (SUPER MIRACLE!) My trainer is super-awesome and is totally helping me get into the swing of things (miracle!) Korea is the best, I tell you!

Kimchi here is waaaaaaaaaaAAAAaAAAaAAAaaaAAAy better here than it was when we tried it in Canada. HOLY MOLY is Korean food GOOD! I swear, I'm going to learn how to make all of this stuff and just eat it for the rest of my life.

Anyways, what else... I'm starting to settle in quite well and things are already feeling normal (miracle!), so it's taking me a second. Okay, so, probably one of the first things that I noticed coming here, is, well, that it's cold in the winter. That, and heating buildings in Korea is very different than heating in North America. Every building that I've been in is heated by giant space-heaters that aren't automatic in any way. It is our job, as missionaries to turn on the space heaters in the church in the morning before people get there so that it's not freezing cold during the meetings. It's seriously colder inside than it is outside before we turn them on. So, either there's either giant space heaters, or, in the case of people's homes, the floors are the heaters. Our apartment has this (and let me tell you, that it is the most glorious feeling to walk on a cozy warm floor every morning), and so far so does everybody else's apartment. So far, there's no such thing as houses here. Everybody I know lives in an apartment, or a section of a house small enough that it may as well be an apartment. I've been in an appartment that was literally the size of my room and a bit and was just enough space for one person to live in it. It's pretty crazy, because there's just so many people here packed in so tightly.

The same goes for stores too. There are street vendors EVERYWHERE in Seoul! The street that goes up to our appartment (which is in Noryangjeen (너량진), by the way. It's close to Gangnam (강남) and encircles -Chris and Caden will get a kick out of this-  Bong Cheon Dong (봉천동). I'm going to use the Hangul for Korean words, because the romanization spelling never quite fits right) is lined on both sides with shops that can't fit inside the actual shop, so almost everything is displayed on tables on the street. Sometimes people will just set up shop at intersections or busy streets and sell their stuff right from their wagon, or whatever they have. Sometimes there's just a mat on the ground.

Which reminds me: A lot of stuff happens on the ground here. People sit at the table on the ground (and the table is also low to the ground, of course). We sleep on the ground, or on a 요, if you prefer that (which, in my case, is more like an exercise mat than anything else. It took a while to get used to sleeping on that). When you enter into  a Korean's home, you don't sit until asked to (which, really, isn't as scary as it sounds, because people will give you a warm welcome and make you comfortable right away, I'll get into that in a bit), and when you are permitted to sit, you kneel until you are told that you can make yourself comfortable, and that's when you may sit cross-legged. There's, so far, only been one sofa in each appartment that I've visited. You can't sit on that unless you're offered it (but the member families that we've so far visited offered it to us right off the bat, this is all just etiquette stuff that really impresses them when you know it and do it, and is how to be polite and show respect to them).

The members are so sweet. Since my companion and I were added to the area, we have no investigators or anything yet, so we're getting to know the members and are talking to people on the streets and the subways a lot. We went to visit two member families last night, and even though we had only said that we would be there for a few minutes to meet them and share a quick message at the door, they insisted we come in and sit for a while, and they had prepared a small snack for us, and we took the time to sing with them and pray and give our message (which, was my responsibility... ack!) So I gave my short little blurb or all the broken Korean I could muster about 1 Nephi 3:7 and how it had inspired me to serve a mission. I think they loved it. Both families told me to hang in there, and that they're impressed with how well I can speak the language. They're great people.

Anyways, I gotta wrap it up. I'm sorry that I can't get to all of you individually like I did in the MTC, there's just so much happening right now that I want to get it all down and out to everybody. Things will calm down and I'll be able write you all again, I'm sure, because that's more or less how it happened in the MTC; after everything about being in a new and exciting place wasn't new and excititng anymore I didn't have as much to write and I got more time to write to individual people. Anywho: I love you all! I can't wait to have stories to tell you! This place is just so cool!
Without Wax,
Elder Shaver