Monday, June 30, 2014

Week 37

Dear friends and fam :) 

I feel like I've been our here in Taebaek forever! But its only been a few weeks haha. This past week we had a mission conference in Seoul that we found out about the night before! We traveled to Seoul on Wednesday, went to the conference on Thursday and traveled back Thursday night. A man named PJ Rogers came and spoke to us. He is pretty much famous here in Korea. I'm not exactly sure what his line of work is but he was a missionary here in korea many years ago and since then has come back and been a very successful business man here.. and because he's a member of the church, he is quite famous in mormon culture here haha. He is probably the best Korean speaker that I've ever heard (foreign korean speaker, of course) and he is super knowledgeable when it comes to Koreans, and their culture. I learned SO much. Sometimes I find myself asking why koreans do things the way they do and why they act the way they do. Brother Rogers really helped me understand more about why Koreans are the way they are. I have a greater love and appreciation for these people. They truly are wonderful. I love Korea :)

So yup the mission conference was so great.. but it was super weird to be back in Sinchon. I know I'm adjusting to Taebaek because I seriously had culture shock again when I got to Sinchon haha! Not going to lie, I got a little bit emotional when I walked out of the subway station and was in my 'hometown' again. It was so weird being there without Sister Lee.. I was like man.. "I feel so... meloncholy"! But even though it was a little bit sad, there really is know where else that I would rather be right now. I am learning so much about myself and others serving here with Sister Lykins. When we got to the temple a couple of my beloved Sinchon buddies, Kim Yoo Jong and Ka Jin Young (recent convert who I love so so much) surprised me at the temple (where we stayed the night) with baskin robbins ice cream. It was so happy. I love them.. and I love icecream. Life in Taebaek just got a little happier too because baskin robbins just opened here!! WOOHOO! (ps baskin robbins here in korea is probably the best icecream you can get, I am blessed)

We didn't meet with like any of our investigators this week.. they all canceled and we were gone for a couple days.. but we had some cool miracles knocking doors this week! I never did much of it in Sinchon, but we do a lot here. I have never had an experience where someone actually let us in! But it happened for us TWICE this week! The first time was a nice older man who works close to our church and apparently has really good feelings towards the missionaries and the church. We taught him about the Book of Mormon and how reading it with the Bible can strengthen our faith and knowledge of the Savior Jesus Christ. He told us to go visit him at his work. We will be referring him to the Elders. It was a great experience. The second time was with a young family, a mom and her two daughters. They excitedly let us in and wanted to hear our message. We also taught them about the book of mormon. They seemed to have a lot of interest, and we are planning to visit and teach them again next sunday!! Hooray for miracles! :) 

Also.. Saturday night we had spent quite some hours knocking doors and apparently my companion had lost it, because we knocked a door and they said "Who is it?" and my companion says in here perky jundo voice, "Its Jesus!" I feel so bad because I started laughing so hard so it was hard for her to correct what she said.. so someone here in Taebaek thinks that Jesus knocked on their door last weekend.. and they still didn't open the door..

Taebaek district had a baptism last friday! Elder Garff and Elder Jarrett's investigator, Choi Song Kyoo was baptized. It was such a great service! It is such an amazing thing to see the countenance of someone change after having been baptized, and to see the happiness that it brings them.. it just brings me SO much happiness!! I had the opportunity to give a talk on baptism. I am always grateful for the opportunity to speak, even when it is scary.. It is such good practice to teach and testify in Korean. These past few weeks, I've really been able to see my progression in the Korean language. Being out here with someone who is american, and only one transfer ahead of me has forced me to listen a lot more carefully and speak a lot more. I am SO grateful for it!!

At the mission conference, Brother Rogers commited us to write down a list of a few significant things that we want to accomplish by the end of our missions. Along with some language goals, something I put down was to better understand the atonement of Jesus Christ. I don't know if I will ever really be able to fully understand it.. But I want to be able to know how to apply it in my own life, every single day for the rest of my life. I want to be able to recognize my sins and weaknesses, and recognize when I am forgiven. Being a missionary has helped me on this path of better understanding already, and I hope that by the end of my mission, as I continue to repent and try to be better each day, I hope that I can have a better understanding of my Savior and his atoning sacrifice for me.

I love my Savior! I love Taebaek and Koreans and Korean food and the people and everything. I just love it. Love you all and talk to you next week!!


Sister Holmes
홈스 자매
Elder Garff and Elder Jarrett haha

John and Claire, you might have gone to Disneyland but I flew to Hogwarts this week so beat that

Train ride to Seoul and everyone's a snoozin

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Week 36

Another week has passed here in Taebaek and I'm doing just fine! I love Taebaek already.. I love our branch here. I got to know our members a bit better this week, and man we've got some great people here. :) They are all so kind, caring and loving. I feel like a part of the family already!

This week we met with our buddhist investigators, Jiny and Dorthy. They are the sweetest women. They love learning about the book of mormon and about our church, but they are very firm in their own beliefs. At this point we're just trying to help them see how we have a lot of the same fundamental beliefs as them, and go from their. We've been really focusing on families with them, which they love. Family is very important to them.
We also got a new investigator, Lee You Jin. She was a referral from the Elders! When they referred her they told us that she has no gospel interest, only English. Well we've met with her a few times and she actually seems to have quite a bit of gospel interest! She is christian and has strong faith in Christ already. We explained to her that our purpose as missionaries is to help people gain a stronger relationship with Christ, and that through reading the Book of Mormon she could do that. She seemed so excited and graciously accepted the Book of Mormon from us. I think we'll see some good things happening with her.

This week I went on exchanges with Sister Young, my sister training leader, in her area, Dong Hey. It is about an hour and a half bus ride from Taebaek (the closest area to us..) It was definitely the highlight of my week! Sister Young is so amazing! She has about 2 transfers left, so she's got some widsom haha. Serving with her was so much fun, I laughed hard and learned so much. Some of the awesome things we did together include taking a run by the beach (yes there is a beach in Dong Hey area ahhhh), trying to find less actives but instead finding an old house that has been abandoned for 20 years, teaching some great lessons and testifying in unity, and meeting some really great people through jundo. It was awesome.
She also shared a talk with me that really helped me out. "That we might not shrink" by Elder Bednar. Before the exchange Sis. Young asked me to text her some questions I had. One of them was how can I feel content with the results of faithful labors even if they are few. She gave me this talk and it answered my question.. differently than I thought it would. In this talk Elder Bendar talks about how important it is for us to stay strong even when times are rough.. It is more important to not shrink than to just survive. He says "strong faith in the savior is submissively accepting of His will and timing in our lives, even if the outcome is not what we hoped for or wanted." I realized that if I have strong faith in the Savior I will trust him and be able to feel happy knowing that He has power to do all things, and He will always help me. It may not always be in the time or way that I expect or want, but He has the power. If I trust his power, I can feel content. No matter what my situation may be. :)

Yesterday we had a cool experience. We decided to go visit our member's houses and leave message cards. Well it started raining cats and dogs and we ended up going the wrong way to get to our branch president's house.. I was soaked and feeling a bit irritated with my comp for taking us the wrong way. but on the way back we saw a young girl walking a little bit ahead of us. She seemed to be going through some kind of shock.. She was shaking out of control and stuttering and twitching. I ran up to her and asked if she was alright. She tried to answer that she was fine. I put my arm around her to try and help her stop shaking. We tried to ask her if she needed anything, if she needed to call someone, and she just kept saying that she was fine. But we kept walking with her. She started asking questions about us and so we introduced ourselves. Then she said something about mormons in korean.. and then in perfect english said, "What's the difference between your church and other christian churches?" Turns out she lived in America for a while, and her dad is a priest for another church. But she really wanted to know about our church, despite her shaking and what not.. so we had the opportunity to teach her the first lesson. We explained about priesthood authority, Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon.. At the end I felt prompted to say to her, "We don't know what just happened to you, or what you are going through in your life right now, but I promise you that our message will change your life for the better. It will give you the strength, comfort and help that you need." She told us that she wanted to meet again with us and she got our phone number. I don't know if she'll call us, or what will happen with her, but I felt very strongly that because we were where we were at the time we were, we helped her out of a bad situation. We were where the Lord needed us to be.

I wanna share a happy quote I read during personal study this morning from President Gordon B. Hinckley. He says, "Don't you want to be happy? Forget yourself and get lost in this great cause. Lend your efforts to helping people.. stand higher, lift those with feeble knees, hold up the arms of those that hang down. Live the gospel of Jesus Christ."

I love this gospel. I love the people of Taebaek. I love being a disciple of Jesus Christ. 

Until next week! Love you all!

Sister Holmes
홈스 자매

Exchanges with Sister Young in Dong Hey!

Me and Sister Lykins emailing :)

Week 35

Dearest fam and friends!!

Helllllo from Taebek!! Can you hear me?? I am a million miles away in the wilderness! Haha okay. So that's what I thought it would be like out here, but I was wrong. I thought I'd be going to a tiny ancient village with no running water. But it turns out Taebek is a normal town, with normal stores, houses, and people. Maybe the ancient village would've been more exciting. ;) well that being said, it is SO different than Seoul. It really is like a tiny village in comparison to the big booming Sinchon. 

The first few days I was super cold here! It was rainy so I had to unpack my sweaters again! But it warmed up and now the weather is perfect! Its in the 70's and there's not any humidity or mosquitoes! So weather wise, I scored big time! As far as people goes... Just like the mosquitoes, there aren't any of those out here. Haha just kidding, but there really aren't many people. Jundoing is a completely different experience. We have to talk to EVERY single person we see, or we can't meet our goals. If you don't talk to every person, you may not see another one for a long time. So that's been a bit of an adjustment for me. Being here has made me realize how picky I was in Sinchon. If I didn't feel like talking to someone there was another person that came along in 2 seconds. There were 20 people at each cross walk. Well now I'm in a place where there aren't stop lights or cross walks! Serves me right ha! Oh man. Its been a bit awkward stopping people when they walk past me... trying to casually start up a conversation without them noticing that I'm now following them! Its been great. People in Taebek are a lot nicer than people in Seoul though! There aren't many who have interest in our message.. but that's the same as everywhere. Our job is to invite everyone so we can find the one that is prepared!!

Missionary work is a little different here in Taebek. We still talk to everyone, Jundo, knock doors (A TON), but there is a bigger focus on strengthening the members out here. We have a branch! Made up of about 20 people. This has probably been the biggest change for me. Sunday was so different. I am used to being in a chapel crammed full of people. Well our church building here could fit inside the chapel in Sinchon haha! And actually Sinchon's chapel wasn't even that big. That give you an idea of how small it is. Half the ward is missionaries. There are 6 of us missionaries, Elder Moon (zone leader) and Elder Mumford, Elder Jarrett and Elder Garff (district leader, who served with me my whole 4 transfers in Sinchon), and me and Sister Lykins. Church is only 2 hours long, because there aren't enough people to have a relief society and elders quorum! So it is SO different. But I can't explain how much I love it. The members here are truly amazing. All of them are people that have truly inspiring stories, and have been recently reactivated in the church within the past 10 years or so. It feels like a family. They were all so warm and loving to me my first Sunday. I truly feel so blessed to be serving here. It will be such a different experience, but such an amazing one. I can't wait. 

We actually have a good amount of investigators! The problem is is that they are all super buddhist. I've only met 2 of them,Jiny and Dorthy. We're doing the family english program with them. They're these 2 middle aged women who are the most loving, fun people I've ever met. They LOVE me already haha. This week we had a lesson with them and read the Family Proclamation the the World with them, and they loved it. They have really good feelings towards our church, and our beliefs, but they have no intentions of changing their religion or anything.. so teaching them is a bit of a hard situation. They are both such amazing women who are trying to live their lives in the best way that they know how. How do we help them to see that what we have to offer them will only add to their happiness, and their truths and principles that they value with their faith? Ahh so hard. Yokshi, this is missionary work!

So guess what?? I ran a 5k on Saturday!!! And I got a free t-shirt! and I won some tupperware!! Haha it was so fun. Our whole district got permission from president to run this 5k the town had on Saturday. Man I'm out of shape haha but it was a good time! It was actually more like a 10k because we had to walk back too. So I was dead after that. But it was way fun!

Oh Sister Lykins, where can I even start with this one. She is such a hoot. I am having a great time serving with her so far! She is in every way different than Sister Lee, that is for sure. She's from Salt Lake, she's 26 years old (I have had such grandmas for companions). The adjustment has been kind of hard. But she is so amazing. She wants to make me as happy as possible here in Taebek. This will be her 4th transfer in this area, and she truly loves it so much. I am grateful for the opportunity to serve with her!

Miracle!! Today on the way to email we met the cutest student!! She seems to have english AND gospel interest!! She was so nice. We met her on the way to grab lunch and we parted our ways and went into a bakery. 2 minutes later she comes into the bakery with juice she had just bought for us.. What a sweetheart right? We're meeting her on Thursday, I'm so excited! I love little tender mercies like this. 

This week I was reading my favorite talk about gratitude by Pres. Uchtdorf (sorry I literally talk about this talk in every email but I love it so much). He talks about how learning to truly have a grateful heart no matter what our circumstances are can help us overcome any kind of trial, sadness or heartbreak. He says that it can bloom just as beautiful in the icy landscape of winter, just as it does in the warmth of summer. I can be just as happy in the mountains of Taebek as I was in the crazy city of Sinchon.

Things are different. But things are so good. :) Until next week!!!

Sister Holmes
홈스 자매

Last P-Day in Sinchon!! Trick art/ice museum!!! Golden, right?

Me and the Lykins Sista haha


Week 34

Dearest friends and fam...

The dreaded day has come.. its time for me to leave my beloved Sinchon. I am moving out to Taebek! Its a small mining town in the middle of the mountains. I don't know what to expect.. just something that is completely opposite of everything I know as Korea. can't describe in words how hard is has been for me. I didn't know it would be this hard. I don't think I have anymore tears left to cry haha. So I won't. I will accept the change. It is hard but it is where I need to go. It will be a hard adjustment, but there is an experience that I need to have waiting out in Taebek for me that I need to have. 

I had some really special experiences this week! We had a wonderful lesson with Yoo-oo-ee (haha it is so weird written in english), our investigator from Taiwan. She has been having such a hard time understanding things, and this week we met with her and just talked about faith. It was exactly what she needed. We shared Alma 32:21 with her and she loved it so much. She came to the biggest realization and her face was beaming. She was excited to pray at the end of the lesson. The spirit was so strong. It was one of the most awesome lessons I've had so far. I'm so sad to believing right when she is developing faith ahhh.. but Sister Lee and her new companion will take good care of her. Saying goodbye to my recent converts and investigators has been so hard.. we are meeting with Yoo-oo-ee tonight, Shin Song Hee and Ha tomorrow.. I'm just tired of being sad haha. 

The other night when I was having a really hard time, I opened my scriptures to feel comfort and of course I did. I found this scripture. 2 Ne. 4:34-35 "O Lord, I have trusted in thee, and I will trust in thee forever. I will not put my trust in the arm of flesh..... Yea, I know that God will give liberally to him that asketh. Yea, my God will give me, if I ask not amiss; therefore I will lift up my voice unto thee; yea I will cry unto thee, my God, the rock of my righteousness. Behold, my voice shall forever ascend up unto thee, my rock and mine everlasting God. Amen." When I read this scripture, I finally felt peace. I realized that I need to stop worrying so much and just trust God. He wouldn't send me somewhere I couldn't handle. He loves me and wants me to grow as much as I can. This change is an opportunity for growth, and as long as I rely on him. He will always give me what I need if I ask. I am so grateful for this knowledge.

EVERYTHING WILL BE SO GREAT! Stay tuned for the news of Taebek next week haha.. BYE!!

Sister Holmes
홈스 자매

To make up for the short and depressing email, I will send some pictures of people who are so dear to my heart.

Ha and Mashaw <3 our Vietnamese family

My recent converts, the Kim Sisters :) Dong Hee and Tae Hee

This is the Filmore family :) I LOVE THEM SO MUCH

Na Soon Ja, she is one of the ward missionaries. Such a wonderful woman who has helped us with our missionary work so much!

An Kyon Chan. The most wonderful man. He loves missionaries more than anybody I've ever met. He has made my life in Sinchon so happy. I can't express my gratitude to him. Our guardian angel!

Jo So Young, a less active member that we've had a hard time meeting with...but she came to church to say bye to me :)

Kim Yoo Jung. A young single adult in our ward. Love her so much

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Week 33

My dearest family and friends...

Well.. Its already the last week of the transfer. I literally have no idea who stole my time. Transfer calls are on Saturday. I think its my time to go. But then again I have no idea. I thought for sure I'd be leaving last time and I stayed in Sinchon.. So I won't be presumptuous. I'll just be anxious. AHHHHH

Good news! We got a wonderful new investigator this week, her name is Ha. Literally just Ha. haha! Ha. Anyways, she was a referal from the Elders! She is the wife of one of their investigators, Tuyet. They are a family from Vietnam. They have the sweetest little girl names Mashaw. (like a mix of michelle and marshal haha) They speak no Korean and very very little English. But I can't describe the way I feel when I meet them! I can feel the spirit so strongly. They honestly have such a pure desire to learn the about God and about our church. They come to english class, they've come to church once, and they even came with us to Elder Cook's fireside on Saturday night. They say they don't know why but they feel very happy when they are with us. Communicating with them is hard, but this week we got vietnamese pamplets and book of mormons so that will help so much! We're meeting with Ha 2 times a week. She is home by herself all day every day, so that is why they referred her to us! We've already taught her about God and prayer, and she commited to praying every day.

Kim Teh Hyoung! Our "eggy investigator" (eggy is baby in Korean). He was supposed to get baptized this last saturday, but that fell through the Sunday before when he didn't come to church. But that's okay! We kind of rushed into it, and recognized that he really needs more time. We met with him this week, and we've set a date for June 15th! That's the date we've set for know anyways.. Its complicated with him. Because he's so young he always flakes out on us.. Acutally to be honest everyone does that, it's not because he's young haha. Also we haven't met his parents yet, or even talked to them about it.. so I'm not quite sure what's going on yet. All I know is that I'm best buds with him. He's so cool. He is the Korean version of Toby (yeah shout out to you Tobes! You're probably not even reading this but someone tell him this for me hehe). 

Yesterday we had a miracle with Shin Song Hee. This week, one of the things I fasted for was to help us to figure out what has been holding her back from progression towards baptism, what is keeping her from having the desire to exercise faith? yesterday during our lesson with her, we did.. This week her dog died and she has been so heart broken about it, so we just wanted to have a lesson of comfort with her, we planned on reading Elder Bednar's talk with her about bearing our burdens through Christ's atonement. Right after we finished following up on her reading assignment in the Book of Mormon from the last time, she brought up baptism by herself. Usually we are the ones trying to bring it up in a non-pushy way. She told us she'd been thinking about baptism a lot lately, and asked about the qualifications, so we started discussing the baptismal interview questions with her. She then admitted to us that she had an abortion. About 10 years ago she was married and had a child with her husband, and her baby died after only a few days. Right after her baby died she got pregnant right away. I don't know her reasoning behind deciding to get an abortion but she and her husband got divorced, so we can guess the situation wasn't good. I am so grateful that she finally had the courage to tell us.

The mission conference with Elder Quinton L. Cook this week so great.. It was just what I needed. His message was one of comfort and reassurance. He talked about the process in which the apostles and missionary department assign calls. He testified to us about how truly inspired each missionary's call is for them personally."So be comfortable!" he said. I loved it. He talked about 4 areas of love. Love the people, your companion, your mission president, and the Lord. If I do those simple things, I will feel peace and happiness. I will be able to see my success and the good I am doing as a missionary. So simple, but so perfect. I am so grateful for living prophets and apostles on the earth today. I know they are men of God. I really really do!

Well that's all for today I think! I'm doing great. It's barely june and I'm already exploding because of the humidity... but supposedly this week is gonna cool down a whole lot.. then its rainy season. :) Bring it Korea.

Love you all and have a wonderful week!!

Sister Holmes
홈스 자매

Delicious Indian food

Mission Conf. with the Sinchon Chamaes!