Sunday, September 28, 2014

Week 50

Dearly beloved...

This weeks zipped by! Everything happens so fast, sometimes I don't even have time to process it. I feel like I'm writing and email and the next day all of the sudden I'm writing another one! Time is crazy. Well, we dropped a few investigators this last week, which is never fun. But it was still a great week! :) Saw some awesome miracles, worked hard, and laughed the whole while through. I have loved serving with Sister Lykins because we joke around with eachother and have so much fun. It makes the hard times a lot more bearable when you can laugh about it with someone! I don't know who this quote is actually from, I've just heard it from other missionaries, but someone wise once said, "If you're not having fun on your mission, you're not doing it right!" TRUTH!

Jeong Sung Kyong made some great progress this week... Man we saw miracles. On wednesday after a lesson with her, she wanted to buy us some hot chocolate because it was a cold day. So we went to the cafe with her, and as she was starting to order, she turned to Sister Lykins and I and said "I'm sorry.. I want coffee." We kind of just looked at each other and back at her with faces of defeat.. Haha the lady ringing us up was so confused.. She was like "Why don't you order them hot chocolate and you can get coffee??" She went on to explain that she had made a promise to us to try to stop drinking coffee.. and after that she said "Okay! 3 hot chocolates." It was such a miracle... she loves coffee so much, and hasn't made much of an effort with trying to stop drinking it. Afterwards Sister Lykins and I did a little happy dance, we were so excited! Little decisions like that are what are going to strengthen her testimony of this gospel.
 Yesterday she came to church. In the first few minutes of our gospel doctrine class she ran out of the room because she recieved a phone call from one of the members of her church asking where she was... So she came back in and told me that she would be leaving early to attend her other church. I told her that sacrament was the most important part of the meeting. She said she was sorry but that she had to go because she has responsibilities there, and that she would come back afterwards for lunch. I was so heartbroken, but I didn't know what else I could say in that moment to her to make her stay. So I decided to say a prayer and ask Heavenly Father to help her recognize that she needed to stay. About 15 minutes later she turned to me during the lesson and whispered in my ear "I am not going. I will stay here." In that moment, I knew that God answered my prayer. Sister Lykins, who wasn't sitting right by us didn't know exactly what was going on, but she heard her say something about her church, so she was praying in her heart that everything would work out as well. I know that God heard our prayers. I know that in that moment she recognized she was where she needed to be. She is reading the Book of Mormon every day, and she loves it. We realized this week that as she does that, she has more strength to overcome her weaknesses, over anything else we can say to her. We read in Preach my Gospel over and over again, this is what brings change more than anything else. And we are seeing that change.

"And it came to pass that He commanded the multitude that they should cease to pray, and also his disciples.. And he commanded them that they should not cease to pray in their hearts." 3 Nephi 20:1. I read this scripture this morning, and with my experience from yesterday, this was a good reminder to me of why we Jesus asks us to have a prayer in our heart always. We need to always keep a prayer in our heart because when we do, we are more in tune to the spirit. We recognized answers to our prayers more easily. We can feel God's more frequently. I have felt that this is true without a doubt, especially this past transfer with Revelation through prayer being our mission focus. I have learned so much. I've truly come to recognize how personal our relationships with our Heavenly Father can be. 

I love the gospel of Jesus Christ. It has brought me more happiness than anything else ever has or ever will. Hope you all have a 'chincha' (really) great week.

Sister Holmes
홈스 자매
Selfie of the week. This is what happens when my comp. goes to the bathroom during our weekly planning session.
I've been out awhile.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Week 49

Dearest loved ones, hello again! Wow that was fast!

This past week was a good one. We saw some good things happen, had some discouragements as usual, but maintained a positive attitude.. And really I think that's what its all about! Yesterday was one of those discouraging days for me. I don't have these days very often.. but sometimes everything just seems to pile up at one. I have these days where I feel like I'm not helping anyone, I'm not good at Korean, I'm not good at following the spirit.. But I've found that the only way to get through it is to KEEP WORKING, and KEEP COUNTING MY BLESSINGS. I realized that even when I feel like I'm not helping anyone, I am. I am helping myself, my companion, our mission as a whole.. by being obedient and doing what I'm supposed to I do more good than I think I'm doing.. So why do I ever need to worry? Sheesh, get this into your head Sister Holmes ya weirdie!

I think something that may have added to the discouragement yesterday was the fact that Jeong Sung Kyong didn't keep her promise to come to church yesterday. We saw so much progress with her this week.. We met with her every single day. Her faith is growing as she slowly exercises it more and more. She was able to go a few days this last week without drinking, which is a huge improvement. She is slowly weening herself off those things that she knows is wrong. She opened up to us and told us some things about her past when we went over the baptismal interview questions with her, she had an abortion some years ago. We know she feels so horrible about it and wants to be freed from that nasty guilt she feels about it. So it will be a little while before we can give her a date. She has a lot of things she needs to overcome, including her own doubt about Joseph Smith and a living prophet today. But she is changing and becoming more and more open each time we meet with her. Well we met with her on Saturday and she told us that a friend from Seoul would be coming to see her that night, and she said there might be drinking. Well, we said DON'T DO IT. If you choose now, it won't be hard in the moment. Well she wouldn't commit to choosing but she said she would try. As you can guess, the next day she didn't come to church. She wouldn't answer our phonecalls. She texted us last night saying she was still with this man that came to visit her from Seoul so that is why she wasn't able to go to church. I felt so upset! We had seen so much progress in her this last week spiritually.. and then she throws it all away because someone is taking her back into her comfort zone of the things that used to bring her happiness. I felt so cheated on. I thought I'd learned a thing or two about patience on my mission so far.. but this just proved to me that I have a long way to go. All we can do is keep inviting, keep supporting, keep testifying.. helping her to find that desire to TRULY change her life.. Not just when it's convenient. 

Well off that debbie downer note... Book of Mormon!!! I can't explain the love I have for my personal study time every day. I love the Book of Mormon so much.  I just started reading 3 Nephi.. This morning I read chapters 3-5 and I picked up on a process of preparation displayed by the Lachoneous and the nephites in preparing for battle against Giddianhi and the lamanites. 
1. They cry unto the Lord for strength. Then acknowledge their need for His help, that they can't do it without Him. 
2. They take action!! They don't wait for anything, Lachoneus sends out a proclamation, they start fortifying their cities and provisions. They do all they can do prepare.
3. They repent and forsake their sins! They humble themselves and they continue in faithful prayer.
Now applying this to my life.. this is a pattern that I can apply to myself as a missionary, and to any situation that requires preparation. Pray for his help. Do all I can, exercise my faith. Pray some more, better myself. All the while keeping an attitude of gratitude.
Man I love the scriptures so much. I just want every person I meet to feel this way too!!!

Sorry if this was a lamish email heh! Well I love you all! I love this work. Love Korea. I just love it all.

Sister Holmes
홈스 자매

This is when I cleaned my desk last week and it all fell on the floor.

P-day last week hiking Taebaek San!

Fall is here...and it's cold. This is how I keep warm during studies. Sweater legs for the win!

Dinner with Jeong Sung Kyong! Korean traditional food. yummmm :)

Best part of the week! Weekly service at "lunch box of love" wearing our matching grandma pants with one of our girls. Best day ever.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Week 48

Dearest family and friends and whoever may read this...

This week was so so SO awesome. So crazy and busy with Chuseok holiday, cleaning day, a zone activity, and a last minute exchange with the Donghae sisters.. There were ups and downs as always. But overall, it was so wonderful. This week I learned that sacrifice really does bring forth the blessings of heaven. Sister Lykins and I did a special fast on saturday to sunday.. and we had 2 investigators at church this week. Fasting works.

I realize that I am a lameo and I didn't even describe what Chuseok is in my email last week! It is basically like the Korean equivalent of thanksgiving. It is a few days long, and families just get together and eat good food, play games.. basically just spend some good time together. Sometimes they have a special 'ceremony' type things where they all get dressed up in their korean traditional clothing called "hanbok" and the kids bow to their elders (usually grandparents) and they get money from them. Sweet deal I think haha! Tuesday night we had a Chuseok party with our branch members who were still around for the holiday. It was SO much fun. We played this Korean traditional game called "Uke-no-ri". I can't really describe it.. you roll sticks and you want them to all be right side up.. sorry I can't explain it haha. Okay, so I have played this game several times over the course of my past 9 months in korea (wow that's crazy) but I still don't understand it. But guess what.. apparently I am SUPER good at it. My team won because I rolled the sticks perfectly 5 times in a row haha.. Everyone kept asking me how I was so good.. I was like beats me, I guess the spirit was just guiding me or something! So much fun :)

Change day was on monday! We deep cleaned our house. Man it was a doozy. Had some great adventures cleaning.. like my all of my desk falling onto the floor (pic to come). Man this week was just a week of cleaning. We also deep cleaned and weeded the church on wednesday! Its actually so much fun whenever I get the chance to clean. Its fun to serve that way sometimes :) 
We hiked Taebaek San again this week! This time with the Donghae missionaries, for a zone activity. So fun as always. The best part was that there were these people at the top who gave us a bunch of asian pears. I love Koreans. They are so charitable. Sometimes to the point where its like "no! Just because I said hello to me does not mean you have to give me all of the groceries you just bought!" 

Because of the Holiday and how crazy busy everyone was, we weren't able to meet with many people. We were only able to meet with Jeong Sung Kyong and Kim Kooee Young... And like I said they both came to church yesterday. We haven't had investigators at church for a VERY long time.. long before I came to Taebaek. Yesterday was a day of miracles.

Jeong Sung Kyong came to church. I can't explain the happiness I feel because of it. I am so proud of her for keeping her commitment to come. She has committed so many times before and has flaked out last minute. But our meetings with her this week were really good, and I think she realized that she couldn't oppose what we were asking of her if she didn't experience it for herself. She realized that she needed to come and see for herself. She also came to our Chuseok party on tuesday, which I really think helped her feel comfortable around our members and realized that coming to church wouldn't be hard. Everyone was so loving and welcoming to her. She had such a fun time, I have never seen her laugh and smile so much. Her experience at church yesterday was a similar experience. She was so engaged during gospel doctrine, she listened intently to the talks in sacrament, reverently partook of the sacrament. I saw her crying during the sacrament. Last night I called her for a bit and talked to her about her church experience.. but she wouldn't really anything except! "it was fine! it was interesting! different than my church!" She did say that everyone was so loving and she felt so comfortable. I know, she really had a wonderful experience at church. She knows she felt something special there.. its just about helping her to admit it, and to see those good feelings as her answer. She has also been trying to keep the word of wisdom. She has made progress, she says she is smoking less and less every day, and she doesn't drink unless its with friends. She refuses to quite coffee yet.. but progress is definitely being made. Definite miracles with her this week!

Kim Kooee Young (or however you would spell her name in english, I have no idea..) Where do I start with her.. Well, obviously, she also came to church! Which is so amazing. She doesn't have much desire to apply the things we are teaching her. Last week we ended family english with her, and she wanted to keep meeting with us.. she said she would study the book of mormon in English. We told her the situation, how we would still be teaching her in Korean, but if she wanted to read it in english on her own, she definitely could! This week we had an interesting lesson with her. We started out talking about faith. We read some of Alma 32 with her, and she really liked it. We talked about how when we combine our faith with prayer, we can receive answers. We asked her if she would pray about what we have been teaching her to know for herself if it was true.. and she said she already knows that its all true. We were so shocked. So we then explained the steps of lesson 3 and how if we believe these things are true, we should act on those feelings, through being baptized. She seemed to understand and accept everything we were saying. Then I gave her the baptismal commitment.. and she said.. "No.. do I have to?"  We are having a hard time explaining to her why it is important to act. She just wants to believe its true. She believes that every faith, every knowledge is good and true. She doesn't see the need to act on it. How can we help her to act?

Like I said we had a last minute exchange with the DongHae Sisters again! Sister Ness came to Taebaek with me. I don't know if I already talked about this, but the Elders in our district are meeting with 2 spanish men. And Sis. Ness is a fluent spanish speaker, so she came to translate for lessons and church this weekend. Well.. they weren't able to come to church so they had to work.. that was kind of frustrating. But we did have a lesson with them afterwards and it was great. I felt like I was in a spanish speaking mission haha.. it was so cool! It was so cool to see the gift of tongues in action.Such a faith building experience. Also the 2 hispanic men, Orlando and Nerri (coolest guys ever) were convinced that I was fluent in spanish because I told them I took 2 years in high school.. but I literally can't remember anything except Hola and the days of the week. Korean did this to me.

"And he said unto me, my grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in my infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong."
2 Corinthians 12:9-10
This was my scripture this week. :) 

Have a wonderful week everyone!! 

Sister Holmes
홈스 자매

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Week 47

Dear loved ones

Wow, what a great week! It was filled with so much happiness. I feel more grateful than ever to be a missionary right now. With the Chuseok holiday, I really have been feeling a special spirit of thanksgiving. This week I have felt such an abundance of God's love in my life. That is probably the best thing about being a missionary. By forgetting about yourself and serving others, you actually gain more than you give. I can't understand it. But I am so grateful for it. Man I'm lucky!

Welp there will be next to no one here in Taebaek for the next few days.. everyone is gone for the holiday.. So guess what we get to do today? Clean our house!! Woohoo! I don't feel to jipped though, we got a delicious Chuseok feast last night at one of our member's house. Man I love our members here in Taebaek.. have I said that before? Honestly they are the reason for my happiness here. They keep us all sane haha. We are a little family and it makes me so happy. 

This week has been a spiritual feast. For a number of reasons.  Having the opportunity to go to the temple friday night was such a blessing. I never recognize how much strength I receive when I go to the temple until I have to wait a long time, then I go and realize the extra spiritual strength I receive there. I love it so very much. Our Chuseok mission conference on Saturday in Seoul was wonderful. We traveled there on friday morning, and has a super fun p-day in Seoul (even though I was melting.. Taebaek has spoiled me rotten). We went to the Gyeongbokgung palace, it is in the center of Seoul. It was weird being there.. because everyone there was a foreigner.. so I heard a lot of people speaking english.. it was the weirdest feeling.. I think I might have a nervous break down when I come home.. and I can actually understand everything I hear haha. So weird. Anyways, the conference on saturday. Wonderful. The music, the talks, the people.. it was all so spiritually edifying. The focus this month, revelation through prayer, is something that I really needed. It was honestly an answer to my prayer. Prayer is something that has been a focus of mine my whole mission.. It is something that has brought me so much strength, and it is also something that I've needed to focus on, because I get lazy sometimes with my prayers. This conference helped me recognize the importance of sincere, focused and specific prayers. I have already seen the difference it is making as I've applied what I learned these past couple days. 

Probably the best thing ever..  Seeing 이혜원 for the first time in 3 months! I couldn't hold back the tears when I saw her. I missed her dearly. It turns out our area in Sinchon was closed this transfer :( because less and less sisters are coming they are starting to have to close some sister areas. Now there's only 1 set of sisters serving in Sinchon instead of 2. I was broken hearted when I heard about it.. and Sister Lee was even more than I was. But just because it was closed doesn't mean that we weren't seeing progress there.. its just what needs to be done sometimes, sadly. But its okay. The other sisters will take good care of our people there. Shin Song Hee is still coming to church every week. My recent converts Kim Dong Hee and Kim Tae Hee just got called as ward missionaries :) they are doing so well. So I am happy. But yeah, seeing everyone on Saturday was so wonderful. The relationships I've made on my mission feel different than relationships I've had in my life before. With other missionaries, my investigators, our members... They feel so real and so strong. I can't imagine not having come on my mission and met these people who are so important to me and such a huge part of my life. I am so grateful. For this reason alone, I know how much my Father in Heaven loves me. He placed so many wonderful people in my life to help me and make me happy.

Well this week we actually had some super great lessons. We taught Jeong Sung Kyong about the word of wisdom this week, and we committed her to keeping it. She has been trying all week, but she keeps falling back into it, saying it is too hard. This last week we met with her a lot, trying to keep her uplifted and give her that strength to overcome that she needs. Its gonna be a slow process. But she is slowly making progress. She recognizes that smoking and alcohol is bad, and she honestly has a sincere desire to stop. But she doesn't want to quit coffee yet. So she believes the book of mormon is true, she believes what we say and ask her to do, but she doesn't have a testimony of the restoration for herself yet. She is holding onto her church, and doesn't want to face the fact that in order to be baptized, she needs to become a member of our church, which includes attending our church, not hers. It is a really hard situation. But we had a really good discussion with her about it this week, trying to help her see that the things we are offering, the things we are asking her to do can only bring her more happiness. We don't want to take away her happiness. We are just asking her to come to our church once and see for herself. I think she finally recognized that. She promised us she would come to church (that was wednesday) but didn't come because of last minute plans for the holiday with family. But she promised us on the phone last night that she would come to church this week.  That's where things are at with her. We keep praying and trying to find ways to help her feel God's love, and have faith to overcome.

We met with Mr. Yoon (Kevin) this week, the man that stopped us on the street a few weeks ago because he had met with missionaries 20 years ago and attended english class for a very long time. He has very fond memories with the missionaries. He thinks very highly of our church and wants us to teach his 8 year old daughter about God. The purpose in meeting with us was so that we could meet him with his wife and daughter, but they were both unavailable to meet with us that day, so we brought 김계숙 자매님 with us. It was a bit of an awkward first meeting.. He honestly just wanted to speak to us in english about politics and stuff.. but we were able to take control of the situation and share with him our purpose, and establish expectations. We are going to meet with his daughter and wife hopefully this week or next week and start family english with them. He says they are roman catholic, but they aren't 'strong'. So I can see some good things happening there! Hopefully good things happen there! :)

I love Korea. Have a great week everyone. 사랑해요!

Sister Holmes
홈스 자매

Heart attacking Jeong Sung Kyong's house!

King SeJeoung! Gyeongbokgung in Seoul

Cool Korean traditional instrument

Cool Korean traditional soldiers. They're real. They don't flinch haha

The palace was SOOO COOL!

This is a Korean pear. Happy Chuseok. :)