Monday, November 23, 2015

First Miracle

November 22, 2015

Dear Family,

Things are going really well, my companion and area are super awesome. I'll try to send you a picture of my companion, his name is Yoon Su-yeol, and he's from Seoul. He's amazing, I'm pretty sure I got the best deal on the trainee :) I've never seen someone so happy as he is, he's just always smiling and always has a good attitude about everything. He is a year younger than me, so he just graduated last year, and then he studied English in Provo for the past 9 months, so he's really good at English. You'll get to meet him in about a month or so :)

I don't remember what I told you last week about the area, but I'm in a city right outside of Busan called Gimhae. It's a lot less people than Busan has, so that is really nice. But there are about 100 members who come every week, which is kind of a shock, I'm not used to that. It's so weird to be in a fully functioning ward that doesn't depend on the missionaries to run. The members are super awesome, too. They're really friendly, and really eager to help with missionary work. 

We had a ward party on Saturday, for which we had a bunch of 5-minute plays we made that are based on Book of Mormon stories (Ammon defending the King's sheep, the last Jaredite battle, Nephi building the ship, etc), and divided up the members into teams, gave them 30 minutes to prepare, and then each team performed a different skit. It was right after English class, so we were able to bring a few of the students, and the members didn't even have to be asked to sit with the non-members and be friends with them. It was amazing, I'm still in awe of it. Then what we did was get a bunch of copies of the Book of Mormon, marked the stories in it that we acted out, and gave a copy to each non-member who came. So it was a really good method to introduce the Book of Mormon and do member missionary work in an indirect, non-offensive way. Whoever came up with the idea was a genius.  

It's supposed to get down to 16? That sounds terrible, over here it's been like 50s or during the day, and not too much colder at night. You should move south. Actually I think I'm getting wimpier when it comes to the cold. Being in Busan where it doesn't get very cold is making me more intolerant to the cold.

There are a ton of homeless people in Korea, I'm not sure if it's more than the US, but it's more obvious than they are homeless here. In the US, even homeless people have decent clothing, but here they literally wear rags, it's like what you would see in a movie or something. It's really sad, but there's nothing we as missionaries can do about it. I've tried a couple times to share a pamphlet or BOM with them, but they're never interested if there's not money or food involved.

The only advice I have for your class is to do (or keep doing) the basic, fundamental principles of the gospel, like praying, reading the scriptures, paying tithing, going to church, etc. As far as preparing for a mission, I think that doing those things consistently and developing a habit of it is the best/most effective way to prepare. Church teachers and leaders don't repeat it all the time for no reason (yeah, I finally figured that one out). As a missionary, the most important thing is your testimony, and there is no better way to build your testimony than by living the gospel and doing those small and seemingly insignificant things. It's just like what Jesus taught, if we want to know if His gospel is true, we have to live it.

As a trainer, I have to teach my companion everything about how missionary work goes, which includes doing the "First 12 Weeks" program each day. And I basically have to lead everything that we do since he doesn't know, but Elder Yoon is actually doing really well and picks up on things super fast. Other than that, there's not too much, other than just trying really hard to be a good example, since he's always looking to me. As far as district leader, it's super weird being the only one and not having my companion to help me. And my work load doubled because of that too, but it hasn't been too bad so far.  Last district meeting went really well, fortunately :)

This past week, the hand of the Lord has been everywhere in everything I do, but I can think of two specific things I'll share with you. First of all, He has helped me tremendously to make up for my inadequacies as a DL, trainer, and white-washing.  There's no way I could do all of that myself without dying from stress. And the other one had to do with the ward party. There were these two college students who came to English class, and we invited them to the activity. They originally said yes, but then for some reason decided that it was going to take too much time and just left.  But then 5 minutes before the activity started, they came back and said that they had changed their minds and wanted to come to it. It probably doesn't seem like anything huge, but it's those small things that prepare people to receive the gospel.  If they hadn't come, they wouldn't have been exposed to the Book of Mormon and received a copy like that, and they also wouldn't have been able to establish relationships with the members.  I'll be honest, I didn't really think anything of it, but after they came it, Elder Yoon whispered to me that he just saw his first miracle on his mission.  Elder Yoon is so awesome :)

Have a fun Thanksgiving, I love you so much!

Elder Hines

PS Here's a picture of me and Elder Yoon when we first became companions.  He said that his mom and grandma were both baptized by Elder Ringwood of the Seventy when he was here on his mission.  Pretty cool, isn't it?

Elders Hines & Payne . . . together again.

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