June 7, 2013
Dear Mom, Dad, John, Elizabeth, Benjamin, Andrew, Eve, James, Miriam, Anna, Joseph, Rebekah, Abigail, Esther, and Peter, and everybody else,
Our investigator commited to baptism! Yeah! He's just a teacher, but Brother Kim definitely feels like an investigator. As strange as it seems, I've actually grown to care for him, and I actually felt really sad when Sister Sagers (our teacher) told us we weren't going to teach him any more. We taught him 4 lessons, and each one got better and better. He literally fell asleep during our third lesson, but the last time, he stayed awake the whole time! And I really felt the Spirit even though we were struggling with our very simple and oftimes broken Korean. And our last lesson, I was able to give while only reading Korean about half the time! The rest of the vocabulary and grammar I knew, and I was able to form the sentences without copying from our lesson book. I even forgot to write down notes about my testimony for the end, but I bore my testimony and I didn't make any mistakes! All I could think during the whole lesson was, "Oh my gosh. The Lord is truly blessing me for my dilligence and my obedience." I can even pray in Korean without any help and actually do it quickly/normal Korean speed! The language is coming along so well, and I know I have only the Lord to thank for my progress.
The only problem part of Korean I'm uncomfortable with is "Yes." In Korean, it's "nay", which is another English version of "no." I bet it's really hard to pass things in the Korean government.
I am really growing to love my district so much. There are two more companionships I didn't tell you about.
Sister Johnson and Sister Wadsworth are the other sisters in our district. Sister Johnson is 19 like me, but Sister Wadsworth is 22! Sister Wadsworth works really hard and is a good sobering influence in a room mostly full of 19 year old elders. Sister Johnson is really enthusiastic, and she has a sincere desire to share the gospel. She's 6 foot! The Koreans will definitely notice her. :)
Elder Hansen is a riot. He's "all about that missionary life"/"all about that Korean life"/"all about that Book of Mormon life". He also has a huge crush on Sister Sagers, and his goal at the MTC is to never eat a salad. He's "bulking up for the Mother Land." His companion is Elder Carter. I really like Elder Carter. He's half Japanese and always makes jokes about how the Koreans aren't going to like him, since the Koreans and the Japanese are kind of enemies. The other day, I found a word in our Korean-English dictionary for "anti-Japanese", and I told him about it in class and that it's actually "bon", the first half of my last name. He was so funny! "Sister Bonney! What are you trying to say?!"
I thought it would be weird spending so much time with elders when there are all those rules about no hugging and all that, but it's really not! I feel like they're kind of my stand-in brothers for my mission. They're all my age, and hilarious. And it's been such an honor to watch the power of the Lord help them grow into faithful missionaries and powerful men even this past week and a half. I can only imagine how wonderful they'll be after their missions. They still have 23-1/2 months to go!
So you know all those hilarious language mistake stories you hear from missionaries? Well, we have our first one. (I'd type in Korean cause I know how to spell it, but there's no Korean keyboard on this computer...) To begin a prayer, you say "hananeem abojee shiyo." Basically "God father dear". However, when Elder Hansen and Elder Carter prayed with Brother Kim, they began they're prayer with "hananeem ohbojee shiyo." Brother Kim started laughing during the prayer! They got back down to our classroom and asked Elder Han what they'd said. Turned out they had said, "God hippo dear"!! We laughed so hard together!
This past week has truly been a powerful testimony building experience. The first few days at the MTC, I had a really hard time. I felt like I didn't want to be here, but I really wanted to have that desire and I wanted peace with my decision to serve a mission because I know with my whole being that this is something the Lord has asked of me, and I want to obey! On Tuesday, I just got so downhearted that I lost the Spirit. I wasn't able to focus on Korean, I wasn't able to be a good companion to Sister Harris, and I wasn't able to feel the joy of missionary work. That night, we had a devotional and the President of the Seventy's wife bore her testimony and said something really powerful: "The Book of Mormon will give you the strength to fulfill your mission and serve the people you associate with." Also, during the devotional, I had the impression to ask my district leader for a blessing. The priesthood has been a great source of comfort and strength to me during the past year, and I knew that no matter what was said, merely the power of the priesthood would help me.
So I asked Elder Han, and he gave me a blessing after class that night. It was his first priesthood blessing, and he did a wonderful job. It was exactly the affirmation I needed, and the Spirit was so strong. The next day, Wednesday was wonderful. My desire to serve was renewed as never before, and I threw myself into my personal study. Now Elder Hansen and I are both "all about that Book of Mormon life." Ever since last Tuesday night, I have felt so much stronger. The priesthood is real! The scriptures are powerful and the Book of Mormon is true! And I know that this is the Lord's work. Part of serving a mission is giving the Lord an opportunity to teach you through humbling and empowering experiences. Yesterday Sister Sagers said that the first week of the MTC is always the hardest for every missionary because the Lord is teaching you to rely on Him in all things; that is the most important lesson every missionary needs to learn before they can use their relationship with the Lord to serve others. I know the Lord knows us. I know the Lord tests us, but never more than we can withstand. I'm so grateful for my humbling experience this past week because it has taught me to rely on the Lord and I know I will need that strength to be the missionary the Lord deserves. As we rely on His strength for our ability, our desires will become one with His, and our ability to serve in whichever capacities He calls us to will be transformed. I know the Lord has enhanced my abilities greatly since coming here and I know that as long as we strive to serve Him and those He has called me to serve wih righteousness, faith, and obedience, He will continue to bless me. The Savior lives!
I love you all so so much!
PS I LOOOOOOOOVED Eve, Elizabeth, and John's letters this week! Letters are really wonderful, and they help us so much to stay enthusiastic about our work. You really have no idea how much I appreciate and LOVE your letters. I've carried them around with me ever since I got them. :) And a special shout out to Katherine! I LOVE YOU! Thank you so much for your letter! My letters for all of you are in the mail!