Thursday, February 5, 2015


Before I bare my soul, let me clear up one cliff-hanger: the Bangeojin sisters survived! It was a miracle. Sister Nielsen and I partied hard the night that call came.

And it's over. As I sit here in my apartment in Provo, it's still hitting me. The plane landed over a month ago. Shortly after that, the tag came off, the mission journals went in a box, the jeans resurfaced, and I was no longer a missionary. Just ordinary me. But definitely a different me than left 18 months ago.

I know a mission's not for everyone, but for a moment, I'd like to make the case that a mission can change your life.

Growing up, I was a rebel in my quiet way. I refused to consider going on a mission. My usernames had 15 in them for 2015 because that was the year I was going to graduate from BYU because I was NOT going on a mission. My 5-year-plan did NOT include 18 months taken as a missionary. That was an asterisk at the bottom of my notebook where I'd scrawled, "If not married by 21, maybe serve mission." But I knew. Because when the Lord wants you to serve, you just know. Pres. Monson announced the age change and the desire to go burned in my chest. I knew the Lord wanted me.

I've always had a very strong testimony that the Lord loves His children, so I had a strong belief that God wasn't going to let my decisions affect the salvation of the world. Occasionally, you hear the guilt-trip line, "If you don't serve a mission, think of all those people who won't hear the gospel!" I thought that was ridiculous. God loves those people way too much to let little me stop them from hearing the gospel.

So why did I leave?

I went because I wanted to be obedient. The time when I went, I had a lot of trust issues with God. The year before my mission, my mom almost died of heart failure twice, my family was practically thrown out of our home and forced to move, and we almost went bankrupt. My parents were doing everything they could to follow the Lord's will, and as far as I knew, so was I. So when rough seas hit, I took it hard and I took it personally. How could God let something like this happen to my family? If He really loved us, why wasn't He taking care of my family? Those were the questions I had when I entered the mission field. But despite my doubts, I knew He lived, I knew He loved me, and I knew that He wanted me to serve. And so I left.

How do you describe 18 months in a word? 5 minutes? A blog post? Words at all?

You can't.

But I will try.

A mission is a journey. Of course you travel. Some a couple states over. Some a couple continents. But the journey is internal. A mission is hard, and there are times when you question everything: Why did I come? Why am I still here? Do I really know what I say I do? What would happen if I quit? Does God have any idea what a jerk my companion is being right now? Am I strong enough to make it to P-day? Christmas? The end? Why did God choose me? Why did He want me HERE? Do I have the patience to let go of how frustrated I am right now to talk to that person? Do I know enough Korean to talk to that person? Will God help me if I try? The list never ends.

But here's the thing. God loves questions. Because He has the answers. And He wants to give them to us. When you serve, you have questions only He can answer. You're forced to turn to Him. On those days when we think we're alone, He loves proving us wrong. He is there. And oftimes on the mission, He is the only one there.

I said a mission is a journey. A journey isn't a journey without a destination. So where are we going?

He is the destination. When He is the only one there, there is nowhere else to turn. And when you turn to Him, He gives the answers you're seeking; He shows you who you are and who He is. You see His face and you can't go back. There's a point when you understand that you can trust Him. He is the best and closest and most perfectly loving and loyal friend you have and there is nothing that should ever separate you.

I learned a lot of things on my mission. Every missionary does. You learn life skills, people skills, language skills, a lot of skills. You strengthen your testimony beyond anything it was before. You develop attributes, recognize weaknesses, discover strengths, and build new relationships. But the greatest and most precious thing you can ever gain as a missionary is a relationship with the Lord you serve. It will change you in ways I cannot describe. It has changed me. I know who I am: I am a daughter of God. I know He lives and that He is always with me. I don't ever need to be lonely again because He is always there. I am calm, happy, and at peace because He lives. He is living today, and He is blessing and working miracles and taking care of you and doing more than you can ever imagine. I know He lives. And although I may not be a missionary anymore, I will never stop testifying and sharing and do everything I can to witness of Him. I know He lives. Humbly, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

The airport.

A few hours after I landed, my sister Elizabeth got home from a semester in China. Best reunion ever.
One of the happiest days of my life.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Mission: (Almost) Accomplished

December 7, 2014
Dear everyone!

T-minus one week. Crazy, isn't it? Time flies when you're in the service of the Living God.

So, in our mission, we have a crisis. This crisis is......... there are not enough sister missionaries!!!! Girls, pack your bags and put in your papers cause the Lord needs you! But actually, it's just cause all of us who came out right after the age-drop are going home now so numbers are going down. But this is kind of a little problem because that means some areas with sisters are getting closed. This means that both sisters serving in that area leave and then the elders are left to work in the area. In our zone, we're pretty sure that President is going to close an area, and we were scared that Bangeojin was one of the top candidates for getting closed. Although we'd been working hard, we hadn't been able to find a ton of investigators or teach a lot of lessons, and we really wanted to do everything we could to change that so Bangeojin's chances of getting closed are lowered. And because the work is real and God lives, we saw miracles. After struggling for a while in our area, over the past few weeks we found quite a few and we have several people we will be inviting to be baptized this week. We have appointments and lessons, and on Saturday, we were so busy, we didn't even have time for meals. It was amazing! We went from struggling to think of things to do to fill our day to struggling to find time to grab a sandwich because we had so many lessons! The Lord lives and He does this work with us. And I sure hope He doesn't close Bangeojin...

And this is the end. Today starts my last week as a missionary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Korea Busan Mission. When I started my mission in May 2013, I was convinced that I was going to die of old age before Christmas. 18 months seemed like such a long time! But now I have one week to go. I refuse to talk about the end because I know if I do, I will cry. My heart is here with the people I love and the country I've grown to cherish. I know it will be hard to leave, but it's okay because the greatest thing I've gained on my mission, the one I've grown to love the most, I will never have to leave.

As missionaries, we wear a nametag with our name and the name of the Savior. When we walk the streets, others can see our tag and know who we serve and what we stand for. We are here to serve the Savior by serving His children and inviting them to come unto Him. We teach of Him, we testify of Him, and we rejoice in Him. We seek to follow in His footsteps in serving the children of All Mighty God. When a mission ends, and a missionary is released, you take your tag off; you no longer wear the name of the Savior. As my mission has come to an end, I have grown to know how much I love the Savior and how much I cherish the privilege of bearing His name. I know He lives. He is my closest friend. Although I leave these people, I never have to leave the Savior. Although I leave the streets, I can always walk with the Savior. Although I take off my tag, His name will be forever engraved on my heart.

I love you all so very much. And see you soon!

Sister Bonney

Monday, December 1, 2014

P-day, P-day! Gotta get down on P-day! Cause all the missionaries just survived the weekend....

November 30, 2014

Dear everyone!

And it's P-day again! P-day in missionary weekend. Sort of. We have things we have to do and places we have to go but it's about as close as it gets to a weekend. The real weekend is actually one of the busiest times for missionaries cause that's when everyone else is free - off work or school - so they're on the street or free to meet us. Sunday is crazy with church and meetings and everything, so when Monday comes, we P-day hard. Sometimes. Sometimes we just email and eat food. That's cool too.

This past Thursday was Thanksgiving in America and ... just another day in Korea. Lucky me was in another area on exchanges with a kind elder somehow had gotten his hands on creamed corn, instant mashed potatoes, gravy, and some just-add-water stuffing. Excited? Heck yes! We cooked it all together and ate it with canned chicken instead of turkey. It was Thanksgiving Korean style, and we were counting our blessings.

Creeper moment of the week: So Sister Nielsen and I headed down to the northern part of our area to visit a member. This member owns a Chinese restaurant so we were planning to eat dinner there, but as soon as we got there, what did we see through the window? Our beloved elders eating delicious Chinese food chatting with the members. Awkwarddddd......... We were kind of disappointed, but we decided that God must just have a plan other than ours so we started making our way back. As we were waiting at a bus stop, a man came out of a restaurant and started talking to us. He was American, and so in our area that means you're kind of automatically friends cause there aren't that many Americans around here... We talked for a while and he seemed really nice, not weird or creepy. Then he invited out to dinner with him, which we politely turned down.... But we decided we should meet again later to talk and we got his number. Not too creepy. Until later that night in planning. He texted us and asked Sister Nielsen on a date. hahahaha I thought I was going to die laughing. But then he called us twice. We didn't pick up. The next morning, he called again, and texted two more times inviting her and then us out. We decided he didn't really have gospel interest and moved on.

This week though, we did have a neat experience on Saturday night. It was late and we only had about 30min left before we needed to head home. It was pretty cold and Sister Nielsen and I were walking when we passed a bus stop. There were three teenagers there who were laughing and joking together. We weren't quite sure how to break into their conversation so we just kept walking. But then, Sister Nielsen looked at me and asked, "Should we go back? I don't know we could talk to them though.." Then I remembered something that one of my companions had said to me before, "You never regret talking to someone." I told that to Sister Nielsen and we went back to the bus stop. We were able to just join in their conversation and it was so much fun talking to them. We got their numbers and decided to meet again. I'm so grateful that we didn't pass them by.

More and more recently, I've been thinking about conversion. A familiar quote to hear as a missionary is, "Be your own best convert". What does it truly mean to be converted? It's a hard question because it could easily just mean to change religions or to commit to follow a certain set of beliefs, but part of conversion is sacrificing what you want or desire or would choose to do what Christ would have you do. But that is just a beginning. True conversion is when the sacrifice is no longer a sacrifice - conversion is when you WANT to do what the Savior wants you to do. You would rather follow Him then do anything else. That is conversion. As I've been a witness to the miracles that the gospel of Jesus Christ works in the lives of those who choose to follow Him, I can't imagine why we would ever NOT want to follow Him. But because we're human, we do have those moments. We have those moments when we would rather say that sharp word than not, or let that person know exactly what we think than not, or think for once about yourself than take one more request for help. We have those moments when we would rather sleep than pray or instead of daily scripture study doing something that seems more enjoyable. We see doing those things that are the steps to following Christ as a plate of vegetables that we HAVE to eat in order to be healthy. Heavenly Father understands that, and so He has promised that as we choose to sacrifice those things we want in order to choose to follow the Savior, that we will strengthen our faith in Christ beyond measure and truly DESIRE to follow Him. And I testify that there is nothing that will make you happier than following Him.

As Christmas is coming closer and closer, we have a precious opportunity to ponder more on the Savior and how He was the first gift ever given. Elder Russell M. Nelson said, "Christmas is a time of reflection on what we can become because of God's sacred gift. As we discover the gift, we learn of the immeasurable love of God and our absolute need for a Savior. As we embrace the gift, we strengthen our faith in Jesus Christ, and desire to become more like Him." If there is anything that I know with certainty, it is that Christ lives. He came to earth, lived, died, and lived again so that we too can live again. Death has no sting. Sin has no lasting stain. There is no mistake, no weakness that we cannot overcome through the gift of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I know He lives, and because He lives, we will too.

I love you all so much!

Sister Bonney

NEWSFLASH!!! I finally ate dog soup!!!

November 23, 2014

Hello everyone!

I hope you're having fun getting ready for Thanksgiving!!!! Not gonna lie. I'm a little jealous. But just a little. We're living it up over here, and we're doing it well. As you may have guessed, Sister Nielsen and I ate dog soup this week. A member took us out and I'll admit I was little disappointed. I wanted something super crazy, but it was basically just meat in a soup. BUT IT WAS REAL DOG MEAT. So yeah. Living it up.

Remember the woman who ran up to us on the street last week and gave us her number? Well, her name is Sooky and she is our miracle girl. We had an appointment with her this past week, and she started asking us all these questions about missions that showed that she knew quite a bit about our church's missionaries. Turns out she has two cousins who are members and they both served missions. THEN these two cousins met and married two foreigners who were members who'd served missions in Korea. CRAZY, RIGHT? That's what we thought. She said she had English interest and she wanted to learn about what we believe. Well, we can definitely help with that. We set another appointment and Sister Nielsen and I left feeling pretty in awe. The Lord truly prepares people for the gospel.

This past week, we've been able to have more success finding new people than we've had for a long time. Investigators have been introducing their friends to us, and we've seen so many miracles with meeting people on the street and being able to set followup appointments with them. We have a lot of appointments this week and it just shows how involved the Lord is in this work.

I'm about out of time so that's it for this week! I love you all and I'm so excited to see you soon!

Sister Bonney

Faith, hope, and street contacts

November 16, 2014

Dear everyone!

I hope you're all having a great week and that you're getting excited for Thanksgiving!!!! In Korea, Thanksgiving was back in September, so we're still just trucking along. Sister Nielsen is fantastic and our elders are cool and the Lord is good, so I'm happy. We were blessed to see several miracles this week so.......

Alright! At the beginning of last week, we realized that we don't really have any investigators... Not really an uncommon occurrence though. So we started to think of what we could do to find some new potential investigators. We really had no appointments and we had no one to visit, so we were feeling a little helpless. Sister Nielsen had the idea that we fast, and so we planned to fast over the next couple days. We started our fast right after a member appointment, so we basically prayed on the street to start it.

Back track to the previous night: Sister Nielsen and I had been looking through all our records to see if there was anyone we could visit, and we found a less active man whose wife was a nonmember and either Filipino or Vietnamese, according to the record. We really felt like this was a great opportunity, so we went there with a lot of faith that she could become our new investigator.

So we start our fast and go to visit the less active/nonmember's house. And they weren't home. Surprise! Anyways, we figured that it wasn't the will of the Lord and started to put up posters for our English class and Kids English Class in that neighbor. Not even 10 minutes later, a woman came running up to us. For a moment I was afraid she was going to get after us for putting up posters (which may or may not be 100% legal... we're not quite sure...) but.... she introduced herself and asked how our English programs worked and said she had a lot of interest in that but also that she had seen us missionaries around a lot and was really wondering what we do. She said she wanted to meet us, gave us her number, and ran back to her running car, which she had stopped to chase us down. Miracle? Oh yeah. We said a grateful prayer at the next corner and oh my goodness, you guys! God is real. He is so real.

Next miracle: So we proselyted on the street as much as we could before we finished our fast and got one other contact, a high school senior boy who came to English class on Saturday. Sister Nielsen and I were trying to evaluate what we could do better and how we could be more diligent as often as we could, but we were still having a hard time finding people. The next day, (THIS is the miracle) we were out proselyting and it was late, so we were heading home. There hadn't been many people out on the street and since it's getting colder, people aren't as willing to talk to us, so we were a little down, but we were trying our best to find people to talk to. We stopped at a stoplight, and there was an older couple. We said hello and started talking to them, "Where you heading? Have you ever seen missionaries with a black nametag before?" "Yeah! We had two of your man missionaries over to our house for dinner a few times." They named two of the elders in our mission who had served here about a year ago. "We really liked them, but we got really busy so we couldn't meet. We should meet sometime!" She gave us her number and then we went our separate ways. Miracle? Oh yeah. I'm so grateful God lives. He's loves His children and He's preparing them to hear the gospel.

I know this is His work and I'm so incredibly grateful to be a part of it. I love Him so much, and I know He lives.

I love you all so much!

Sister Bonney

There are children singing all around the world....

November 9, 2014

Dear everyone!

I hope you all had a great week and are enjoying the beautiful fall colors. :) It's been beautiful in Bangeojin with the leaves changing color and the breeze off the ocean. Aaaaand enough about the weather.

Alright! This past week, we had fun. We are living it up missionary style and having the best time sharing the gospel and learning as we go. Sister Nielsen is so awesome, and I love her so much. We get along great, and she's so loving and kind. So grateful she's my companion.

This week we had our stake musical night! Our branch sang Let It Be and I got to sing a solo for our stake. It was pretty fun.^^ I mean, how many people really get to say that they sang the Beatles for 300 Koreans? Yeah. That went in the journal. We also got to sing as a zone (all of the missionaries) at the activity. We had planned to sing Come Lord Jesus from Savior Redeemer of the World and we were all pretty nervous that it wasn't going to go over too well... I had been asked to organize it all, and I was also accompanying. We all weren't too sure how it was going to turn out, but, oh my goodness, it turned out well. The sisters sang on pitch, the elders came in on time, and the Spirit was strong. It was amazing.

We also have two new investigators! They're both men and they're both foreigners (not Korean).  One of the is Rolito. He's from the Philippines and such a sincere guy. His wife and family are still in the Philippines and he's working here to support them. He's reading from the Book of Mormon and we'll see what happens! We've invited him to church a couple times, but the language barrier makes him nervous. I get that.

Our other investigator is Chula. He's from Sri Lanka and is originally the elders' investigator but since the elders don't speak English, we're teaching him now. He has such strong faith in Christ and he believes the Book of Mormon is the word of God! He has a smoking problem, but we're going to do our best to help him.

The highlight of the week was definitely the primary program on Sunday. The church is truly universal. It was the most adorable sacrament meeting ever. The kids were hilarious too. The little girls sat quietly on one side while the little boys half undressed themselves and beat on each other on the other. Even Juwon and Jubin, Sister Kim's children participated! Jubin may have started to cry when it was his part in the program, but it was adorable.

The gospel is true! So stay true to the gospel. I love you all so much!

Sister Bonney

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

And thus it begins!......For the last time...

November 3rd, 2014
Dear everyone,

Today marks the first day of my last transfer. Crazy. I kept thinking and saying, "Time goes so fast! yadda yadda yadda" But it didn't really hit home til I woke up this morning and actually felt it. We had our transfer meeting as a mission today, and I realized that at the next transfer meeting, I will be going home. I will be one of the missionaries giving their last testimony and saying goodbye. The only word to describe it is bittersweet. It's so happy and exciting and at the same time sad and heart-breaking, but missions just are that way. They come to an end. But it's not the end yet! We've still got 6 weeks to go. We're going to live it up the missionary way.^^

Sister Hurley headed off to a new area today and I came back to Bangeojin with my new companion, Sister Nielsen. She's such a sweetheart, and I'm so glad we're companions. I love her so much already, and I'm so grateful that we're companions. It's going to be a great transfer. Both our elders are Korean, and it's going to be an adventure. They're both so great, and I love serving with Koreans. They're so kind and considerate. Between the four of us, we're going to have a great time lighting up the area and getting the message of Christ out to everyone we can.

I feel recently like there's less and less to say, but I've felt more and more of the Lord's hand in my life personally these past few weeks. I've felt so much peace and a sure knowledge that this is His work and that we are merely helping Him. He chooses to work through us, and being able to feel used by the Lord is a feeling beyond description. I've gained such a testimony that the Lord knows each person individually. I know He loves each of us, and I know without a doubt that He lives. He is our Father, we are His children, and together we do His work.

I love you all so much.

Sister Bonney