Sunday, June 30, 2013

Celebrity in Action

These are pictures from the broadcast! You get to see her twice within the first five minutes(:

A Week in the Life of a Mormon Celebrity

June 28, 2013

Dear Mom, Dad, Elder Bonney, Elizabeth, Benjamin, Andrew, Eve, James, Miriam, Anna, Joseph, Rebekah, Abigail, Esther, Peter, and everybody else!
(Phew! I always feel like a champ when I finish that...)
Alright. For the past few weeks, the MTC was going crazy with rumors about this special broadcast on June 23rd. First, the prophet was going to be there. Then, rumor had it the PROPHET AND THE TWELVE were going to be there. And then cynics started talking about how it wasn't really as big as everyone thought it was going to be. Well, the 23rd came and there were all these new rules about what we had to wear and where we were allowed to go and all those lovely parts of our lives that are strictly regulated. And then it began. June 23rd, 9am. The classroom at the end of the hall was going crazy. They were all standing on chairs looking out their basement window. The sisters (us) investigated. ELDER HOLLAND WAS STANDING RIGHT OUTSIDE THE WINDOW!!!!! AHHH!!!!! THEN President Packer was wheeled out of a van into the main building. OH MY GOSH! We were so close. SO CLOSE! The rest of the day, we were so excited for the broadcast.
The broadcast was incredible. There were 11 of the 12 apostles present, and both President Packer and President Monson joined us via video feed. The whole thing was broadcast worldwide and the Washington DC North Mission (our home mission!!!) was also present via satellite video feed to represent all the missions of the Church. AND I WAS TOTALLY IN THE BROADCAST! Totally Mormon famous. And I was in it like 3 times. Aw yeah. Okay. Confession: I really wanted to be in the video. Just cause I did. Just cause. So I might have prayed a selfish little prayer to be in it. Maybe. Just maybe. And IT WAS ANSWERED! Testimony of prayer status? Strengthened. Cause I was totally in it. And I'm still really excited about it. And I might be forever.
(You can still watch the broadcast on I'm in Hark All Ye Nations and in Elder Holland's introduction cause they flash back to the choir.)
But the broadcast was more than just a film debut for thousands of missionaries. It was a powerful call to serve for members throughout the world. The work is going forward and with as many missionaries as have chosen to serve (70,274 as of last week! And then 890 reported to just the Provo MTC since then!) missionaries and members must be united. It was so inspiring to hear the words of the prophet and apostles, and I know they are men of God! I encourage you all to watch the broadcast. It completely renewed my desire to serve, and there is never a time that the prophet and apostles will speak to us that the Spirit will not.
Aaaand here's the Korean tidbit for the week: Konglish. Korean has a strong English influence. Going through my missionary vocabulary book, I started looking at random words. I decided to sound out the Korean word for "chapstick": "chap-suh-tik." Oh. Duh. hahaha Lipstick (lip-uh-stik), fried chicken (huh-rye-ed-chi-kin), hairspray (har-uh-spuh-ray-ee), and ward (wah-duh) are all Konglish words. Just say it with a Korean accent and they'll understand you. Lucky for us! Until we're in the middle of a lesson frantically looking up the word "internet" to explain where we can read the words of the living prophet, Thomas S. Monson, we sound it out and it's... wait for it.... "in-ter-net-uh". Whoop! There is it. I love Konglish words. :) I think they're hilarious. It always makes my day a little brighter when I find one.
Teaching is going so well!!!!!! Our lessons have gotten smoother and smoother. I've found that when I study Korean for my investigators instead of myself, I learn so much more. Yesterday, we taught a lesson to Sister Huang about prophets and we only had to look up one word! (Internet. Yup. That happened.) We practiced really hard so that we would be able to better teach together instead of just teaching our separate portions of the lesson, and as the Korean saying goes, our efforts did not betray us. I have a incredibly difficult time understanding Korean, but I actually speak it pretty well! But during our lesson, through the Spirit, all our abilities were magnified and I was able to speak that which the Spirit impressed me to, and I only had to ask Sister Huang to repeat herself once! I was even able to use scriptures to answer her questions. And we cannot read the scriptures in Korean. Even Koreans have a hard time with that. And they're Asian. I'm an American white girl. No way am I able to read those, so that was a big deal.
Everytime we teach, I feel the Lord working with us. I love teaching so much because that is when I feel closest to the Spirit and I can feel Heavenly Father working through me despite my many inadequacies. This work is a work of salvation. This work is the Lord's work. He serves with us, and I'm an inexpressively grateful for His love and patience with us. I could not be learning Korean without Him enlightening my mind. I could not be teaching lessons without Him guiding my words. I could not be a good companion without Him helping me see others as He does. I could not be serving this mission without Him at my side. I know Heavenly Father loves us. I know that if we only ask in faith, that He will answer our prayers and use us as instruments in His hands. I have felt Him use me, and I have witnessed Him use others. This is His work. And He will not let us fail. I could not be more grateful to be serving a mission, and I know that no matter whether we are missionaries or not, He will guide us and care for us if we trust Him. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
I love you all so much!
Sister Bonney
PS Thank you all so much for your letters! 

Hi. I'm Sister Bonney. I have a laughing problem.

June 21, 2013

Dear Mom, Dad, Elder Bonney, Elizabeth, Benjamin, Andrew, Eve, James, Miriam, Anna, Joseph, Rebekah, Abigail, Esther, Peter, and everybody else!
Alright. I have a laughing problem. The first two weeks here were actually pretty tough. And then I got bronchitis. Ain't nobody got time for that!! BUT through a lot of prayer, I'm finally almost better and my energy levels are THROUGH THE ROOF! Not complaining about that! Also, I'm so happy. Like all the time. Energy plus being really happy means I'm back to laughing at everything. Like everything. Example: Korean hymns are hilarious. You're trying to sing this super spiritual song about how the Savior lives and all that and you're singing "na-ga-koo-goo-soo-noo" or something like that. I have a really hard time keeping a straight face during hymns. They just sound so funny! Adding in the fact that our elders love to sing too high or too low just makes it almost impossible to seriously sing the hymns without cracking up. Sacrament meetings in Korea are going to be tough for me. Sister Harris has diagnosed me with a laughing problem. But I could probably make a list of about 97 worse problems! Would you rather have ingrown toenails or a laughing problem? Would you rather have premature balding or a laughing problem? Yeah. Thought so. Anyways, our trials come in all forms.
Before my mission, all Asian languages sounded the same to me. Actually, they kind of still do. But I thought I would share a few interesting things about Korean!
1. The alphabet is phonetic. We just had to learn what each letter meant and we were able to learn how to read. Tough, but doable. And we're actually getting pretty good.
2. There are no articles in Korean. We don't have any "Is the chair a girl or a boy?" nonsense.
3. There is only one ending for each conjugation. There is one present conjugation ending. There is one past conjugation ending. We don't have to worry about whether our subject is plural or singular or anything because it's all the same.
4. Korean is spoken basically inside out compared to English. "The Book of Mormon teaches that Jesus Christ is our Savior" turns into "Mormon's Book Jesus Christ our Savior is that teaches." It's sounds a lot harder than it is, but it does mean it takes a lot longer for us to figure out what we want to say. Makes you grateful the Lord's on your side.
5. If your sentence is only one word, you have to end it with "yo". "Where are you going?" "Cafeteria, yo." No problem using that grammar principle.
We have two baptismal commitments already this week! They're just our teachers pretending to be investigators, but the lessons seem so real, and our joy is definitely real when we are finally able to help them begin building a relationship with their Heavenly Father. Sister Huang committed last Saturday. We've been teaching her how through righteousness, we can be blessed with eternal families, something I am blessed to have a strong testimony of. Since then, we've taught her about the Restoration and the Book of Mormon, and our lesson went so well! Our Korean was fairly fluent, and we were able to answer all of her questions without her repeating any of them! (Usually we just look at her hopelessly and she gets the idea.)
Brother Yoo was tougher. And he falls asleep in everybody's lessons! It was making me so mad because we put a TON of effort into our lessons: finding scriptures, learning the vocabulary words, and practicing teaching without sounding like a 2 year old with a speech problem. It was our third lesson with him, and we had already challenged him to baptism in our first lesson, but he said no because he had already been baptized when he was a baby. Dang it. Okay. Third lesson we brought up the b-word again. (And I do mean "baptism". Come on. We're missionaries.) We decided to start off with faith and repentance to help him understand why baptism was necessary. A little into the lesson, he started to fall asleep. His eyes were rolling back and his head was nodding, and I was in a really good mood so instead of getting frustrated, I just thought it was hilarious. Whoops! I was TRYING to teach about repentance, and I just started laughing so hard IN THE MIDDLE OF OUR LESSON. Alright. Laughing problem level 64216. My family knows that there's this special problem that Esther, sometimes, Rebekah, and I have where when we think something's REALLY funny for no reason at all, we just start laughing and cannot stop. Like thoughts of dying puppies and lost family members don't even help. Yeah. That happened. While I was trying to teach. Poor Sister Harris had to take over, and I just kept trying to stop laughing. Finally, I was apologizing to Sister Harris and Brother Yoo IN ENGLISH and asked if we could go into the hall for a minute. When we got in the hall, Sister Harris asked, "Are you okay?! What is going on?!" I got a drink and said a silent prayer that I would be able to control myself for the remainder of the lesson. It worked because we were able to go back in and finish the lesson. The rest of the lesson was actually really amazing. I don't know if I was in a really good place from laughing so much or what, but I was able to explain myself without looking up any vocabulary words. Finally, we asked THE QUESTION. And he said no. We answered more questions and he said no again. We answered MORE questions and he said no AGAIN. GAH! And then I looked at him and words came to me that were not mine: "I promise that you will want baptism. I promise that through prayer you will know the truth. I promise through this truth you will have happiness." And then I bore my testimony. As simple as it was, I could feel Heavenly Father helping me and the power that comes from the gospel. I had NEVER studied the verb for "to promise" but for some reason, I knew it. I hadn't mastered that sentence structure, but I used it perfectly. The Spirit was so strong! I know the Lord serves with His missionaries. When Brother Kim (our teacher who pretends to be Brother Yoo...) gave us feedback about our lesson, he said that our testimonies were so powerful at the end that we could have asked again and he would have said yes. Seriously?! What the heck. Anyway, our last lesson with him was really smooth and we were able to get him to commit.
Teaching is such an amazing experience. The feeling that comes from sharing your testimony regularly even in a foreign language is so poweful! The joy you feel when you are able to help another person understand that Heavenly Father loves them and has blessed us with this gospel because He wants us to be happy is something I don't think I'll even be able to give up. I'm so grateful to have 18 months to share and teach this gospel! I know it's true! I know Heavenly Father lives! And I know He knows us personally. He never forgets us.
I love you all so so so much!
Sister Bonney

Monday, June 10, 2013

Teenage Servants of the Lord and the Hippo God

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!
Sister Bonney

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!

Welcome to Missionary Boot Camp.

May 31, 2013

Dear Mom, Dad, John, Elizabeth, Benjamin, Andrew, Eve, James, Miriam, Anna, Joseph, Rebekah, Abigail, Esther, Peter, and everybody else,
Welcome to Missionary Boot Camp, where the Spirit is strong, everyone's dressed well, and the food is not as good as it looks. I'm only on my third day and it already feels like I've lived here forever! I love it though.
A few things about the MTC: Nobody knows anybody's first name! It as if they took away your identity and gave a new and improved one. I am no longer just 'Sarah'; I'm Sister Bonney (or Bonney ja-mae -- I can't type Korean on this keyboard or I would!), minister of Christ and missionary of his living gospel! Definitely an upgrade. Also, the food here is definitely cafeteria food. I was definitely spoiled the last couple years able to make my own meals and eat at home. But it means I eat healthy! Lots of fruit and salad. I'm defintely not worried about getting out of shape here. (Even though one elder recently gained 38 pounds before he left!!! Oh my gosh!!!!) And gym time is definitely a gift. We get an hour five times a week, and you can do just about anything! There are free weights, cardio machines, a gym for inside sports, and an outside field. Tomorrow, our district's playing 4-square, and everyone's very excited. Super intense, I know. But we get entertainment where we can, and we have an awesome district. Here are few of the missionaries in our district I've gotten to know.
Sister Harris is my companion, and I couldn't have asked for a more perfect match. We balance eachother really well: she's more quiet and calm whereas I'm...not. It works! And I have a feeling we're going to teach really well together. She's actually a lot like my old roommate, Erin, which is probably why I get along so well with her. Personally, I think we're one of the more cohesive sister companionships in our zone. By the end of our time together, we'll be tight like unto a dish.
Elder Han is our district leader and definitely one of the kindest people I've met here. He's Korean, but grew up in the US, so he understands a lot, but can't speak very much. He's a huge help to us in class when body language fails to make up for our Korean.He's going to Australia Sydney South, Korean-speaking. His companion's also going to Australia. His name is Elder Clark, and he's just genuinely nice. He's getting discouraged with the language, but Elder Han is working with him and he's improving all the time. I'm so glad they're companions!
Elder Jackson is really friendly, and he's always smiling, unless he's in the cafeteria, which is understandable. He's going to Busan as well. Elder Jackson's companion is Elder Wilson. Elder Wilson's big as a house! He's about 6ft 5in and solid! He DEFINITELY played football in high school, which he just graduated from last week. The poor elder still hasn't lost his deer-in-the-headlights look. He tries hard in class though, and I can tell he's feel more confident as his Korean improves.
Elder Blake is also really friendly and a very hard worker. He and his companion, Elder Sorenson, study Korean all the time, and I'm sure they will be blessed for their dedication. They're going to California Arcadia.
We met our branch presidency last night, and they are wonderful! One of the counselors is Bro. Lee. He's a native Korean, and his wife was there too. Interesting story: First, in my setting apart, I was told that the Korean people would we especially drawn to me because I come from such a large family. At the time, I thought, Well, that's pretty neat. Well, it's already proving to be true! As part of our introductions as the new missionaries, we were asked to say how many children were in our family and what number we were. Of course, my answer got the usual gasps and scattered "Your poor mother!"s. I didn't really think much of it, until Sis. Lee and the branch president's wife came around our residence hall after the meeting. They stopped by our room and Sister Lee remembered and recognized me out of the 104 new Korean-speaking missionaries in the meeting. In broken English and a light in her eyes, she cried, "Fourteen children! Amazing! Amazing! Beautiful! Beautiful!" I was so honored and humbled to recognize that that portion of my blessing was already becoming part of my missionary experience with the Korean people.
Korean is going so well! I'm already writing without looking at my Hangul charts and speaking without looking and the Romanized pronunciation. I thought I would be freaking out since our teacher speaks Korean about 98% of the time, but I'm really not. I'm so grateful one of the lessons I learned from this past year was how not to stress. My feeling is, there has never been a faithful, hard working missionary who has come out of their mission NOT knowing the language. Heavenly Father sent us here so we could teach His children and He has not me up to fail. As long as I have faith that He will help me, I'm going to be just fine. And on that note, Sister Harris and I teach our first investigator tonight! His name is Kim Young Joon. He's just a teacher playing a role, but I'm still excited. And very grateful that his salvation isn't actually in our very inexperienced hands. Sister Harris and I worked together this morning to prepare our lesson, which I'm actually feeling pretty good about. It will be very simple because all we can do is introduce ourselves and bear our testimonies, but isn't the gospel simple? Heavenly Father loves us. He blesses us because he loves us. He blesses us through His Son Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is our Savior. We must follow him. If you can help an investigator to that truth, you have the core of the gospel! I know Heavenly Father lives! I know the Savior lives! I know that He loves with a deeply personal love and that He loves the people of Korea. That is why he has sent 100s of missionaries to them! It's only day 3 and I'm already excited to be out teaching the people. I know that they are a chosen people and that my love for them will only grow stronger. I pray I will be able to help even one of them come unto Christ. The gospel is true! And I know it with all my heart.
I love you all so so much!
Sister Bonney
PS PLEASE WRITE TO ME! And please respond with! PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE! That way I get your response before next Friday and I could write you a personal letter and write more! Yay!