Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Returned from the northlands....

May 19, 2014
Dear everyone!!!!

Guess what. I got transfered!!! After 6 months way up north 
​in Gumi, I'm right back in Busan. And what's even cooler is I'm right next door to my first area and right next door to the mission home. It's the same district I was in my first three transfers actually! All I've got to say is, it's good to be back. :)

My new companion is Sister Yoon. She's Korean, and FABULOUS. I'm so glad we're companions. We've only been together a few hours and we're already having a blast together. She's a great example of obedience and positivity, and she's so loving. We speak only Korean, but that doesn't bother me at all anymore. How's that for progress. :) It's going to be a good transfer. I'm really excited, actually.

Yesterday was my last Sunday in Gumi, and, as a missionary, you never really realize how much you're loved until you're leaving. After spending 6 months with the members there, getting to know and love them, helping them as best we could, and just being able to be with them, it was hard to leave. And the members in Gumi gave me more love than I could ever return. Because they were so naturally willing to serve and to love me, Heavenly Father answered so many of my prayers through them. Whenever I was having a rough time or felt lonely or just felt like I was too weak or imperfect, the members, through their unconditional love, just made it all worth it. I never could have believed that I could love these people this much or that I could recieve so much love. Language, culture, country - None of it matters at all. As cheesy as it sounds, love really conquers all.

As much as I loved and will always love Gumi, I'm grateful for a fresh start. When I started in Gumi, I had just finished my training and was still finding my way around missionary work. I'm now in my 8th transfer and I feel confident with the language. Busan people have a strong dialect, but I can understand it know! 6 months does a lot for language progress... I'm ready to get working wither Sister Yoon and we're getting ready to see some miracles. It's going to be a really good transfer. :)

I love you all! I know this work is real. I love my Heavenly Father and I know He lives. He loves us more than we will ever understand in this life, and I'm so grateful for Him and how much He manifests that love to us in countless ways every single day of our lives. I know this gospel is true, and I know that through this gospel, through JESUS CHRIST we can be happier than we could ever imagine. I'm so grateful for the PRIVILEGE of sharing that with everyone I can. This is the greatest work on earth, and I'm so grateful to be a part of it.

I love you all so much!

Sister Bonney

This picture from my last Sunday in Gumi! Our young men, single adults, Sister Kim (who was baptized last month), Sister Yum, and me. <3 <3

Just another picture:) Us with our young men/single adults

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Go suffer!!

May 12, 2014
Dear everyone!

I hope you suffered this week! Actually, I don't. BUT that's a common expression in Korean. "Go suffer!" "You suffered well!" "We really suffered this week.." The feeling is "work hard", but the closest translation in English is..."to suffer". Koreans use it all the time! So, I hope you suffered this week! Not really, but you know what I mean... :)

I honestly can't believe it's already P-Day. The weeks just get faster and faster. Don't get distracted or your mission will be over before you know it!

A few miracles from this week!

On Sunday night, we visited a less active couple an hour outside of Gumi. They're American military, and they've had a hard time with the church for various reasons. I love them a lot. They're very funny and loving, but they're definitely pineapples - kind of rough and tough on the outside, but if you look a little deeper, they're pretty sweet after all. Anyway, for some reason on Sunday, it was a rough visit. They didn't want to talk to us and when we tried to share our message, it was... hard. They really didn't want to think about the gospel at all that night, and they just really didn't want to talk to us. We left, and I was kind of disheartened. A few days later, the elders visited them. Miraculously, without any of us discussing it, the elders shared almost the exact same message we had shared on Sunday, and this couple's hearts were changed. They were able to make some big spiritual progress through the Spirit, and they sent us a text later inviting us back again soon.

Do you remember Brother Choi? He was baptized back in January with his daughter, and he's now our ward missionary! His wife is now interested in the gospel. We were able to meet with her and her family yesterday, and we were able to share about who Heavenly Father is and a little about the Plan of Salvation. We weren't really sure how she'd accept it, but she was so happy to hear our message and talked about how impressed she was at how the gospel had changed her husband - He quit smoking and drinking in two weeks, and she said he rarely gets angry anymore. She only has time with her family on Sundays because of her schedule, but she said we could come back whenever we had time to teach her. We're planning to invite her to baptism this week.

We also met with a new investigator named Jin. She only speaks to us in English, but she said her interests were in the gospel. We started teaching her about the gospel, but it was really hard to focus on one subject with her because she wanted to talk about EVERYTHING. The news, culture, food, her hometown, missionary work, why we wear skirts everyday, her baby's new haircut, her mother-in-law, EVERYTHING. We weren't quite sure how to guide the conversation, and this last lesson, we had planned to invite her a little more specifically to have the missionary lessons. But when we met, she had recently had a lot of problems in her family. She wasn't sure what to do and she wanted our advice, but we didn't know what to say either, so we tried to help her find her own answers. As we shared a Book of Mormon story and tried to help her relate to it, she did find her answers. Ideas came to her mind that were from the Spirit and we were able to help her realize that those ideas were an answer from Heavenly Father. She was so happy!!! "You mean I can ask Heavenly Father about my problems and questions and He'll answer me?" She was so excited and grateful to have a relationship with Heavenly Father.

I'm so grateful to be a missionary and to have the opportunity to see how much Heavenly Father is caring for His children. Every single one of these miracles is a testimony to Heavenly Father's love for those people and there are so many more that we've seen. I know Heavenly Father lives and loves us so very dearly. And because He loves us, we can ask Him anything. And He will always answer us.

I love you all so much!

Sister Bonney

Here's a picture from P-Day last week! We climbed Geumosan and this beautiful Buddhist shrine was decorated for Buddha's birthday. :)

Happy Children's Day!!!

May 5, 2014
Dear everyone!

Today is Children's Day in Korea, and it's a big deal. When I found out that Koreans don't celebrate Christmas or Thanksgiving or Easter, I wondered what they did celebrate. Well, among other things, they celebrate Children's Day. So we climbed a mountain today with our district and some of our members. (In Korean, there is no word for 'hiking'. You literally say you 'climb a mountain'.) We climbed Geumosan and it was beautiful. Amazingly beautiful and exactly the dream landscape I thought Korea would be. There were old pagodas from ancient Buddhist monks and silk worms EVERYWHERE. There was a small Buddhist temple with colorful paper lanterns hanging for Buddha's birthday (which they also celebrate - this Tuesday). We climbed higher and found a beautiful waterfall. The mountain got steeper and there were ropes to pull yourself up the ledges, but we kept going and found a natural cave with a Buddhist shrine. It was by far the coolest thing I've seen in Korea.

Since Sister Yum and I are the sister training leaders, we've been going on exchanges with the other sister missionaries in our zone. This past week, on exchange, I and another American sister worked in Gumi, and I realized how blessed I've been with the language. On exchanges, I'm always a little worried if I'm with an American because my whole mission, I've been able to rely on my Korean companions if I couldn't understand something or teach something well. Also, the sister I was with could not speak or understand well, so I knew the Korean part was mostly going to fall on me. BUT this past exchange, we visited a less active couple and met with an investigator. The less active couple were in their 70s, and older people are SO hard to understand in Korean, BUT when we went, I could understand almost everything and we were able to share our message and have a fun, sincere conversation with them. When we met with our investigator, I had no trouble expressing anything or understanding any of her questions. We were able to teach simply and clearly, and the Spirit was strong. To me, it was a huge miracle. When Sister Yum and I got back together after the exchange, I realized that speaking in Korean all the time really isn't difficult anymore. As I thought about how that had changed SIGNIFICANTLY from the first week of the transfer, Heavenly Father taught me something:

For various reasons, the first half of the transfer was really difficult for me. But instead of taking me out of the difficult situations, Heavenly Father helped me grow stronger in those situations instead. In that way, Heavenly Father used trials to increase my ability, but the trick was, I had to work with Him. I recently came across a quote that said, "Two men can do anything, as long as one of them is the Lord." It's true. I testify that that is true. We can do anything with the Lord's help, especially if it's His work. If you are in a hard place, it's because Heavenly Father knows your potential and you can't reach it unless you're given an opportunity to stretch. So because He loves us, He gives us those opportunities to stretch even if they are hard or uncomfortable or sometimes a little painful. Trials are a great blessing, and I'm so grateful I to have been reminded of that this transfer. I know this is the work of the Lord, and I know that He loves us. I know that He works miracles for us everyday, and that if we truly desire to see them, we will. I know He lives. And I'm so grateful to be able to be a missionary.

I love you all so much!

Sister Bonney

A Buddhist monk, a nun, and the Mormon missionaries get on a bus...

April 28, 2014

Dear everyone!

I can hardly believe it's P-Day already. Time seriously flies as a missionary. Don't blink! You'll be transfered before you know it.

Okay! This week we have some "Only in Korea" moments.

- For dinner the other day, my Korean companion ate fried rice and ... bondegghi. What is bondegghi? Excellent question. Silkworm cacoons boiled in their own bodily juices. YUM. And yes. My companion's name is Sister Yum.
- There are nuns in Korea. There are also Buddhist monks. And if you hadn't caught on yet, there are also Mormon missionaries. All we need is a rabbi and you've got yourself a joke.
- Yesterday, my comp and I were waiting to cross the street and this old guy pulled up on his bike right next to us. On the back of his bike was a huge crate of ... dripping dead fish. (This kind of thing is not uncommon...) From the country that brought you Samsung! ^^
- Speaking of Samsung, everyone in Korea over the age of 6 has a cellphone. And if you don't have a smart phone, you're either ancient or you're not 6 yet. And most of the primary kids have a smart phone. Yesterday before church, one of the young men brought out a bucket and made all the primary kids put their phones in it until sacrament meeting was over. It was actually really funny. The primary kids were not very happy about it. ^^
- The ship tragedy. If you have access to the news, you've probably heard about the ship  sinking with all the high schoolers on a trip to Jeju Island. That's in our mission. It's a huge tragedy in the area. Everytime we talk to someone, the conversation always comes back to that. It's hurt a lot of people over here.
- On a happier note, we visited our bishop's house last night and got to spend some time with him, his wife, and their two sons. Their oldest son is 15 years old, and he really REALLY likes America. He also LOVES American things. So he asks me, "Do you know pibble?" "Pibble... You mean people?" (This is in Korean..Korean English pronunciation is always fun to figure out..^^) "No! Pibble! P-I-T-B-U-L-L." I almost died laughing. "Of course, I know Pitbull!" He spent a good 20 minutes talking about what American music I like. He likes Pitbull, Linkin Park, Glee, Bobby Ray, and Kanye West among a lot of others. It was one of the funniest and most memorable member appointments I've ever been too. And needless to say, we're pretty good friends now. ;)

On a more spiritual note, I want to testify that when you do the Lord's work, He does not make you do it alone. He ALWAYS goes with you. This transfer has been one of the harder parts of my mission, and for various reasons, I was getting pretty discouraged and lonely. But I knew that part of faith is carrying on happily and with a brightness of hope no matter what you may face, so I tried to work that way. This past week, Heavenly Father answered so many of my unspoken prayers for comfort. The Gumi members are so amazing. On Saturday, we had a meal at one of our member family's houses, and they show us so much love. They are so kind, and they really just treat us like good friends. It was so comforting just to feel that love. Later, we were with some of our single adults, and one of them just decided to buy us ice cream while another one, Sister Yoon, and I just had a conversation as good friends, not as missionary and member. Yesterday at church, Brother Moon, our ward mission leader and another single adult, and I just joked around yesterday after church, and it was so good to just feel like a part of the ward. Later, at the bishop's house, I could just feel how much they loved me. I can't explain the feeling but it was wonderful, and I know that Heavenly Father chose to answer my prayers through them. I'm so grateful to be able to be in Gumi. I'm so grateful for the members here, and not just as the members, but as individuals. Each one of them is special, and I'm so grateful to Heavenly Father that He allowed me to come to know that. I love them each so much, and I know Heavenly Father feels that way about each of us. I know that He knows us personally and that He always hears our prayers and that He will always answer them. Sometimes we do have to wait, but He will always answer because He is our Father and because He loves us with a perfect love that we cannot even begin to imagine. I know this gospel is true with all my heart.

I love you all so much!

Sister Bonney

"Baptism sounds really nice!"

April 21, 2014
Dear everyone!

I hope you all had a good Easter! On St. Patrick's Day, I had to explain to my companion what a leprechaun is. This past Easter, I had to explain what the Easter Bunny is. Goodness gracious. Mother's Day is next. Glad I don't have to explain that one! :)

This week went by so quickly. Sister Yum and I have been really busy, and we've been able to make a lot of appointments recently. We're actually over two areas, and we've recently found a few investigators in the other area, so the commute's kept us pretty strapped for time, which is GREAT. Busy missionaries are happy missionaries. We've been able to visit a lot of members recently too, and I'm so grateful for our members. I love them so much, and I'm so glad I've been able to spend 4 transfers with them. Every time we visit a family, we ask them how they've been able to share the gospel recently, and our members are doing wonderfully. We couldn't be seeing as much success or as many miracles as we do here without them. They strengthen our recent converts, help us contact less actives, and befriend our investigators all while just sharing on their own. I love them so much!

This past week, we were finally able to meet Sister Lee! (The one a while back who had a baby...) We hadn't been able to meet her since she had her baby, but we met her last week and it was awesome.  When we first saw her, I almost didn't recognize her! She looked so different! But I guess that's what happens when you have a baby. :) Anyways, she still has the desire to get baptized, and she still feels really good about the gospel. We just have to help her get to church! She's so amazing. I love her a lot.

We also met Jin this week. She's my new English speaking friend. :) She only speaks English to me, and she's really good. She met the missionaries years ago and her number had been in our phone when she randomly called us a couple weeks ago. She said she wanted to meet, and she wanted to study the Bible and the Book of Mormon (!!!) in English with us. She had both in Korean, but she wanted to study with us to understand more. We read Matthew 3 together for our first meeting, and she had no idea what baptism was or what repentance was. We explained, and she said, "Baptism sounds really nice! I want to be clean like that. That's something I'd like to do someday." Needless to say, Sister Yum and I were both pretty excited. She still has a ways to go, but we already met her twice last week, and it looks like we're going to be meeting on a weekly basis. I'm really excited. Jin is such a sweetheart, and I already love her.

I'm so grateful to be a missionary. There's seriously nothing that can make you happier. I know this is Heavenly Father's work, and I know He lives.

I love you all so much!

Sister Bonney

Here's a picture from a while back at a Buddhist temple we went to. Selfie with Buddha! ;)


April 14, 2014
Dear everyone!
This past week.... Well, let's just say it hasn't been one of the easier weeks of my mission. A lot of great things are still happening though!
Sister Yum and I are trucking along. It's 99% Korean, and it looks like things are going to stay that way. Sister Yum is totally opposite from my last companion, and it's been a little hard to make the switch. Sister Park and I spent 3 transfers together! We were the dream team! But Sister Yum is a great missionary. She's knows how to follow the Spirit, and I'm grateful that we get to teach together. This transfer, Sister Yum and I have actually been called to be the sister training leaders for our zone. That means that we work with the zone leaders to help and train the sisters in the ways the zone leaders can't. We'll be going on a lot of exchanges, and I'm so excited to be able to learn from all the wonderful sisters in our zone. I'm so grateful that we get to work more with them, and I'm really glad for more opportunities to help the other sisters.
This week, we watched General Conference, but since there were no other English-speaking sisters, I ended up watching it in Korean. To be honest, on Saturday, I was really disappointed. General Conference is like Christmas for a missionary, but it actually turned out okay. Last General Conference, I was still training and I barely caught parts of the opening and closing prayers. Forget understanding the talks. But THIS TIME I understood probably about 60% and I actually got a lot more out of it than I thought I would. By Sunday, I could understand about 75-80% and I was really getting a lot out of the talks. I'm still really really really excited to get copies of the talks in English BUT it was okay. Needless to say, I'm learning a lot of Korean...
I also learned something kind of profound...During the first session of General Conference, I was really struggling. I was really upset about my situation: Unless we're with other missionaries (which is really rare...), if I speak English, there are only two people who understand me: myself and Heavenly Father. And I was really really upset that I couldn't understand conference. But as I watched conference, Heavenly Father taught me something I needed to learn: Happiness is always a choice. No matter your situation or your challenges or anything, it is your choice to either seek out your blessings or to dwell on your challenges. Not matter what, you have the choice to be positive or negative. You have the choice to smile and be kind no matter what. As I thought about that as I watched conference, a peace came over me that only the Spirit can bring. I know that Heavenly Father gives us challenges to teach us and to help us grow. It's really hard sometimes to face those challenges, but as we face them with a bright smile and make the Savior and His gospel the foundation of our lives, we can have joy and peace that are stronger than anything the world can throw at us. Even in the hardest of time, we can have peace and know that because Christ overcame the world, we can overcome as well and, one day, we can be like Him. I'm so grateful for that knowledge, and I know that Christ lives.
I love you all so much!
Sister Bonney
Here's a picture from Sister Kim's baptism!!!! Love you all!