Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Baptism by fire...

September 28th, 2014
Dear everyone!

Once again, in the land of paradise, Sister Hurley and I have spent a glorious week converting everyone as the beautiful sister missionaries of Bangeojin. The men flock to us and refer their friends, and we've run out of Books of Mormon for the third time this week.

Um..... Excuse me? That's not real. In case you were wondering. Sister missionaries have beautiful spirits, but.... um..... hiking up hills everyday doesn't do much for your image. Neither does the humidity. Just cause it's almost October doesn't mean it's fall. Jeez. This is Korea! The weather has a mind of it's own. So, we're still sweating.

But we did have a baptism this week. Sister Kim was baptized on Friday night, and it was wonderful. It was mildly adventerous though. No matter how many baptisms we have in Bangeojin, we can never seem to figure out how to turn on the boiler so we can have hot water in the font. Well, after an hour of running around the church with the elders trying to figure it out, we finally got it on. We'd filled the font half way up with cold water, so we figured that if we turned on only hot water for the rest that would be a good idea. It's incredible God trusts people our age with things like this. I wouldn't. We left the hot water on and ran out to grab dinner. 20 minutes later we get a call from a member who'd showed up super early. "Um... The font is full....And the hot water is definitely working...." Yeah. The room with the font felt like a sauna. We could've cooked ramen in that water. We did our best to put in more cold water and balance it out, but sometimes your best just isn't enough, you know? Well, "I think I just burned her face off" are not words you expect to hear from the elder who just baptized your investigator. But it all turned okay and she didn't mention the temperature of the font later, which I'm going to take as a good thing. Some things don't need to be remembered...

But despite all that, it was a beautiful baptismal service and Sister Kim felt the Spirit. It was really wonderful to see all the members who had helped her as well. She and we couldn't have done it without them. Later that night after we'd all gone home, Sister Kim texted us: "Thank you for leading me onto the right path. Today was wonderful." It's moments like these that words can't describe the feelings in your heart.

We've had so many other miracles this week, but since I'm out of time for today, stayed tuned for next week! Remember, (literally) heaven only knows can happen when you put two white girls together in Korea.

The Lord lives and He's at the head of this work. Gah! I love missionary work!

I love you all so much!

Sister Bonney

PS The awkward moment when you run into a Croatian man only to have him ask how many wives you can have in our church. "Just one!" "Aw..You disappoint me! I was thinking about changing religions.." It's moments like this that you know the Lord has a sense of humor.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Life-changing texts..^^

                                                                                                                                      September 15, 2014
Dear everyone!

I only have 5 minutes left in P-Day. Bum bum BUM... Well, it's a long story... So I will get to the most important part of the week.

Most of this week was incredibly difficult for various reasons I have no time to explain. BUT we had an AMAZING mission conference on Friday and we got to hear from Elder Aoiyaggi and his adorable wife as well as our mission president and his wife. It was an amazing experience. We've been working so hard to try to find people to teach and ways to help Bangeojin progress and our one progressing investigator, Sister Kim, had actually said "not yet" to our baptismal invite the week before, so we were feeling pretty down about life. Mission tour gave us a lot of answers we were seeking and a lot of counsel that we needed.

After mission tour (same day): 

A man called us. We had met him on a bus and he wanted to meet and talk with us again. We have an appointment with him on Tuesday.

We met a girl on the street who we now have an appointment with for Friday to talk about the gospel. New investigator? I say miracle.

At 11pm, Sister Hurley and I got a text on our phone. Who was it from? Sister Kim. What did it say? She wants to be baptized by the end of September. I've never been so happy at 11pm before in my life. It was incredible.

Gotta go! The Lord lives! Love you all so much!

Sister Bonney

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Love in the Mission Field?

Dear everyone!                                                                                                               September 9, 2014

Heaven only knew what crazy things could happen when you put two white girls together in Korea. Well, here are the most memorable moments from this week:

- An older guy texted us asking about our English class! And then proceeded to text "I'm afraid I can't attend this week. But I am excited to meet my future spouse. One of both Bonney or Hurley will be mine." And later "I am wondering about Bonney and also Hurley. Will you send your pictures?" The elders wisely informed us that texting him back would be a bad idea.

 - Ran into a group of drunk American guys. Yup. SO grateful to be serving in Korea where even the drunk men are kind.

 - And on the subject of drunk men, we have a friend. His name is Dr. Yang. He has three dogs and he hangs out on the corner by the church on his laptop. We usually say hi to him. The other day, he was especially excited to see us and he wouldn't let us leave. I offered him an English flier inviting him to our class as a way out, but he grabbed my hand and kissed it. Wow. He wouldn't let go until we gave him our shoe sizes.... We saw him later that night just chilling outside with a samuri sword. God bless his heart.

 - We were also given free beer by our landlord. When we explained that we don't drink it because we're missionaries, he says, "That's okay! I don't drink it either cause I drive." He still gave us the beer. We didn't drink it... 

And now on to the important things:

Before my mission, I'd never really thought too much about the Atonement. I also knew that it was for forgiveness and we needed it to return to Heavenly Father, but I never really understood how to apply it to myself. Throughout my mission, Heavenly Father has taught me more and more about this precious gift. And this week, I learned a little more.

This week, I was beginning to feel so burdened down with so much that I felt I couldn't do. I felt so weak and that there was so much I was doing wrong or had not done as well as I should have. There were so many things that I felt were my fault because of my weakness, and it all culminated in tears on Saturday night. Right in the middle of our meeting with our branch mission leader. Solid. Well, there's a first for everything. ANYWAYS, our branch mission leader is amazing. Remember Sister Park, my eternal companion in Gumi? Well, it's her older brother. And he said something that I will never forget. He said, "When you've done the amount you are able to do, you don't need to worry. Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ will bless and help you. That is the Atonement." In that moment, I learned something new. I had heard and read about that portion of the Atonement many times, but until that moment, I had not yet really understood it on the level of my missionary work. Even though my efforts are imperfect, even though my Korean is imperfect, even though I can't talk to every single person in Bangeojin or be as bold as I want to sometimes, it's okay. That is the Atonement of Jesus Christ. As each of us strive to live our lives and give our all according to the Spirit, even if it doesn't seem like enough, know that it is. Heavenly Father never wanted us to be perfect because then we wouldn't need Jesus Christ. The fact that we are imperfect and that we do need Jesus Christ is one of the greatest blessing in this life because through His Atonement, we can be perfected in Him. Now, we are learning and learning requires inadequacies and mistakes, but later, after we've given our all and sought His help, we will be perfected in Him. I know that Christ lives. I know His Atonement is real. And I bear this testimony in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

I love you all so very much!

Sister Bonney

My momma told me not to talk to strangers... But PMG says talk to everybody!

Dear everyone!                                                                                                            August 31, 2014

I hope you had a great week! We did. ;)

Alright. Where do I start...

Let's start with the most important part of missionary work. As we all know, that's definitely finding less actives' houses. Someone's gotta to find em, and so we missionaries do it. It was Sister Hurley's first experience with LA finding. And in Korea it's especially exciting because we end up checking the mail of everyone on the block where they live trying to find their name. We also have the fabulous Korean address system which means that the official address doesn't mean anything and that instead we have to look for numbers written on the wall in permanent marker. Don't ask. Cause I don't know. But it works. We also ended up tracting to find out which of the houses in the area was hers. But what really matters is that eventually we found the house.

Oh yeah. She had moved. That's really important information!

It was at that point that Sister Hurley and I realized something. Did you know that the FBI does most of their recruiting at BYU? It's a fact. Why? The stats say that it's because most BYU students have served missions so they usually speak a foreign language and have spent time in foreign countries.

You want to know the real reason the FBI does most of their recruiting at BYU? It's cause most of the people there just spend 18 months to 2 years FINDING PEOPLE.

So, as many of you know, I am training right now. That means that my companion, the fabulous Sister Hurley, just barely got to Korea and I'm supposed to show her the ropes of how to be a foreigner and sister missionary in Korea. It's actually a pretty good life. But that also means that as two white, not-fluent-in-Korean missionaries that we can't do everything as smoothly as sometimes we'd like to. That also means that teaching is a test of faith. We have an investigator named Sister Kim (who I've probably mentioned before- she's the only serious investigator we've had in Bangeojin).  She's progressing like wildfire, but for some reason, teaching her's been a struggle. She's kind of a skeptical personality and although she's open, she questions a lot. We were able to meet her with a member last week and work out a lot of her concerns about baptism, but she still had so much more that she was struggling to believe.

On Saturday, we had children's English class, which she attends with her two young sons. She came and we shared a spiritual message at the end. We did a short activity where we wrote letters to Heavenly Father to think more clearly about what we want/need to pray about. Sister Kim shared her letter and it was so heartfelt and sincere, and as the Spirit led the message, we were able to recognize how much the Lord has been preparing her over the 5 months she's been meeting with missionaries at English class, at church, and privately. The elders had a baptismal service later that day, and she attended. We were surprised but grateful to see how emotionally invested she was with everything that she experienced there and she had sincere interest in baptism. On Sunday, she had said she would come to church, but when sacrament meeting was starting, she still wasn't there. We gave her a call and she didn't answer. What can you do? Put on a smile anyway and do your best to fellowship the people who ARE there. We did that. BUT part way through sacrament meeting, she called. "Church's already over, isn't it? I'm so sorry. My mother surprise visited us this morning so I couldn't come... There's still gospel principles class, right? Can I come to that?" Even just 2 months ago, she had no interest in the gospel. After that phone call, I was so incredibly grateful to Heavenly Father. She did come to gospel principles class and at that class, the Spirit took charge. One of our recent converts attended the same church Sister Kim attends now. She along with another recent convert of 6 months and our branch mission leader basically wiped out all of her concerns for baptism during those 40 minutes. I've never been so grateful for members in my life. The Lord worked miracles through them yesterday. Church ended and Sister Kim sent us a text asking if we could meet this week to study the Book of Mormon together. We're planning on setting a baptismal date with her on Tuesday. 

As we've seen these miracles, I've grown ever so mindful that the Lord is serving with us. He never tells His missionaries, "Go and serve!" Instead He says "Come with me." He doesn't ask us to do it alone because He knows that we can't. We need His help. It is up to us to recognize that and seek Him. And so the Lord calls the weak and the simple -us- because He knows that we will trust Him. I'm so inexpressively grateful for His love and mindfulness. He lives! And I can never deny it. What a privilege and a blessing to be a missionary for the Living God.

I love you all so much!

Sister Bonney

Members, miracles, and potential flooding...

Dear everyone!                                                                                                                August 24, 2014

It's still raining like crazy. I'm really beginning to wonder why Korea doesn't have any serious flood problems. I gave up on having dry shoes, and I now use a Korean typhoon quality umbrella instead of my tiny American one. Jeez. You'd think the sky would run out of water at some point, but it doesn't. The wonders of nature.

To improve my email quality, I took some steps and brought by journal. You might be surprised that it took me this long to think of something so genius, and so am I. Anyway, here are this week's highlights:

This week, we ran into members EVERYWHERE. It was amazing! I was really wondering how we could strengthen our relationship with our branch members and how we could develop more trust between them and us, and the Lord provided a way. On Tuesday, we met two members for lunch, and then on our way back home, we met two more on the street, and then while we were trying to find another member's house, a DIFFERENT member drove past us, stopped, and offered us a ride because she was dropping off the son of the member we were going to visit from school. Phew! If you can follow all that, props to you. We met a member family that night too. And that was just Tuesday. And oh my holy goodness, it's helped our relationship with the members SO much! I'm SO grateful that Heavenly Father has been helping us here.

We proselyte SO much recently. It's really good! Sister Hurley loves proselyting so we've been hitting the streets a lot. It's been good for us to get out and talk to more people than usual, and we've had really cool experiences although we haven't been able to find any potential investigators yet. But I know that as we just continue to strive to do our best and share the gospel with full purpose of heart that those investigators will be found. It's only a matter of waiting on the Lord's timing and learning what the Lord would have us learn in the process.

Last one: In Korea, working with members is SUPER important because we missionaries do a lot of the strengthening and fellowshipping and teaching the gospel to help them continue to progress. A lot of our members need help with their personal conversion and we were praying about how to help them in addition to planning and praying for our investigators. We weren't sure what we needed to do, but the Lord took care of everything. Oh my gosh, I love Heavenly Father so much! We have one investigator, Sister Kim. We've been working with her for a while, but the key to reaching her and REALLY helping her progress was member help. We had planned to work with some of the stronger sisters in our branch, but through a series of miracles, her new friends are two of the sisters in our branch who we were most worried about concerning personal conversion. But they are progressing SO much and they're testimonies are growing SO much. Why? Because they're doing missionary work. It's incredible! The reason missionaries can gain such a strong testimony on their missions is because sharing the gospel with others is what strengthens it and deepens conversion. Heavenly Father knew that that also applied to our members, even though we didn't, and He arranged everything. Sister Kim is progressing miraculously and she even came to district (stake) conference yesterday! I've never been so happy to see someone show up to a meeting. It was a miracle.

I love you all so much! The Lord lives, and He loves you. 

Sister Bonney

Flooding in Bangeojin...

Dear everyone!!!                                                                                                                  August 18, 2014

Oh my goodness! If anyone decides to send a care package in the next few days, make sure you send some floaties and a pair of flippers cause the "rainy season" is in full swing. Oh my gosh. The streets are FULL of water and I gave up on trying to stay dry. haha

And... the news I'm sure you all were waiting for.... my new companion is here! Her name is Sister Hurley and she got to Korea on Wednesday. She's fantastic and we're getting along great. She really driven to learn the language and she's obedient and loves working hard, which I appreciate a lot. We SYL a lot, and she's already FANTASTIC at Korean for only having been in the country a few days.

We're seeing so many miracles, and one thing I been so blessed to realize the last few days has been how much Heavenly Father is helping us do this work. When I heard I was going to be training, I was really excited. But at the same time I was terrified because I honestly didn't think I could handle the work in the area. If you train, that basically means you cover the area until your companion learns how to help you. It was stressing me out really badly. I was really doubting if we'd be able to still help all the people who need help here, but Heavenly Father is helping us so much. Especially on Sunday, I saw so many instances where Heavenly Father made up for our shortcomings. He helped me remember those people we needed to talk to, socialize well with the members, coordinate with the branch leaders effectively, plan with the Spirit, speak and understand everything I needed to, while all at the same time helping Sister Hurley in all the ways she needed help on her first Sunday in Korea. I know that the Lord helped us so much and IS helping us. It's a really humbling thing, and I'm so grateful to be able to experience that. The Lord truly loves the people here, and I'm so deeply grateful that He's serving here with us. It's truly a blessing to be a missionary.

I love you all so much!

Sister Bonney