Effort Never Drops

Wow. 18 months have passed since I was set apart as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Many people have asked me if it went by quickly – well the time really flew by but if I think about all of the special experiences I’ve had and everything I’ve learned, it feels like I’ve spent more than half of my life as a missionary.

I leave Korea on July 4th and arrive in New Zealand on July 5th! I have over 24 hours of travelling with all of the lay overs… and I will be all by myself!!!! Crazy!

Just in the past couple of weeks, two of my companions had to go back home because of injuries – so I’m kind of getting used to sending other missionaries home but now that it’s my turn, I don’t really know how to respond. To be honest, I thought I would be way more excited to go back home and see my family & friends, but the past couple of weeks have been an emotional time for me. I guess I am excited to see my parents and be able to have proper conversations with them now that my Korean has improved haha, but at the same time I feel like I’ve just reached a stage on my mission when I am starting to feel like I know what’s going on.. but I guess it’s time for a new challenge now! I’m really nervous and I look forward to the challenges of the future.

The past year and a half was a life changing experience for sure! I met a lot of people, learned a lot and hopefully I’m becoming someone the Lord wants me to become. One of the first things learned on my mission is that being a representative of the Lord is not going to be easy. In my eyes, I lacked faith, gospel understanding and pretty much in every aspect. Even though I had many friends who were returned missionaries – it was just not what I had expected. The first few weeks, every night, I prayed hard for more strength and faith to work hard the next day. I pleaded with the Lord that He’d bless me to be able to do this. I tried my best to follow my trainer’s example and get to work, but I was still missing something. Then one night in my third week, I was lying in bed after I’d just closed my nightly personal prayer. I thought about the things I’d just prayed for. I surprised myself because I realised that for the first time in my life, I’d only prayed all for others in my own personal prayer – investigators we were teaching, less active members we were working with and members of my area. Till then, I had been so focused on myself that I forgot that it’s not about myself. From that night, I tried my best to always focus on others. I was being obedient and doing everything I should be doing but things started to get mundane. I started to feel a lack of genuine intent behind my actions and I was struggling to feel the spirit. During that time, I had an interview with my mission president and I was able to explain the situation to him. He shared a scripture verse in the Book of Mormon with me that completely changed my perspective.

Moroni 7:45 And charity suffereth long, and is kind, and enviethnot, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

He gave me a commitment to study this scripture and apply it to my ministry. As I studied this verse, I was able to learn the true meaning of love. All my life, I’ve been very awkward when it comes to expressing love for others – just because it’s not something I grew up with and I didn’t really understand the true meaning of it. But I realised that love isn’t this weird, awkward feeling but that true love includes all of the 13 attributes listed in the verse.

As I tried to develop each of the attributes of love, I was able to understand and connect with the people we met on the street and people we taught a lot more. I was able to do things with real meaning behind it. I was able to see things from God’s perspective and not just my own. I was able to love my companions more. And most importantly, I was able to feel the Lord’s love more strongly then ever before.

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf shared about this perfect love in his talk in the last General Conference."Christ’s perfect love allows us to walk with humility, dignity, and a bold confidence as followers of our beloved Savior. Christ’s perfect love gives us the confidence to press through our fears and place our complete trust in the power and goodness of our Heavenly Father and of His Son, Jesus Christ.

As we fill our hearts with the love of Christ, we will awaken with a renewed spiritual freshness and we will walk joyfully, confidently, awake, and alive in the light and glory of our beloved Savior, Jesus Christ."

God is our loving Heavenly Father and we are His children. Because He loves us, he sent us to earth and gave us our families. Because He loves us, He sent us prophets so that we can learn about Him. Because He loves us, He sent His only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ to earth. Because Jesus Christ loves us, He took upon himself all of the sins and pains of the world and performed the Atonement for us. Because He loves us, He restored the full gospel of Jesus Christ through our prophet Joseph Smith. Because He loves us, He gave us the Book of Mormon so that we can continue to feel His love. The Restoration is an evidence that He still loves us today.

I may still lack in faith and knowledge but I know that God loves us and I love him. I now know that I can do anything He wants me to do as long as I am sanctified and have His spirit with me. I love being a missionary and it’s time for me to continue as a member missionary!! I am excited to help the missionaries in New Zealand and continue to do his work there. I am so grateful for my parents who have raised me in the gospel of Jesus Christ. I’m grateful for their example and their support. I’m grateful to all of you for all of your prayers and support!

See you on the flip side!~

19 June, 2017 00:24

On June 6th, we had a district sports day where all of the members and missionaries in Gangneung district area gathered together for some crazy adventures! It literally was a GREAT and TERRIBLE day. It was so fun spending time with members and our investigators! We were running around, playing different games and sports – it definitely wasn’t a normal missionary day. My companion, Sister Lampert is a soccer player so she was super excited to be able to play soccer for the first time on her mission! She was actually the only female in the team. Everything was going well – till 2 seconds before the whistle blew… She jumped and landed wrong on her foot. At first, we both thought it was fine and just a small twist, but once we got home she wasn’t able to walk on it anymore! As missionaries, we have to return home if we can’t walk properly after two weeks so sadly Sister Lampert had to go back to the States so that she can heal properly. Ah I miss her so much! A few nights before she went home, I was woken up by the sound of her crying. I sat up and asked if she was OK. She was actually crying out of pain in her sleep. She woke up and just burst into tears because her leg was in so much pain. I tried to comfort her and help her as much as I could but I didn’t really know how. No matter how much I tried, I couldn’t fully understand or feel her pain. As we prayed together, I thought about the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

Alma 7:11-12

11 And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.

12 And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.

I was her companion and even though I tried to to everything I could to ease her pain but there was so much I could do. But our Savior, Jesus Christ suffered every pain and affliction for us and he knows exactly what we are feeling. He sacrificed His life for us so that He would know how to help us and comfort us during those times. I am so grateful that we have a savior who can give us hope and peace even when we are suffering. Sister Lampert is a trooper and she chose to be happy the whole time! I can’t even imagine the pain she felt and had to endure but I’m so thankful for her positive attitude. Things were really hard that past two weeks but our testimonies are strengthened through it all.

Well since Sister Lampert had to leave, I’m now in a trio again! This is actually my 4th trio companionship on my mission!! Being in a trio is super fun, but very exhausting haha. Sister Frint and Sister Lee DaJeong have completely different personalities but it’s fun getting to know each other and introducing them to the area. It’s going to be a crazy few weeks for sure!! WOOOP!!

Earthly Father and Heavenly Father

Yesterday, a patriarch from a different stake came and visited our little branch. He was travelling around the area so decided to attend our sacrament meeting. It was a fast Sunday so he went up and shared his testimony. His testimony really stood out to me so I want to share it with you all!

When he first became a patriarch, he would sometimes doubt about his ability to give blessings and wonder if it’s ever his own words. Then one day he had the opportunity to give a patriarchal blessing to one of his sons. Before giving the blessing, he wrote down a list of blessings he wanted to give to his son. As his father, he had many wishes and hopes for him. He wanted to bless him in every way possible! But once he started performing the patriarchal blessing, he completely forgot everything on that list. His mind went blank. Afterwards, he typed it up nicely and he decided to compare the patriarchal blessing with the list of blessings he made previously! He realised that the blessings he wanted to give to his son were worldly and materialistic blessings, but the blessings listed in the patriarchal blessing were eternal blessings. He learnt then that the wishes and hopes of a earthly father may seem big, but the blessings that our Heavenly Father has in store for us are even bigger – bigger than we can comprehend right now.

His testimony was even more special to me because last week, I’d been studying my patriarchal blessing! I found an article called ‘understanding your Patriarchal Blessing’ in 2017 April Liahona, so read it along my patriarchal and tried to apply it to my own blessing. I started to realise all of blessings I’ve been blessed with already and all of the blessings that God has in plan for me! it was amazing to see how He really knows exactly what we need at this time. With every big decision I’ve had to make in my life so far, I’ve been able to find direction and confirmation from my patriarchal blessing. I am so grateful that we have a loving Heavenly Father who knows us by name and that we can feel His love and guidance through our patriarchal blessings!

3 Nephi 14:7-11

7 Ask, and it shall be given unto you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.
8 For every one that asketh, receiveth; and he that seeketh, findeth; and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened.
9 Or what man is there of you, who, if his son ask bread, will give him a stone?
10 Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?
11 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father who is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?

Sister Hwang’s Journey!!

Last Saturday (2017/5/27), our investigator Sister Hwang (황복남자매님) got baptised! It was such a special experience for all of us. We actually met Sister Hwang on my very first Sunday in 강릉 last year! And she’s been studying with the missionaries since then and had prepared for this special day for almost a year! She is such a special daughter of our Heavenly Father – and everyone who meet her can feel it. She’s actually deaf but with the help of hearing aids, she can hear and speak a little bit. I still vividly remember the first time I met her last year. We had just finished door knocking an apartment complex and we were on our way back home for dinner. My companion and I were both feeling kinda bummed because absolutely no one wanted to talk with us. Then we just said hi to Sister Hwang on the street and she stopped and said hi back! We got talking and she wanted to go to a park near by and talk a bit more. We were able to share a bit about the Book of Mormon and exchange contact details. To be honest, I don’t really know how much she got out of that short meeting because I couldn’t really understand what she was saying – but I just remember praying for the gift of tongues so hard during it. We were able to set up appointments almost every week since then and start teaching her about the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. She was attending a different sign language church so it was hard for her to give that up and come to our church, which was a big concern for all of us. She would come to our sacrament meeting but then go to her sign language church afterwards. We just continued to show her a lot of love and tried to understand things from her perspective. Then out of no where, she tells us that she’s decided to not attend her church anymore because God doesn’t want her to attend two different churches!!! She even talked to the priest at her other church and completely made up her mind. IT WAS THE BIGGEST MIRACLE OF MY MISSION. We’ve been praying for her like crazy and it was the most direct answer to our prayers. She may not be able to hear well, but her heart is so open to the whispering of the Holy Ghost. I’ve had some of my most spiritual lessons I’ve had on my mission with her. Even though it’s been difficult at times teaching her, I am so grateful that the Lord has guided us and reminded each time to never give up on her through his spirit. I love Sister Hwang, and I am so excited to continue helping her on her journey – next step is the temple!! woop wopp!

Lately, I’ve been praying every night to be able to continue staying fully focused on the Lord’s work and not get distracted… well my prayer has been answered every time! I’ve been dreaming about missionary work and our investigators EVERY single night the past week. I had the exact same thing happen to me when I first started my mission and now I get to experience it again! I’m thankful that God is helping in stay focused but at the same time, I wake up feeling EXHAUSTED haha! It feels like I never even went to sleep!! Oh well, I gotta count my blessings I guess.

MIRACLE MAY

The month of May is a special ‘Family Month’ in Korea!! On the 5th, we had Children’s Day, which is pretty much another birthday for all of the kids haha. They get spoiled with gifts and treats!! Then on the 8th, we had Parent’s day, which sadly is not celebrated as big as Children’s day, but it’s a great day for flower shops. Then we had so many other different holidays this month like Buddha’s birthday, Labour day and election day!! Buddha’s birthday is actually a HUGE celebration in Korea, so all of the streets are lit up with bright lanterns and

With all of these special holidays this month, we couldn’t let Children’s day pass by as just another day of ordinary missionary work. Last year, we had a huge zone face painting activity in 서울 and it was a great success so I wanted to try it again out here in 강릉. At first we were a bit worried because 강릉 isn’t as big as 서울 and we didn’t book a spot at the Children’s Day Festival BUT we just moved forward with faith – and it was probably the best proselyting activity I’ve ever had on my mission so far. There were lines and lines of people waiting to get their faces painted and we were able to meet so many new people that day!! We started at 10 in the morning and planned to finish a 1pm, but we ended but staying till 4pm! It was insane. To be honest, it was kind of weird to have people come up to us first, but hey, I can’t complain hehe. We met so many people who have seen us on the street but never talked to us and had no idea what we were doing in Korea, so it was a great opportunity to share what we do as missionaries and our testimonies with people in such a fun and natural environment. I think the biggest miracle of that day was meeting a former investigator who hasn’t been in contact with missionaries for over 3 years!! We’ve been in contact with her since and she is coming out to Family Home Evening activities on monday nights now! 😀 epic right?

The on Mother’s Day, I got to Skype home!! Ah I didn’t realise how much I’d missed them but it was so good to see their faces again! I am so grateful for my family. I am grateful that they planted the seed of faith in my from a young age and encouraged me to serve a mission. My family isn’t perfect and we have our struggles – but I will be forever grateful for my parents for having enough courage and strength to raise us in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I love being in 강릉 and we are seeing so many miracles! We are working with some amazing investigators right now and my testimony of the Jesus Christ is strengthened every time I see how much they’ve changed by trying to live his gospel. I am not counting down the days but I realized I only have a transfer(6 weeks) left on my mission… I just want to do my best, work hard till the end and find as many opportunities to develop Christlike attributes in the time I have left – so that when I go home, I can continue the Lord’s work with no regrets

This week has been quite overwhelming trying to organise everything and prepare for Sister Hwang’s (황복남자매님) baptismal service – and overcome some roadblocks that always seems to pop up before a special spiritual event- but I keep remembering what President Sonksen shared with me – that these are ‘good challenges’. With a lot of things to do and not enough time, I am trying to priorities our tasks so that we can focus on the things that really matter!!

Aim for Average

It’s absolutely crazy how fast last transfer flew by! A few days ago, I was walking down streets in 강릉 with Sister Preisler, but Sister Preisler is now home with her family… I miss her lots and I absolutely love her! We had so much fun serving together- and we worked hard everyday. I’d never served with someone in their last transfer before so it was a strange experience to send someone home! She helped me find to always focus on others and find joy in little things everyday. As sister missionaries, most of us set way too high expectations for ourselves and feel useless and inadequate when things don’t work out as we planned.., it’s definitely something I’ve struggled A LOT on my mission. I was reading an article about unhealthy perfectionism one day and one of the advice was to “aim for average”. We made that our motto for the transfer and worked hard!! It was such a miracle transfer and I am so grateful to know that as long as we are trying our best, we will always be guided and protected. My new companion is Sister Lampert from Virginia. She is half-Korean and half-Mexican!! She is such a fun person to be around. I love her so much already!!

I want to share a really special experience I had last week! We are currently meeting with some really prepared investigators right now. One of them is actually someone I met in my very first week in 강릉 last year. We had just finished knocking on doors for over an hour with no immediate results and we were on our way home, when we met 황복남자매님(Sister Hwang). She was happy to see us and wanted to learn more about the Book of Mormon. She has a hearing impediment so it was a bit difficult to communicate when we actually started teaching her but we used body language and relied on the gift of tongues. It was difficult but we knew that she was special and had a sincere desire. When I left 강릉, it was really difficult for the two foreigner sister missionaries to teach her… so they prayed and fasted for a miracle. The next transfer, Elder Song, who’s fluent in Korean Sign Language got transferred to 강릉 so he was able to teach her all of the lessons without any language barrier. Then just last week, Elder Song got transferred out of 강릉 so we got to start teaching Sister Hwang again. One of the problems she was facing was that she has a calling at her sign language church and it was hard for her to leave everything. Then as we were discussing ways to help her as a district we realised that she need to understand that we are not asking her to give up everything and that as long as she is committed, she can still serve the deaf members in her sign language church. When we met with Sister Hwang, we explained that as long as she attends our church every week, she doesn’t have to end her relationships with the members in her Sign Language church. She was in tears and so grateful that she could keep her friendships and expressed her genuine and sincere desire to be baptised this month. It was a humbling experience and a reminder that God loves every one of his children. I am really excited for her to prepare for her baptism and make that sacred covenant with our Heavenly Father.

He lives

One night, we were in a more busy part of our area for a proselyting activity. As we were talking to people, one lady came up to us and started asking us lots of questions about our church.

She was a Christian herself and was very active in her church. One of the questions she asked was “Why don’t you have crosses on your church?” The companion I was with at the time very simply and boldly replied “well, how would you like it if after you die, people only thought about your grave whenever they remembered you?”

If you are a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I’m sure you have wondered the same question before. In Korea, if you look outside at night you are almost blinded by all of the bright crosses flashing on top of churches, but you won’t be able to find any crosses on top of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints buildings.

As a missionary, I get asked this question all the time so I’ve been able to ponder and study about it – and I hope I can explain the why with you today.

Before I get into it, let me start with a brief overview of our lives. Before we were born on the earth, we lived with our loving Heavenly Father. As spirit children of God, we wanted to become like Him. But without a physical body and mortal life experience, there was no way we could be like Him or receive all the blessings He has in store for us. So in order for each of us to be able to receive the greatest gift of all – eternal life – he gave us a special plan called the Plan of Salvation. As we learn about God’s plan for us and apply it in our lives, we will receive happiness and peace so it’s often also called the ‘Plan of Happiness’.

Through this plan, we have the opportunity to experience, learn and grow on the earth. All of the hardships and good experiences help us to progress and become like our Heavenly Father. But He knew that we were very imperfect and that we couldn’t return to live with Him without any help. So He sent His son, Jesus Christ to the earth. Jesus Christ is the center of God’s Plan of Salvation. He suffered ‘pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind’ for us and eventually was crucified on the cross. When he passed away on the cross, his spirit and body were separated. Then after three days, he was resurrected – he overcame death and his spirit and body were reunited, never to be separated again.

During this Easter Season, I hope we can all find joy in the fact that Jesus was resurrected. He lives. He loves us. He leads and guides The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and He can lead us in our path back to our Heavenly Father and Savior if we allow his spirit of be with us. We don’t need to dwell on his death – but show our gratitude for his sacrifices by following his gospel. As we continue to grow our faith in the Lord, Jesus Christ and repent daily, we can remember him and his wonderful life.

Because of his resurrection, we will all receive the gift of resurrection and have a hope for an eternal life. Thanks to our Savior, we can find peace and hope in the fact that our lives don’t end after death, but that we will be with our families again. In the Book of Mormon, we can learn more about how we will be resurrected in perfect form – no more pain, no more disability.

44Now, this restoration shall come to all, both old and young, both bond and free, both male and female, both the wicked and the righteous; and even there shall not so much as a hair of their heads be lost; but every thing shall be restored to its perfect frame, as it is now, or in the body, and shall be brought and be arraigned before the bar of Christ the Son, and God the Father, and the Holy Spirit, which is one Eternal God, to be judged according to their works, whether they be good or whether they be evil.

Last week, we were privileged to hear from our loving Prophet President Thomas S Monson at general conference. Because of his health, he could only speak to us for a brief moment – but I could feel that with all the energy he could find, he shared with us what we needed to hear the most, and what was most important to us at this time

“We live in a time of great trouble and wickedness. What will protect us from the sin and evil so prevalent in the world today? I maintain that a strong testimony of our Savior, Jesus Christ, and of His gospel will help see us through to safety. If you are not reading the Book of Mormon each day, please do so. If you will read it prayerfully and with a sincere desire to know the truth, the Holy Ghost will manifest its truth to you. If it is true—and I solemnly testify that it is—then Joseph Smith was a prophet who saw God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.”

I too bear my testimony of the Book of Mormon. It is the word of God. I’ve found so many answers and so much comfort from reading the Book of Mormon every day. My testimony of our Saviour is strengthened everyday as I read and ponder the things I read from the Book of Mormon. I invited all of you to find hope, peace and light through our Saviour today by studying the Book of Mormon. Savior lives and loves us. I am so grateful for the Atonement of Jesus Christ and through him we can all live again.

I leave my testimony with you in the name of Jesus Christ Amen.