Thursday, January 30, 2014

야마가타 장로

So Today is my last pday at the MTC and as I reflect on my time here I realized that I have grown a lot since I've been here, yet I have a lot more to go!  I have become a person that people look up to and want to become.  Lately, I've been passing around my transfer journal and having all of the missionaries in my zone sign it, and some of the things that they say are really profound!  I'm grateful to have made all these friends here at the MTC an hope that I can see them again.  Another thing that I realized is that the spirit definitely guides us every day!  As Elder Jarrett and I teach and get taught, I realized that some of the times (most of the times) we weren't the ones speaking!  Sometimes we would go into a lesson feeling like we couldn't do it and as soon as we start to speak the words come to us, and sometimes we hit a bump in the road that wasn't accounted for, but it seems like we always know what to say in order to get the conversation back on track.  I love it!  But enough about me you probably want to hear about my week!

Well the reason I'm on so darn early is because we are packing our bags today and didnt want to have to wait until 1:20 p.m. to start doing laundry.  So Elder Jarrett and I got up at 4:55 and came over to the Laundromat to do our laundry before temple that way we can just come back and start packing.  It has been weird these last few days though as our MTC time winds down.  We have approximately 9 hours of class left, which isnt even that much!  Today is Pday then tomorrow we have InField Orientation all day until Dinner at 5:00.  Saturday we have two class times (our last with our teachers! So Sad!!!) and one last study time and then we relax and finish packing sunday night!  All of us that are leaving are so excited though because we are on the same flight to Detroit and to Seoul!  There is going to be 44 korean speaking missionaries on one flight??? These people are crazy! 

Anyways, This week hasn't been very eventful.  We have not had any awesome Apostles or General Authorities come through for the Devotionals.  And the only things we do in class now are cultural games and experiences to get us ready for what it is like in Korea.  Our teachers say we most likely will be going to the bathhouse our first day there!  I'm so excited! 

Yesterday though, Elder Jarrett and I did some roleplaying of teaching the Law of Chastity lesson in English.  What an interesting experience!  We took turns being the investigator and teacher, and played  가위바위버  to see who would teach first.  I won so he started teaching me the lesson.  As he taught, I tried remembering what it was like to be taught the lessons before, and tried mimicking that.  It was definitely interesting to see how he reacted as my body language and tone of voice started to change as he taught me.  He adapted quite well to certain situations and bore his testimony at the end of the lesson.  He taught very well and I thought he did extremely well for never teaching it before!  He asked me to teach but at that point only had about 5 minutes left for me to teach, when I knew it would take 20 at least for me to teach him.  So I spot taught and hit points that I would do much differently than how he did it.  He told me the lesson became more personal and like a conversation when I taught.  Like I was a friend trying to give him help, not a missionary teaching him a lesson.  I thought that was huge that even in english I can teach with the spirit and make it so its not a instructional lesson with no questions and no feeling, but something that the investigator can see as a friend trying to give a friend some help to move in the right direction to follow in our Lord and Savior's footsteps. 

Im definitely grateful for that experience and all the other ones I have this week and these past two months here at the MTC.  It has been so humbling and makes me realize that I have a lot of work left to do, a lot of room to grow, and a lot of people to teach!  But, I cant focus on myself.  The growth will happen when I focus on the people of Korea and teaching them the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.  Allowing them to be with their families forever, and I know that in the process, Heavenly Father will help me grow into what I need to be to be a successful missionary. 

I love this gospel and I love this church.  I love all the people that I'm with all day long, especially because almost all of them are missionaries!  I love the feeling of being guided by the spirit to do the things that are most important, or teach the things that are the most important.  To bring all of us closer to Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.  Im grateful for the Atonement and the power it gives all of us to do what we need to do, overcome what we need to overcome, and grow and learn so that we can prepare to return to live with him once more.  I know the Father never gives us anything that we can't handle, unless there is a way prepared for us to take. 

I probably wont write for a while, seeing as I get into Korea the day after P-Day.  So Everyone be safe and I will probably have a lot to talk about next time!!!  I love and miss all of you so much!!!!  Pray for all the missionaries in the world!!!!

-Elder Yamagata

 Me and Elder Jarrett at the Temple
Me ( from left to right)  Elder Gildea, Elder Taylor, and Elder Eagar
 Me and Elder Bryan at the Temple
Me and some of the new 동기 at the temple, with some of the Mogolian Missionaries in the back!
 Part of our zone at the temple!  We were missing around 15-20 people!
Me and Elder Kahng the night before he left to his mission in New Jersey  ( Elder Kahng was supposed to leave a week after he got here because he is fluent, but because of a broken foot had to wait over a month!)
My new Nametag that is fixed!!!!!

Friday, January 24, 2014


Mom and Dad,


So my time here at the MTC is winding down quickly!!! It amazes me that almost 2 months has gone by that fast!!  But first my week:


So last friday we skyped a man who lives in Korea for our TRC lesson and it was cool, we were supposed to teach for 40 minutes, but lack of volunteers made us have to cut it down to 20 minutes so another companionship could have 20 minutes to teach as well.  It was really cool, the man lived in Busan, in the southern part of Korea.  Turns out he was actually one of our teachers companions, and a great friend of him.  He taught us a little bit about himself and then we taught him about the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  It was better taht the lesson was only 20 minutes though, we started running out of things to say!  So we finished with bearing our testimonies and then prayed with him, how cool!  


Not much happened Saturday but then Sunday I was released as zone leader of our branch.  It was a bittersweet feeling as I didnt have to go to so many meetings and would have more study times and be able to focus more on korean, but I was sad that I wouldnt be helping out the new missionaries all that much.  But turns out I still am!  They always come to me and ask me for help with Korean or with the rules and what they are supposed to be doing.  It was funny as one of the elders dislocated their shoulder last week, and the first thing he did was run to me to tell me and then had me go with him to get it looked at.  The zone leaders didnt even know until I told them the next day!  Then I found out yesterday that he would be going home to get surgery on it, and they didnt even know when I told them!  So I politely let them know, but its funny that a lot of the new missionaries still think of me as a leader!  


A couple of days ago we were told that the MTC is taking down the huge firewall on the missionaries that prevented us from accesing anything that was non church approved.  It was weird to be able to see the Google homepage! Haha, but its nice that we are able to research topics about our missions and such during some down time.  The first thing we did was look up this church in Korea called God's Church that believes that Heavenly Mother lives in Seoul and that Heavenly Father died choking on noodles..... weird!!!!! They believe in other things too but thats crazy!  You know Korea has some weird religions when our teachers are telling us the Jehovah's Witnesses are nice....


Anyways, yesterday we got our Korean Nametags, preparatory to us leaving in a short while here. Mine was spelt wrong, it said Yamataka... I wasnt that mad.... ok I was but still, I had my teacher fix it and they are supposed to be sending me the correct ones soon!  Hopefully I get them in the next couple of days, because I want to wear mine!!!


Tuesday we heard from Bishop Gerald Cousse, 1st Counselor in the presiding bishopric.  His talk was on loving everyone and doing it through the Atonement of Chris. It was a great talk, but I was so tired from the day that I actually passed out a little during it! Lately I havent been able to sleep much so it tires me out during the day.



Anyways I can't wait to leave here.  Its only 11 days away now!  I still can't fathom that I will be in Korea for 22 months preaching the Gospel and helping everyone there, as well as having fun in the process!  Our branch president told us on sunday, we are here to work Hard, but we are here to Play hard too!  I love being on a mission and feeling the spirit so strongly everyday and I love the people of Korea so much even though I havent even left yet!  I hope all of you have an amazing week and are safe.  Make sure to thank our Heavenly Father for everything that he gives us everyday!  We sometimes take it for granted the things that he does for us, and Im pretty sure that he loves to hear a thanks every now and again from us!  Anyways, I love everyone and I cant wait to get to Korea to tell you how it is!




Elder Yamagata

 The zone is now 3 tables large, close to 90 missionaries!
The zone leader blanket

My tile on the zone leader blanket

The 3 zone leaders that have had the blanket since I have been here.

 Me and my square!

My new name badges with the names spelt wrong!!

Me and Elder Dixon on the cover of the Deseret News!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Crazy Week!

Mom and Dad,

So this week has been pretty crazy! Starting with Saturday we had our passdown ceremony as the older elders were leaving us on sunday and had to give us the pass downs that we have been waiting for for weeks!  I received the Zone Leader blanket that has been here since late 2011 and has been signed by every zone leader in our branch!  I had the opportunity to sign it as well, but Havent had a chance to take a picture yet!  Elder Jarrett received the zone leader companions pillow and pillow case haha! He was really happy to have gotten something this time around.  The "Robe that is cousins with Jesus Robe" was passed down.  It was funny but it hasnt been washed in 3 years and it smells horrible!  Haha the Overalls and Boots were also.  It was really fun! 

Then sunday night we were getting really sad as we realized that the Elders were leaving us that morning and it would be the last time we would get to see them! We had an awesome temple walk after sacrament meeting with the Group that was about to leave.  We had a bunch of pictures taken of us and it was fun.  It was kinda sad though because their was a couple of protesters on the outside of temple grounds yelling at us the whole time we were there.   Sunday night we sang "God be with you till we meet again" Really loud as a zone!  By the end of it most of us were crying and hugging each other.  Elders Payne and Peterson were almost bawling, they were trying to hold back, everyone took pictures and then headed to bed sad.

Monday the elders left early in the morning and many of us were sad to have them leave!  But we were pretty good about it.  Elder Munk in my zone was having a hard time getting over the fact that they left, and I saw him leaving the building tearing up.  It hurt my heart to see him like that.  Everyone else was kind of quiet that day.

Tuesday I had quite a bit of surprise.  First off me and the other zone leader had a little bit of contention as we had some differences in opinion on how to deal with the new international missionary coming in that day.  After we had a bit of a difference in the morning, I went back to residence and prayed a lot about what I should do and how I should go about talking to him about how some of the things we have to do run.  After lots of contemplation the spirit started to guide me  what to do and eventually me and the other Elder came together in agreement and shared some good laughs and hugs, ever since then we have been even closer together.  We picked up the new International missionary Elder Dixon from Australia.  As we went to the devotional, we heard murmurs of yet another apostle coming to visit us here at the MTC.  Me and elder dixon took some seats fairly close to the front, if it was an apostle I didnt want him to miss it!  We ended up getting moved to the front row where we sat with all the other MTC presidents who were being trained for the next couple of days here at the MTC.  I sat next to Argentina, Peru MTC Presidents and Hill Cumorah Visitors Center President.  And Elder Bednars Secretary.  Interesting... haha So a couple of minutes later, Elder and Sister Bednar walk through the doors and grace us with their presence.  cool!  sometime later during their talk together, They called me and Elder Dixon up! They wanted us to talk about companionship briefly, Elder Jarrett was surprised haha.  He kept giving me a hard time that I bretrayed him.  I talked for a minute and so Did elder Dixon, but while we were up there, Elder Bednar called him out on his "Dork Dot" The little orange dot that lets everyone know your knew to the MTC.  It was hilarious!!! I shouted back to Elder Bednar that it was his first day and he laughed.  What an awesome experience!  I got to shake Sister bednars hand as we walked up to the Stand. 

Yesterday our zone received 33 more missionaries.  I hosted some missionaries but none of them were going to korea.  It reminded me of my first day here, and how many things were going through my head.  I cant believe im already on my 7th week!  We had new missionary orientation and met some of the new missionaeries, they are really cool.  One of them actually is Lacey's friends cousins haha.  Small world!  Elder Jarrett and I also taught one of our investigators and we finally understood him and taught him that he can receive forgiveness for any sin! He accepted our challenged to pray for forgiveness and come to church! We were really excited!

Today we went to the temple early and several crazy things happened there.  First off, me and several elders and sisters went to do sealings and the Sealer recognized my last name and asked how I was related to Gene Yamagata.  Haha I can never get away from it but its funny and cool at the same time, everyone there was surprised that he knew me.  Secondly, we met some of our branch presidency there and Brother Snow told me how much hes proud of me and how he  cant wait for me to leave to start serving the people of Korea!  I love him a lot.  Finally, as I was walking back to the dressing room, I saw Elder McPherson! Squints!  What a huge surprise as we talked for a couple of minutes before he had to leave to do a session.  Its been such a great time this week and I love it here  so much!  I have learned a lot about the spirit and how much it can teach us if we sit and listen for just a bit.  I am excited for the new missionaries and am also excited that I am getting out of here so quickly! Time flies on a mission and I cant believe Ive almost been out for two months!  The rest of the time will go by so quickly and
soon enough I'll be back at home so I have to treasure my time here!

Hope all of you have a great week and be safe! I love all of you so much!

-Elder Yamagata
Me and several elders and sisters at the temple

Me and elders at the temple

Picture time in front of the Provo Temple

Me and Elder Payne

Me and Elder Peterson

 Me and Elder Hong

Me and Elder Park making a weird face

"What did the fox say"

Photo Bomb!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

January 9, 2014

January 9, 2014

     This week has not been the most eventful.  Mostly just going to class and learning new stuff in Korean.  We had the presiding Bishop speak to us on tuesday for devotional.  He had an ok talk about having a vision of the future.  At one point he brought a sword out and it freaked out most of the people in the audience (which I thought was pretty cool).  What really inspired me from the talk was when he had the senior missionaries stand.  When I saw how many there was in the gym, it surprised me that so many senior couples would want to come out and serve the Lord again.  It's hard for most of us as it is, getting up early, studying all day, teaching in other languages, and most of the seniors have already done it once.  But to come back and do it again as a senior is a little more difficult as you balance both your home life and serving the Lord.  It made me realize how I shouldn't complain.  Most of these people already have children and grand children and are still out here working the same hours as me.  They may not be learning a second language, or having to go out proselyting all day, but they will have their challenges that are going to be just as difficult for them as it is for me to see an investigator lose interest in the gospel, or a new convert slowly start to slip away from the church.  It really opened my eyes to my situation.

     Today I was able to go to the temple for the first time in about 5 weeks.  It opened monday and all of us in the Branch were super excited to be able to go for the first time in weeks.  For some, it was only there second time.  But there are a few others who have gone a lot like I have before they came out.  It was really interesting to go through as a Missionary.  I had a swelling of the spirit after wards and I felt like Enos in the Book of Mormon, and I wanted to pray to him all the day long.  I said about 6 prayers before I had left the temple, just thanking him for everything that he gives us and helps us with.  I know as missionary, that he protects us more than ever because on the other side is the Adversary trying to stop us from doing the Lord's Work.  

          This week we received a new investigator. It is a sister for once and she was interested in the Gospel so she flagged down the missionaries and decided to have them come over.  Me and elder Jarrett taught her yesterday and it was hard.  She speaks a lot faster than our other two investigators and is a little harder to understand.  But she already accepted the baptismal invitation and so Elder Jarrett and I are really excited to be able to teach her the gospel.  Hopefully we can get through all the lessons in a good amount of time, we only have a week!

     I'll try to somehow send a video or recording of me speaking Korean, otherwise you wont be able to hear me or see me until Mothers day!  Hahaha and I know your curious to hear some Korean!  Im not the best but I can try hard.  

This email will be really short, nothing really has happened at all this week.  But I want to remind you that "And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God."  Mosiah 2:17


I hope you have a wonderful week and be safe.  I pray everyday for you both morning and night that you will see the influence of our heavenly father in your lives everyday and that you will be able to thank him for that.  


Love you so much!


Elder Yamagata

Friday, January 3, 2014

Happy New Year!

January 3, 2014

OH MY GOSH! Happy NEW YEARS!!!!! I have had a wonderful and crazy experience this past week!  To be in the MTC during Christmas and New Years is truly Exciting!!!  Let me start from the top of the week since last pday...


So Last P-Day was just like any other, I did laundry and relaxed, sent emails.  Everything was fine till about 4 p.m.  Me and the other zone leader got a report from a district leader that one of his missionaries stayed home sick, but when he wouldnt tell him if he went to the doctor or what was wrong, he brought us in.  We pulled him aside in the residence and asked him if he went, how he felt, etc...  Long story short, he got really hard headed and ignorant, called us idiots (which extremely angered my companion zone leader) and we ended the conversation.  The Other ZL was so mad he punched a door and walked away, the other Elder thought he was trying to fight him and so he called MTC Police!  I spent over 2 hours in the District Presidents Office, sorting out the whole incident and almost getting into a shouting match with the District President himself for how he was handling the situation.  At the end of it all, we settled the problem and learned some things about how we could better handle something like this in the future.  On Sunday, the other Elder who was being hard headed pulled me and ZL aside during the temple walk and apologized, as did we, about what had happened.  It was truly amazing to see his countenance change so much!  He has had problems with leaders ever since first entering the MTC, and for once I saw in his eyes a desire to change and do better!  At the end of our conversation, I gave him a big hug and told him how much I care about and love him.  And I meant it.  That night I went back to the residence and thanked god for helping me in this situation to say what was right and to fix this in the right gospel-like manner.  Unfortunately though, it kinda ruined my pday.... BUT a small sacrifice to pay, to see this elder want to make serious changes in his life.  

  Skip ahead to new years eve! We in K-Town celebrated twice in one day.  Once at 8 a.m. in the Cafeteria where we celebrated with Korea, it was still early for most people so it wasnt too crazy.... But the night!!!! We had about 20 minutes to party before having to start quiet time and go to bed. (We Celebrated with New York)  We went crazy!  Silly string, streamers, whistles and noise makers, a whole lot of food and Sparkling cider from the bookstore.  We were wild! So many pictures and yelling, singing songs and having fun.  It was truly an amazing time to be in the MTC.  

  New Years day was nothing special, just another 15 hours in a classroom staring at the same chalkboard all day.  

  Yesterday was Challenging.  I saw the Lord's hand in my life so much yesterday through my companion and My Teachers.  We had a progressing investigator lesson that was planned to go around 30 minutes.  Unfortunately, me and my companion were pulled to the side and given some personal instruction by one of the zone resources.  It pushed us to the last lesson of the day, with 15 minutes left to teach.  Me and companion hurriedly tried to cut our lesson down to be able to fit it in the short amount of time.  We were not able to do a good job, and the lesson went horribly,  This was the 3rd or 4th time this has happened to us.  As we came out of the lesson, I went crazy and got really mad at life and the situation.  One of my teachers pulled me aside and let me vent and talk to him.  He showed me how it wasnt that bad, and that satan was working on me even harder to stop me from fulfilling my purpose.  He then told me how his day was worse, and afterwards I felt bad for even thinking that my day was bad to begin with.  That Teacher has been there for me since the beginning and I am so grateful he was there at the time.  He always tells us funny stories about him and his new wife and I think its awesome.  We had another lesson later in the day with the teacher who helped me out, And it was amazing!  We taught the investigator part of the gospel of Jesus Christ and he really sucked it all in, agreed to go to church this weekend and repent of sins that he might have committed by praying to Heavenly Father.  I have a resolve know to bring that kind of spirit to every one of my investigator lessons from now on.  


Later on I was pulled aside by the branch presidency and asked to take care of somethings instead of the Senior Zone Leader.  I had to help our new korean natives with temple stuff and showing them around.  I realized later on that the other ZL is being released on sunday, and that I will then be senior Zone Leader.  SCARY!!!! Haha but It wont last long, but I did realize that they are trying to give me more responsibility to know to prepare myself for taking over the zone.  I am so grateful to be in this position to learn the ways of handling things in a christlike manner.  It truly is such a great blessing to guide these missionaries down the right path and help them to become the best missionaries that they can be.  


Well I hope everyone at home had an awesome New Years watching the Ball Drop.  Make new years resolutions and stick to them.  Our branch president told us that even if we only stick to them for a week, we are better than we were before, and we need to get back up on that horse and keep riding.  


I am so grateful for the friends that I have made and the opportunity that I have to be here on a mission for the Lord to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ to the people of Korea.  The language is hard, the people are different, but I know that everyone has a need that the gospel of Christ can fulfill.  I know that Heavenly Father knows us individually, and that he will help us in times of need.  He can never walk away when he knows we need his help.  He will never deny his help if we are earnestly trying to change.  He is with all of us, every step of every day, walking next to us and trying to guide our lives in the right direction so that everyone can have the blessings of Eternal Life and Families.  저 는 가적을 사랑함니다 ( I love my family ) Love my mom and dad, and I love my Heavenly Father.  Have a great week!  


-Elder Yamagata

Elder and Friends
Part of our branch at the Temple!
Me and Elder Jarrett with Brother and Sister Lee of the branch presidency
Making the someone just farted face!

New Years Eve Party!

Food fest after the ball dropped in NY!

Never a shortage of food in K-Town!