Monday, March 31, 2014

갑자기 외국인!!!

Mom and Dad


Man this week has been fun!  Not much actually happened but it was just a great week in general!  I'll give you some of the highlights!


We met with our most progressing investigator twice this week!  Taught him the Plan of Salvation, and he ate it up!  We talked about how he could live with his family forever and have great blessings poured out to him in the Celestial kingdom.  We asked him where he wants to go (Celestial, Terrestial, Telesitial) and He pointed to the Terrestial!!! (Interesting fact: In korean they are actually called the Sun, Moon, and Star Kingdoms when you translate them)  We asked him why and he said something along the lines of "Its cool to be with your boss, but you dont want to be with him all the time!"  Haha its was funny and we explained that as perfected beings, we did want to be with him all the time!  Anyways the only downside is that he will not come to our church..... He reads the book of mormon and all the pamphlets we gave him, prays everyday to know if what we teach is true, but says he still hasnt received an answer and so because of that goes to a 장로교회 (Presbyterian church).  It definitely is a big let down because he is progressing so quickly!  But hopefully soon we will be able to get him to come and start progressing even more!  


We also met with this Friday and had dinner with him.  He was doing well and still had the book of mormon, but because of time and his work is not really interested in learning anymore, only having some foreigner friends.  It was a bit of a let down but we are hoping to meet with him again soon and hopefully get him to feel the spirit again and learn more about the church and see the blessings that come from being a member!  


This week at English class I had the opportunity and privilege to teach the "Basic" class.  I was super nervous at first, I dont know how to speak Korean well enough to teach them how to speak another language!  But the Lord was with me, and I was able to speak, motion, and write to the point where they would understand me.  And we had a lot of fun!  The class was a group of four adults and we had fun talking about Health.  It was fun to be able to act out words like "Sick" "Medicine" and so forth, acting like an old man!  Anyways, when it was time to go downstairs for the spiritual message I didnt want to go!  But it was fun and they said they wanted me back next week!  Success!!!!


We had one twist this week.  Our zone leaders went to the ward council meeting with our Ward Leaders and we found out that: (a)  The missionaries are putting to much Pressure (부담) on the ward and its members by asking for food, meals, or training lessons from them.  (b)  They will no longer be providing food for us, because of point (a).  Our ward mission leader was sitting with our zone leaders and said this was a bunch of bologna, that they should be doing these things for us anyways!  Right before the meeting concluded our ward mission leader got up and said "The missionaries are going to be giving more 부담 from now on!"  And then sat down.  Members were mad, but the bishop was on our side and he thinks its a good idea.  Anyways, we will see how this all works out.  Our ward mission leader is an RM who served here in Korea and knows how tough it is and such, so he fights hard for us and has definitely had a change of spirit these last couple of weeks and has become more involved in our work!  


Misc other things have happened throughout this week that Ill give the highlights of:

1. Me and Elder Smith met with a man who had a very small amount of interest.... Turns out he wanted us to come over and help him correct his thesis for a journal.  We agreed for some service and then started seeing the irony in this when he brought out a thesis on different types of Green teas and something he called "Mind Control Tea' or "Self Control Tea".  Definitely weird, and then he showed us the Journal and it was the Korean National Tea Society....  We helped for a half an hour and then had dinner with him, where he then started drinking green tea, and some alcohol!  We explained the word of wisdom about 4 times and eventually gave up, he wasnt getting it.  

2.  For the probably 5th time almost saw someone die by bus, the crosswalks for bus stops are super thin and people are always on their phones and not paying attention so I have seen quite a few people step out into traffic and almost die!  

3.  The flowers are starting to bloom around town and its starting to look a lot nicer!  Pictures to come!


Hope everyone at home is doing well and having a great time!  Missionary work is definitely fun and we have a blast every day.  Every night we sit down trying to figure out where the time went!  If my mission speeds up any more im going to be praying soon and getting ready for my return home!  Im almost to four months!  1/6 of the way done!  Wow it goes by fast!  


Well I hope everyone has an awesome week and is safe and sees the blessings of the lord in their lives, I know he blesses mine every single day! 


갑자기 외국인 out!!!!!




-Elder Yamagata
Me Street boarding this past week!  

My board at the end of the night!

Us and the Tea man!

The cupcakes we made to celebrate St Patricks day!  They were a little late...

Me and Elder Smith about to dig in!

The deranged cupcake maniac!

Icing mustache!  

The bugs have been starting to come out.... it was much bigger than the coin while alive!

Us trying to make rice.... those are bugs.....

Language study!  So much to get done!

Me and Mr and Mrs Choi!  #Bookofmormon

The flowers are starting to bloom!


My book of mormon after three days of language study!!! Only on verse 12!

Me and elder smith walking down through Main street ilsan in Jungbalsan at night going home, a little glimpse of the night time here!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Long week...But a great one!

Mom and Dad,


Oh man did the Lord throw me and Elder Smith a couple of curveballs this week!  Definitely a lot of time spent on my knees praying to the Lord for guidance and supplication.  Me and Elder Smith have had our on road bumps together, even to the point of having to have an emergency companionship inventory on the street near an appointment.  We have had some troubles lately with 캍이전도 and not being able to really fluidly speak together when talking to people, and so we were both getting kinda upset at not being able to figure it out.  But luckily after talking with each other for about 30 minutes, we found some solutions to our problems and were able to get right back to work!   Implementing them took a few tries but now when we 캍이전도 we are more in unison and definitely bring the spirit a lot stronger.


Another thing that hit us this week happened a few hours after Emailing last week.  Our big investigator family 형제님 and his wife 자매님 texted us and told us that Their work was too busy and that weekends should be a time of rest, not church.  They also told us their hearts werent ready for religion.  "In 10 years I will be ready for mormon"  It definitely took me and Elder Smith by surprise!  We thought we had such a great time with them and really brought the spirit that they would be eager to take the rest of the lessons.  We tried to keep them on, but they are dead set on only meeting with us as friends.  Me and elder smith prayed, both seperately and together, on how to meet with them again.  And the same answer came to both of us as we thought of their daughter that we met the first time that we met them.  We asked about her and they said we could still meet with her next week!  So hopefully this next time we can bring the spirit and get them fired up to want to just jump in the waters of baptism!!! Hahaha ^^


On the bright side of things now (because looking at this email is depressing me and quite honestly it was an awesome week!) we had transfers this past thursday.  On saturday we all sat eating our pizza (as we usually do on saturday night pizza night) and were staring out our phones waiting for our transfer calls.  Me and Elder smith got ours first with the news we already knew, that we would stay in Ilsan.  Elder Hendershot got his at the same time and some exciting news came for him, he would be staying but that he would be getting a new companion: Elder Buck from Tooele, Utah.  We received him at our house early thursday morning, while saying goodbye to Elder Elwood who was my older 동기 but we werent really close.  Elder Buck is definitely a fun guy though and we get along awesomely!  He is a hard working missionary and is not much older than me (he is 2 동기 older than I am) and fairly good at korean!  Speaking of, Korean is coming along ok.  I have been having my Zone Leader Grandpa Rhodes teach me the ways that he learned korean.  He is the best foreigner in the mission right now at Korean so im trying to learn all that I can from him.  


Yesterday and saturday night we had stake conference and boy was that rough.  I sat in the chapel for 2 hours both days and read the book of mormon.  It took the full two hours to read 1 Nephi 1-4 in korean on one day.  the other day I studied pass off vocabulary and grammar.  I am hopefully going to start making huge strides in my korean this transfer!  Its so exciting that I walk around all day and my mind just switches to korean, Im able to talk to people somewhat on the street and ask about things.  Its incredible how far you can come in a short amount of time!  It was also really nice to see the new missionaries come into the mission at stake conference.  I was able to see Elder Dixon for the first time since leaving there and it was nice to see him!  



Anyways this upcoming week is going to be awesome!  We dont have much planned but me and Elder Smith are just feeling the spirit so strong and are ripped and ready to go!  We want to get out and do work, spread the seeds of the gospel and bring people closer to Christ.  I love this gospel so much and the effect that it has on us young men and women that we can turn our hearts to the lord for 2 years and just serve him!  and in return he blesses us and our families so much its unbelievable!!!   I love the people I serve with, my district and zone, and all the other missionaries in my mission and all throughout the world!  We are doing the lords work and building the Kingdom of God!  Nothing can stop this work from progressing, nothing can keep us from finding people every single day who have been prepared by God to hear his message and receive the blessings that he has for us!  We talked about it the other day in our house, and all we have to do is follow Christ and his commandments, not much.  But in return we receive eternal life and Exaltation!  How amazing is that!!!  I want everyone to know that they can be with their families forever and that God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, have provided us this plan so that we can return to live with them forever!  So that we can have the same happiness they experience, for eternity!!!  


I love all of you at home so much!  I cant wait to get back out and do more work!  Enjoy your work, be safe, and may God bless each and every one of you!




Elder Yamagata
The police force in riot gear!

More police!  We dont know what was going on!

All of us at Dinner/lunch at Frigga! last pday with the Wondang Zone!

Me Elder Hollingshaus and Elder Rhodes 

Me and Elder Gildea

Me and Sister Yang

Me and Sister Ku

Me And sister Jackson  We are going to miss the Wondang Sisters!  Super close with them!

All of us one more time in front of the 백화점

Elder Buck!  He doesnt like his desk chair!

Monday, March 17, 2014

갑자기 Exciting week!

Mom and Dad,


So Im going to skip the beginning of the week up until thursday, because nothing special really happened.


So thursday, I had 12 week training follow up which is where all the trainees go into the 신당 ward in seoul and receive training from the APs, President and Sister Christensen.  It didnt start off well though.  So we left the apartment 5 minutes late, prayed and then as we were going to the bus stop 3 minutes away, realized we left our broken and needing to be fixed phone back at the apartment.  So we had to run back and grab it, and ran to the bus stop to realize I forgot my wallet!  Ran again and finally made it on the bus.  By the time we got off we had 7 minutes to run almost a half mile to the train station and get on the express train into seoul! We eventually made it and the train was 2 minutes late anyways so it worked out perfectly!  After being cramped onto a train like sardines for almost an hour, we made it to the Shindong ward where I was happy to see all my MTC District and many of my dongi members who are way across the mission.  Everyone is pretty much the same, and the training was great!  Its always a great blessing to receive training from the President, he has soo many great insights into the work that we do, and the way we feel about certain things.  He was able to inspire me yet again to work even harder this week and so thats what I did!  We also finally got a working phone and were able to see church headquarters for all of Korea, pretty cool place!  Smaller than you expect though!


Friday was also pretty exciting!  We were supposed to do weekly planning but somehow planned a lesson right at the beginning of planning and so had to go to that.  Long story short, hes 15 minutes late, we walked around with this guy trying to find a restaurant for 30 minutes, I paid 6,000 won for a soup that was the blandest thing ever (talk about weird food this week) and then we only taught him about faith.  Luckily though he was very receptive and commited to reading Moronis promise and the pamphlet on The gospel of Jesus Christ.  We see a big future with this guy, which made everything else worth it.  Back to the house and we are barely starting weekly planning at 2:45, we are usually done by 3.... Had to rush through most of it, got almost done by 6:10 then had to leave for our Appointment with Brother and Sister .  They took us to this expensive restaurant down in 덕이동 where they served a bunch of expensive meats, and one of them was dog!!! I was so excited to finally try it!  Surprisingly it was very good and I didnt know it was dog till the end of the meal!  Afterwards, Brother wanted more food so we went to this Chinese place down the street and had Jajamyon.  Very good, but we had been with them for a long time and hadnt taught yet, so I really wanted to start teaching.  We started there and after a very VERY rough start with them and jumping around three different lessons, we had to leave the restaurant.  Outside we talked a little about the spirit that he felt when he first saw us and then we got in the car.  In the car we explained more about faith, and then we got to our house.  Heres where the miracles started.  He pulled up slowly, then turned and said "Can we pull over for 10 minutes so you can teach me some more?"  We were sooooo excited to hear that!!!!  We pulled over next to our building, and started teaching about Repentance, he said he felt some of the feelings of guilt and sin that we mentioned.  We then taught about baptism, and he asked "How long does it take to become a member of the church?"  Oh I was so excited I almost couldnt contain it!  Finally it came time for the important part: the commitment, and my first one in Korean!  I extended the commitment to him and his wife to be baptized, and unfortunately he declined.  BUT!!!! He said that he wanted to take more time to read the Book of Mormon, and that he would read the Gospel of Jesus Christ Pamphlet 2 before he went to bed that night!!  What an amazing commitment!  We had to run in the house before 9:30 or we would be in "trouble" by our district leader.  Made it!  Awesome night!


Saturday!  Not much missionary work this day (unfortunately) but it was a good day nonetheless.  Avoiding the Details we:  Ate with a member at a tofu restaurant, I gave a spiritual thought.  Elders Smith, Chisholm, Rhodes, and I bought a half gallon of ice cream at baskin robbins and finished it in less then 10 minutes!  Went home, did language study, then had english class!   Easy day and really fun!  We also had transfer calls, Im not going anywhere, no surprise!  


Sunday:  Church was super long, but right afterwards Brother Ha Tae Won asked us to go with him to visit a member.  We went with him to the hospital, and talked with a lady who was very sick.  We gave her a blessing (Which I had prayed to help someone in need that morning! ), and then visited a less active right across the street while we waited for his wife to pick usup.  Afterwards they took us all the way to Paju, where the only bad part of the day happened.  They fed us what I can only describe as cold spaghetti noodles with kimchi in it.  I had never fought my gag reflex so hard, or actually known what that felt like!  It wasnt bad at first, but the kimchi was a little older and more potent and it just was not sitting right!  I was glad to get out of there!  We (Elders Chisholm, Elwood, Smith, and I) then had to meet with the Pakistani family from last week!  They were super fun and as we ate and talked and found out what they needed, we had an awesome time!  They cracked jokes with us and fed us some amazing Pakistani food!  We found out they were baptized in Pakistan in what we figure to be an unauthorized branch out there.  The men dont hold the priesthood, or really know what it is, and they dont have a book of mormon even, which worries us!  But supposedly they have a baptism record, so we cant refute that they are a members.  Its just crazy to think that they havent been to church in almost 12 years because of religious persecution!  The Father's Dad was killed by terrorists, where they slit his throat in the shape of a cross.  The son was taken and beaten till near death and then dropped on the front door of his dads house.  Crazy!  They left there and came here ASAP.  They are really bad in Debt, but have such strong faith and belief that although they are super struggling, they are still happy and have faith that Christ will help them!  What a testimony builder!  



Anyways that was my week!  I hope everyone at home is doing well and that nothing bad has happened!  My Zone Leader Elder Chisholm's friend just had to be a pallbearer in his mission and that is no bueno!  So please everyone be safe and realize that the tender mercies of the lord are everywhere!  When we pray for things he hears us and will do everything he can to help us and give us what we ask for as long as we pray with a sincere heart, and real intent to act on anything that he tells us, no matter how strange it sounds!  When we do this, he will be more willing and ready to give us things in the future because he knows that we will not hesitate to act on his words to us!  


I love and miss all of you so much!  Have a great week!


Elder Yamagata
The view this past PDAY from Bukhansan, definitely a lot clearer than last time!
Me and Elder Rhodes at Bukhansan!
Me and the Seoul!  
Better view of the city!  How massive is that???
Me and Elder Smith! He was posing for his own picture! 

The short sleeve shirts are starting to come out!  And Green for St Patricks day!

The work has finally started!

Mom and Dad,

I feel like this whole time in Korea has started to lead up to this week!  First off, I cant believe its been over 100 days that Ive been on my mission so far! Crazy!!!!!  Secondly, I finally feel like we are doing work!  After last week of losing a lot of our investigators, we needed a boost.  And Heavenly Father came through and blessed us with an amazing week!
     Our usual numbers for a week are 140~150 contacts, and around 30 numbers.  This week we hit 279 contacts and over 50 numbers!  What a blessing!  But thats not the best part!  

We had a man text us on Wednesday saying his name was Mister Choi.  I didnt know who he was and neither did Elder Smith.  In the text however, he stated that I was the one who talked to him in broken Korean and gave him a card, and he said that he didnt give me my number because I was a foreigner and random.  He also said that he wanted to introduce me to his daughter.... -_-...... Ummm thats strange, but he called us and we set an appointment with him to meet on Friday, hopefully to share the gospel and not set me up with a random woman hahaha.  We met with him, his wife, and his daughter.  They were the nicest family and they took us to an italian buffet in Westerndome. We talked with them for a while and somehow the conversation split, with Elder Smith teaching the first lesson to the Daughter next to me, while I was talking to the Parents about what we do and why we teach, etc.  They really liked us, and even offered to feed us every week so that we wouldnt have to cook!  As if that wasnt enough, they also accepted an offer and came to our English Class party that was on Saturday!  After coming to that and socializing with the ward and some members there, We were surprised to see them come for the last hour of church (sacrament)!  What a surprise because neither of us invited them to church! (We spaced and forgot :(  )  But they came and stayed for the Meal afterwards that the ward had.  They talked with us and the 2nd counselor of the bishopric for most of the time, and then asked us what we were doing after.  We had planned on going jundoing after church, but they offered to take us to the Unification Observatory.  Its this giant dome that sits in one of the most northwestern parts of south Korea, and you can see north Korea from there!  Very Crazy!  We were hoping to teach them the 1st lesson once we were there, maybe sit down somewhere, but they were more just sightseeing unfortunately.  We did set a return appointment though where we do plan on teaching them!  Fingers Crossed, it would be a shame if we had to drop them because they have no gospel interest, only foreigner interest!  

Other than that it was an amazing week! Me and Elder Smith got a lot of work done and we feel like we are both learning from each other!  We had our interviews with President Christensen this week as well and he really gave me some great insights on other parts of missionary work, including less actives and recent convert work!  I am hoping that we can turn Korea into less of a retention mission and more of a new convert mission.  A couple of years ago, all members in Korea were considered Less Active, now theres about 10000/80000 members that are active, so still a lot of work to do!  

Zone training was also this week and they are really pushing us to try new styles of prosleyting and teaching to see what works and what doesnt.  What could be extremely beneficial, or detrimental!  It sounds super fun!  

I hope everyone at home is  doing well!  I dont get many emails from the rest of the family so I hope everyone is safe and happy!  Always remember the Lord in everything you do!  Never be ashamed to kneel in prayer and ask for his help in anything you do!  He can provide the necessary strength to overcome all obstacles!

May the Lord Bless you this week!  Be safe and have fun!

Elder Yamagata

My new hair!  Thanks to Elder Chisholm!
My Foreigner Card

 Our new investigators!
New Investigator!
 Another New Investigator!
 Military base on the coast
The buses!! So Many!!

How calling went one day, no one liked us :(

Common site in Korea!

My dorky smile after English class!

The Church.


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Temple!

So to start off, the temple was definitely different here in Korea!  They didnt have us do a Korean session which is good because I wouldnt have understood much, but everything else was crazy!  How we dress, where we went, how big the rooms and everything are!  It truly was different!  Afterwards we were able to hang out in Seoul for the rest of the day, so we decided as a zone to hike up Bukhansan Mountain near Seoul to get some pictures on the top and see how cool it would be!  We quickly realized that was a bad idea....  It took us around 1 1/2 hours to get there, and then to find out it was a different mountain than we originally thought!  We thought it was some small hill near seoul, but this was a huge mountain with rock climbing and everything.  But we were strong and decided to go the distance, since we were already there!  It took us a little over an hour to climb to the top of the mountain, which was at 800m from the base!  The last 200m was almost completely straight up and down and we were forced to use small ledges and cables to get to the peak!  At the end of our crazy trek, which tired us out from lack of food and water, there were only 10 out of the 25 of us that went!  It was incredibly painful near the end, but we persevered.  And we were rewarded!!!  The sight was amazing and so beautiful, but unfortunately that day was foggy and so we couldnt see much of the city!  Either way we had an awesome time taking pictures and yelling off the mountain!  We rushed down quickly to the bottom to get back to our area on time (spoiler: We were late)  We had put our stuff in lockers in the subway and stupid me put the wrong password in so it locked us out and we had to wait for maintenance to come and open the locker, at which point we were already about 10 minutes behind schedule.  Then other things compiled to make us over an hour late back to our area.  We ended up jundoing for an hour and then going home for planning.  Still a great day though!  Pictures to come!  


Wednesday we had district meeting that we were abruptly kicked out of!  Someone came in and told us they were filming stuff in our chapel to give to the surrouding churches introducing them to us and who we are etc.  It was surprising but we agreed wholeheartedly and had the rest of our meeting outside in the nice sun!  It was a really nice day so none of us complained!  After that I went on exchanges with elder elwood where I spent the whole time trying to encourage him to do work.  He's in my older dongi (group) and has been here for almost 2 transfers now, but he still doesnt like doing much from what I have seen.  But eventually I was able to get him to talk to a couple of people and start doing some work before an appointment we had set up the day before.  Unfortunately though, the people didnt show up and wouldnt answer their phones, so it was a big bummer that night, but just had to pick back up and go work some more before going home!


Thursday, Jundo life!  Moving on!


Friday was kind of difficult for me.  Early on this week I had been getting irritable with some of the people in my house and with my companion.  Eventually, something he did or said ( I really dont remember at this point)  And I ended up going for a walk and just doing some nice "companionship inventory" down the street.  I dont know why I was super stressed but It all just came out, I didnt yell or get mad at him though.  I was mad at myself for not being able to control my self better and let out my feelings in a controlled manner, instead I just let it boil up to the point of explosion, but it was more like a boil over.  Either way it pushed us back about an hour for weekly planning and then after we jundoed for about 3 hours and stuff before going home.  By the end of the day I feel like me and Elder Smith were a lot closer then before!


Saturday we were supposed to have 2 appointments, both cancelled.  Jundo life!!!!


My first fast sunday in country was definitely interesting!  Never have I had so many answers to prayers in one day!  I was blessed to have so many revelations come to me during and after church as I studied and prayed fervently throughout the day!  Lets just say this upcoming week hopefully flies with missionary work!!!  


My other fasting prayer was answered today as I checked to see if I got into BYU.  I was declined, but I was able to accept it with my head up and without being so hard on myself!  I am glad I have finally found out so that I can focus more on missionary work while Im here!!!


Hoping everyone had a great week and that all of you had a wonderful fast sunday!  Korea is amazing and I wish all of you could see it!  


I love and miss all of you!


Elder Yamagata

The Seoul temple!!!

Eating a double down at KFC!!! SOOoo gOod!

Bukhansan National Park! 

Sister Anderson Looking at a "Squatters Toilet"  It was definitely weird!

ME and elder smith finally making it to the top of Bukhansan mountain! 

The flag up on the peak!  It was super cold and windy!

 The view of the city from the peak!  Too bad it was foggy! 
Me and some random korean woman that wanted a picture together!

Me and Elder Smith epic pose!

The descent, it was brutal!

Me and elder rhodes at the base!

Me in Sinchon? I dont remember!

Dinner I made for myself!  Definitely proud!


Me feeling happy during study time!!!

Here are some video links from when we climbed the mountain!