Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Happy 설날!!! - 2/22/15

So it was just Chinese New Years here (or as we call it Lunar New Years) and we had a great time! We had the blessing of having a zone conference on the actual day of 설날 (pronounced Solar Or Solal) and we had to sessions.  The first session it was wonderful to be able to watch Meet the Mormons with many of our missionaries here in the mission and hear the wonderful stories of 6 members from around the world that are living their faith in a variety of capacities.  Semi-professional MMA fighter, Navy football team coach, or just a mom.  We felt the Spirit strongly, even some people unto tears as they watched these people live our faith.  IT was wonderful!  Afterwards, we talked about the book of Mormon in upcoming prep for this next months mission focus.  We also watched a movie called A New Day for the Book of Mormon.  I highly recommend this for everyone, it's just interesting.  Super cool!  After that president talked with us about the Social Media and other efforts going on to bring more people into the fold.  Then he said from the pulpit "The time for fishing with nets came and past, we all know we are hunters.  And with Social Media, the time for the gathering is soon coming."  Whoa President!  Heavy words man! You can't just drop that on some missionaries who are trying to do the Lords work!  The mission was abuzz after that. Haah  The rest of the day we spent working trying to talk to people and get them to stop, unfortunately, it was new years and so everyone was bustling around not caring about the missionaries.  So we worked hard anyways!

This week I have been studying Isaiah a little bit and read a wonderful scripture that I felt summed up quite a bit of things:

For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still.

Isaiah 5:25.  How God feels is incredible, he may be angry with us and upset with all of the actions and choices we have made in life, but his hand is STILL outstretched, waiting to help us.  I talked to a man on  the street yesterday and told him this quote and it really hit him in a way that I couldn't have imagined.  He was holding a 40oz. and was slightly buzzed, but knew what I was talking about. I testified of Gods love for him and he was astounded!  Elder Day was freaked when I quoted Isaiah to this guy, but it worked out well!  

Well, this week has been good.  Elder Day and I are working hard and trying to find some people to teach.  We have been praying hard and really striving to find people.  He's a great companion and loves to learn and is open to correction and to being told how to be the best missionary.  He's great to at being honest and open with stuff that he feels like is going right or wrong.  

Anyways I'm done rambling for this week.  Thanks for praying for the missionaries and for the strength to keep on.  You would think that after over a year in the field that it just gets easy and that we don't have many troubles getting out and working.  But it's tough each and every day to get out of the house and find the Lords children to teach.  So thank you for your prayers!!!  Continue to do it!  We love you!!!


Elder Yamagata

This week in a bottle - 2/15/15

Wow, this week was just as insane if not more than last week!  It may not seem like it to you but with everything that is going on out here,  I'm drained!

first off we have transfers on a pday today.  Super stressful because we still have to get done everything that needs to get done.  So we got back pretty late and I have to rush through this a little so I will give you the highlights.  

First off, Wednesday we had an... interesting? District meeting about trials and why they are important in our lives.  It wasn't a training as much as it was a realization and discussion within our district giving us necessary revelation to continue to press forward in our cause.  It was a struggle just allowing the spirit to guide our entire discussion and really lead me to say what I needed to say to them.  We had great input and everyone got a lot out of it.  Yesterday I called one of our sisters to follow up and see how the training has been applied and it was a really great conversation as she told me that it  was the perfect district meeting that she needed to really overcome some stuff that was going on in her life.  What an awesome thing to hear.  I was just glad that the Spirit led me to the revelation that I needed for my district.  I know that revelation still comes to me in this day through the Holy Ghost.  We must remember the words of President Eyring from last general conference:

“Revelation continues in the Church: the prophet receiving it for the Church; the president for his stake, his mission, or his quorum; the bishop for his ward; the father for his family; the individual for himself.”

And I would add, the missionary for his area.  It really is amazing to be able to help so many people through such small acts.  And I learn more than they ever will from the trainings!  

Thursday was an even crazier day as I was able to go with our dying Elder Mumford on his last exchange of his mission.  He had me help him with doing member missionary work and staying actively engaged when going home.  I could see in him a spark, something that showed me that this missionary worked hard for two years, and there was the spark that was going to grow into a blaze.  This man was truly converted  to the gospel and was willing to devote the rest of his life to it.  What a great thing to see in a missionary.  So we worked hard all day and it was fun.  I was glad to learn a lot from him too.  

Friday we got our transfer calls and I'm staying with a new companion: Elder Day.  He's a young missionary so we are going to have some fun this next transfer.  

And today is transfers where I was able to see some people, but now I have to go and get stuff done sorry this isn't a longer letter but I know the church is true and I know that God loves us, and that's really all that matters!!!! Have a great week, be safe, and may the Lord bless you!

Elder Yamagata

Family Love! 2/8/15

Hey family!  Hope this week has been going well for you!  Some cool things have happened this week.  I studied a great talk this week by President Ezra Taft Benson called Jesus Christ - Gifts and Expectations.  It was really good and made me think about what I need to be doing to give something to Christ.  A small little excerpt of this really stuck out to me as I studied this week:

Said President Brigham Young, “I have heard a great many tell about what they have suffered for Christ’s sake. I am happy to say I never had occasion to. I have enjoyed a great deal, but so far as suffering goes I have compared it a great many times, in my feelings and before congregations, to a man wearing an old, worn-out, tattered and dirty coat, and somebody comes along and gives him one that is new, whole and beautiful. This is the comparison I draw when I think of what I have suffered for the Gospel’s sake—I have thrown away an old coat and have put on a new one.”

 What a great comparison for the gospel.  We are taking off the old coats of our old selves and replacing them with new coats that Christ is giving us for the small token of following Him.  What a great gift that he has given us.  Another thing that stuck out to me was this quote:

But just as when one loses his life in the service of God,he really finds the abundant life, so also when one sacrifices all to God, then God in return shares all that He has with him.
Try as you may, you cannot put the Lord in your debt.For every time you try to do His will, He simply pours out more blessings upon you. Sometimes the blessings may seem to be a little slow in coming—perhaps this tests your faith—but come they will, and abundantly. It has been said, “Cast your bread upon the waters and after a while it shall come back to you toasted and buttered.”
I think I have tried a good many a time to put the Lord in my debt, and I can tell you personally it doesn't work.  We always end up being in debt to the great Redeemer of the World!  It was super powerful to read that and understand just a little more how much Jesus Christ does for us.  We could never repay him even if we tried.  Super great!  

Something else that happened this week, I got sick!  Nothing too bad just a little stomach problem on Firday.  But while I was sick I had the opportunity to hear a talk from Elder Neal A Maxwell called the Inexhaustible Gospel.  highly recommend that!  Won't spoil it, it's just really good!

This week when collecting stats I had the opportunity to call each member of my district and see how their week was. Normally this isn't the case in our mission as our leaders just want stats and then they figure out everything else later though.  This week I made them wait as I called all of them and found out how they were doing and really looked into their areas and saw if there was anything that I could do to help them.  And, funnily enough, when I did that, it worked really well and I was able to help my district in a way that I was never able to before!    Sister Ness really opened up to me and asked ways to do better even when they have no investigators.  Didn't know they were having that problem and so it was cool to help them.  I was really happy that I had the inspiration to do that.  

Heavenly Father has really been giving me a lot of inspiration in my prayers lately of things that I need to keep in mind as I go about his work.  Something that I want to share with all of you is what President Monson said from a couple of conferences ago: Never let a problem to be solved become more important than a person to be loved.

I have learned of the truthfulness of that quote yesterday as me and Elder Manwaring got into an argument, because I allowed a problem to be solved become more important than my own companion who was having a little problem.  It didn't matter how small it was, he needed my help and I needed to be there for him. Eventually all the problems were solved, and that's the quote that came into my head as I prayed about it.  So remember that family, and live that every single day and I can promise that you will be happier!  This is what I leave with you this week.  May the Lord bless you!

Elder Yamagata

A Week in a bottle - 2/2/15

Hey family!  Hope you had a great week because I did!  

Nothing super spectacular happened this week but it was overall just a really good week!  

One thing that I really liked this week was an article I read in an old Liahona about refining ourselves to fit into our celestial homes after this life.  Culturing ourselves to love the best of everything.  Music, food, games, love, everything.  It was a really inspiring article and has given me the inspiration to go home and restart my instruments, learn piano even more, learn to sing, read the classics of the world, really refine my life.  It wont happen all at once, but its a lifetime goal and it has eternal consequences.  I highly recommend this article  Our Refined Heavenly Home.  It definitely has changed some of my views on life and the world!  

This week we also had a great district meeting about promises that we as missionaries make.  It was a really good training that resulted in 2 baptismal dates in our area this week! This commitment along with the zone leaders commitment to invite more people to be baptized has really pushed our district to find and commit more people.  And they WANT to commit, they want to make those covenants with heavenly father that help them draw closer to him.  It is truly amazing!  

Our time as servants of the Lord is super short so we just have to work as hard as we can for two years no regrets, no mercy, no fear.  Dont let anything stop you future missionaries from serving the Lord with all your heart might mind and strength!  

Your in my prayers and I hope the Missionaries of the world are in yours!

The week - 1/25/15

This week has been absolutely crazy, I don't want to get too many details, but I'll give the good stuff

So Monday as a district we went ice skating at the local college.  super fun and a great workout.  As we skated we talked about the things of the Kingdom of God.  If you looked and listened on from the outside your Jaw would have dropped.  Where else can you find 19-21-year-old kids talking about the kingdom of God and salvation, spiritual experiences and etc.  Nowhere!  But on a mission.  So come on out!  

Wednesday we had our first district meeting.  I fasted super hard for heavenly fathers help in doing this. Never given a training before and wanted it to be good!  So I got up and started off talking about questions and their importance in missionary work.  Then I blanked, my mind turned back on, and I said in the name of Jesus christ.  Just like that it was over.  I barely had enough time to cover everything that I had prepared.  The training went well with everyone getting something out of it!  Suepr exciting.  Cant waitfor future trainigs. Definitely have to rely on the Lord though!  

Thursday first exchange with Elder Song.  Went and trained him on showing emotion during missionary work,  super funny!  We had a decent morning. But by about mid afternoon we had been rejected quite a bit.  Finally, I had a person really get under my skin and push my buttons.  I will quote from my president letter:

Unfortunately, I had someone get really deep under my skin and push some really hard buttons. It seems that in my quest to conquer my other weaknesses and focus on that aspect of my life, I have completely neglected the other weaknesses in my life and Satan is now searching out those parts of my life and is trying to work his way in through them. So anyways this man somehow knew exactly what to say to make me mad in no time flat. I started walking away but then he catcalled out to me and I blanked for the next 4 seconds till I felt Elder Song pushing me away and then I really walked away this time and didn't look back. It was extremely stressful and I just wanted to cry. I felt so bad for the image I gave, but also that this man just completely hardened his heart to us and wasn't even willing to listen for a second to this wonderful message that if he heard would literally bring the most happiness to his life ever! So I did cry and prayed for Heavenly Father to help this man. Throughout the rest of the day, we just kept meeting very unlikable people. Luckily I was already prepared and just walked away most of the time so I don't have to worry about ever getting close again. I just don't know what to do about it. I feel like I can't get close to those people because I will lose it on them again and I definitely don't want that. So It's better to avoid them. But I can't avoid them forever, but how do you love someone who literally pushes every single one of your buttons so that all you want to do is either run to avoid it, or run at them and pummel them? At the point where the choice exists, there's not usually a lot of time to think and do something Christlike, my mind usually is starting to lose its grip already at that point

It was really bad, I don't remember much, Elder song had to tell me what happened.  But all I know is it felt terrible.  I couldnt handle the anger and frustration.  Finally shook it off and have just been avoiding those people ever since.  It seems there are more of them lately.  Havent had a really good day since then.  Just praying and studying trying to find anything to help me.  So far its just trying to love them, even when the love is gone.  Anyways!

Well, other than that nothing much has really happened this week, that occupied most of my time.  The rest of it, I studied instancers of anger and patience in the Sciptures and have been really praying for God to help me.  Sometimes I feel all alone and then I remember I'm not.  I have Christ and the Spirit on my side.  And thats all I need.  But then I have your prayers and your wishes and I know that everyone is supporting me.  So we push on and exercise more faith hoping that he will answer our prayers.  A scipture just came to my mind:

 41 ¶And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name.

I have talked about this scripture before, but it comes again, this is what we are striving for.  To be to the point where we can rejoice in persecutions and challenges.  I thought I was there, but I still have soooo much more to do.  And it gives me hope.  becauseI know that if there is weakness, that means theres strength, which means the Lord really is helping us and fulfilling his promise in Ether 12:27.  So we press forward 
 20 Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness inChrist, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men

Well, I love you family!  I pray for you daily!  Dont be afraid to write me every once in a while!
The Lord is on our side!  We will prevail!

Without Wax
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GREAT WEEK! 1/18/15

Sorry family I can't give you much this week but I just want to tell you how much I love you and how much I know your prayers not only help me but all the missionaries in the world. 

Really quick me and Elder Manwaring had a great week and are now getting along.  

Slapped Elder Weight in the Face with a squid

 Learned a lot about Kindness and forgiveness from President George Albert Smtih

Learned a lot about patience from the drunk guys on the street.  

Just gotta love everyone, love them to death.  Thats all we can do.  No matter what, just love people, its the driving force of lasting change in teh world.  

Love all of you!

Elder Yamagata

Whoa......Impact 1/11/15

This week has been ups and downs, and downs, and downs, and a little up.  I'll tell you the beans

Well, monday was our last FHE with the 태백 branch and we had an awesome time playing 윶노리 with them ( a traditional Korean game called Yooht No Ri).  Generally the game is accompanied by yelling screaming and chanting and special rituals for getting the right "roll" on your sticks.  This was nos exception.  Our team won 2/3 and was killing it.  Then unfortunately it was time to say goodbye to everyone.  Sooooo sad!!  

On Tuesday, we packed and got ready to go, took the train into Seoul, Sister Holmes who was also transferring couldn't stop crying for a while. It was quite sad.

Wednesday!  What I thought was going to be a great day quickly turned into a struggle.  Left my buddy Elder Garff and got with my new companion Elder Manwaring at transfers and quickly bounced out.  I could notice some initial uneasiness but figured it was just some nervousness on his part.  I'm his first new companion after his trainer or otherwise known as the GREENIEBREAKER!!! Which isn't bad, just different.  Really different.  So we went along with our day and planned some good stuff and I learned the area.  Dongdaemun is great, one of the oldest areas in the mission.  President actually served and lived in the same house 40 years ago on his mission!  

Thursday  was a great day until the night time.  We had done some exploration finding to get me better acquainted with the area.  Then at night as we were going to do something in the church, I was in the bishop's office and could feel that entire day that something wasn't right with my companion even though he said he was fine and that the Spirit was a little off.  Something was weighing weird on me and I was just trying to shake it off thinking I was just paranoid or something.  Finally, I was getting frustrated with the feeling and decided to act on it by probing my companion until he finally let it spill.  All the beans came out of the can and we sat down for a couple of hours and had a nice long discussion trying to resolve all the different concerns.  I was proud of him for being able to say all the things that he did and not be scared that it would cause an argument or anything.  And surprisingly didn't but the Spirit told me that it was meant to be said and heard.  We came out feeling a little better but definitely rocky.  

Friday.  Weekly planning took quite a bit of time.  

Saturday.  A wonderful morning but right before English class I could again tell something was wrong and something needed to be talked about.  I asked him again and finally he let loose again and let even more out this time.  I again tried to be patient with him and let him know that I wasn't mad and that I just wanted to fix his concerns, but that it wasn't going to be the same anymore.  

Sunday.  Great first day with the ward and had an awesome intro to our ward.  The members loved me and that I was so upbeat and willing to help.  President Even came to our ward because we had a baptism scheduled.  Awesome!  Had a great time until priesthood when they came and pulled out the missionaries because there was no hot water for the baptism and we needed to get some from our house and start filling the font for the baptism.  So we shuttled water back and forth for 1 1/2 hours!  Finally, the baptism came and we sang I am a child of God in Mongol!  Then when the actual baptism happened it took four times with the 4th time I had to get in with my companion and push her clothing down too to make it happen!  Wow!!!  After church I talked to President about the situation and he gave me Elder Manwaring's perspective on it just from how the area has been and his previous companion and it really gave me perspective on how I need to handle the situation.  I had been praying for help and love and patience and this was the answer to one of my prayers.  So I am excited to be doing this for the next couple of days and really trying to help my new companion phase into other parts of missionary work.  I really hope that we can turn this around and basically start fresh.  

So it's been a pretty crazy week but I know that the Lord doesn't give us anything that we can't handle and that isn't for our good.  So I'm excited to tackle this head on and give it everything I have so that I can grow and be the best missionary I can be! I love it here though and I know the work is true!  I love you all!

Also, this morning as I was reading for personal study I came across some interesting things in Preach My Gospel about the Book of Mormon.  It was in Chapter 5, Book of Mormon, under the section The Book of Mormon and Bible support each other.  As I was reading this I was drawn to thoughts about all the people on the street and in the World that think that we don't believe in the bible or something along those lines.  I asked myself the questions "If God loved us, with a perfect love, then why wouldn't he want to talk to us.  Why would he close the heavens and leave us to fend for ourselves with imperfect books and man's interpretation?  Why is it bad that God has spoken to us through a prophet again?  Doesn't it follow that he would call another prophet?  Isn't it great that he loves us enough to speak to us in our prayers and through a prophet?  As I thought about this I was eternally grateful for the love of a Heavenly Father who HAS spoken to us through a prophet again and continues to do so today.  I am grateful that he has given us both the Bible and Book of Mormon to testify of his son Jesus Christ and the divinity of his role as Savior and Redeemer of the World.  I don't know why anyone in their right mind would want to close the Heavens and limit the Creator of the Heavens!  I know he speaks to us and loves us.  I know that Thomas S. Monson is the prophet on the earth today and that he speaks in the name of the Lord as prophets of the past have done and guides us back to our Heavenly Father.  You don't believe me, put it to the test!  Then He will tell you!

Elder Yamagata

Well that was a shock.....1/4/15

Well it was right?  Oh wait, you dont know?  Let me fill you in?  

We received transfer calls on Friday.  Our expectation: one more together, Im trained to be the 1st counselor in the branch presidency and then Elder Garff is out and someone else comes in for a while.  What happened:  Elder Garff stays and Elder Murdock gets trained to be 1st counselor, I move to DongDaeMoon ward in Seoul and become a senior comp and District Leader for the first time on my mission....Well I was a shock for me at least.  And the rest of my District and Zone.  Literally everyone thought that we would stay one more, but that wasn't the Lord's plan.  I couldnt sleep that night.  Wasnt coming, to stressed about having to leave and be a district leader.  But after a day of fasting and praying about it and trying to find out if its God's will I found out for sure that thats what the Lord wants me to do.  So now Im happy about it!  Im excited to be going to Dong Dae Moon and serving there with so many people!  Back in Seoul Again!  Whoo!!!

Well also, on new years day we went hiking at 태백산 (TaeBaek Mountain) at really early in the morning.  A big Korean tradition is to hike the closest mountain and watch the first sunrise to bring in the new year!  Well we couldnt go super early in the morning, but we went later and hiked and watched the sun come up some more.  It was extremely difficult with most of the members being extremely unprepared and so we had to bring extra equipment and hike in some of our missionary attire to keep us warm.  It was -14 Celcius when we started and about -20 at the top of the mountain!  I almost died!!! So did everyone else.  But the way down was super fun as we sleded and skiied our way down.  I hurt my back pretty badly on the way down.  But at the top we said a prayer as a branch to start our new year and it was really nice.  I don't remember the specifics but I know I felt the spirit that day with the branch.  When we got back we went over to one of our members houses for dinner and had 떡국수 for dinner,  which if you don't eat in Korea you don't turn a year older.  So we ate played some games and had an awesome message on setting goals for the new year and looking back on the old one in recognition of our accomplishments and how much we have improved.  It was a wonderful time. 

Probably the best thing that happened this week was sunday night as we did our weekly planning.  Me and Elder Garff talked about these past 2 transfers and what we learned from each other and how much we had grown.  Elder Garff told me how much he has seen me be prepared to be a Senior and District leader.  He testified so much to me about my own progress and how he has seen the curve on my progress turn into an alsmot straight upward line.  I was almost to tears as we finished off our last companion ship inventory and Told each other how we could improve.  He has been my best companion, and a true friend.  Someone I know will be in my life for the rest of it and the eternities to come.  I thanked the Lord for him after we finished in a private prayer.  What a great experience.  

Well not much else happened this week.  I learned a lot during my studies and almost died in one of our older members houses trying to fix his washing machine.  Scary times and fun times but it was worth it.  

Hope all of you had a wonderful new year and have set goals and made plans to improve this upcoming year.  We dont progress without goals in mind.  And how do you know how to progress in your goals without plans?  It doesnt work.  So set them and then get to work.  

Love all of yall!


Merry Christmas! Its only 361 days away! And Happy New Year! 12/28/14

Wow what a week!  I am exhausted beyond belief, too many things happened at once and now its all coming back on me!  Ill focus on the best parts! 

Really the best part of it was the Christmas party that we had with our ward! WE had a lot of games and food, music and laughter!  But the best part of it was finishing with a singing of Silent night, watching He's the Gift, and then praying together as a branch.  What a wonderful and spiritually uplifting experience.  It brought tears to many eyes, including mine!  Afterwards, some of the members brought small gifts for everyone, all the missionaries got socks!  Haha just what we needed!  Later on we caroled to one of our older members (even though all of us were dead, service@!!!!! doing the work of the Lord actually brings more strength!) who couldn't come to the party because he was sick.  Then at night we all caroled out at the park near our church, I was dressed as Santa still so then I took some pictures with the kids and then we had a huge miracle of seeing one of the other elders investigators at the park whom he hadn't seen in over a month!  Luckily for us we saw him and were able to set a street appointment!  So great!  Fried Chicken for dinner and finally watched the Christmas devotional as a district.  I was moved to tears on several occasions as the Spirit overcame me and filled with me with such joy and love as never to be felt before.  Especially when we ended our Christmas party, Elder Garff testified about Christ and about families, and then I testified about Love and Christ and how we are all one big family.  It was extremely wonderful!  Then after our watching the devotional, we decided to say a district prayer together.  During the prayer I thought about how unworthy we are to have Christ.  How we are the dust of the earth, which dust we dont own, yet we mean the world to him, and Heavenly Father.  I was overcome by the Spirit as I felt his love not just for me but for everyone of us and the stewardships that we held.  I could feel his love pour into the hearts of all of us.  I loved it and we all basically floated home on a cloud of happiness.  

Then on sunday the spirit continuted to flow as the Primary children had their performance and reminded us that families can be together forever.  What an outstanding message, and the voices werent too bad either. We had branch council, where the members told us that we were basically members of the branch and that we couldnt leave, they were going to as kpresident for us to stay haha.  We also realized that president has only 6 months left in his mission here, sooooo scary!  Crazy to think that he is leaving soon too!  WE will definitely miss him!

Well Hope all of you had a wonderful Christmas and have a Happy new year too!!!!! I love all of you sooo much and I hope you remembered the real reason for the season, which is Christ Jesus.  I love this work, and the gospel of Christ, and the opportunity each and every one of us has to live forever, as a family with our children spouses and parents, with our Heavenly father.  I know this is the true church of Christ and that only through the laws and ordinances of the gospel can we truly be saved in the celestial kingdom of our Father. 

예수 그리스도의 이름으로 간정드립니다, 아멘.

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Hey Family! 12/21/14

Well First, Im glad to hear that Chelsea is now home from her mission!  I am glad she was able to serve her faithful 18 months out in the field among our Father's Children and help and serve them in the best way that she could.  Thanks for the service chelsea!!!  

This week was pretty crazy as well, lots of travelling and stress and great lessons learned.  We went into Seoul on Thursday for our conference on friday and spent the day doing a lot of stuff.  Unfortunately at one point in the day trying to get to a museum, me and elder Bae had located the bus that we needed to take to get there, but then Elder Garff had asked a man who got on a bus and advised him to do so, so we followed him even though the bus wouldnt take us to where we were going.  After a 40 minute bus ride of everywhere but the museum, we finally got off 3 blocks away from the museum.  I was mad.  I had just told him that we had found the bus and then he hopped on another one.  I was so angry I couldnt express it, that he had just wasted a total of almost an hour of our time.  We met up with everyone else that we were supposed to be with, and then walked into the museum.  Inside he told me sorry, that he didnt know we found the bus, he didnt hear me, he thought we were still looking for the bus when he started talking to the guy.  He thought he was doing the right thing.  Reminds me of a talk from 2 conferences ago, What are you thinking by Elder Craig W. Zwick.  I was rash in my judgements of him and what he was doing, didnt think to even think about his side and what was going on.  I was humbled (again) and after saying a small prayer asking for forgiveness and love, I apologized for my actions.  I felt really bad for how I had acted, and actually found out that the man wants to meet with the missionaries, accepted a book of mormon and a date to meet.  We sent the referral off the other day.  I also realized that a lot of my anger problems, or problems i nthe world in general are because of misunderstandings between 2 parties or more and the lack of patience to find out what is going on.  So you can safely assume that I will be working on patience over these next few weeks.  Again.  haha.  Eventually, everything comes back to the basics of the gospel, including the Christlike attributes.  

We had our Christmas conference on Friday of this past week and were able to hear from president and sister Christensen again.  What wonderful trainings were given!  Sister Christensen beckoned us to shine our lights to the world.  Even if we are just one light, without us the world would be a little bit darker.  And President came and hit us with science.  And really changed our views on some things that we just commonly accept.  Talked about the Electromagnetic Spectrum with us during his training.  And about how little we can actually see, let alone how little we understand about it.  Then he compared that to God's knowledge.  He knows light so well that he came down on a beam of it with His son and talked to Joseph Smith.  Wow.... what a great comparison of how little we actually are!  And how great God is.  President Talked to us about a lot of things but that was just one thing that really stuck out to me.  I know I still have a long way to go and things to learn before I can be like him.  

Quick small story:  After the Conference, we had some treats from the President and Sister, and then watched movies and such.  We had to leave early to catch a train from Jungnang to TAebaek.  So we got everything together and left relatvely early.  On the way to the station, elder Bae's luggage broke.... had to go back and pick up parts etc etc missed the first subway out to our final destinantion of Chungnyangni.  But we still have plenty of time, well the next subway takes about 25 minutes to get there and screws us. Get to the train terminal and watch the train leave....great.  WE were sprinting with luggage and packages and such.  Absolutely nuts!! But really fun we all prayed even though  we missed the train and headed to the bus station.  It was actually really fun

Well I dont have much time this week we have to setup for our christmas party today and get stuff ready so I love you guys and miss you and will talk to you next week!  BYE!!!!

Elder Yamagata

Oh Man!!!! 12/14/14

We had an awesome week this week but Im gonna cut the least awesome stuff and just talk about saturday and maybe sunday.

So actually friday night, had to go to bedearly pack a bag and everything because the next morning we had to go to seoul with our branch!  So exciting! (let me just preface this by saying lots of stress and stuff!)

We woke up super early to get ready and as we headed out the door and called our branch president who was picking us up to go to the bus terminal, we found out he was running late and wouldnt be able to.  Its 5:35.... bus leaves at 5:50.... we are 20 minutes away.... Called a taxi, gonna take 5 minutes.  We quickly said personal and companion prayers that everything would work out.  AS the taxi pulled up, we told him to hit it, the drive normally takes about 5 minutes, he took 1.  Arrived at the bus terminal at 5:41 a.m.!!!! What a blessing from the Lord!  Got the tickets and met our branch, except branch president, at the terminal.  Prayed now for our branch president who got there with his family and our resident HarAboji Brother Lee Chang who quickly rushed in and got on the bus!  Finally, problems over, right?  WRONG!!!! One, couldnt sleep on the bus, so 3 hours of study later, we arrive in Seoul.  Now not everyone has transit cards so we have to buy tickets for the Subway.  Get to the Temple finally and two of our branch members still havent arrived, and Lee chang has lost his walking stick.  So rush to fiind out everything thats going on, saying a prayer that everyone arrives soon and to find the walking stick.  Find it almost after praying, and then walk to the front desk, our Reservation to do baptisms for the dead was 1 hour ago.... Another ward is here doing theres and then its lunch for the temple workers...  Oh man heres another prayer God!  (At this point, Im pretty sure I just never stopped praying!!!)  But the Blessings keep coming right???  The Temple workers running the baptistry are missionaries that Elder Garfff knew in Shinchon and so they decide to give up their lunch to let us do the work of the Lord!  After starting the baptisms and confirmations, they asked me and elder Garff to do confirmations.  Easy right, not in Korean!  In the temple!  부담 왔다!!!  ㅠㅠ  Again, prayer becomes a useful tool as I sit down and put my hands on a young mans head.  Then something beautiful happened.  As I read the paper, the words started coming out fluidly, faster than I was reading them.  Eventually I came to the realization that I was NOT speaking the words, the Spirit was, and as I tried to speak them I would stumble and give up and let the Spirit take back over.  It was a wonderful experience, even the recorder was astounded as both me and Elder Garff fluidly spoke the words of the ordinance.  After the confirmations we left the temple to go eat lunch with everyone, we waited for a while for the adults, but our branch president wanted the kids to eat so we took them and went to a buffett.  At the buffett we got a call informing us that one) no more trains home tonight, have to take a bus.  2) He was doing an endowment now!  What the heck!  We were supposed to leave in a little bit but we ended up staying really long while waiting for them!  At the buffett Elder Garff had a strange prompting so we got up and followed it to a less active member who had just come back from her mission and went less active.  We committed her to go to church and to teach with the sister missionaries!  She accepted!  Awesome!!! So much work getting done, and then turn around to find the youth watching us at work, they were floored to see that we were still working at a restaurant!  After we finally met up with our branch and started heading home, at one busy interesection in downtown seoul we almost watched Lee Chang get hit by 6 cars as he tried to cross the street during a green light!  Finally we get inside to where we think the stress ends, what more could happen?  we are at the terminal tickets in hand when.... Lee Chang lost his ticket.... oh man, more prayers up to heaven!  Might as well as had a cell phone with God on speed dial that day!  Finally 1 minute before the bus leaves he finds the ticket and we all get on!  Done

The Stress
The Tiredness
The everything
finally done

Speaking korean all day, studying, doing the lords work, and yet he still bears us up, as me and Elder Garff stayed up the whole bus ride home talking about the day.  Got home and passed out hard.

So as you can tell my testimony of prayer has been strengthed and I have seen sooo many miracles just on that oneday.  I wish I could share more with you the experiences and the miracles we have been having but I have no time left!!! Suffice it to say that serving a mission is worth it.  All of you in the family I would suggest you start studying daily and working in preach my gospel!  Ask your cousins, friends, family how a mission was and how best to prepare!  Its not just spiritual, its mental, emotional, physical, everything-al!  

Love all of you!

Elder Yamagata

#선물을나누십시오 12/7/14

안녕하세요 여러분! 잘지네세요? 어떻게 지넸어요? 좋다!

Well, thats enough of that!  Tiring me out!  

Well, this week has been great!  Filled with some ups and downs and all arounds!  Learned a lot, and want to share it.  But first!

#HestheGift Probably seen this a lot haven't you?  The First Presidency is really pushing this movie to everyone!  Bought some advertising on times square and the banner on youtube on the 7th!  Our mission president has given each of us a copy of it along with several other mormon messages and we have taken to the streets and are trying to #Sharethegift.  It has been awesome, we take protable dvd players out and just play the video for people as we are walking down the street.  They love it, others hate it.  Some people learn something new (Like that Christmas is about Jesus).  Others just stare blankly and dont understand, but everyone feels the SPIRIT!!! I highly advise everyone to watch and share it with as many people as you can.  And if you ahve watched and shared it, keep trying!!!  Just sharing it once is not enough, He is the GIFT!!!! This is eternal life on the line and if we aren't willing to share it with everyone, then why should we receive it to begin with?  Have fun, be creative!!!

Also, something in the video really stuck out to me, in english it says, "He is the Christ" but in Korean it is "그ㄴ 바로 그리스도입니다"  Sort of the same, but much stronger.  The word 바로 can be translated as directly, or exactly.  So they arent just saying he is the Christ, but he is Exactly the Christ.  It's amazing how much our perception of things changes as we change the language we view it in.  Lately reading the scriptures in Korean has changed my perspective on things in them.  We receive different insights through the translation that we have of the book of mormon and the bible.  Even though sometimes its really hard to read and understand, we can gain so much from it.  Korean has been having that impact on me lately.  And also I have been forgetting my english too.... bummer.  Probably won't be able to speak by the time I get back.  

Something else that happened this week was quite amazing.  We hold a mutual-esque thing for the youth of the ward.  And we had planned out an activity for them and then some stuff happened and next thing you know me and Elder Garff are on opposite sides of a problem trying to come to a solution.  Well, we had to think of something quick, and we didnt want to talk.  Something Ive been saying lately is that "The Spirit is grieved"  and boy was it greived.  and we had a teaching appointment in 15 minutes.  He had the idea of praying to help us resolve the situation in the best manner.  So we went and prayed and immediately both knew how to reach the best solution.  And it worked.  And the Spirit came back faster than you could say Amen.  So moral of the story:  Prayer.  I highly recommend it!  

I also testified yesterday in sacrament meeting about the trials of life.  Joseph smith had a lot and God knew and said this to him:

 5 If thou art called to pass through tribulation; if thou art in perils among false brethren; if thou art in perils among robbers; if thou art in perils by land or by sea;
 6 If thou art accused with all manner of false accusations; if thine enemies fall upon thee; if they tear thee from the society of thy father and mother and brethren and sisters; and if with a drawn sword thine enemies tear thee from the bosom of thy wife, and of thine offspring, and thine elder son, although but six years of age,shall cling to thy garments, and shall say, My father, my father,why can’t you stay with us? O, my father, what are the men going to do with you? and if then he shall be thrust from thee by the sword, and thou be dragged to prison, and thine enemies prowl around thee like wolves for the blood of the lamb;
 7 And if thou shouldst be cast into the pit, or into the hands of murderers, and the sentence of death passed upon thee; if thou be cast into the deep; if the billowing surge conspire against thee; iffierce winds become thine enemy; if the heavens gather blackness,and all the elements combine to hedge up the way; and above all,if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee,know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience,and shall be for thy good.
But nevertheless, deep water is what I am wont to swim in.

D&C 122:5-7 and 127:2

What a powerful lesson to learn from someone who was going through much worse than I was.  And who wasnt even as close as Job, or especially Jesus!!  I know that we are given deep water to swim through for our benefit and instruction.  I know that only in the deepest of waters is where we learn lifes greatest lessons.  For example, on a mission!  It definitely changes your life!  

Other than that not a different week.  Finished the Doctrine and Covenantes cover to cover for the first time yesterday and started the Pearl of Great Price.  What a wonderful experience and for those that havent dont it I highly recommend that as well.  You can learn some great and crazy stuff from it!  Also, studying a little bit of church history is great too!  

Well, I hope everyone had a great week and is sharing the gift with as many people as possible!  Enjoy the holiday season, but make sure to remember the real reason for the season!  

Elder Yamagata

Hey Yalls! 11/30/14

So, not much has actually happened this week.  We are having our first snow today and it is awesome!  Elder Garff doesn't like the snow and so hes a little glum, but whatever, I'm having a blast! 

As far as anything new or special.  Well we rode in a Cop 2x three days ago, very fun!  We were less active hunting, ran in to a crazy man, dragged us into his house, then when we told him we were there trying to find someone he pulled us out and then walked us to the police station!  Me and Elder Garff were definitely freaked out, we have heard of stories of people being arrested for proselyting.  They brought the car out front and told us to go outside and then into the car.  They then took us to the apartment complex that we were looking for!  About 2 km away it would have taken us a while to walk there but they were super nice and took us!  We got out and thanked them and then proceeded up the hill to the apartments, super sketchy.  We looked for the place for about 10 minutes when to our surprise, the cops are back.  They usher us into the car again and then take us down the hill down another km and back up another hill, telling us the other place was wrong and that this is the right place!  Super nice of them to do that for us!  

We also spent our thanksgiving together as a district and shared things that we are grateful for, stories, etc.  We pooled food and bought some pizza, fried chicken, and some baked goods from Paris Baguette.  It was a wonderful once in a lifetime experience to be here with these awesome missionaries sharing this time together.  

We also got a new missionary this week who is super fun and just like me, but korean.  Elder Bae Joong Soo has joined us in stead of elder Mumford and he is a blast.  We look forward to serving with him.  

I also had somewhat of an epiphany this week, when your mad, telling the person that your mad or upset at sometimes helps.  Not in a bad or mean way, but simply stating it.  That way the other knows that your upset and now you can try to figure out why, and fix it.  Something that I have definitely learned with Elder Garff and that has helped us tremendously.  Whenever I am mad, I just say it, immediately we drop what we are doign and try to fix the problem.  Being mad doesnt help the spirit, and so we try to fix the situation immediately so that we can bring the Spirit back into our companioship.  And it works!  After about 2 minutes we usually figure out what it is, get rid of it or fix it, and we are 10x better on the other side!  Something to keep in mind when your a little angry or upset!

Well sorry for the lack of spiritual things this week!  We really didnt have much that happened this week.  Well actually, I got to bless the sacrament for the first time since coming to country on sunday and it was amazing!  I remember doing it ay home, except when I knelt down this time I was filled with the gift of tongues and was able to recite perfectly the prayer on the water.  Super fun and very amazing and spiritual experience.  Always live worthy!

여러분 사랑하고 좋은 주를 됬어요!!!

선형수 장로

My week in a box? 11/23/14

WEll this week was absoltively fun!  We had a blast doing some crazy hunting for less actives and tracting for once in a loooooooooooong time!!!!  Actually dont really have too much to talk about this week!

We met 2 less actives and we are super excited about them coming back to church and being active in the ward again.  Another members son whom was lessa ctive for several months to study for a test (because study comes before anything else in korea) is now starting to come back to activity and will even be going with us to the temple next saturday!  Btw we are going to the temple next saturday to do baptisms for the dead with our youth!  Super long trip but totally worth it (almost 7 hours round trip)  I love this ward so much and already feel like  a member of a small family haha :)  

This week I also had some great studies of the book of Esther in the Old Testament about love and how she had Fearless Love (see 1 John 4).  I have been trying to have perfect love for the people of korea because as we know, "perfect love casteth out fear"  And as we are loving towards the people we can be more and more bold in our approaches to share the gospel.  Same goes for everthing else that we do and everyother situation that we share the gospel in!  Learn it!  Dont be afraid to share the gospel.  As me and Elder Garff say every morning:  I FEAR NO MAN!!!

and we got transfer calls this week, I am staying in Taebaek!  Yay!!! We are super excited to have another transfer together to grow and work even harder here.  We are planning on seeing some great progress this upcoming week!  It was a little hard to hear some of the other people in lower groups have become leaders and are training and im just a junior companion still, but I know the Lord knows me perfectly and knows what I need to do.  I just need to trust more in his timing.  I know he has something planned for each of us and we just need to be worthy.  Many are CALLED few are CHOSEN.  

So thats it!  I hope everyone is having a great week!  Look for every oppportunity to shrae the gospel!!! Dont let satan stop you!

Elder Yamagata

Zion or BUST!!!! 11/16/14

So this week has been yet again another week filled with the Spirit and crazy experiences!  So to begin with because I got permission to tell everyone now, I dropped a ping pong table on my foot about 2 1/2 weeks ago and caused a massive hematoma in my right foot, but im better now so thats good!  Anyways to the spirit!

So first off I found one of the most loving and also the most scary verses in the book of mormon this week.  The loving one first:

 24 He doeth not anything save it be for the benefit of the world;for he loveth the world, even that he layeth down his own life that he may draw all men unto him. Wherefore, he commandeth none that they shall not partake of his salvation.
 25 Behold, doth he cry unto any, saying: Depart from me?Behold, I say unto you, Nay; but he saith: Come unto me all ye ends of the earth, buy milk and honey, without money and without price.
 26 Behold, hath he commanded any that they should depart out of the synagogues, or out of the houses of worship? Behold, I say unto you, Nay.
 27 Hath he commanded any that they should not partake of his salvation? Behold I say unto you, Nay; but he hath given it free for all men; and he hath commanded his people that they should persuade all men to repentance.
 28 Behold, hath the Lord commanded any that they should not partake of his goodness? Behold I say unto you, Nay; but all men are privileged the one like unto the other, and none are forbidden.
It was wonderful to see that Jesus Christ does not keep any of us from the wonderful gift of eternal life and exaltation, but that he invites all to come unto him and be saved.  The book of mormon read through I am doing right now is about how Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ show their love to us and this was definitely a crowning example of that attribute of them to love all of us with a perfect love.  And then I found the Scariest scripture:
 21 And others will he pacify, and lull them away into carnal security, that they will say: All is well in Zion; yea, Zion prospereth, all is well—and thus the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell.
It was scary to read that and I kind of looked on my life so far as a member and where I have been in my paths and I definitely felt that I have been lulled away for periods of time and seen that I have thought that "All is well in Zion."  This leads to my next thing for this week.  I had a goal this week to keep my conversations as we were walking about about the gospel or something that we had learned or thought of that day or questions that we had.  In order for us to more fully feel the Spirit and to be focused on the work always we have taken this goal and tried as hard as possible.  And one night on the way home from english class, elder mumford was pushing my wheelchair and we talked about these scriptures and our lives after our missions and what we were going to do, how much of a difference does a mission make, and how much more of a difference does being focused on Zion have on our post mission lives.  And as we talked he brought up the idea of it should change things lke your music you listen to, the things you do and our foucsed on etc.  I pushed it so far as saying that it even chooses your wife, someone who is going to be by your side working as hard as they can to bring zion to earth just as much if not more than you are!  And its true, no longer can we stand by and just be onlookers to the progress of zion.  Some general authority said (I cant remember who) that The work of the Lord will move forward with or without our help.  And I am determined to move forward with full steam with the work of the Lord.  I cant wait to get home and continue to do the work of the lord back at home.  I know that just because we dont all wear name tags doesnt mean that we arent all workers in the Lords vineyard.  The blessings that are in store for those that not only are in zion, but worked with all their "Heart, might, mind, and Strength" will be richly blessed for the sacrifices that we make to bring to pass the "Immortality and Eternal life of man" (Moses 1:39).  So this kind of leads to my next experience which was yesterday morning and this morning.  
I was in the middle of studies contemplating my relation to Zion and how hard of a worker I can be when I return home when this small thought came in my head of "Nahhh... dont worry about that too much, what your doing now is fine."  Immediately I shook the thought and realized it was the natural man within me trying to score a major battle.  I quickly made the resolve to always fight against any temptation that prevents me from doing the most that I possibly can for the Church and the Lord.  Then again this morning I had the thought that I didnt have to go out and talk to EVERYONE.  Again shook the feeling and made an even stronger resolve to work harder for the Lord and do what he wants.  I realize that the adversary doesnt always make his attacks so easy to notice, sometimes they are so subtle that we dont even think about it.  Sometimes the adversary hits us with stuff that just makes it sound like its the Spirit, telling us to take a break or work a little less harder.  Other times its "Cultural" restrictions that prevent us from sharing the gospel, like that its bad to talk about religion at work or school (see Power of the Everyday Missionary).  We have to constantly be checking our promptings to know whether or not they are from satan or from the Spirit.  And we have to decided NOW to follow any prompting that the Lord gives us in order to build his kingdom here on earth!  I am absolutely stoked to fight against these temptations because I know they are going to make me into a true servant of the Lord.  A quote that someone said came to my mind this week: "Be the type of person that when your feet touch the floor in the morning the devil says, 'Aww ~~~~ they're up'"  Something to keep our minds focused on the work of the Lord.  

Well other than those things this week has been pretty dull working with the members and farming and all kinds of other goodness!!! Jk It has been an amazing week and I cant believe Im almost a year through my mission!!! I love the people and the country and everything else sooo much and I know that we are truly doing the work of the Lord here, calling all people unto repentance and baptism on His name!!! 

I love all of you and have a great week!

Elder Yamagata!

Heyooo! Spirit Inbound! 11/9/14

Anyeong Chingudul!!!! (worst romanization ever!  Seen in the Liahona...)

Sorry the picture won't attach - means "Hello friends!"

Hows everyone doing??

Hope everyone had a great week!  My week was fantabulous thanks for asking!

So Im gonna cut to it!  I dont want to waste time!  This week was super crazy!


Wednesday was my first zone training in this zone so we took the bus to the chapel (1 1/2 hoours later) we arrive in DongHae for training.  We learned about the Power of the Spirit in conversion.  Super exciting.  I was kinda drab though when we first started learning all of this stuff for some reason I wasnt feeling the Spirit that well so I started writing down possible reasons and such on the side of my notebook and praying really intently for the Spirit to come back so that I could  really learn from it.  I came to learn very quickly that our mood DOES affect the spirit.  The moment I decided to stop being sour and start being happy is when I started learning a lot and feeling the presence of the Spirit again.  It was a small, but powerful lesson that I had to learn the hard way.  After that experience, I had a great zone training and learned a lot about the Spirit in ours and others conversions!  Later on we visited a member there in the hospital.  I had a prompting that we had to leave, NOW!  Our bus was almost here and about to leave!  Luckily Elder Perry had the same feeling and so we quickly ended our meeting with her and booked it about a mile to the bus stop where the bus was about to leave!  I stalled the driver by getting on and starting to work my way towards the back while he was asking for my ticket, then everyone else bought tickets quick (including mine) and got on the bus too, it worked out just perfectly!  Last bus of the night to get home and we had a fun ride back discussing what we had learned that day!  

On Sunday we had church and everything as usual and then after church had our Lunch together with the Branch.  Afterwards is where somethings changed.  Two members Kim Gye Sook and Bak Bak Gyung Mi stayed and talked with us for quite a while.  We know they needed it so we didnt mind staying and chatting with them.  We talked about a variety of things, including how we propose in america and in Korea (btw they propose by saying "do you want to eat breakfast with me?" or "Have my kids" very weird).  Afterwards though, me and Elder Garff got into a slight disagreement about what we should do for the rest of the day, but we quickly got the situation under control and brought the Spirit back into our companionship (he sahred with me something that I told him last week when we got into another slight disagreement about something, that I dont do anything in my companionship until I have the spirit, so if we are arguing we arent doing anything till we get the Spirit back, so I stopped being angry too and we got everything back undercontrol), and immediately afterwards started laughing at the situation and what we were doing on the computer.  About an hour later we headed home to eat, and then find out if we were going to go visit this member we had thought we were.  While eating Elder Garff thought that we should not, and kind of convinced me too. So we gave her a call, intending to do studies the rest of the night.  As he called I had a strong spiritual prompting to stop everything and go visit her and her family.  So we dropped everything, strapped up, and ran off to her house about 30 minutes away.  Luckily we went, we quickly got into helping the kids with all of their sudden gospel questions and me and Elder Garff taught the kids a bunch of Gospel Principles and such.  I was surprised afterwards to see that I had taught about why Nephi killed Laban completely in Korean without stuttering or having to pause!  Elder Garff taught the oldest daughter and son about why reading the scriptures is so important.  And then we made fried peppers with sugar with them!  It was probably the most spiritual visit I had ever had with them, or in general!  It was just such a wonderful spirit with them.  And the family loves us!  The kids think we are the best it is sooo much fun to be with them!  We are helping the son with his Duty to God and the daughter with Personal Progress.  Such a great miracle!  

Well thats about the highlights of my week, short overview of other things.  Went farming again.  Some branch presidency work. etc.

So thats my week!  Ups and Downs as always but we are fearless as we do the Lord's work here in Taebaek!

I pray for all of you, especially those of you who are prepping for missions and other work for the Lord.  Hope all is well!  Ill Share with you a scripture I found this week that has changed the way me and Elder Garff do missionary work here:

 16 Rejoice evermore.

1 Thessalonians 5:16  Be happy!!!! Dont let anything get you down!  Because of him we will all live again!

I love all of you!

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