Monday, August 10, 2015

If I want fish, I can get fish

Well, it seems like a week doesn't go by without the Lord telling me to repent.  I can;t get away without doing it.  Guess that means I'm imperfect! Haha.  Sometimes I look at my journal and I worry that my children and grandchildren will think that I was depressed or pessimistic, I'm not, I just have a lot to change about myself!  There's nothing wrong with that!

Anyways, this weeks experience.  Thursday night we had a long service project that lasted till about 4:30 in the afternoon, but we didn't get home till 5.  I wasn't feeling great and to top it all off, I have a new companion that I have to show around and get up to speed pretty quickly (btw his name is Elder Megargel).  So I suck up whatever I'm feeling, say a quick one to the Lord and bounce the house.  We hit the streets pretty well, and right off the bat getting some resistant people.  About an 1 1/2 hours later, I'm tired, irritated with the people of 춘천 and I want to smash someone in the face with the commandments so that they understand that their Pastor smoking and drinking does not mean its ok.  So I suggest we go home.  I was not feeling ok to be out.  We get home, I am not really excited about our area, and not really talking well about the prospects of finding people here.  I was doubting whether or not the lord could do his work.  And if he could, why didn't we have any investigators????  I was seriously doubting.  So I went to bed like this, angry, upset, everything.  As soon as I knelt to pray, he was speaking.  He didn't have much to say, but what he said was deep, and it cut me deeper: 

"If I want fish, I can get fish.  What I need are disciples, and I need them forever."  

You know that part of the gospel where we believe that God is our loving heavenly father, and also that he knows us perfectly.  Yeah, he knows me well.  And he didn't say anything else.  I sat quietly on my bed for a couple of minutes, wrote it down. Went to bed.  I was torn apart.  

The next morning I woke up, started studying.  I had a deep impression to read my patriarchal blessing.  sometimes I wonder if it is a blessing because I look at it sometimes and see more negative than positive, but I know it is for my good.  Anyways started reading it and I came to that part that I always didn't like to read, shortly it goes like this:  Don't prequalify anyone, your just here to plant seeds.  Not something every missionary wants to hear.  But I was ready I guess. I decided to read the talk that the voice in my head told me, it was from October 2012 General Conference Elder Holland.  And the lord had a little more to say to me. 

He asked me if I loved him

I said, "Yea, Lord; thou knowest that love thee."

He asked again, do you love me?
I responded "Yea lord; thou knowest that I love thee"

so he finally asked again "Benny, do you love me?"
"Yea lord; thou knowest that I love thee"...........

“Then Bennywhy are you here?Why are we back on this same shore, by these same nets, having this same conversation? Wasn’t it obvious then and isn’t it obvious now that if want fish, can get fish? What need, Peter, are disciples and need them forever. need someone to feed my sheep and save my lambs. need someone to preach my gospel and defend my faith. need someone who loves me, truly, truly loves me, and loves what our Father in Heaven has commissioned me to do. Ours is not feeble message.It is not fleeting task. It is not hapless; it is not hopeless; it is not to be consigned to the ash heap of history. It is the work of Almighty God, and it is to change the world. So, Bennyfor the second and presumably the last time, am asking you to leave all this and to go teach and testify, labor and serve loyally until the day in which they will do to you exactly what they did to me.”
I could not describe the hurt I felt, for not realizing that he was with me the entire time.  This is for me.  Missions are for the missionaries.  Every member can do missionary work, he can get his own fish.  He wants us, ME.  He wants someone who isn't going to deny him, who will do everything he asks, when he asks it.  
Even now I can feel the power of this.  I know what I need to do to "Sprint to the end of my mission" I am ready.  Heck
So to everyone out there reading this, it's not about baptisms, it's not about how many people you talk to, it's about becoming the man or woman the Lord needs you to become.  I know this is true, and I know that this is what is happening.  See you next week
Love you


Hey yall

Not much happened this week spiritually, which is a bummer because I feel like it should have happened.  Lots of interesting events but nothing really stands out which is a bummer.

Anyways Ill guess I'll tell you all the cool highlights from this week^^

1.  Pday was uninteresting.... got hauled by a mean taxi driver that took us on a long route on purpose so it would cost more.  Bummer.

2.  Tuesday I went on exchanges with Elder Larsen who goes home now in 3 days.  It was fun to be with an old missionary again and see the difference in the missionary work that we do together. 

3.  Thursday another blazing hot day in the heat as we went farming for a service project

4.  Saturday I arm wrestled a ~70 y/o man on a bus stop bench because he challenged me, I won 3 times in a row at Korean arm wrestling, Got my transfer call, I will be staying, elder Jung is leaving me :((((

5.  I talked with bishop and next week I will be interviewed by the high council and asked to serve as ward clerk. Haha also did my first tithing count with bishop.  Super fun!

So as I wrote this something actually did kind of happen this  week.  I have had some subtle impressions to work harder lately, maybe because I'm going home soon, maybe for other reasons.  Anyways I've been getting this vibe for a while.  About 3 months maybe.  And I've been slightly ignoring it, rationalizing that I've ben working harder.  But this week it was unignorable, I needed to work harder, this was unacceptable.  So I told elder Larsen on my exchanges that I wanted to be trained on how to work harder, specifically in 전도 (probably not the most fun thing we do as missionaries).  And this is how I know it was inspired haha, he said, actually I felt the same thing. Perfect.  You know I was in for it though. 

And we rocked it.  Went out and threw done with a bunch of people.  It was super fun, definitely still hard, but missionary work was never meant to be easy. 

SO I hope that that training sticks to me, I got 3 transfers, 4 fast Sundays, 18 days, 18 weeks, 4 months, 129 days, however you want to look at it left on my mission.  And I need to rock it harder.  Throw down more, and call the peeps to repentance!  I'm excited so pray for me!

Love 여려분,


Dirty Week!

This week was quite a bit dirty, but I'll skip straight to the spiritual and fun!

So first off, the temple this week was awesome.  I was able to serve another missionary in our mission who is about to go home and it was one of his last times going through the temple.  I wanted to go through in Korean and so I obtained a translator for myself.  Unfortunately, the session also had all of our Koreans in it too and they needed the translators.  There was one extra one left and my friend Elder Buck was going through for his last time.  I decided to give it up for him to be able to go through in Korean.  It was rewarding and I felt great about it.  Got a lot of revelation that day on repentance and on who we are meant to be.  It was a really great day!  Spent the day with our companions down at Dongdaemun Market!

Then on Thursday we had a "fun" experience.  While farming for a service project, which was suppppppper hot, I happened into a small wasps nest.... great.... I was stung twice which SUCKED! Oh man, hurt soooo bad.  Ouch.  So had to take a break for a while.  Then a little while later we found another nest, this time of fat hornets.  Well, elder West tried taking them down, and he got stung 3 times, the next day we were at the hospital... Arm swelled like a balloon.  Oh man.  So we spent some time at the hospital on Friday.

Then Saturday the fun happened!  We hosted a Hot Dog party at the church building for the members and for investigators.  It was a great success!  I was outside cooking in the rain for a while, but it was a great experience.  Gained a lot of trust from the members and from the other investigators.  We watched meet the Mormons together and the investigators liked it.  Well, the ones who stayed at least.  

Then Sunday, it got super spiritual.  Quickly.  Me and elder Jung were finishing our companionship inventory, which is what we do every week to tell each other how we are doing good and how we can do better.  It was a great session of being able to tell him a little about how he's grown and what he could do better this next week (for people who have not served missions this isn't mean or weird, it's actually a really great way to improve and become a better person, its all very loving. No harsh words).  anyways, elder Jung started off with what I did well this week, and he mentioned having some thoughts come haunting from his past, and some stress about his future.  I decided to probe to see if there was a problem with my companion that I could help with.  So I asked a little bit and he let out what he was feeling.  And the spirit prompted me to start talking, I didn't know what about, but I knew I needed to start.  We talked about his growth, my love for him, and why I push him to work harder.  It ended 20 minutes later with my bearing testimony, crying, not being able to hold back my love and my appreciation for him coming out to serve his own people.  And how he was going to work great miracles both now and in the time to come.  I felt the spirit so strongly work through me to help him.  Because he got up and gave me a hug and I could feel him sobbing a little bit, because he knew that people trusted him to do his best, even if he didn't feel like it.  I know that God worked through his servant that day to help his children. I know that we are all here to help everyone, other missionaries too.  

So it was a great week.  To be an instrument in the Lord's hands is truly a great experience.  I still am amazed like once a week that a couple of years ago I was a high school punk.  Troubled and not doing much.  Never giving a thought to God.  And now I'm in Korea trying to serve him.  Hope I do well!  

I'm grateful for everyone's prayers and for all that you have done for me!  I hope everyone is doing well at home and that nothing crazy has happened.  Got to go this week

선형수 장로 

oh ps

I was almost called as the 2nd counselor in the bishopric on Sunday... till we thought that I had to be a high priest.(unless they get special permission)  So I might be the clerk instead now haha, missionaries do everything here! Love it! 

Week in a bottle (2)

Ok so there's no bottle, but you kinda hoped there was didn't you?

This week was pretty busy for a couple of reasons.  Lots of stuff coming up suddenly this week giving us some much-needed lessons.  Also some days with absolutely nothing allowing us some time to explore and see what's in our area: (Warning pictures ahead!)
(soooo far....)

(the farm)

Really beautiful!  

One of the best parts of this week was our service project for a lady whos farm is the one pictured above.  Super fun as we had to get rid of wasps nests... without protection...haha lots of running and throwing rocks, pretty sketchy!

(the elders wading through the river...)(Collage of the day)

Another cool experience was to be able to teach our less active and also give him the sacrament this week, he is an 85-year-old man who is basically confined to his home, he lives on the 3rd floor of a place with no elevator and it takes him practically 30 minutes to get down the stairs to go anywhere, shuffling extremely small steps.  He was great and being able to give him the sacrament again was awesome.  He was extremely happy, he hadn't taken it in years!

Finally, on Saturday we met with our progressing investigator John (I swear I'm trying to meet with Koreans, but they all really don't like us too much.... haha).  But we tried to teach the plan of salvation, but it seemed his mind was on another topic, Authority.  He tried weaving the topic into our conversation about God and such and after about 35-40 minutes of this he finally asked his real question: "So are you saying that all the other churches, no matter how good they are or big, don't have the authority to do the work of God and perform his ordinances?"

Now I am pretty sure you can imagine, that at this point this is a very big question for him, the answer might keep him on or dissuade him from investigating anymore.  Yes, that's right.  He's been baptised somewhere else, and that's very important to him (for you returned missionaries this is a very District-esque feeling of someone about to get disappointed).  

So what do I say?  I can be sneaky and try to make him feel like the other churches are good, or I can avoid the question entirely, but that's not me, nor what the spirit wanted.

"The Other churches are great, but if you want me, to be honest, no they don't have the authority to baptise and it be recognised in Heaven.  I'm sorry"

Then a scripture came to me (after the lesson when I was reflecting)

16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ

Well, there we go, what am I? Not ashamed to tell him that no, your baptism didn't count and that yes, you will have to be baptised again.  I wasn't mean about it (like I kinda seem here) and I was very encouraging in telling him that his other baptism was a great show that he wanted to follow Jesus christ and that he had faith and repented.  But we will see, he opposed our baptismal invitation but said he would continue reading the book of Mormon.  Which is great!  We hope he continues to progress and find out the truthfulness of the book of Mormon.  

Well other than that not much else happened this week, I have made a better commitment to myself to pay more attention during church services even though it's in Korean instead of reading the scriptures or doing something else during church.  It's for us to learn too, even though it's in another language.  Plus it helps us get better.

So we are excited for tomorrow and for the rest of the week, it's going to be pretty busy and we are already winding down another transfer!  Only 3 more after this, I'm officially past 3rd base and rounding home!

Pray for me not to be trunky!

Elder Yamagata

The Atonement leaves no scar, its 100% fullproof

Wow this week was absolutely amazing!  We had such a good time, im officially broke, but thats ok!  I'm full of the spirit and thats all that matters

This week we had zone training and thus began the 2 hour travel down into seoul and then two hours back.  But it was super fun, I guess Im the only convert in the zone right now and Elder anderson, my old companion, is the zone leader right now.  So he would call on me every time and ask how as a contvert I felt about a certain principle of technique we were talking about.  It was super fun to be able to draw on my experiences to help everyone else understand how to teach the investigator more effectively.  It was great to see elder Anderson again, he goes home this transfer!  And then Im next out of my companions!  Its crazy how fast time flies!  

This week me and Elder 정 also had some sick experiences, yelling people, calling them to repentance, and seeing some cool miracles.  One of the best miracles this week was on saturday, a scorcher.  Literally was burning us at some points, it was about 98 with 80% humidity.  Anyways, we decided to do some calls to meet with some people and so we took our stuff to the church where theres a/c and started calling, the first person answered the phone, and said lets meet now.  So we ran down and taught him a little bit.  He wasnt super interested but it was still a cool miracle to just do one call and get in immediately.  It was also nice to get out of the heat!  

Probably the best thing that happened this week, and also the title of the email, was in my studies of the atonement of Christ.  After hearing this talk by Cleon Skausen called the meaning of the atonement, I was determined to read through the book of mormon in search personally for why the atonement was necessary.  Yesterday as I was in the scriptures, my mind was pulled away into thoughts of a previous life.  A certain someone whom I hadnt thought about in about 15 years had come to mind.  This man has caused anguish and anger in my mind for years.  No one else would ever have known.  I dont talk about him.  I dont mention him and usually I dont even think about him.  But it seems as though the spirit pulled my mind to thoughts of him.  He was my old  step father.  I thought about how much he put me and my mom through.  Specifically one memory came to my mind where I remembered him trying to push me and my mom out of the car when we were driving....I was angry.. Beyond crazy.  And for years I've thought about what I would do if I ever met him again.  (probably never would but still).  And as I sat there, "Pondering in my heart"  The spirit whispered to me "What do you want to do?"  I was in my anger, I replied "I want to hurt him, I want him to feel the way I did."  And I sat in silence.  Staring at the floor.  

I have been studying the atonement, and about our Lord Jesus Christ.  Would he want me to do that?

no of course not...

So then I said "But thats not what you want me to do, huh?" (The spirit and I are pals, we talk like friends haha)

And he said "Of course not"

I said "You want me to forgive him huh?"

He said "Yes I do."

And I sat there, and without a moments hesitation, replied, "Ok.  I will forgive him, and not only that.  I will love him."  

And in that MOMENT all the anguish and anger, all the negative feelings, all the hate that was in me, was gone.

In that small second, when I realized that I needed to repent and use that atonement, it was there.  And It took EVERYTHING away.  Thats it.  Its not disinfectant at 99.999% effective.  Its 100%  It doesnt miss.  It doesnt leave a scar.  It takes everything away.  A clean slate.  

For years I struggled with this pain, for years it would come up every once in a while and make me so angry.  And for years I could never get it out of my head.  It took one simple thing.  Me to forgive.  And not only that, but to love as well.  

I, the Lord, will forgive whom will forgive, but of you itis required to forgive all men.
and so I forgave him.  And now I am whole again.  No more pain because of that.  No more suffering.  

When we think about the atonement, we alwasy think about the cleansing from sin part.  And just like Elder Bednar says, if thats all we are using it for we are missing out on the most important parts of the atonement.  Repentance can be joyous!  It can be fun!  It can be something we look forward to.  And with this amazing miracle that has happened I continue to look forward to repenting every single day!  I am excited to repent and change.  

Im grateful for the savior doing everything he has for us.  And Im grateful that I can be here and experience this life and work my hardest to become more like him.  Its difficult, yes, but life was meant to be difficult.  Life is hard, but life is simple.

I love all of you at home!  Be safe!

Elder Yamagata