Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Hey Family

Sorry not so much time this week!  I will give you some brief stories and such!

Tuesday we had the amazing opportunity as always to go to the temple.  What a great place to be.  But on top of just attending and doing the work of the lord, we had the opportunity to hear our returning missionaries final testimonies.  A last chance for them to bear testimony, and for us to hear and learn something from old experienced missionaries.  I was surprised to see my own companion get up, and bear heartfelt testimony about the face that God can feel pain.  It was a crude start, that turned into a deeply moving testimony.  My companion is very...straightforward individual, and usually the butt of many jokes, and a lot of people look at him weirdly.  But he had almost every missionary in that room with tears.  It was a very moving experience.  He said, "For 734 days I have been a missionary, and except for 1 or 2 of those days, I would have rather had been dead.  But at least I have felt a small bit of what our savior has felt for us."  It was truly touching.  

Unfortunately, a couple of days later, tensions ran high between us and we were separated for the remainder of the transfer (6 days).  It was heartbreaking for me.  It really sucks to have that happened.  I really love this guy.  And I wish it would not have happened, I wish a lot of things were different, but ultimately, I feel that it  was the best thing that could have happened for us.  

Now Elder Gildea, and I are together.  And it's been fun.  Do I hurt still?  Yeah.  Have I just decided to be humble and learn from this.  Yeah.  That's all I can do at this point.  I hope in the future I can fix some wounds and such, but as we all know, there are wounds only time itself can heal.  

So me and Elder Gildea are making the best of it.  We already have a baptismal date, and some investigators to church so things are looking up.  We got our transfer calls and had predicted that they were going to close the other elders area and just have us together, we were right.  So next transfer me and elder Gildea  will be together alone.  So I'm excited, I know my last companion.  

Nearing the end of my mission, its getting harder.  Everyone keeps emailing me "Sprint to the finish" etc.  I'm going to be honest, Its hard  just to keep walking sometimes.  But elder Gildea is hard working and is going to push me to the end.  

So everyone pray for me.  We are going into the last weeks left and I don't want to leave any regrets to be had.  I'm going to leave everything on the table and just work my butt off.  As my old band director used to say "Hearts out and butts off"  and that's the only way I run.
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Elder Yamagata

Monday, October 12, 2015

Crazy experience this week

End of the last session of conference, this crazy lady comes to the church that has been hunting down 6 missionaries because she thinks that they are being paid off by an invisible man who is paying the missionaries to be mean to her (inlcuding me now....) and she wanted to talk.  So I took her to another room |(for about the 3rd or 4th time now) and said 5 minutes, she ran past me into the sacrament hall saying "Youve already heard, everyone needs to know how mean all of you are to me! (in korean)"  So she runs into the sacrament hall with 2 students she hired to translate for her, and starts yelling at the branch president and the members in korean, while also yelling translate!!!! It was scary.  She spooked the kids and the memberrs.  branch president handled it like a champ, told his wife to start ushering everyone out, and evacuated it really quickly.  The translators didnt know her or the situation that we have been dealing with her for over a year now.  And so they quickly turned on her and told her to leave and how wrong that was etc.  It was nuts... we were ushered out too so I dont know what happened.  But the branch president told us that after the translators got her out, they walked back and said, "on behalf of all of korea, we are truly sorry for what just happened" hahah.  Crazy!

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Elder Yamagata

Conference Weekend

Wow, this week has been pretty great!  Definitely pretty stale for a while.  Had some really 대박 Moments this week.  

먼조 I had like the second member present lesson of my mission this week.  I like Elder Osborne's way of putting it "The best member present lesson of my entire mission and the member took a smoke break in the middle!"  Classic Elder Osborne.  But really.  This week we taught Private Johnson for the first time.  I might have mentioned him about 3 weeks ago when we met brother Pacheco for the first time.  He brought him along to our first meeting then and we were able to talk a little bit, but because of work and military exercises these past couple of weeks we weren't able to meet until a couple of days ago.  But when we met, the spirit was powerful.  And although our member Brother Pacheco said some really weird things, it was great because he is a less active and it was like all the things he was taught were flooding back into him!  He would shout out, "Its freaking sick man!" or when we were close to the story of the restoration of the gospel he yelled "Dude, this is when Joseph Smith saw God and Jesus Christ."  We had to calm him down so that he wouldn't spoil the surprises haha.  It was awesome, though.  He was a little antsy near the end (It went long because of our members comments but that's ok)  But still felt the spirit really strong.  Elder Osborne and I taught with great power and authority.  We are hoping to see him again this week.

Also had president interviews this week.  What an interesting day, especially because I was on exchanges with Elder Gildea, one of the members of my original 동기 (which means same class grade or group, basically the people I came out with) who went home like 2 months in for personal problems.  Now I'm almost dead and he is only in his second area.  How crazy.  But then I met with president and we had some interesting conversations.  He has been worried about me since the incident in 춘천 and even asked me if I wanted to go home with the people going home this transfer.  I was offended and I told him that I felt so, he said good.  I have my whole heart and mind in this work I said.  I'm not ready to go home just yet.  I got someone left to find.  And lo I found 2 this week, and one of them feels right.  Hopefully, I can see a baptism soon!

And to top off the week, GENERAL CONFERENCE!!!!!! Yeah, I know that everyone at home has already seen it, it is not our fault that we have to watch it a week late because of time differences and staying current with the Koreans.  It's pretty difficult sometimes.  Anyways, it was a great conference with some minor hiccups.  I felt like I wasn't getting too much out of it, even though I felt like I was listening even more intently.  And then a lot of stuff just hit me.  I was being told by the spirit  everything that I needed to fix.  Just small things everywhere.  It was great!  I feel like a lot of people run from what they can improve, they don't want to "Repent"  how can we expect to grow and become "Even like He is" if we aren't willing to change and become like him?  It's impossible!  And why wouldn't anyone want to become better?  A better husband or father, mother and daughter.  If we listen to the apostles and prophets and General Authorities of the church we can learn the things that we must do to become the best that we can.  

But otherwise it was great!  Me and Elder Osborne had a blast.  Especially this is the first time that I watched the General Conference with the members.  How weird.  Usually it's just the missionaries in their own room so we can watch it in our own language.  Now it was everyone together.  But it was awesomely fun!  I loved seeing the kids too trying to keep them busy and quiet throughout all of conference.  Unfortunately, president Monson doesn't look too good, hopefully, he will get better soon.  

I felt a strong confirmation that the new apostles were definitely called of the lord and prepared by him to be his witnesses on earth.  How great it is to have apostles and prophets in our day so that we are not here alone, but we have guidance and direction, with the spirit and the scriptures.  People say that God stopped speaking, really we just stopped listening.  The prophet exists on earth, directing Gods true church here in our day.  Thomas S. Monson is a prophet of God.  He directs the church and holds all the keys of the priesthood on earth today.  I know it, and I sustain him as the prophet of God.  
So It has been a great week, hope everyone at home is doing well!  I pray for you family and friends all the time as I got about our work here.  Pray for the missionaries!


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Elder Yamagata
Northern Military Branch, Seoul Korea Military District

Monday, October 5, 2015

Code Red

This week was exceptionally.... exceptional.  

My companion and I had quite the experience this week.  

As we were proselyting this week I had what I felt was a prompting to a go down a certain road, my companion however, continued to walk down a different direction, slightly angering me ( I hadn't had that happen since I was being trained).  I voiced my disapproval at him right when he decided to start talking to someone.  I refused to talk because I didn't feel to well about it.  Long story short, I was forced into it, and then afterwards felt even worse.  Eventually blew up on him because of how I felt.  After several minutes of trying to talk, getting mad at each other, hurtful words, and finally having to call president, we were on our way home, deciding the future fate of our companionship.  This was bout 1:45 when it started.  We talked on the road, went home, pondered, prayed, talked more, prayed more, even slept to do what we needed to work things out.  After almost 4 hours of talking, Elder Osbourne broke.  

I have never felt the spirit so much flood into a room.  I sat as I watched my companion fill with tears, he moved me to tears.  He finally opened up to me about how he was feeling.  (Normally he's very quiet about it).  He was done, quite literally with missionary work.  It was taking every ounce of energy to get out the door and it was hurting him mentally, emotionally, and physically.  I was moved to go to him, to hold him.  He's a year older than me, but I felt like he was a child, broken, done.  He sobbed uncontrollably for minutes.  After this happened, we were open with each other completely and fully.  Things started to move.  And after another hour of talking we finally finished with a prayer, both of us kneeling humbly before the lord.  Finishing stronger and more united than when we started.  It took us being humbled and becoming like children to truly open up and fix our problems.  What a great experience.  

Do I wish it wasn't caused by an argument, Yes.  Do I regret that it happened? No

We both learned a lot of lessons about patience, humility, love.  And we came out better on the other side, closer friends, and better companions.  I love this kid.  And I know he loves me.  I'm grateful to be companions with him.  But this incident also showed me a bit about how far I have come with my anger.  I used to be a lot more hot-headed.  But in the entire 5 hours of talking, I only yelled once.  Which yes is still one more than necessary, but I was still great to know that  I am getting better.  

None of us are perfect, ever.  But we try, every day we try just a little more.  Push a little further to be a little better.  Through the grace of Christ, we can improve every single day.  I know it.  He wants to see us improve and gives us all the resources we need to do so.

I hope all of us will take every day to try a little harder to stand a little taller and become better people.  I know that as we do so, we will make the world a better place!  

Love you all!

Ps.  Spiritual experience of the week:  I bore my testimony in sacrament meeting this past week simply of the truthfulness of the gospel.  I was so happy that I didn't have to think it all through and plan it out in Korean.  Immediately after sitting down, I was being tugged on by our one Korean member,  Kim Ji Ooo.  She called me, out of all 6 missionaries, to translate her testimony in Korean.  It was quite the experience.  Never had done that before.  But I felt the spirit fall on me and help me translate her testimony so that the members could feel her spirit.  What a wonderful time!

Elder Yamagata

Northern Military Branch, Seoul Korea Military District

Code Red