Sunday, June 17, 2018

Some bonus photos from Week 100

View from one of the libraries. You can study on the balcony

Goats

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The whole branch came and also visitors so church was really big this week

Week 100: Once Again, Elder Newton Finds a Way to Make Balloon Animals in Missionary Work

I don't know who the Korean people are, but the missionaries are Boden, O'Brien and Newton
Discover Vineyard
Pluck and Prune
Unnoticed Corner but Varied Growth
Stop the Problem
How?
Pay a visit
The Proof is Honor
Vineyard

We think we spotted Elder Newton but we aren't entirely sure
Well that one ended up more meaningful than I meant it to be. It was just because Elder Steward said he liked vineyard analogies in district meeting. But it was a busy week and we want to hike a mountain today, so let's get to it. 

First, on Monday we tried to leave the house at 6, but couldn't get past the door because our neighbors kept showing up and asking if we could do service projects with them and teach their children English. But we did eventually leave, which was good because we actually got into a house while tracting. The man was really nice. He let us in, and it turns out he had lived in Missoula, Mont., for two years and had received a Korean Book of Mormon at some temple in Idaho. We've been messaging him a lot, and hopefully we can meet him more this week. 

We think this might be a service project
Tuesday was pretty good too. During language study at the library I was reading in 3 Nephi 11, and for some reason the Book of Mormon made way more sense than usual, and for maybe the fourth time ever I marked a Korean scripture. Then, lo and behold, at English class this night we ended up talking to Sister Kelly about baptism again, and it turned out the verses I had underlined helped her concerns. That was a really cool experience. 

Wednesday was good too. We spent the day in 동해. Elder Steward did really well on his final district meeting, and we met a cool British man at a district activity afterward. Turned out Elder Steward and Elder Alban had also run into him a lot. Good stuff. 

Thursday was Balloon Animals. Basically one of our neighbors does service projects as a job around here, and there's one where you decorate a nursing home with balloon animals. It was perfect for me, honestly. I'll make sure to attach some pics. 

And the rest of the week was great too, but I have to leave, sorry

Better luck next email

Best Wishes,

Elder Newton

Monday, June 11, 2018

Week 99: District Conference!

Elder Diamante (or Brother Diamante now that he has finished his mission), former Branch President Kim, Elder Newton
Discover Brother Diamante
Return and Receive
Small District but Growing Love
Stop the Problem
How?
But the phone
The proof is safeguard
Brother Diamante

Brother Diamante said he wanted to be in my poem this week, so here he is. You're welcome. As far as news for this week, there isn't much. On P-Day we went to the Biggest Cave and almost got stranded in Korean countryside, but it worked out because I've been out here so long I can get out of just about any 시골. We took the train. 
Surprise! Elder Newton's camera started working again … at least temporarily.
And um, we had other things in life. We went out to The Mecca of Arirang again. It's so darn far away, but it feels nice out there. (It's 정선 for anyone not familiar with random things that make random country towns kind of famous.) We met a few nice people up there, including an English teacher from Alabama. He was cool.

We had our final conferences with President Sonksen (except in Taebaek we'll see him in a couple weeks for branch conference) and it was a good time. They're just really nice. My favorite part was at the end when we made a group chat and asked President and Sister Sonksen questions. They're pretty darn wise. I was also grateful for Sister Sonksen refunding the pizza I had to buy because lunch was $300 of chicken. She's a saint, really. 

The biggest goal of the week, though, was to get 이창 to district conference. We had to visit him twice and write a few notes, but on Sunday morning he was ready for Sister Park to pick him up. #Success
It's Elder Alban! (ft. the Other Elder Pulsipher — fun fact, there are two Elders Pulsipher in the Korea Seoul Mission)
Which leads into the best district conference of my life. We showed up about 15 minutes before the meeting and so almost everyone was there by that point. I don't know how to describe the feeling of the entire district mingling together, but there's just so much love. Also Brother Diamante was there because he's a nerd, I guess. It was good to see him. I was really busy trying to greet everyone I knew, which happened to be just about everyone in the district. I think I made it, but it was hard stuff. There were so many of them. I swear, I'm not ready for a church meeting in Utah. It'll just be an overload. 

The meeting itself was also so spiritual. I knew and loved all the speakers and praying people, and the Donghae Branch nailed their special musical number. Our young man gave a talk about sharing the gospel with his friends, and he gave our investigator a shoutout from the pulpit for helping out with it the night before. They're both just great. 

The Sonksens were the last speakers, and I just really loved their messages. They both love the members here so much, and Sister Sonksen is my greatest example in learning the language. She always gives talks in Korean and this time she made little hearts for everyone. President Sonksen also gave a great talk. When he started talking, Sister Lee leaned over to me and said she thought he was going to cry. She was right, but he didn't cry too much. It was a really happy talk and he just seemed so grateful to have been able to be with the members out here. 

But yeah. The meal afterward was great, and we got a district picture all together, which I desperately needed. I'll get a hold of it somehow. But yeah. It just felt so good to see all the people I've served with for so long and be at a meeting I didn't have to plan in the slightest. It was a real blessing. 

Best Wishes,
Elder Newton
Mom was at a seminary graduation and wasn't able to ask Elder Newton about this photo.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Week 98: Pizza and Shoe Shining

Because of last month's camera catastrophe, Elder Newton didn't have any photos this week, so Mom stole this one from Sister Sonksen's Instagram. Here are Elders O'Brien, Boden and Newton eating pizza.
Discover Lettuce
Plant and Pick
First sprout but second year
Stop the problem
How?
Pull out the Quad at lunch
The proof is awkward
Lettuce

A peek into Elder Newton's Journal:

June 1, 2018

Well, it's June now. Nothing much happened today. But I did post on Facebook for the first time today. Some Americans made fun of me. Overall, I rate it a 6/10 experience. 

I forgot to bring my journal, but that was the gist of that day. (It's OK though, I'm not hurt at all. It's chill. I know adding "it's chill" makes it seem less chill, but you know how it is with spaghetti)

So we've had a good week. We've still been calling our main English class member and reading the Book of Mormon with her. She's been attending for a long time, and has met with missionaries a lot before, but as we teach her simply about the Restoration and read the Book of Mormon she's been responding really well. 

I also learned a lot about service on Wednesday. I was a little caught up in myself, but we did our service project where we play an English Board game with a mostly paralyzed man. Just that chance to sit with and think about him for an hour really helped me oddly enough. He reminded me to appreciate nature. There were some good clouds that day. 

Thursday was our weekly 강릉 day. We saw President Sonksen and had our last interviews with him. It was a little sad, but OK overall. No tears or anything. I did shine my shoes by the church. There's a place President always goes, and it's so good. I think my shoes are shinier than when I bought them. We also ordered pizza. 

Oh yeah, there were sad things. My son, Elder Alban, had a hard time happen to him. I don't know if I can really say it here in case it's private for him, but if anyone feels like writing him a fun letter, then that might be fun for him. I think it would help. 

But yeah, that's Thursday really. So we move on. 

This weekend we had some miracles. We visited our Grandpa and he told us about the time he swam across the Han River. We also were leaving the church Saturday night and met an older man (in his late 50s?) who knew missionaries and told us the story of how he reconnected with an old penpal. It was really nice, but it ended up being better after he showed up to church on Sunday. He couldn't stay long, but it was really cool to see that we were able to help him in some little way before he went back to Seoul. 

Church went well. I got to bear my testimony on things I've learned from Mary Newton. The youth are excited to see the President Nelson devotional in a couple of weeks. I forgot one of the phones at the church (as usual) and we watered the garden. 

That night we had some really good experiences while tracting. There was one old woman whom the Sister Missionaries used to serve a lot who was really happy to see us even though we couldn't go into her home. Then we met a man who let us in. His door was unlocked actually, and when we opened it there was a really strong scent of alcohol. (Never knew that scent before my mission.) He was really thin, surrounded by empty bowls of ramen, empty bottles of Soju, and a cup full of cigarette butts. I'm surprised he was able to be as aware as he was. We couldn't stay long, and there wasn't a lot we could do, but we talked to him for a minute. It was a rather poignant moment. I was squatting next to him as he smoked and talked about how he wanted to die. He had had a Book of Mormon once, but he gave it to a friend because he felt like his heart wasn't open to it yet. He said he needed hope, and we were able to promise him Hope in the Plan of Salvation. 

I don't know if he'll remember that conversation. He very well might not remember anything from last night. He said he was going to a hospital in Seoul with a friend, so I don't think we'll have a chance to see him again. Or at least for a long time. But I left that house and I remembered what President Sonksen told me once, "Not give up on finding in Taebaek," and "Even when you don't find anyone to teach, it will change you."

So. That was that. To end on a lighter note, on the way home that night we met a really nice family who want us to help them with English and didn't seem to uncomfortable that a gospel message went with it. So that was a happy moment. 

Best Wishes, 

Elder Newton

Monday, May 28, 2018

Week 97: Buddha's Birthday and District Activities

View from the train
Discover Elephant
Trumpet and Thump 
Long nose but Short Tail
Stop the Problem
How?
Take the Train
The proof is sunburn
Elephant

So it was Buddha's birthday last week. For P-day we celebrated by going to a waterfall and a nearby temple. There are pics, but I gotta steal them. So more on that later. 
Sleeping in the car
 On his actual birthday though we went to District Sports Day for the second year in a row. It was so good. The young adults in Gangneung (This phrase can either refer to the whole district or just the Gangneung branch. Pretty handy) were in charge. They really nailed it. We played a lot of 족구* and Taebaek won the big relay race at the end. It was intense. But no missionaries got injured this year, save some really nasty sunburns. (I was pretty OK, don't worry, Mom)

On the train
Also. Other memes happened. Oh yeah, we rode the train home. I love the train. 10/10 would recommend. Also because of that we figured out how to get to the biggest cave in mainland Asia or something. 

Then we had more memes. More pizza in Donghae with my son. I always have sweet potato pizza with cheese crust. It's a delight. 

Did we have more memes? Oh yeah, our English Class Member (she's kind of our investigator now, honestly. Like, we read the Book of Mormon with her at night, and half the time English class is just a member present lesson with her) was in charge of some festivals in the surrounding towns. We went both days to talk to people, and she really appreciated it. We also met a cool stamp guy, and I totally bought a personalized stamp. 

Random church
And yeah, Saturday we picked up trash in the beach in 강릉 so that took up the whole day. We couldn't even see our grandpa to remind him about church. Luckily Sister Lee was at the library Sunday morning and reminded him. Apparently he just got up and left his stuff at the desk because he was worried he'd be late for the meeting. 

He was half an hour early. 

And yeah, Sunday was really good, and finally less stressful. It all just went smoothly. Almost as smooth as Elder O'Brien's mango juice. We had some random visitors from Utah, and one of the visitors will be a senior missionary starting in July. She really liked the 강원도, but she's worried that since she's Korean she'll have to translate for other old people in the office. But she was fun. Apparently she owns a sandwich shop in Layton. 

And yeah, after sacrament meeting one of the members just went out back and set up the church farm in less than two hours. It was really impressive. Now we just need to water it, and have really good lunches at church.† I love Taebaek. No one would ever do this kind of thing in Utah. 

But that's about all. Love you all! Maybe we'll get some pics^^

Best Wishes,
Elder Newton
 
* As near as Mom can tell, it's some kind of soccer/tennis hybrid sport.
 † "We just pick what we need on Sunday. It's all simple things like peppers, tomatoes and lettuce. Also sesame"

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Week 96: Buses and Exchanges and the Like

Elder Newton still doesn't have a working camera, so enjoy this photo taken by Elder Boden last week that looks as if it could have been taken from a bus window.
Discover Dear
Address and Acknowledge
Simple greeting but personal meaning
Stop the Problem
How?
Block the Sword
The proof is Discussion
Dear

Everyone,

So yeah. We've weeked it up out here. It was an entire week. Many things happened. 

We had district meeting again. The Donghae district is great. They're doing such a good job and they're all so fun. We missed our bus home. but the view was pretty. Sorry the camera is still dead. ㅠㅠ It's chill though.

Surprise! Elder Newton did take some pix with his phone after all. This is the border of Elder Newton's area and Donghae, as seen from a bus.
Something I've learned out here is pondering while on or waiting for buses. You spend a lot of time on them, and it's a situation where it's rather ineffective to study or call people. Sleeping is pretty effective sometimes, if we're being honest. I just don't fall asleep well on them. I mean often. Anyway, I've found that that time is best spent pondering. It's just such beautiful scenery to take in. I've definitely gained appreciation for the scenery. 

An apartment complex where the missionaries do some service

Same apartment complex, but different building and day
Really, I've thought of everything from my investigators, to members, to just the beauty of creation. It's one of the moments of missionary work that I won't get to experience as fully even if I come visit later. So you've got to appreciate it while it lasts. 

Also we had exchanges with the legendary Elder Mann. He served here for six transfers a bit ago, and he's the kind of missionary you just hear all these stories about. He would walk down the road and have a story about every single store and owner. He loved them all so much, and it was really good to see. It was a short time, so we just saw about half of the branch with him while he was here, but the strength of those relationships was so amazing. 
Some buildings outside the Donghae church

We had a lot of other cool things happen. He fixed a cane for a member, we committed an English Class member to read the Book of Mormon, and played billiards with the youth Saturday morning. Then Elder Mann went home and the aforementioned English class member drove part of the Go family, a less-active member and an investigator to a meeting in Donghae about youth conference. Then we watched Elder Renlund that night. 

Oh yeah, he was around. It was spiritual. He had a lot of good stuff. He talked about what we have to do to prepare for the second coming using parables in Matthew 25. Check it out sometime. 

Sunday went smoothly. I love it when that happens. I could report more, but we're low on time and I've been droning on. Sorry. 

See y'all later! (But not too soon)

Best Wishes,
Elder Newton
Elder Newton and Elder O'Brien wish you peace from the side of a highway

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Week 95: My Mom Is Really Cool

Special visitors from Wonju!
Discover Mom
Bear and Birth
English Language but Welsh Heritage
Stop the problem
How?
Cut the Apple
The proof is choice
Mom

Well we've had some memes this week. 

What did we do?

Things. 

Oh that's right, I had to spend a great deal of time at the church making the Taebaek Church History for last year. It was fun. Also hard, seeing as I wasn't there. It's OK, I just spent almost seven hours in the clerk's office on Sunday. It worked out though. 

We also saw the family. They still exist, if you weren't aware. 

Oh by the way, on Saturday I was waiting for the computer to load and found out how to proportion a balloon kangaroo. It's sick. I'll demonstrate sometime. 
The famous pond of Taebaek
Also Old Branch President Kim is still the best. I called him, along with our whole branch, to wish him a happy parents day. It was good. Then he said he was planning on visiting on Sunday. So it was great. He kept our sacrament meeting attendance not too low and then after the family conversationing we did some clarinet. Then I had to do clerk stuff and so his family looked around the Pond while they waited for that and the water to turn back on. Once that was done they came back and did the dishes and cleaned a bit even though everyone else was gone and they had a two-hour drive back home. They're the best. They also gave me fake meat to eat, which I thought was hilarious. 

And yeah. Those be the memes. Peace✌

Best Wishes,
Elder Newton
Elder Newton with his "Korean father" and a reunion of clarinets