Sunday, October 30, 2016

Week 14: Happy Halloween!

Discover spoop
Jump and Fright
Shortened word, and even less sense
Stop the Problem
Blast the cannons
The proof is piñata

Happy Halloween everybody! I hope it's great for all of you, who are maybe receiving this before Halloween. I'm bad at time zones. It's pretty good here, but it's not like a huge holiday. I'm wearing my pumpkin sweater to celebrate in my own little way though. 

But yeah, this week has flown by, probably because we procrastinated our exchanges and did both of them this week. So that was cool. I basically never saw Elder Brown. It was kind of sad. 

So on Monday I had to get my foreigner card* on my exchange with Elder Gildea. Then he had to go to another area to meet up with the other zone leader, and so we spent very little time in our area that day. We had a dinner that night with a member I guess. They had this spread that the sister said was cream cheese, but I'm pretty sure it's whatever they eat in the Celestial Kingdom. It was glorious. 

Then Tuesday I was back with Elder Brown, but it was Temple/P-day, so we went to the temple, and right after we went with some members to Costco for Halloween prep. It was great. We went to Seoul Nam† for a second on accident. Whoops. But Costco was great. It felt real American, but was filled with Koreans. They still used American Express cards too. Also it was underground.

Wednesday was my exchange with Elder Remington. We just tried to visit less-active members and give them cookies, but no one was home. We met a Korean kid from Georgia though, so that was cool. Also we just happened upon a place with a pretty sick view, but that was the day I forgot my camera, so there is no evidence of this. 

Thursday was 12-week follow-up, so we went to the office like all day. We had lunch, and since all the Subway stuff had meat, Sister Sonksen made me eggs, and they were delicious. She is a good temporary mom. 

And then on Friday we finally were back in our area, and started off the day with me running to the church in my pajamas. It was pretty fun, we had to open up the gate for someone, and I hadn't the time to change. So that was cool. Then we spent like all day prepping for Halloween. 

We spent Saturday almost exactly the same way. We finished the piñata for the party though. It was a giant pumpkin the size of a 5-year-old. Like, I'm sure one could fit inside. It took like a week to construct. But it was glorious.

Then we had the Halloween party, which was way fun. I didn't see any of it (I was running the fishing game, so I was behind a vertical ping-pong table the whole night), but there was bobbing for apples and facepaint, and lots of American-style autumnal games. I hear that all went well. Speaking of things I heard, "The Monster Mash." That was fancy. 

I did get to see the destruction of the piñata though, and I must say, it was the most beautiful thing I've seen here. For like 2 minutes there was a crowd of children surrounding this pumpkin that was bigger than half of them, and they were just smashing it. They only had rolled-up newspaper, but they were using it with such ferocity, I was glad they didn't have anything harder. Of course, the newspaper did nothing, and when the pumpkin broke, the top k. just broke off and the carcass fell to the floor. Then there was a half second moment of absolute silence before the children swarmed the pumpkin. It was a little scary, but also I couldn't stop laughing. 

So yeah, unqualified success. 

Hope that gives a vague idea of missionary life as a party planner missionary in training. I'll write again next week. There's no party coming up though, so we'll see what we do. 

-Elder Newton
* "Like my visa so I don't have to have my passport."
† A neighborhood in the Seoul South Mission. 

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Week 13: I have a cool thing

Can you spot Elder Newton? Thanks to the mission secretary, Sister Anderson, for the photo.
Discover Elder Bednar's seat
Cushy and really just a pew
Stand, and then sit in like two seconds
Stop the problem
Ask questions
The proof is arms
Elder Bednar's seat

So yeah, Elder Bednar* came last week. That was big, and probably what people want to hear about.

Really though, there's not that much. Elder Bednar just came to Korea, and so we got a special three-hour discussion thing with him. If Sister Sonksen posts a pic, where Elder Bednar is sitting, is where I sat during the meeting.† So that was cool.

We just talked about faith, and he answered some questions, and in the process we all learned to use questions to teach people. See, apparently when we ask questions people are more actively learning. It's a wild thought.

Anywho, at one point I had a thought,‡ so I raised my hand to share it. Then Elder Bednar looked at me and said, "Yes, Elder?" So that's cool.

And yeah, he was just really spiritual, and I learned how I can be a better disciple and student of the gospel even when there isn't an apostle standing right in front of me.

Other than that, though, it's just been Halloween party planning and talking to people all week. Lots of small miracles, maybe we'll talk more about that next week. Until then, peace,

Elder Newton

* Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of 12 Apostles.
† Elder Newton explained that Elder Bednar posed for a photo with the missionaries in the front row of the chapel, then when he resumed his spot on the stand, Elder Newton sat in the seat he had vacated.
‡ "I just said something about questions being important to being an active learner. It was kinda basic tbh."

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Week 12: Well, apparently I have to talk to people

Elder Newton with his friend from a couple of weeks ago
Dear audience of reader people,

Discover Streetboarding
Stick and cheer
simple color scheme but complex life questions
Stop the problem
Wall up your friend
The proof is Kick

So apparently I am good at Korean. It took a couple weeks, but people here are now telling me. Or now I finally understand when they tell me. It took a while for me to get the accent thing. I was used to listening to white people speaking Korean. Now, this may seem like good news, but it means that I no longer can use the "I don't know Korean" excuse. I liked that one a lot. 

Now I'm learning how to talk to people on the street. I mostly give high fives to students and ask if they like English. Then I can invite them to English class, and it's great. Old people are still a little scary, but I'm working on that. 

Anyway though, the biggest news is that we finally have pictures, so I'll just send those instead of more blather from me.

-Elder Newton

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Week 11: Missionary or professional party planner?

Elder Newton demonstrating his new skill.
Discover Balloon Animals
Twist and Pop
Quick trick, but arduous mastery
Stop the Problem 
Force the topic
The proof is facepaint
Balloon Animals

So the last time I emailed all of you, I did not know how to make balloon animals. This is a personal fault that I have now remedied.

That's right. I learned how to make balloon animals, and it was for a missionary purpose. See, here in 녹번 our bishop has us work on parties a lot. The first day I got here, I was thrown into this Halloween party, but this last week, that was overshadowed by the huge annual yearly festival. 

Apparently we have one of those.

So naturally, we learned about this thing on Sunday, and needed to have several fun booths planned by Saturday. We also had to design little signs, which is how I learned to use Microsoft stuff in Korean. But that is far less important than my balloon animals. 

See, Bishop wanted balloon animals, and as missionaries, we did our best to provide. We spent most of Sunday calling missionaries from all over the zone, but our efforts were in vain. There were no balloon animal experts. Thus, last P-Day, Elder Brown and I became the experts the zone needed. 

(Also we would miss conference for this festival, so we had to confirm that was OK with President Sonksen. When we did this, he jumped right on board, which meant if we failed, he would have our heads.)

After receiving special balloon animal research internet access, we studied all through Monday afternoon. We learned the basics and began the journey of learning how to make a dog, bunny and sword. Flowers are too tough. 

For the rest of the week, daily planning was spent setting goals and practicing our newly acquired skill. It was fun. Also really hard, but eventually we got it. 

So yeah, then I spent 7 hours making balloon animals for the Korean people on Saturday. It was great, and the Sonksens even dropped by. They seemed to enjoy it. I think Sister Sonksen took pics. Which is good, because I have been atrocious at this thus far.

Anywho, that was the biggest thing of the week. Korean is continuing to come slowly but surely. Loving it a lot, and also tired a lot. But it's k. 

Well, see y'all next week,

Elder Newton

Monday, October 3, 2016

Week 10: Korea, here I am!

Here's Elder Newton's first update from the land of the morning calm. No photos this time, as it appears he had his hands full on his first preparation day. (That's the missionaries' "day off" when they can shop, do laundry, play ball, send and read email, etc.) In short emails to his mother, he shared that he's in 녹번 (Nokbeon-dong), a neighborhood in Seoul, with three other elders and gets along well with his companion, Elder Brown. We hope for more information as he settles in more.

Discover Seoul
Touchdown and drizzle
Lots of ocean around, but not that much humidity yet
Stop the Problem
Make Kimchi
The proof is Swallow

So yeah, it's been wild. I live in Korea now. I love it a lot. I don't know what to say, so I'll just tell a story because I like it a lot.

So as you know, I am in Korea. That's cool. Because of this, many people speak Korean. I am told I am good at this language, but I don't believe this. I have no idea what's going on most of the time actually. 

But anyway, on my second day here, Elder Brown and I forgot dinner for the first time. (He's cool. He's blond and is from Bro. Chandler's home ward apparently.) We have forgotten dinner a lot actually. But it's OK, it's not like we're walking up a million hills every day. 

So instead of dinner, we're doing this survey activity, when I see this photographer sitting a few benches away from us. And Elder Brown is busy talking to someone else, so it's up to me to go proselyte to this guy. I am a little terrified at this point. See, when we are on the street, Elder Brown is the big talker. He knows what's going on. I don't. And yet, the Spirit is telling me to go, and so I do.

His name was ​[redacted because we're asked to safeguard the privacy of people the missionaries teach]. Turns out he knew English. He said he didn't really need religion, but I wasn't going to just leave because of that. So I asked if we could share pictures. Something I've learned is photographers always have cool stories and are willing to talk to someone who will listen. (S/O to Emily Gidney for that wisdom.)

So as we talk, we somehow end up talking about the Gospel anyway. I was a fan of this. Turns out, he had met missionaries in LA and talked to them. He had a few questions, and I answered them. We talked a lot about God and faith, and before I knew it, an hour had passed. And I had taught my first street lesson. 

I gave him a ​Book of M​ormon, which he almost didn't accept. Since he said he wasn't ready for religion, he said he'd read it another time, and if he took my book, he'd be depriving someone who was ready of the same opportunity. I really liked that consideration, but also he needed the word of God, so I assured him I had an extra in my bag.

And yeah, I just like this guy a lot, and it turns out he doesn't even live in my mission. I was real sad about that, he's still like my favorite person I've met though. 

And yeah, email time is short. More updates later,

-Elder Newton