Sunday, November 26, 2017

Week 70: I Love to See the Temple

The Elders (from left): Elder Alban ft. Stair, Me ft. Smile Badge, Elder DuPlessis ft. South Africa, Elder Pulsipher ft. Ex-Vegan
Discover Journal 
Jot and 적다*
Straight lines but scattered writing
Stop the problem
Pick out the chicken
The proof is neglect
*It is the Korean word that basically means the same thing as jot but it's a different language and ㅈand J make about the same sound so I say it's valid

Well it's been a pretty full week out here in the 강릉.  Since we last talked, we had a great Family Home Evening before which I found out that I had received a referral from Sister Jang way back when I was in Nokbeon and she wasn't a missionary. It was a pretty good referral too. It was a rather pretty good small-world moment to start the week. 
Tuesday was the best though. It kind of felt like we only had half a day because we had to head to Seoul for the greenies. After our lovely three-hour bus ride during which Elder Lee taught me about 정 (Jung), we hurried off to 신촌 to spend the night. Outside the subway station, we met a French guy who had been in Korea for only 10 months but was simply fantastic at Korean. He was missionary good, which is saying something. He even showed us how he studied and it was basically the same way I do. Sister Seo kept on saying he must be Korean even though, in the Frenchman's words, "I'm French but I look like a German."

I don't know if that last sentence made sense, but I just really liked that quote. 

But anywho after that fun experience we went up the hill to the temple to spend the night. For avid readers of these emails (assuming those exist) you may remember my last visit to the temple was in January, so I was quite excited. We got to sleep in the temple dorms and have the free kimchi in the cafeteria. We had about 10 GangWonDo missionaries, including Elder Gilmore, in the temple and it was just a nice spirit. I love the temple.
I needed a pic

And look Elder Lee came with me!

The rest of the week flew by though. Wednesday morning we had to hurry off to the office to pick up the new missionaries. My new companion is Elder Alban. He's great. He's this really small 18-year-old kid from the Philippines. He mimics a lot of the things I do, which was really funny when I was picking out the meat from my lunch and I looked over to see him doing the same thing. He really wants to do missionary work and he's already working so hard to learn Korean. And English. Poor Elder Alban, he needs to know three languages. 

Training is an interesting experience. I suddenly have a lot more time spent on studying and also there's a bit of pressure to be a model missionary at all times. But Elder Alban does have the greenie power so it gives us the energy to get through. Like we were having our little English class at the college and he bore a really powerful testimony at the end about his family. It was really sweet. 

And yeah. Sunday was fun too. Elder Alban wrote his talk almost completely by himself and it was super sweet. The members really liked it. We also had a bunch of foreigners visit because there's a member from here who is an English teacher in China, but she just got married to someone from America and they visited. She was so good at English that she translated her own talk as she gave it. By the way, that is a little harder than it sounds.
In third hour we were in the middle of studying President Uchtdorf's talk from women's session when Sister Kim came upstairs and asked to borrow me and my companion for the Primary. They were learning about missionary preparation and so we told them about all the physical and spiritual things we need to be missionaries. Sister Jo told a story about a missionary who served here who ran away from home to serve and so other missionaries got him all the clothes he needed and the members always bought him food. But he was spiritually prepared so he was a great missionary.
By the way, big Primaries are great and all, but nothing will ever beat a three-Korean-child Primary. Two of them are only 3 or 4 and the other is 11. The dynamic is amazing. Like at the end we sang our hymn and prayed and everything, but SiHuan still made us sing all three verses of "I Am a Child of God." And then we had snacks. It was great.
After church, President Sonksen randomly showed up with stuff to use for #LighttheWorld. It was pretty fun. Sister Sonksen sang the alphabet song with our aforementioned SiHuan (시환) and it was the cutest thing of my life.
And yeah, that's about it. See y'all in a few!

Best Wishes,
Elder Newton
Charmander plays our piano

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Week 69: *Gusteau Voice* I Have a Son?

We studied and my fountain pen and lemonade were aesthetic
Discover Green
Write and Rise
Clean energy but muddy Ogre
Stop the Problem
Wait for your cows
The proof is John

This week has been pretty fun. The transfer ended well I guess. Last week Elder Lee's hospital trip went swimmingly, for all those who are curious. As I say that, it reminds me of a Spanish joke about lazy fish whose punchline lies in the similarity of the word for swimming, nadar, and the word for nothing, nada. You see, by the time we got to the hospital, Elder Lee was almost completely better, and so his doctor didn't believe he was sick at all. But it's chill, because Elder Whiting, our mission nurse, took us out for ice cream.
Elder Lee was tired
The rest of our week was spent in our kingdom by the sea. It was a good time. We got kimchi from a member, learned what an idiolect is, and had an earthquake.
Oh yeah, there was an earthquake this week. Forgot about that one. So on Wednesdays we have district meeting, as missionaries are wont to do. And as I am wont to do, we had a bit of a creative twist as it were. See, in order to learn about sharing talents and spiritual gifts we had the district share talents with each other. I taught everyone how to make a balloon bunny. But anywho, right near the end of the meeting our phones started to beep, and before we could look to see what was going on, the church started to sway a bit. It was rather surreal, but the epicenter was far away so we were pretty fine. The Korean SAT got pushed back a week because of it though, so that's cool. 
The pictured Elder Huilett (at right, with Elder Lee)
And yeah, the week just went on. We had an exchange with Elder Huilett (pictured), and that was pretty fun.  After that exchange we ran into an investigator of ours whom I hadn't seen in all my time here. We were actually going to try to visit him to give him a snack. It was decently cold out. Something like 3 degrees in degrees. So we were all bundled up, and we had almost gotten to the gym he works at, when out of nowhere, well I guess out of the gym, come running a pack of people in rather normal, thin, exercise clothes. I was a little concerned for them. But yeah, as they passed us, I noticed one without a shirt on. Before I could comment on how cold he must be, he ran past and I heard Elder Pulsipher say, "Oh, that's him, we'd better come back in a bit."
We did go back in a bit, but we still didn't manage to talk to him. We did meet a few Canadians, though. They were so nice. We talked for bit with them, but by far the best part was the end when the exchange ended a little something like this:
Canadian with really long blond hair and cool mustache: "So what are you doing here? Are you students?"
Elder Newton, who is blond and needs a haircut but his hair is still not close to that long: "Oh no, we're missionaries."
Canadian: "Spreading the good word of the church, eh? Well thanks!" 
*Canadian gives a salute, turns away and walks off*
Joon has a kimchi-making tub on his head

Joon is a model
But enough of all that, it's probably time to get to the subject line of our email. There's really not a lot to it though. See, we had a fun Saturday. We went to Sokcho for a baptismal interview with our lovely Joon and got home in time to buy some ice cream for transfer calls. The call came not too long after 9, thank goodness. It was a fun one. First we sent Elder Lee to be zone leader in Nokbeon just in case he needed to go to the hospital again. Then we got Elder Pulsipher a South African zone leader companion. That will be fun. And me, I got a Son* for Christmas. So sorry that I don't know his name. We're expecting him on Wednesday
And Sunday was just fantastic. It was the Primary Program† and the whole branch participated. We all talked like children. The members even said I did a good job, but no one did better than 시환, our beloved 4-year-old. He's so good. We even had an investigator come, and he was impressed at how the children were able to believe. We talked about becoming as a little child and baptism because of that, and it went really well. 

But yeah, that's it from Gangneung. See y'all around!
Best Wishes,
Elder Newton

My desk is fun

We did tracting and the light looked cool

 * When a new missionary enters the field, a veteran missionary is assigned to train or mentor him or her. They frame these relationships in terms of parents and children (and sometimes grandparents and grandchildren).

† Once a year, the children between ages 3 and 12 sing and speak in the main Sunday worship service to share what they have learned that year.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Week 68 bonus post ft. photos from Brother Kim

Our music night (sorry, Mom doesn't know who that is between Elder Newton and Elder Saguinsin)

Music night again
My first district conference! (l-r then-President Kim and daughter, Elder Lee, Elder Horne, Elder Newton, Elder Shumway)

Week 68: Where Is Elder Lee?

Discover Needle 
Prod and Prick
Wide Eyes but Narrow Vein
Stop the Problem
Ask Questions Make Mistakes and Get Busy
The Proof is Argot

To be honest with you all, as we were going through this week I was wondering if there would be anything to write home about. We had appointments every day this week and every single one fell through. I guess we had zone conference. It was pretty nice. We talked about Christmas a lot and I'm so ready. It's the most wonderful time of the year everybody.

However, our week really started to change on Pepero Day. Classic Pepero Day, always pulling through. It started in the morning when after personal study Elder Lee said we needed to change our plan to drop by a hospital. He had a surgery in his mouth a while back and it's acted up once or twice. He had set an appointment for Monday at a hospital in Seoul, but it turns out he needed treatment faster. So we spent the morning in the hospital and got him some medicine.
Elder Lee is holding the streetboard. Elder Newton hasn't told me which sister is Seo and which is Jang because in another photo, the sister wearing black is drawing.
He felt better after getting medicine, so we managed to do our streetboarding with the sisters. It was a really fun activity too. (Pictured) We had Sister Jang draw caricatures on the street. It turned out enough people wanted to do it that we had to make balloon animals for the people waiting. And if it couldn't get any better, at the end our lovely Jun showed up with snacks. He's a gem. However, after the activity Elder Lee started to lose some energy again and we ended up heading home a little early so he could rest.
Sunday morning our beloved Korean was still out of it and so we called the branch and found a good hospital to go to so we could have him more fully checked out. We ended up missing church and everything. The members kept on calling asking where Elder Lee was. They're so good.
In the end the hospital told us we should probably head to Seoul right away. We called President to check if it was OK. Of course it was, so after dropping by home for a quick lunch and priesthood blessing we packed and took a four-hour bus across the country. The members kept on calling then too. They do really care. Of course missionaries are a decent portion of the branch.
Once we got to Seoul things went by a little faster, as Seoul is wont to make things do. We got to the hospital there and met Sister Sonksen and the mission nurse. They stayed with Elder Lee and they sent us off to the office. It's always weird going through Seoul these days. It's just so many people. But we did get to the office safely, as did Elder Lee and we spent the night. I texted our favorite Brother Kim a bit and he sent some pictures. (Pictured in separate post.)
And yeah. Now I'm emailing from the mission office. It's weird. But cool.

Best Wishes,
Elder Newton

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Week 67 photo post: Olympic venues and Gangneung scenes

Flags by the Olympic Stadium

The moon out in the middle of nowhere/ not too far from the Olympic Stadium

We have filters on our phones so Elder Lee became artsy

The ski jump is in the distance under the sun

I took a picture of the stadium and my phone made it better

Olympic road (note flag with Soohorang and Bandabi on it)

View from the roof of a building we study in a lot

Panorama of stadium and surroundings
Gangneung Bullet Train Station

Even newspapers are counting down to the Olympics

Week 67: "You act like an animation character"

Elder Newton, Elder Lee, Elder Pulsipher, Elder Sonksen. (I asked Elder Newton about the aprons and he said most of the meat-buffet-style restaurants have them.)
Discover puddle
Splash and slosh 
Uneven earth creates smooth surface
Stop the problem
Change your attitude
The proof is Frogger

So in news this week I have a smartphone. Missionary work is similar except now I take more pictures, can read the conversations I text to investigators (this led to what almost counted as a lesson but over text. We had a long bus ride), and send emoji to said investigators. It's a blast

Also a heck of a lot happened this week and heaven knows I never have time to relate it all (see last week) so I have been keeping a journal now. Read it in a few years. But yeah. Um. We've now been a trio for a week. It's weird, and I am acting translator between our English and Korean speakers. President Oh says triangles are the most stable relationship, which I agree with, but would add that all the sides need to be connected.*
Elder Newton and Elder Lee

Elder Pulsipher and Elder Newton

As for the subject line, as we did the proselytizing this week, Elder Lee pointed this out about me, and I enjoyed the statement. It's rather true, isn't it?

Ummmmmmmmmmm we also did a service project this week. Oh and Halloween happened, but I think I can just tell you about service in brief. One of the members works at city hall and they were doing a terror simulation drill. They needed foreigners. He knows foreign service missionaries. So we went for like three hours, moved district meeting, and acted for about 2 minutes. But we met the vice mayor of Gangneung and everything. I have his namecard now. That's cool. 


We also went out near the Olympic stadium a few times.† There was a big Dream Concert we wanted to talk to people at. We also met, made and dropped an investigator out there all in the same week. Don't worry though, because when we dropped him we were with Branch President, and since the meeting ended early, we were far from home and it was 6:30 on fast Sunday, he took us to his house for dinner. It was nice. He lives in the middle of nowhere though, but not far from the stadium, which itself is in a rather not busy place. The stars were super great, and you could see the bobsled course in the distance. The lights on it were great. 

Oh and President Sonksen came out to give us our phones, and when it was all done, he took the Gangneung missionaries out to dinner. It was a meat place, but it had the best vegetables I've ever had. I swear, the greatest injustice of this country is that they hoard the best cabbage for their meat buffets. Like, give a vegan a break. We also had interviews, and I'm scared that I might get a greenie. But we'll see, transfers aren't for a few weeks. 
A vegan stirfry made by Elder Newton. "We ended up eating [the potatoes] on the side, but they were delicious."

Also yesterday when we taught our other new investigator, who is rather golden, I made a missionary metaphor with Frogger. It was one of the best lessons of my mission. 

I'd tell you more, but time,

Best Wishes,
Elder Newton
* To be clear, all the sides of this tripanionship are harmoniously connected. 
† Photos of the Olympic venues in a separate photo post.