Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Week 83 photo post: Travels in Gangwon Province

Last Thursday, Elder Newton and Elder O'Brien took advantage of the free bus to visit Jeongseon, where the Olympic Alpine skiing events recently took place, to proselytize and take a gift to a potential investigator.

Statue in the place (well county, but you know) where the most popular Arirang is from

수호랑 version 1.0
Down the road to the main market

Elder O'Brien on a bridge

Birds and little glass heart that's super scary to stand on. Also Ice fishing

The next Monday, they served at the Helping Hands Center in Gangneung, where visitors sometimes asked them to take pictures with mascots Soohorang and Bandabi.

They also spent some time in Taebaek, playing billiards with the youth …

… and teaching the children.
Children's drawing of prayer that inspired last week's talk
It snowed!
Look at the snow in the distance
It's like an Album Cover. "Early Mornings to 강릉 ft. Product Placement"

Monday, February 26, 2018

Week 83: Sorry to Be Late

Elder Newton emailed a day later than usual this week because he served at the Helping Hands Center in Gangneung on Monday.

We took pictures for people in front of this thing for a long time doing service yesterday
Discover Game
Roll and Race
Little bracket but Long Match
Stop the problem
Take the coffee*
The proof is competition

I don't know if I'll ever get to spend a full week in 태백. There always seem to be meetings in Gangneung that pop up. Like after P-day last week, we had a one-day break before we had to go back for a technology training with the APs. It was a fun training. I had to translate for it, which was pretty intense. It was like three hours long, and let me tell you, Elder Gilmore speaks really fast.†

But yeah, the rest of the week was pretty fun. On Thursday we had a ping pong tournament, and the two youth dominated. The last match between them was the craziest thing of my life. 

Oh yeah, we also spent Thursday going to the hometown of Arirang. There was a free bus because they do Alpine skiing up there, and it's usually like 7 dollars one way, so we had to do it. It was like our beloved HoengSeong. Nice small town with lots of nice people to talk to. There were even mouthwash dispensers in the bathrooms. It was the best. We talked to a lot of nice people, and one of them had the same last name as me, if we translate my Chinese name. Also his name works out to have the word for space in it. Basically he's the best. He's fun to text, but going back up there to meet him is going to be rather hard. Probably just start with a face call.

And ummmmm, for Friday English class two new people came, which was super fun. One even came to church, so he doubled the size of our Young Men class. We taught the lesson on "The Purpose of Life" and used Elder Stevenson's talk about "Your 4 Minutes." We had a clock and asked what everyone thought about what it had to do with the plan of salvation. My favorite was Brother Go, who said that just like the hands of a clock go around back to where we came, we also go back to Heavenly Father. 

Speaking of Sunday, I had to lead the sustaining of our new members who moved in. They live like an hour and a half away, but we love them. (One of the sisters was so excited she screamed a little when I announced it.) They're really nice. A member of the mission presidency also came and spoke. He's super nice. 

Oh also we had had a meal with a member on Saturday, and during the meal she told us her favorite hymn. Then for the closing hymn on Sunday, Sister Petry chose to do that one. ("Truth Reflects Upon Our Senses"?) And this sister usually sits in the back, but since I conduct, I got to see her smile when I announced the closing hymn. It just kind of reminded me of some of the special things missionaries can do to serve the members in a branch. 

Best Wishes,
Elder Newton
* Apparently the missionaries often get asked to take visitors' pictures with Soohorang and Bandabi outside the ice arena in Gangneung, and sometimes these visitors want pix with the missionaries as well. So yesterday when Elder Newton and Elder O'Brien were serving, a lady gave them coffee because they looked cold, and then they gave it to the next lady in exchange for hand warmers.
† Apparently these training meetings usually are conducted in English, except when the speaker is Korean, because almost everyone speaks English and many people are more comfortable in English than in Korean. So Elder Gilmore (Elder Newton's childhood friend who is now an assistant to the mission president, in case you've forgotten who he is) was speaking English, and Elder Newton was translating for the missionaries who are more comfortable in Korean.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Week 82: TV Killed the Radio Star

Discover Plush
Squeeze and stroke
No labor but valuable prize
Stop the Problem
Stop the Foreigner
The proof is Cheer

So as I maybe mentioned last week, we spent Monday in the Helping Hands Center. It was great. Most things of the week happened that day. This week had a bit of a lack of normal missionary work. Here's a review:

​​Lunar New Year English Class! It was a bigger class than we usually have
Tuesday: P-Day and English Class
Wednesday: Oh we met an investigator that day. He's really cool. #SavingSouls
Thursday: All day cleaning
Friday: Uploading data to Area Book, and then English class. We actually met a really nice potential investigator the sisters referred from KakaoTalk.  
Saturday: Only Area Book planner. Also we cleaned the church and the sink had problems. Also I had to write a talk bc someone couldn't get to church
Sunday: Church, auditing, clerking, fixing a frozen pipe in the meantime. (We pulled water out of the pipe with a ladle, and then filled it back up with boiling water from one of the church's giant rice cookers. That was fun.)

So back to Monday

So we got to the center via the free buses that are the best thing about Gangneung now, and it was immediate running around town. I guess because I lived here before, they trusted me to find all the random places the city was wanting to send us. They need a lot of translation for taxi drivers out here, let me tell you. 
​We helped a lady from Holland. There were a lot of Hollanders that day

But anyway, we'd love to tell you about the Olympian parents and foreigners and whatnot that we met, but we're low on time and I still haven't gotten to my radio show. 

Basically what happened is we were trying to get to the back gate of the Olympic stadium, but our taxi driver got us to the front gate bc he couldn't find a way around the blocked roads. We ask all the workers, and the only way to the back gate by walking was through the park, and you had to get a pass to go in, so it was rather intense, but we got our pass and had a nice stroll down Korean Disneyland. There are parades and giant vending machines and it's just intense. Also lots of cheering.
Vending machine with human-sized coins​​

But anyway, we eventually get to the back exit, because the only reason we came in was to go out, and just as we leave we run into a reporter. The first thing she asks us is if we can speak English. I can, and even though I can tell English stresses her out, she starts explaining that she needs to find foreigners to do a mini quiz show thing. We agree to help, because why not? and she tries to explain where to go, but the English isn't working for her. I finally switch into Korean and she freaks out about meeting a foreigner who knows Korean and starts going off about how I need to do that on the radio. 


But long story short, we helped translate for taxis for a bit, and then went back and did a quick quiz show for MBC radio in an information box nearby. I didn't win but it's OK, because I got free stuffed mascots as a consolation prize. (The winner got two boxes of the Tiger and Bear. She was really nice) Pictures exist I think. In order to send them I need to stop now though, so BYE!

Best Wishes,
Elder Newton
Mom is guessing that Elder Newton's companion, Elder O'Brien, is the one in front.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Week 81: Discover Imlk

So anyway this is all the milk we bought for the week. It was pretty intense and accidental, but a good time nonetheless
Discover carton
Pile and pack
Square container but triangle spout
Stop the problem
I'm clean
The proof is BYFF
Sorry to Mom for having to compile my emails, I sent them separately because the bus is shaky and phone buttons are close together.

But yeah, we've got ourselves a full week down in 태백.* Between two Sundays and a random problem during the week, we've probably spent about  7-8 hours on clerk stuff, so that's been fun. I hear it gets easier as you go on, but so far I've just gained a lot of respect for Brother Burnside† back home. He has to do all this for a ward every week. The poor man. 

But enough about clerking, we have complete countryside 태백 times. It's great. On Saturday morning we were in a tiny village in the middle of the mountains (most of the more populated places in 태백 can be described this way) and we were just finishing up tracting the whole thing when we saw a man a little ways off vaguely going toward us. We waved to get his attention, and he said something at us that I didn't understand. I assumed it was because we were kind of far apart, but it was actually because he's the hardest man to understand in Korea. (The last first counselor gave him that nickname and it's pretty accurate.) 

When we got a little closer we were able to discern that he was simply ancient, you wouldn't believe how wizened he was, and had three teeth. Then he just started talking and pointing at random directions in the mountains. I think he said something about kimchi, but we may never know. The conversation went for like 20 minutes until we finally managed to explain we needed to catch a bus home. He started to walk with us to the stop, but kind of wandered off talking to himself. I hope he's OK

But anyway, we made it to 강릉‡ so I've gotta go. Have a good time!
* Taebaek
 † The executive secretary in Elder Newton's home ward at the time he entered the Missionary Training Center
‡ Gangneung, where the ice arena and Helping Hands Center are

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Week 80: Calls and Callings

The members in Taebaek (except one who couldn't make it to church). The branch president is on the far left.
Discover Building
Erect and Elevate
Strong walls but weak foundation
Stop the Problem
Drop the ball
The proof is condensation

So this week was fun. It started normal with Helping Hands Centers and meeting returned missionaries from the embassy in charge of the vice president getting to Korea all safe and sound. Then we had some normal proselytizing and whatnot, and it was all going great until Wednesday

The morning was already interesting because we had to help load a bunch of books by President Hinckley and Mitt Romney into the Helping Hands Center. It was a hoot and a holler, but then we had to go home to study. In the middle of said studies, President Sonksen just decides to call and be like, "So Elder Newton, would it be OK if we sent you out to Taebaek real fast? Like by Friday? Because the first counselor/ clerk is moving to Gangneung to be zone leader, so we need you to go and we expect that you'll be taking his place as first counselor and clerk."*

Well I couldn't exactly say no, could I? So we had to say bye to all the members really fast and also pack, and also eat at all the cheap restaurants I like out there. It was intense. It's pretty sad to leave Elder Alban. Especially because he has to move to Seoul now. I don't even know where he'll be. President didn't know yet. It's basically "Finding Nemo" out here. My son is gone, and I got swept by the EAC into the middle of the mountains of Korea. 

But I do love it out here. (See week 66 for more info on that.) The members are all fantastic. My second day here the branch president called and asked us to help with prepping his car for the annual registration thingy and I explained the plot of Echo (it's a new-ish book?) to him. The magic harmonica sounded cool. He's really nice, as are all of our members. There's only like 10 of them. It makes getting to know them easier. 

Usually missionaries have a transfer or two (or four) out here before they get called into the branch presidency, but since I had no time I had to get all my training yesterday. It's not too intense, but it's all very new. Elder Edwards came all the way out from Gangneung to show me the ropes. 

Don't worry about me missing the Olympics though. We got to see the Olympic torch come through last night. I even held it.

It's colder in Taebaek than it is in Gangneung. Hence the polar bear.

And yeah, it was all a good time. I don't really know how to explain this week. It feels like five. We totally missed the part where we taught a Filipino less-active member over Facebook at a member's house using a mix of Korean, a bit of sign language (the sister tends to sign as she talks. I love her), English and Tagalog. I had to translate the last two into Korean for Sister Lee. It was lucky that I knew like two Spanish loan words in Tagalog and we had planned a really simple lesson. But anyway, that's about it. We have a few more pics so stay tuned. 
It's a party with giant inflatable Soohorangs

"Let Everyone Shine" is the theme song for the PyeongChang torch relay

Best Wishes,
Elder Newton
* "You see there's this tiny little branch in Taebaek and there's not a lot of priesthood, so missionaries end up being the first counselor/clerk. It's wild"