Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Week 87: Broken Expectations

l-r Sister Lee, Sister Fryer, Elder Martinez, Elder O'Brien, Elder Newton, Elder Jin
Discover Trash
Hoard and Heap
Healed leg but a plethora of canes
Stop the Problem
Here, let me show you something
The proof is distraction

Well, as for this week, we did a lot of stuff I didn't think was possible before 태백. First we spent almost all of our day on Tuesday cleaning someone's house. It's not close to being done, but we at least cleared his counter and threw away his newspapers. Also found some spots we could vacuum. It was good. Our goal for the next transfer is to clean his whole house with the branch. 
l-r Soohorang, Elder O'Brien, BP's wife, Elder Newton, Elder Martinez, Elder Jin, Bandabi
Then on Wednesday we took our branch president's wife with us to 강릉 for zone conference. She really wanted to see Elder Gilmore. Also she wasn't a missionary so she was a little curious about everything that goes on. It was really fun. We toured the Helping Hands Center afterward. Now that the Olympics are done, there's almost no one at the station. It's fun. 
At the Helping Hands Center after zone conference

Oh, we also made tacos in Korea for one of the sisters in the branch. She's so nice. We had a good message about forgiveness. Huh, I think our only chance to teach this week was to members in member visits. That's fun. I guess we went back to a house we had tracted before and talked at the doorstep for a minute. It's a younger family, but the wife is always the only one home. Well, this time she had her daughter. She's so cute. When we knocked she asked who it was, and the mom said we were 오빠. Which means we're her older brothers. That was some real right there. 

"Members ft. A Pillar of Light"
Speaking of cute kids, we had our youth activity on Saturday and Sister Lee brought her niece. We put tape on the floor of the church and played a board game. But anyway, we were picking teams, and I went with one of the kids because he really wanted to be on my team. But yeah, he just ran up and hugged me, and the little girl saw me being hugged, so I guess she decided I was a hug-worthy person and ran over to grab my legs too. It was the most endearing experience of my life. 

But then that night was transfer calls DUN DUN DUNNNNNNNN
Elder Martinez with a shopping cart and an umbrella

It's chill though. Because I'm not leaving.* Big stress reliever there. There was still the stress of putting together Branch Council and writing a 20-minute talk for the next day, but at least one thing was off my plate. It all worked out because half the district was transferred. My 20-minute talk ended up only being 2 minutes. I still talked for about 10, but we're chill.

And yeah. Elder Martinez told us Mexican history at our farewell 식사 last night. It was nice. 
Last pizza in Gangneung for the transfer

Have a happy Easter and Conference! Remember not to send spoilers^^

Best Wishes,
Elder Newton
 * In response to Mom's questions, Elder Newton said: "Yeah, I'm in 태백 with Elder O'Brien. It's good. Sister Fryer is training and sending Sister Lee to 강릉. It's cool. Then the other team closed so Elder Martinez is going to be in 원주 and Elder 진 is going to 춘천."

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Week 86 photos: Aesthetic places

 Mom was in a church meeting and could not quiz Elder Newton further. So enjoy these photos from … somewhere in northeastern South Korea.

Aesthetic Place No. 1: 

Aesthetic Place No. 2 ("where we met our new investigator"):

Aesthetic Place No. 3 (Elder Newton did provide some caption info for this next set):
Shady Bridge


With editing bc I wanted it to look like a Windows 95 Screensaver

Last one:

Week 86: So This Happened

Discover Nametag
Fumble and Fall
Piling Snow but Buried Treasure
Stop the Problem
Get run over by a car
The Proof is Doily
Name tag

So yeah, remember that one time it snowed for the first time in 태백 like two weeks ago? So we were running home because we got back from Gangneung at like 9:20 and there were no taxis. Since the snow was slippery and all this countryside missionary work has really wrecked the old dress shoes, our good old Elder Newton may have fallen down many times. Poor kid. But don't worry, he's OK. His nametag is shattered in a doily, but he's fine. 

You see, one of the times I slipped my nametag also decided to go for an adventure of its own. Ridiculous, I know. It should have known better. But it has its agency, so it went on its merry way into a frozen grave. I missed all this in the rush to get home, but once I took off my coat it become apparent I had lost my identity. As any good missionary would do in this situation, I prayed that we'd be able to find my wayward son. However, the snow kept coming, so we kind of just set that task on the back burner. 

Flash forward to last week a little after email. We're on our way home, and there in the dirt I behold a scene of carnage not unlike our picture above (sans doily, of course). So we picked it up and prayers were answered and I took a picture at home. 

The End

Really there's not a whole lot else that happened this week. We went out to some places and the Taebaek aesthetics were great. 

Oh yeah, the weekend was exciting. We spent Saturday morning going to visit this old grandma who loves missionaries. We check on her once or twice a transfer to make sure she's not dead or anything. It's really pretty out there. 

Elder O'Brien, Elder Jin, Elder Newton, class member, Elder Martinez

Closeup of bread bowl
Then we got back home and met a nice lady in the convenience store who I think was lowkey trying to set us up with her daughter who's living in America for the moment. We also ate bread bowls with one of our English class members who's moving soon. That was fun. 

Elder Newton didn't send captions with these, but this photo was taken Sunday so one of these women is the MTC teacher.
And yeah, we're out of time if I want to send pics, but one of the MTC teachers came to church on Sunday. She was cool. She served here like three years ago. We had a lot of good talks on missionary work. 

After church ended, I spent the rest of the day being a clerk and trying to make the schedule for talks in sacrament meeting for the next quarter. Revelation is hard. 

Best Wishes,
Elder Newton
Perhaps Elder Newton will provide some context for this package next week

Monday, March 12, 2018

Week 85 bonus photos: Snowy Taebaek and another cafe

Snow is pretty

Mmmm so good

View from the apartment

Breakfast Burrito was made in Korea. #성공
Elder Newton loves cafes

But he did not provide details about this one

Not even its name

But he did share that the Taebaek apartment has been used by missionaries "since before President Sonksen was a missionary and missionaries were covered in the coal that was in the air"

Week 85: A Year in Review

On the way to Gangneung on Sunday we took a break
Discover 강원도
Vast and Vacant
Countryside but Olympic Center
Stop the Problem
Fasten your seat belt
The proof is Democracy

It's a couple days early, but this week we're celebrating a year of Elder Newton being in the Korea Seoul Mission 시골 † for one whole year. *shoot off the fireworks, confetti and what have you* It's been a good year. It's pretty crazy that last year I went out to Wonju with a flip phone and an hour and a half to think about all the pressures of being a senior companion. I thought it was the end of the world and the longest bus ride of my life. Now it's a year later and the bus rides are a little longer, the phones are a little nicer, and on Sunday we had me sent away to Gangneung on member splits to attend a branch presidency training meeting. A lot has changed I guess. 

When I went to Gangneung for the first time (we had to wake up at 4:30 or 5 o'clock to make a meeting that started at 9), I saw my first 수호랑 statue outside city hall. At the time I thought they were the only statues of them I'd see in the whole province. Boy was I wrong about that

Around that time, the area presidency set Olympic preparations underway. For about eight months of that time, nothing happened on that front. From the aforementioned branch presidency meeting, it sounds like they just designed the pins that we might give out during the Games and decided on most of the activities that ended up being incorporated in the Helping Hands Center. 

Then, with about two months until the Olympics, the 관리 본부 (I'm sorry I cannot translate this word. It's too hard. I tried) started to step up the game. They had Gangneung members start looking for land to put some booth of sorts. It was a kind of impossible task, but one day when they were about to give up , they drove out by the station and saw a little piece of land for rent. When they called about it, they found out that a lot of people were asking to borrow the land for the Olympics, but the owner didn't really like any of the buyers. The owner asked what a church was doing inquiring about the land. When he heard we wanted to set up a service center and we were thinking of not even putting the church name on it, he agreed to give it to us right away. 

Side view from the side street I like to take to the center

And the story is a lot longer, but we have little time. The point is we had a lot of miracles going on. We managed to get 10 missionaries into one house in Gangneung, set up some container boxes and loan some extra land to the city for a food court. General Authorities and Olympians visited the center, and at the center members and missionaries were able to serve a likely uncountable number of people. 

Among all this big and public service, I've felt very fulfilled and happy. It's an amazing feeling, and there's no way to forget the way a big group of foreigners and a flustered taxi driver say "thank you" after you translate for them. The month or two (or I guess a year or so) of Olympic Fever was great. But alongside the visible service of that, I will also always be grateful for the smaller-scale acts of service we do out in the 강원도. Playing clarinet in a Christmas-themed cafe, doing a Facebook call with a Korean member to a Filipino less-active member, spending a Sunday in Gangneung to keep the Taebaek branch president company, and the list goes on. This week we spent most of our Friday shoveling snow for our neighbors and the local shops. Yesterday on the way back from Gangneung we rode the bus with a group of Russians all the way out to Taebaek and helped them find their hotel. I'd go on, but we're out of time.

So yeah, after a year a lot has changed, but we're still out here doing our best. The Paralympics are about over, and now we have to get ready for Easter and General Conference and keep the Lord's work going in Taebaek. It's pretty exciting. We'll let you know how it goes.

Best Wishes,
Elder Newton

† Countryside
It's the East Sea

Monday, March 5, 2018

Week 84: Once There Was a Snowman

From left: Sister Fryer, Sister Lee (she transferred here because there was a random midtransfer minitransfer), Sister Park, Sister Kim, Elder O'Brien, Snowman, Sister Lee, Jake, Elder Martinez, me, President Go

Discover Snowman
Pack and pile
Fast Sunday but Edible face
Stop the problem
Pay Dutch
The proof is

Well this week we had good memes. We had a birthday party for our entire Primary, which was really fun. He's a good kid. We also had lots of fun in the snow. 

Oh yeah, by the way, it snowed a lot out here. We had a meeting on Wednesday with Elder Gay and in Gangneung it was raining like nothing else, which is good because it made me remember to grab my umbrella from the Gangneung house.
Elder Jin checks the conditions
But anyway, when we got home to High Altitude 10 Degrees Colder Taebaek there was so much snow. It made for a really pretty walk home. The rest of the week was like 15-degree weather though, so everything was melting. We barely were able to make our snowman for the members out of what was left. 
They're everywhere in the whole darn country. If there's a public place where more than 20 people walk by every day, there will be one I swear

While the snow lasted, though, we were able to help a lot of people with their shoveling and it led to a lot of good contacts. There's lots of nice people out here in our Taebaek. 

An yeah, because of all the Gangneung, Fast Sunday, and clerk work, there's not a lot more to report. Whoops. Hope you like the pictures though^^

Best Wishes,
Elder Newton