Sunday, June 24, 2018

Week 101: Branch Conference! I Swear There's Always a Conference

The district before transfers, clockwise from left: Elder O'Brien, Elder Steward, Elder Jin, Elder Pulsipher, Elder Boden, Elder Newton, Sister Butler, Sister Perrigo, Elder Alban
After transfers: Elder Newton, Elder Alger from Surprise, Ariz., Elder Boden
Discover Grape
Harvest and heap
Old Branch makes way for new growth
Stop the problem
Extend the break
The proof is Adjustable

So, we sent Elder O'Brien away*. First we saw some people and climbed a mountain, but then he had to go. Sad days. 

Doing a service project.
We got Elder Alger, though; he's nice. He and Elder Boden are good at being patient and doing the work they can during the times I'm stuck at church. What troopers. 

The week was a bit of a blur, though, and nothing too crazy happened. Saturday we played ping-pong with our investigator and taught him a lesson by farming together. He had to miss church this week, but he's still the best. After we finished, the second counselor in the mission presidency showed up to drop some stuff off. Then he went off to find a hotel while his son helped us clean the church. That was great. I haven't had a member help clean the church in forever. To be fair, though, we don't really ask them to. But anyway, after we finished, they took me to a meat place I like because there's some really good 냉면. He took a picture, but I don't have it. 

Elder Remington with Branch President Go's family
Oh also Elder Remington died†. So he came to visit with his family. They're so tall. And they just showed up at the church with Branch President Go's family randomly Saturday night. That was fun

Sunday was pretty crazy though. I had so many things to get ready for. Branch conference is intense. Although to be fair, it was also the end of the quarter, so there were many things to do.

Elder Newton showing his Vegan Pride (note the matching ties purchased by Elder Alger in the "cheap tie area")
But yeah, Sunday! As many of you might already know, we had a lot of lettuce growing for today. We harvested it all. Or almost all of it. The meal was crazy big. But we also had 41 people come to church. That's a record high. It feels weird to have so many people. It's nice though. President and Sister Sonksen both gave really good talks. They love Taebaek. So does everyone. It's the best. 
The field is green and ready to harvest

I feel like there's more to say. After church we took a big picture with everyone, but I don't have that either. Sorry. Three of the 12 local foreigners were hanging out in front of the church and we talked to them for a while. There's a couple from Idaho who know Mormons really well, and a South African man who's one of the funniest people I've ever met. He remembered Elder Gilmore. Small world.

But yeah, I guess that's it. I think we have some pictures. So. Yeah. Byeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

Best Wishes,
Elder Newton
* To Chuncheon.
† Completed his missionary service.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Some bonus photos from Week 100

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



More views

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
Pay a visit
The Proof is Honor

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. 

We think we spotted Elder Newton in the back row (near the tall elder) but we aren't 100 percent sure
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
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
Pull out the Quad at lunch
The proof is awkward

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