Tuesday, October 10, 2017

General Conference! (October 8, 2017)

Wow, I can't believe this transfer is halfway over already. Time is flying!
General Conference was so so good. We watched them this last Saturday and Sunday, and I was so impressed. Saturday morning during my personal study I prayed, and thought, and wrote down some of my questions that I have, about how I can improve, about what I need to do in different situations, etc. 
Then while watching conference (I watched it with Elder S from Erda, who attended Stansbury High), I was stunned as almost all of my questions were answered on Saturday! There were very clear answers, and sometimes even whole talks based around my very specific and personal questions.

Not all of my questions were answered as fully as I wished, however. But, as Elder Anderson encouraged us at the end of conference, I look forward to studying them again, on paper this time, to find the rest of my answers. 
I have a testimony that the Lord is real; He has real and full power and, as taught in conference, he is in the milestones of our lives, as well as the daily stresses and minor details. He led me what questions I should ask, and he inspired men thousands of miles away to speak on topics that would most bless and help God's children today. 
I want to share a few more things that I learned in conference in a bit :)

One things I will tell you about our ward is how AWESOME the recent converts here are! So some history of this area: 3 years ago, my MTC teacher served in the same area as me! Then last transfer, Elder Y served here for 1 transfer, and was ZL while I was DL in Youngdo. At that time, he was companions with my current companion, Elder P, and they baptized a couple who met during English class previously, named Brother J and Sister H. They are such a faithful good couple. Anyway, so I came in this transfer to Haeundae and we are teaching the recent convert lessons to this awesome couple! J is super good at ping pong; we had a good showdown the other night, but I lost 6-11 11-4, 13-15. Too bad. I am getting decent at ping pong, and I like playing the Asian style better than American I think! Haha.  Asian style is less side spin, but more control I think, and consistency. They have totally different paddles for it-- the handle is different. But yeah, I will show you when I come home.

This morning I was a bit rushed and forgot my SD card reader, so no pictures, today, sorry.  I'm out of time, but my favorite talk in conference was probably Elder Holland-- he is so encouraging, to help us do better, and have hope, along with President Uchtdorf. I love them. 

Remember to always find hope, especially in little things! This life is about change-- the point of the Gospel is progress, and Satan's greatest lie is that we do not have the ability to change or improve. But we can. Remember, by small and simple things are great things brought to pass. What small change will you make today that can change your life forever?


Haeundae, Week 2 (October 1, 2017)

Hey Family! How are you?

My second week in Haeundae went all right! We met with an American investigator, he is a nice middle-aged man named D. We went to a cafe with him... He is really polite, and loves to talk with us. This week we showed him a bit of how the Book of Mormon and Bible work together.

Other than that, not too much... Except yesterday we did a Sunday school lesson with all the adults and youth in the ward! It was about member missionary work.

So for our lesson, Elder P did the first part, about WHY we share the Gospel, to try to help people want to share. He showed the video about the family whose sons worked in a mine for like 3 years to save up money, then flew on a plane to get sealed in the temple as a family. He did really great discussing that with all of them.
Then I talked about how we share the Gospel. We did a little discussion on how they have already been doing it, then we did something that was kind of like a missionary district meeting. We watched part of the District 1, where two sister missionaries visit a member and help her practice sharing the gospel, then we had everyone in the room do that! We had each of them role play with each other and practice inviting someone to hear about the Gospel. Then we shared our testimonies of missionary work. And we invited them to each invite one friend during the month of October to learn about the Gospel.

There was this sweet grandma in the ward who came up after and said, "During that lesson I felt like I wanted to do missionary work so much! I don't have someone to share the gospel with yet. I am not sure where to start. But I will pray about it! And I will work on it this month of October!"

Haha. I love this ward! Also this week I had the opportunity to give 3 priesthood blessings. One of them was to the nice old man who was baptized by President Hinckley. We visited him again yesterday, too, and gave him the sacrament. I love visiting hospitals, and the elderly-- there is a special feeling there. And it reminds me of my grandparents, as well as taking the sacrament to the elderly as a priest.

Hey! I love you all so much, I will email some pictures and things a bit later, but I have to go for now! Sorry, my recent convert from Sangin came up to meet us today! So we are going to have lunch together.

(Here are the pictures he sent later:)

I went on exchanges with my trainer this week, Elder L!  I love that guy so much. He is AP right now.

Elder P and I with Brother Y, who was baptized by President Hinckley.

Me, Brother J (who was baptized while I served in Sangin), and Elder P. We are by Haeundae Beach, a popular tourist attraction in Korea. This was taken today!

Haeundae Week One! (Sept. 24, 2017)

Hello Family! Week one in my new area was pretty great! I am really excited to work here with the great members and my companion Elder P. Here are some pictures from my last area.

L and his family with Elder A and I. Love this family!
This man is our investigator, J, with his new bride, Sister C.

J's son, so cute!
Here in Haeundae we don't really have investigators right now.. like 2 people, but I am not sure how much will come out of it. So we have to find a lot of people! But last night we did some group proselyting with the sisters, and with an English sticker board. There was this big group of kids who came by who seemed like really nice good kids. We got a few of their numbers and plan on having some kind of fun activity with them and some of the young men. The miracle was, one of the kids in the group asked if I knew J__... Well earlier that day I had met a kid at our church named J__! And I found out that our church member was best friends with one of the kids in that group! So I am pretty confident we can meet with them all and have fun playing ping pong and teaching them the gospel.

The members of Haeundae are awesome-- I gave my greeting speech yesterday. I  told them how I came from a small town, feeding horses and cows for a job growing up. I told about how before my mission I realized that missionary work was important, but didn't really activitely seek opportunities to invite people to hear about the gospel. But now, I realize how important it is, now! So I shared a couple quotes that are in PMG about missionary work and how sometimes we can be worried about sharing the Gospel, cause it is scary! But, God doesn't want us to be scared. So I shared my testimony, finishing with my favorite scripture, in 2 Timothy 1:7 

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
8 Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God.

Well after the meeting I talked with the Bishop, and we also had Missionary Coordination Meeting with the Ward Mission Leader. Both went super well, and they both expressed their willingness to help, and advice and encouragement. The Bishop even told me that he or several others would be able to make time whenever to teach with us, and they gave us the Sunday school lesson this week to talk about member missionary work! I am super excited if you can't tell... Although I am nervous to teach about that in Korean, so pray for me please!

Also, one other miracle-- there is a man in our ward who is not a member, but the ward contains his wife, and 4 daughters, and their husbands and children, so he comes to church every week. But he looks like he just sleeps during the meeting and isn't really interested in being baptized. Anyway, after the meeting, one of his daughters came up to me and told me that he grew up in the country, too, and loves horses and cows and when I talked about that he was really happy, smiling big! That really made me happy! I hope to reach his heart.

After church, we visited the hospital and took the sacrament to an elderly man there yesterday. What a neat man. I love taking the sacrament to the elderly. Well this man is really special. His name is Y_. He is 91 now. I asked him how he was baptized, because Elder P had told me a bit about him. This is what Y told me (in English, he was so sharp and smart):

"Do you know who this is?" He asked, as he pulled a picture of President Gordon B Hinckley from a notebook he had. "Yes, President Hinckley!". Well, when Y was 19, he saw President Hinckley on the street in Korea and said hello. President Hinckley said hello too, and then said to young Y, "Why don't you come to the church with me?" And then Y emphasized as he told us "President Hinckley said, 'Not tomorrow. Not this evening. Now." So Y went with him to the church, and President Hinckley explained a bit about baptism, and asked if he was Christian. Well his dad was Presbyterian, so he knew a bit. And President Hinckley baptized him right then. And then made him a branch president, and a building supervisor over a new church building. Y was 19! 
Well Y went on to be a district president, temple presidency, staying close with President Hinckley throughout his life. He said, "After I finished the temple presidency, he sent me and my wife to Japan for a couple's mission."

It was so neat to me to see this 91 year old man, whose body was failing, but whose spirit was as lively as ever. When he spoke in English, he even sounded a bit like President Hinckley. What a neat man! He also asked us to write the date, time, and our testimonies in a little book he had. I am so excited to continue visiting him each week! And it is amazing to me, both that he stepped up to the calling President Hinckley gave him, and that President Hinckley was inspired to have such a young man do it-- a young man who was obviously prepared and ready.

Anyway, I love my new area! I sure miss Youngdo, but I am excited to work here!

I've got to go, love you family!

Elder Beckett

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Transferred Again! (September 18, 2017)

Hey everyone! Sorry for being late! Anyone happen to be awake?  I transferred! Which means Elder A is staying for a 5th transfer in Youngdo...

I will be going to Haeundae, with Elder H_ S_ P_! He has been companions with Elder S_, and Elder Y_, too! I am really excited to serve with him. I am in the same zone as before, and we will be zone leaders, so it will be a fun new experience! 

I sure am going to miss Youngdo! L's family partially broke our hearts this week. We met, had a great lesson on the Plan of Salvation (reviewed) and then talked to them about a baptismal date. They said they weren't ready for that, or to come to church, but right now just meeting us is enough. They very understandably explained how they went from athiests to now believing in God, but that they aren't ready for those big steps. However, they said, they recognize that meeting with us is much more than friendship-- there is something special, and they want to keep praying, and reading the Book of Mormon, which is great. We met again on Friday, and they had kept their reading commitment! It was awesome! We talked about Nephi killing Laban, and then read 3 Nephi 11 together, about Christ coming. It was a great lesson.

Also, Brother J G, our investigator, married our church member, Sister C! They had such a cute and special wedding, I will send pictures later. He is probably for sure going to get baptized with his son, but now I am gone... I will probably be able to go, though!

This week, also Elder Yamashita came from the 70! He was great! I loved how he was so enthusiastic-- there is a special energy and enthusiasm to the general authorities, I can feel it.

Well, I got some AWESOME birthday packages and letters this week! Thank you all SO MUCH! You were so generous and kind, and gave my favorite things, and now I can use my camera again! Sorry kind of short today, but I better go.


Sunday, September 17, 2017

Hello everyone! (September 11, 2017)

Ok! Mom and fam-- I haven't got any packages yet, but I probably will on Thursday. If we don't go to the Mission Headquarters we don't get mail, but Thursday we have a big meeting, so I will probably be able to get it then. I will let you know next week.

ALSO. 2 things. We had lots of birthdays recently! Grandpa Campbell, Jaden (Today! Tell him I love him and give him a big squeeze and arm wrestle him for me). Also ALLIE on the 13th, right??? Woohoo! And Ryan on the... 17th? Right?

 ALSO my birthday was great! L's family bought me a cake, and my trainer, Elder L did, too! Elder A gave me a cool Australian tie, I was spoiled.


Ok! My week.

We met with L and his family twice, on Tuesday and Friday! They are awesome, as ever, and had kept their commitment to read the BOM intro. But they said they didn't read any more than that. We read 1st Nephi 1 together, explained a bit of it, and they seemed to like it. We invited them to read chapters 2 and 3 before Friday, which they accepted. But when we got back, they hadn't read it. We were a little bummed, cause we know if they would put in the time, they would just SOAR. So we quickly read chapter 2 together, and then moved on with the lesson we had planned: The Sabbath day. We taught it, and they seemed to understand. But they were super hesitant when we invited them to church-- they said in Korea many churches are corrupted, and they didn't want to go. We testified of the power of the Sacrament, and they seemed like they would come. But only one of them ended up coming-- the cousin, named J! We love love love J, he has such a special pure heart. He is 25 and super fun. He fit in well, and had a great experience. We meet them again tomorrow, and we will talk about agency and our power to act-- if we want to really grow and improve we have to change.

Also! Our investigator who was going to get baptized a couple weeks ago is back! He is a great guy and is the man who will marry someone in our branch. We realized he wasn't ready for baptism, so we pushed that back, but we are just strengthening his testimony of the restoration. He came to church on Sunday with his son and was just shining! I fasted that somehow we could get him back, and he came back. I am so grateful for the power of fasting.
That's about all the news for the week. We have been pretty crazy busy here lately, finding lots of cool investigators, including a dad and his son who we play tennis with sometimes! They took us out for dinner and we naturally got into a gospel conversation. We plan to meet again Wednesday.

I had a cool experience during personal study this week.

Those who are familiar with the Book of Mormon will remember the longest chapter-- Jacob 5, the parable of the Olive Tree. Well it is really long and can be confusing, but I studied it this week, and it was amazing to me. I have been reading the Book of Mormon a lot, and have prayed to have my testimony strengthened of it as I have read- -God has more than answered my prayers. As I read, I don't know how to explain it, but it is just like I can feel discernibly that the book is true. It wasn't a one-time powerful experience, but a gradual feeling of the truth of the book. I love the book!

So, the parable: Basically a gardener has an old olive tree that is dying. He prunes and fertilizes the tree in an effort to save it, to no avail, so he has an idea-- take the wild olive trees and graft their young branches into the old tame tree, counting on the power of the roots of the tame tree to produce the desired sweet fruit. He also grafts the old olive tree's young shoots into wild trees elsewhere in his garden. 

While at first the trees produce good fruit, eventually they produce undesired fruit-- the gardener and his helper had done all they could to take care of the sensitive trees, but the more easily flourishing wild branches and roots took over the delicate branches which produced the fruit he wanted.

In the end, the gardner's idea is to slowly cut off and burn the wild branches from the main tree, grafting back into the tree the branches he had grafted into the wild trees in the other part of his garden. He would also graft some of the mother trees branches to the outer wild trees once more.

Well, it works, and somehow all of the trees produce the desired fruit. This parable is originally to prophecy and remark on the scattering and gathering of the people of Israel, figuratively, and literally, but I saw it in a different light this time. 

The part I liked was the last part-- about the regrafting. The Lord of the Vineyard, the gardener, has worked with these trees for so long, and yet they do not produce the fruit He needs, the fruit he knows they are capable of producing. It breaks his heart to see them not reach their potential, and he, several times, weeps over them.
There is much to learn when we view the parable as God as the gardener, and us, as the tree.

1st-- when the tree becomes corrupted, the gardener mourns, "Who is it that has corrupted my vineyard?" (vs 47) and "What could I have done more for my vineyard?" (vs 49). The servant suggests "Is it not the loftiness of thy vineyard—have not the branches thereof overcome the roots which are good?" The branches of the tree did not realize their roots nor their nourisher, and grew up for themselves, symbolic of pride. How often do we forget that it is God that has provided everything for us, that any success we have is due to God either providing it or allowing it, and that He too, could change it all in one word? Gratitude for what we have is an antidote to pride.

2nd-- One looking at this parable might wonder- -why? Why keep changing the branches? What will that do? After all, when grafting or pruning trees, they can go through tremendous stress-- grafts can often fail, the leaves of the tree yellow, it can began to wilt.
Yet the gardener explains why he is grafting back into the tree whose lofty and bitter branches had overcome its pure roots: "And this I do that, perhaps, the roots thereof may take strength because of their goodness; and because of the change of the branches, that the good may overcome the evil." (vs 59)

I think there is a lot for us to learn here: God gives us change and trials because it brings us back to our roots, to remember who we are, who it is who feeds us and nourishes us and takes care of us. It points us back to him when we overgrow and become arrogant, prideful, or overly concerned with the world.

One last principle is learned as the gardener instructs his servant on how to take care of the grafts as he raises them:
And as they begin to grow ye shall clear away the branches which bring forth bitter fruit, according to the strength of the good and the size thereof; and ye shall not clear away the bad thereof all at once, lest the roots thereof should be too strong for the graft, and the graft thereof shall perish, and I lose the trees of my vineyard."

God is patient with us as we grow, inviting us to repent and improve at that pace which is possible to us, not overwhelming us. He is loving in all His corrections.


Monday, September 4, 2017

Miracles and Heartbreak (September 3, 2017)

The man on a right is a missionary who served in Elder A's ward in Australia. He moved from Seoul into mission boundaries, and took us to dinner one day. Super great guy, he gave us awesome advice and might teach with us soon! 

Start with heartbreaking-- one of our investigators who was going to be baptized on Sunday (yesterday) had some different private challenges and difficulties come up, and he asked us not to text him anymore, so we can't even meet him anymore. Super sad. We love him and fasted for him and his family.

The good and awesome news, which happened the day we were supposed to have a baptismal interview for the other man:

We met L_ and family! We had met them twice last week. The first time, we shared "Because of Him" and taught a little about the plan of salvation. We hadn't taught all the principles yet, L_ and his family are a bit new to religion so we kept it really simple, plus the atmosphere was a little... rowdy? So we didn't feel comfortable trying to talk about things that were too deep.

The second time, we were doing weekly planning the day before, and Elder A_ wanted to share the video "The Hope of God's Light", a video Andy shared with our family a few years ago, about the man who got into drugs and alcohol, was suicidal, then decided to fast. Nothing came of it except that he wasn't suicidal anymore, but then a month later his friend (who he hadn't seen in years) called him and asked to meet. When they met, they caught up on life, then his friend said, "Yesterday I had the strangest impression. It was from God, and it was that I need to contact you, and to tell you that He loves you, and He needs you on His side" The man was overcome with emotion, and then after years of work and struggling and repenting he brought his life into harmony with the Gospel.

Well we decided to show the video to L_ and his family. They were audibly stunned as they viewed it, and after we watched it they just told us how amazing it was-- they said that this story was so remarkably similar to their own lives, and that is why they were shocked and touched I doubt they were mixed up in the same things as Todd, the guy in the video, but they opened up to us a little about their lives. One day they had all decided they need to make changes, spend their time better, and improve their lives. They wanted to study English better. They also wanted to start exercising together, so they left their apartment and started walking to a nearby school. At that time, they happened to meet us almost immediately. They said they will never forget when we first said hello to them. 
The next day after we had first met, we met again, and just had fun, practicing English. They found their motivation to study English hard in meeting us, and we also introduced a little about God to them. Then the rest followed as I told you.

In Korea, churches have poor reputations of just being... business. So many people become preachers and start their own churches, other people are just very forceful and aggressive in the way they try to share the Gospel. L_ and his family told us they would have never listened to Christians or churches if it hadn't been us, but now they love to learn more. We taught the 3rd missionary lesson, "The Gospel of Jesus Christ" to them, about faith, leading to repentance, which prepares us for baptism, and the gift of the Holy Ghost, a very precious gift that helps us to endure to the end.

They love and recognize the Spirit each time we come. It is amazingly strong when we meet them. In Korean, "Holy Ghost" is 성신, or sungshin. To put it in their words, as T_ H_, nicknamed "Joey", said as we left, "I want to feel the sungshin!"

I have learned so much while meeting with this family! They are all willing to be baptized it seems. But they are moving to Seoul soon-- so they might have to be baptized there. Going forward, we need to teach the commandments, which may be really difficult-- it can be so different and new and difficult for those who haven't known the commandments to start living them. Please pray that they will accept them and that their hearts will be prepared.

Time for me to go! Love you all! Have a great week!! Talk to you next time!

Elder B

Miracles Continued! (August 27, 2017)

Ok! So I told you about the family we met last week, right? The group of students who walked past us and then we met them the next day? Well we met them on Friday!

Back up-- Friday was a little hard. I was kind of having a rough day mentally and things, just feeling a little down. Satan was attacking with whatever he could. On Friday we met with a man named Dave who was a new investigator! He is a really nice guy but pretty strong in Buddhism. We read 3 Nephi 11 with him, and he thought it was good.We are meeting again on wednesday.

That night we were studying outside a CU again, the same one we had met the students at. We did our language study for the day, then headed to the students' house that was right nearby. We went inside. They were so fun and loving and hilarious! We were talking and laughing, they were telling us some tips for Korean. They also love learning and practicing English with us. One of the most loving groups of people I have ever met, in the way they treated us, and each other. But... for some reason I felt so much stress. I didn't know why, but I felt really uncomfortable and anxious. I knew we were there to do missionary work, even though we love them and want to hang out with them I knew that if we didn't share the Gospel with them, we wouldn't be fulfilling our missionary purpose, which was the reason I came to Korea in the first place. Last time they thought the Easter video we shared was cool, but they weren't like dying to learn more. So I was a bit worried how we would get around to a spiritual message without feeling like they were being forced to listen to our message in order to be our friends. I struggle sometimes a bit with anxiousness anyway, I always have, but I also wanted to make sure we use our time wisely as missionaries. I went to the bathroom, and just knelt down and said a quiet personal prayer. It went something like, "Heavenly Father, we are so grateful to be here with L_ and his family. We love them, and want them to have the Gospel in their lives. But we aren't sure how to share it with them. Please lead us and guide us."

I went back out and sat down with everyone, feeling a little better. We continued talking and laughing. We ate dinner, some good fried chicken together. Suddenly a great thought slammed into me while we were eating. I had a cool idea! In Korean, I said to them,"Hey, so as missionaries we meet with lots of people and teach them Gospel discussions. You guys are good at English, and good at explaining things... Do you think it would be ok if we practiced one of our lessons with you and you could give us some advice on how to improve?" They immediately all agreed and were excited to help. "Yeah! Of course! Great idea."

So we finished eating, and then sat in a circle on the ground to teach. They all watched us attentively. We pulled out Restoration pamphlets, and explained that when we start and end lessons we do it in prayer. They said that was alright. Then we taught them how to pray. Elder A said the opening prayer. The Spirit was very distinct, and strong, as the prayer ended. I think it was their first time praying, and after we said "amen" they looked at each other, with a surprised look on their faces, searching for a word to describe the feeling that had entered the room. I offered '경건하다' which means reverent and they agreed. Calm, reverent. They recognized it!

Well, we taught the first lesson: the Restoration. God is our Father, he loves us. He wanted us to learn and grow. We are all part of his family, and he gave us families to bless us on this earth. To strengthen and help families God gave us the Gospel through his Prophets, who teach and preach through God's authority, the priesthood. God has always sent prophets, from Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses and so forth. Jesus Christ was the Son of God, and also a prophet. He taught the Gospel, and died for us that we might live again. After he died, He continued to lead His church through his chosen disciples. However, they too were eventually killed. God's authority was lost from the earth. Like He had in other times, God restored his Gospel through another prophet, called, as other prophets had been, when he was only a boy: Joseph Smith. But God knew that we might be doubtful, that we had no way to verify if Joseph Smith had been God's prophet. He prepared a book, The Book of Mormon as that evidence. We can pray about the Book of Mormon, and God will tell us the truthfulness of it through the Holy Ghost.

We taught pretty simply. They had discussed with us and asked questions as we taught, listening really well. We asked L_, the head of the group, to say the closing prayer. He said a heartfelt and beautiful prayer,expressing gratitude to have met with us, etc, and prayed for us. Then he closed.

Stronger than when we had started, again the Spirit was in the room very distinctly and discernibly. After he finished praying, L_ looked up and said, in broken English, " I knew scientifically that God did not exist. But now, I know religiously, spiritually, that God exactly exists." His English was a little strange, but he was saying that he had looked at God from a scientific perspective and couldn't believe. But he knew, from the lesson we had had, that God was real.

The interesting thing about the meeting was that, even though we didn't ask them to describe their feelings, they are a very intelligent group, and love to discuss things together, so they quickly told us exactly how they were feeling. L_ said something similar to that his mind had been enlightened, and he understood things in a new way that he hadn't before. And that he knew "exactly" that God exists. We explained what the Holy Ghost is. Elder A told them they could receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, to have that blessing and feeling more frequently. He asked if they wanted that. One of them said, "그럼요!" 'Of course!' We told them about baptism, and they almost accepted a baptismal date-- but they are moving to Seoul next month, before the day we invited them! But we told them we wanted to meet them more frequently, and asked if we could teach them our other discussions. Again, "그럼요!" 'Of course.'

It was one of the most spiritual lessons I have had on my mission. They were so good and their hearts were open! I was wondering-- why was it so spiritual? And I think I found the answer. They did not believe in God. But they were living good lives, full of love. Like I have already mentioned, they were so kind and good to each other. I think their Christlike behavior helped prepare their hearts, and the spirit quickly filled the room to testify that there was something more to life then what we can see here. I am so grateful to have been a part of such a special experience.

We have to go now! Sorry, we are updating our foreigner ID cards today cause I have been in Korea for almost a year. Crazy, huh? Anyway, I Love you all! And HAPPY BIRTHDAY MINDY!! woohooo!


Elder Beckett