Well, I'm back and I'm much less flustered than the last time I wrote you all. Unfortunately someone mistook the computers for a babysitter last week and it was frustrating to try to focus enough to get anything done.
The work has been going excellently lately. Prepared people are learning and coming closer to Christ one little step at a time. It's so wonderful to see them progress. Right now I'm teaching Do-young, a 12 year old girl whose Mom is less-active. They are both coming along quite well and I have high hopes for them both to progress and support each other in the Gospel. It's quite fabulous. Then there's Ko Young Suk, a grandma who first had interest in the Church when she and her husband visited Temple Square in Salt Lake City a few months ago just as part of their tour of the USA. She put her name on a list of people who wanted to "learn more". When the Elders received the referral they invited her to Church and she's been coming ever since. THe Elders were having trouble setting up appointments with her so they referred her to us thinking maybe that the strong gender gaps in Korean culture had something to do with it. She continued coming to Church every week,but never wanted to meet with us. Finally we took her out and chatted with her on Sunday instead of going to Relief Society. Turns out that she liked Temple Square and decided then and there that she would attend our Church. So she's been coming. In her mind, missionaries just invite people to go to Church (and in Korea---usually so the Church will get more money---it's a highly paid job--quite lucrative) so since she was already coming to Church she didn't get why we wanted to meet. Once she understood that we just wanted to teach her about the Doctrine and helpo her understand how to apply what she learns at Church in her life she set up a time to meet this Saturday. She thought she'd already joined the Church--hehe. She'll be slow to come, but she's already a weekly Church-goer, so that's good.
One thing about serving a mission in Busan is the challenge of overcoming the English program. For years they used what's called 30/30 English to get investiators. The deal was that we'd teach anyone English for free for 30 minutes IF they also listened to 30 minutes of the Gospel lessons. This would seem like a great idea because Koreans are OBSESSED with English. The only problem is that it would make it so people lied about having a testimony and believe just so they could keep getting free English classes. They would even go so far as to be baptized without actually believing or understanding any of the Gospel. As a result the Less Active rates are ridiculous and most of the less actives you visit couldn't even tell you the name of the Church without reading it off your tag. Well, the higher-ups in the Church saw this baptism inflation and when Pres. Jennings got his call he was told by Pres. Eyring in not so many words to KILL the English program. Now in our mission we simply teach one or two free English classes a week as a service project to ANYONE who wants to come, regardless of Gospel interest. Well, it's made it so that our investogators are better prepared for baptism, and they actually know what they are doing when they get baptized, but it's also meant that our numbers have gone down drastically. Members are a bit judgemental because there have been less baptisms, and often people tell us we should start teaching English again, but really what it comes down to is that I don't want to be responsible for baptising people who aren't ready to understand their covenants. Besides---by doing that we're teaching people that English is more important that Christ---and I'm not going to do that. Anyway, I figured that since I hadn't told you about those struggles I would explain them. I feel bad for Pres. Jennings because he did the right thing and he's getting backlash for it. All of the other missions in Korea are still doing 30/30 English, but I figure We're just supposed to be the leaders to show that in the long run it pays off to have a few solid baptisms rather than hundreds of floppy ones.
We had Zone Conference this last week and it was a mission tour with Elder Choi, the Q70 who gave the talk "I Love Loud Boys" in the Priesthood session of last Conference. I was surprised that both he and his wife chose to speak to us in English rather than Korean. One day it will be assumed that in the Church in Korea one must speak Korean. We're still pioneers, though, and the foreign missionaries are still several vertebrae of the Church here. Conference was good. I learned about the Savior and personal revelation. It was nice.
We also had President Interviews this last week. President Jennings told me he's not sure of anything but that I'd likely stay here in Shinjung to "kill" Sister Montgomery---the second time :). It's not all said and done until Friday, but it's fairly likely I'll be here. Maybe my mission call should have said "Korea Ulsan Mission" instead :).
I'm getting trunky for science. I never realized how much I LOVED to solve a science problem---calculate something that is occuring in the world--until I didn't have occasion to do so for nearly a year. Maybe I'll I have to get a physics book in Korean and do the problems on P-days :P. That would be quite the language study exercise, too.
I also need to paint something--I miss the scene shop.
Anyway, I'm having a fabulous time. My idea of a nightmare now-a-days is one where I'm going home. I love it out here. Miracles are rought by faith and diligence. I see that in action every day.