Last week we were walking from church to the closest bus stop when I saw a group of Philipino women up ahead, probably all leaving the nearby Philipino market and spending the day together. All of a sudden one of them turned around and started to run/jog/skip towards us while shouting, “Jesus loves Mormons!” I was so stunned and confused that I might have said, “That’s right!” in Korean instead of English. She told us that she’d been baptized in the Philippines, but she didn’t know where the Mormon churches in Korea were. So we told her of a few, and one of her friends who’d caught up with her told her some locations in Tagalog, too. She said she wanted to invite us to her house and got our number. She told us that because she was a member we could find her name at church. I was having a total deer in the headlights moment because for some reason that seemed like a sufficient amount of information to me so I didn’t get her name or number. She hasn’t called yet, but when she does, I’m excited to learn her story! I may have to make a pit stop at the Pilipino market and make some inquiries.
During especially hard weeks, the Lord provides lots of little fun and sunshine-filled moments like that to lift our spirits. This past week was one of those hard weeks. Usually we are super busy, but this week, ALL but one of our regular appointments CANCELLED! And, we are in the middle of the extreme heat and humidity of Korean summer, the hottest summer in 18 years. We were outside looking for old addresses of former investigators and finding people to talk to all day every day. Luckily ice cream in Korea is delicious, cheap, and everywhere! And when people see how sweaty and gross we are, they always start up conversations about how hot and gross Korean summers are. Then we can compare American weather, talk about why we came to Korea, and share our message! It’s the best! Even the horrible weather works to our advantage!
This morning, the four of us living in our house decided to go to the bathhouse. Well, my fresh from America companion didn’t decide, she just tagged along slightly horrified at the prospect. While sitting in one of the hot baths, an older Korean woman came and sat down a few feet away from me. I could tell she wanted to talk to us, so I nodded my head and smiled. I haven’t quite figured out whether my opening lines for talking to people in the bathhouse should be like I have on the street or on the bus, but she leaned around me and asked Sister Lee if we were studying. I responded and said we were missionaries. Then she was astonished that I spoke Korean and understood what she was saying. She asked if we would drink coffee, and I told her no. She leaned around me again and told Sister Lee that she wanted to buy me something. So I told her we don’t drink coffee, black tea, or green tea. The woman looked a little put out and asked what we could drink. I told her juice was ok. She got up and a few seconds later came back with four little bottles of orange juice, one for each of us. Wow! It was exactly what I needed, and a great way to start this new week! Jesus really does love Mormons, as evidenced to me when people have a desire to help us, even when they don’t know who we are or what we’re doing.
Another funny instance this week happened on our way to visit a woman struggling to come to church regularly. We were about to turn the final corner to get to her house when we decided to talk to an older lady resting in the shade. Fifteen minutes later and we were still talking, but honestly, I didn’t catch even 50% of what she was saying. I kept trying to turn it back to how we started the conversation – talking about the gospel – but to no avail. Finally I said that we had an appointment so we had to go. That’s when she squat down and started pulling food out of her pack and feeding us! Two of my favorite Korean foods no less! Sweet rice cakes and Korean pancakes! The rice cakes were in little colorful round balls with a sweet sesame syrup inside… which my companion didn’t know, so when she took a bite, the syrup squirt out, right into … My Ear! We started laughing, but the lady was oblivious anything had happened. She’s going to call and invite us over to her house, too. I’m so excited, especially if she feeds us more rice cakes and pancakes!
Everywhere we turn, the Lord provides little evidences in each of our lives of his great love for us. When we’re working hard and doing our best, he can encourage us and lift us up along the way.