HAPPY NEW YEAR! Almost. Last week was pretty epic with Christmas and parties and loads of caroling all week, but I want to tell you about an awesome experience I had two weeks ago.
Between Monday at 6 PM, when my “off-time” on P-day ended, and 11 AM Wednesday I was companion with a greenie, and my companion went elsewhere. My temporary companion, Sister Ensign, had just come to Korea two weeks earlier! That’s right; we foreigners with no Korean skills to speak of were left to our own devices! I’ll be honest, I was sick to my stomach at the thought, but I knew it was important that I take this opportunity. So, we got to work! Monday night alone, we knocked on tons of doors, talking to 30 people and teaching three lessons on the street. We even gave away one Book of Mormon! We saw miracle after miracle! I even had a new first! An older couple invited us into their apartment!!! But because I had never experienced that before, I said, “Oh, no that’s alright. We’ll be back later.” I was SO surprised! We wrote down their address so we could visit them later, no worries. After knocking on doors, we visited a convenience store to visit a friend of the elders, and ended up setting up an appointment to meet later! After that, we were back out on the street and a woman stopped us and asked us why there were sister missionaries here. I told her we were new and just started serving in that neighborhood. She had been baptized when she was younger, but didn’t go to church anymore. I tried to get her name, but she wouldn’t tell me. Either way, we still gave her our number and I told her if she needed anything, she should call us. I also invited her to church. Doesn’t hurt, right? That was Monday. It isn’t too hard to fill the time between 6-9pm, so I was still scared about what we would do on Tuesday. All day.
Because Sister Ensign is a greenie, she gets extra study time in the morning to study the language and how to be a missionary. We made plans to visit some members, so I prepared messages while she studied, helping her if I could. After lunch we were out in the cold! It was such an adventure. The two members we planned to visit weren’t home! But I had this thought about an older lady who lived near the church that was too sick to come anymore. I called up the elders and got her apartment name. The problem was that the elders were really bad at giving directions, so her apartment wasn’t anywhere near the church. That’s right; I had to ask for directions! In Korean! Luckily, Koreans are super helpful people, so they would point and walk with us until we were back on the right path. It took us forever, but we knocked on doors and talked to everyone along the way. When we finally found the system of apartments, we realized we’d never be able to find her. After knocking on a few doors, I realized that I had all the members’ addresses in my bag! Huzzah! Luckily I remembered this because she was in building 34 and we had started in building 1.
Talking to old Koreans intimidates me because they have their own language and use older vocabulary than I’m used to, but the hour I spent with Sister Ensign and Sister Kim was filled with conversation and stories. I absolutely know that I am doing the Lord’s work because only He could produce the miracle for that hour. I shared with her the message I’d prepared for another member about how she is a precious daughter of Heavenly Father, and after that, she fed us and told us of her woes and pains. She told me that she didn’t always know if Heavenly Father was aware of her or not. In that moment, Sister Ensign, though not understanding anything except the fact that this old woman was close to tears, pulled out her Korean Bible and read Matthew 11:28. She was hoping it was the scripture she was thinking of, but she wasn’t positive. “Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.” Then Sister Ensign bore her testimony that Heavenly Father does know and love us. It was…there are no words. After we talked some more, I felt also impressed to share a scripture from the Book of Mormon. I knew that the scripture touched on some of the points that we were covering; enduring to the end, keeping the faith, but I wasn’t sure. I shared it, and bore my testimony as well. When we left that woman’s house, I knew beyond any doubt that Heavenly Father is aware of each of us personally and that our Savior Jesus Christ understands all of our sufferings. Through others, they are able to comfort and lift up their children in even the greatest times of distress and pain. Oh, to be so privileged to see so many miracles in my time here, I am so, so blessed. Later when I read the scripture in Mosiah 2:41, I realized that it was not my own thought to share that scripture, for it was perfect and addressed all of the needs of Sister Kim. “And moreover, I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness. O remember, remember that these things are true; for the Lord God hath spoken it.”
Sister Ensign said again and again that if we accomplished nothing more that day, we had helped that woman feel loved. But, we did so many more things! We had dinner with a recent convert and the elders (two whole chickens, talons and all!), handed out two Book of Mormons, and got two phone numbers! The next morning we were traveling into Gwangju to meet with other missionaries for training and, before the meeting started at 11 o’clock, we’d already talked to 18 people on the street and taught one lesson. All of this and we don’t even speak Korean! It was some of the greatest times on my mission thus far. Sister Ensign claims that she normally doesn’t even talk to people, but we had a blast talking and learning from each other the whole time.
One last miracle from Christmas! Remember the woman who stopped us on the street and wouldn’t give us her name? Well, we went caroling with the elders to the homes of people who don’t come to church anymore with cookies and Santa hats. The first apartment we visited was one that the elders had on their map, but none of us had any official record of any member living there. As the door opened, it was the woman from the street. I was the first person she saw and her look of astonishment was one I will always remember. She invited us in and asked that we pray with her! She confided in us that she’s wanted to come back to church, but after so many, many years it’s hard to just show up again. Well, don’t worry, we’re the missionaries, and that’s one of the many things we are here to help people with! I LOVE MISSIONARY WORK!