This week we tried to mix it up a little and find new things to do in the great town of Gwangju. So, we decided to sing at a hospital! One time in Daejeon when I visited a member at a hospital, there was a concert going on in the lobby for anyone and everyone, so when I told my companion about the idea, she jumped all over it! After our weekly missionary meeting on Tuesday morning, we took a bus to one of the hospitals near the church. The hospital is named “Christian Hospital” so we figured it’d be ok. We walked in with our mini Korean hymnbooks and walked right upstairs. In Korea there isn’t such a thing as “visiting hours” or “family only.” In fact, I remember my first or second week here being confused as to why there were hospital patients wandering the streets with their IV stands in hand. I still see that all the time, but it’s not weird anymore. We walked into a room with 5 or six patients and their families and asked if we could sing to them. Almost all the rooms we entered said yes! Sometimes people would hear us down the hall and come request us in their room. We didn’t overstay our welcome, just two or three verses of a hymn and then thank them and wish them well. Sometimes the hymns we’d pick were known by the people there and they would sing along! My favorite is when we would finish and people would say, “Amen.” It was a really dreary day, pouring rain outside! But we could see their countenances brighten as we sang in four parts “There is Sunshine in My Soul Today,” “Did You Think to Pray,” or, “Now Let Us Rejoice.” We were on a spiritual high afterwards! The same high we feel anytime we get to serve someone and make their days better!
In our church, Monday nights are reserved for families, so there aren’t any church meetings or phone calls. Some people have “Family Home Evening” and plan something special for their families to spend time and learn together. Unfortunately, in Korea weeknights are super hard to reserve. Dads usually get home late, and students don’t get back from school and after school academies until 10pm or later. I’ve done lots of Family Home Evenings with members and friends on Sunday or Saturday nights, and yesterday I had that opportunity with a super, SUPER great family! Sister Jeon and her three daughters lived in America for a year so that they could learn English. The oldest daughter actually went to the same high school in McLean, Virginia where my dad and his siblings and three of my cousins went to school. Small world, right? While they were there, a school friend of the middle daughter invited them to (my favorite) General Conference. After that, they met the missionaries and last September were baptized! The missionaries who taught them were SO lucky because this family is just wonderful and ready to learn about anything pertaining to their Savior Jesus Christ.
We meet with them every week to help them practice their English and review gospel principles with them. Whenever we leave we are on cloud nine. A couple of weeks ago, we decided to plan an “Epic” Family Home Evening. The keyword was Epic, and anything we planned, we double checked to make sure it was Epic enough to be included. Last night was the big night! When we got there, we assembled our “Apple Pie Breads” (a slice of bread with butter and apple pie filling and almonds on top), which were to be our treat, and put them in the oven. Then it began! The youngest daughter was the master of ceremonies, aka conducted the meeting. It was fun to watch her go back and forth between English and Korean. We sang “When I Am Baptized” as an opening song, and Sister Jeon gave the opening prayer. The “lesson” topic was their favorite gospel topic: baptism. All three daughters shared scriptures from the Book of Mormon about baptism and explained them and why those scriptures were important to them. Then Sister Sheffield and I shared a story from Preach My Gospel about a family getting baptized and all the great blessings they experienced because of it. Then, everyone in the family bore their testimonies about baptism and the gospel. It was SO AMAZING!
No family home evening is complete without an activity. Afterwards, we played Pictionary on the chalkboard they keep in their living room. I now totally plan on having a chalkboard in my living room when I grow up. We kept score by who guessed pictures first. It was a fun mix of shouting in Korean and English. Not to brag, but I won, so I got to eat two apple breads! Yes! After the game we sang “I Love to See the Temple” and the oldest daughter said the closing prayer. Then we ATE! The evening absolutely fulfilled all of our “Epic” requirements.
The part of the night that touched me most, even more than hearing all their testimonies, was the final prayer the youngest daughter gave before we left. She thanked Heavenly Father for the great night they’d had, and asked that they could learn how to do it even better so they could keep having family home evenings in the future. She also thanked him for the sister missionaries. She told Him that on May 9th, one of us would be leaving, but asked that they could keep in contact with whoever leaves and that a fun missionary would come. Then she thanked him for tons of other blessings and opportunities they’ve received since they were baptized. Sister Sheffield and I just looked at each other with the biggest smiles and our hands on our hearts when we rode the elevator down from their heavenly apartment.
I am FAR more blessed by being here and meeting these amazing souls than they are by my being here. Korea, it’s the BEST!