Monday, February 23, 2015

February 23, 2015 (Week 10)

February 23, 2015

"Twin" Zodiac Pig
Alright, were to begin with this week?

Leaving the MTC was just goodbyes, nothing too special, so I won't waste my time on that.

The plane ride was freaking long on the way to Korea. I was stuck in the middle seat so I couldn't get window or close to the aisle. Everybody around me was watching "Fury", or "Frozen" so it was super hard to focus on reading Jesus the Christ. I would look up and see 4 f words in one line in "Fury", look back down and trying to concentrate on Jesus riding into Jerusalem before his death. That was a back and forth thing for most of the trip. Everybody around me fell asleep, but I didn't want to for fear of getting jet lag and whatnot. I tried to finish Jesus the Christ on the plane, too, so I didn't try too hard to fall asleep.  After the plane our mission and the Seoul South group split up and said our goodbyes and left. The president took our bags back to the mission home, and we took the subway from the airport to a different area Gwangwhamoon. (I suck at area names still).  We 전도 on the subway (jun-do proselyting) to the stop. That was hard, since we didn't know what the heck we were doing yet. We got off at Gwangwhamoon, which is the equivalent to Times Square here. We visited there today, but I'll write about that later.   But anyway, we stopped there then took a bus to the mission home.  There we ate dinner, did introductions and President interviews.  The President is super nice and welcoming, and I've heard nothing but great things about him. Hopefully the new one [this summer] will be just as cool. We just slept in the Presidents home that night, 3 sisters upstairs,  2 elders main floor, and me and 7 others in a tiny room downstairs.  The next day we all got ready then had breakfast then went across the street to the mission office building/church. There we met our trainers and learned about the mission some more.  You will have to ask Cary if he remembers the song arirang. I guess its the unofficial anthem for Korea.  It's pretty sweet.  We watched that video, then officially got assigned our trainers.  We didn't do the different trainers thing. I guess that was just a Pusan thing. But my companion is..... Elder Whitlock.  He is from Highland, Utah, and has only 2 transfers before he dies. He is pretty sweet, definitely a step up from the MTC. Our area is called 녹번 (nokbeon) it is on the north eastern part of Seoul. It is pretty nice, it has one of the biggest wards with 150 members. We live with Elders Herron and Brantely, who are awesome. They are freaking funny. It's awesome being with them.  Our apartment is pretty nice too. It has a sleeping/eating room, two study rooms, a pretty decent kitchen, two bathrooms/showers and a changing room. I won't complain haha.  I guess it's one of the nicest in the mission. We sleep on things called a yo, which is basically a narrow foldable mattress. We just fold them up to make room for the table. We also eat on the floor, which kills my knee.  But that is enough of the introductions I guess. Anything I missed please just ask.

So that was through Wednesday. Thursday was the start of 설날, the Korean New Year celebration. So we had a mission conference. We went there, watched "Meet the Mormons", some movie about the strength of the Book of Mormon in the academic world, then ate and had some announcements. I saw Sister Boud there, she is on her last transfer. She looked great, and said this was a great place to be. That was cool to see her. I saw everyone that left the MTC at week 3 at the conference, but I guess one elder has already gone home. I guess he had testimony and other problems. That was sad to hear. Zone Conference took until about 4:00. We did some proselyting for a while, then did the Visitor Center in our church. There is a little Visitor Center if anybody wants to come and see it, so they usually have a companionship from the area do it for 2 hour shifts, once or twice a week. Nobody ever comes, so we just planned and started setting goals and whatnot while there. That was Thursday.

Elders Whitlock and Mortensen
Friday was still New Years celebrations, so missionary work is kinda ineffective. We had deep cleaning instead. That took from 9-2 to do, but we still missed some things. It was fun though, we all just talked and got to know the others a little bit more. I guess Elders Whitlock and Herron lived together when Elder Herron got into the field, so they know each other, and Elders Herron and Brantley have been together for one transfer already.  After cleaning for 5 hours we had a missionary/ward mission leader meeting. That took way too long, but was a good meeting. The guy is super helpful. I guess the actual ward leader didn't do his job much, so he just kinda filled in as the unofficial ward leader, until they just made him the assistant. He talked with us about our investigators and whatnot. I guess we have someone with a sketchy 3/21/2015 baptism date, but he has never been to church yet, so who knows. We have not met him yet, so we don't know what to do with him. We have a couple investigators, but not too many.  Hopefully that will change soon.         oh yeah, don't use the "phrase of planting seeds" and "not a lot of baptisms". If you hear someone say that to somebody else, you have my permission to smack them. You don't know how bad that messes with your mind. I knew coming in that they were a proud country, and it would be hard, but coming out to the field you want to believe you can baptize a lot. Then you hear "you'll just plant seeds" come to mind, and you kinda lose focus. I know I started to wonder "why bother" if nobody will be baptized anyway.   I try to fight those thoughts off, but they come back once or twice a day. So if you hear that phrase, smack the person. I'm not giving up, but that phrase doesn't help.  But anyway, after that meeting, was weekly planning. We sat in the Visitor Center to do it, since we covered somebody's shift.  That was good. It was good to set goals and get a stronger relationship. We got sidetracked a lot, but hey, it was fun haha, but we still got work done, don't worry.

Saturday we woke up at 5:50 so we could go to the church and play soccer with the other elders. We walked, since the church is about the same as the distance from the South Jordan home to the church. So it's not too bad. There were 8 there, which was fun. We did that before study time. I guess we do that every Saturday and Monday mornings.  After study and lunch, we had "choir practice". It was just the two districts in our area (12) total people, we sang a musical number in church on Sunday, so we were prepping for that. We sang "Abide With Me", which was really nice actually, just way too much practice time. So we did that, went and proselyted for bit, then went back to the church for English class. Every Saturday and Tuesday the church holds an English class, since so many Koreans learn English. This is our service project here.  It was fun. We had the advanced class, so we just sat there and talked in English with the members, so they could practice. We just talked about the New Year, and what they did. That was pretty fun. Elder Whitlock and I had the spiritual thought after, so we shared Mosiah 4:27 and told them to rely on God and be diligent with their efforts. After that was ward FHE. We played the game signs with some members, then Elders Herron and Brantley shared a message of praying with a purpose. That was a good time to talk with some members.

"Bowing" to the Elderly
Sunday was up and down. I didn't understand a word they spoke all 3 hours of church, and wanted to die during it. I got up and introduced myself with the new missionaries to the area, and just bore a quick testimony with the members. We sang as well, which was cool. After church they had a special New Years event. In Korea they have all the younger people bow to the elderly, so that is what they had. They started with the kids, then teens, then adults, then the missionaries. That was a cool experience, I'll send pictures of that. We did that then had a ward member baptism, which was kinda boring since I didn't even know the person or understand anything. Another ward mission/missionary meeting happened, where the ward leader wants to split the proselyting areas.  Nobody was too happy with that, I wonder how that will turn out. We also found out we had a member dinner that night.   For the dinner, we got to know them a bit, the oldest son likes soccer, Starcraft, and piano. He is pretty legit, needless to say. We had some delicious food, (the food here is wonderful) then shared a message about prayer. We left there at 8, and got lost trying to get back to our house 15 minutes away. We took the bus a wrong way, then took the subway a wrong way like three different times. We finally got home around 10:15. I gave Whitlock so much crap about that, it was quite funny. That was a fun experience though, I told him he was as bad as Brad with directions, haha

Today we played soccer, then got ready and went back to Gwangwhamoon to get my foreigner card. I saw everyone from my MTC district there which was cool. I also have my passport back mom, and a paper copy, so don't worry about that anymore. After that us and Elder Cazier's companionship went to some big palace down the road. That was a cool experience.  They put so much work into that it was crazy. I took lots of pictures, don't worry haha so we did that, now we are writing emails in a PC 방  (bong) [room] . It is basically 100 computers that anyone can come play on. They are so common around here it is crazy. I also have two hours to write emails which is awesome, so if you get an email, reply quick.

Love you all

Well, that's been my first week in Korea, and one to remember
--Elder Mortensen

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

February 16, 2015 (Week 9)

February 16, 2015

Sister and President Christensen with
Elder Mortensen
Dear Brother and Sister Mortensen,

I just wanted to send you an email letting you know your son has arrived safely in Korea. He looks very happy to be here and ready to work hard. We are excited to see him serve here in the Korea Seoul Mission.

The Korea Seoul Mission

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints       예수그리스도후기성도교회
Korea Seoul Mission                                                            한국 서울 선교부
The Group Arrival

Monday, February 16, 2015

February 12, 2015 (Week 8)

February 12, 2015
LAST WEEK!!! Week 8 has been pretty good to me.

Elder's Mortensen and Hansen
Last p-day I got my first haircut since day one, (it was getting pretty long), and so now I feel a lot lighter, haha, I still comb over my hair with my fingers like I still have long hair though, it's weird. For the temple, Elder Hansen and I just went and chilled on the hill for like 20 minutes, went to the temple, and then went back on the hill. We just talk, vent a little, then just discuss what plans for life are. It's a good time with Elder Hansen on the hill. Some people come over and talk to us occasionally, but they never stay around. The temple was good though, I received an answer to my prayer and question i had going in, and felt the power of the spirit there. I cant wait to go back today.

Friday we got our travel plans finally. We leave the MTC at 4:30am, leave Utah at 8:30am. We arrive in Seattle at 9:30am then wait until 11:30am to fly to Seoul, Korea. We will arrive there at 4:00pm the next day. Crazy how I'll basically skip a day. But ya, after that we were all stoked to go. We scrapped together a lesson for TRC, since we were kinda sidetracked and headed off to there to Skype. We Skyped an actual native who knew my teacher when he was there. She wasn't too fun. She didn't respond to half of our questions, didn't have scriptures with her, and never really smiled. So it was an awkward 30 minutes. That was the highlight of Friday

Saturday nothing too special happened. Our "new investigator" is basically the same person. She just accepts everything, no matter if it's like the Spirit World concept. It's kinda frustrating. I'm sure that's wonderful in the field, but here I wish she would challenge us a little.

Elder Mortensen and President Perriton
Sunday was exciting. I got released from Sacrament coordinator, which was a sweet calling, and got complimented by President Perriton. That man is a legend, I swear he has done it all. I'll have to tell you later. He is gone this week, so I got a picture with him on Sunday. Elder Cazier got called as district leader for the week, and he hasn't done much. I still think of Elder Hansen as district leader.  Because Elder Cazier is district leader, I'm now senior companion. I've kinda got him to focus more, and help plan and whatnot. It's helped out a lot. Kinda wish I was senior comp earlier. Sacrament meeting was pretty good. Nobody from our district has spoken yet, which is weird. Pres. Perriton was talking about thrusting in the sickle from D&C 4, and so of course he pulls out a real sharp sickle in the middle of Sacrament Meeting. We weren't even surprised, that's just who he is.  That was fun.   Later we went to temple walk, but instead of going there and just standing, Elder Hansen and I went to the hill. We could look out and see mountains, the lake, all the MTC, and it was pretty sweet. We even saw some guy just laying in the middle of the field looking dead. We went over there and just laid down by him for a minute, it was fun. Still don't know what he was doing though. It reminded me of Conner saying he saw drunk just laying in the middle of the road, haha.

Monday we learned middle form for class. That's all our teacher used, so it was super nice to learn it officially. You never use it in formal settings or with elderly, but everyday talk is mostly middle form. The natives always use middle form with us too, so it's nice to be able to understand it more.  I was reading Jesus the Christ, and I read the parable of the Good Samaritan. In it is said that excuses grow like weeds by the wayside, but the Samaritan did not have an excuse, because he wanted none.  That really hit me. He helped because he wanted to, not because he had to. I feel like I needed to read that for me going to Korea. Never find an excuse to give up.  That night it was Elder Lee and Elder Schilling birthday. Schilling is new and super chill. His family is rich, so they sent him all this stuff that he didn't want. He is kinda struggling, so he wants to just put his old life away and focus on the mission, which I respect. So he took all the balloons he got and banner and put them in Elder Lee's room. We surprised him and starting singing happy birthday to him. That was a cool experience, he loved it.   But ya, Elder Schilling is chill. He was a full on surfer dude before the mission, and he totally sounds like it too. You think surfer stereotypes, and he is it, except he has brown hair. But ya, he was saying all the things he did at BYU-Hawaii, and so I may just go chill with him after the mission for a week. He said he flew out friends for like 150 bucks on some small airline. He's funny, and probably the only one I'll miss out of the new group of elders.

Tuesday nothing much happened. We taught Brother Memmott's investigator for the last time, so we just bore our testimonies with him. We were the only companionship to get him to baptism, which was cool. I know it's not a race, but it was nice seeing we are not falling behind. The devotional was pretty dull, so for district meeting after, it was pretty quiet. Bro Lee (1st counselor) had both leaving groups together, so it was 13 people being really quiet. Brother Lee gave a speech about how he was an investigator for 7 months, and that he read the English Book of Mormon because Korean wasn't out yet. He organized a class as an investigator to read and understand the Book of Mormon. That man has so many cool stories like that. He is kinda hard to understand sometimes, but he is so spiritual and such a good example.

Yesterday Elder Hansen and I skipped gym and sitting around in residence to go up on the hill and watch the sunrise. It was cool to see the light on top of the mountains, then slowly give life to the rest of the world. That was a cool experience. For service we helped switch out crappy desks in all the classrooms for new ones. While doing this, I smashed my bad big toe and it started bleeding. So now anytime I touch that toe, it feels like the nail will rip off. Oh boy. The toe looks so bad. It has like three bruises on it, and looks weird. Hopefully it will heal soon.   We did traffic again, for the last time. During lunch before, a teacher sat with us to talk about what we learned so far. We all said patience and whatnot, and he told me that companionship unity is central. If you have that, miracles happen. I can attest to that already it seems like. When me and Elder Cazier drift away, we don't get much done, but when we plan and work together, we both grow more. That was a good lesson for me to keep in mind. Traffic was pretty relaxed this week, and it was a good break from the class. For class we just learn a couple minor forms that can come in handy sometimes and when we hear it.

Today we did laundry, then really started to pack. I can basically fit everything in my big suitcase, so I basically have an empty one to just take. I dunno if I should split that up though. But it's weird now it really feels super close, and I'm so ready to go. I can't wait for the culture shock and just everything there. The Ramen noodles that the Koreans brought with them are the best things I've had in 8 weeks. I'm so stoked for the food, and culture!! I guess you can buy a nice new suit, shoes, tie, belt for like 70 bucks there, so I may need a couple more suitcases.. haha, but yeah, one of the teacher came in wearing a pretty legit suit and said it was from Korea.... I can't wait..... so many suits... anyway..
But yeah, I know I'm not ready with the language, and this may sound weird, but I'm ready to struggle with the language. I just want to leave this place and grow.  I mean, we listened to a conference talk in Korean on Sunday, and I picked up about 40% of the words, mainly because its gospel terms. But then I realized I can't really do everyday talk... So that's going to be my biggest struggle, I feel. I can decently talk gospel, but I can't pick up every day words.

Elders Arredondo, Anderson, and Mortensen
Yeah, that's been my last full week at the MTC. Can't wait to leave and get to Korea.

Well, maybe talk to you quick email tonight, and hopefully talk on Monday,

-Love you all,
 -Elder Garrett "going to Korea" Mortensen

Thursday, February 5, 2015

February 5, 2015 (Week 7)

February 5, 2015

More fun in class
Week 7 has come and gone and I don't remember half of it, haha Days just blend now that we are so close to leaving this spiritual prison. but on the plus side, we got 10 more native Koreans who came in on Monday, so it's been fun getting to know them. They are all going to Seoul or Seoul South, so we will be with them most of time. They brought some Korean ramen, and oh man, they were the best things I've had in 7 weeks, besides homemade pumpkin cookies :)

Friday was pretty routine, except for TRC we skyped with native Koreans for the first time. We talked with Hyueng (?) about The Book of Mormon and restoration. Turns out he lived in Korea, and now lives across the street from our teacher. That was disappointing to hear we weren't talking to native Koreans, but it was still a good experience.

Saturday was pretty fun. It started out with us getting a sack breakfast and waiting in line for it for 20 minutes. Elder Cazier threw a little fit over how its not worth it to wait in line, etc. A couple people called him out for complaining so much. We still mention it, because it was so funny to watch. He threw his breakfast against the wall and said he would rather starve than eat this... We all offered to eat it for him. That has been my MTC experience with him in a nutshell. We got sidetracked during additional study in the morning, so we got on the church maps and looked at the street view of the Seoul Temple, then "walked" around Seoul. That was fun, but now I'm super excited to go there. We have been counting down the days now that we are down to like 11 days now. Crazy how time flies.  I got some packages from Joleen again, and from you guys. That was awesome to get, thanks for that again.  For class we learned how to bear testimony, which is useful now for actually being able to say things from the heart.  For night class we have a rough investigator who still doesn't know if he wants baptism,. But Elder Cazier kept trying to force it. That was frustrating, especially because every time I tried to steer it back, I would freeze up and not be able to say anything. That's my biggest problem right now is just freezing up in the middle of lessons.

Sunday was Fast Sunday, so not much happened in the morning. I took a 30 minute shower, because I could for the first time here, then went off to meetings, then mission conference. I sat by Hayden, which was the last time I saw him before he shipped out the next day. Best of luck to him. Mission conference was alright, one speaker would be great, the next, not so much.  Regular devotionals are Tuesday and Sunday nights from 7-8. The speakers could be anyone from apostle to BYU VP of some area. Every other hymn though is "Called to Serve", which gets old really fast. They need to mix it up some more, haha.   Testimony meeting in Sacrament started out with actual testimonies, but slowly turned into just people introducing themselves. It was kinda sad to watch the spirit slowly go away. Night devotional wasn't anything special.

Monday I got Dear Elders from Brad and dad, which was awesome. Thank you dad for the multiple letters, and thank you mom and Brad for the letters you sent. They brought a smile to my face. By the way, do whatever with the ties mom, see if Riley wants them.   At night we were supposed to teach a less active member, but I couldn't even talk about prayer during a role play.  That almost put me over the edge. I wanted to just walk out of class and away from everyone. After the lesson I just sat there and read hymns to myself. I love hymns and the lyrics, if you actually pay attention to them. Korean hymns make sense a little bit here and there, but for the most part I'm still lost on them. They don't sound too much different, but then again, I can't really read the lyrics, haha.

Tuesday was pretty regular, except I got better at talking during lessons. The Lord has blessed me and I've been able to be better at saying what I want to say, and help steer the conversation when it gets off course. Night devotional was more talks on commandment and obedience. Not gonna lie, it's getting kinda old. It's like there is nothing else to the gospel. I've heard maybe one talk on the Atonement, none on The Book of Mormon or restoration it seems like.

The next day was pretty fun. We directed traffic again, and danced during it to have fun during it. It was fun to see families start laughing and pointing at me. I guess one of the new Korean elders said that us dancing helped him to calm down and realize it would be cool here. I got some letters after that from mom and dad, which were sweet to get. Never underestimate the power of writing. So when someone says write the missionaries, do it. It's freaking sweet.  For class nowadays we have been just reviewing over simple things, like forms we will hear, but they aren't vital to us being able to speak. It's been kinda a nice break to just review and polish our simple Korean.

Today has just been temple, gym and laundry so far, we will have to see what the night brings.

Take it easy and have a good week,

--nesnetrom redle

"Finding" 7-11's with the church meeting house locator
Turns out they have 7-11s in Korea.. who would of guessed? That was my big find while "strolling" in Seoul, haha.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

February 3, 2015 (Week 7) (Mailed Letter)

February 1, 2015

How's it going in South Jordan?  I'm just sitting here waiting for dinner so I'm taking a minute to write.  I'll just bullet point things.

-  Thanks for the package!  That was a beautiful gift.  The cider is already gone, and the cookies almost, haha.  Those were some good comics too.

-  Tell Emily and Grandma and Grandpa Mortensen thanks for the mail.  I got them about a week ago and forgot to say thanks.

-  Things are pretty good here.  I'm just ready to go...New companion, people, change of scenery.  We went on the Church website I went to a street view of Seoul.  That got me so excited to go.  I can't believe I'm down to 2 weeks.

-  Our native comp is interesting.  He lived in Korea for 15 years, yet he acts like he knows no Korean.  He doesn't really answer our questions about Korea either.  Kinda sad, let's just hope the other 10 natives talk and help more.

-  Look up the song "Mercy's Arms"  They sang that today and it was beautiful.  If you could send me those that would be great.

-  The language is coming along a lot better now.  We did a review of everything we just learned and I understand it all.  It was such a blessing from God.  We also learned to bear our testimony which is awesome.  I read in my Patriarchal Blessing that my testimony would be shared a lot, and it would help others.

-  Now that I feel comfortable sharing my testimony in Korean, I'm stoked to go to Korea.

Love you all,

Elder Mortensen

- 2 Corinthians 9:15
- 2 Nephi 33:6