Thursday, April 23, 2015

April 20, 2015 (Week 18)

April 20, 2015

Well, another week down...

Gogi (Meat) Buffet
After email last week we headed up to 연신내 Yeonshinne, which is the devil of the area. Super busy and super rude, but we headed up there for the gogi buffet. Gogi is just meat, so a wonderful meat buffet. you pick up all the raw meat you want from a bar, then proceed to cook it at your table. I tried a little octopus, Korean style bacon (super thick), duck meat, other plain meats, and delicious side vegetables. I also tried lychee, which is a little strange plant, and an awful flavor at lanis. You'll have to try it sometime.... the fruit wasn't bad though. So we had the buffet and stuffed ourselves, then just shopped and headed back for the day. For the rest of the night we found our appointments work (took forever to find) and had a strange lesson. He works at a veteran place, so he gave us books about the Korean war, and we could barely give him the Book of Mormon before he had to get back to work... We plan to meet him this week, and hopefully have a real lesson.   Kind of a quiet night besides that.

Tuesday was exchanges with Elder Brantley, so Elders Herron and Whitlock could do dl stuff.  Since it was raining, we managed to walk just about everywhere it seemed in our area in less than like 4 hours. While up in gu pa bal we met this super old guy (can give Yzma from Emperors New Groove a run for her money). We said hi, then he started raging at us for being missionaries for Jesus. We kept trying to talk to him until he was practically screaming at us.  As we were halfway down the street, he was still shouting at us... kinda sad, kinda funny.   For dinner with Elder Brantley, I tried 순대국 Soon De Gook. It is pig intestine. basically imagine a ball of meatloaf with parts of bone in it wrapped in a thin layer of fat... not that good. I tried like 2 pieces then called it good.  The people by us were nice though. Koreans are hilarious. They saw we were white, so they kept telling us to go get the ice cream, go get the Kimchi, try this out, try this.... Koreans love their culture, you got to give them that.  If you are a foreigner not talking about religion, they will go the extra mile to make sure you understand Korea.

Wednesday was district meeting, where most of it was spent talking about street boarding ideas, how they are splitting the area to be more effective, etc. So after that, me and Elder Whitlock went up to the moon goo (imagine an Office Max and DI smashed into a little store called a Moon Goo 문구 ).  It's a wonderful place.  So we did that, worked on that project, then had a big family home evening with the ward.  They had like 6 families show up and we had dinner with them. Dinner was quite delicious, except they had pig foot......... meat jello is the best way to describe it.  You eat around the fat to get the little bit of meat.  I don't recommend it.   While there, we met some referrals from the sisters. A 31 year-old, no life, spends it in video games... One of the two had a job and a girlfriend, so he's got that going for him. The other ones name is 이 병길 which if you break down each block, translates to "this disease path", haha. Poor guy.  Some names here are hilarious how they break down.  We also got to deal with "umbrella guy".  He is a Nokbeon crazy that all the missionaries know.  He just shows up at the church looking for food.  So we (just missionaries) were celebrating a sisters one year mark with some cake when he just walks into the room and starts demanding food. We tried to tell him it was a private party thing,  but he kept walking towards the cake.  Elder Whitlock finally snapped at him to leave...

Not gonna lie, this week has been pretty mind taxing.  Every other day I wake up and think well, still in Nokbeon, nobody to teach, this kinda sucks... so I get quite depressed, then eventually grow out of it, and repeat the next day.  That also happened Friday after weekly planning.  I was trying to pass off lesson 4, and I got stuck trying to teach prayer. I know the vocab, the principle, everything, except I can't teach.  So I broke down again with that, and just gave up on it that day.   It's quite frustrating.

Saturday I was still depressed, and it didn't help that we were supposed to plan the Family Home Evening message for that night.  Elder Whitlock had me take lead, but I didn't feel like even doing it. We were role playing with the other elders, when I asked him where he was at, because I couldn't follow his Korean, and he just snaps and says not to use English... Sorry if I can't understand where we are at, so yeah... that didn't help my state of mind.  We later went to meet our 5 appointments on the day. Only met with one of them. His name is Ee G Sung 이 지 승 .  He is a 28 year -old strange man.  He hates the organ, and hates scriptures and prayer because he gave himself to the devil in order to feel confident. He says he drinks his own blood sometimes too, but now he wants to change. Really strange lesson, we really need to help him. It's kinda sad what state he is in. I hope we can help him overcome these issues.

Lawrence Baptism
Sunday we were supposed to meet 방 석 규 to transfer him the the elders where he lives, but he cancelled to due a light rain, so we kinda just dropped him.  He has cancelled like 3 times, due to rain and being to hard, and etc.  We had to drop him cause he never keeps commitments either... kinda sad.   Then went out to ui jung boo 의 정 부  for another baptism. A guy named Lawrence that Elder Whitlock taught before transferring. He used to live with a prostitute, then we he wanted to live separate so he could get baptized. She called the cops on him for being illegal, so he has been on the run for a month now.  He finally got that settled, and was baptized. Really cool baptism. I got to play the piano for it, which was cool.  African converts are super strong. It's awesome to hear their testimonies.  So we did that then headed down to Shin Dang 신 당 where the Piano Guys were performing. All the missionaries came, even ones that live an hour and a half away. Two of the Piano Guys, the cello player and producer, served in Korea, so they wanted to come back. They each gave a little message and then played a couple pieces.  Super cool experience.  You'll have to see if you can find their video in front of the Brazil Jesus statue.  Cool story for that.  So we did the Piano Guys, I got to see my MTC friends again, then headed back home. We got home at 10:25, so was fun haha.

So yeah, that's been my week, up and down, but looking better each day now.

Love you all,

Elder Mortensen

Monday, April 13, 2015

April 13, 2015 (Week 17)

April 13, 2015

Cherry Blossoms in Bloom
After email last week, we tried some wonderful Dash (oops sorry, I meant dog) soup for P-Day. The restaurant itself smelled so bad, it clogged my nose for the rest of the night. Super strong and really bad smelling. The dog soup itself wasn't bad. Dog meat was a little too chewy for me, but it was still overall pretty good. That was the highlight of P-Day.  During shopping I asked for some broccoli, and an old guy told me in English stuff, then the grandmas by him started telling him that we were good at Korean, so we started to talk to them about why we were learning Korean.   Kinda sad though, that missionaries are never super good at Korean.  People who have been here for a year and a half are still not super great at Korean. Elder Ringwoods talk about his companion is still true today about Korean.  Some missionaries just give up on it though, and just struggle the rest of their mission.
This week cherry blossoms just came out in full force. The river path was just lined with them. It was a great view. We also went on the river a lot this week. Monday we were jundoing [proselyting] along the street, then we saw the grandmas dancing again. We decided to check it out since we were right there. That was awesome. Just a bunch of grandmas dance exercising at 8 at night under a bridge. We joined in for a minute, until some lady started "hitting" on me... awkward...   The next day we saw a bunch of grandpas playing chess under a bridge too, that was quite hilarious to see. Old people here are really strange.

The next day we went down to where there was a college and looked around to see if there was a good place to streetboard around it. It's like Snow College, where it isn't the best school out there. Turns out its not even our area, so we kinda had to scrap jundoing there. The college itself wasn't bad, but half of it was just a big sport court. They don't have fields here though, it's all just dirt. Kinda lame to see.  On the way back we started talking to some guy who asked why God lets things like war happened. We were talking to him for a while, super nice guy and great at English. Then, some old lady came up in the middle of it, and asked if we spoke Korean. She then grabbed our butts and walked away.... weird things happened here. But the guy was super cool. Wish he wanted to meet with us.

On Wednesday, we had a zone conference where they wanted our house to do another number. So we went over and I got to play more piano. That was cool. They sang "Brightly  Beams our Fathers Mercy." Good song.  After conference, we tried out streetboarding at one of the subway exit points. That was cool. I originally just stood by the poster, but Elder Cazier came and sat there so I went and jundoed around the crosswalks. It was weird seeing 11 other missionaries all jundoing around the same intersection. It was cool to just go off by myself and rely on only me for it. Elder whitlock somehow got 5 appointments out of it, and overall we got like 40 people in the hour we were out there. So it was pretty fun, and somewhat worked. Elders Herron and Brantley already got a progressing investigator out of it, so it was pretty successful.

Thursday we had no plans, so we went to our random area, Jee Chuuk 지축. That place is a barren wasteland. We went outside of Seoul for it.  There was nothing there.  We stepped off the sub and just looked around lost. We saw like 3 people there in 30 minutes, so we just headed back to 구파발 Gu Pa Bal and jundoed there. That's a nice place.  Fairly new, and super cool. You'll have to google map it.  Elder Whitlock also finally quit his ridiculous diet. He realized how much attention he put on it and how that wasn't the best option.  So he finally quit that and is getting back on track for missionary work.

Eating Crepes
For Conference we made some delicious crepes. We had jam, strawberries, bananas, whipped cream... oh man, so good. I love crepes. We had those then headed over to the church. Elder Ringwood (Area 70 in charge of Korea) and Elder Anderson (learn to dance/music) and President Uchtdorf nailed there talks. I loved all of those. President Uchtdorfs priesthood one was great. I loved it.   We all just crammed in the Visitor Center for it, and watched there in English. In between sessions we had jja ja myung on Saturday, and just a rice soup thing for Sunday. Both super good and filling meals. Conference was great, super good talks the whole way through.

Well, this week for teaching sucked. We had 5 people bail, including a really cool potential. Kim Kee Ram says he is too busy to meet, so we may not be meeting him for a while, if ever. Lee Ho Kyung speaks super fast and slangy, even Elder Whitlock can't understand, so we gave him to the Zone Leaders, who have a Korean in the companionship. Bang Suck Gyou bailed on us for General Conference, and we are planning to transfer him to Shindong ward, which is like 10 minutes from him, not and hour to our ward. He is always too busy to meet, so hopefully he can meet with Shindong more often. So right now we have 0 people, and only a couple lessons planned right now..... not too much fun.

The language is coming along.  Lesson 4 has a ton of new vocabulary so I'm stuck on that, and my English is slowly going. Since English and Korean are so different, my English grammar is getting thrown out the window. Instead of "I see the ball", Korean is "I ball see". It's soo backward. So now my English makes me sound dyslexic. But yeah, That's fun being in language limbo, as it were.

Grandma's Dancing
Personal study was Ammon and Aaron.  Great stuff in there, I just barely hit Ammon boasting in the Lord. Went over 2 Cor. 12, and read Shiblons story. All great things. I recommend going through those chapters. Aaron really related to me right now.

Love you all, keep it strong
Elder Mortensen
Psalms 147:3-4

April 6, 2015 (Week 16)

April 6, 2015

Mountain Dew Find
Alrighty, well besides having the cold, this week has been much better.

Just a heads up, my emails may sound awful, but trust me life isn't as bad as my emails make it out to be. It is just a place for me to vent and just get everything out, but after that I'm much better. So don't worry too much about me. That being said, if I keep up with the raging/depressing emails just send me a Gordon B. Hinckley-type message to get over myself. It's frustrating having an up and down every time email.

 So after email we ran to Costco, got pizza there (sooooo good), and I picked up some muffins and Lucky Charms!  You better believe I ate all 15 muffins in less than a week.  That was most of my meals actually. Kinda over them, but it was a splendid week of muffins haha. That took up most of the day, with travel and time there, and whatnot. Today, we are not doing much, just shopping, might make Book of Mormon cases so they don't get ruined, go get some grandma pants (I can't wait, you'll have to get a picture later). I bought me a Mountain Dew this week.  It was soo good. I've missed that sweet drink, haha.

So this week I have played a bunch of piano.  One called Through Deepening Trials (hymn variation) for the musical number the other house elders sang this Sunday, and for the baptismal service here soon we are practicing.  So I'm the official pianist, and I love it. I love playing the piano, all my stress just disappears after I start playing. Riley, keep playing, and just learn hymns.  Learn like one every two weeks. It will help you out a ton on your mission.  I can play a lot more than I thought I could, so that's sweet that the Lord has blessed me with this gift. I may try to learn guitar from Elder Brantley here soon, so that will be fun too.

Weekly people update:

Bang Suck Gyou: We taught him on Saturday night, but he hasn't read or prayed, and he can't meet for a while, so we don't know what to do with him. We are trying to transfer him over to the close area, since he technically lives over there. He is really nice though.

Lee Ho Kyung: Our new less-active. He came to church for the first time in a couple years. He brought his non-member girlfriend (who already wants to get baptized, by the end of this month!) We met him on Wednesday, and he stopped coming because of a smoking problem, but he wants to come back. He talks super fast and slangy so we can't understand half of what he says though, haha.

Kim Kee Ram: We were at ward mission meeting, when he came to the visitor center. Lived here all his life, but finally came inside the church. Very Christian, very open and curious. We taught him the first lesson on Thursday then wanted to meet on Friday about the Plan of Salvation. He feels that the Book of Mormon and Bible don't line up, and the bible never references the Book of Mormon directly. He has super deep questions, too. Like according to the Plan, the fall was necessary. But if God is just, why would he make falling necessary? Why would he already plan on us failing and being cast out? So yeah, we tried to help with his questions. Hopefully he doesn't get too caught up on the little things though. We will meet him this week again.

Well, let this be said that this week is the week that Elder Whitlock hit the "trunky, I'm dead already" phase. On Wednesday, he heard about how some disobedient, crap elders got made Zone Leaders this week, so he feels cheated. He didn't want to be District Leader again, or come into Seoul, but he got both instead. So he feels cheated, and ready to just leave the mission and just go home. Lately he has been more obsessed with getting six-pack abs for Cancun after he gets home than he seems to be focused on the mission. So roles this week have been reversed, with me helping him to try and stay focused and work hard through mental breakdowns.

Personal study is weird. I jump around on random tangents,  so I jump all around and I find awesome answers to other questions and worries I have. It is pretty great. Here are some highlights:

James (the whole book is super powerful) 1:2-4
D&C 64: 31-34
Isaiah 50:6-7

Every person talks of faith, hope and charity. I never noticed that before.
There are some other awesome revelations I get, but those are the highlights.

Spam, Korean-Marketed
Easter was pretty quiet since it was Fast Sunday. Nothing too special happened. The other elders sang, and I just turned pages, since I couldn't learn the piece fast enough, and I sound like death this week with my cold. The new video "He Lives" came out, so that was cool. but "Because of Him" is my favorite. It hits me every time.

That's been my week, today we are getting dog soup, so that should be exciting.  Please don't worry about me, I'm doing great here, even if my emails don't sounds like it. The language is coming, the people are alright. It just sucks when I can hear and understand, but since I can't talk, i feel like an idiot. But don't worry.

Love you all,

Elder Mortensen
  -John 14:18

March 30, 2015 (Week 15)

March 30, 2015

Exotic Car Shop
Ok, week 15, it will have to be a bit quick.
P-Day was Outback Steakhouse (freaking delicious).  I got Alice Springs Chicken, a whole lot of bread, and Chocolate Thunder From Down Under. Super fattening but worth it. After, we hit up Dong De Moon, which has the famous 3 dollar ties. So many ties. I picked up 5 for me, and a couple Korean ones for you all.  Eventually I'll send them home.  That took up most of the p-day.  That and shopping.
$3.00 Tie Shop

Tuesday was literally just jundo [proselyting] . We walked for 6 hours around the streets of Seoul. our one appointment cancelled cause his grandma died on Monday, so he was busy that day.  That night though, we were walking along the river, and we saw a bunch of elderly people line dancing under a bridge at 8 at night haha. It was quite hilarious to watch.

On Wednesday,  due to the whole ton of jundo we do, my achilles has started to rebel against me, and has been like scabbing/blistering on me. So that has killed to walk around with, but hopefully it can heal quickly. Missionary foot has finally hit me, and it's not fun at all. We were talking to someone, and since I couldn't understand a word, I kinda zoned out for a little while and watched a kid chase around pigeons and a dad push his girl around learning to do 2 wheel bikes. They were all so happy and smiling.  It was weird to see. but I couldn't help but just smile and feel good. That was the highlight of my day, possibly the week.  Funny how random things like that just make your day a whole lot better.   We also found out that Elder Lee, (Elder Cazier's trainer) got called to the office, (we are pretty sure due to drama here).  So Elder Cazier gets a new trainer this week.  He left wed night to get trained.

Thursday was 12 week follow up, so I saw all my friends from the MTC again. Elder Hansen is still hilarious and doing well, Elder Green and Carmen look way different, and I couldn't really talk to them.  Funny how being gone for 6 weeks kinda kills a friendship. We were still cool with each other, just didn't have that much to talk about anymore. Elder Cazier didn't go due to lack of a trainer so it was kinda weird.   But they just talked about patience, and working hard and keep going. That was a pretty good little seminar thing.  Except during role plays, Elder Whitlock played a Jehovah's Witness as a person, and just ripped into me, so I got kinda down and frustrated with that. That was were my week felt like it spiraled down for the worse.   After 12-week, Elder Whitlock signed up for classes, so I watched some Mormon messages, and got some Yiruma from him.  Look Yiruma up, he's got some good piano music.

Friday... nothing really happened on Friday.  Weekly planning took like half the time, cause we have nobody to talk about. We literally had no actual lessons this week, just a couple street ones. we had 8 planned this week, they either gave us wrong number, didn't show up, cancelled or gave some excuse. So ya, that was quite depressing.  We had a guy text us from the internet about English class, then the next day we ran into him on the street. It was pretty sweet! He seems to have a little church interest, so we will try to teach him this week.

Saturday we had a Visitor Center shift with the bishop, since our three appointments, then cancelled. So he talked about getting the ward involved with missionary work. He is a great bishop, this ward is pretty great.  Then we had a good English class, somebody gave us his number there, named DK, and wants to meet again. That was cool. Not sure if it's English or church interest though. that night we made cookies for Sister Fuller going home and had some pizza for dinner. I felt like crap after, that pizza was no bueno. haha

Sunday was alright.  For first hour, they had the ward combined to talk about being social media missionaries, cause all Korean sites just hate on the church, especially It's the Korean version of Google, so it really hurts us. We've had a couple appointments fall through because they looked us up on  So that was good. Elder Lee and Sister Fuller gave their farewell talks in the ward sacrament meeting. After church we had a role play for the 3 lesson. I blanked so hard on it, that I just gave up and couldn't get through the lesson. That sums up my week. To start it, I was feeling great, then as the week went on I kept getting stuck and frustrated. It's not even the language that's the problem. It's the lack of progress, no lessons, no investigators, I suck at teaching, and etc. I keep telling myself to just be patient and work them out in time, but I still find something else to get stuck at. Everywhere I turn to try and get better and work around is just a new roadblock for me. I take 1 step forward and shoved 5 steps back. And yet I recognize the need for patience and I'm trying to stay positive, but this is just wearing me down. It so hard to try to be patient when I don't know how to do it. Every time I ask for help, I get a little bit better, then somehow fall back down. So yeah, that's my life right now, slowly turning downwards, as I try to fight it and stay positive. I don't know what else we can do to find someone to teach, walking around all day everyday with nobody to teach sucks.

Well, yeah, that was my week, a slow slide down to frustration. Don't worry, I'll figure it out somehow,  I just hope it comes soon. I know God works is his own ways, it just freakin sucks right now.
  -Elder Mortensen

Love you all