Monday, February 23, 2015

And we hiked!!!!

This last week was 설날 (The Chinese New Year), and it was SO FUN. So, 설날 is basically like three days of Christmas. The city basically shuts down, and everyone goes to Grandma's house for the holidays. As missionaries, there is not much we can do during this time. Everyone goes to Grandma's house, and Grandma's house is most often in Busan. A lot of the older Koreans live in Busan because during the Korean War, everyone moved south to stay away from the border. We don't like to bug people during the holidays, so we kind of got two days to have fun. :)

On Thursday, our entire zone met at the church in 안양. We played games and ate french toast. After lunch, we went on a hike.

 I thought I had hiked mountains before...

But Korean mountains are not Utah mountains by any means. The mountains I hiked in Utah were big, but they had long trails with lots of switchbacks so that you didn't have to climb straight up. In Korea, you basically just go straight up the mountain. The trails are almost nonexistent. The hikes are so steep. We were seriously climbing straight up rock, using our hands and our feet to make it up. We weren't hiking, we were rock climbing. And the hike was like 2 hours of rock climbing mixed with flat trails here and there in between the walls of rock we climbed. It was a pretty intense hike, and an elder actually threw up at the top. But while all us foreign missionaries huffed and puffed our way to the top, elderly Korean men and women booked it past us without even breaking a sweat. Korean mountains are definitely mountains.

I truly had not hiked mountains before.

On our way down, we got to see some Buddhist temples that were kind of hidden in the mountains. And we got to see some Buddhists in the Buddhist temples. Buddhist temples are so beautiful and designed so full of detail. I will send some pictures. :)

Then on Friday we hiked another mountain, just as our district of 6 people. This hike wasn't as much rock climbing, but it was pretty steep. And again, elderly Koreans flew past us as we pushed our way to the top huffing and puffing. How they do it, I will never understand. It must be the kimchi or something. I was sore for quite some time after these two hikes. But I regret nothing, because the hikes were as beautiful as they were hard.

Later on Friday we went to a less actives house for lunch. She fed us a traditional Korean meal to celebrate 설날 . So I have to admit, my germaphobe side has been challenged here. You see, everyone shares food from the same plate. There are just many small plates on the table, and you use your chopsticks to grab food from all over the table. But besides your bowl of rice, you share everything with everyone, and you all eat off the same plates. This is how a traditional Korean meal works. We had kimchi, bulgogi, soup, and all sorts of other things that I don't know the names of. But it was all absolutely delicious. Korean food is SO GOOD. After that we played some traditional Korean games and... mafia. Yes, us 4 elders and 2 sisters played mafia with a 50 something year old korean woman to celebrate the Chinese New Year. And it was so fun. :)

After being around so many missionaries for about 4 months, I have realized that we are pretty much the least qualified people in the world to preach the gospel. But somehow, we do it. God qualifies the called, He doesn't call the qualified. In Korea, the members grow up with the missionaries being a huge part of their lives. In Utah, we had 2 or so missionaries to a stake. But in Korea, it is 6 missionaries to a ward. The children know each of us very well, and the members rely on us for a lot of things.Our responsibility here is HUGE. We definitely help the wards stay running, and they get to know each of us personally very, very well. They learn our faults, and they learn our strengths. There is no hiding anything here, because we are so very well known in our small wards. I remember when I was little, I thought that missionaries were these glorified beings chosen to work miracles. But really, we are just people that are set apart, relying on the Lord for guidance to help others. We are still young college-aged kids, confused in this world, but willing to give 2 years or 18 months of our lives to the Lord. We have moments of homesickness, we feel disappointment, we feel joy, we are just simply normal people. We are imperfect people called to preach a perfect gospel. But we could not do it alone. God knows each of us, and He knows who we are meant to help. I have learned to rely on Him more than ever these past 4 months. I don't know how He works miracles through us, I just know that He does. And I am so thankful that someone as simply human as me has this opportunity to preach the gospel. :)

I love you all so much and miss you as always! 사랑해요!

Love, Sister Maughan

Monday, February 16, 2015

Faith, Hope, and String cheese

So this last week has been the hardest week yet on the mission for me. But rather than dwell on the hard things, which benefits neither you or me, I want to write today about a lesson I have learned about faith and hope.

But first let me tell you about the string cheese part of this email. :) So as I said, this last week was hard for me. But I kept praying that somehow, something would make it better. I prayed that I would feel some peace and happiness to bring me back up to my happy self. :) Well, God answered my prayers with a bag of string cheese. Now, if you know me well, you know that I love string cheese. It is my addiction. Chewy and I would share it all the time at home. :) In Korea, cheese costs SO MUCH. Missionaries cannot afford it. String cheese costs about $1 for one stick of cheese. This member in our ward gave us a bag of about 30 string cheeses. There is no way we could possibly afford that much cheese, so I was SO happy. Though it is kind of silly, string cheese truly answered my prayers. And I cannot thank that ward member enough for the bag of string cheese that lightened my week and my mood. :)

So now I will tell you my story about faith. Last week I was sitting at my desk during personal study, pondering the difference between faith and hope. I kind of had this little epiphany moment when I started comparing faith and hope to a bridge.

Hope is the first plank of the bridge that we lay down, the very basis of faith itself. Before we can truly have faith, we must have hope. Once we have laid down the first plank of wood, we can start building our faith. As we grow in the gospel, as we study the scriptures and attend church, we can build a stronger bridge. We continue adding planks of wood and support to make the bridge stronger. But God will test our faith in a variety of ways, and it is not always easy to keep our bridge strong. Sometimes God allows someone to jump on our bridge, maybe a large truck drives across it... all these things test the strength of our bridge of faith, and it is our decision on how to deal with it. We can allow the bridge to break under the weight of the truck, or, we can add more planks of faith to our bridge to strengthen it. We can turn to God in times of trial, and rely on Him to help us through, or we can just give it all up and let our bridge crumble. It is up to us.

I don't think that anyone in this gospel can say that they have never had doubts. We all have doubts here and there. Those of us that choose to turn to God in times of doubt can feel the strength He gives us as our faith bridge becomes stronger, and somehow we come away with a more sure knowledge than we had before we even doubted the truth. But some of us also turn away from God and succumb to those doubts, letting our bridge of faith crumble beneath us. Then we find ourselves lost in the void beneath our once strong bridge, and we must start building again or stay lost and confused.

But then there is also hope. Hope, as I said, is the very basis of faith. Before I personally knew this gospel was true, I hoped that I was true. I hoped that my family could truly be together forever, and I hoped that there was life after death, and I hoped that God was there always listening. I hoped that everything the gospel is about is actually true. But as I began to hope, I also began to believe. I decided that if I was going to invest my entire life believing something, this gospel is what I want to believe. This gospel is happier than any other gospel on this earth. I would not want to spend my life believing in something that is sad or depressing.

And that is where my very own testimony began. I hoped that the gospel was true. And I put that hope into action. Now I have faith that this gospel is true, and I know that it is true. I love this gospel so much and without it I would seriously be lost in the void. My faith bridge is getting stronger every day, and that bridge is what is bringing me closer to God. :) I just want others to feel this happiness more than anything else in the world. I love you all and I hope this email made sense haha. Sometimes things are hard to put into words! :)


Love, Sister Maughan

NOTICE: This email message is for the sole use of the intended recipient(s) and may contain confidential and privileged information. Any unauthorized review, use, disclosure or distribution is prohibited. If you are not the intended recipient, please contact the sender by reply email and destroy all copies of the original message.

Monday, February 9, 2015

I have finally conquered them.....

Chopsticks. I think I have finally conquered them. My first couple of weeks here... I chased my food around the table. Koreans would laugh at me but enjoyed watching me struggle... in a very loving way of course. :) The slippery ramen noodles would fall through my metal chopsticks... the kimchi would plop onto the table, splashing me with red kimchi juice... only about half the rice would actually make the journey to my mouth.... but now... now I am winning! I have even eaten whole bowls of ramen noodle soup with only chopsticks. The fork is no longer of use to me.

Also, my companion and I are related! Haha okay so for part of my new missionary training, we got to check out We were both determined to trace our lines back to Adam... so we clicked through reading all the crazy names from the past. We traced back my line first through the Maughan side. We made it back to Adam through Levi. Then we traced Sister Carter's back. We noticed a weird name that was in common with both of our lines. "Harald 'The Blue Tooth' de Crepon King of Denmark." Then we traced back from that guy to the closest relative we have in common. Somehow we are related to her great grandfather... though I am not exactly sure how. But that is my cool story for the week. :)

So we had a bit of a miracle with a less active this last week. Last Monday, we had a lunch appointment with this sweet lady who has been less active for a while. She was super nice, but when we first got there you could feel the awkwardness in the room. She set some food on the table but didn't really say a whole lot. She was running all over the house to get things ready... we are pretty sure she forgot about the appointment. But somehow we helped the awkwardness disappear. We talked to her for a long time, and ended up staying there for 3 hours. By the end of the appointment we were painting our nails together on the kitchen floor. :) We shared a message with her about Christ's love. The spirit was so so strong! Somehow we ended up talking about trials and she asked me if I had any trials in our home growing up. I shared about how I grew up in the church, knowing that families could be together forever, but knowing that my own family wasn't sealed. All my friends would talk about their families being sealed, but mine wasn't. I told her about our journey to the temple and how we eventually made it there and how happy we were when we were sealed. My Korean for this was so limited that my trainer translated pretty much all of it. But sharing this experience... I could feel the spirit so strong. Our less active could as well. She was the sweetest person, and invited us back for So-Lar (I have no idea how to romanize this so that is just how the holiday is pronounced) next Thursday. She also offered to give me all of her daughter's warm clothes when we go there. (Her daughter is too big for them now.) It was the most successful less active appointment we could have! :)

There are so many people out in the world who find the truth of the gospel and then fall away. That is how it is in Korea. There are so many less actives. But we are working to remind them of the truth for the second time.  You see, everyone in this world has already learned the gospel. They just don't remember it. When we convert investigators, they are reminded of the truth for the first time. But when we bring back less actives, they are reminded of the truth for the second time. It is not an easy task to break the walls people may put up when they leave the church, but that is where God comes in. :) God prepares those who need reminded of the gospel the first time. And He will help us remind those less actives of the gospel again. I have a true testimony that God plays a major part of this work, and He is always preparing people for us to bring the truth to. I love this gospel!

Sorry my email is sort of short this week! Love you all so much and miss you always! 사랑합니다! :)

Monday, February 2, 2015

I Love Korea!

I can't even tell you how many times a day I say that. "I love Korea." I love how cheesy their music is. I love when we go to restaurants and a Korean drama is on because Korean dramas are way too addicting. I love the food. I love the people. I love how you can buy clothes and shoes on the street for super cheap. I love Korean style. I love the culture. I love the old people that smile at me more than any of the Koreans. I love the funny things people do that just throw me off. I just love Korea.

This week we got to go to the Seoul temple. It was so amazing to be inside a temple again! One of the other sister missionaries came up to me and said, "This is your first time at the temple since you came to Korea right?" So I said yes. She said, "It kind of feels like coming home again, doesn't it?" There is literally no better way to describe it. We are so lucky that we get to go to the temple once every transfer (transfers are every 6 weeks). Very few missions are this lucky. I didn't realize how badly I needed the temple this week until I was sitting down inside, waiting for the session to start. My life has been crazy the past four weeks. I am surrounded by people speaking a language that I hardly know, in a country that I am unfamiliar with, learning how to live in a new culture. I have been pretty chill about it this whole time, accepting things as they come, going with the flow. I haven't felt super stressed or anything at all. But I felt the peace of the temple more than usual this time, because I hadn't realized how crazy my life really was. I truly needed that peace. This temple trip was more appreciated than any other temple trip I have gone on. The session was in English, though all the temple workers had accents that were very Korean and kind of hard to understand. The temple really did feel like coming home though. Temples are one thing that remain the same every where you go. Even though I am in a foreign country, the feeling inside the temple is the same as it is in Logan or Provo. It was finally something I was familiar with. It was the first time I have experienced a sense of familiarity and comfort since arriving in Korea. I am so thankful that we had the opportunity to attend the temple this last week. :)

Also, I bought a 한복 this week! (That is the Korean traditional clothing.) The Korean culture is beautiful, and the dress I bought is beautiful as well. I am so proud to be serving a mission in this wonderful country! Korea has had a crazy history. Every one has tried to take them over at some point or another. It took them a long time to be their own country because everyone was fighting over them. Once they were free though, they modernized very rapidly. Now Korea is covered in city and people. I see Korea, and I see strength that I cannot even describe. The people here, especially the elderly, have gone through a lot to get here. They are all so strong.

I proselyted hard core on the streets for the first time this week! For me, this is a HUGE challenge. I don't like to bug people or make them feel uncomfortable, and in order to proselyte, you kind of have to. I have to keep reminding myself that we are giving all these people the chance to have salvation, and that they already know the gospel, they just need to have someone bring it to their remembrance. But I have such a hard time approaching people, knowing that we will probably be bugging them. Often, the people we talked to would be very friendly at first. They were impressed with our Korean, and loved that they got to talk to foreigners. But as soon as the gospel was brought up, they would pick up their pace and try to escape. You could tell that they wanted nothing to do with it. Like I said, this is such a challenge for me. I am kind of a people pleaser I guess, and bugging people on the streets is just not my thing. I know that if I were a Korean and a foreigner tried to talk to me about religion, I would be kind of weirded out. I know that these people feel the same way. But I just have to remember that our message isn't a burden, and that these people have the agency to choose. We hold the knowledge that will lead them to salvation. We shouldn't be ashamed to share salvation. It is a challenge that I hope to overcome.

Well, that is all I have to say for this week. I love you all and pray for you daily! LOVE YOU! BYE! :)

Love, Sister Maughan :)