Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Do You Have A Dinosaur?

So I am now in Incheon! I am actually currently living in Mansu. Incheon is a lot different from Ansan. Ansan had about 30 active members and 6 missionaries. My ward now, Incheon 2nd ward, is about as big as my home ward and there are 10 missionaries serving here. 8 elders and 2 sisters. The church house is HUGE! It is brand new and 4 stories tall. This area is BOOMING with baptisms. For Korea anyway. ;) They have had like 4 or 5 this year already. There seems to be a lot of prepared people in Incheon, and I am excited to get to witness the work moving along here. My new companion, Sister Reed, and I get along super well. We are like the same person. It can be almost weird how similar we are. We are both going into the medical field so we definitely have health nerd conversations like every night. I am super excited to serve with her!  Right now we are living in a 2 man house in Mansu, but we live about 30 or 40 minutes away from the church, so next week we will be moving to a closer location. And we will be living in a 4 man house with 2 other sisters! It should be fun. I am super excited. :)

So I have to say, I am so thankful to be serving my mission in Korea and learning this language. It is hard of course, but the more I learn, the more I can't imagine life without speaking Korean. And it feels familiar when I speak it. I don't know how to explain the feeling, but when I speak Korean, it just feels natural and like I have been speaking it my whole life. Yesterday I gave my 인사 말씀 ("hello" talk) in sacrament meeting. I had to introduce myself and bear my testimony and stuff so that the ward would know who I was. I spoke with two elders who are going home in a couple months and are amazing at Korean. They both said they had been here for 20 months. I said I had been here for 6. Clearly, our Korean was at very different levels. But afterwards, a lot of ward members came up and told me that I was doing incredible for only being in Korea for 6 months. Our ward mission leader asked if my major was Korean because apparently I sound better than most foreigners. He said I have special pronunciation and intonation that makes me sound super Korean... way more than most missionaries. I was so thankful for the sweet compliments from members. I can take no credit for my Korean skills though. Heavenly Father has blessed me way more than I deserve. And its almost like this language is familiar to my spirit. Maybe that thought is super out there and doesn't make any sense. But maybe... just maybe... missionaries learn their mission languages in heaven and promise people who speak that language that they will bring them the gospel later. I don't know... it could be an absurd thought and it is by no means doctrine. But I like to think of it that way. :)

Oh... I never explained the title to this email. Haha oops. Now I will explain. So yesterday was my first day in my new ward. At church, this random member came up to me and asked me in English, "Do you have a dinosaur?" First off, he was talking in English so that threw me off. Second of all, he was asking me if I had a dinosaur. I was like what? So I replied, pretty confused, "No, I don't have a dinosaur." He then proceeded to reach into his bag and pull out a toy dinosaur. He handed it to me. "Now you have a dinosaur. Put it in your bag so that the kids won't steal it." I laughed for a second and put the toy dinosaur in my bag. Apparently this member gives all the missionaries toy dinosaurs, and since I was new, he was prepared to give me one. Well, now I have a dinosaur.

I love you all always and miss you always! Talk to you next week! :)

Love, Sister Maughan

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Musicals and Transfer calls.

So this week flew by faster than ever before. I can't even tell you how fast time is going on my mission. But it was a super good week!

So Saturday we had a super successful ward party. The missionaries put on the musical, "Meet the Missionaries." We sang songs and acted out an average missionary day, adding some humor about greenies and proselyting experiences like being bible bashed, talking to foreigners who don't speak English or Korean and having no idea what to say etc. It was incredible because more nonmembers came than members. Almost our entire English class of 18 students came to the musical. We ended the musical by acting out a member present lesson. We pretended to knock on someone's door and then teach them a lesson. In the lesson we said that rather than telling them our message, we wanted to show them our message. So we then turned off all the lights and played the "Because He Lives" video on a big screen. So our silly musical turned into a spiritual message. The spirit was so strong. After we finished the video we sang the EFY Medley in Korean, a combination of "We'll Bring the World His Truth" and "As Sisters in Zion." The elders sang the "We'll Bring the World His Truth" part and we sang "As Sisters in Zion." Holy cow the spirit was so strong. The ward members were super impressed and said that they will always remember this group of missionaries. That night we got transfer calls. I knew I was transferring before I got the call... I could feel it. So I spent a lot of time during the ward activity talking to members, enjoying the last activity I had with them.

Then transfer calls came. I am transferring to Incheon! My new companion will be Sister Reed. I haven't met her yet, but I have heard a lot of good things about her. I am super excited for a new experience and a new area. :)

So I had to say goodbye to the ward members yesterday. I didn't expect it to be hard by any means, but it was much harder than I thought. You don't realize how much you get attached to people until you have to say goodbye to them, especially when you know you probably won't ever get to see them again. I have seen this ward go through a huge change since I first arrived in January. Hearts have changed, testimonies have grown, and faith has increased. Ansan ward still has a lot of room to grow, and I wouldn't categorize them as a super strong ward by any means, but they are progressing and getting stronger, and I have seen miracles here for 6 months now. I am so thankful that I had the opportunity to serve here. Lots of hugs were given yesterday, and my heart was heavier than I expected. I didn't know leaving an area could be so hard. I also had to say goodbye to my English class friends, and that was super hard too. I taught these adorable little girls who told me they didn't want me to leave. It was hard, but I am excited for my next area as well.  I know that God has a plan for all of us, and I am supposed to go to Incheon for a reason.

Yesterday we had a little miracle. It was stake conference, and we got to here from Elder D. Todd Christofferson and President Ringwood of the Asia area presidency. It was skyped from the Salt Lake City conference center. A family that had come to English class earlier this week just randomly decided to come to church. I guess they have been looking for religion and saw how happy we were at English class. They were a little thrown off because it was not a normal church day, but we invited them back next week so that they can be a part of our normal worship services. I think they have a lot of potential. :)

Well, I have to end my email now, but I love you all. And shout out to the best dad ever. HAPPY FATHER'S DAY!!! I love you so much and miss you always.

Love, Sister Maughan

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

More Baseball!

I got to play baseball with the brothers of the ward again this week! It was seriously the funnest thing. And I was of course in a dress again. I started throwing with one of the elders, and we were in the middle of this park. Within 5 minutes of throwing with him, a ton of Koreans were turned around watching me. Some middle school boys kept trying to compliment me in English. "Good! You good!" It is definitely quite the sight to see a foreign girl playing baseball in a dress in the middle of a park in Korea. But I think I found my new missionary tool haha. ;) I also played catch with one of the members of the bishopric and the ward mission leader. Me, Elder Eads (the really really tall one in my district pictures), the second counselor, and the ward mission leader made a giant square and threw as fast as we could to each other... kind of a race. It was seriously the funnest thing ever! I wanted to keep playing forever. :)

I also got to speak in church yesterday. Luckily my Korean companion could help me translate everything clearly. I translated all that I could and she helped me translate the rest. I spoke on building a bridge of faith. I actually really enjoyed speaking in Korean. It is kind of fun. :)

This weekend, the missionaries of Ansan will be putting on a small musical for a ward activity. I am not sure exactly how it is going to work, but if I can video it I will. I am super excited. Our district leader, Elder Barton, is a theater major so he is going to help put it all together. But we want to show the ward what all missionaries do. We will just be singing and acting it out. It should be super fun. :)

So I have been thinking a lot about the youth in the church, especially in Korea. I still feel like I am  part of the young woman program, not a missionary. (I mean I totally feel like a missionary, I just don't feel old enough). ;) I was in young womans just over a year ago after all. But I have been specifically thinking about the less active youth of the church. In the ward I am serving in currently, there are only about 4 active young women, and 1 active young man. There are quite a few primary kids. But there are a ton of less active young men and women. Their parents are strong in the gospel and come to church, but they refuse to come. They are totally cold to the missionaries when they see us. One woman in our ward yesterday bore her testimony in Relief Society and told us about her daughter who, like many youth in this ward, fell away from the church. She expressed her feelings on the matter, saying she felt like she had "lost my daughter." She expressed how she felt a longing for her daughter to be strong in the gospel, but felt like she was too far gone to bring her back.

So many youth in the church, when they hit the age of puberty, decide to go the opposite way despite what they have been taught growing up. They don't want anything to do with the gospel, the scriptures, or the missionaries. They focus only on friends and themselves. I am so shocked at how many of the youth in Korea have taken this route. More of them have taken this route than the other more preferred route, staying strong in the church. I want so badly to know how to help bring them back, but when missionaries try to talk to them they straight up ignore us and refuse to even interact with us.

So why do they choose to go this way? Why do they choose to totally shun the church? I have learned that Satan's power is stronger than we realize. The world looks very appetizing at age 14 when everyone you see around you is part of it. When the only people who are not engulfed in the ways of the world are your parents and your family, you want to be accepted by those outside of your family. You want to be like everyone else, you want to fit in. You want to be absorbed in a life of texting, earphones, friends, and doing things that Heavenly Father would not want you to do. But is the world truly happy? I can promise, the people of the world are not truly happy. I have seen it here more than anything else. Everyone is engulfed in the ways of the world, but no one is happy. The only way we can be happy is by living the gospel.

I have found true happiness in living the gospel. This time on my mission has been probably the happiest time of my life. When we do as God would have us do, He will shower us with blessings  and happiness that we cannot even imagine. I am so thankful that I chose to live the gospel at a young age. I don't know what I would do without it in my life. I know that this gospel is the only way that we can feel true happiness. God loves us and He wants us to be happy. He just asks that we follow Him.

Love, Sister Maughan

Monday, June 8, 2015

It's A Mask World

So there is this new trend in South Korea. Everyone has been wearing hospital masks. At first, I just figured there was dust in the air so people were wearing masks because of that. Koreans say that there is a lot of dust blown here from China and it is bad to breathe in. So they wear masks. But this last week, the amount of people wearing masks skyrocketed within about two days. Then schools began to close. More hospital masks. Less people out. We didn't really know what was going on until this lady wearing a mask at the bus stop sat next to us and started telling us about 매리스 (which is supposed to be Konglish for MERS I think). She sounded pretty freaked out about it. So yes, MERS (Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome) is in Korea. Our mission has told us what precautions to take, though none of them are anything really new. Wash hands, don't touch your face, just be careful etc. It's all stuff I already do. We can wear masks if we want, but it is our choice. I did buy a mask just in case. Plus I wanted to join in the new trend. ;) But if any of you have heard anything about MERS in Korea, just know that I am safe and so are all the other missionaries. If it gets bad, our mission president will know what to do. :)

So this week, the elders had a baptism! We got to attend the baptism yesterday after church. The spirit was so strong. They baptized this man who is actually Chinese but lives in Korea. After he passed his baptismal interview last week, he was seriously glowing. Ever since then, you could see a light within him.  Elder Barton, our district leader, performed the baptism. There is just a certain spirit that is present when someone takes the step to receive baptism. Heaven feels closer. God's love and approval is almost tangible in the room. The spirit literally surrounds you from every angle. I wish I could say I remember my baptism better. I do remember being dressed in all white, my hair in two braids because I was worried about it coming up out of the water. I can remember sitting on the bench waiting for my turn to go into the water. I can remember sitting on the chair, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost. I can remember the white baptismal blanket I received, the scripture set I got from Grandma and Grandpa Stucki which is currently with me on my mission, the beautiful white dress I changed into after I was baptized. I have never felt cleaner. :) The brother who was baptized yesterday will actually go back to China next week. And the church is very very small in China... if it even exists at all. He will have to be very strong and do all he can to keep his testimony strong. I am so thankful that I grew up in a place where the church exists and is so strong. The members are strong, the wards are strong, and the spirit is strong. It will be a challenge for this brother to keep his testimony in China, but if he continues to pray and study the Book of Mormon, God will help him stay strong.

So lately, we have been focusing on sharing the church's beliefs on families more on the street. I have been reading Elder L. Tom Perry's last talk before he passed away from last conference. He talks about how most religions believe that families are essential and an important part of this life. But he also points out how our beliefs are different as well. "For time and all eternity" is a much stronger bond than "till death do us part." And we know how to make eternity a possibility. Bearing testimony about family has become one of my favorite things to do. The longer I am away from my family, the more my testimony of eternal families grows. Sometimes its hard to think that I will be away from my family for 11 more months. But then I remember that I have all of eternity with them. 18 months is just a tiny amount of time to sacrifice. And the time is honestly flying. I reached my 7 month mark last week. But I am so thankful for the knowledge that my family is eternal. I am so thankful that we were sealed in the Logan temple when I was 15 years old. I will always remember the feeling of the temple, and the moment we stepped into the sealing room. Brady looked up at me and said, "Daysha, I feel like I am floating." What a perfect way to describe the temple's spirit from a child's perspective. I was dressed in all white for the second time in my life. I can't imagine not knowing that my family could be eternal. I am so thankful for the opportunity to help other families become eternal families. I know that only through this gospel can we become eternal families. And even if our families are not all members, I trust God's plan. He wants us to be happy. After this life, we may not understand exactly what is going to happen. But I know that God loves us more than we could ever imagine. His plan will not fail. We will be happy after this life.  We just have to trust Heavenly Father's plan and do our best to make good decisions while we are on the earth. His plan is perfect.

I love you all and hope you are safe and healthy! :) I pray for you daily. Miss you!

Love, Sister Maughan

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

I Still Got It

I still got it... jokes I never really had it. Or did I? You are probably wondering what I am talking about. Don't worry, I am about to explain. :) On Saturday, the elders and all the brothers of the ward joined up for a soccer game. We invited everyone in our English class to come as well. One of our friends from English class, this really cute and fun girl who is my age, wanted to come watch them play with us. So we watched the brothers and elders play soccer for a little while with her. Super, super fun! :) After the game, one of the brothers of the ward got out a baseball bat and mitt. My eyes lit up, "I want to play!" I said in Korean. This particular brother served his mission in the USA, so he speaks perfect English. He replied in English, "Really?!" So I said yes. He said, "Are you serious?" So I of course, said yes. I picked up the bat and asked one of the elders to toss the ball to me. I line drove the ball into the chain link fence. Then I hit another one into the fence. Then another one (this one got stuck in the fence). The next thing I knew, all the brothers of the ward were watching the foreign sister missionary playing baseball in a dress, shock all over their faces. One of the members of the bishopric said he wants to play a game with me sometime. I sure hope it happens... I didn't expect to miss softball so much. The next day during church, one of the elders told me that after I left the soccer games, all the brothers were talking about me playing baseball, totally surprised and shocked. It basically made my entire week. ;)

I had a little experience with the gift of tongues and the gift of interpretation of tongues this last week! :) Yesterday we were teaching a recent convert in our ward. During the lesson she started crying. This sister is not a cryer so I knew either something was wrong... or she was really feeling the spirit. I started praying my heart out to understand what she was saying, to understand her needs. Before I knew it, I understood what was going on. She was struggling with her testimony, but she wanted so badly to have a strong one. The spirit told me to tell her a little life experience of mine. I began to tell her the story of the first time I read the Book of Mormon. It was 2009 and I was only 14 years old. It was kind of confusing, but I wanted to know it was true. After I read it completely through, I got a small piece of paper and wrote a simple testimony of the Book of Mormon on it, and slipped it in the binding of my scriptures. Every year since then, I have updated my testimony, adding to it on another slip of paper which I then slip into the binding of my scriptures. Luckily, I had my English scriptures with me while I taught her, so I pulled each slip of paper out from the binding. I showed her the first slip of paper from 2009 with only a few lines of testimony on it and compared it to the slip of paper from 2014 which was a full piece of paper completely filled from top to bottom. I then explained that gaining a testimony doesn't happen all at once. It takes time, and little by little we learn more and gain more knowledge and understanding of the gospel. We just have to keep trying, keep praying, and keep trusting that God will answer our questions. She thanked me for sharing this experience. The spirit definitely testified while we were in that lesson. And the spirit was the mediator. Though my Korean is limited, the spirit told me what her needs were, and what she needed to hear. It then provided a way for me to tell my story. My Korean was clear and simple enough for her to understand, and the spirit testified to her. I am so thankful for the Holy Ghost.

On Thursday, we had a combined mission conference with the Seoul Mission. President Ringwood, (area 70 I think) spoke to the missionaries about seeing ourselves as God sees us. As missionaries, we are so focused on telling everyone else that God loves them, that they can return to live with Him, that they are God's children.... but sometimes we forget that we are God's children too. We are hard on ourselves. We doubt ourselves. We look into the mirror and see ourselves as weak and inadequate. But that is not how God sees us. God called us here, and He will give us the strength to fulfill His plan in this mission. We are not weak or inadequate, though we may feel like it. When the prophet called us, he did not doubt our abilities. When God called us, He did not doubt our abilities. So why then do we doubt our abilities? We forget to see ourselves how God sees us. He sees us as beloved, strong, able sons and daughters of His army, sent forth to proclaim His gospel. I have been trying harder to focus on seeing myself how He sees me, because it is so important to remember who called me here. If the Lord trusts me, and I trust the Lord, how can I fail?

I hope you all have a great week! Happy Summer! :) Love you and miss you always!

Love, Sister Maughan