Thursday, February 25, 2010

Week 12 in Gwangju

Dear familly,

Today is raining, you all know what that means. Because Koreans are deathly afraid of the rain they scatter like rats or else everyone goes out to buy an umbrella. The umbrellas can only do so much though because really when it rains it pours. However, it is still beautiful and we made traditional Korean cake, went ice skating and other things since so many of the missionaries in our area will be going home next week.

I am really excited because our family is really starting to progress, the mother came out to church last week and the two girls love to read from the Book of Mormon children's book that we gave them. It is still a challenge to get the entire family together at once, but we are working on it.

At Zone Conference yesterday something that really hit me was about happiness. President Perriton was talking about the plan of salvation and how God's purpose is to bring us back to him and give us glory. So what is glory? The more I thought about it the more I realized that really it has a lot to do with happiness. If Heavenly Father wanted more wealth, more planets, more knowledge, he wouldn't have had to create us, but when we do the right things, make the right choices and really progress in life than he receives a lot of happiness from our happiness. So now when I read I have been trying to replace the word "glory" with the word "happiness".

Not much other news, I'm too soaking wet to really feel up to typing much more, but I hope that you are all doing wonderful.

Love you all,

Sister O'Bryan

Monday, February 22, 2010

Another installment of Korean Church History

Ross Covington, a chaplain for the U.S. Army, arrived in Korea. English classes were establish and the students were taught from the English Book of Mormon because there was no other text. Dr. 김호직 attended the English classes and was a great help in translating and instructing the classes.

Elder Harlold B. Lee of the Council of the Twelve made a tour of Korea and investigated the possibility of opening Korea as an independent, full-time mission.

President Joseph Fielding Smith visited Korea with LTC Robert Slover, who arranged for him the honorary rank of brigadier general. Prior to his visit, he request that Colonol Vernon John Tipton, the Army's entomologist stationed in Japan-Korea, make a study of the living conditions in Korea and make a recommendation to President Smith whether or not Korea was ready for the introduction of missionaries. Brother Tipton made his study and in a 30-minute presentation concluded that Korea was too hazardous for missionaries and that the not be sent to Korea. President Smith thanked Brother Tipton, and the next day, Tuesday, August 2, 1955, he dedicated the land of Korea for the preaching of the gospel.

The first full-time missionaries entered Korea, coming from Japan. Prior to their arrival, missionaries were unable to come to Korea because the Church was not legally recognized by the Korean government. Dr. 김호직 personally sponsored their entrance thereby allowing their entry. At this time there were about 64 members of the Church on record.

The first printing and translation of Church materials began. Missionaries were still coming from the Northern Far East Mission (Japan) to serve in Korea.

During this year all the missionaries, except one, contracted hepatitis. President Paul C. Andrus of the Northern Far East Mission came to Korea, concerned about the elders' health. A meeting was held with the purpose of taking the elders out of Korea back to Japan. During the meeting each of the elders rose and spoke individually, expressing his attitude toward the work in Korea, and his desire to remain in Korea. President Andrus returned to Japan alone.

Dr. 김호직 died of a stroke. Dr. Spencer J. Palmer wrote of Dr. 김호직 "He is probably the most distinguished and influential leader of Oriental ancestry thus converted in East Asia. More than any other single man he was the father and prime moving force in the establishment of the Korea Mission."

Week 11 in Gwangju

Dear family,

We will have a baptism this Sunday and then hopefully next Sunday as well. I am really excited. This Sunday is a young girl named 이지은 (Lee Jee Un) who is 15 (So 13 American age) and her aunt who she will live with is a member/returned missionary. Next week is a great woman who we are teaching English and the gospel to named 임성진. We are also looking to make 2 more baptismal dates this week with some of our investigators and if I stay here next transfer then I should be able to see them get baptized.

This week I was reading in Mosiah and I came across Mosiah 7:33 which says "But if ye will turn to the Lord with full purpose of heart, and put your trust in him, and serve him with all diligence of mind, if ye do this, he will, according to his own will and pleasure, deliver you out of bondage."

I was thinking about what that means, turn to the Lord. While I was thinking on this I had thought about the poem about two paths in a wood. Often times in our lives we have the things that we want to do, we have our own paths and sometimes we think that they are what are best. But as we learn to trust the Lord and to really turn, not have one foot on both paths, but to turn our bodies to look whole heartedly towards God and towards his path, then we can receive deliverance from bondage. I was thinking also about Joseph who was sold as a slave into Egypt by his brothers and how he dealt with his bondage. Although he was still a slave, he made the most of it and in that way was delivered. Later when he was in prison he was literally delivered, but no matter what situation he was in, he was able to make the most of it as he turned to the Lord.

Chinese New Year was wonderful, we ate delicious food and played fun games. I think I will have to get a copy of the Chinese chess game that they played, it is WAY weird and the rules are so incomprehensible that I think it is right up the alley for some of the boys in our family.

Love you all lots, thank you for your letters and packages and most of all your love.

Sister O'Bryan

Thursday, February 11, 2010

"History of the Church in Korea"

(This is Becca and her "mission twin" Sister Erickson)

Brother Russ Robinson, a sergeant in the United States Army, landed in Incheon. He was the first member of the Church known to have arrived in Korea.

With the outbreak of the Korean War, thousands of United Nations troops came to Korea. Among those troops were many members of the Church.

Dr. 김호직 attended Cornell University where he met Oliver Wayman, a member of the church. He learned about the gospel and was baptized. To quote from Brother Wayman's recollection:
"Shortly after Brother 김호직's arrival he was assigned to my office, which we shared.

During the time that we shared an office, we would occassionally take breaks from our studying or writing and discuss various topics. One day he asked me if I had any literature on the beliefs of my church. My response was affirmative.

Knowing that he was a devout and studious Presbyterian, I gave him a copy of Dr. Talmage's Articles of Faith. Within a week he had read the book and asked for more. He told me it was the best book on the gospel he had ever read and that he believed it thorougly. I gave him a copy of the Book of Mormon, which he read in a very short time. He accepted it as the word of God along with the Bible, but said that the Book of Mormon was much easier to understand and more complete. We encouraged him to attend our services and he agreed.

On the day I was leaving Cornell, I met him in the corridor. I felt impelled to ask Dr. 김호직 if he knew why he had left his hom, family, and a good position in Korea to come to the US..

His answer was that he had come to get a doctorate in nutrition from the most presitigious school in that field. I reminded him that he already had a doctorate in nutrition and that it seemed odd that he would leave his home and his family at such a critical time. He then responded that he needed the newer knowledge of nutrion that would be availabe at Cornell for the benefit of his people.

The Spirit was so strong that I felt as though I was transformed and stood beside myself above the floor. At no other time in my life have I been moved upon by the spirit as I was at that time.

I then bore my testimony of the gospel and told him that the Lord had moved upon him to come to America at the opportunity presented to him, in order that he might recieve the gospel and take it back to his people in preparation for a great missionary work to be done there. He had received the gospel but had been unwilling to accept it through repentance and baptism but wanted to carry the truths he had learned to the Presbyterian Church for its reform. This, I informed him, would not work and that if he refused to do the work the Lord had for him to do, another would be raised up in his place. That was the last time that we saw each other."

Brother 김호직 read the Book of Mormon again and through the Spirit, came to know of its truth. He was baptized on July 29, 1951, in the Susquehanna River near were Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery had been baptized. As brother 김호직 came up out of the water, he reported that the inspired testimony of Brother Wayman was sustained by a voice saying to him, "Feed my sheep, feed my sheep."

In September 1951 Dr. 김호직 returned home to Korea.

How to use a public bathroom:

-You can usually find bathrooms in most public areas, shopping centers, nice apartment complexes, hospitals, member's homes, but the thing you always have to check for is toilet paper, this is a real commodity
-Once you have found a sufficient bathroom then you have lots of choices of where you can relieve yourself. The three most common are listed below with their advantages:
*Squatter- they say that squatting helps your digestive system and if you haven't had enough kimchi this may be necessary. Also the flush handle is on the floor so you can just push it with your foot and not have to worry about germs
*Sitter- normal U.S. style toilet, if you are looking for something familiar you can always go for this
*Bidet- this has all the bells and whistles and sometimes even makes fun noises. You have to be careful though because there are usually a lot of buttons on it and if you hit the wrong one then the water may go the opposite direction that you wanted (if you get what I mean)

-Once you have relieved yourself you approach the sink. Most places have sinks, some just have a faucet out of the wall with a drain in the floor. Most also have soap, but most Koreans will not wash their hands. There is a quite ingenious system though of soap on a stick that I like best.

Week 10 in Gwangju

Dear family,

This week was great, we got to hear from Elder Hallstrum (I am not certain on the spelling) at a mission conference. The attached picture is all of the sisters in the mission. Well, except for the ones whose heads were cut off. It was spiritually enriching and also I got to meet Sister Erickson who knew Jon before the mission. I guess they went to Bermuda or somewhere that starts with a B. It's funny how everyone seems to be interconnected, especially in Korea.

We have a lot of great investigators and we just made one who has English interest who owns a nail art shop. The first time that we met she showed us all of her amazing artwork and I think maybe one P-day we might go in and get our nails done. My vote is that we get pictures of God, Jesus, the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith, and a temple, so that way we can do the testimony glove, except with our fingers. If you don't know what the testimony glove is you can probably look it up on

This morning as I was reading from Jacob 4 I thought a lot about records. Jacob is talking about how difficult it is to write because of the hardness of the plates and so he has to be very selective with what he writes. Because of this he is very specific in his purpose and very direct in the fact that it is for the benefit of his children and that they may know about Christ. I thought about how in our day it is a lot easier to write and to keep records- think about this email for example. Although I have limited time I can type pretty fast and so if I wanted to I could write quite a bit. But even with all of that it doesn't mean that our writings should be without purpose. I think that we still need to make and keep records of things that are most important to us, about the gospel about our testimonies and then we also need to share them. Maybe for our great great grandchildren, but also with those around us, our sisters (hint hint), our neighbors, our friends, whomever. So challenge of the week is to write down your testimony- in your journal, a Book of Mormon, a letter, it doesn't really matter- and then share it with someone.

I love you all and I love the gospel. I know that the Lord works through mysterious ways and that His ways are not ours. I know that He loves all of us and that the best way to show our love to Him is to show our love to others.

Sister O'Bryan

p.s. thank you for your letters and Sara/Susan, the package was AMAZING. I've already made probably 50 cookies with the chocolate chips that you sent and people love them. The pictures are also a great help.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Week 9 in Gwangju

Dear family,

Korea is great, Solar, the Chines New Year's, is coming up. It is a three day holiday from Feb. 13-15 and is one of the biggest things that happens in Korea, once I actually experience it then I should be able to tell you more about it, but for the time being you'll just have to look up more about it on the internet.

We have some great investigators and made three new ones yesterday who are studying English in order to be flight attendants in the Middle East. Random. But they are really fun and have some interest in the gospel so I am hopefull. We are still working with our family and the daughters are great, but it is really hard to get both of the parents there at once, if you have any suggestions, let me know.

This month's Liahona talks a lot about Christ, both in Old Testament times as well as how we can look to him and find strength in him for our day. It reminded me of a scripture that we often share with our members in Alma 7:11-12 which says:

"And he shall go forth, suffering pains and affliction and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith tht he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.
And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities."

I love this scripture, but one day when we were explaining it the member basically looked at me and said "so what?" In other words, what does it mean to me. I thought about that a lot, we can share scriptures which mean a lot to us, but just saying the scripture doesn't mean that the meaning is also transferred. When we have scriptures we have to apply them to our lives, we have to find out what they mean for us. After thinking about it I realized that the reason I love this scripture so much is because often times in my life I feel like I am suffering or going through some pain and I wonder who would really understand. Who can I really talk to who understands me? There are lots of people who can listen and give me sympathy, but who can really understand and give me exactly what I need? This scripture provides that answer, it is Christ. He knows me because he has felt my pain and so much more. He knows me because he is my brother and he loves me and was willing to die for me then and is willing to live, to show me miracles, to answer my prayers, to do any number of things now. Question of the week: What is Christ willing to do for you?

I love you all and hope you are having a great week.

Sister O'Bryan