Sunday, March 28, 2010

Conferences and what not

Dear family,
This week was Zone Conference. For those of you who don't know what that is, we have it every month and we get to hear inspirational messages from our mission president, other missionary leaders, and this time we heard about staying healthy physically and emotionally when the senior couples over the Northeast Asia missions came and gave presentations about washing your hands, good posture, depression, and anxiety, the most pertinent things to missionaries.
It was also a really spiritually packed meeting and we talked a lot about conversion. What does it take for someone to be converted? A lot of times it requires them to feel the spirit and not just to feel it, but to recognize that they feel it. One sister was talking about when she was in the MTC and she helped someone get baptized through the TRC (teaching resource center). There was a Korean man who would come every Saturday to help her practice her Korean and he was not a member. Although she was a brand new missionary and she didn't really know how to teach all of the topics, she knew how to love and how to show him love. Every week she would talk about the spirit and she would tell him that the good feeling he felt after they taught was the spirit. He didn't really seem to be changing much, but then one day he came up to her in the cafeteria and told her he wanted to be baptized. He said that he had been changing his mind, like a flower (don't you love Koreans), and that although he didn't really understand much of what she taught he always felt good and he wanted to be baptized so that he could continue to feel that sunshine and that he wanted to spend the rest of his life going after that sunshine. For this sister the spirit was the sunshine.
For a lot of Koreans they say that they know they feel the spirit because they get hot ears, or for others their throat starts to swell up. No matter what physiological reaction we feel, I know that God has let us all feel his spirit in our lives before. I think it is important to feel that spirit, which we often do through reading scriptures, prayer, hearing other's testimonies, serving, etc. However,I think it is also important to be able to recognize that feeling and to recognize how we can really obtain it. This week's challenge is for you to send me one time when you have really felt the spirit and what it feels like to you. This week I want you to actually do the challenge and send me an email.
So what does it feel like for me? It feels warm, it is like a blanket-- on my heart. It is this peace that is able to take the fears, insecurities, worries, and cluttering thoughts away from my heart and allows me to just enjoy. It is an empowering feeling that softly urges me to do things better. I know when I am feeling the spirit because I start to get ideas in my head of how I can help other people. It's kind of weird, but suddenly I will just think "so and so really would appreciate a chocolate bar" or "you should tell your family about zone conference" or similar things. It's great, but a lot of times if I don't write the thoughts down then I forget them later, so one way that I have been able to show God that I appreciate the times when he lets me feel the spirit is I always carry around a small notebook so I can write down that inspiration when I get it. But that's just me. How about you?
I think a lot of you don't really know why I decided to serve a mission. I don't have an amazing story like a lot of people that I know (it's not in my patriarchal blessing, I didn't get this sudden urge while blessing macoroni), but I will tell you my story anyway. I have mostly always wanted to serve a mission. I think it had something to do with the fact that when I was in primary the teachers would always ask "and who is going to go on a mission?" and all the boys would raise their hands. I didn't want to be left out, so I did too.
But I don't know if it was really a thought that seemed like it could happen until maybe I was in High School and Jonny went on a mission. I remember going to General Conference when Preach My Gospel came out and hearing the apostles talk about it. Uncle Paul was visiting from California while we lived in Spanish Fork and after the talks he said "I think you should go on a mission. If you do, I will pay for it." It was weird, but when he said that I knew it. I knew I would go on a mission. He didn't end up paying for it (maybe I should have taken him up on the offer...) and he probably doesn't even remember it, but I just had this feeling that I would go.
In college I wasn't sure, because everyone always said that marriage was so important and I shouldn't pass up the opportunity to get married for a mission. So I made a deal with the Lord. I told him that I would date and I would do all I could to try to get married, but that if I wasn't married by the time it came to turn in my papers that I was going on a mission. Sometimes I am not the best at getting really clear distinct answers to my prayers, but I figured that I trusted God enough that if I was trying to do the right thing and I was doing the wrong thing he would let me know. Also, as I went to BYU I met a LOT of returned sister missionaries. There was always something different about them-- it wasn't just that they had waited longer to get married. They had a different confidence, assurance, knowledge, friendliness, this light that I really wanted. So I guess my decision was a bit selfish and stubborn, it was something that I really wanted and so I decided to do it. It reminds me of the sons of Mosiah who go to their dad and plead to go on missions, as it says in Mosiah 28:3:
Now they were desirous that salvation should be declared to every creature, for they could not abear that any human bsoul should cperish; yea, even the very thoughts that any soul should endure dendless torment did cause them to quake and etremble.
I may not be as spiritual as they were, but I am at least as persistent so Heavenly Father couldn't really help but send me on a mission. I always feel like those people in the scriptures who may or may not have been meant to have great things, but because they were so naggy Heavenly Father just decided to give it to them anyway. But maybe that's the way it is supposed to be. Heavenly Father offers us all so much, he gave us all such eternal potential and the scriptures are just jammed packed with blessings that are there for the taking. We just have to ask and be willing to endure some trials and we can have them.
This one in Acts 2:16 is one of my favorites:
And it shall come to pass in the alast days, saith God, I will bpour out of my cSpirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall dprophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall edream dreams:
Isn't that so cool? So I decided that if God was brazen enough to make the promise then I was going to take him up on it and I am so thankful that I did. In the MTC my teacher told us a few times that it doesn't matter as much why you went on a mission as it does why you stay. Maybe my reasons were selfish, but since coming I have learned so much about the importance of prayer and the scriptures and all the little things in life. I have felt the spirit every day, even on the hard ones when I thought I would rather die, he was there to comfort me when I asked. I know that God is there for all of you. I know that He loves all of his children. I know he loves the Koreans and that because there was a chance that I could learn Korean and because there was a chance I could help at least one of his children that he decided to invest so much in sending me here-- even if that one was just me.
I also know that this email is too long, so I hope to hear from all of you soon.
Sister O'Bryan

Thursday, March 18, 2010

How to 전도 (street proselyte):

  • Gather up your proselyting materials. Make sure to write your phone number on everything, place it all in your Book of Mormon. Materials usually include
    • lots of flyers with your ad/short message
    • church pamphlets
    • pass along cards
  • pray for guidance to find those who are ready and receptive and anyone that the Lord wants you to
  • Talk to everyone, some of the places we find people most often are
    • street corners
    • bus stops
    • peple walking the same direction
    • subways
    • on the bus, in the taxi
  • Remember your main goals
    • build a relationship of trust
    • teach a street lesson 길토론
    • make a return appointment
    • get their phone number
    • testify
    • give your phone number
    • get a referral 소개
  • Although you may not understand everything, they appropriate response is NOT to always smile and nod, that is how you propogate false doctrine. Be prepared for their response which usually include:
    • jumping away/ seeming very scared, I don't know why, we look really nice.
    • non-responsive (pretending they have a phone call, but you know they don't, listening to their music, etc)
    • smiling at your foreign face then turning sour when they see you are a missionary
    • telling you they are busy, attend church
    • ask you if you are the church that doesn't believe in Christ
    • pat your arm, call you beautiful and tell you to keep up the good work
    • excitement about your English program
  • To remember:
    • When approaching I usually siddle up next to them and say "I'm a missionary!" in a really excited voice
    • When handing things, like flyers, use both hands
    • wear warm clothes, otherwise you may freeze to death
    • Remember the words of my companion "I love mean people, it means Satan is working hard to keep us from those who really need us"

More from up North

Dear family,
Life has been really wonderful, I love being a missionary, if I haven't told you before I thought I would tell you now.
Some things I have been thinking about lately:
Trials and hardship.
It is interesting how God gives us trials, sometimes we think it is because he wants us to do well, to come out of life being what we think of as perfection or to gain lots of confidence or scriptural knowledge or baptize thousands on our missions or other such thoughts of perfection. But I think we have to make the most of what we are given in the now it's not so much about the destination as it is about the journey. God knows that we are not perfect, but he also knows how much we can grow from our trials, even when we don't realize that we are growing. He knows how much what we do today effects what we become tomorrow. My district leader gave us this quote to think about (he's French Canadian so it is originally in French):
"Les fleurs de demain sont dans les semances d'aujourd'hui" or "The flowers of tomorrow are in the seeds of today".
I was thinking about, about how life is lived in the now, not the then or the maybes or the some days. We don't always know our potential or think that what we have is important, but when we realize that not only is it all we have, but it is wonderful and it is all that God wants from us, then it is easier to give it all and let God fill in the rest. That's one reason why I think I have trials, to see now in the eternal perspective.
As it says in D&C 122:7
And if thou shouldst be cast into the apit, or into the hands of murderers, and the sentence of death passed upon thee; if thou be cast into the bdeep; if the billowing surge conspire against thee; if fierce winds become thine enemy; if the heavens gather blackness, and all the elements combine to chedge up the way; and above all, if the very jaws of dhell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee eexperience, and shall be for thy good.
When I read this passage I decided to give it a try and I started to think about some of the hardest times of my life and then just list all of the things that I felt I had learned and gained from those times. It was amazing. My challenge to you this week is to pick one of the hardest times of your life and list at least 10 things that you learned from it. Then you can either email it to me or paste it in your journal or whateve you want to.
Other things:
The church is still true in Korea. Korea is not the U.S., but once you get over that then you can see a lot of the wonderful things. We had some extra time before one of our appointments this week and so we asked the member we were teaching to tell us about her conversion story. It was really amazing to hear about how hard it was for her and how her family was really against her decision to be baptized. In Korea they don't really have anything besides their families a lot of times and they live at home until they are married, so when her brother asked her to choose between her family and the church it was a hard decision, but she chose the church. Eventually her family came to terms and although they didn't agree with the decision they lived with it and have seen how much of a difference it has made in her life. It's amazing, but not unique, I think in everyone's lives they have to have their own conversion story.
It snowed yesterday. It's beautiful, except when you have to walk around in it a lot.
Heidi is engaged?!!! How do I miss these things? I guess that's what happens when you live half the world away. Congradulations!
If any of you have any other life changing events, please feel free to fill me in.
Sister O'Bryan

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Week 1 in Cheneon

Dear family,
Last week we had transfers so now I am up in almost the most Northern part of the mission. Except for the fact that we added a huge area that was part of the Seoul West mission called Suwan, so I guess technically it's not the most northern part anymore, only the most northern part for sisters. I went from a tiny apartment to one that is better than most of the members that I have visited. It is so nice and so spacious. Then on Friday we found out that they were removing the Elders from our wards and putting in another set of sisters to live with us. Yeah for Sister Stehmeier and Sister Reese. I was in the MTC with Sister Reese. While we were cleaning out one of the rooms for the other sister's to have a study room we found this neat Korean kit. It's all these plastic bell shaped things that you attach to your back and then suck all the air out of them and it's supposed to help your back relieve stress or something. We haven't really tried it yet, but there's a picture of my companion, 안나연 taking a look at it.
We have been mostly spending this week showing the new sisters their area and introducing them to their investigators, recent converts and what not. We don't have many progressing investigators, but we have a lot of former investigators that we are trying to make our investigators. People here are really intense about their religion. We taught a lesson with a member the other day to some women who are kind of the leaders of this church and they meet with us every week. They have a lot of techinical concerns with various doctrine, but they believe the Book of Mormon. The problem is they are such scholars they skip over the little things, like prayer, and they think the Book of Mormon is too easy for their sophisticated selves. I didn't really understand most of the two hour long conversation, except they had a hang up on baptism for the dead, God having a physical body/the holy ghost and who knows what else. But we showed "The Restoration" and I bore my simple testimony and we will see them again next week I am certain. One thing they do that I really get a kick out of is they also say "amen" when you are talking and they agree with something that you have said. It reminds me of a mix of a Baptist revival and some really creepy movie, because it's not in the rowdy black Southern Baptist way with lots of passion but this quiet eerie voice. My companion says it's even more eery for a Korean. When the member was giving the opening prayer they kept saying "amen" and since my Korean isn't very good I was really confussed because I didn't think the prayer had finished yet and I had to keep looking up to make sure.
We also visited a man and woman who recently had a baby (last Saturday). They are really nice and we brought them 미역국 (mi yuck goook) which is a seawood soup that is traditionally eaten on birthdays and for a month after a woman gives birth. Women also usually stay at home in basic isolation for a month after they give birth, I guess it's a lot worse for Korean women after they have a baby or something because my companion said that they are so sick that they can't leave. However, the mother of the woman isn't around (maybe dead, I didn't catch that part) and they aren't on good terms with the mother-in-law. The couple have been seeing the missionaries for a long time and even had a baptismal date, however, the man has a problem drinking and so it fell through. They are also really poor because he can't keep a job and so they borrowed money from a priest who then came back later and told them it was time to pay up and they had to help him build his new church, which means they couldn't come to our church for a while. They have a lot of desire to learn about the gospel still though so I am hoping for the best.
I was reading this morning in Alma 31:5 I came across a scripture that I really love.

And now, as the preaching of the word had a great tendency to lead the people to do that which was just—yea, it had had more powerful effect upon the minds of the people than the sword, or anything else, which had happened unto them—therefore Alma thought it was expedient that they should try the virtue of the word of God.

I was thinking about scripture fighting and how really it doesn't work just to Bible bash, it hasn't worked with the two older women investigators and I can't imagine that it is too effective elsewhere. I think what Alma is talking about here is bearing our pure and simple testimony and being a good example to all those around us. For me it is easy to stick to the basics because really that's all that I know how to say in Korean. However, my challenge to you all this week is to share your simple testimony with one person.
I love you all,
Sister Rebecca O'Bryan

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Transfers, only upward arrows

Dear family,

So I am moving to 전언. It apparently has the biggest ward in the mission and the biggest apartment, it used to be a four man house but now it is just two sisters. I haven't seen it yet however because I am at the mission office meeting my new companion and what not.

And yet it's a very sad transfer because I had to leave all 12 of our progressing investigators. Last night I met for the last time with our progressing family, the two little girls are absolutely amazing. We gave them a story book of the Book of Mormon and asked them to read a chapter a week (two page spread of comics basically), but they ended up reading half of it last week! By themselves! Who does that! The saddest part is that we originally started meeting them because they had a lot of English interest and although they are starting to realize the importance of the gospel I am not sure if they will continue to meet with the missionaries now that I am leaving. The sister that is replacing me is from Mongolia and doesn't really know much English.

But I know that the Lord will take care of them. I prayed a lot after hearing about the transfer situation and I feel a lot of peace about everything. Maybe they will drop, most likely the Elders will teach them, and they are always in the Lord's hands.

I have no time to tell you more exciting things, but if anyone knows how I can contact Sam while he is in Korea, that would be great. I know he is only here for like another week and I only have one more p-day, but still that would be neat to possibly meet him for lunch, show him a little bit of Korea.

Love you all,

Sister O'Bryan