Sunday, October 26, 2008

Week 2 in Korea



Hello from Pusan, Korea!!!! So, just on the way here I almost died again in a taxi......we were literally inches away from a bus coming into our lane. Inches! Even the taxi driver was freaking out.

I was pretty down earlier this week. I knew that some people wouldn't listen to our message and I'm used to people thinking bad things about the Church, but I didn't think it would be like this. We go out proselyting for hours a day.....walking the streets and knocking doors. I struggle with the language and people reject us outright, call us a cult or tell us to just go away and talk to other people. Then, later this week, we were knocking doors in one apartment building. We had planned to go knock doors with some other elders....but for some reason things weren't working out, no matter what we did, and we eventually had to part ways. While Elder Hinton and I were knocking doors, a man answered and I was trying to talk to him in my horrible Korean. At first he said it was late...they were busy etc.....and then he suddenly told us to come in. We sat down and talked with him and his wife. They fed us some awesome Asian pear and talked with us. They were angels. Usually at least one person in the house wants you to leave...but they were really nice. They wanted a Book of Mormon and the wife loved reading the pamphlet on the Restoration. They attended another church but were very interested in what we have to say. The man liked me, it seemed, and was comfortable patting me on the knee and stuff (in Korea that's a good thing). I'm not sure where it will go, but I felt the Spirit and my own spirits were lifted. I know that I received a tender mercy from the Lord that night.

On Saturday, we played some basketball for a couple of hours with some members. The Bishop also played (he's a lifter and very competitive). It was awesome and I can't wait until next Saturday. Sunday was nice. We pretty much spend most of the day at church. Sunday night, the four of us elders went and knocked doors together in some huge apartment buildings. Elder Hinton and I got kicked out by some Gwali-jas (security types). It was my first time. They're a huge obstacle to the work....especially in the bigger, nice apt. complexes.

The other night, we went to the patriarch's house with the sister missionaries in our area. The Patriarch was soo cool. He seemed to like me, and said that he wished he spoke English so that we could talk more. There are two new converts that Elder Hinton baptized last transfer. They're college students and really cool. Really nice guys. One of them is applying to the BYU english language program for next year. That's an interesting thing. Korean Church members are some of the best at English. Since many of the young men (and women) serve missions, and some young people go to a Church school in the states at some point, they learn english. All Koreans take english classes in school, but few really learn the language. I was talking to one of the new converts about his mandatory military service. I told him of how my father had spent some time with Korean marines and really liked them. I like asking Koreans about their "Gundae" service.

I've had some more Korean food. I love Asian pears! Hay jon gook is a soup with some bones w/ meat on them in it. It was really good (hot temperature) and tasted like a really good, spicy chicken noodle soup. There's a lot of squid here but so far I'm too chicken to try it. The other night we had a shiksa (meal appt...basically) at a part member house. The soup was called shabashaba (Japanese soup). It had veggies and meat in it. The lady then put some garlic and noodles in and it was soooo good. I haven't had dog meat yet, but I will. I hate hate hate seaweed (therefore I avoid kimbop). The other day, we went to a meat buffet. For missionaries it is heaven because we don't get a whole lot of meat. It was awesome.

Today, we have an interesting p day. We received permission to leave the house at 8:30 am(usually it is 10:30 am), so we're going to do some fun stuff. I'm not sure what yet. Tonight we have the ward FHE, so it should be a BLAST. Luckily, we sleep on mattresses.....so I haven't had to experience the floor yet. Bugs and stuff aren't a problem on the 19th floor....so that's nice.

I love you guys and miss you. I love it out here in the field, even with the down days. It's amazing. I know that we are making a difference. I know that we are fulfilling Daniel's prophecy, and also Joseph Smith's prophecy as the gospel is "penetrating every continent, visiting every clime, sweeping every country and sounding in every ear".

Love, Elder Bocchino
(Below are some photos from the MTC)







Sunday, October 19, 2008

Greetings from Gwangan!



Greetings from Gwangan! As you already know, I'm serving in the Gwangan area in the Pusan Zone. If you go to http://www.mormon.org/ and click on "worship with us", you can look up where the Gwangan ward meeting house is (for Google Maps). We live in some apts up the hill from that. The Gwangan beach is in our area. It is the second most famous beach in Korea (the first is our neighboring area, Haeundae).

Monday is our P-Day. It's been a cool first week. This past weekend was a huge annual festival. There was a HUGE, AMAZING, SPECTACULAR fireworks show on Sat. night. I took pics and videos of it...I'll send them to you. It was the best fireworks/lightshow/concert I've ever seen!!!! I think it is the best in the world. We sat on the beach with some ward members (surrounded by 3.5 million Koreans apparently...that's what we were told) and watched the show for a few hours. It was awesome. A bunch of missionaries from different areas showed up.

Our area has 4 elders assigned to it (we live in the same apt.). A trio of sisters also covers our area.

One of my roommates is Elder Matsuura (I knew him in the MTC, he was 6 weeks ahead of me). It's really cool being able to live with him.
I don't really understand what anyone is saying, but it is still fun. The Church is still true. ^^ Elder Hinton is from Sandy, Utah and is a great companion and trainer. I'm so glad to have been assigned to serve with him. He "dies" (goes home) next transfer, so I might "kill" him (be his last companion in the mission field). He's my "dad" and I'm his "son" (senior and junior companions). Gwangan is such a cool area to be "born" into (first assignment on mission).

The first day at the mission home was crazy. We got up in the morning and went to the bathhouse!!!!!! I loved it! It was soooo cool and relaxing and we'll definitely have to go again.....and again and again, as much as possible. They had tons of different pools (green tea pool, rose pool, mud bath, etc.). It was awesome. We taught a man in there. After that, we did a few things (e.g., went to the bank) and then got temporary trainers. All 30-40 of us ran 1/2 mile or more to the subway station, rode it to a market place, and started proselyting. It was intense. I was tired and soaked in sweat. I'm sure I looked crazy. I did give away a book of mormon though!

Then we did some "soapboxing" (proselyting by yelling) in the subway car on the return home. The greenies (new missionaries) were supposed to do the yelling, but we ran out of time, so an older missionary did it. It was intense. Then we were assigned trainers and areas, and left.

So then, the taxi driver doesn't understand my trainer and takes us to Gimhae (the airport and opposite direction of where we wanted to go)....so then we went all the way back. Mission record for most expensive taxi ride!!! We taught the driver, though, and gave him a book of mormon.

Oh, quick note, drivers are CRAZY in Korea. That long taxi ride was scary. I literally (no joke) feared for my life a few times. Dude was all over the road (they all are) and then homeboy turned on his hazards and ran something like a "code-3" from Gimhae to Gwangan. We were in the shoulder, cutting cars off, honking......it was bad news. That's pretty much how they all drive..........yet there aren't a whole lot of accidents at all. The bus rides are the worst....you stand a lot and it is really jerky and crazy. Everyone honks all the time.

Missionary work is fun here. We walk a lot (a LOT) or take bus/subway/taxi sometimes. We proselyte a lot (john-do) and knock doors (kah kah ho ho). People reject us a lot.........A LOT.....but we just roll with it. Last night we knocked doors down by the port and this guy let us in to talk to him and his family....sort of. The mom was Buddhist and didn't want to talk and the daughter was on the computer. The guy seemed interested (he was really nice) and wanted to meet us away from home. He works 1 day on, 1 off at the port so we'll call him soon.

Thanks for the packages!!!!!!!!!!!! They are great. If you send more, do what you did last time and just write non perishable food items on the slip on the box. Don't itemize the contents specifically (especially beef jerky) as it increases the risk of "disappearing."

You asked about the food - we just went to a Korean McDonald's today for P-Day. It was cool! I haven't had much legitimate Korean food yet. The rice is good! We eat out a lot and get some cheap Korean Chinese food at this place I call dirty duke's - fried pork meat and rice for 2 bucks - good stuff.

I have so much more I want to write and tell you. I love you guys so much!!!!!!!!! Korea is awesome!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Love, Elder Bocchino ^^

Thursday, October 16, 2008

ELDER BOCCHINO HAS LANDED!


We received word from Joshua's mission president, Pres. Jennings, that Joshua arrived in Busan with baggage intact!!!

His first day was spent in preparation (administrative details) and training. The missionaries made their own lunch - something called "kimpap."

Then they participated in a training exercise that combined cultural exploration and proselyting activities. This was followed by a testimony meeting - in Korean - and a magnificent dinner at the mission home in Busan.

His first assignment is in Gwangan, in the heart of Busan. His trainer is Elder Hinton. We know he is very excited and ready to get to work! Here he is with Pres. and Sis. Jennings and Elder Hinton at the Mission Home in Busan.

Hopefully, we will receive an email from Joshua soon, perhaps on his P-Day. We look forward to learning more about Gwangan and his companion, Elder Hinton, in the coming weeks.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Joshua's Phone Calls



Joshua called from the Salt Lake City airport this morning at 6:30 am! He could only talk for a minute, but he called again from Los Angeles about 3 hours later. He was excited to finally be on his way to Korea.

He wanted to call his Grandparents, but there wasn't time as they had to change to a completely different building at the last minute, prior to boarding the plane, and things were a little confused.

We received a third call from him around 3:00 am as he arrived in Incheon (Seoul), Korea. They are awaiting the last leg of their journey, from Incheon to Busan. They are all very tired and thirsty! Joshua said he had not had much water and they could find none in the terminal. This last part of the journey, though short by comparison to the first 2 legs, could be the toughest for them as they are now in country and anxious to get to Busan and get some rest.

He will spend a few days at the Mission Home in Busan with the Mission President and his Wife, where he will be assigned a trainer. He's looking forward to serving the members in the Church there by helping to strengthen the membership. That will be the main focus of the missionary program under the new mission president.

He will be sleeping on a mat on the floor, and will need mosquito netting to keep the bugs out at night. They will be riding bikes, the subway, or taking taxis to appointments. Addresses aren't the same as in the West - home numbers are assigned based on when they were built. An address alone may not be enough to help you find a home - you need to get explicit instructions to give to the taxi and others in order to find many places, and it can be very confusing.

Showing respect to the older Koreans is very important, and learning how to apologize will become a common part of their communications. Apparently, body odor is offensive to Koreans, and missionaries really welcome breath mints, Listerine Packets, and anything else that helps freshen breath on the run.

He might be going to the bath houses, which have been described as wonderfully relaxing.

Joshua is with the group he lived and trained with in the MTC for 12 weeks, and they are a tight group of buddies who all get along really well. He has the highest regard for them and has continually expressed his gratitude for their group association.

We were happy to hear his voice and look forward to talking to him again in December. He sounded very confident and firm in his desire to serve in Korea. We miss him, but we are also very proud of him!

Joshua will be able to call us again on Christmas Day! In the meantime, we will post his letters and (hopefully) photos as we get them. As always, I know he will be the grateful beneficiary of your continued letters and encouragement.

Sis. Bocchino

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Carve your own pumpkin

Joshua's group will be boarding their flight to Korea on Monday (less than 24 hours). While you are waiting for his next letter, try carving your own pumpkin here:

http://www.coasttocoastam.com/timages/page/pumpkin_sim.html

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Last Email from MTC







Hey everyone! We got our flight plans last friday and we're heading to Korea on Monday the 13th! It's a HORRENDOUS 13 hour flight! We're having all sorts of out-briefings and meetings here in the MTC, only to be followed by orientations and in-briefings in Pusan.

I'm excited. This last weekend has been great (General Conference). We've been able to do nothing but eat, sleep and watch General Conference. On a mission, that's heaven. Apparently the bugs in Korea (mosquitos) are horrible. Sleeping on the floor won't help matters, as spiders and other bugs crawl over you at night. I might need to get a mosquito net in Korea. I will also have to use filtered water. We'll be getting more specific info upon arrival in Pusan.

The hour long flight from Incheon (Seoul) to Pusan will be really interesting, as I'm sure we will all be anxiously anticipating our arrival in our actual mission. My next email should be from the Land of the Morning Calm! I hope to have many interesting things to share! Thanks for your support! Elder Bocchino

Sunday, October 5, 2008

A few more...





Some Random Photos





Some of Joshua's friends at the MTC...