Wednesday, January 28, 2009


We've reached the end of Solar, the three-day Korean new year holiday. Everything was shut down and people were at home with their families doing ceremonies to remember ancestors. Interesting. It made missionary work pretty hard for a few days. We've had quite a few meal appointments with members though, so that's been good.

This past Monday we had a multi zone full p-day (from 10:30 - 9 pm). We went up to a cool university campus in Gaya zone and played football, basketball and soccer. Then we went and had lunch together and a small group of us went and hung out at a bathouse. It was a tight p-day. The missionaries in both zones are all sore from the festivities. I enjoyed being able to play football for the first time in a long time. Since most of my friends are in the Gaya zone I was glad to be able to see them.

We also had zone conference recently and were able to learn a lot about being united with our companions, our wards and the Lord. It was a great experience.

(Me with Bro. Jung Sung Ook and Elder Hinton):

My new companion, Elder Choi:

With my Companion and roommates at first transfer:

It's been very cold here for a few weeks, but today is unusually warm. It caught us unawares and we're kind of hot. Strange....Another week down in the Land of the Morning Calm. Two more until transfers. Elder Bocchino

Monday, January 26, 2009

More Photos

A few more photos...

Standing with Bro. Kim Jong Duk (we call him "Dre"):

At the church:

Somewhere in Busan...

The Gwangan Bridge:

U.N. Memorial Cemetery, Busan, S. Korea

Here are a few photos taken at the U.N. Memorial Cemetery in Busan, S. Korea in early December 2008 (see posts from Nov. 9, 2008 and Dec. 24, 2008). My grandfathers both served in the U.S. Army Signal Corps during the Korean War, and my father also trained in Korea as an officer in the USMC. The U. N. Memorial Cemetery has special significance to our family, and it was a very moving visit for me.

(L-R) Jung Sung Ook, Elder Hinton, an unidentified guard, and Elder Bocchino (me):

At the Memorial Cemetery:

(L-R) Me, Bro. Jung Sung Ook, Elder Hinton, and Bro. Kim Gee Yun (Bro. "David Kim" referred Bro. Jung to the missionaries, along with another recent convert. He is currently in Australia on an internship):

The Wall of Remembrance:

Monday, January 19, 2009

Mountains Are Temples

Mountains are temples. Last week for Zone Meeting, the Pusan Zone hiked up a small mountain and talked about how we can become more effective missionaries. It was very interesting.

This past week, we found a really sweet Buddhist family. The son is 12 and the daughter is 10. They are very nice and seem to have a lot of interest in what we have to say about families. The 12 year old loves to talk to us and he arranges the appointments (his is the only cell phone number we have right now!). When we asked his "favorite thing", he said "family." Nice kid.

We meet a lot of people on the street and my companion is able to get their telephone numbers, but it seems like no one wants to meet with us. We are working hard to share this gospel. Twice a week we meet with an 88 year old man we call "Dre". His name is Kim Jong Duk. Really nice man. He was baptized in 2007 and has been learning english from the missionaries since then. He is a very sweet man. I love him and enjoy meeting with him.

We're working hard and praying for success every day. I love you all and keep you in my prayers! Elder Bocchino

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Street Contacting in Gwangan

My companion Elder Choi ("Chway") and I are still rocking it here in Gwangan. I'm learning a lot from having a Korean companion. It is interesting. We're still meeting with the Buddhist family, and apparently we're changing some perceptions they've had about Christians. He might not be ready to receive the gospel, but I feel that we're doing good things with him and I'm glad we're meeting with him.

One thing we do a lot of here in Korea (especially in the Pusan mission) is work with less active members. We have names and info about members who were baptized years ago but haven't been out to church for a long time. We then go out and try to find their houses and make contact with them. It's like detective work, as we have a name and an address and have to go talk to neighbors and local authorities in order to figure out if they moved, how long ago, where to....etc etc. I find this work very fun and rewarding, but it can be extremely depressing as well. Most of the time, we will find out that the people have moved, and since no one in the church knows them (and they aren't home taught) they're pretty much lost. No one knows where they moved to, and the Church won't be able to find them ever again. It's easy to get depressed. There are maybe 85 people who come out to church in our ward here in Gwangan, but literally hundreds of less-active unknowns who get lost over the years. These people were baptized because they liked missionaries, wanted to learn english, or maybe because they truly accepted the gospel, but they quickly fell away and became forgotten. It's sad. What is most rewarding is when we can find less active members who want to meet with us and who want to come back to church! I wish and pray that we can find such people.

As for proselyting, my companion likes to do street contacting. I find that while Koreans are more interested in American elders because we're foreign, they're more willing to give their phone numbers to, and agree to meet with, Korean missionaries (probably because the Korean missionaries are better at explaining what we're all about! lol). I find that I'm learning a lot about the work by watching how my new companion does things.

Elder Choi has been sick for a few days, so I've been able to do a lot of reading. I've read a lot of the book, Jesus the Christ (by James E. Talmadge), and have learned a lot more about the Savior. Mostly, I've gained a greater desire to become a better teacher. The Savior was (and is) the greatest teacher ever known. He always went about doing good and used every moment to teach others. I've paid some attention to His specific instruction to the Apostles. Since a missionary's calling is an extension of sorts of the Twelves', and since the Twelve were being called to missions at the time, I hope to take some of that instruction and personalize it. I take great comfort in knowing that all the rejection and suffering we will face in the Lord's work is suffering for the Lord, and will be for our benefit. My testimony has been strengthened, and I hope to become a better missionary throughout my mission.

Happy New Year (the Korean one is in a few weeks)! Elder Bocchino

Monday, January 5, 2009

A WEEK IN YEONSAN (aka Siberia!)

Well, where to start? I just had an amazing week with my Zone Leader in his area (more later...) and now I have a Korean senior companion. Hopefully I will learn a lot. I'm still serving in the Gwangan area.

We hiked a little mountain (hill) at 6:00 am on New Year's day to see the sun rise. That's a big Korean tradition. It was soooo cold! It was interesting, but I probably will not continue that tradition when I come home lol. I like sleep and warmth...preferably a warm sleep.

This past week I was with my Zone Leader in Yeonsan. It was just the two of us in what I like to call Siberia! (freezing....) He has quite a few investigators and I was able to teach quite a bit. We met twice with a really really nice family that owns a soup restaurant. They're awesome! We taught them about how Christ's gospel became restored and about prophets and the Book of Mormon. We invited the father to pray with us before we left, and it was a very spiritual experience. The second time we visited, they had both been reading the Book of Mormon and wanted to know which specific part they could read to really feel the Spirit. I invited them to read in 3 Nephi 11 about when Jesus Christ visited the Americas. It could be one of the most important parts in the whole book. They said they were excited to read it. What a wonderfully sincere family. Their 13 yr old daughter is way cute and we teach her a little bit of English when we visit. They feed us this delicious soup with pork in it.....called day-jee-gook-bop. Awesome.

We taught another man about faith. He wants to be baptized but his wife is not allowing it right now (she's buddhist). Nice guy. He also likes to learn a lot of English.

Elder Anderson is no longer in my district. He moved to another zone, but he's still fairly nearby. Our zone has gone through a lot of changes this transfer...we'll see how it all works out. Love and thanks, Elder Bocchino