Sunday, September 27, 2009

Laying a proper foundation

It's been a week of hard work. We visited with a man who has known missionaries for the better part of two decades. He owns a small cell phone business in the downtown area. He is doing some heavy remodeling to one of his businesses and asked us for help. Whew! We laid cement and destroyed a wall for two days. Very was good to do some physical labor. I learned how to lay cement (the Korean way)....we'll see if it lasts. He also cooked us up some spicy soups in a tiny cluttered kitchen in the back of his shop. Interesting experience.

A lot of people who we've met once aren't too interested in meeting again, so we're struggling to find people to meet.

We had zone meeting last week, where we discussed being creative vs. robotic as missionaries, and then we just bashed on the old English program days.

Next week is Choosuk, the Korean Thanksgiving-style holiday where they remember/worship their dead ancestors. We have a full p-day this coming Friday, and that Saturday we might be going to Ulsan to meet up with other missionaries at the District President's house. Fun fun fun. We're hoping to watch some movies and go to the BIG Buddhist temple here in Gyeongju on the p-day Friday.

Had interviews with President yesterday since he was in Pohang. No transfer info (it's wayyyyyyy too early) but still interesting. Sister Jennings promised us that we'll get a Thanksgiving dinner next transfer, either in Taegu or in Pusan. (woohoo!)

The October Liahona is amazing! Especially the article about shepherds in Israel.

The Church is true, the work is great! Love, Elder Bocchino

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Prophets and Prayer

An interesting week. We got to do some yard work, which I've enjoyed more and more since becoming a missionary.

Well, a man and his wife moved here a few years ago from southwest Korea. His son converted to the Church, served a mission in Los Angeles, and is now attending BYU-Provo. The parents aren't members, but they had us and a foreign member of our branch (she's an English teacher) over to help with their big garden. The father is good at English and works at the Hyundai shipyard/headquarters in Ulsan (huge shipyards...biggest in the world apparently).

We dug a lot of peanuts...a lot...then shook the dirt off of them and then pulled them off of the roots. They need to be washed and dried, and then you can eat them. Interesting. They offered to give us some, then took us out for lunch and fed us a lot of soup (oyster?) and meat.

We started an English class specifically for high school/college students at our church now. Kind of sketchy, given our mission's history, but we did it mostly because we have a lot of students in our branch. It would be good if they could bring friends and spend time with the missionaries.

So we were walking down the street and a man selling shoes stopped us. He was reading a Bible and had some questions for us. He asked us why we were carrying the Book of Mormon around instead of the Bible. That led to a 30-minute conversation about our beliefs. We pulled out our Bible and assured him that we preach the WHOLE gospel of Christ. We talked about Prophets. We testified that God calls prophets to lead and teach His children, and that those prophets write records. (That's what the Bible and Book of Mormon are: records of ancient prophets).

He said "no, there is no other word of God outside of the Bible". I asked him if he thinks God loves us. He said yes. Then I said "well, because He loves us He has more things He wants to say to us than that which is in the Bible." We explained that Moses wrote five books of the Bible, but God had more to say...Isaiah has his record, but God had more to say...we have the Gospels, but God had more to say...we have the records of Paul and the Apostles...but God had and will always have MORE TO SAY...because He loves us. It is neither logical nor doctrinal to claim that God's words and teachings ceased with the writings that King James' scribes chose to include in the present day "Bible".

I asked him if he knew the English word "Bible" and what it means. I explained that it means divine library, then asked him what a library contains. Books. The Bible is a collection of books. It is a collection of the writings of prophets called of God. That's what the Book of Mormon is. There is no doctrinal foundation for a closed canon containing only the magical number of "66 books" contained in our present-day Bible. God loves us more than that. We should be hungry for any words He has for us.

Since he had a testimony of prayer and the Holy Ghost, we asked him to read a little of the Book of Mormon and pray about it. He accepted, and then said that since he can't really trust prayer all that much, he'd have to read the Bible too and he knows that the Bible will tell him that the Book of Mormon is wrong. We will meet with him again and review a few things.

I testify of God's love for us. I know that His words to Israel didn't cease with Moses, nor with the Apostle Paul. God's continuous work and glory is to help all of His children return to Him. In 1820 he called Joseph Smith, a young farm boy in upstate New York, as His prophet in these last days. He gave us the Book of Mormon, a collection of prophetic writings, and ushered in the Restoration of Christ's true church. In this same manner was Moses called, and in this same manner were the children of Israel led. I trust prayer (my personal communication with Heavenly Father) more than any other method of learning truth. All people can read the words of God's prophets, both in the Bible and Book of Mormon, pray about them, and receive their own answers. God loves His children now just as much as He did then, and is still willing to work miracles for their benefit. Those who doubt this should take another look at the Bible. :)

I love this work. The Church is true!

Love, Elder Bocchino

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Finding a Belief

A very fun week in Gyeongju. I'm tired. lol

We made quite a few hitchhiking trips out into the boonies looking for church members. Our journeys took us to government offices where the workers initially refused to help us. However, one man at the computer recognized one of the names on the paper we gave him and decided to help us. He then gave us names of workers at the other offices we were visiting who were his friends and who would help us. The rest of the day went very well. This week we were able to turn in between 15 and 20 names of church members who had moved and whose records we could send off to Seoul. Great week.

That same day, we hitchhiked through some beautiful mountains to a tiny town called San-nae-myeon. We visited the government office with no issues, then found ourselves wandering towards a beautiful waterfall coming out of the side of a mountain (the first I've seen in Korea, I think). A man wandered up to me and began explaining how the waterfall works (water is pumped up the mountain). I told him that it was beautiful, and boy did he like that! He grabbed my arm and took Elder Green and me to a shack/tent thing where people were sitting drinking alcohol. He sat us down, bought us a pineapple Fanta soda, and introduced us to a University President who was visiting his hometown of San-nae-myeon. Apparently, this man who was treating us to the Fanta was the "town mayor" of sorts in this little mountain village. The waterfall was his special government project, and he was very pleased that we liked it. Talk about having friends in high places eh? The MAYOR of San-nae-myeon...population 45...or something... We drank our soda and went on our way back to Gyeongju.

We hitchhiked down to another town earlier in the week and talked with a Catholic gentleman, who gave us a lift, about prophets and the need for a restoration of Christ's church after the death of the Apostles. Interesting discussion.

We were in the Post Office and began talking to a lady who said she wanted a belief. She sent her children to church because she wanted them to be good people, but she and her husband had no religion. We explained the Book of Mormon, the restoration of Christ's gospel, and the opportunity to know truth through study and prayer. She liked it but seemed a little dismissive of the "pray and you'll find truth" talk. I asked, "Why do you want a belief, anyways?" She stumbled over a few words and then laughed and said that I had asked a good question. I then testified of the Book of Mormon and told her getting a belief or knowing God's truth isn't easy. She would have to work for it. She reminded me of the Doctrine and Covenants scripture of those who are kept from the truth because they know not where to find it. I look forward to meeting her again.

A church member told us to visit his non-Mormon father in his shop by the downtown area of the city. We did. The father is very nice and is good at speaking English. We talked a lot about religion and he taught us about Shamanism. (Korean traditional before Buddhism). Nice man.

Well, knowing truth isn't easy! As we study, ponder and pray, we can be touched by God's spirit, our minds can be opened and our hearts touched, and we can receive heavenly instruction. A boy named Joseph Smith did this in 1820, leading to the restoration of Christ's full gospel in these days. Millions of people are doing this around the world today and are taking part in the "marvelous work and a wonder" which prophets have prophesied about. The heavens are NOT closed, God is our Father, revelation is real.

The Church is true.

Love you! Elder Bocchino

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Angahng and Shilla Millennial Park

Gyeongju is a lot like Sacheon. On Friday, after eating lunch with our English Class members, we took a grand hitchhiking trip north to a town called Angahng. We managed to meet some nice workers at the local government office who agreed to check on their information systems and confirm that our less active members had moved. (We confirmed that 5 church members no longer live in the area). Then we hitchhiked back down to Gyeongju through the backroads. Always a treat.

Earlier in the week, we went up to Pohang for District meeting, and then we went and knocked doors with the Pohang elders. It's been a LONG time since I did four man tracting. Very fun. We're pretty sure Elder Lee (Pohang junior) will be transferred to Pusan, so today we're going to Shilla Millennial park in his honor. (People walk around dressed like ancient Shilla warriors...)

I guess my CRAZY MTC teacher is coming to Korea with his wife next month. Hopefully my dongee will be able to meet with him. I'm pretty nervous though, my Korean is still horrible. lol

We had some cancellations this week, plus a lot of time spent in Pohang.

Fun times. The Church is true! Love, Elder Bocchino