Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Need For A Restoration

Elder Green is being moved down to Pusan. I'll be with Elder Routsen next transfer....should be interesting.

Last P-day, we went to Bulguksa (the huge Buddhist temple here in Gyeongju) and took some pictures. Pretty fun. The leaves here are changing colors - quite beautiful. We saw some monks praying in the sanctuaries and got to go inside and look at some statues of Buddha.

We finally had our lunch appointment with our friends who work at the post office. They're in their 30s (a guy and a girl) and they're getting married to each other in a few months. It's weird, we're friends with almost everyone in the post office! :) It's pretty fun.

We went on a picnic with our English class on Friday. Pretty fun. We'll be having a Branch Halloween party this coming Saturday. I hope we see a lot of English class people and other non-members there. We're planning on carving pumpkins...ON Halloween...a little late but

This past weekend we went outside of the city to visit the parents of a member who is at BYU right now (he served a mission in California). We harvested peanuts with them last month (they're not members). We ate lunch with them and talked about the Gospel. Their son is encouraging them to read the Book of Mormon and learn about the Gospel. The mom was particularly interested in learning more about repentance. She said they talk about it in her church (they attend the Presbyterian Church right now) but she feels that there's a deeper meaning to it and that our church focuses on repentance a lot (Correct!). We talked a lot about it. I mentioned that it's been said that "repentance" is the most joyous word in all of Christianity. We reassured her that everyone has to repent, at all times, even Elder Green and I. It doesn't end with baptism. She is a great lady. The father is also very nice. He said that they need to learn more about our church, and he also feels that we all believe the same God and Jesus, and that God will tell him if He wants them to go to our church (this was actually a very spiritual discussion, not contentious at all). We testified that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is a gospel of action, and that we must ask God what is right, not wait for Him to tell us out of the blue. Great people, very edifying experience!

Last night, we were hanging out with Mr. Jung and the Pohang elders when Mr. Jung's friend came. He and I started talking in a quiet corner and he told me of some of the adventures he's been on. Apparently he likes to sketch, and he went with a group of sketchers to the Middle East, checking out and sketching ancient Christian sites. I asked him if he attends church, and his response was "I believe in God of course! Churches are merely places to meet together and worship him." I asked him, "Jesus Christ established a Church when He was on the Earth. If that same church were on the Earth again today, what would you think?" His response was, "Well, of course that would be great!"

"Hmmm...this guy's cool" I thought.... :)

I started briefly explaining to him that the Church of Jesus Christ had become corrupted after the death of the Apostles, and many other churches had sprung up in its wake. He agreed or at least seemed to really understand what I was saying. I told him that a "restoration" was necessary and that almost 200 years ago, that Restoration happened. We talked about the different Christian denominations that exist in the world. He seemed to feel that it was all the same church because we all believe in Jesus Christ (good point, we are united in that belief but divided in many other important doctrines...Paul talked about a "unity of the faith".) He maintained that "churches" are merely places of worship, and that Christianity's doctrine is the same around the world.

So, I called him out on that, "Wait, the doctrine is different isn't it?"

"Yeah, okay you're right! of course it's different! it's not the same church," he said....

He started talking to me about the "cult churches" or "strange churches" in Korea and started naming them (Koreans consider Seventh-day Adventist to be one of these). I told him how many Koreans call our Church a "cult" and other hurtful names. He asked me what the reason for that was - "Didn't you just say you were the Church of Jesus Christ? Why do they call you a cult?" he asked.

I told him that a lot of Koreans initially balk at the ideas of modern prophets and the Book of Mormon. That launched us into a discussion of the Book (which he had heard about but never read) and I showed him Mr. Jung's copy. He read the introduction and I explained that it was written by ancient prophets in the Americas. He explained that many Koreans would have trouble accepting anything outside of the Bible as scripture.

After a little bit of quiet pondering, he told me that he thinks that people need to take the Book of Mormon, read it, ponder it, and then after all that they can decide if it's true or not. He said it's wrong to reject it right away. I couldn't have said it better myself!!!!!!!! I testified to him that as we do those things and pray to God, everyone can know of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. I can tell people it's true, but everyone needs to find out for themselves. That's our invitation as missionaries, and that's the Savior's invitation to all of us - to come and know Him. The man left shortly after that, but thanked me for showing him the Book of Mormon and talking with him. I hope to meet with him again!!!!

Very spiritual and testimony-building couple of days for, the Church is true!!!!

Love, Elder Bocchino

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The field!

Elder Bocchino in the field (Gyungju):

Joshua's companion, Elder Green (from Kaysville, UT):

Laboring in Gyungju

(R to L) Elder Bocchino, Mr. Jung, Elder Green, and two other missionaries at Mr. Jung's shop downtown (Gyungju). The missionaries have been helping Mr. Jung do some remodeling at his shop.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

General Conference

My companion received a "Dear John" email. Sad story.

Last week, I renewed my foreigner card in Taegu with my buddies Heaton and Singleton. The next day, we had Zone Conference in Taegu with Gyungbuk and Shilla zones (our zone and the Taegu zone). Interesting topics, and during half of it I met and talked with my MTC teacher and his wife (along with Elders Heaton and Singleton). Very fun. It was so weird to see my MTC teacher in Korea, a place we'd talked and joked about in the MTC. We talked about discouragement we sometimes feel trying to preach the gospel, and also about developing faith to find and teach people the message of the Restoration. Interesting. We were also able to be debriefed on our MTC experience and give some feedback on MTC teaching and its application in the field.

This past weekend we went to Ulsan and watched General Conference with the Ulsan District and with all of the Ulsan missionaries (in English - yay!).

Some very powerful sermons and very spiritual insights in Conference! I learned a lot and was edified by the experience. When my companion and I have been explaining to people where we were going this past weekend, we told them that General Conference is a place where we can hear God's prophet and Apostles speak to us and give us messages for our day. That's true, and I know I received inspiration and guidance at Conference. Great experience.

The weather is cooling down as we move deeper into Autumn. Good news!

oh yeah, and today might be Columbus Day, so HAPPY COLUMBUS DAY!!!!!!!!!

Love, Elder Bocchino

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Crazy week! We celebrated the Korean "Thanksgiving Day" (Choosuk) by going to Ulsan with a bunch of missionaries and playing lots of football. We also watched Chronicles of Narnia and Wall-E. Very fun!

The next day, our entire Zone went to a meal appointment with the Ulsan District President. We ate delicious food and he explained some of the traditions associated with this very special Korean holiday (such as how the food is placed on the table, how Koreans perform the rituals to respect their ancestors, etc). On Choosuk, all Koreans go to visit their parents' houses (usually they go to the husband's family). Whole cities become empty for a few days as everyone goes back to the country towns they came Gyeongju! :) We had 32 people attend church on Sunday due to people visiting from other cities. Very interesting. Choosuk is a time to remember and honor your ancestors. It's hard to do much proselyting on Choosuk and if you bother people in their homes it presents a very bad image for the Church. Therefore, we had the full p-day and meal appointments and things like that.

We've continued to help Mr. Jung lay cement and fix up his shop in the downtown area. Pretty fun. He promised to come to church next week.

Last night we met with a brother in our Branch and his father at their house and ate dinner together. The father believes in Shamanism and explained to us the significance of the numbers 3 and 12 in Shamanistic theology and Asian history. Very interesting. "Shamanism" refers to the traditional Korean religion before the arrival of Buddhism. Shamanism is actually a part of Korean Buddhism now.

This week is General Conference! We'll be going back to Ulsan this weekend to watch it and stay the night. Should be fun.

The Church is true! Missionary work is hard but worth it!

Love, Elder Bocchino