Sunday, November 22, 2009

Root Answers to Leaf Questions

This week we met with a Russian lady named Nadia and had lunch together. She's pretty nice and brought her young daughter to our Branch's Halloween Party a few weeks ago. We talked about her upbringing in Russia and her parents' religious views. She believes in God but doesn't go to church. We invited her to church and hopefully she'll be able to come in the following weeks. Our members really liked her and her daughter.

A taxi driver commented to us about President Obama bowing to the Japanese Emperor. He said "Hey! Obama visited Japan! He bowed WAYYY TOO LOW to the Japanese Emperor!" I asked, is that bad? He said "Yeah, that's weird! When you're president of the United States, you don't do that! That's way weird! America's the best country in the world - why would you bow to the Japanese emperor????" Apparently the Koreans didn't like it.....bad move. President Obama then came to Korea, ate Korean barbecued meat and posed in the TaeKwanDo stance for pics.

On Thursday we had our district meeting sitting on the grass among the tombs/hills here in Gyeongju. Interesting.

On Friday, our English Class took us out to eat and we celebrated my comp's birthday. Then we went down to Ulsan for interviews with President Jennings. No news on if I'll be transferred or not.

On Saturday, we went back to Ulsan for the first few sessions of the District Conference. President Jennings presided over the Saturday Priesthood and Adult sessions. GREAT meetings - the spirit was really strong. President Jennings spoke about "not answering a leaf question with a leaf answer", but instead answer with a "root" answer. For example, when a daughter asks if she can wear a skirt that reaches down to the top of the knee rather than the bottom (or some other nit picky question about standards) we can respond by having a good discussion of what modesty is all about and why we try to be modest. In other words, focus on the spirit of the law to avoid getting hung up on the nitty gritty details, missing the whole point of the law, and lowering our standards. Good stuff. We (the Ulsan missionaries) gave a musical number at the Adult Session (Come Thou Fount in Korean) and Elders Mann and Harris gave talks about member missionary work. Great stuff.

On Sunday, we watched a special satellite broadcast from Salt Lake City to all Korean Stakes and Districts. President Uchtdorf presided and Elders Holland, Evans and Ochoa (sp?) gave talks. One of the themes was "Gather to Zion", also translated as "if you're Korean, you should live in Korea to build up the Church and not immigrate". Pretty strong language was used, we'll see how it's received. Actually it plays well to certain nationalistic views held by many here. They also railed Koreans for not sending out enough missionaries (there are 114 Korean missionaries out in the field worldwide right now). They said "every Korean should serve a mission". Also, Elder Holland said, "I know what the challenges are. I KNOW that you face challenges with education systems, military service and other things. I KNOW. But other people in other countries have the same challenges, and they still manage to go on missions." Pretty strong language. We'll see. Also, an interesting thing on numbers. The Church claims to have 80,000 members in Korea. That's the number we should have according to baptism records. However, we aren't even sure we have 38,000 who we know where they live. Half the number of "members" actually have confirmed or semi-confirmed addresses, and that number is always decreasing as we look for less actives. Take that number down to active guess: less than 20,000. Take that down to number of temple recommend holders, and you have the answer to why Pusan isn't getting a temple any time soon, why the Brethren are urging Koreans to stay in Korea, and why it is so hard to be a member in Korea. It's hard. It's a small church here. :)

A girl who cuts our hair (and who has a cool Filipino boyfriend) is opening her new shop along a road we often travel. We're hoping to meet the boyfriend later this week and visit with both of them more often. Fun people...we gave her the American name "Jenny".

Well, the size of the Church doesn't affect the truthfulness of it. During the Sunday broadcast, Elder Holland bore strong testimony of living prophets and continuing revelation. He made the point that a Church with living prophets, if full of members who don't follow those prophets, is no better than a Church without prophets. True. This Church follows the organization God has used throughout the history of this world and has the Holy Priesthood to act in God's name. The restored Church of Jesus Christ, "built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone" (Ephesians 2:20). Elder Holland also talked about receiving our own personal witness of truth through prayer. He said "we should always pray, about everything." Straightforward advice. We need to pray to receive a witness that these men truly are called of God as were the prophets of old, and then act on the answer received.

Whew, that's what we tell people everyday on the streets and in the apartments! The work rolls on! The Church is true! Elder Bocchino

No comments: