Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Transitioning Pdays

Well, we got a sudden Pday today for a little's to help us transition to the new system of having Pdays on Thursdays rather than Mondays. Next week, we'll have our full pday on Thursday the 7th. This also means that I might be getting home to America on July 10th or 11th rather than the 7th......

I went on splits with the Zone Leaders. It was pretty fun. We had a great district meeting where we talked about the Gift of the Holy Ghost as well as Charity and Love. Good stuff.

Love you guys!!!! Elder Bocchino

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Happy New Year - Twice!

Merry Christmas!!! Happy New Year!!! You know, the Koreans celebrate two New Year holidays. They celebrate the "new sun" holiday that everybody in America celebrates: Jan. 1. They also celebrate the Solar New Year holiday in mid January. It should be fun, to do it over again.

This time last year I was in Pusan at the end of my second transfer in country. My trainer was boarding a flight to go year ago I was still in Korea.....

I talked to my family! Yay! It was great! Definitely gives a boost! Makes me trunkier than ever, but that's ok!

Last week on Monday we had a zone pday where we exchanged white elephant gifts and watched Prince of Egypt. On Wednesday we went to Pusan for a Mission Christmas Conference where we had a great meeting, ate Costco pizza, watched "Scrooge" and got a free Christmas tie from the Mission Office. We also saw our new Mission Office couple (Elder and Sister Bagley).

On Thursday (Christmas Eve) we went to two kindergartens run by church members and played Santa Clause for the kids. A lot of kids were scared and cried...kind of a traumatic experience for them I guess. lol Then I called my family! That night we had a Branch Christmas Party. We joined the sister missionaries in a skit that went well, and I got to play Santa again (!)...interesting experience. Fun times. On Christmas we went to downtown Ulsan and caroled with the other missionaries in front of Lotte and Hyundai Department stores. Pretty fun. Then one of Bangojin's Church Members showed up and took us all out for a Christmas Dinner. We had a type of rib soup. Very very tasty.

Sister Lee (who was baptized a few weeks ago) was confirmed a member of the Church in sacrament meeting on Sunday. Also, the sister missionaries' investigator (Sister Ooh) was baptized. Some other Ulsan missionaries also had a few baptisms last week. I've never seen this kind of activity in my mission so far...good times! Sister Ooh has two daughters and their families in the Bangojin Branch. Her husband passed away earlier this year. She spoke of wanting to be with him again after death as motivation for her baptism. Wonderful woman...she's made a lot of progress since earlier this year.

We taught Gospel Principles class since our Branch Mission leader is back in America for a month. We talked about prophets and read about President Thomas S. Monson, God's prophet on the earth today.

Well, it's hard to find things to say after talking so much to my family via telephone, so I'll just say Happy New Year! The Gospel is true!!! Love, Elder Bocchino

Sunday, December 20, 2009



A cold, windy week in Ulsan.....

We had a great lesson with Sis. Lee (who got baptized last week). She's great! She is so committed to living the gospel. She said that God has answered her prayers and given her confirmation that she's doing the right thing. Amazing.

We had received some phone numbers of Hyundai workers who had gone over to BYU for a few months to study in the business program. While there, they expressed some interest in the church, so we called them and will hopefully be able to meet some of them in the coming weeks. Nice people...they had a great impression of the USA and of the Church in Utah.

We finished putting together a book organizing all of the Branch's church members according to where they live....we'll start visiting them soon...trying to find less active members.

The other day, we went down to a member's Chinese restaurant with the sister missionaries (who we ran into while trying to visit the same people) and had a free meal. It was great! Bro. Lee is such a great cook!!!

Random thought: I can look out onto the ocean here...and I see huge container and fuel's great. Hyundai is a HUGE company.

Last night, we went to find a less active member near our house. He's only a few years older than us. While we were walking in the dark, I went into a shop to ask for directions. Turns out that I was standing in the right address and talking to our member. He was nice. We introduced ourselves and gave him our number. We hope to be able to visit him again and help him. After that, we went searching for another apartment and found a different less active's mom (she wasn't helpful) and left discouraged. Then we went and were able to visit with a more recent member (she was a Korean runway model a few years ago I think..) and were able to talk about the significance of the Christmas holiday. Her questions centered around 1) which Old Testament prophecies related to Christ?; and 2) which fulfilled prophecies made people at the time of Christ willing to accept him as the Messiah?

We're planning on studying and getting back to her.

A few more days until Christmas!!! Around this time I think about America, family, Christmas trees/lights/etc, presents, friends, hot chocolate...basically I get homesick...then I remember that the point of this holiday season is the celebration of the birth of the Savior of the World. How thankful I am for the best present of all!!! Over 2000 years ago, the King of Kings was born, lived a perfect life and suffered for my sins. He died and was then resurrected and lives today! He continues to reach out to us and leads this Church. What a happy message! Christ lives!! Merry Christmas!!!!!

Love, Elder Bocchino

PS: This time next year, I will be home for Christmas! :)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Some (Inconvenient) Truths About Santa Claus

A few little-known truths about Santa Claus.....

Often described as a "man on a worldwide mission", Santa is frequently spotted incognito near evergreen trees with his "helpers."

Even Santa can't pass up a bargain in today's economy - this Hershey's candy bar costs only $60.00!!!!!

One of Santa's best-kept secrets: BLACK THERMALS!!!! HO HO HO!!!

Merry Christmas to all!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Sister Lee's Baptism

From Elder Bocchino:

Whew! What a first week in Bangojin. It's a small peninsula on the east coast of South Korea and is part of the city of Ulsan. It is dominated by Hyundai ship and car factories and most of the people on the streets wear the gray uniforms of Hyundai workers. Lots of cranes and smokestacks!

I've been able to meet a few members throughout the week - very nice people. We also had several English classes. Attendance isn't as large as the classes in Gyeongju, but we'll work on that.

On Sunday, we had a baptism! The sister (Sister Lee) met missionaries about 8 weeks ago. She works at a convenience store near the church. She was able to hear their teachings, cut down her coffee consumption, and accepted the baptism challenge. For some reason, she requested that I baptize her. I've not participated in a baptism here yet, or performed the ordinance. It went well. We talked about how baptism is the beginning of a journey rather than the end. Sister Lee is committed to living the gospel throughout all of her life. I'm excited for her.

The Branch is big here. It used to be a Ward when it was part of the Pusan Stake. 65 people came to church yesterday. (In Gyeongju, we were really lucky to get 30). The members seem really nice. Last night, we went with the sister missionaries to the Branch President's house for dinner. It was delicious and the Branch President is really nice! Very fun...

We're preparing for Christmas and our Branch Christmas party. Apparently I'm going to be Santa Claus (the members have been reminding me of that all week long. They're excited!). Also, I'll be going to a member's private kindergarten to be Santa for a little bit on Christmas Eve. :)

We'll also be having a Christmas Mission Conference in Pusan on December 23! I'm pretty excited!

It's been quite a week. Sis. Lee's baptism helped me think a lot about the Gospel of Jesus Christ and what our priorities in life should be. We need to have faith in Christ (which Sis. Lee has), we need to repent for the things we've done wrong (which she's done), we need to be baptized in Christ's name by someone holding the proper authority (we did that the other day), we can then receive the Holy Ghost and have it as our constant companion (we'll do that in two someone with authority), and then we need to endure to the end by living a righteous life according to God's commandments. What a beautifully simple Gospel! What a true Gospel!

Gotta go! Love, Elder Bocchino

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Gyeongju to Bangojin

I'm transferring out of Gyeongju after 18 weeks here. I love Gyeongju and was expecting to stay, but I'm hoping that this transfer will be fun too. I'm heading to the big city of Ulsan to an industrial area called Bahng-oh-jeen (actually fairly close to Gyeongju). I'll be District Leader and co-senior with Elder Murray. He came to Korea 12 weeks behind me.

Last week we gave Nadia (the Russian lady) a Russian copy of the Book of Mormon. One nice lady from English class took us out to eat the Japanese soup Shabu Shabu (basically meat and veggies flash boiled). Delicious.

We walked way down into the rice field/outskirts south of Gyeongju last week looking for a less active member. We asked a really nice man on the street where we could find a real estate office to look at a map, and he just went into his own business and printed us off a simple map from the computer. Nice guy #1. Then we went to the address and asked a man working in a small garden nearby if he knew the person we were looking for. He knew the family and took us to the house where we talked with the (very old) parents of the church member, and the man persuaded them to give us the son's number. Then we talked to that man for a while after. He was so shocked that we traveled all the way out there to find one member who hadn't come to church in like 15 years. He was an angel. Very nice and had lived in that same spot for over 60 years, born and raised. Nice man. Out of the whole experience we gained a simple map from one man and a phone number from another, but I felt the Spirit and the kindness of those people. Good times.

Mr. Jung (I'm so sad to leave him) continues to testify that our church is a good Christian church to people he meets. It makes me feel good to hear that. He's not going to get baptized any time soon, but it makes me feel good to see that someone's perspective of our church has changed. He's been a good friend to me and will continue to be great to the missionaries. I'm going to miss playing cards with him.

Nadia came to church with her daughter and a Filipino woman. I hope they continue to come and get closer with the Church members.

On Sunday, I had a hard time giving my farewell talk in Church. Church members see missionaries come and go all the time, but I only get to have one Gyeongju, and only get to see those people so often. They didn't know I was transferring, so when I got up and said that I was being transferred, people were surprised. The Branch President might have been mad that I didn't tell him right away haha. I shared Ephesians 2:19 and talked about how the love that I felt in Gyeongju helped me feel less like a foreigner and more like a Gyeongju person/branch member. I love Gyeongju and I love those people. I felt their love so abundantly and I'm thankful for that.

After Church we went to the traditional house of an English class member (her husband has a huge black beard!). We just chatted for a while. She's really nice. I didn't know but she's a member of the Unification Church, led by Reverend Moon from Korea. Nice lady.

Sunday night we had our usual dinner appointment with Hye Jung, the recent convert high school girl and her brother and mother. We ate delicious food, promised to keep in touch, and then we had to go. It was freezing cold outside, but I felt warm from the love of that family. I'm going to miss them. They've been like a second family to the missionaries in Gyeongju for so long.

So I'm headed to Bangojin. The Gospel is true! Missionary work is amazing!!!

I love you guys! It's almost Christmas! Happy Holidays!!! love, Elder Bocchino