Wednesday, February 24, 2010

It's been a hotter week here in Korea. Looks like Spring has come a little early. Bad news, because that means the mosquitoes aren't far behind.

The Bangojin Branch is doing great! Sister Lee is still solid, and the Ulsan District held District Conference last Sunday. We were able to hear from District leaders and President Jennings (our Mission President). The Korean church members are always impressed whenever President Jennings speaks, because he is so accomplished at speaking Korean. The Korean people really appreciate that. I heard that approximately 225 people attended the conference, which was a great turnout! We hope to become a stake within the next few years.

Other big news: There will now be only three Missions in Korea instead of four. The Seoul West and Seoul missions will combine to form the Seoul Mission (effective July 2010) under the leadership of the current Seoul Mission President. Also, the (former) Seoul West Mission will move one stake into the Taejon Mission next month. The Busan Mission was slated to get the big southwestern city of Gwangju, but our President rejected it, citing cultural differences that would prove problematic. I was a little sad when I heard that, as I really really want to go to Gwangju someday. The people there are really nice.

Needless to say, some Korean church members are a little worried about this and questioning the progress of the church here in Korea.

While this is a slow time in Bangojin, we're having a good time and working to try to find people who want to learn more about Jesus Christ. We're getting more and more interest in our English classes, and are anticipating meeting some new people in the coming week or two. Should be exciting!

Even though it's hard, I'm thankful that I can serve people and testify of the Savior every day. That's enough for me! The gospel is true! Love, Elder Bocchino

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Happy Lunar New Year!!!

We may not have had a white Christmas here, but we had a white Lunar New Year! It was awesome! Just a trace of snow but it makes the hills look beautiful! They say it almost never snows in Ulsan.... Well, the Lunar New Year ("Chinese" New year) was fun! We had 31 people at church on Sunday (big day, considering it was lunar new year). Sister Kim (the one who went to the temple for the first time) is headed back to the states. Sister Lee is doing well.

On Monday, we went back to my old stomping grounds of Gyeongju to play games and watched "Up". Great movie! On Tuesday, we ate the traditional new years meal of Duk Gook at a member's house and were able to see Korea win the gold in the Olympics speed skating. It was great! Koreans are still way happy about it! :)

We're hoping to meet a newcomer to English class either tomorrow or Saturday, we'll see. Maybe he'll want to learn about the Gospel! That's what we're hoping.

Lunar New Year was great, but it also meant that very little happened in the way of missionary work, as everyone left Ulsan to go to their hometowns. On the New Year holiday, they gather to the husband's oldest brother's house and play card games, a traditional stick game, and eat food. It's great! I love you guys! The Gospel is true!! Love, Elder Bocchino

Thursday, February 4, 2010

It's been an interesting week, with unseasonably warm weather. I'm not complaining, just worried about how hot it's going to get in the spring/summer!!!

Last Saturday we had a pretty full English class!!! We've been focusing on getting new people to our English class in the church so we can introduce them to the gospel of Jesus Christ. It's been successful, as we're getting new people at every class! After class, we went to spend time with some members, and visited Sister Lee in the mart where she works. It was a good night spent with people we serve and have come to love. Good feelings all around!

On Sunday, both Elder Murray and I were asked to give 5 minute talks/testimonies to fill up time at the church meeting. I spoke about missionary work (of course). When we (as missionaries) go out and talk to people of other faiths, the subject of prophets usually comes up. We make the bold claim that a prophet (such as Moses of old) lives on the earth today and directs us according to the word of God. Though this claim is bold, it is not weird or un-Christian. If we read the scriptures (Old Testament, New testament, and Book of Mormon) we see many examples of God calling prophets to lead His children. It is a pattern established out of love. It is also a truth that has unfortunately been lost to many Christians today, who seem to forget the prophetic calling of Peter, James and John, as well as the rest of the original Twelve.

I know that there is a prophet of God on the earth today. I take comfort in knowing that this is an expression of God's love, and that if I follow the prophet's words, I will be blessed in knowing which paths to walk in these confusing times (just like Israel of old!).

On Wednesday night, we spent time with Sister Kim, who will be returning to America in a few weeks where she lives with her Korean-American husband. While we were spending time with her, her older brother began asking questions about our church. Sister Kim is staying with her mother and brother, who are not members of our church. Her father also passed away a few months ago. We were able to explain a little about our church and give him a Book of Mormon to read, all while National Treasure 2 was playing on the television! lol While we were helping with dishes in the kitchen, I peeked around the corner and saw him reading the introduction at the beginning of the Book of Mormon. Before we left, we showed them a new short video produced buy the headquarters in Seoul that tells people a little about our church and how it came to Korea. It was a pretty great experience. Sister Kim was able to bear her testimony of the things we said (she has been a member for only two years). She was so happy that we were able to talk to her brother about the church, and she wants us to work with him. She wants very much for her mother and brother to start coming out to church before she leaves to go back to America. We will try very hard to help her out with that!

Last week, we had Zone Conference. It was interesting. We set a mission goal of 200 baptisms for this year (2010). The Busan Mission baptized 108 people in 2009, so it will be a challenge. More important than numbers, however, are the people those numbers represent. We'll work on serving PEOPLE who will accept this gospel and agree to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.

It's been a good week! I look forward to the week ahead! The gospel is true! Love, Elder Bocchino

PS: Yep, it was my birthday last week. I don't feel like it, but I'm 21 years old now! (22 in Korean age) We had a District get-together and I got a few presents. The missionaries are really nice like that! Sister Park had her birthday on Feb 4, so we all hung out together as a zone and played games. It was fun!!!

Love you guys! Elder Bocchino