Monday, March 1, 2010

Transfer calls came and went. I'll be staying here in Bangojin, Ulsan. I'll be getting Elder Moore who came to Korea 6 weeks after me. We're both about the same "mission age" and know what's going on in terms of missionary work, so it should be fun!

The weather can't seem to make up its mind and is going from sunny and pleasant to gray and cold over and over. Spring is trying hard to arrive.

Our Ulsan District soccer tournament that was scheduled for last Monday and was expected to bring in dozens of members, less active members and investigators was canceled due to rain. No word yet on a possible rescheduling. :(

So there is this great family. Sister Ho is a member and so is her daughter (sur-ghee). Her husband (bro. Shin) and her son (min-gyu) are not members. Her husband is a high-up in Hyundai Heavy Industries and her son is a college student/soon-to-be conscript soldier who is the same age as me. The family has been meeting with missionaries weekly for years (ever since Sis. Ho's baptism) and the father knows everything there is to know about our church and our teachings. He cites pressure at business gatherings regarding drinking alcohol as a primary obstacle to his baptism. Korea has this problem: at any social/business gathering, there is tremendous pressure to drink alcohol. Korean college students drink more than I ever imagined. It becomes a huge obstacle to their understanding/acceptance of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

It usually goes something like this:

(I'm a weird foreigner trying to speak Korean)

I approach some Korean college students saying "hey, what's up? yeah, I'm a missionary.....I'm teaching people about Jesus Christ". (and try hard NOT to look like I'm flirting with the girls)

They give me funny looks and say they're not interested/just ignore me all together.........and go back to thinking about alcohol and Starcraft.........

....and then SOMETIMES they realize "hey! this guy is an English speaker!!!"......(others just continue to ignore).......

............and then they speak to me in English for practice.................

....and then we drop the "gospel" part and just invite them to our free English class.....

....and then they don't show up to that because they have an appointment at a bar.

This is a problem, but we try to get around it by being more "cool" or "hip" in order to have better conversations with young people. Sometimes it works out...but it's hard.

Even young people who are interested in our Gospel message feel intense pressure to disobey commandments and drink alcohol or smoke at any social function. It's sad.

Brother Shin (the HHI high up) isn't a student, but still has this problem. There is one bright spot: at least he has interest in the message that Christ taught! Often in Korea it goes something like this: The older people aren't interested and tell us to "go teach the younger people". The younger people are "busy with school" or just have interest in worldly things like alcohol and sex. So we lose both. Kinda like when the Christians tell us to "teach those crazy Buddhists".................and the Buddhists tell us to go and talk about our common beliefs with the Christians. Quite the paradox.

This family is great. We visit with them every week and are trying to help them all, member and non member alike, come closer to Christ. It's frustrating sometimes. If only this family could unite and live the restored Gospel together, they would be able to receive countless blessings....among them the opportunity to live together forever as a family. I know their home would be blessed with more peace and love. I think they know this, but then there are those pesky "obstacles".....which seem kind of silly when you contrast them with the blessings that the Lord has promised His followers (eternal family relationships, etc).

The Koreans are great. Those worldly students, stubborn elderly, Buddhists and Presbyterians. They're frustrating, but great. Heck, even the children of Israel witnessed God's power in saving them from the Egyptians and then wanted to worship a golden calf instead, right?? It's all about teaching them with patience and love....I think....

When I'm rejected a lot and wonder "why in the world are there missionaries in Korea???!!!", I think about the revelation given to Joseph Smith in 1830 found in The Doctrine and Covenants Section 29 Verse 7:

"And ye are called to bring to pass the gathering of mine elect; for mine elect hear my voice and harden not their hearts"

I'll keep looking for those who hear the words of the Savior and harden not their hearts.....those who hear "Restored Gospel" and perk up with interest. Those are the people with whom I want to talk in my remaining 4 months in Korea!

The Gospel is amazingly true.


Elder Bocchino

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