To my friends and family,
Another week in Korea! I wish I could send you more Korean words but typing is really hard for me, not to mention the spelling. I promise I am learning the language even though you can't tell through the emails. I also want to make it known that the Canton church ball team will beat the Avon church ball team this week and Nate Eberly will be held to 6 points.
Anyway, so this week I'll tell two stories to illustrate two similar points.
So first of all on Thursday night, my companion and I had an appointment with a former investigator (someone who has met with the missionaries before). Usually these people don't show up to the appointment, and if they do, it usually isn't a great lesson because they are distracted or just want to speak to us in English. So in planning we were trying to decide what to teach this person. My companion had a thought that we should extend a baptismal commitment to him. Of course both of us thought yea right, we have never met this guy, but we wrote it down because who knows. When we got there, it felt like a typical appointment. We went to a little coffee shop and shared our photo albums with him. We then started talking to him about religion and he started to slowly open up. He started to talk to us about what he learned from the missionaries before us. Then I felt prompted to ask him how he came to believe in Jesus Christ. He then went on to talk about North Korea and something about it being really difficult, most of which I didn't and probably won't ever understand. Anyway, then my companion asked, "최증훈, will you follow the example of Jesus Christ and be baptized by one holding proper authority?" He didn't say anything at first, then he said, "yes, I believe." We don't know who needs to hear the message we are here to share. We also don't know the thoughts or hearts of others. When we interact with people on a daily basis, we need to follow that example of Jesus Christ and love all men. We need to not judge. We need to forgive. We never know what good can come from listening to a prompting or from following Christ's commandments.
The next story I want to tell is from Saturday. We were on exchanges so I was with Elder Doyle (he has been in country for 11 weeks so I knew him in the MTC). Needless to say, we were not Korean experts. We also had a lesson to teach that day to an investigator named Ty. He goes to English class regularly and has at least a little bit of interest, but he doesn't want to join the church because he doesn't want to go to a different church than his family. Fortunately, we also had a member in the lesson with us until the end (more on that later). Our investigator responded to us in English, so that was at least good. But basically we are on our own to teach this lesson. Toward the end of the lesson after the member had already left, we got to talking about the Book of Mormon. He asked "so many religions have religious texts and so many religions claim to be inspired by God, why are you any different?" It reminded me of a quote in Preach my Gospel (our missionary handbook): "every man is eventually backed up to the wall of faith, and there he must take his stand". We could have him read the testimony of people who saw the book, we could have him read the book to listen to the truths and evidence of geographical facts and evidence that it contains. But that is not how God works. God doesn't work by sight alone.
So we made our stand in our toddler-level Korean. We said that the book and the principles contained in it would bless his family and bring him closer to God, and that if he prayed sincerely and listened to God's will for him and his family, he would know, not just believe, but know the truth of the work. After we finished, he said that he could feel our conviction and that he appreciated our service and that he would read the book. But what he and so many people don't understand is that it is not conviction, it is not eloquence, and it is certainly not the words that matter. It is the spirit of truth that teaches us all things and brings all things to our remembrance. If he prays after reading it and asks God with more than just words, but with his soul and with the intent of acting on the answer he receives, he will know that it is true. For those of you who doubt or for those of us who are going through difficulty and are backed against a wall, make your stand. Decide now to trust that God has a purpose for you and have the faith to listen to him and look for his will for you.
I love you all,