Sunday, June 29, 2014

It's Monsoon Season

It's been raining SO hard for the past three days. And everyone keeps telling us that it's not going to stop raining until the end of July. So... we'll be soaking wet missionaries until the end of the transfer! (Good thing I bought rainboots!!) Seriously though, the roads have become rivers and we've been making friends like crazy just because we're forced to hide in little places where the storm can't reach us. It's been such an adventure. I love thunder storms. And it's been a non-ending thunderstorm for the past couple of days. 

Korea is soooo into the World Cup. It's been so much fun to be surrounded by so many people who love soccer as much as I do! In Korea the idea of a soccer-playing-female is completely abnormal so I get a lot of weird stares when I tell people that I played soccer in America. It's a lot of fun. But it was way funny because when Korea played in the world cup, we knew exactly when Korea scored because the entire country of Korea ended up cheering in synchronization. We were in the middle of personal study and all of a sudden it sounded like world war III outside of our apartment. Literally, in every direction we could hear people screaming and in hysterics. It wasn't until the Elders texted us three minutes later that we realized it was because Korea had just scored a goal. It's been pretty fun! People over here are crazy about soccer. 

Um. I decided to attatch a picture of the cute little apartment building we live in. It looks like it's a barbie doll house-- it's pink and blue and adorable. We live across the street from an elementary school and so we can always hear children. Always. It's pretty fun. My favorite is when the little baseball team is out practicing-- it reminds me of Dad and the boys! 

I'm happy and doing well and I am so grateful for the love and support that I feel from all of you every single day. It really does help me get through some of the tough moments in my days. I really am doing so well. Sister Giles and I laugh about everything and anything these days.. half the time we don't even know why we're laughing. But it's fun and we're not complaining that we're happy. 

Tell me about some miracles you saw this week!
I love you all and I hope you don't go a single day not knowing that.


Sister CaLea Bagley 

Willing to Commit.

Okay, first things first: I did not intentionally place the fact that I got hit by a minivan and that I had to go to the hospital this week right next to each other. Both events were entirely unrelated and I realized that the situation must have sounded must more dramatic than was intended... my sincerest apologies. I had to go to the doctor for a minor problem... and yes, I did get hit by a minivan. But it was not moving very fast at all and I did not get injured from that occurrence. Again, sowwy. My bad?

In other news... I'm starting this week off with something I wrote in my little blue book full of words: "Things feel a little unaligned; as if the pieces of my soul don't all fit together just like they should. And they just grind and grind, trying to make room, trying to find a place. It's not entirely unbearable... but then again, it's not all together desirable either. I'm under construction... and all I have control over, for the time being, is whether or not I'll decide to smile. But as far as I know, there's no real use in frowning."

I think one of the toughest things about being a missionary is feeling like all your problems and weaknesses are on display for the whole world to see. I mean, obviously everyone has their own problems and weaknesses-- it's part of being human-- but I've never before felt so vulnerable to my own imperfections. And yet-- I've never before been so happy. It's the strangest thing.

I was reading the book "Daughters in My Kingdom" and I was so touched by all the incredible accounts of strong, faithful, loving, courageous women who helped build up the church in these latter-days. Each story told of incredible women who gave up so much in order to build up God's kingdom on the earth; I want to be just like them. But sometimes it's so easy to feel selfish and mediocre in your own weaknesses. I read the accounts of these women and all I could keep thinking to myself is, "How can I be more like them?" The Lord expects so much of me and sometimes I feel as if I'm not living up to my full potential.

I spent a lot of time on my knees this week looking for answers on how I can be and do better. And the more I thought about it, the more I realized that our weaknesses cannot define who we are unless we allow them to. We can conquer any weakness or trial that is placed in our path of life as long as we look to the Lord and rely on Him for strength. Sometimes it's scary to stand at a stopping point and not know in which direction you should walk to get to where you want to be. I've been stuck in the same little spot for a long time just waiting to receive a push in the right direction...

But I learned that sometimes the trick is just trusting enough to make that first step, in faith, on your own. 

I was studying commitments in Preach My Gospel this week in preparation for some of the lessons we had scheduled. We've been meeting with a few really awesome people who have so much potential but who have been limited in their improvement because we've been timid on giving them good, specific commitments. (Everyone is so busy that we sometimes feel like it's necessary to re-build our relationship every time we meet because there's so much time between each individual appointment.) But I am reminded again and again that the only way to help people come closer to the Savior is by actively inviting them to do so. And promising specific blessings is a way of helping them exercise their faith as they actively seek to follow these commitments. 

As I spent some time prayerfully preparing commitments (and seeking out which blessings to promise) for these people, I was struck by a powerful impression: "You've been looking for answers on how you can improve. Why are you waiting? I know what you are capable of doing and you know that you can do anything as long as you rely upon me. What blessings do you desire and what are you willing to do in order to receive them?"

I was waiting for an answer and the answer I received was that the Lord was trusting me to come up with my own solution. He wanted me to prayerfully come up with specific commitments and goals for myself so that He can bless me in the ways I need to be blessed. And so, that's exactly what I did. 

And as soon as I made those commitments to the Lord, I immediately started seeing miracles. This week we set a MIRACLE baptism date with one of our investigators. It literally got to the point in which we all got down in the middle of our lesson to pray to see if the date in which we were trying to set with her would please the Lord. She offered the prayer and when it ended, we were all in tears.

These people are on their journey back home to our Heavenly Father-- we're just here along for the ride and showing them where they can find their answers. It's such an incredible opportunity.

I love you all!
Hope you know that.


Sister CaLea Bagley

Hot Summer Days = No Make Up and Lots of Ice Cream.

It's been another awesome week in Korea; holla at me brothas and sistas. I suppose I'll share a couple of "fun facts" and some of the events that occurred this week in list format:

1. I got hit my a minivan. Straight up hit by a car. Do not fear, all is well! It was just a peculiar set of circumstances that resulted in a peculiar series of events. My companion thought I was going to die and all I could manage to do was laugh. I'm a survivor.

2. I had my first experience with a Korean hospital. Which was also a really strange experience but I'm all about trying and experiencing new things so I'll just add that to my list of adventures. 

3. Transfer calls came this week and I will be staying with Sister Giles in Gangnam for another transfer! It's going to be a lot of fun. Korea is getting hotter and we're both dreading the summer season. We keep talking about how hot it is and all the Koreans keep telling us is, "This is nothing. Just wait." I'm absolutely terrified. 

4. Speaking of how hot it is... my companion and I have both resolved to never wear make up and to always wear our hair in buns on the tops of our heads because of how hot it's getting. Make up just melts off of faces and hair just makes it hotter. So we've come up with the best solution: no make up and top knots for the win! 

5. So a few weeks ago Ginay shared this scripture with me: Acts 9:15: "But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel:" When I read it, I immediately loved it. So much, in fact, that I wrote it on the inside cover of my new planner. Anyways, as I was reading in the Book of Mormon I came across Moroni 7:31 "And the office of their ministry is to call men unto repentance, and to fulfil and to do the work of the covenants of the Father, which he hath made unto the children of men, to prepare the way among the children of men, by declaring the word of Christ unto the chosen vessels of the Lord, that they may bear testimony of him." Each of us has potential to do and be great things. God knows all that we are capable of becoming-- even if we don't always seem to see it in ourselves. But part of the reason I really liked these two scriptures was that it's not just talking about US, but it's talking about OTHER people being vessels unto the Lord. And part of our job as members of the church is to share the gospel with others so that they can start reaching towards their full potential-- just like we are trying to do. So cool. I'm preaching the gospel to vessels of the Lord. :)

6. Another scripture I read that really hit me this week (pertaining to the "why" of missionary work): Alma 26:3-7

"3 Behold, I answer for you; for our brethren, the Lamanites, were in darkness, yea, even in the darkest abyss, but behold, how many of them are brought to behold the marvelous light of God! And this is the blessing which hath been bestowed upon us, that we have been made instruments in the hands of God to bring about this great work.
 Behold, thousands of them do rejoice, and have been brought into the fold of God.
 Behold, the field was ripe, and blessed are ye, for ye did thrust in the sickle, and did reap with your might, yea, all the day long did ye labor; and behold the number of your sheaves! And they shall be gathered into the garners, that they are not wasted.
 Yea, they shall not be beaten down by the storm at the last day; yea, neither shall they be harrowed up by the whirlwinds; but when the storm cometh they shall be gathered together in their place, that the storm cannot penetrate to them; yea, neither shall they be driven with fierce winds whithersoever the enemy listeth to carry them.
 But behold, they are in the hands of the Lord of the harvest, and they are his; and he will raise them up at the last day."
We have been blessed in our lives to have been instructed on where we can find refuge from the storms of life. When the skies are gloomy and grey, when the winds howl and the rain beats upon our backs, we know to whom we can turn for safety and protection. We know who will help us stand tall in the midst of havoc and chaos. Storms will come, they are unavoidable. But because of our Savior, Jesus Christ, we can build up and fortify ourselves so that the storms cannot penetrate us. And so, that's why we do missionary work. Because the storms are coming, they're always coming, and we want our friends, our family, our loved ones to all be safe and protected by the shelter of our loving Savior and His atonement. We know where to find protection and so we're inviting everyone to come in and find peace despite the storm. 
7. A word that has been on my mind for the past week has been the word "remember." And along with that, there have been so many different things that have been coming into my head that I need to always strive to remember. "Remember who you are, where you came from, and where you hope to go. Remember your loved ones and how much they care for you. Remember your purpose-- why you're here. Remember your Savior; remember what He did for you. Remember, you can do hard things. Remember, you're capable. Remember, you wear His name upon your heart. Remember the blessings. Remember all that you've learned. Remember how far you've come." It's so important to remember. I dare you to take the time this week to just sit back and remember.
It's been a good week. So many random things have happened. But I promise I haven't stopped smiling once. That's another thought that came into my head this week, actually, "Remember, life is way too short (especially your mission life) to waste even a moment of it angry or upset." So I've been doing my best to put on my smile each morning when I wake up and to keep it there every night until I go to sleep. Life tastes sweeter when you experience it with a smile. That's what I think, anyways. 
I hope everyone is happy and well. I'm sending all the love I can possibly muster to you all the way from Korea. I hope you can feel it. 
Always praying for you,

Sister CaLea Bagley

침례식! Baptism Day!

This week has been so impossibly amazing! I don't even know where to begin! (Quick sidenote, however-- since when is it June? I don't even know how that happened??)
So, Elder Quentin L. Cook made an appearance in Korea this week and Sister Giles and I had three different opportunities to hear him speak. It was absolutely phenomenal. The first meeting was for all the missionaries in the Seoul missions (we got to see our friends from the North mission!); which meant that we had a chapel packed with about 400 missionaries who were anxious to hear the words of an apostle. The second meeting was for anyone and everyone-- it was crazy. We got to take an investigator with us and I had been praying all week that she would be able to come and to hear things that were specific for her needs and desires in life right now. We haven't been able to meet with her for about three weeks because she got a new job that's been keeping her SO busy, and so we were worried that she wouldn't be able to make it. BUT SHE CAME! And the most incredible thing happened: so the last time we met with her it was actually one of the coolest moments of my mission. I got to bear my testimony on the sacredness of temples and temple work and about how the work we do in the temple allows us to live with our loved ones forever. As I bore my testimony to her I pulled out a picture of our family and I pointed to it and said, "These people are my whole entire world. I miss them every single day. But I said goodbye to them for 18 months so that I could come here to Korea and tell you that you will never have to say goodbye to your loved ones forever. Goodbyes are temporary, love is eternal." And the spirit was so strong, all of us felt it. Sister Giles backed me up with her testimony and our investigators eyes leaked so much that she didn't even bother trying to wipe the tears away. So-- after THAT... guess what Elder Cook talked about during the meeting.... temples and families. It was so perfect! She was taking notes like crazy and her eyes were leaking all over again. 

After the meeting I asked her how about the meeting. She said, "During the last song, when everyone was singing, I just closed my eyes and listened to all the music and I felt like I was in heaven." I was so shocked by her response because I had done the exact same thing! The final hymn was being sung in English and Korean and everyone was singing out as loud and joyfully as they could and it was such a cool experience. The spirit was so strong. I closed my eyes too and just felt the power of that exact moment-- I can't even put it into words. The whole meeting was powerful, right from the start. As Elder Cook was sitting on the stage they had the camera on him and he was beaming- a smile was spread from cheek bone to cheek bone. And I thought to myself, "I wonder why He's smiling like that?" and as soon as that question crossed my mind the answer came as well, "Because I am with you." The Lord was with us in that meeting, it was so cool.

The final meeting was a stake conference for the stake I'm serving in. Elder Cook presided. We invited that same investigator to come with us and she loved it! And at the end, she even got to shake his hand. She was crying the whole time... and smiling the whole time as well. As we were traveling back to Gangnam after the meeting she told us that she usually drinks coffee every single morning but that she didn't that morning so that she could be more spiritually prepared. She said, "I feel like it clouds my mind and it can't be good for me because it's so addictive." Golden. She then said, "I'm going to start having Family Night on Monday nights all by myself. I usually don't get home until ten or eleven, but I want to start doing it." This woman is 45 years old and single. And she wants to have Family Night by herself so that she can be obedient. Golden. She's seriously so prepared for the message that we were sent here to share. 

As for the baptism... 

현지 자매님 got baptized! Sister Giles and I were able to return to my greenie area (aka my Korean hometown) for the service and it was probably the best day of my mission so far. I consider the people in that ward my Korean family because that's where I was "born." And so getting so be with everyone and celebrate with everyone in honor of the baptism was such a incredible experience. I'll cherish it forever. Seriously, I'm going to wrap up all the feelings and happiness and love in my heart and keep it there where I can remember it often for the rest of forever. I love being a missionary!! 

It was good to see Sister (Mamma) Sloan and meet Sister (but like, literal mission sister) Mineer. We got to stay the night with them in my old house in 만수 and it was like a walk down memory lane. So much fun!

Like I said, this week has been a week of happiness that I can't even begin to explain. There were so many miracles and amazing little experiences that happened that reminded me how amazing this opportunity is-- I'm a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints! What a sacred, wonderful, incredible privilege. 

I'm happy. Soooo happy. 

"YOU are the message; who you are. When you're living righteously and doing what you ought to do, you testify of the Savior. Because of WHO you are, YOU are the message." -Elder Cook

Remember how much you can influence the lives around you. We are all the message-- we testify of the Savior by our words, our actions, and our lives. Do all that you can to align your life with the kind of life the Savior lived.

I love you, I pray for you always. 
All the way from Korea,

Sister CaLea Bagley

It's Getting So Hot.

Last night as I was saying my bedtime prayers I got hit with the most distinct thought: 

"The trick is other people. 
When you feel as if your prayers aren't working, 
Pray for other people. 
When you feel angry, frustrated, or upset,
Serve other people.
People, being human, tend to focus too much on themselves
when often the conflict can only be solved by
Focusing on other people."

And so I haven't been able to stop thinking about that ever since. And last night, as I was praying, I stopped asking for things for myself and I started praying for every single person I could possibly think of. I think I'm going to keep doing that. I liked the way it felt. 

We got to go to the temple again this week and I was so beyond grateful for that opportunity. I have always loved being at the temple. It was one of my favorite things before the mission, it's one of my favorite things during the mission, and I have no doubt in my mind that it will continue to be one of my favorite things for the rest of my life. So many friends were there as well! We got to take a picture with a couple of the people from our 동기 (group of missionaries I arrived in Korea with) and we all just couldn't believe that in a week and a half we'll be at our six month mark. I have no idea where all the time went. There's never enough time to accomplish all that I want to accomplish!

I got to buy a copy of the Conference edition of the Ensign at the temple-- It's been such a blast getting to go back through all of the talks and learn all sorts of new things. It was such a good conference. I'm STILL enjoying it thoroughly. It's so funny to me that you can learn completely different things from a talk when you read it as opposed to when you listened to it. 

So, Korea is getting ridiculously hot. And it's just the beginning. I'm convinced that the summer is going to cause me to melt. I'm a Utah girl who is used to the dry Utah weather and experiencing heat doubled with humidity is probably the most obnoxious thing I've ever done. My hair will not leave the bun on the top of my head for the next five months and I will probably never stop sweating. Gross. But it's gonna be fun! And now I have all the more reason to eat ice-cream at least once an hour. 

It hasn't been a very busy week...
But I'm doing good and I'm smiling a lot too.

Happy Graduation to Jadie Lady! (I can't believe you're getting so big.)
Happy (almost) summer vacation to everyone else! 

I love you all so very, very much.


Sister CaLea Bagley