Sunday, April 13, 2014

Yet Another Week

Well. It's been another eventful week. It wasn't until I became a missionary that I realized that EVERY single passage of scripture can be applicable to missionary work. I was reading in the New Testament and came across a couple of scriptures in particular that I really liked. First, Acts 1:17-18. It talks about us; all of us. God has blessed us in so many ways. He "pours out" his spirit upon us on a daily basis and through doing so, He asks us to go out and share the blessings and knowledge He has given to us with others. Because He blesses us, He asks us to act. Which makes me think about Nephi and the promise that the Lord gave him-- when the Lord commands us to do something He will provide a way for us to accomplish it, no matter how difficult the task at hand may seem. Sometimes we let our fear get in the way of our faith. It's hard to be a missionary! And as missionaries, there are a lot of really difficult things that we have to do. 

And that's where the next scripture comes in: John 20:21. "Then said Jesus unto them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you." Jesus Christ is our very best friend. He knows us better than we know ourselves because He sees us as we can be rather than as we are. Because of this, He knows what we are capable of doing as long as we allow ourselves to trust Him. He hasn't asked us to do this alone, but He has asked us to stretch ourselves beyond our own limits enough to grow and improve. None of us are truly capable of the calling we've been given if we are relying solely upon ourselves. This is the Lord's work, and in order to do it, we must rely on Him. Jesus Christ knew what He was called to do and He did all that He did because He loves us. Likewise, because we love Him, we need to be willing to do all that He has asked us to do. 

Anyways, we've started teaching another new investigator. She's an asian grandma and she's quite the sweetie. Korean grandmas have the tendency to ramble on and on about a lot of random things and never expect an answer in response. Yesterday we got to hear all about Kenya, Thomas Edison, and grandpas (more specifically, her husband.) At various points throughout the conversation she's throw in, "Oh! You're so pretty!!" and then just keep talking. Once we got her on the topic of the gospel, however, things actually went pretty well! 

We were headed back to our apartment one day this week for lunch and a woman who was selling a bunch of clothes on the street stopped us and gave us a couple of free skirts for the "good work" we're doing. That was pretty exciting. The skirts are grandma skirts... and mine is bedazzled. But we were still pretty pumped about it! 

MLC was this week and since Sister Sloan is the Sister's Training Leader in Incheon we got to go and spend the night at the Mission Home.... which meant we got to sleep on BEDS! Whattt!? I forgot those things even existed. Long story short-- I had a hard time falling asleep because I'm too used to sleeping on cardboard (.... that's what Sister Sloan and I call our beds at our apartment. They're mats we throw on the floor. Super comfy.) Also-- pardon my sarcasm. Koreans don't get it. And it's the only language I'm currently fluent in.

I've been missing you people a whole bunch this week, I'm not going to lie. Being away from my loved ones is the strangest thing. I miss you every single day... but at the same time I'm in love with the people of Korea so I never want to say goodbye to them. I guess you could say I feel really conflicted and whatnot... but it's fine. Just know that I love you and that you're always in my heart! Sounds cheesy, but tis' the truth.

We haven't had the opportunity to watch Conference yet because in Korea we watch Conference a week after it's broadcasted so that they can get it all translated. (Don't worry, I'll get to watch it in English... just in a room separate from the rest of the ward.) I honestly CAN'T even wait to watch it. ENGLISH! But also, more specifically, CHURCH stuff in ENGLISH! I'm beyond excited to just sit back and let it all soak in. 

Anyways, that's really all I have to say this week. We're working hard and smiling every step of the way. The weather is getting warmer and the flowers are getting prettier. And I'm just really excited that I get to start shedding layers. Life is good, I love you all!

Sister CaLea Bagley

It's Official: Six Investigators!

Okay, okay. First things first: last week sounded really ridiculous, and yes, we had a lot of really strange experiences... that being said, I promise we're not bad missionaries! At least... not intentionally! We're actually trying really hard every single week to be good missionaries and somehow really strange things tend to happen to us. On the bright side, our extreme amounts of laughter are keeping us from getting fat due to all the members who want to feed us. :)

So, yes. We've got six investigators that we are teaching now. We are officially teaching an entire family! Remember the miracle investigator who showed up to church one Sunday all by herself? Now we're meeting with her whole family! They're so prepared and so incredible and I feel so blessed to have been given this kind of an opportunity even though I'm not the best teacher when it comes to Korean. This is just an example of how important it is to always do your best even if you don't see the results of your efforts-- other missionaries planted seeds and now we are seeing the miracles that have come from that work. We extended two soft baptismal invitations on Saturday. Maybe that's the scariest thing in the whole world to do... but I always just have to remind myself that it's not my work and that my fear shouldn't be getting in the way of the Lord's work. 

Sister Sloan and I haven't worn coats for the past two days... that means the weather is finally warming up! It's so exciting. The cherry trees are all beginning to blossom and it's so beautiful. And this is just the beginning! I can't wait to see what it all turns out looking like when spring is finally officially here and all the trees are fully blossomed. So cool. In celebration of the changing weather Sister Sloan and I bought a baby cactus. I'm really really excited about it too. I know that may sound odd, but I've always wanted a baby cactus. For no real reason at all other than just because. So now I can cross that off my bucket list! 아싸!! 

Also, it's a sad thing when you realize you're suddenly really bad at English when English is the only thing you've ever been good at in your whole life. Last week I was reading over the email I sent home a little bit while I was waiting for Sister Sloan to finish emailing... and I realized my spelling is AWFUL! Which is extra pathetic because my Korean is also awful so I have no real excuse for suddenly being really bad at English. I live a sad life. But I'm happy so it ain't no thing. 

Anyways, I AM SO HAPPY! 
Life is good. 

Hope you're all doing well!

Sister Bagley

I Guess I'm a Potato Farmer.

This week has been absolutely amazing. I really want to be able to speak Korean. I've always looked at it as a tool to do what I've been called here to do-- teach the gospel. We're called to teach the gospel, not speak Korean. BUT, Korean is an incredibly valuable tool in teaching the gospel in Korea (obviously). Many times in the MTC I'd get really discouraged by my lack of ability to remember grammar forms and vocabulary. I'd focus on the things I couldn't do rather than the things I could do. That mindset made Korean feel more like a barrier than a tool. This week as I've been studying Korean and really adding the finishing touches to my language study plan, I was reading over the "Learn the Language" section in PMG. I couldn't help but to feel a little bit of discouragement. I love the people of Korea. I want to be able to be their friend and their guide as they come to know the way that the gospel can bless their lives but I'm no where near where I'd like to be with the language. That being said, I flipped open my Book of Mormon to the chapter I'd left off reading and lo and behold the first thing I read was Alma 29:1-3. Hello, the Lord answers prayers! He directly responded to the emotions I'd been feeling and offered me peace through the scriptures. That's exactly why I love them so much. I continued on and read verse 6 and it really hit me again: I'm here to teach the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Lord will help me and bless me as I work hard and put in the effort. The language will come-- it's already beginning to come, maybe slowly, but it's coming-- but even if I feel as though I cannot speak as well as I'd like, I can always love. I'm a missionary, I'm excited to be here and I'm honored to get to see the Lord's hand in my life so much each day. 

Miracles this week? Our incredible ward members! We've interacted SO MUCH with our ward members this week and it's been so incredible. We've started bringing ward members to all the lessons we teach to our investigators. The spirit they bring to the lessons is incredible. Yesterday we also went on splits with some of the women from relief society and ended up tripling the number of people we'd talk to on any other given day. The ward to is excited about missionary work and so willing to help in any and every way that they can. It was way funny because they'd run up to people and say, "Hi, this is a missionary, they're really cool. Hey, Sister Bagley, tell them about the gospel...." So awkward. But whatever. 

Now that the weather is getting warmer, every Saturday we become immigrant workers on one of the member's farms. We planted potatos. Hello. So yeah, I'm learning valuable skills and having the time of my life. The men in our ward love Sister Sloan and I because we're not your typical girl.... they say, "Oh, this is a job for the Elders..." and then we prove that we're just as tough. It's real fun. 

Flirting isn't allowed when you're a missionary. BUT... flirting with grandmas is okay. They love it. They just sit there and say, "Ohhh, pretty!" over and over and over again and then give us a bum-pat and candy and send us on our way. It's real entertaining. We get lots of candy.

This week I accidentally replaced the word "patience" with "body oder." I told one of the less-active members we met with that Sister Sloan's boyfriend has a lot of body odor. We laughed about that for quite a while...

We officially are teaching and working with two investigators! The ward members have been so on board with helping us teach them and welcome them into the "ward family." (For the record-- the term "ward family" meant nothing to me until I arrived in Korea. Like, even though nobody is related, every week at church feels like the equivalent of a family reunion.)

I must be really funny. Guess what happened... I made my companion laugh SO HARD that she literally peed her pants on a public sidewalk five minutes away from our house. You know what they say, 80% of accidents happen within a mile of your home. Also-- we learned a valuable lesson from this: as missionaries, we have no control over anything, including our bladders. You've just got to roll with it and wear a smile no matter what happens. (For the record, she's 22 years old and I almost peed my pants too because I was laughing soooo hard at the puddle of fluid she left on the sidewalk.) She was so embarassed that she just jumped up and ran away and I followed behind in hysterics. Welcome to missionary life, it's real awkward.

Hey, but we topped the "peeing the pants" story this week... even though I didn't think it was even possible to do. Last night as we were running home from our meeting with our ward mission leader (we didn't want to be late arriving home) we decided to say "hello" to one last person in the parking lot of our apartment complex. It was a man and his dog... anyways, long story short, a strange turn of events occured and before we knew it we were sitting in a bar across the table from a smoking man and his miniature pet dog and and the waitress threw down a couple of beers on the table. Hello. Sister Sloan then leaned over to me and said, "Um... are we in a bar?" to which I immidiately responded, "Yes, yes, I think we are." It was way strange... we explained that we don't drink or smoke... so he ordered us cokes. And chicken. (I dunno. I really dunno.) And they wouldn't let us leave until we ate it. So we DOWNED the soda (I haven't had soda in such a long time) and then they ordered another one. At this point the chicken was  put on the table and the guy got up to go to the bathroom and so Sister Sloan and I sizezed his absence as an opportunity to dump the plate full of chicken into Sister Sloan's purse. A man in the corner was watching us do this and Sister Sloan pointed him out but I assured her that it was fine because he was so drunk that he wouldn't remember it anyways. Hi, we're really good missionaries-- we conclude our sabbath days in bars with chicken and dogs on chairs and stuff. It's whatever.

Hey, I played soccer and ripped up my leg again this week. Except... it's the other leg this time. My legs look reallllll cute. The koreans kept telling me that I needed to go to the hospital for it... and I might have taken their advice into account had they not advised me to go to the hospital over a couple of pimples as well. Koreans are dramatic when it comes to medical-related things. It's fine. I just rubbed some dirt on it, it ain't no thing.

Okay. So maybe this week's email was full of a whole bunch of unexpected things. It's fine. We have fun. And we never quite know what to expect. I think I write in my planner more with whiteout than I do with actual pen... but the work is progressing and we're enjoying it every step of the way! (Okay... except for maybe when we end up in hole-in-the-wall-bars...)

I hope everyone is happy! I pray every day that you'll get to have missionary opportunities in your own lives. As we've been working with the members I've seen JUST HOW IMPORTANT members are in the work. So get involved with the missionary work in your wards. Seriously, it makes all the difference. You're full-time finders and as missionaries, we're full-time teachers. It's a team effort. So let's do some missionary work!

I love you all and I think about you every day! I'm happy and working hard and laughing a whole bunch. Sister Sloan and I are finally catching on to Korean humor-- we can keep the ward members laughing pretty hard these days. That's a step in the right direction, right? Right. 



Sister Bagley

p.s. we're about to go skinny dipping in public. Just kidding. But also not. Koreans believe in community bath houses. So..... to embrace the culture, Sister Sloan and I are about to go hang out with a bunch of naked grandmas. Here goes nothing... wish us luck!

A Week of Miracles!

I don't even know WHERE to begin this week. It's been absolutely fantastic. But I guess we'll just start out with a little lesson that I learned that I am certain played a big role in the events that occured throughout the rest of the week.

Lately I've been really thinking about prayer. It's such an incredible blessing that we've been given to be able to communicate with our Father in Heaven. Lately I've just been feeling as if my prayers were falling into a really repetitive pattern. As a missionary you tend to pray for the same things every single day-- but I realized this week how to change the feel of my prayers. You have to pray in faith. Not that I wasn't praying in faith before... because I believe the very act of getting down on your knees to speak to a being that you can't see is an act of faith-- BUT, as we've been taught, "faith without works in dead." So, this week, with that thought in mind, as I've been praying I've been praying with an action in mind. I asked the Lord to help me find people to teach and as I asked for that I thought of specific things I could do that would help Him to help me find people to teach. (Okay, that sounded more confusing than it was supposed to.) In order to find people to teach, I have to open my mouth. So along with praying for help, I told Heavenly Father all the things I was going to do in order to recieve that help. 

Just by changing that alone-- we've seen so many miracles this week. 
1. At the beginning of the week, we had one investigator and two potential investigators. Now, we have ten potential investigators that we'll be meeting with this week (that have SO much potential). 
2. We've been trying to visit with one of the less-actives for so long now... and after visiting and getting turned down SO many times, this week she let us in. We were absolutely shocked. She said, "You can only stay for a little bit," but by the end of our visit she was feeding us oranges and sharing so many personal questions and feelings that she's been having and we were able to have a full-on discussion about Jesus Christ's atonement. We answered her questions directly out of the scriptures-- it was incredible! We ended up staying there for about an hour.
3. We had a conversation with a woman at a bus stop on "White day" (Koreans celebrate every 14th of the month in ways similar to valentines day... white day is a day where people just give each other candy) and we gave her our number and figured we'd probably never hear from her again. But she ended up calling us later that night to set up an appointment for this week. What?? So crazy!
3. At church we were sitting in Relief Society waiting for the meeting to start when we heard one of the members running up the stairs calling out our names. He ushered in a young girl who had literally come to church on her own because her dad said that he wanted her to come to our church. She came out of nowhere! She was a complete miracle. And we were all so blown away by the fact that we had an investigator with us at church.. it was insane!

Those are just a couple of the huge miracles we saw this week. Literally, every single day I was blown away by the incredible things that happened. God's hand is in this work! Our plans may never go as planned... but His plan always turns out to be much better than our plans. 

I don't have a whole bunch of time to write this week... there's so much to do! But I am grateful for the blessing of being able to see the miracles that can happen on a day-to-day basis. This is so cool. Being a missionary really is so cool. 

I love all of you so much and I hope that you're all doing well! I'll write more next week, I pinky promise. (I have so many cool experiences still that I'd like to share but I just don't have time!) 

Look for the miracles.
No, scratch that.
Pray for the ability to be a part of the miracles.

Have a good week!


Sister CaLea Bagley

Korea is Kool

Hey, kids.
Wait, has it been another week already? Strange. 

First of all, I hope Arica and Sophie had happy, happy birthdays! I was thinking about them this week! So, it's been another amazing week in 만수. I've been so blown away by how much the Lord's hand is in our day-to-day lives. Often times we don't even realize it until we sit down at the end of each day and are going over the events that occurred during the day. Missionary days are compilations of hundreds of little miracles. Earlier this week I was asking for eyes to see the miracles and let me tell you-- I've seen them. 

We've been going through all the old records of former investigators this week and have had such an incredible experience with that! We found a woman who has been going through a certain set of circumstances and has been searching for the kind of peace that the gospel can offer. She literally said, "I have never known God-- but I think I am ready to know Him now. I want to learn more about your church." And we were freaking out because... hello! Golden investigator! Buuut... alas, we discovered that she doesn't live in our area. And so we referred her to another set of sisters. Funny story: we've deemed ourselves as the "referral sisters" because we have found so many awesome investigators and have had to refer them to other sets of missionaries for a variety of different reasons. But don't worry, we're keeping our heads high and working harder than ever. Finding is a very difficult aspect of missionary work-- but we're smiling our way through it-- every step of the way.

We do, in fact, have a new investigator though. She is meeting with us because of English interest but the way that our first meeting went actually really made me excited for the meetings to come.  She said, "I don't believe in God because I cannot see Him." and shared that a lot of the reason why she has a "closed mind" towards religion now is because of the bad experiences she's had with religious people telling her that she'll be condemned to hell if she doesn't believe. Korea is loaded with people who are so pushy with religion. It's actually rather uncomfortable. And as a missionary, it's pretty difficult to get on people's good sides because as soon as we introduce ourselves as missionaries they assume we're going to start telling them to "repent or go to hell!!" Again-- religion in Korea is pretty intense. People want to bible bash ALL the time. Anyways, the only thing I could think to say at that point was this: "I guess in some ways, God is similar to the wind. Maybe you can't see it-- but you can feel it." We shared that we aren't trying to force anything upon her-- this gospel has blessed our lives so much and because of that, we've left our loved ones, our home, our schooling-- everything-- to share it with people who are looking for answers. She seemed pretty uncomfortable when we first started talking about the gospel with her, but by the end of the meeting she seemed to trust us a bit more. 

Fun fact: So-- my official soccer name is now 김승, or in other words, "beast." Bet you can't guess why... I'm pretty excited about it. Don't be surprised when I end up with a Korean soccer jersey and "beast" written in Korean on the back.

Another fun fact: my companion and I climbed the stairs all the way up to our apartment this week. In case you were wondering, we live on the fourteenth floor. Yikes. 

So when a Korean invites you over for a meal they will literally watch you eat and continue to refill you plate/bowl/cup until all the food has been consumed. Not even kidding. So every time we eat over at a member's house we feel like we're going to die. Funny story: this week we had four consecutive appointments with members in one day. Two of which were meals. We ate two ginormous meals in the time period of two hours. I've never felt so huge in my entire life... it was awful. The food was amazing. But it was awful. The worst part? My comp saying, "Get used to it." Hi, I'm going to gain four hundred pounds on my mission. 

Speaking of food-- I conducted a food experiment this past week. I called it the "Fake it until you make it" experiment. Hypothesis: If I tell everyone that all my least-favorite foods are my favorite, eventually I will learn to like them. Conclusion: If I tell everyone that my least favorite foods are my favorite, eventually I will learn to like them. I'd say it was a success, what about you?

Joke of the week: my face. Okay, Korean weather has made my skin wayy wayy irritated. Long story short, I've been dealing with some acne for the last week or so. That being said, I've had two members (in the last two days) approach me and ask me what's wrong with my face. Once even suggested a hospital visit. Wayyy too funny. Also-- Koreans are extremely dramatic when it comes to medical things. Just saying. 

Well, I'm running out of time but I just wanted to say that I am so happy and that I'm so grateful to be in Korea! I read the entire book of Matthew this week and was soaking up all the wonderful teachings of the Savior. So incredible! One story that really struck me that I wanted to share was the story of Peter walking on the water. In Matthew 14:29-31 it talks about how the Savior invited Him to come unto Him and how initially, Peter had enough faith to walk upon the water because he was focused on the Savior. Eventually, however, he began to focus too much on the crazy circumstances that were around him and because of that, he began to be very afraid. When he lost focus on the Savior, he began to sink. At that point he calls out in desperation to the Savior and "immidiately" the Savoir reaches out to him and saves him saying, "O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?" When we focus on the Savior, we can do the impossible. Despite the crashing waves and difficult circumstances around us. Jesus works through our faith and obedience to preform mighty miracles. Trust in Him! (Also-- Luke 1:37)

I love you all! Make someone's day better this week.

Sister Bagley