Monday, December 26, 2016

Elder Santa Seth!

호 호 호, or Ho Ho Ho
Christmas was sooo awesome this year! I can pretty easily say that this was my favorite Christmas of all time. Here is how our day went.

We woke up and, as usual back home, we went right to the presents! There aren't really Christmas trees here so that wasn't a thing, but opening presents is still the same. Thanks to my awesome family!  After opening presents, we used all of the food we had been saving up for our "Christmas morning breakfast" (bacon, which is rare here, and eggs) and made a masterpiece! Then we went to a cool church meeting, which was followed by a delicious lunch with all of the members. And, the highlight, a special appearance from Santa Claus! (haha me)  Quite a reverent Sabbath activity I would say. Why am I always the guy that gets chosen for the "big white man" chores here in Korea? It was my first time being Santa, and I daresay not my last. I will say it was a real test of my language skills.

After the lunch ,there was a cool little baptismal service for our little investigator named Kim Dae Hyon. It was such a cool experience. Here were his wise words for Gokbanjeong Ward: "Hey, I am Kim Dae Hyon, I have been meeting the missionaries now for about 3 months. It was fun. We always played games together. Today I am getting baptized. In the name of Jesus, Amen!" It certainly was an awesome experience seeing someone like him get to step into the waters of baptism and open the gate to a flood of blessings to come!

After the baptism, we went with our whole district to the big huge Christmas tree located in the incredibly busy part of our area and did a really fun proselyting activity with a violin and sticker board! It was such a blast trying to help others come to a knowledge of who Jesus Christ was! As we did that, I had a cool and rare experience of someone walking up to me and screaming "JESUS" at the top of his lungs and saliva flying all over my face. Nice.
And to wrap the day up, we met with this fun member family. They have these four cute little kids who really love and respect missionaries. We ate some great food and had some great laughs. After a while, all of the kids kind of filed into another room and what followed was one of the most interesting moments of my mission. For about an hour and a half, these two parents just unloaded everything they were having a hard time with right on me and my companions' shoulders, and there was a LOT of weight. I honestly think years and years of things just accumulated. It was difficult to know where to start or what to do or say to them. So after a while of listening, I felt there was an opportunity to quickly say something. I said, "How easy do you think the life of Jesus Christ's was?" They were kind of silent and so I said, "Pretty dang hard right? Not easy at all. So then why are we, as imperfect human beings, expecting our lives to be easier and more joyful than that of the SON OF GOD--the only perfect human being to ever walk the earth. Now I know, just as well as you do, that there are positives and there are negatives of life. But where is our focus? Is it how happy we will be while living here? Where is your focus?" Yup. I really do believe this to be true. We all have it hard, but what are we choosing to focus on? The positives? Or the negatives? I know that as we choose to focus on the Savior Jesus Christ and the positives, we will be a happy people!!!

I sure was happy this Christmas Season. I love you all, and I wish you a Merry Christmas!
Elder Jenkins
Christmas Photos
Loot from home

Elders Choi, Olsen, and Jenkins

Monday, December 19, 2016

Brother Jenkins, the MTC Worker

Wow, we had quite the week! If you are wondering about the title, on Wednesday it was transfers. Surprisingly, my companion and I received a missionary straight from the real world. He has not even had MTC experience. His parents dropped him off at the mission office about 30 minutes before we arrived. His name is Elder Choi and he is from the big city Seoul itself. He will be with us until February, and then he will finally go to the MTC! So our job? Birthing him straight into the work. It has been so fun. After every lesson, he says something like, "WOW! That was sooo fun!!" or "That made me SO happy!!" I love it! This kid is just on fire, and it is spreading all over Gokbanjeong.

Okay I don't have much more time, but Elder Choi was definitely the highlight of my week--an early Christmas Present. I will share one fun story that came with the newbie.

I guess Elder Olson and I had become like weirdly habitual with some small things. For example, I always walk out of the front door first and call the elevator and then Elder Olson closes the front door. That doesn't seem like a big deal, I know, but on our first day with Elder Choi aboard the ship, we left the house in what I thought was our ordinary manner. But when we returned home that night, 9 hours later, our front door was wide open--Elder Olson wasn't the last one out the door apparently. To be honest, we all thought "intruder" and kind of panicked. Elder Olson and I threw our newborn behind us, I grabbed the first thing I saw, an umbrella, and Elder Olson grabbed a shoe horn and a bag of frozen Kimchee (haha). He took the left side of the house and I went right! It was so intense! Everything seemed to check out okay until I got to the bathroom: the door was closed and I swear I heard something in there so I took off screaming and busted in there flailing around my little umbrella. Yup, no one was there (hahaha). I'm sure that was quite the first impression for Elder Choi! It did make for a fun laugh afterwards. If there had really been someone, though, they would have had a bad night: a bag of frozen Kimchee to the head and a swift jab from an umbrella would most certainly spell a trip to the hospital!
All Clear at the Apartment

Anyway, on the more slightly spiritual side, Tuesday we literally did service for nearly our entire day and it wore me out! Honestly I was getting a little grumpy, but I kept remembering one scripture: "When you are in the service of your fellow beings, you are only in the service of your God." I really felt like I came to believe that so much more last week. Thankful for those small experiences.

Anyway, love you all! Have a great Christmas.
Elder Jenkins

Saying farewell to MTC Sister Robinson

Monday, December 12, 2016

Officer, Stop Him. He Needs Baptism!

Ya Him with the Backpack!
So much to talk about and not enough time, which seems to be the story of my mission: "literally, just give me 1 minute!"

SO, first with some cool news: yesterday there was another baptism in our Ward. The weird thing is that I knew this girl clear back when I was in Shinpung a year ago and now she was finally baptized in a different ward. Sure enough,  I got to see her be baptized, which was so cool. It has also been so fun to see such growth in someone because of the Gospel. It totally is true, I'm telling you.

Then we had a couple of cool experiences with investigators this week: we found a family!! Literally the first one of my entire mission. For some reason, it is like the hardest thing to find a family to teach in Korea. It took me a year and half, and I am so excited to be able to bear testimony from experience how much the Gospel of Jesus Christ can bless a family. Finally! I love this family centered message!

Then we finally met up with this guy who literally was the first person I talked to in this area. He actually said: "after texting for a while and now finally meeting, I KNOW this was no accident that we met! Totally destiny man!" Needless to say, he wants to learn! YES!

Also, I am sure you heard, but our President got the boot! Impeachment in process in Korea.

And this week we had a "Caroling" proselyting activity near this huge subway station and it was sooo sick! There were like 20 missionaries singing and then about 5 missionaries stopping everyone and talking to them about the church, Christmas, etc. It was soo dirty and absolutely a blast. It felt like we had this perfect background music for proselyting. I loved it. And in case you are curious, the super fresh Christmas Sweater was only, yes, $10.

Such a fun and spiritually uplifting week over here in KOREA!!!
Love you all

Elder Jenkins
More photos from the week:
Zone Training

You want me to SING???

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Light Korea!

Last week was so fun and way effective! As a result, today is P-day but we still have three different appointments.  So busy, and ... I LOVE IT!

Highlight reel:

1. I ate fried silkworm from a stranger's spoon on the street! That is about as sketchy as it gets! (haha)

2. Also on the same night, I may have pulled out some sick dance moves in public--actually in front of a crowd of people. Yep, I still got it.

3. Thursday, we went to the Temple and it was so great! It feels like it has been a while. As always, the temple is a great blessing because we get to spend some time extra close to God.

4. That same day, we went tie shopping in the biggest underground shopping mall in Korea. My pocket is definitely feeling that one, ouch! There are some flipping sick Korean ties. I LOVED THE ONES WITH WHALES ON THEM!!!

5. I also got accused of being in the CIA twice this past week.  

On the more somewhat spiritual side, I was just texting some random people in the phone and a lady answered a few days later by saying that she was trying to find the church right that moment! (Guess I've still got dancing skills as well as texting skills.) Of course, we pulled her right into the church, and she brought her 25 year old son! She came this past Sunday as well! That was such a cool blessing straight from the Lord! Yesterday there was a confirmation in our ward and Elder Olson and I got to participate in the ordinance which was such a humbling experience! I just love the most amazing opportunities that the church brings into my life. I sure love God and the way He blesses us.

Anyway, I love you all and hope that you spend your week well! Need anything? Hit me up!!

Elder Jenkins

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Thanksgiving in Korea? Pizza and Fried Chicken!

Highlights from last week...

Because American Holidays are not a thing in Korea (for me at least), it is suuuper hard to keep track of holidays. Literally on the 24th I finally remembered that it was Thanksgiving, so that night I pulled some strings and a cool member bought us Pizza and Fried Chicken and we feasted! Pizza for Thanksgiving two years in a row now--a bit different from the traditional family turkey feast.

This week I went on an exchange cleaaaarr into the countryside to a place called Anseong and it was so sick; it literally took two hours to get there. It reminded me of home: no people, no cars, and a nice little cozy church (haha), but it definitely looked a lot different than home. The craziest thing, though, is only about 6 members and 4 missionaries come to church (I thought Seongnam was small). My little realization about that was just that even in small numbers, the gospel will roll forth! No matter how many people show up on Sunday, the Gospel is still true and the Spirit can be felt for ever single one of these members. 

One other story to illustrate just a little bit about how people look at missionaries or anyone very religious in Korea: Yesterday I had a meeting in our stake building and it takes quite a bit of time to get there--about an hour both ways--which makes for great proselyting time! Yeah baby! For the sake of brevity, I will skip the ride there and get to the ride back. There were a lot of people so I just stood by one of the doors (my strategy with that is that at every stop there are more people to talk to), so I started talking to some younger-aged guy and he was a little shy at first but it was fun trying to get him to open up and make him laugh and stuff like that. Right when I thought it started to go well, I got a phone call from another missionary that only lasted like a minute tops. While I took the call, though, this random old lady grabbed the guy I was talking to and "whispered" something a little too loudly because I heard pretty well what was being said: "watch yourself, they are a cult!" I hurried and hung up the phone and "whispered" back, "who in the heck is that?" He said he had no clue, but he (not surprisingly) shut down. I just figured I lost my chance to the old lady. A few stops later, she got up to get off and brushed his shoulder and said, "BE CAREFUL" with a pretty terrified look on her face. And that was that, but the hate is real! Anyway, the adversary is real in Korea, but I can tell you one thing: God is ever present! I feel Him in my life every single day, and I know He is in all of our lives if we choose to let him in!

I miss you all!

Elder Jenkins

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Short and Sweet--Not Me, My Letter!

This week was so cool! It started off with a really fun P-day with the members of my MTC group, and it was a blast. I don't know if it is like that for other missions or not, but here in Korea it is so fun to hang out with the kids we spent nine weeks with in the MTC. And the crazy thing is .. those Sisters are going home so soooon!!! Such terrible news; we will really miss them.

Other than the bitter sweet party on Monday, this week was just all kinds of good. Well, I guess that is just mostly true of Sunday:
Our Sisters' Investigator was baptized and it was such a cool and spiritually powerful experience!   She has only been meeting them for like 3 or so months (which is a short time in Korea), but she was just soo ready. She found the church through our free English class and told herself that even though she was attending, she would never commit to a religion let alone learn of ours. She is only 18, and her parents are both non-members who are not fans of religion, but even they came out to the Baptism and the dad was all hyped up. It was dope! He was videoing it all and after the service, he was asking participants for pictures. The Spirit is amazing. It worked on all of us pretty well in that service.
I sure do love the feelings that I get from the Spirit of God. I am so grateful for that in my life!

Life is so great in Korea. Other fun things from this week: on Tuesday, I was able to go back to Shinpung (my second area) on an exchange and it was a blast! We visited all of these old people that I knew, and there were a lot of surprised faces for sure. There were also some good "feels like home" vibes! Then on Thursday, my companion and I were heading on a bus to the Subway to go meet some other missionaries, and when I got off the bus I realized (too late sadly) that I left my phone on the bus. After a couple of hours of borrowing strangers' phones and having crazy-sounding old men answering my phone, I found it! Gosh, I have to get my stuff together (haha).

I just had a jolly time last week! I hope you all did as well.

Elder Jenkins

Monday, November 14, 2016

White Washing

This last week was awesome, but as always there was so much to do and not a lot of time to do it. It is crazy busy doing all the things you need to do in your own area and simultaneously watch after other missionaries around you as well, but I have been loving it!

When I came into this area there wasn't a lot, which is why we were assigned to white wash (I believe), so it has required a lot of planting without much sprouting! That definitely can be frustrating, but we have been doing our best to have fun and help people around us in their situations as well. And I have been so happy! Helping others and focusing on them is totally the key to being happy and loving life I think. So as the week progressed, we kept working hard, found a new investigator, on the first meeting we gave him a baptismal date, and he also came to church on Sunday. Sweet!!! Spouting is already happening which is so fun to experience and watch.

Last week, we held District Meeting in my old area Shinpung, so it was way fun to go back and see all the stuff I used to see everyday! Shinpung is easily the most historically deep and interesting area in our entire mission, so I got all kinds of excited for that!

One last cool thing: last night we went to this beautiful part of our area called Central Park and intended to proselyte to as many people as we could. That is always our goal, but this place is unique because it is notorious for families! It is a super cool and rare opportunity in Korea to find a family and to teach them! That still hasn't happened for me. A year and 3 months and I still have a 0 in that column, so I was pumped for that first opportunity. And, literally, the first two people we run into are 2 Americans who stopped us and said, "We are so curious about Mormons!" Needless to say, we didn't get any proselyting time with families yesterday. Instead, just two white folk who had some Mormon friends back in their hometown! That was so fun. We talked to them for almost 50 minutes, exchanged info, and they want to meet again. Such a cool blessing! That is the second time something like that has happened on my mission. The first was actually 3 months ago when I was serving with Elder Bratt and it was also two Americans. Koreans? Anyway, both are great examples of how being an example can really spark someone's interest. Sometimes being a member missionary doesn't necessarily even mean "preaching" as much as it does just living the Gospel and being a good person! Keep it up Americans! And I will also try my best in Korea!

Love you all! 

Elder Jenkins

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Dog Soup Days

Leaving Seongnam
Wow this week was soo crazy! Because I was transferring, of course, there were so many goodbyes. And because it was a weird transfer (a bit off schedule), I had a whole week to visit people and do some fun things with them!! I don't really have time to describe every one of them, but I can say briefly how much people have come to mean to me on my mission. Every time transfers come, it is sooo hard to leave! I'm always so sad, but I am always so grateful that I even had the opportunity to meet them. Anyway, here is a fun summary of the week:

1. We went hiking for P-day with our Sisters, and on the way up the mountain, we randomly ran into one of our potential investigators who was doing the same hike and so we unexpectedly were able to spend the afternoon with him. It was such a blast! We saw some cool things, had a lot of laughs, and then after we finished the hike we went bowling with the rest of our district members. It was so much fun! 

2. Elder Bratt and I did a little "Basketball Finding" one more time, and then we ordered our favorite chicken delivered to the house.

3. Definitely the craziest thing we did happened on Friday. At lunch time, we went with one of our members out into the country side and ate... DOG SOUP! (hahaha) Oh man, that was sketchy! When we stepped in to the restaurant, I thought it smelled like a wet dog and I heard dogs barking out back (maybe psychological?). I don't know. It was just weird! But, surprisingly, the soup wasn't half bad! But I'm not so sure I will voluntarily eat that again. Quite the experience!

4. Moved in to Gokbanjeong on Saturday. A nice surprise on Sunday when nearly 4 times the number of members than we we had in my last area showed up. It looks to be a way awesome ward, and I am super happy to be serving here now! 

Anyway, I think the week maybe felt more eventful than it really was... Dog soup must be getting to me! 

Love you all! Keep on keepin on!
Elder Jenkins
More photos:
Hiking with the Sisters
It's Fall!
Leaves are a-changing!

Monday, October 31, 2016

My Stint as a Halloween Party Planner!!!

Waiting for transfer phone call with a bit of trepidation!
Wow, it was kind of an interesting week. There was so much to do that we were simply fighting against time.

Here is the story: A few weeks ago, the ward gave the missionaries the huge responsibility of planning and completely handling on our own, a ward Halloween Party. Initially, it didn't sound like much, but we soon discovered there was sooo much to do! The two sisters and the two of us basically sacrificed the whole week to try and make the party as "sick" as we could and to find as many people to come as we could. We had to buy all kinds of decorations, make cool invitations, advertise, and it took soo much time. But it was cool! Our party consisted of a haunted house, apple bobbing, a pinata, dinner, live music, and even Krispy Kremes! The whole 9 yards.
But, for real, the hardest part was finding people to come About half of our ward came, which makes about 15 total people. Besides the ward, I estimate that on the street alone we invited over 400 people! I also took to the phone and texted/called a little over 900 people, literally.  We went at it so hard (invited more than 1300 people)!!! And guess how many people total came......... maybe 40. Aw Man!!!!! WHAT THE? This is actually a great example of the people of Korea who are always so BUSY. Anyway, it was fun to kind of create a Halloween Spirit in Korea. They don't celebrate much at all here, so it was fun to give them the experience! 

Other highlights: not many since we spent the whole week on the party, but yesterday Elder Bratt got grabbed by some drunk old guy, got scared, and literally took off running. Thanks for waiting comp! I still hadn't realized what had happened until I too was running and looked back at a red-faced old man, cussing, and waving a cane in the air!

Oh, and also we saw two drunk dudes singing last night! I tried to snap a pic for the followers back home, but the flash went off, which created a scene, and then I just hid my face and got out of there (haha). Fail.

And last but not least: We got transfer calls on Saturday (a week early), and after 3 beautiful transfers of serving in hilly Seongnam, I am moving. I'm going back to my old District in Suwon! It should be a lot of fun there, but it still amazes me how much I get attached to people. Tears everywhere man!

The Agony (impending phone call)
Anyways, love you all and I hope you have a great Halloween! I mostly just hope you are happy:) See you next week!

Elder Jenkins

Parent note:  Seth has been decorating (or making us decorate) for Halloween as long as we can remember.  It's his favorite time of year.  We noticed a rather large dip in his checking account this week and wondered about new shoes or perhaps a winter coat.  Not quite!  We now know it was for the Seongnam Ward Halloween Party.  What a kid!
Leaving his friends of the Seongnam Ward: