Monday, December 29, 2014

Week 25 December 29, 2014 "Christmas was the best!!! Happy Birthday & Baby to Hanna!"

 I am an UNCLE Woo Whoo!!!!!
 I can't believe it is almost 2105!! Time flies when you are having fun out here during mission life I guess. In 4 days I will have been on my mission for 6 months! It is crazy to think I have been here for that long. I had a great week this week. Probably one of the best weeks of my mission so far. Christmas as a missionary is great!! You wake up in the morning and it just feels like another day but then you get to call your parents and man is that the best Christmas present I have ever gotten!! It was so nice talking to my family and definitely uplifted me for the rest of the week. I mean it was definitely a hard Christmas being away from my family for the first time and all but I had my mission family and all these Koreans to celebrate with so it was great! We had a mission Christmas conference that was really fun this week. For lunch we got a turkey dinner from the base out here and man was that delicious!!! I even got my favorite, apple pie :) The conference overall theme was that EVERY missionary serves a purpose and that we all need to work together in uplifting each other. It definitely was exactly what I needed to hear because recently I have been wondering why in the world the Lord needed me here in Korea! I still don't know and may never find out but what my mission president shared really hit me. I just got to continue to do my part and rely on the Lord to make up for my shortcomings. We all can be missionaries in all that we do. As a missionary I learned this week from a training we watched President Dieter F. Uchtdorf gave to the new mission presidents that we all have to be fearless missionaries. We must fear no man. All of His sheep must be found and taught of the gospel. God gave us this gospel and knowledge we have so that ALL of His children can be saved through His only Begotten son Jesus Christ. This very message needs to be spread to all. Lucky for me right now, that is what I am here in Korea trying to do. We all can be disciples of Christ even if we don't have a tag on our chest. All need to know about Jesus Christ and His significance. We are all just so happy with the knowledge we have so why don't we just spread it and make others happy? I may not have reached my full potential as a missionary yet and at times can be more lazy than I should be but as long as I keep moving forward that is all that matters. We should never let Satan or the adversary get us down. Like it says in the New Testament we need to just pluck out our sin, cast it into the fire, and keep going!! Christ wants us to be happy and with His atonement we can constantly be moving forward. At the Christmas conference they showed some slide shows of everyone in the mission as missionaries and then as babies so that was pretty fun to watch. You could feel such a sweet spirit there it was great! 

    On Christmas we woke up and opened our packages from our families the whole house all together so that was fun. After that we went to the church and had a little party where we made pancakes and watched "The Best Two Years." It is crazy how accurate that movie is!! It really is right on the money of how a mission is haha. One of our English class members brought a Baskin Robbins cake that was way tasty. Christmas night we went caroling first to a members house in the English Branch then we went and sang on Gangnam Daero, the main street of Gangnam. We got a lot of weird looks and it was kind of scary singing in front of all those people but who knows maybe some felt the spirit as they walked by. Some foreigners walked by and were like what in the world are these two white dudes doing singing in Korean on the street haha. 

      On Saturday we went to Dino Golgi, a meat buffet, with our friend Ranee from the English Branch. He is a pretty funny dude. We also went to Costco and I got some muffins!! Not just muffins but that was the best thing I bought haha. I had a good conversation with the taxi driver on the way home and was able to talk to him a bit of why I was here. He was Christian too and a really nice man so we had a nice talk. He said I was handsome and then to make him laugh I responded in Korean of course and said "No. I am uglier than a pig" haha. That poor taxi driver was laughing his head off, he thought I was so funny. Yesterday was rough... I woke up with a terrible head ache and could barely walk without falling over haha. I just had to fight through it all day though with church and all. Last night they had a family history thing at the Stake Center that was pretty cool  and everybody kept asking why my dad is brown and I'm white. So that was pretty funny. They had an end of the year music festival afterwards that a lot of the English branch came too. There are a lot more American members in Korea then I thought. It was crazy being around people that weren't missionaries that spoke English as good as I did. Transfer calls are this Saturday so who knows maybe I will go to an English branch or something? I have a feeling I will leave Gangnam since I have been here for 3 transfers but idk. I will go whenever the Lord needs me to be. I love you all and hope you have a Happy New Year!! 

Lets make 2015 a good one!!!! :)

Elder Picard

Christmas stockings from home.
At the Gogi Buffet with my companion!
Enjoying pies at our Christmas conference.
Peacing with Hulk, didn't know he had a femine side.
Christmas package from home and the perfect tree from my best Saltese Ward!
Always get jerky in my stocking!
Love Baskin Robbins!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Week 24 December 22, 2014 "Just call me Santa!"

    3 days till Christmas!! It is really weird though because as a missionary it doesn't feel like a normal Christmas because I will not be with my wonderful family and am not doing what I did all growing up preparing for Christmas. Time just kind of all blends together out here in the mission field. I had a lot of opportunities to pass out the "He is the gift" pass along cards they gave us to hand out before Christmas. We still have a lot more to pass out but that's okay because I love any chance I get to use my Korean skills, which aren't great, to talk about Jesus and Christmas!! I learned a lot of vital lessons this week that have made me really think hard. There have been some gifts I have took for granted and have really realized the importance of them till just now... You just learn so much being a missionary, it is awesome! One point I really liked yesterday when I watched the annual Christmas Devotional that was broadcast from SLC was the fact that God didn't send tornadoes, earthquakes, or strike us with lightning to get us to straighten up but He sent a tender little baby. That just shocked me when I heard that because I realized that God really did know and had the utmost patient in the world that He didn't strike the world with His almighty power but instead sent a baby boy. A baby boy that would soon become the Redeemer of the world! Through and because of Him we are able to be happy and have the opportunity to live for time and all eternity with our families. This plan just makes sense! God knows all of His children and wants us all to return to live with Him again. From here on out I will be able to view Christmas in a way I have never been able to before view it. Christmas has a whole new meaning to me now... I may not be the best person or missionary I can be right now but thanks to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ I can always be forgiven of my sins and become who He wants me to become. Hurrah for Israel! Hurrah for Christmas time! Because it truly is "the most wonderful time of the year!" We watched the devotional in Korean but lucky for me there was a man at church that let me use his Ipad so I could read along and actually understand haha. I wouldn't of got as much out of it as I did if it weren't for that man and his Ipad. That may not seem like a miracle but man was it one. I felt the spirit so strongly yesterday and couldn't help but smile. 

      I got to go to the temple this week! My companion and I did initiatories because they needed 2 elders to do them. We get in there and it was all in Korean and the men performing the ordinances were speaking really fast so I didn't understand a thing accept for "amen." Then as I sat there with my eyes closed I heard fluent English. For a second I thought I had just experienced the gift of tongues but then realized the man was actually speaking English... Although that man made my experience at the temple so much more meaningful and because he was there and that point and time to do that, that in itself is a miracle! I got my Christmas package but haven't opened it yet. So thanks family for sending that. You are the best. I also got some other mail. Thanks to everyone who sends me mail. I love getting mail, it's the best!

        Since I get to Skype with my family this week this email will be a little shorter than usual. The last thing I am going to talk about is our ward Christmas party we had on Saturday. There was a pretty good turn out and I got to be Santa!! Being Santa was really fun and all of the kids in the ward knew it was me so that was pretty funny. One of them when I came in actually said "That's not the real Santa" so that was pretty funny. They had lots of food and some investigators came so that was really good. We actually have 2 sisters that have been coming to church and want to get baptized so that is pretty cool. Not sure when they want to but hey it's a start! Well anyways I love you all so much and thanks for your support while I am over here in Korea, you are the best! 


Elder Picard

Santa and his companion
They like there Santas tall and thin in Korea, a bit different than America.
Santa in action at the ward Christmas party, too much fun!
Public transportation, easy to find the tall white guy.
So crowded.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Week 23 December 15, 2014 "Korean Santa was a surprise!"

   10 days till Christmas!!!!! I can't wait. Christmas time is the best time of the year and especially as a missionary because you get to talk to people about the true meaning of Christmas, Jesus Christ! I have really learned how to take rejection being here in Korea that's for sure because sometimes people just don't want to talk or listen to you. I know I am here because the Lord needs me here so I just do my very best to always have a smile on my face. Luckily for me during this cold windy winter in Korea once you smile your face is kind of just stuck smiling until you go into a building with heaters and your face can unfreeze haha. I am so lucky to get personal study time every morning and I have learned a lot lately during that time. I would encourage everyone to set aside some time each day to just read your scriptures and have some alone time in thinking what can I do better each day to make my Savior proud? I know as I have done this and really thought about myself and what more I could be doing that the Lord has blessed me significantly. 

     We taught a few practice lessons this week so that was good. I can slowly see my Korean picking up so that's pretty cool. I have really noticed a difference as I try and just simply pick out words I know from what people say. With just words and can usually make a good guess of what people are trying to tell me but the grammar on the other hand is the hard part. I will get it someday though hopefully. We met with a potential investigator this week but no luck. He didn't believe in God and said he only took us out to eat so he could practice his English. That seems to be the case a lot here so I have just kind of got used to it. We had District meeting this week and my companion gave training on how we can more effectively study the Korean language so that really helped me think about what more I can do to improve. I know for a fact that if I just keep doing my best that the Lord will put words into my mouth when I need them most like it promises in Doctrine & Covenants. I just have to keep relying on the Lord and He will help me out. 

      This week we went to COEX and saw Santa Claus! The crazy thing is the Santa wasn't Korean, he was white so we got a picture with him. My comp and I both thought it was hilarious that even in Korean Santa is white haha. Later on that night we stumbled upon a K-Pop concert which was a rather interesting experience. We didn't stay long just took a few pictures and then left. We had an appointment with a former investigator who talks a million miles per hour in not very good English and is hard to understand. The appointment went okay but he didn't have much gospel interest just the simple interest of wanting to know about America. We ran into these two old crazy drunk Korean dudes that wouldn't stop laughing at each other and keep telling me that I was so tall. It was pretty funny. On Sunday I had a good day and learned a lot. I learned more on the importance it is that I always have a serious attitude and act as a representative of Jesus Christ himself. I have always been a silly dude but I have been trying to save my jokes for the right times. In Korea, it is really important to always know how you act because the Korean people observe how others act very well. So I must always being doing the right thing. Korean has still been continuing to frustrate me in the fact that I can't express myself as I would like to. It is Christmas though so how can I be sad!! Lucky for me I have my best friend Jesus Christ who will help me through it all!! Hard times really are nothing when we let the Lord help us out and work through us. As a missionary I need that. I need to always have the spirit working through me touching all the hearts it can here in Korean. Once again I apologize for my bad English if this email doesn't make sense I am starting to lose my ability to use good grammar with Korean flying through my head. I love you all so much!! Thanks for all the love and support! "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men!" 

Merry Christmas from Korea!! 
Elder Picard
We found Santa in Korea and to my surprise he is white, hope I make the nice list.
Had to take a picture as much as my family loves "Wallace & Gromit"
They even play the song "Gangnam Style" here we just watched little kids dance to the song, too cute.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Week 22 December 8, 2014 "Thanks so much Saltese ward family, you are the best!"

  I can't believe there is only 17 more days till my first Christmas in Korea, that's crazy!! I am really excited for my first Christmas here in country and can't wait to Skype my family. It is going to be the best! Time flies over here in the mission field when you are having fun and even when you are not it's crazy haha. There are hard times and not so hard times here in Gangnam. Lucky for me I get to learn from the hard times and do my best to make all times fun ones!! I am all about having fun and you sure can have a lot of fun on your mission. We are still trying to find more investigators and people to teach because we only have one right now. It has been really hard not having a lot of investigators and people to teach so I have had to be really patient. Which you all know is hard for me sometimes haha. Patience is everything out here. I have to be patient to do just about everything. I mean especially with Korean because it doesn't just come. I wish it did but I just have to keep working for it. I am slowly progressing and can see my Korean getting better and better each day so that's good. 

     This week wasn't too exciting and pretty uneventful but that's okay because I mean sometimes you just have those weeks. We did a lot of proselyting this week and a few practice lessons to help with my Korean so that was good. After email this week we did meet this crazy guy who wanted to take us to get coffee and we said that we didn't drink coffee so we went and got hot chocolate with him. I was really confused with what was going on and at first I thought it was a miracle we found someone but turned out not so good. The man spoke English but not very well. He said it was the first time he met Mormons and wanted to know all about our church. He was full of questions and wouldn't really give us time to answer. It got to the point where he was just trying to prove us wrong and wasn't even listening. It was really hard to not get frustrated but somehow I managed to do so. I gave him a Book of Mormon and my card then bore my testimony of its truth and left it at that because that was really all I could do at that point. 

      My Korean mother who calls me her son told me to set the goal of baptizing 100 people but by the look of things right now that would be extremely difficult. I guess she has more faith in me than I do of myself haha. I also am not in South America so I think 100 might be a little too high. We will see though maybe I can do it? I bought a basketball this week from the Nike store because I am crazy and can't wait till I can play some basketball. The youth in the church in Korea isn't to strong so I am hoping that when spring comes around I can use my basketball skills to pick up some youth investigators and get them interested in the church :) This week I actually went to a high school to see if I could play with their team and do a little coaching but they turned me down. The team was doing really weird warm up drills and at first I thought they were some sort of Karate team because they were doing a variety of different somersaults. It was kind of entertaining to watch but weird. Our ward mission leader took us out for dinner and is starting to try and help us out more so that's good. We had Zone training this week and were trained on using time wisely, how to use our area books, and how to find people that are prepared to hear the gospel. I also went on an exchange with the Zone Leaders since my companion is District Leader. The exchange went good but the Zone Leader I went with and I do not have a single thing in common so it was kind of hard but I learned a lot. I had eggs for breakfast on the exchange and turns out my body is starting to reject eggs. So I had a big tummy ache and had to go to the bathroom. Turns out the toilet was already kind of broken but then I made it worse... We spent like 2 hours trying to fix the thing and couldn't get it to flush. So yeah there is a funny story for you. I got to play basketball with a bunch of little Filipinos who were non members so that was way fun. The Zone Leaders live in the area where our Stake Center is and it is where the English branch also meets so it is a good sized building for Korea. They get to have a lot of fun activities over there with a gym and all so I for sure had a good time getting to run around and all. 

     Well yesterday was my 4th fast Sunday in country! My companion and Elder Hegewald had to do a little introduction of themselves because they are new to the ward. Since Elder Knapp bore his testimony he told me I had to go up too so I did. I did pretty good but then got caught up on a sentence towards the end and just had to close my testimony because I didn't know how to say it in Korean. It is really hard not being able to express myself in Korean but I am kind of getting used to it. That night we went to the 최's for family night, dinner, and to teach a practice lesson. We taught the Plan of Salvation. The lesson went well and my companion had me teach most of it so that was tough but with help from my 12 week study packet I got during training I managed to do it. They had me sing a Christmas song solo in English for the closing song so that was kind of funny. After family night we helped my Korean mom, 최선옥, insulate one of the rooms in their house so their house wouldn't get cold. Korea sure is pretty cold during the winter that's for sure. I am doing my best to keep myself warm though.

      I got the advent calendar last week and I was so excited when I saw what it was!! Thanks so much Saltese ward family, you are the best! I hung it up in our house so now we have a Christmas tree :) I had a good personal study this morning and one of the biggest things I learned was that Christ is with us every step of the way throughout our lives. When we our weak, He will make us strong. When we are sad, He will cheer us up. When we are lost and don't know what to do, He will show us the way and bring us unto the greatest possible happiness we can ever imagine!!! All of this made me come again to the realization that although it will take time I will learn Korean and as I am obedient he will help me and guide to those who are ready to hear the gospel!! I would challenge you all back home to look for opportunities to share the gospel any chance you get. When you do so I can testify that the Lord will always bless you. He wants all His lost sheep to be found. Time to keep working and pushing on!! Hurrah for Israel!!

Elder Picard

Thank you so much Saltese Ward family, you are the best! Now we have a Christmas tree and I LOVE IT!

They got really fancy and decorated a pillar in the subway station by my house so I had to take a picture with it because I LOVE CHRISTMAS!
At Olympic park in SEOUL