Sunday, February 22, 2015

Week 33 February 23, 2015 "Grateful for a week of miracles"

This week was transfers and let me start off by saying that my new area definitely is NOT Gangnam!! I like it here in Siheung but it is just way different. Siheung is pretty much straight country with a bit of city so it is still weird walking around not seeing just a bunch of really tall buildings like I did in Gangnam. The ward is a lot smaller then I thought it would be too. I thought Gangnam ward was small but definitely not as small as the Siheung ward is. We have a lot more youth so that is pretty cool and I look forward to being able to work with more youth instead of just really old people like I did in Gangnam. I also have been told that I won't get fed as much here in Siheung so that was kind of sad to hear. That's okay though because there is a lot more important things than food. I definitely look back after just a few short days of being here in Siheung and I am really grateful for how well the members and people in Gangnam took care of me. They sure did feed me lots of really yummy food. I also got a little chubby there... so hopefully here in Siheung I can start dropping the pounds I put on in Gangnam haha. I started doing Air Alert again and get up to either jump or run every morning so that has been a really good way to start off the day. My new companion is Elder Williamson from Orem, Utah and he is a pretty cool cat. We have a lot in common and get along well. He is significantly smaller than me and it looks pretty funny when we walk next to each other to see the height difference. Korea is a pretty safe place but Elder Willy said I could be his body guard and protect him if we ever get jumped haha. 

    My travel to Siheung was like I went back 20 years because it is a lot less city than Gangnam. I kept just looking around and asking where I am? My companion simply responded welcome to Korea. I was definitely in shock for a bit but I think I will be able to adjust. My new house is alright and a little bigger than the one in Gangnam. Our apartment is on the lucky number 13th floor so that is kind of sketchy... hopefully nothing crazy ever happens like the apartment collapsing. Of course it won't because lucky for me a have the Lord protecting me. My first day out here Elder Willy took me out to straight country. How you know it is straight country is because we had to take a bus 2 hours out into the middle of nowhere. We got out there and started walking to this little neighborhood to knock doors. On the way out we saw a guy riding a horse down the street so that was pretty crazy because I didn't even think they had horses here. It was my first time knocking doors because I could never do it in Gangnam with all the locked up apartments. The first few houses turned us away but a few houses later we got let in a house!! This old man said he was watching TV and let us come in. We talked with him while we were both thinking how did we get let into a house this never happens over here in Korea. My companion only has 3 three transfers left and that was the first time he was let in knocking doors so that proves my statement. It definitely was a miracle. The old man's wife even made us homemade mandoo to eat. We had a good conversion with them and will probably visit again but we decided to leave when a bunch of their family started showing up for the holiday. It was Solar this past week, which is like the Korean version of Chinese New Year or just the Solar calendar new year in general. I just wonder what all the family thought when they came in and saw two white dudes talking with their grandparents. Probably something like what in the world are these two white dudes doing here! We continued to knock doors and give out family English flyers and Restoration pamphlets and had lots of really good conversations. The people out in the country are way nicer than the ones in the working city of Gangnam. Turns out the neighborhood we were in is like one extended family so we taught like the whole family a bit about the gospel which is pretty cool. We then started walking back to the bus station and passed by this man outside his house making a fire. I was pretty tired and my comp asked if we should talk to him and fighting how tired I was I said yes. We talked to him and then his wife came out and told us to come in because it was cold outside. We got let in again!! Just a week full of miracles I guess. The daughter then proceeded to cut us an apple to eat and we started talking with the son, daughter, and mom. After talking for a while the mom went into the kitchen. She then came out after some time with a bunch of Korean side dishes. We proceeded to eat after they asked us to. Then she bought out the main dish which was steak! We were in shock. Then she brought out octopus and I was like uh oh... my comp ate it all so I didn't have to. We were the only ones eating so it was way weird. We asked them if they weren't eating and they said that they already ate. Before we ate we asked if we could pray and they let us. We shared a little message with them and introduced the 30/30 program which is 30 min English and 30 min gospel. The whole family was solid and super nice so I have a good feeling about them. We even were able to say a prayer before we left. We thanked them for the food and were on our way. There was such a sweet spirit in that house and I couldn't leave without having the biggest smile on my face! 

   We celebrated Solar as a Zone and had a good time. I am now in Gangso Zone. We had a big french toast breakfast, played basketball and volleyball, and even got to watch Meet the Mormons!! That movie was bomb! It was so good and I could feel the spirit so strongly throughout to reassure me that this church is TRUE. Also that there in nothing better I could be doing right now than serving a mission and sharing the happiness I have with the people of South Korea. I spoke in Church to introduce myself and cracked a few jokes to make the members left. Said I was ugly, not very tall,  and that I don't speak speak Korean well haha. I then bore my testimony best I could. The members are all pretty cool and I look forward to serving them. Yesterday we got to take the sacrament to an old lady in the hospital and that was a really cool experience. Yesternight we visited another old lady in the hospital who is an investigator and got to give her a blessing. I had a really spiritual week and we were blessed with lots of miracles. The mission isn't easy but I want to become the missionary the Lord wants me to become. So in order to do so I just have to keep trying hard and do the very best I can. It won't be easy. Life in general isn't easy but with the Lord as my team captain I know I can do this. I love you all so much and thank you for all the prayers, love, and support. You are the best!!! 

Elder Picard
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Sunday, February 15, 2015

Week 32 February 16, 2015 "Goodbye Gangnam, Hello Shi Hung"

    Well we got transfer calls and I guess it is time for me to leave Gangnam... :( Gangnam has been a great area and I definitely grew to love it. Don't get me wrong it was hard at times but I learned so much being here and look forward to see what The Lord has in store for me in my next area. I will be going to Shi Hung and my new companion will be Elder Williamson. The funny thing is my new comp has been comps with Elder Knapp and Elder Black before so that is kind of crazy. My new area from what I here is country and by definition from other missionaries, "actual Korea." It for sure will be weird going to a new area and not knowing anything but it will all be for the best. I haven't been speaking Korean too much because it is hard and I got lazy sometimes but this next transfer I am going to try really hard and speak as much Korean as possible. The fact that a lot of people in Gangnam speak English for sure didn't help my Korean either though haha. I just got to try my absolute hardest and the Lord will bless me with the Korean speaking ability that I need. It may not come as fast as I want it to but I know it will. It is so weird to think I am already going on my 5th transfer here in Korea. Time just gets faster and faster so it is probably time to not worry about me and having fun and get to work!

     We started the week off strong Elder Knapp and I did. The reason being is because we managed to get separated in the subway and I was by myself for like 20 minutes. It was way weird to not be with my companion and kind of scary haha. How we got separated was we had just went shopping at Costco so I was carrying a big box of food home and when we went to get on the train in the subway station Elder Knapp got on but then the doors closed and I couldn't manage to squeeze through with the big box I was carrying. I was like uh oh what do I do but then I remembered that if that incident ever happens you just get on the next train and your companion should be at the next stop waiting for you. Luckily he was there. We had a good laugh about what happened and now I know what it feels like to get separated from a companion on your mission. We got to meet our investigator 박신준 this week. He took us out for 삼겹살 and the sister missionaries that referred him to us also came along. We had a good time and were able to share with him a quick message. He asked us to always pray for him so of course we have been. We have been trying to get him to pray too but I don't think he has yet. His time will come though I know it. The Lord works in marvelous ways and on His own time so we just have to wait with faith. 

       One day this week we managed to teach 3 lessons in just that day. Remember I am not in South America, I am in Korea and 3 lessons in a day is pretty high. One was with a member that we met for lunch and then a guy randomly called us wanting to meet at the church! Something like this rarely ever happens so we rushed over to the church to meet him. He had met missionaries at temple square and just had a bunch of questions about the church. He had even read some of the B of M but said it was really hard to understand. We definitely weren't planning on teaching him so much but he just kept asking us questions so of course we answered. We pretty much taught everything we believe... so it was probably a lot for him to take in. Hopefully his mind wasn't to blown and E, Knapp and his new comp will be able to meet him again. Our last lesson we taught was with another referral we got and actually ended up having to referral him again because he wasn't in our area. We ate with him at McDs and taught him a bit but he didn't seem too interested. We got his information to the 서초 missionaries and they already set up an appointment to meet him again! 

        Well since I am a missionary I can't have a valentine but I did get some chocolate so it's all good. It was bitter sweet having to say goodbye to the Gangnam ward... I would of never guessed that I could of got that close to a ward in just 6 months!! I started my talk by speaking in Korean but then to truly express my heart I had to switch to English. Must of the ward understands English so it was okay. I got up there and nerves just hit me but I managed to hold back my tears. I expressed thanks to the ward and told them that I loved them so much. I pretty much based my testimony on the fact that life is hard but lucky for us we have Jesus Christ with us every step of the way. I for sure am not the best missionary yet but I know that I can become a "great" one. The reason being is because God and Jesus Christ are waiting for me to become just that. I know that to be true for ALL of us as well. We can all become "great!" It although requires work on our part. When life gets hard. Pray. When life gets even harder. Pray even harder! I love you all so much and wish you a happy late Valentines Day from South Korea!

Elder Picard
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Gotta have my COSTCO chicken even in Seoul!
Lunch with our investigators and Sisters

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Week 31 February 9, 2015 "Life is not meant to be a cake walk"

 I would first off like to wish the best little sister in the world an early Happy Birthday so yeah Happy Birthday Elizabeth!!! This week I have in a way been reflected back on my mission and all that I have gone through. It is crazy how many hard times I have had and how many more fun times I have had. Describing a mission is honestly probably one of the hardest things. I have learned so much during these first 7 months of my mission and can't wait to keep learning. Don't even think twice about whether or not you want to serve a mission. If you are ready and worthy, DO IT! You for sure won't regret it. We get transfer calls this Sunday so I guess we will see what happens. Who knows maybe I will stay in Gangnam for yet another transfer? The weather this week decided to get a little chilly a few days and way windy. You cannot predict the weather here that is for sure. 

     This week we got to meet our investigator 박신준b. He sure loves to talk but that's okay because I do too. We met with him for like 3 hours. We were able to get to know him a little better and find out that he was quite the trouble maker in his words growing up. He then decided he needed to move on and go to college. His parents got a divorce in his late teen years and he had to choose either his mom or his dad because that is how it works in Korea. He chose his mom and his mom was a good example to him of one who loved God and who prayed continually. His mom had his back every step of the way and made him wonder about religion. In college he developed the desire to become a minister. He although never made it there. He said prayers off and on but really didn't know. He then got involved in the business world and didn't have much time to go to church or think about religion from what he told us. He  wanted to live and provide for himself and not live off his parents for his whole life even when he could of because both of his parents were well known and wealthy. After getting to know him a little better I was impressed to show him David A. Bednar's talk "Come and See" so I did and we watched it in Korean together. He speaks pretty good English but when he doesn't know how to say what he wants to in English he will say it in Korean. I could feel the spirit during the talk and even understand a little bit with the help of subtitles in English haha. After watching, he told us that he knew that man (Elder Bednar) was a really good man and that the things he said could of been from God. We then taught the first part of lesson 2 and committed him to pray so I guess we will see if he did or not tomorrow when we meet him. 

       We did lots of walking this week and walked clear down to the bottom of our area, it took like 3 hours! We talked to a lot of people on the way and even got strawberry smoothies. We were out looking for LA's and we found out that they all moved... One of these days we will find one I know it! I got to go to the temple this week and had a really good time as always. Temples are the best! I got to see my trainer so that was really cool too because I will only get to see him one more time probably. He goes home in 11 days!! It honestly feels like just yesterdayrhe was training me. I bought the Miracle of Forgiveness at the temple and started reading it this week. Man does that book throw it down. It really gets you thinking and is kind of hard to understand but I am slowly managing to work my way through. We are so lucky to be blessed with the Atonement and the ability to repent. In all reality even though sometimes we don't like to get it through our heads, we ALL sin and we all need to repent on the daily. God really does love us and knows that we aren't perfect and that we all would sin so that is why He sent His Son, Jesus Christ. Through Christ we can all be forgiven of our sins and live a life of happiness instead of a life of sorrow and pain. Although we will still experience sorrow and pain we can get through those hard times with the help of our Beloved Brother, Jesus Christ! 

      Last thing I want to share is what I learned at Zone training from a missionary that is going home very soon. He explained how at the beginning of his mission he said that he would die for Christ if it ever came down to it. Now, he explained that instead of wanting to die for Christ he wants to LIVE for Christ. That really hit me when I heard it and made me think. I believe that missionary is 100% correct! We need this life to learn and progress to become perfect as Christ is. Life is not meant to be a "cake walk," it will be hard. I also know that Christ will help each and every one of us throughout our entire lives. I will forever be thankful to my Lord and Savior for all he has done for me and continue to live for Him best I can. 

Elder Picard
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I LOVE my trainer! So good to see him.
Star Wars, our family loves this stuff 
My trainer at the temple with me. 

Strawberry smoothie, it was a great day!

Monday, February 2, 2015

Week 30 February 2, 2015 "No Groundhog day in Korea"

 It is already February!! What? Where did January go? haha. I am so sad to see the Hawks go down in so close of a game. I love my team and this for sure will not be there last Superbowl appearance. This week was good but Korea is just now realizing that it is winter and has been a bit chilly lately. Today isn't too bad but maybe tomorrow will be cold? You never know here haha. The weather jumps all over the place, well at least this winter it has. Mom, to answer your question I am pretty sure Groundhog day is not a thing in Korea.
    Elder Knapp and I continued our mornings this past week by getting up to run so we could start working off all the food we have and continue to get fed in Gangnam. In not too soon if we don't work out we may start looking like the Fat Boys in Alice in Wonderland. One morning Elder Knapp wasn't feeling well so I went running with Elder Hegewald. We ran to this school that had a turf soccer field and a track. Once we started to run around the track we noticed through the windows of a building connected to the school a weight room! So we of course immediately went to check that out. We pretty much just wondered inside and started to work out thinking maybe it was free. Then some guy came up to us and send we had to go back downstairs to get a key for the locker room because he saw some of our stuff on the floor. We went downstairs and the lady working at the desk told us we had to pay and that it wasn't free. We weren't 100% sure what she said because she was speaking Korean so then I told E. Hegewald to tell her what the guy said upstairs. He did and then she just gave us keys. We were like okay we got the keys now and went back upstairs to continue working out. I guess sometimes it helps to be dumb foreigners who don't know Korean that well haha. When we went grocery shopping this week we managed to find a place with some good deals that just opened up. It was by the church and we didn't think it was too far from our house but man was that walk back brutal! I bought a lot of cheap soy milk, some other heavy food items, and some eggs. My bags were pretty much ripping and I was trying to walk without dropping all my eggs. It was quite difficult and I had to stop at a random place and ask for a new bag because all my groceries were pretty much falling out of my bag. The walk home was uphill and downhill so it for sure was not fun! I came across a box that I then put all of my groceries in so I only had to carry one thing but even then I was wishing I had never bought any groceries. We walked all the way home and I was the happiest fellow after having to carry all that home but I can slow see my frustration not being as bad as before my mission so that's good. Next time even if it is a few bucks I am for sure taking a taxi haha. I got some letters from my Dad so those were really nice to read and get uplifted by. I finally got my family Christmas card too!! Apparently it was sent to the West Indies by accident so that is why I just got it. Yeah so Merry Christmas from the Picard's in late January I guess. Only like a month late but it's whatever haha. 

    This week the other Elder's somehow took two of our appointments that I set up! I guess there was like some miscommunication but still I was kind of upset. Maybe they don't need 4 Elders in Gangnam anymore? Maybe 2 will suffice? haha. Just joking. It wasn't that big of a deal and just got to move on like they say. I made some banana bread this week in our rice cooker and I got to admit it was pretty bomb! I then made more a few days later and I think my cooking skills are just getting better and better. Maybe I should be a chef? We met a potential this week for lunch and he didn't have too much interest. He just loves America so that is why he agreed to meet with us since we are from there and all. That seems to happen a lot here in Gangnam. Oh well. We then were walking around and something really cool happened. We got a text from the 부평 Sisters that said call if you want a referral so we did. We got a referral!! We then called the referral and he was down to meet at his office right then!! We got on the subway and headed for his office. When we got there we ended up being able to teach him the whole first lesson and we talked for like 3 hours. He said when he was little and with his dad walking on the street they saw missionaries and ever since then he has wondered what we were about and why we were always so happy. His name is 박신준 and we are meeting him this week again so that is way cool!! He is way rich too and owns like 3 companies. He told us if we ever need anything or just need to talk about Korea and our struggles here to call him and he will take us out to eat really expensive food. Elder Knapp then labeled him as our sugar daddy haha. He is way cool and said that after our missions he will take us to a film festival in Santa Monica, California that he goes to because he still owns part of a film company here in Korea. He said that we will have to be his drivers because he will be drunk the whole time haha. Hopefully we will be able to keep teaching him and helping him on his journey to receiving this the restored gospel. 

      We were also able to do service this week with a really nice man in his 80's who just does community service because he loves to help people. We helped foreigners in the subway station that didn't know Korean and answered any questions they had since we speak English and all haha. It was way fun and I for sure find joy in helping others. After English Class Saturday night we went to dinner with my boy Min. We ate this really delicious 탕수육 and just had a good time together. Not much gospel was discussed but oh well sometimes the best thing you can do is just be a friend to someone. Last night we did FHE at the 최's and I shared with them my father's conversion story that a Brother in our ward who speaks Korean and English fluently translated for me into Korean. It was really cool to share that story in Korean and the family send it was a wonderful story. I am so blessed to have such an amazing family and I love them all so much. I know this gospel is true. I may not have the testimony of a prophet or anything but my best testimony is all I need. As long as all of us continue to nourish our testimonies God will be proud of us and will shape us into the people He wants us to become. I am lucky to have this gospel and am even more lucky to be able to live with my family for time and all eternity!! Missions are hard but like I have been told and tell myself everyday I need this so I must just keeping pushing on! Life likewise is not easy but with God's help and with His Son's Atonement we CAN make it through. I love you all so very much!! 

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What a surprise, a food picture.
Had to take a picture for my dad. 

Doing service in the Subway, too much fun!
My happy little missionary guy, and a companion who probably doesn't like to take pictures as much as he does.
My new best thing to make, banana bread in the rice cooker.