Monday, September 30, 2013

Sad Week

Hey mom this week has been another great week! Some sad stuff has happened in the last couple days but I feel really blessed to be apart of this mission and this Korean movement that is in place right now. I love you! Tell grandma and grandpa and Aunt Peg I love them!
Love Elder Meza

(letter to Stan Groneman)

It already started snowing?! Dang it's so hot here haha! Yeah some pretty amazing things happened and some really sad things as well. One of our members, The Greer family, we were actually supposed to eat at their house sometime this week and my senior companion was very close to them and helped them with a lot and Brother Greer passed away yesterday morning in his sleep and he wasn't very old. He has a 5 year old daughter and a wife (Who is Korean) Sister Greer has asked us to sing Amazing Grace at his funeral and so we will be doing that sometime this week.
We work a lot with less active members and at first I thought it was a waste of time but seeing them come back to church after years of being inactive is one of the best feelings ever. Plus they always try and give us referals! I can't believe I'm already 3 months out time goes by so quick!
Love Elder Meza

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Trip to the Bath House - A Korean Tradition

The Bath House

Happy Birthday Sister Groneman! (Delsi)

I have quite the story for you. By the way our computers are way nice but they freeze hardcore so last week I didn't really have a lot of time to email the family, but will you share my emails with the family or something? Thanks!
So I guess before I came here the Korean Missionaries used to only get about 4 meals a month but after I gave my talk and told them how much I love Korean food our numbers for member dinners have increased and hopefully will keep doing so. The Korean program has had the hardest time getting meal appointments out of all the other programs because since we are a branch instead of a ward so their isn't a whole lot of members plus they're scattered so much through out Southern California that some of them have to drive over an hour just so they can partake the sacrament and here the word of God in their native tongue. This is why I think I have been placed in the best branch surrounded by the best members in the world, they are awesome and so nice to me. Anyways back to food quick story we were at the Chu's family for dinner (By the way they are my favorite family in the branch) When I see her I always say  추자매님께서는 저의 한국 엄마에요! you can have Derek translate haha. Anyways the Chu family had us over again for dinner and gave us neng myun (Cold noodle soup) And I'll tell you what, that was the first thing I have eaten that I haven't liked. And I have eaten some weird things (tongue, intestines, cow hoof) She asked if I wanted a turkey burger instead (since I'm American)before I started eating and of course the turkey burger sounded amazing but I want them to keep inviting us for dinner plus I want the members to see that I'm not like the other previous American missionaries. I literally prayed that I could eat the whole bowl (Biggest bowl I have ever seen) with a smile and not throw up! Haha. it was so hard to hold down I truly thought I was going to throw u,p but I ate it all. And it doesn't even taste that bad it's just so hard to chew and actually put down haha.
I didn't think you'd be to into the festival haha that scene doesn't normally float you boat haha. But I'm glad you went with Grandma and had fun! Tell Grandma I love her and miss her! (Mom and I went to St George to Tuachan and went the long way through Capitol Reef, Bryce and Zion's canyons) I can't believe you didn't like Bryce and Capitol Reef! They're so stinkin pretty! Did you get that letter to Uncle Bud? It was in the box I sent home from the MTC.

So the first thing I said to my companion when I got here was...Do I actually get to speak a lot of Korean because I want to teach Korean people in only Korean and I don't want my 9 weeks to be for nothing. we get to go to a bath house cause my whole district goes the second they get off the plane in Korea. He was so confused and wondering why this tall mexican kid cared so much about the Korean Culture haha. So Elder Kim talked with President Bowen and after a while got us the ok to go to 목욕탕. So we can only go when new missionaries arrive and we don't get new Korean missionaries for 7or8 months. The night before I told everyone I was going to proselyte in their and no one believed me.  Elder Kim said "Since this might be the only time you can go and because we don't know if you're younger dongee will want to go and it's your 1st time, I want it to be something you remember" (Since no matter what it was going to be the 1st time I was in a tub with a bunch of naked old Korean men I figured I'd probably remember anyways but I wasn't about to argue haha) So, we drove to Fullerton and went to a super way nice one! Oh by the way 목욕탕 is literally a bath house. You have a cold pool a warm bath and a hot bath then there is the dry sauna then a different room is the ice box and "chill out rooms" where you really just sleep. And it is really a huge bath tub that a bunch of people wash themselves in. haha. We were in the sauna when we met Chris. We made causal conversation and began to tell him that we're missionaries and such and such and started to teach lesson 2(plan of salvation) as we're teaching another guy named Brandon starts listening and is super interested while Elder Kim is talking he stops him and says "I have to go I'm already late, but I know what you're saying is true and I want to hear more." So Elder Kim and Elder Chung go out to the locker room where they get his info. Meanwhile I'm talking to Chris and we start to go really in depth about the 3 kingdoms of glory. He starts asking about what about people who have been born with a disability or get in severe accidents and what happens to them and what would happen if per-say he did good and lived a righteous life what would happen to his family who did the exact opposite. And this was also my biggest question that I have had I searched for 9 weeks at the MTC and finally found my answer. Or the answer that fit to my needs. So in response I said something along the lines of "Chris I'll be completely honest with you, I'm only 18 years old and the knowledge I have of this gospel is not very great compared to others. But what I do know is if you follow the commandments and you follow what the prophets say and live your life according to God's will, God has no other choice but reward you and place you in the kingdom you rightfully deserve. One thing I do know though and can promise is in the Celestial Kingdom you can only experience pure joy. And if you receive joy through your family then you will continue to do so. I don't know exactly how that works but I know that if you do what you need to do and will set the example that those "family members" need then you AND them will be blessed for it. It's not our place to judge where others will go in the end and because of the spirit world and the missionary work that takes place there we do not know who will accept his gospel up there." He then said "I live right next to a mormon church and know exactly what time it starts can I just go?" I said "Of course! Anyone can! Can we get your contact info and we can teach you a little more about the gospel" He then replied "Nope. But do you promise I can go to church this sunday?" Confused I responded with "Yeahh...of course." last thing from chris was "K bye thank you for the message it was great by the way ill be going to church sunday" ......Oh okay...Bye Chris Have a great time at church! haha :)

That's not it though we went to the ice box where again we started to teach these 3 men and one guy Cory was bashing us so hard just saying racial slurs and cussing us out and being super disrespectful to Elder Kim and I was getting so mad I just sat there and made sure I didn't say anything dumb from time to time I asked him if he'd hold back his racial slurs and watch his mouth and Elder Chung could tell I was getting super heated so he came and sat between us but luckily Elder Kim doesn't really know slang and couldn't understand what was being said so he just kept teaching while smiling and continued to quote the first vision. During this time a man came in for about 5 minutes and left. We later saw that same guy in the sauna and he asked a ton of questions. In the sauna it got way hot so we moved to the ice bath which was super cold so we then moved to the other sauna where we sadly saw Cory, the guy who was bashing us. Elder Kim didn't really know what to do so me and Elder Chung went and sat next to him where we kind of distracted him while Elder Kim left with Mark to the other steam room to continue teaching. While I was talking to Cory I din't bring up any gospel stuff and just talked to him where I found out he isn't that bad of a guy and he had a pretty hard life and he actually served a mission in New Zealand. Where the members there I guess were not that faithful and he saw some bad stuff which lead to him becoming inactive. I stood up and said "The church is always true but the members are not always true" Then just left. I walked past the other sauna room where I saw Elder Kim surrounded by 5 people who are all just listening with real intent and he's like preaching back in the old days from a soap box which was way cool. Anyways we ended up teaching Mark a little longer and he walked out to his car with us where we gave him a Book of Mormon and got his contact info.

Last but not least, the same day we go to get dinner at Jack in the Box but Elder Chung through a little tisy fit and wanted to go to Del Taco so we went there instead. While we were ordering I got the strangest feeling to go talk to this random dude who was the manager. I had know idea what to say but really felt like I should. So Iwent up and asked him if he knew where I could get Pupusa haha. He told me a couple of places and we found out he was already a member so we thought nothing of it and began to eat our food at one of the tables. While we were eating,  Jaime(the manager) pulls a chair up to us and starts by saying how weird this is that we're here because he's been praying for help. He ends up telling us his life story which is so sad! He was Baptized at 12 and moved here from Mexico at 15 where he thought he could have a better life. He was married at 17 and his wife had to go back to mexico and so did his brothers. He worked 2 fulltime jobs to send her 500 a month to build them a house for him his wife and both there parents to stay in. One day the police told him his wife was kidnapped and longstory short he found out his wife was cheating on him and stealing his money and her parents knew all along as well. We also found out in our 2nd lesson with him that his family was really only baptized because his parents were about to get a divorce and his dad tried saving the marriage that way. But his mom left his family with some guy she was cheating with. His dad became an alcoholic which forced him to move out and take care of his little brother because he would get beat. He really has a strong testimony of the church as wishes he could go but works everyday.  He told us about how he has been thinking about suicide and was going to put his little brother in Foster care or have his aunt in Mexico take care of him and how he was determined to take his life that night, the night we met him. We ended up setting another appointment and before we left we gave him a preistood blessing in our car in the parking lot behind Del Taco. We continue to talk with Jaime and he is awesome. Me and him really connected. Since we are the Korean speaking elders we had to pass him along but he still texts me all the time on questions to scriptures and from what I hear is planning on going to church this sunday.

I have some other really cool stories but they would be just as long so I'll have to share them later.  Yeah the missionary reference library books are awesome but I'm not allowed to read them until our 12th week so..:/
Anyways thank you so much for everything mom your awesome and I love you thank you for always sending me stuff.  :) Also ask Derek and the neighbors of any object lessons that they know of! 
Love your super duper awesome and extremely good looking son.
Elder Meza

Monday, September 16, 2013

Dinner Time

Nikko's Mission President, wife and fellow missionaries

Fun in the sun

making the bed frame - not long enough for any of them

The bed frame they made for a sister

Nikko and his trainer and companion

At home at his new ward

Still doing bathroom pics

Still Dancing

First letter from California

So I pretty much have the best mission in the world!!!!! My mission is very different compared to most. First all give you some background on my mission. 5 years ago the korean speaking elders had all of California and had a ton of freedom, I guess the Elders back then could not handle those responsibilities appropriately and would constantly break mission rules and a lot of them ended up getting sent home. The church used to get so much trouble from the Korean speaking mission in California that the apostles came and shut it down in front of everyone. Two years later after much convincing the church re- opened the mission. President Bowen(My mission President) is the most amazing person ever! He has worked so hard with the church (His wife's sister is married to Elder Bednar) and does so much for the Asian zone's! So 2nd thing, my mission isn't really Anaheim that is just where our mission office is located. My mission covers the Irvine Mission, Long Beach and Anaheim.  Because my mission is so large we don't ever ride bikes. We drive a Ford Fusion! haha. So I don't need to spend money on a bike but there's money that I need to spend else where now.
 Tell Grandma not to worry haha. I live in Irvine and my apartment is the 2nd nicest apartment that any missionary can have in the whole world!!!! How awesome is that?! In the next couple of months we will be getting I phones and I pads. We got to test the ipads and they are awesome! It makes it so much easier to fill out the area book and to be more involved with members plus we get to keep them after we leave!
            So just a little bit on the culture and Korean aspect. I do speak mainly English when I'm jundo'ing and tracting but all of our lessons are in Korean and when we go Market contacting it's all in Korean. Church is in Korean and the members speak little to none english unless they're kids or my age. I hated kim chi so much at first I almost threw up! So I decided to eat as whole bottle of kim chi until I did like it, and now I love it! There's this stuff called banana milk and it is hands down the most delicious thing I have ever tasted!!! I buy so much banana milk haha! I love Korean food! It is so much better than what we eat!!
           Members: The Korean branch has 60-70 members I believe. Before I leave this mission I will make sure that this branch turns into a ward. The President Koo (The Branch President) is amazing he reminds me of Bishop Thompson. He does SO much work for his branch. A lot of behind the scenes kind of stuff. Without him I don't know where this branch would be. The members are AMAZING! 
Sister Chu said over the phone that she didn't like people who didn't speak Korean.....we had a dinner appointment with her the next day......You can see why I may havebeen a little more than nervous. The first things I said to her was: "Sister Chu I really want you to like me and I promise I will study Korean very hard so that way you can" (Plus i honorfied the crap out of her!) Sister Chu is now my favorite lady in the Branch! She always come up and puts her arm around my shoulder (Keep in mind shes like 49) And tells everyone I'm the son she never had. So I love her to death plus her Husband is the secratery and is the bee's knee's he always teaches me new words.
 I have gotten to be with the members a lot this 1st week because saturday we had aThanksgiving party at the church and the day before that we had to visit most of them since I'm new and then we had church on Sunday. The Thanksgiving party was so much fun I got to eat great food I met a lot of the members and Kim Young our most progressing investigator showed up and clicked with a lot of the members! We also sang ah-ri-rang with two of the young woman in our branch.
 Our district uses me to get meal appointments because most of the young woman are 15ish and follow me around like a little puppy dog.....So they have me talk to the young woman and tell them how I have never had Korean food and that they should tell their parents to invite us over for me to try the food and then they can also teach me Korean hahaha. 
 Elders and the work so hard! Sunday I gave a talk and my trainer helped me memorize it and say it. And the members were laughing so hard! Because I like the southern Korean accents so my trainer teaches me kwan Juu dilect when I ask him to, and the members think It's the funniest thing to see a non-korean speaking like that. Anyways....I guess the meal appts. have doubled since I got here because the last american missionaries would not eat Korean food and now they just love seeing me eat hahaha. 
          My Trainer is Elder Kim and he is amazing! He has taught me so much when it comes to Korean and has taught me so much when it comes to teaching. He is the most selfless person I have ever met. Everything he does is for other people. My other companion Elder Chung just barely got baptized last year and cooks like a world class chef! (I'm in a trio) I love mine companions they're so freaking awesome.
        Last couple things we made a bed frame for Sister Yim and Elder Chung did the measurements and, wow he was off haha. We ended up making a bed for like 4 year old kid with no arms or legs I have no idea how none of us noticed how tiny it was while we were making it. You'll see a picture of it!

Thank you so much for the Dictionary and book I use it everyday! Thank you thank you! Since we drive everywhere and meet a lot with members (the missionaries and the branch president pretty much keep the church going) But we where our suits almost everyday. Will you PLEASE send me my other suit ASAP I can't get mine drycleaned and then I don't have a suit to wear and my companions are Korean so they are TINY! So I really need my other suit!!!! Also can you ask Aunt Carrie or even just the ward different ideas for youth activities. And toffifay :) Thank you mom I love you so much you are the best ever!
Love Elder Meza

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Arrived in California

Hey Mom, I arrived in California safe and sound! I'm super stoked!

I love you mom,
Elder Meza

Friday, September 6, 2013

Getting ready to leave the MTC

My letter to Nikko started, "Do you want me to meet you at the airport with a flu shot, it is that time."  

No, I do not want you to do that. Tell Brad thank you so much for the letter and tell him thank you for just being an awesome guy and that I appreciate all he has done and that only the righteous and faithful are blessed with trials. And because of his attitude and enduring through everything faithfully I know for a fact he and his whole family will be blessed beyond their belief.

Also tell the Groneman's thank you so much for the cookies and that I'm working on a letter for them right now!

영세대학교  한국어 학당 편  Have Derek read that or just google translate it but that is the book I would love to have. Also if you go to you can get a electronic dictionary. My Mission President emailed me and said they're very expensive in America and a lot harder to find and gave me a website to look for them. Also my Teacher Brother Lund suggested that you get me the brand iriver or nurian make sure is goes from Korean to English and English to Korean.
I still am flying alone. There is no one going to the same mission as me right now so I'm a solo missionary. My schedule changed, I still fly out at 8:45 but I have to leave the MTC at 3:30am!!!!! so I'll have a lot of down time.  I'll call you! I get time again to email you tomorrow so I'll share some stories then! Thank you for the package it was the best one yet. 
Thank you so much mom, I love you from here to mars to back and once more to mars!
Love Elder Meza

Later that day

Tell Grandma I sent her a letter but it was sent back because the ink was smeared! Also tell her that my teacher knows her. His name is Carson Lund he grew up in Gunnison! I'm pretty sure his dad's name is Kim but I can't remember his mom's. He had a brother who was inactive for a long time and same with his dad but his dad joined the church while Carson was on his mission. His dad owns some sort of trucking company in Gunnison? 
In the box I'm sending home I have a letter in it for Uncle Bud. I'm also not sending my backpack home till after I get to California because when riding bikes I might need it. Can you get the Jorgenson's address and tell them Hi, also will you tell bishop that when I get to California and can actually print pictures I'll be sending home a pretty studly picture to go up on that big 'ol white board of his! 

So much has happened these last couple weeks I wish I could just send you my journal to read. Since being here I've been so much more in tuned with the spirit and I honestly love it. I think I came out here off of your testimony and other people's testimony that I was close with. It was great that those little anchors were there for me and to help push me the right way. And I will forever be grateful for being blessed with such amazing examples. But no matter what; you just can't continue to strive towards being fully converted unless you have a testimony of your own. And being at the MTC I've truly and diligently read the scriptures not just because I'm supposed to, but because I had questions and wanted answers! It's crazy how the Book of Mormon truly has the answer to everything in life in it. I've had a question for 5 months now and it wasn't until last night at 1:30am in the hallway of our residence when I bore my testimony to a certain Elder who I saw in the hall way  because I had to pee. He had his bag packs wanting to go home. Today he told me how much he learned and how he knows he needs to stay and how I strengthened his testimony. In all honesty, he is the one who strengthened my testimony. Because of that experience I got the answer to my question and realized I knew the answer to the question the whole time I was just looking and searching in the wrong ways. They weren't bad ways but they just were not the ways The Lord wanted me to find out. I love you mom and know how much you will be blessed for being the example you have set. I am so grateful for you in my life. Thank you, I love you.

Alma 37:35-37

Love Elder Meza

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Meeting Elder Anderson

I need my mission home address in Cali! 
Before I leave the MTC I need some cash for flying and to mail packages home. I just need to the small Korean PMG,  I figured out something even better! You can return the overalls I inherited a pair from the older district. I really do need though some hair wax my hair gel is gone so I mooch hardcore. Will you go to Walmart and buy Moroccan Surf Paste,  it's in like a blue little circle! Also, a couple Arizona's would be awesome with one box of Toffifay! :) but that's all I need for food haha. The whole district including my teachers say thank you for all the pens and sewing kits! This is a little random but I've lost 17lbs here haha. While everyone in my room has gained 17!

Talk to Derek and ask if he knows of any good dono books or just grammar books. Because my whole district except for me was given these way awesome grammar and dono books and I've been looking over them and they help so much! They only got them for that one day. They all got a care packages with hygiene stuff in it and such on day they leave. Its through some through University though that makes English/Korean books.
Because I'm not going to Korea and their mission president gave it to all them. I don't know the author.  I just got my flight plans! I'm literally the last one in my district to leave. I'm a solo missionary haha. Everyone leaves the morning of the 9th and my companion who is going to San Fernando leaves at a different time them me on the 10th like 5 am, but he goes to the LA airport. MY FLIGHT IS AT 8:34 AM the 10th! 
On Tuesday Elder Neil L. Anderson came and gave a very interesting talk, I did not expect that an Apostle would do an interactive discussion, it was way cool! I don't mean to brag or anything but I totally snagged those floor seats again for me and my district because I knew the guy and long story short I got to meet with Elder Anderson, talk to him one on one, and shake his hand! I didn't have my camera but it was way cool! He's an amazing guy!

Wednesday I was refered through TRC to be the "example missionary" for the new group that arrived that day to teach the new missionaries "How to begin teaching" (In PMG) It was pretty nerve racking because they were real investigators! But my teacher said it's been unreal how many times I've had to teach real investigators. She said that just normally doesn't happen in the MTC. So I'm super grateful for that opportunity!
Tell Aunt Carrie and Uncle Stan that I love them and that they're awesome and that I'm super sorry I didn't get the chance to reply but it's only because we got travel plans and had a bunch of stuff we needed to do.  And Happy Birthday to Tawni.

Mom you are such a fantastic mom and DAD. You need to give yourself more credit. Without you and your faith I would not be here. I'm so grateful I was blessed with such an amazing mom.
"We sacrifice the the things we love, we love the things we have sacrificed for." Just think about that and try to see what that means to you. Because I know what it means to me and I'm so grateful for an awesome mom like you.
D&C 97:8 
Elder Meza