Tuesday, December 29, 2015

December 28, 2015--Week 21

Hey everyone!

Merry late Christmas and happy early New Years! 

We had a pretty interesting week. Because it was raining and because of the holiday season, we haven't had too many people stoked on listening to us, but we had a few good lessons. We are really trying to think of ways "outside the box" for working with the Korean people and to work with the members in the Korean branch. It's unfortunate, but just contacting Koreans on the street does not get very good of results and almost gives us negative results. So rather than street contacting, we are working a lot more with members and thinking of absurd things to try. 

Outside of that, we've done a lot of caroling this week. We caroled to our land lady who let us in on Christmas day. She was super nice to us and gave us cookies and talked with us for a little bit. 

Also, I gave a talk last Sunday in the English ward that we work with. I wasn't one hundred percent sure how to prepare it because it felt weird to do as a missionary, but I think it went okay. I felt somewhat good about it afterwards because I had a few people come up to me after Sacrament Meeting and ask for my notes with the talk.  I had to disappoint them because my notes would have made no sense to anyone else because it was just an outline with a quote and a few points. 

That's pretty much it for this week. We only had one investigator at church, and that was Li. We're hoping after the holidays the work picks up because it's pretty slow right now. 

At this time of year as we are all making goals and getting ready for the New year, I would like to share one of mine. My main goal is to be able to answer yes to this question every night before I go to bed: “Did I do the best I could every single day?" It's a hard goal to measure, but if I ever have to answer no, then I have a sick feeling in my stomach. But I know as I strive to do my best every day, and then let Jesus Christ's grace take care of my inadequacies, I can do much more than I think I can. I love you all!

Have a great week!

-Elder Nickerl

This is the family that we ate Christmas dinner with and also all the missionaries in our area.

This is Elder Kim and me. He is from Korea and in the English program. He came out the same time as I did and so we go home at the same time.  We went on exchanges for some reason, even though we aren't in the same district and neither one of us is in a leadership position. But it was fun. And helpful for both of our language learning. 

December 21, 2015--Week 20

Hey everyone,

   This has been a pretty long week because we did a lot of contacting. I am not a huge fan of contacting because it takes a lot of enthusiasm to go up to random people and start talking to them and I am not very good at it, but we have been working to find new different approaches and came up with a few this week that have worked really well for us. We found 4 new investigators this week which is really good for us. Putting it into perspective, since I have been here, we have only found 2 new investigators until this week we found 4 new ones. 

   Outside of finding new investigators, it is getting really cold here and it's kind of miserable. It's too hot to be snowing, but it's about 40 degrees with a lot of humidity and wind making for cold fingers and face. It also means people aren't quite as friendly when we try to talk with them because they don't like standing around outside much.

    I don't really have too much to report on this week, nothing really major happened outside of a lot of finding. This next week is Christmas week, and we are looking forward to calling home. For our other investigators, we have Li, he is still doing Li things. He is coming to church, but is struggling with smoking. He will come around eventually, so we aren't too worried about him. We don't teach him more than once a week anymore because we can't do much to help him past his smoking so we just stop by every week. He keeps coming to church though and loves it and wants to keep learning more. He reads the scriptures every day. Quan, we dropped, he wasn't willing to keep commitments. Then we found 4 new investigators this week, please pray that their appointments will go through and that they will be open and receptive. 

     This week in my studies, I came across Ether 12-23-27 which I have read many times, but I caught something this time. In verses 23-25 Moroni sorrows because he thinks that because of his weakness because of what he considers his inability, the Gentiles will not listen to what he has to say. Moroni worries that because of him, the people in our generation will not accept the gospel. But after this in verses 26 and 27, the Lord comforts Moroni and explains why he has allowed Moroni to have this weakness. I encourage all of you to study this scripture this week. I know as I studied this scripture, I found many weaknesses that the Lord has given me, and I think he wants us to bring these weaknesses to him so that he can make them strong. I testify of the power of Jesus Christ's Atonement. I am proof that it works. I have seen it work in my life as I have worked to learn a new language and overcome fears. I know that this same Atonement is available to all those who come unto Christ. 

Merry Christmas to all of you and enjoy your time!

-Elder Nickerl

December 14, 2015--Week 19

Hey everyone,

   This week was transfers and it was a bit of a surprise, but a good one. We were expecting Elder Koo to go to the driving area of the Korean program and for me to get a new companion, but we found out this morning that we are staying for another transfer. We're excited because now we get to keep our relationships with our investigators and that is always a good thing. Outside of transfers this week, Elder Kahng is going home tomorrow. Elder Jeon is going to follow up train Elder Trask in the driving area of the Korean part.  

Elder Evans of the 1st quorum of the seventy came this week to talk to our mission. He pretty much laid it down for us and called us to repentance. Not really, because it was really spiritual, but we learned a lot from him and he made some pretty big changes in the mission. He also gave us some good insight on teaching repentance and talked for a while about our desire for our mission and how to go about achieving that desire. He laid it out pretty clearly. There are no shortcuts to achieving what we want, you simply have to do it. He talked about how to become what we want. His tip was that it is in the small things that we do consistently over time. 

After he came, the only thing out of the ordinary this week was going on exchanges. Elder Trask and I went on exchanges on Saturday and it was pretty cool. We got 3 Korean phone numbers in 2 hours of contacting. That's more phone numbers than we normally get in a week from Koreans and the reason that was cool is because neither of us speak Korean well. And so that was really awesome. I don't have a ton of time this week, so I'll just send a few pictures.

I hope you all have a wonderful week! I am thankful for all of your love and support. Until next week!

Elder Nickerl

This is all the Korean missionaries except for Elder Trask.  He was talking to someone else.  

Here is Li and I drinking Korean yogurt. 

This is the Korean branch!

Elder Koo and I with New York in the background.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

December 7, 2015--Week 18

Hey everyone,

I don't have a ton to say about this week. We pretty much did what we do every other week. Went around, talked to people, met new people, knocked doors, met more people, share the Gospel, do service, teach English class, ate food, met more people, taught lessons, went to tree lighting events in the community, got kicked out of every single one of them within 10 minutes, met more people. That sounds pretty much like a good summary of this week. If anyone has questions about anything going on, or anything in general, feel free to ask because I never know much of what to say in weekly emails. 

We taught Quan and Li this week, both are doing well especially Li. He's getting close. Both
went to church. Li has started on the Word of Wisdom and is doing very well. Quan isn't going to make his baptismal date because he hasn't been to church enough, but he is still doing pretty well. We have some investigators in the Korean ward. We teach a lady, Monique, we just started the lessons with her, but she has been giving us food weekly since I got here. That's it for the most serious of our investigators, but we are still teaching a lot of lessons. That's about it to report, still hanging in there and doing well. 

Last night, I loved the Christmas fireside. In Sister Burton's talk, she talked about our Savior. She asked this question, quoting the Savior! "Will ye also go away?" And That is the question isn't it, when it is all said and done, will we go away? Will we turn away from what we know? Will we reject our Savior who has given us everything we have? Don't forget to remember him who gave us all we have. His love and help is right in front of us and all we have to do is ask. Don't turn away, don't reject it. This week, we faced rejection from a person who we have come to grow close to and it hurt. I felt just a fraction of the pain that I am sure our Savior feels when we turn away from his help. I do not intend to compare myself to Jesus Christ, nor did I mean that to sound that way, but if it hurts me to be rejected by those I care about, I am sure that pain is multiplied that our Savior feels. I know he loves us and cares about us, accept that love, and you will be happier.

Love you all,
Elder Nickerl

Elder Nickerl's new Christmas tree all decorated.

With the 12 Days of Christmas gifts!

Monday, November 30, 2015

November 30, 2015--Week 17

Hey everyone,

This week was one of the busier weeks yet. I feel like every week we just get busier and busier. We don't have time to fit in all the stuff we need to do and so a lot of times we don't have time to contact. The only problem with that, is we have been mostly busy with the English program and we need to focus more on the Korean program. So early in this week we realized that and have been putting in a lot more emphasis on the Korean program. We taught about 10 Korean street lessons this week on top of our usual English lessons. 10 lessons might not seem like a lot, but from what we have been doing that is a ton. Because of this, I feel like my Korean is getting put to the test a lot more and I am actually not too upset about it. I am in no means able to communicate well, but this week I held my first real conversation with someone for about 5 minutes by myself. 

Oh and another good thing on the topic of Korean, our ward mission leader just started helping us with our Korean. He is giving us Korean lessons once or twice a week which is really helpful because we don't have too much access to native speakers outside of teaching. Other than language, this week has been really awesome. Like I said before, we've found a pretty successful way to contact the Koreans and as a result, we are teaching more of them. 

As for our English investigators, Li is really the only one who is moving forward. We taught him the Word of Wisdom a few days ago and it went alright, but he isn't too sure about following it. He said he would pray about it and consider it so hopefully he actually does so. 

We don't have any super good Korean investigators but we have a few people we think are going to do well. There is a part member family and the husband is really interested and has been going to church for a couple of months straight now, and our Branch President is going to ask him when he is ready to take the discussions (we would have asked him, but the Branch President told us to wait). We also got a few hopeful follow up appointments from street contacts this week and we will see how those go. Oh and on Thanksgiving, the Korean Branch did a lunch at the church and invited a ton of their friends. And so we went and one of the guys is really interested in what we do and said he asked us if we could meet to have a discussion about our church. So this week please pray that all of our potential appointments and meetings follow through. 

We're excited though, this work is moving. The Gospel is true. Plain and simple as that. Jesus Christ is our Savior. He made everything possible for us. I am again reminded with the beginning of this Christmas season how thankful I am for his church and his teachings to all of us.

I love you all, have a wonderful week!
-Elder Jacob Nickerl

Monday, November 23, 2015

November 23, 2015--Week 16

Hey everyone,

This week has been awesome. The work is really starting to pick up, especially in the Korean area. 

On Tuesday, we got our semi annual temple trip and we went into NYC. That was super cool and pretty foreign to me. The city is HUGE. I have a few pictures I will send. We went to the temple via the subway and then went home on the bus. It was a really awesome experience and a relaxing morning/afternoon. After that, we went and got some Korean food with an investigator and member from the Korean ward. We do that every Tuesday night. 

Wednesday, we taught English class and one of the ladies there kept asking us questions about missionary work and so we are going to invite her to take the discussions and see what she says. Thursday and Friday I don't remember at all, but they were busy days. 

Saturday, we taught Li. We are super excited about him still, he won’t commit to anything, but he has gone to church 4 times now and loves the Book of Mormon. He reads it every night. Later on Saturday night, we taught English class, but no one showed up. We were on exchanges, I was with Elder Trask. We went and contacted in Korea town and had a pretty good experience. Neither one of us speaks very good Korean (since we both just got here) but we didn't care. It was pretty cool because normally when we contact Koreans, no one listens. However, when two white people are walking through Korea town trying to speak to all the Koreans in Korean, I guess it was pretty funny cause pretty much everyone stopped. We talked with like 5 people and taught a lesson which doesn't really happen from what I've seen. 

From that I learned a lot. 1. I can speak enough Korean to help out this area (not much, but I can contact people, small talk, teach them a lesson, get their information, and schedule a follow up appointment. 2. Koreans listen when we actually try to talk to them ALL. Normally we just talk to the ones who say hi back. We talked to them all. 3. Koreans think it's funny when white people speak Korean, and they even stop us to talk to us if we speak Korean to each other. 4. I love Koreans. Seriously, they are amazing. They are all so loving, and funny people. I'm like 75% sure I'm going to live in Korea when I get the first opportunity. Saturday night was probably the best night of my mission because that right there is evidence that we can find success with Koreans. 

Sunday was amazing too. We had 3 investigators at church (2 of which were Korean) and a few less active members. Afterward we had a little party (we do that like every week) and the members were super helpful with fellowshipping them and being really friendly. It was amazing. 

This morning, we had interviews with President Taggart, and he was super happy to hear that the Korean program is really finding results. President Taggart is awesome, he's just a really down to earth, relatable person, but still is like a "walking spiritual faith bomb." I love it here. It's awesome, we are doing well, and we are looking forward to a lot more good in the future because right now the members are all super excited about missionary work and are helping out like crazy. I know that this work is God's work. He loves us all very much. He knows what is best for us, and he has given us his instructions so that we can be the happiest we possibly can in this life. 

Have a wonderful week everyone and thanks for all your support!

-Elder Jacob Nickerl

Manhattan and the Manhattan Temple

Monday, November 16, 2015

November 16, 2015--Week 15

This week has been the busiest of my mission. We have been in a trio, because Elder Owens is gone and so Elder Kahng, Koo, and I have been covering two areas. We had no time for anything, but appointments. No contacting or anything else. 

We have been working with a new guy all week. We met with him 4 times all for like an hour. We try not to stay with anyone longer than 30 minutes, but he is an exception. He is awesome. His name is Sean and he isn't in our area, he is in Elder Trask and Kahng's area. 

For Elder Koo and I, we have been working with Li still. We were invited over to some members house with him and that was awesome. He is doing really good, but he was really struggling this weekend because of all the horrible things that went on in Paris. He was having a really hard time seeing how God would allow something bad to happen to all of those innocent people. That's a really hard question because it is one I wondered for a very long time in my life and honestly haven't really been able to understand until quite recently. We taught him the Plan of Salvation and after the lesson, he really seemed more at peace. During the lesson he told us his one purpose in life was to help the people of China. And we believe him. He is an outstanding person, legit everything he does is to help others. He came to church this Sunday for the 3rd time and he says he will always go because he likes it so much. 

We have another new semi-investigator. He is Korean, his wife is American. His wife is a member and they have the cutest kid I've ever seen in my life.  He’s like 2-3ish and he speaks Konglish. We've been working with them recently a little bit. 

Then there's Quan, we don't really know how to help him because he just won't keep his commitments, but he wants to get baptized and meet with us, but he can't if he won't keep his commitments. That's about it for our investigators. 

I'll go through my daily schedule. We wake up at 6:30 and exercise for 30 minutes then get ready then eat breakfast. Then we study scriptures and missionary books for an hour on our own. Then we do companionship study and study scriptures and the missionary books. This week I’ve been reading through Mosiah and the first half of Alma. After companionship study at 10:00 we start language study for an hour. I usually read Korean out loud for a half hour and then I figure out the vocab that I will learn for the day. After language study, we don’t speak English until 9:00 PM. After language study, we eat lunch (which is always rice with whatever food we have leftover from the Korean people who feed us non stop). After lunch, we do an hour of practice role playing lessons to each other in both English and Korean. And at around 12:45, we leave the apartment and go to appointments that we have. If we don't have appointments, we go find new people. We usually pack snacks to get us to dinner and then go back to our apartment at 8:45-9:00 then eat a quick dinner. After dinner we plan for the next day and then we do some more personal study time and get ready for bed and go to bed around 10:30. 

I don't really know what else to say in terms of things here in New Jersey. It's getting cold, but it's a late winter coming up. It still hasn't snowed. I'm excited for that to come. Then we can sweep people's driveway and stuff. I love serving people. Honestly, I know that sounds weird, but in all honesty, I always just come away from these things feeling good. I know that when we try to help others, we draw closer to the Savior and when we draw close to the Savior, we can more fully appreciate all that he has done for us. I see the Atonement working in people every day and it’s amazing that we can just leave our mistakes behind and just keep trying. It truly makes all the difference. 

I love you all! Until next week!
-Elder Jacob Nickerl

P.S. Last week of fall in New Jersey:

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

November 9, 2015--Week 14

Hey everyone,

It's been a hectic week as always, but we had a lot of good stuff going for us. I don't remember a lot of what went on because it has been busy, but I will give most of the important details. 

So we had a lot of good contacting time this week and we taught a lot of good lessons. One case early in the week, we were on our way home for lunch from a cancelled appointment, and we saw a lady who needed some help in her yard. We took about 30 minutes and helped her. I don't know what happened to her after that, but we thanked her, and went on our way. It was just the feeling after helping her, for nothing in return, that made that experience so important to me. It made me think a little bit. That is how we must feel about the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. This is his church, if it is true, and it is, then sharing it with other people is all helping them. It isn't as much that I hadn't thought of this before then, but it helped to change my mindset a little about the work that I am doing. 

Other than that, most of our early week was giving out fliers for a basketball tournament that we put on for the Korean branch in order to get some Korean youth, because there are none. So we did a lot of advertising for that. That brings me to that event, we had 6 people show up, which is a lot less that we hoped for, but it was a really fun event and that is 6 people who were there who weren't before. 

Also we had our investigator Quan there helping out. He is Chinese, and he is on baptismal date as of last week, but he is still pretty iffy on the whole thing. He is doing everything we ask him to do and I think he is putting in the effort, but he is having a hard time accepting the answers that he is receiving. He helped us with the tournament and we taught him two lessons after that. At church yesterday, we had our other Chinese investigator Li there. He is golden. Everything he tells us is perfect and he knows he is receiving answers and acknowledges them. He just wants to finish the Book of Mormon before committing (which he is going through crazy fast now that we gave him a Chinese copy). He has been being fellowshipped like mad by all of the members which has been amazing for him because we have a couple families in our ward who speak Chinese. Next Saturday we have a lunch appointment with them and him and then a lesson following (which was super awesome because the member family set that up without us even asking them to). Also after church, he attended the baptism of two of the kids in our ward, and he loved it. He told us after that it was "fantastic" and that he felt the Spirit. We are really excited about Li and I think the ward is as well, so please keep him in your prayers specifically that all goes well with him, because he is an awesome guy and could really be a huge blessing to all those who he will meet. I know this because he has already blessed me with his sincere desire to find truth. 

After church we went and did some contacting that didn't get us anywhere in the immediate future, but who knows what will happen? Those were the major things that went on this week. We also found out what is going to happen with the Korean program this next transfer which was a huge question mark to all of us. So that will be interesting. Elder Koo and I will be in a trio with Elder Kahng this next week while waiting for the next incoming Elder who Elder Kahng is going to be training. Elder Owens will be leaving to go to the English Program for now. I'm excited to move forward in these next few weeks. 

I feel like the longer I am here, the more I love what I do every day. It isn't easy some days, but honestly, is anything that we do really easy? This week I have been thinking a lot about why missionary work isn't easy and I just keep being reminded of Elder Holland/President Eyring's video on missionary work and the Atonement. And I know that missionary work (or any other part of our lives) "is not easy, because it was never easy for [Christ]" who paid the price for all of our happiness. I am more and more thankful each and every day as I begin to understand better what Jesus Christ did for me and for all of us. I am so thankful for God's perfect plan, to allow all of us to return to live with him again. 

Thank you all for your support. If you have any questions for me, or anything you need from me, don't hesitate to ask.
--Elder Jacob Nickerl

P.S.  Here is the link link to missionary work and the Atonement video mentioned above.  It is about 10 minutes long, and it is an amazing video. Whenever you have time, I would highly suggest watching it.


Monday, November 2, 2015

November 2, 2015--Week 13

I don't really ever know what to say in these emails. We just work all day long every day and it doesn't really change all that much from day to day. 

I love the culture, food, and language of the Korean people, but I hate learning to speak and understand people. It is still a challenge and will be probably for the rest of my life. What makes it the hardest to be able to deal with, is when I hear that I won't ever learn Korean completely. Or when people tell me that I won't even be conversational in the end of these two years. I refuse to accept that as true and sometimes when I hear it, I want to get angry, but I do my best to not. I just do not accept that I was called on a Korean speaking mission to not speak the language of this people that I have come to love. I tell people every day that I want to be Korean because they are truly just the most genuine people you can find. Even when they reject our message in a rude way, it doesn't bother me, because I love them as a people. So with that in mind, I hate when I am told that I won't ever be able to communicate with them because I am going to make a promise that I will speak Korean and I am going to be able to teach and talk to people. 

After my rant there, I'll talk about miracles. This week, we had two of our investigators move forward in big ways. Both of them happen to be Chinese. We actually are teaching more Chinese people than Korean. But anyways, we are working with Li and Quan and they both went to church. Quan accepted out baptismal invitation and Li is getting there. Both of them are very willing to learn and are super great people. They both just still need to receive answers to their prayers. Li we think already has, we just need him to accept what he knows already as an answer. 

The coolest experience I have had on my mission though came last night. We were out contacting and we were trying to contact Koreans exclusively. I was getting frustrated and not feeling adequate, when my companion made us stop and say a prayer. I kid you not, right after the prayer, we sat down next to two Korean ladies on a bench and just starting teaching them and they loved that I was trying to learn Korean. They even slowed down what they were saying so that I could kind of understand. After that, we had two people tell us to call them back and gave us their contact info. After our prayer for help, we had three lessons and got 2 peoples contact info. 

It has been an awesome week. I apologize for my scattered thoughts here, I feel like I'm writing the worst letter ever, but I don't have time to go through and think about what I am saying or fix mistakes. 

One more thing though is we have transfers coming up next week and we have no clue what will happen to the Korean program. It is going to change big time and we are all pretty anxious to see what happens. We are excited, but it might bring for big changes next week. I don't have time to say much else, but I want to share my testimony real quickly that God lives. and he loves us. He is not just someone looking down at us hoping things go one way or another. He is leading us and guiding us. He is doing all he can to help us, but still letting us make our own choices. I know that if we just trust in him and his timing, all will be well. 

Have a great week!
-Elder Jacob Nickerl

Monday, October 26, 2015

October 26, 2015--Week 12

Yeah so I had a whole email written out to send, but for some reason, it didn't save as a draft on my iPad and now I don't have the time to write out what I had written. So I apologize, that I don't have time to send much of an email. It's been a crazy week. We moved apartments, we hosted a branch FHE activity, we had Zone Conference and we had to set up, attend, and clean up for a funeral. We didn't have much time to do actual missionary work which is unfortunate, because we needed to meet with a lot of referrals and potential investigators. 

I am also convinced that I need to learn Korean faster than I am, because I was trying to tell the Korean lady cutting my hair that I wanted to cut my hair short on the sides, but not shaved, but she didn't understand apparently. She pretty much did anything, but what I thought I was telling her, so if I don't learn Korea before my next haircut in 6 months by the time my hair is back, I am going to have a rough one. It's funny looking back at it, but when I first saw my hair fall off, I had a panic attack. I just want to be able to tell the people what the Spirit wants me to be able to tell them. Right now, I feel held back by what I should be able to say. I want to be able to talk to everyone I see, but all they see is a white guy who doesn't speak their language rambling on in some attempt at Korean. On the bright side, the branch members all speak English (not that they use it when talking to me), but I hear them talking to their kids in it all the time. So at least when I offend them on accident and then start apologizing in English, they know that I am trying to say sorry. 

We have been making some serious progress with one of our investigators Li. He is actually Chinese, but he is moving forward quickly and has a sincere desire to know if the church is true. He doesn't know if there is a God, but wanted to see proof of our church, over the course of a few lessons, we have taught him, and he is progressing. In his prayers he asks to know whether or not he should follow science and reason, or if he should believe in God out of faith. He is going to church next week and is continuing to meet with us. We are really excited about him. Our investigator Cathy, is hard to get ahold of, and didn't meet with us this week. So that was a bummer, but we will see what happens. 
My whole life, I have thought that missionaries were perfect, then a few days ago, I had a realization. I sat there after Zone Conference and was thinking “Missionaries are so great. Any time I see them, they have the Spirit so strong." Then I realized that I was a missionary and my mindset changed and I realized something. Because I am a missionary, and am anything but perfect, that means that not all missionaries can be perfect. I am so far from perfect, but that is what is amazing. God uses imperfect things and brings about great things through them. I may be new in the mission field, but I have already seen miracle after miracle and I know that all those good things, are from God. He loves us, and even though it has to be tiresome to deal with us as imperfect as we are, he still works with us, helping us to be more than we are. I love being a missionary. For me, there is no better place to be than here in New Jersey. This mission is where I am supposed to be, and I don't know why yet, but God does and I will do my best to let him turn me into who he wants me to be. I hope you all have a wonderful week. Sorry that my email got deleted so I don't have time to send one out with all that I did have, but that's just how life works. Until next week!

-Elder Jacob Nickerl 

P.S.  Here is a couple pictures really quick and then I need to go. Here is the neighborhood area we live in. It's really pretty. Then this is Elder Owens and I making 김밥 (keembap). This was our branch FHE meeting. I didn't get any pictures of the branch. Hopefully next week. And then the last picture was us eating with our investigator Alex.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

October 19, 2015--Week 11


This week flew by so fast I can't believe it is already P-Day again. I honestly don't remember what really happened. We just worked and worked and worked some more. 

On Tuesday I think it was. We had a super cool experience with prayer. It was really cold because the temperature has been rapidly dropping here and we weren't ready for it. Neither my companion or I had sweaters or anything to keep us warm. We had been contacting all day in an area about 2 hours from our house by walking and so we couldn't get home to get sweaters. So we were cold, tired, and no one would stop to even listen for a second to anything we had to say. We had been getting rejected for about 3 hours straight without even a conversation and it was about 8:00 so we just wanted to have the other Elders come pick us up so that we could go to our apartment and eat dinner. To back up a little bit, that morning we weren't sure where to contact, so we said a prayer. Elder Koo felt like this was where we needed to contact for the day. So we were confident and ready to contact all day, but now to go back to 8:00ish, we no longer felt confident or ready to talk to anyone else. We were frustrated and discouraged because we felt like we should have found someone because this is where we received our answer to go for the day. We didn't know what else to do, so we decided to say another prayer. After the prayer, we felt that we should keep going down the path in the park that we were in. So we kept going, and we kept trying to contact, and people kept rejecting our approach. We were about ready to give up, but we decided to talk to one more person. So we met a lady named Cathy. She was at the park with her son Christopher. They were very friendly and were willing to listen to us. We taught them a little bit and then set up a return appointment for this Wednesday. So I still don't know what will happen with her, but I believe we didn't go through all of that for nothing. She is the reason we were in that area that day and I am excited to meet with her. This may not seem like a very big deal to all of you, but this was an answer to our prayers after a really hard day. This was God's way of telling us that he was still there and hadn't forgotten about us. After this, while we were waiting for the other Elders to pick us up, we met one other lady and her son from the Dominican Rep. And we taught her a little bit in Spanglish and got her info. We referred her to the Spanish sisters so that they can teach her. This whole experience reminds me of Ether 12:27. Our witness will come after the trial of our faith. 

I have so many cool experiences that happened like that one this week, but I can't type them all out. We have a few hopeful investigators and had a few wonderful teaching experiences with them this week. I am excited about our progress. We started in a hard place even for the Korean area and we are working hard to find people because we had like no one two weeks ago. 

The language is starting to come. I understood all of what happened in our last lesson last night, but I think that was just a one time thing because of the Spirit, because that lesson went really well and I think I needed to be able to understand in order to be able to testify by the Spirit in that case. To me, that is amazing, because I really don't speak Korean, I really don't understand it, and for me to be able to communicate what the Lord needed me to at the time, is a miracle. That shows how God can use us as imperfect as we are, and make us more than we ever could be without him. Through God, we can do anything that he needs us to do. 

I love my mission. The time is already flying by and although I am not even close to being good at teaching, or speaking good Korean, or even being good at talking to people, it doesn't matter because I am doing my best, and because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, that is enough. I am thankful for all of your prayers and support. I can feel them especially when I don't feel adequate to do what I need to here. I hope you all have a wonderful week.

-Elder Jacob Nickerl

Monday, October 12, 2015

October 12, 2015--Week 10


I know I haven't even been here a week, but I feel like I've been here forever. At the same time, I feel like I just got here. We do so many things every day and just stay busy the whole day. We sometimes have to run to appointments just to get there on time. Rather than taking up all day typing out everything we do every day, I'll try and summarize. In the morning, we wake up, work out, get ready, eat breakfast, then do 4 hours of studies. Personal study, Comp study, then language study, then the first 12 weeks study (that will become additional study after training). Then we eat lunch and rush out the door to either appointments or contacting. We have been working really hard to find people this week because we only had a few investigators. But after contacting what seemed like 500 people, we got 4 new investigators which really isn't common at all in the Korean area. See here's the cool thing about Elder Koo only being here a couple of transfers, we're both new. So all the things that "used to happen” no longer are a thing. We set our standards and don't have to let ourselves try to beat previous missionaries. We are just going to do what we can and that is try our best. 

So I think there is a benefit to speaking very little Korean and that is that when I try to speak to the Korean people, they actually pause to try and see what I just said. They don't expect me to try speaking Korean. In their moment of confusion, we can capitalize and start speaking to them about the church. So that's actually been a blessing to not speak the language. In no way am I not going to try learning Korean. I will work as hard as I can to be able to befriend, meet, and teach all the Koreans who will stop to listen to me. To do that, I need to learn their language. I know how hard it is going to be to get to the point I want to with Korean, but I have accepted that it will be work and I am going to face it head on. 

So back to the schedule though. We usually contact until dinner. For dinner, we eat with other people about half the time. Other times we eat with members or at restaurants. I love Korean food. I honestly have yet to try something that didn't taste at least decent. And I’ve eaten some weird things. I don't know if it is actually all good or if Heavenly Father is just blessing me. After dinner, we usually have an appointment or two then English class 3 times a week. Then we go to the apartment, get ready for bed, write in journals, and then read scriptures or study until about 10:20 and even though we probably shouldn't, we usually just take about 10 minutes to talk with each other (all of the Korean missionaries). We all get along well. I like all of these missionaries here. I know we shouldn't waste time like that, but I think after a full day of hard work, it is ok. 

On Saturday I went on my first exchange. Elder Kahng, another one of the Koreans, Elder Owens' trainer, and I had appointments all day so we didn't actually get to contact. It was cool though because two of our appointments were in Spanish and I actually was surprised that I knew what was going on the whole time. I couldn’t say much to help, but I bore testimony at the end in Spanish. I was just stoked because I understood most of the Spanish. I can't focus on Spanish though because Korean is so hard it will take all of my attention for quite some time. 

Sunday was awesome here. It was fast and testimony meeting in our English ward, and then the Korean branch had branch conference. The English ward is really small and I didn't get the chance to talk to too many of the people, but I bore my testimony and introduced myself a little after. Then we had to go to the Korean branch though. I loved it. I said the bread prayer. I didn't mess up, which all the Koreans were surprised by. I did say it dirt slow though. It's hard. I love all the members in the branch though. Especially the branch president. He is awesome. We talked with him for a long time after church about missionary work. Also after church the Koreans did a break your fast Korean buffet. Another chance to eat Korean food. It was super good. 

I'm having a great time here in general. It's hard and tiring work and I don't like getting told no by people, but every once in a while, we run into someone who lights up when we talk to them. And after that, it doesn't matter who has told me no, I'm happy. It’s usually the old people, they love to talk to us. Anyway, I love what I do. We tell people this on the street all the time, but I've got two years to worry about nothing but other people. And it's true. I love it, but I'm tired. I love my Savior. He makes all the difference in what I can't do. I'm painfully aware of how much I can't do, but something I've learned is that it really doesn't matter what WE can do, it matters what WE ALLOW the Lord to do. I'm amazed at the love he has given me for the people here in New Jersey. I am so excited to be here for two years.

-Elder Jacob Nickerl

P.S. This was lunch today at an all you can eat buffet. The branch president is awesome and gives us money to go out and eat, so we usually go every two weeks or so to get some kind of Korean restaurant food. It is honestly the best food I've ever had. I'm so full right now. I probably had like 50 pieces of sushi, and a ton of fish raw and cooked, and just a ton of these little samplers. They're super good. I've had the same meal that I had at that one Korean place in Provo twice now (which was terrible), and I've decided that was either just bad food or God is really helping me love Korean food. 

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

October 7, 2015--Week 9

Well I'm here in New Jersey. My P-Day for this week is Wednesday because the other Elders all did a service project on Monday. My P-Day will normally be Monday and I will have one next week. We also get two hours to email here instead of one. So that's pretty awesome.

I'll just start by saying this is absolutely not what I expected. A couple transfers ago, President Taggart (my mission president) changed things for the Korean missionaries a little bit in order to help us find people. We don't just teach the Koreans in our area. We teach everyone. The area is probably about 50% Korean so there are a ton of them, but we also teach a huge variety of other people. We have already contacted people in Spanish, attempted a Portuguese, and English and we do the same for teaching. We teach whoever we contact unless we just can't communicate, then we pass it over to the other missionaries. So when I come home, I will probably be able to speak Spanish as well, which is pretty awesome. The downside is that it will be a little harder to learn Korean because of that. Fortunately my trainer, Elder Koo speaks Korean fluently so I will still be able to learn if I put in the effort. Elder Koo just finished his training and has only been here for two transfers, but he is really knowledgeable about the area and he is pretty good at teaching. I have a lot to say so I will just start with the beginning.

Monday, I woke up at 2:00 A.M. to see my district off at the MTC and then I left the MTC at 5:00. We rode the train to the airport in SLC, and after I was check in, I got to call home for about an hour and 15 minutes. Then I got on the plane and left. The flight felt like it took forever because I was tired, but couldn't sleep. President Taggart picked me up from the airport and I learned that I actually got here a week after transfers which explains why I flew alone. He took me straight to the apartment. It's a pretty nice apartment, or so I hear, compared to other missionary apartments. We have two bathrooms, a kitchen, 3 bedrooms, and a living room, so we have too much space. But we're getting kicked out because there is a cockroach problem. So we move on the 16th of October. Within 10 minutes of getting to the apartment, Elder Koo and I left for an appointment. We did not waste any time getting to work. We taught a man named Macsood. He is Muslim, and a very very kind man. That was only Elder Koo's second time meeting him, so it was pretty new to him too. We had a very nice discussion about the similarity between our two religions. After that, we went to go teach English to a Korean lady. We teach English class like 4 times a week and then share a gospel message at the end. This lady was extremely nice and fed us a really good kind of grapes and some other fruit that was really good. The grapes, you don't eat the outside, so it can be a pain to eat, but it was really good anyway. I am quickly learning that I speak no Korean, so they always speak to me in English, but I trust that it will come in time. After English class we got the chance to contact a bit and then we went back to our apartment. I unpacked a little, but we ran out of time because we had to eat dinner. We have been working that much since I got here. I still am not even close to done unpacking, but we move in 9 days so I probably won't unpack all the way. We live in an apartment with all of the other Korean missionaries. There are 4 of us. President switches the other two in and out of Korean and English. So we never have more than 4 people in the Korean program at a time. I'll probably serve English (or Spanish) for about 6 months while I am here. I really like the Korean missionaries. I've only met 3 of them, but I hear the other Elder is super cool. We have as many weights as I could ever want or need. We have so much stuff for lifting it isn't funny. 

I'm loving it here so far. We've met a lot of people, with a lot of hopeful investigators. We teach another English class tonight and I look forward to that. I get to speak English (which I do a lot anyway, but I want to get better about SYL). That's pretty much all I have to say about this week because I just got here 2 days ago. I have P-Day next Monday and so I should be emailing again pretty soon. 

I love what I am doing here. This may be a traditionally hard area, but I know this is where I was called. I'm here for a reason and I will find it. I love doing the work of Jesus Christ and I am so thankful for the opportunity to serve him. 

Until Monday!!
-Elder Jacob Nickerl

This is Elder Koo, my trainer. He's been super awesome so far.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

October 1, 2015--Week 8

Hey all,

My last week here at the MTC is drawing to a close. We finished our last lesson with our investigators. I have loved teaching them and getting to know them as an investigator. I know they aren't real, since they are our teachers, but I still love it. This week has been a lot of last minute study and a lot of goal setting for the field. After working so hard for 8 and a half weeks I am so glad for a chance to somewhat relax this weekend as we listen to apostles and prophets. So for a rundown of big events this week, we said goodbye to two of our teachers. We have two more Classroom Instruction times left and they are both with Brother Nemelka. I am so glad to have had the amazing teachers here that I have had. We have been doing only Korean speaking as a district this week. It has been so hard and so tiring. I am so glad that I get to speak English again for a couple of days. I am so ready to be able to speak without thinking about what I am hearing and saying. It will come with time though. The native Korean speakers who are here are so funny. I love them all. They all pronounce my name and it sounds mighty close to the "N" word. I think I am going to get the spelling changed and go by something else for 2 years. Hahaha I love the Korean people I have met though. We do a trade off, because they don't speak a lot of English, and we speak minimal Korean, we teach each other things. It is really good practice talking to them because they are native speakers, but it is also both a relief to know I can somewhat converse with them in Korean. When we combine Korean and English we get some of the best conversations I have ever had. They truly are some of the most natural loving people I have ever met. They just care about everyone. Especially if you have jung (romanized word for lack of time) with them. Jung is hard to explain, because we don't have it in our culture, but when you have it it's cool. It is basically just is when you have it, you have a good relationship with them and they will love you and be super helpful. I am so excited to be able to meet more Koreans next week. On Tuesday night, we heard from Elder Costa of the Presidency of the 70. It was one of the best devotionals we've had up there with Elder Oaks. I am super excited for General Conference. 

So this is it. My last P-Day at the MTC. I leave on Monday at 5:30 in the morning and will get to New Jersey at 4:30 PM. I travel by myself so it will be weird to be without a companion for 8 hours, but I'll live. I hope, it truly is going to be weird to be alone. The rest of this weekend, we have no more Korean learning, except tonight and tomorrow night. Then we have General Conference on Saturday and Sunday. We will watch all of it. I am super excited to hear who the next apostles will be. I've got my money on Elder Costa. Not that that is how it works, but he's awesome. 

I love this church and I know it is true. As I prepare to leave the MTC, I feel like I have given the MTC my best and this is how I want to feel at the end of my mission when I leave NJ. I want to give my all to the Korean people there because I know what the Savior's Atonement can do for me, for them, and for everyone. I want to give them the happiness I have found from this church. I can't wait to be able to speak to these people in their native tongue. It is amazing how the Lord gives us love for those we serve. I know Jesus Christ is my Savior. I know that he came to earth, that he atoned for the sins, pain, and anguish of all mankind. He was resurrected on the 3rd day to loose the bands of death. 

I love you all! Thanks for your support to me! Until next week from New Jersey!

-Elder Jacob Nickerl

Thursday, September 24, 2015

September 24, 2015--Week 7

And another week flew by here at the MTC. This is my second to last P-Day here at the MTC. I have 11 days until I leave and I should be getting my flight plans tomorrow along with my all Korean name tag. It will say 닉컬  장로. Well that's at least my name. It takes me forever to type still so I won't type out the rest. That romanized would sound like nee-kuhl chong-no. They don't have an l or an r sound exactly, it's kind of a mix so the last sound of Nickerl is just one sound that mixes the two letters. And that means Nickerl Elder. The grammar structure of Korean has become so much easier for me the last couple weeks since I started SYLing a ton. I try and say everything in Korean first and if they don't understand, then I say English. The language is hard, but it isn't nearly as overwhelming as it was at first. I have just accepted that it will come in the Lord's time. 

This has not been all that crazy of a week, just another one at the MTC. We met the district that came in last Wednesday. An Elder from Orange County going to my mission in New Jersey is in the group and so far we have gotten along really well. I think I am going to really enjoy working with him for the next two years. The rest of the new group is pretty cool too, but they are in a different building than us so we don't get to see them much. The native Korean missionaries arrived on Tuesday and after talking to them, I got a little bit of humbling because they don't speak the dumbed down Korean that our teachers do. They speak fast, use different conjugations, and slur it all together. So this will be super fun when I leave. I know the Lord will provide a way though because he always does. One of our investigators here moved to Australia, and so we can't teach her anymore and that's a bummer, but we gave her missionary phone numbers over there. Our other investigator is doing amazing. We have changed our teaching approach because he doesn't like long lessons, but now that we figured that out, he is moving so much faster. He is keeping all the commandments and is on track for his baptismal date in a week. We're excited. 

Other than all this, nothing has really happened this week outside the normal. I just love being here and working. It's hard work, but it is so worth it because every day when I go to bed, I have the peace of mind knowing that I have done my best. It is a comfort to know that after I have done what I can, the Lord makes up the difference. I love this gospel. I love you all and thank you for all your support!

-Elder Nickerl

Thursday, September 17, 2015

September 17, 2015--Week 6

This week I feel so blessed I don't even know where to begin. When I say everything went right, I mean EVERYTHING is going so well I can't even put it into words. If there is one thing I have learned that applies to everything this week, it is how much God loves each one of us as individuals and how he cares about the smallest of details that make us happy. If I try and say the biggest highlight of my week, I don't know where to begin, so I'll just list a few.

1. Both of our investigators are rapidly progressing and have both accepted baptismal dates and are keeping all of the commandments. Brother Kim has moved past his one block with his progression (he was having trouble receiving revelation through the Book of Mormon) and has began to find answers to his questions there. We had a really good discussion with him about how to go about reading the Book of Mormon. It was probably our best lesson. That brings me to the next miracle.

2. Our lessons are becoming wayyyy better and more unified. We have stopped going in with English scripts and go in with just Korean scriptures. Because of this, we have been forced to rely fully on the Holy Ghost and are teaching way more by the Spirit. I believe because we are relying on God and not our own preparation, our message is much more heartfelt and true and so our investigators are moving faster. 

3. My Korean is improving a lot more. This week everything just clicked. I don't know what it was, but I run into very few sentences that I can not say at least a simplified version of. As a result, I have set a goal to SYL for the last 8 hours of every day except for P Day and Sunday. It is going to be hard, but I believe the Spirit will help me and I will progress a lot faster. 

4. Yesterday I hosted. And by some miracle, I was one of the people who hosted for early arrivals. As I am going into the building, I see Elder Marquise Jackson walking out of the bathroom and I felt an overwhelming sense of love from God. I know that he orchestrated the whole scenario. So I ran over and hugged him and the person in charge of hosting said I could be the one to host him. So I did. And by chance, he is in the same residence hall as me so we had a nice little reunion last night. 

5. We got a new teacher last night. So in one of our classes we have two teachers instead of one. They can give us a lot more one-on-one time and I feel like that is what I need a lot. So that is another blessing. 

I could truly go on listing all day, but I am running out of time, so I cannot. The Lord is mindful of all of us. He cares about everything. Even if it is just the smallest of things to make us happy, he is mindful. When we keep the commandments, we are blessed. Many people have told me in this life that the commandments are restrictive, but let me tell you, THEY ARE NOT. I do not for one second feel held back by any rule made by God. They are ALL for our benefit. Each one has a specific reason and whether or not we understand why they exist, if we obey them willingly, God will bless us. That is a promise. We are not forced to do anything, we have our agency and when we use our agency to follow God, he is happy. God wants to bless us, all we have to do is let him. I know this is true. I know that God lives. He sent his son Jesus Christ to die for us. So that we can become so much more than we are and that through Christ, we can live with God again. Jesus Christ understands each one of us perfectly, and because of him, we can do anything God commands us to do. There is nothing anyone can do that will separate us from the love of God or Jesus Christ. Because I know this, and there are many who do not, I am serving a mission. Many people have asked me, "Why give up two years of my life?" Because I need to. Because I want to. Because God does not just love me, he loves all of his children, and I know this, but many do not and I want to tell all who will listen to me. This is why I am working so hard to learn Korean and it is  the only reason I am able to. The language isn't for me, it is for others. I am so thankful for my knowledge of the Plan of Salvation. I am thankful for my Savior. I'm thankful that through him, I can live with those that I love forever in the eternities. I love you all. Thank you for your support to me. Keep working hard in all that you do and remember that God knows you and loves you.


Elder Jacob Nickerl

Story behind this photo: 

I have been praying for about 5 weeks to be able to have the opportunity to host Elder Jackson when he came to the MTC and yesterday, my prayers were answered. He got to the MTC early, and by chance (or not because this isn't a coincidence) I was hosting the early arrivals. He was the first person I hosted. He is also in the same residence hall as I am, so we took a picture last night. It is amazing that the Lord cares about the little things even like this. He is aware of us and our needs/wants.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

September 10, 2015--Week 5

This has been a week of miracles.

   Thank you to everyone who fasted for me on Sunday. I am not lying or exaggerating when I say that I have truly felt the help. Monday afternoon, our lesson went amazing. Due to help from the Lord (I believe from all the fasting) Elder Vidal and I taught our best lesson yet and have taught pretty solid lessons all week. There has not been a question from either investigator that we couldn't answer on the spot. Which is a huge miracle in itself. Also, we committed one investigator to baptism with a date for 2 and a half weeks from now. So if all goes well, we will have the opportunity to have taught 4 different people in the MTC. Which is very rare. We are super excited. Outside of just speaking and understanding better this week, I have just been more at peace with the Lord and his timing. We don't always receive our answers in our time, but we do get them and they are what is best for us. 

   I really don't have a lot to say. It's been an awesome week, but the time is blurring together and I don't remember much except for the highlights and lows. Fortunately, there have been very few low points this week. I am learning to have a love for the Korean language. It is really an awesome language and has so many cool things about it. Also, even though I have only met about 20 or so, I truly feel a love for Korean people. They are so kind and although very blunt, they always say what they do with love. They are super nice and laugh at my language, but work to help me understand them and work to understand what I say. Next week, we will be the oldest of the districts in the MTC and I am really terrified. That means the time to leave this sheltered learning environment is coming to a close. It is amazing to think I have been here longer than 5 weeks already. All the days just blur together and I don't even know what happened when. 

   I wish I had more to say, but I don't remember much of what happened. All I can say, is that the Lord really does send his miracles our way. We just have to look for them. He loves us and will help us in any way in order for us to return to him. We just have to be humble enough to ask for his help. This church is true. This is God's work and nothing can or will stop it from moving forward. I love you all!

-Elder Jacob Nickerl

Elder Nickerl was able to "teach" Eli Hainsworth in the training resource center in the MTC.

Friday, September 4, 2015

September 3, 2015--Week 4

This week had the biggest ups and downs of the MTC so far.

   To start, the Korean is truly getting to me. It is so hard and is becoming so discouraging it has been hard to keep working. I'm doing my best, but I have never had to do anything as challenging as learning this language. Fortunately, I have some awesome teachers who have been really working to help me. When we teach in TRC (random Korean speaking people from the area) every Friday nights, I pretty much can't do anything. They speak so fast, don't use hand signals, and then at the end, they critique us on paper that we get to read later. The Korean people are nice in the lesson, but they really don't hesitate to critique away at our teaching. One lady last week basically told us we did a really bad job and we didn't say anything. Which may be true, but this has already been a hard enough week with the language as it is. Lastly, our building caught fire yesterday.... And we were mid getting ready to go. So we all got evacuated and the fire trucks had to come. So that was pretty interesting.

Now on a more positive note, this week we have had super awesome experiences. 

First, my teacher Brother Nemelka noticed one day I just wasn't really there. And after class I talked to him for quite some time. During that talk, he shared with me a lot of personal stories and we just talked for a little while and pretty much since(I think it was Saturday?) it has been a lot easier. He really is an awesome guy. He reminds me a lot of all of my older siblings. 

Tuesday night, we were extremely surprised to see Elder Oaks walk in to give our devotional. I was sitting down, and I suddenly just felt a hush walk into the room and a feeling of immense peace just hit like a tidal wave. I looked up and he had just walked in. It was the coolest feeling to be able to feel when he walked in before I saw him. To be able to carry the Spirit in such a way that I can just walk by people, and they feel it, is something I want to be able to do as a missionary. He talked to us on a lot of different things, but he really focused on Preach My Gospel. He also spoke a lot about the importance of teaching by the Spirit and how to be able to do so. 

Last of the highlights--We got to host as a district yesterday. That was probably the coolest experience of the MTC. I absolutely loved being able to be there for new missionaries as they go about a huge life change. It was bittersweet, but it was so cool to see them be teary eyed leaving, but within 30 steps, they were all ready to go and happy to be here. It brought back memories of my first day here. Which to me seems like forever ago, but really was only a month ago. 

 You’ve made a few references to your Korean Branch on Sundays.  Who is in that branch?  Just missionaries in the MTC or actual Korean speaking people from the community?
-My branch is my zone here at the MTC. All of us are missionaries. There are 80ish of us and we are all Korean speaking.

Do you interact with the missionaries from other districts?  Do you work at all with the Korean speaking missionaries that have been in the MTC shorter and longer than you?
-Yes I work with all the other districts especially the ones who came in with me. We tutor the shorter group and get tutored by the longer group every once in a while. I love all the elders who came in with me. There are 3 districts of us and we all get along great.

Collectively as a district, do you get a lot of packages/food in the MTC?
-Not really, I get the most stuff, so I try to share it all because I feel bad because a lot of the other people rarely get anything.

That's pretty much it for the week. And although it has been a real challenge and test for me, I am growing more this week than I have in my whole life. I know that this is God's work. I know that he will not give us challenges/trials that we can not deal with. It may be that we can't accomplish our tasks on our own, but that was never asked of us. We can pray, and we will receive answers and help if we truly believe we will get it. If I have learned one thing at the MTC it is that God loves us, he will help us, and he wants what is best for us. I know this is true and I am glad that I can speak enough Korean to share that message because that is the message I want every single person on this earth to know. I love you all! Thank you for your prayers and support.

-Elder Jacob Nickerl

Sunday, August 30, 2015

August 27, 2015--Week 3


I figured out how to type in Korean, but it's a pain to find the symbols on the keyboard. So English for now still. This has been a really long week. Elder Vidal and I taught a lesson every day still, but we have two investigators now so it's a little harder to work with both. We committed one of them to baptism, but we are only 4 lessons in with him so we don't know where it will go. We are excited though because we were able to actually get to that point speaking Korean. I love my teachers. They are so awesome. Last Sunday, I was called on to give a prayer in Sacrament Meeting (in Korean because we have a full Korean branch). I never thought I would be so scared to say a prayer. Apparently though, I said everything right and didn't make any mistakes. So I am pretty stoked about that. It is amazing to me how much I can learn in a 3 week period of time. 

Question 1: My companion has lived in Salt Lake his whole life, so he is American, but his parents came from Venezuela. We teach very well together. He is basically a dictionary and knows every single vocab word ever been said to him. He is awesome. 
2. Korean is going well all things considered. I understand the missionaries who give talks and most of what my teachers say, but they all use hand signals so it makes it easier, I know enough to be able to ask questions in class and get the point of the lesson. I'll send a picture of some Korean writing with the translation so that you can see the grammar structure. The sentence structure is Subject Object then Verb, so it is very different from English and makes it hard to understand for us. The cord you sent me still doesn't work at the MTC. I don't know how people send pictures so I still can't send them, but I'll do my best to figure it out, I just don't want to spend my computer time doing so.
3. We do service projects twice a week. Usually cleaning different buildings. 
4. I have six people in my room. It is really crowded and I don't know why we have 6, because every other building in the MTC has 4 to a room. They are all in my district though and I like them all. 
5. I am sleeping pretty bad because everyone has been really sick and coughs all night long. So no I haven't been sleeping well. It makes it hard to focus in my night classes, but I do my best.

I never remember what to really say when the time comes to send emails, but I'm still making it through each day. They all blur together except for Sunday. I love Sundays. I have never really appreciated the value of resting from your labors until now. Maybe I wasn't working hard enough pre-mission to understand, but I sure do now. My Branch Presidency is awesome. President Perriton is from New Zealand and so his Korean is super cool. Also we got a new batch of Koreans yesterday. I want to try to be as helpful to them as possible because I remember being in their shoes and being that overwhelmed. Pray for them hahaha. Anyways, it's been a long, but rewarding week. 

-Elder Jacob Nickerl 

A day in the classroom!

Korean testimony phrases and their translations.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

August 20, 2015--Week 2

Wow time flies! The first week here went by incredibly slow, but ever since last Prep Day, the time has gone so fast. The language as expected is still a struggle, but it is coming and I know that the Lord has been helping me because there is no other way I could have been able to progress this fast. Yesterday, I taught my first lesson without any script to read from. It was hard, and it didn't flow as well as some of the other lessons Elder Vidal and I have taught, but it felt amazing to be able to speak from the heart in my VERY basic Korean.

In answer to a few questions,
1. Yes we learn Korean similar to other languages like Spanish. Except there are so many more conjugations than Spanish. I swear they have a conjugation for everything. And yes we have been memorizing a lot of vocab. I think I learned probably 200+ words this week.
2. My district is half in states and half in Korea, but the other districts who came with me are all going to Korea. My companion is going to Korea, I can't spell the word in English and in Korean you can't read it anyway so I'll just say he is going central/southwest, South Korea. Three other Elders from my district are going to California Korean speaking and I am the only one going to NJ. However, there is one elder in the oldest group who is going to my mission. I've met him.
3. Sundays are truly the best day of the week. We go to church (in Korean so I don't understand much) and then Priesthood. Then later in the day we have choir and devotional. This last Sunday we sang with the Nashville Tribute Band and that was for our devotional. It was super cool. 
4. My clothes are all great. 
5. My district is all elders, but we are the only district that way, the others all have sisters.
6. For our gym time, we usually play volleyball or soccer. It's pretty fun. We are usually outside in the park in front of the temple, but every once in a while we are in the gym. I try to do pull ups, handstand push ups, and push ups every night before bed, to stay in shape. We have a pull up bar so that is nice.
7. There are a couple things that would be nice. 1. another laundry bag so I can have a white and color bag. 2. Another pair of jeans. Just one of the ones in my box. 3. Another pair of my stance socks (or new ones I don't care). 4. The NT Made Easier books, especially part 2, but all would be good. I think that is all for now, I don't really know, but if I think of anything I will let you know. 

I'm so excited to continue my study of the scriptures, preach my gospel, and Korean. My teachers here are awesome, they are also my investigators, but they are really awesome. Brother Nemelka just came home from Korea, and he is really good at speaking the language. He is such a good teacher and truly makes me want to be a better missionary every time I leave his class. Sister Gardener is my other teacher and she is a super good teacher as well, but Brother Nemelka is just the best. 

This week in our Tuesday night devotional we had Elder Echo Hawk of the 70 speak to us. He reminder us that we never know how much good will come from our teaching. It was an awesome devotional. I love this church and am so glad to be here as a missionary. I know this is the Lord's work. I have felt his love for me this week, but more importantly, he has helped me to feel the love for all of the people I will be serving. I know that New Jersey is where I am supposed to be teaching the Gospel. That is why I wake up and continue on every morning. I know that there are people there who need to be found. In Korean, the word investigator, translates directly to seeker of the road. There are Korean people in NJ who need to find the right road to take. I can't do this on my own, but I was not asked to. Jesus Christ, the most perfect being who ever walked this earth is with me, and with you, every step of the way. And that is why this Gospel is so important. And that is why I am serving, because I want everyone to know exactly what I do. I love this church. It is true. Nothing will change my mind. I wish you all the best of luck.

Until next week,

Elder (Jacob) Nickerl 4

August 13, 2015--Week 1

Hello all,
      I would love to give you all a taste of my first week in the MTC here by typing in all Korean and not translating anything, but I can't type symbols on the computer here, so I'll just have to deal with typing in English. This week has been probably the longest week of my life, but it has been really awesome. I love the language study, it's crazy hard, but I am making progress very quickly thanks to the gift of tongues. Within the first two hours of the MTC, I was sitting in a classroom listening to Korean. Ever since, it hasn't let up. Even better though than listening to Korean for hours on end, is the time I get to study the gospel. I have grown more spiritually in the last week than in my entire life. I love the peace I feel as I am able to sit and ponder or read from the scriptures. 
      My normal schedule is wake up, workout, prepare for the day, eat, personal study, companion study, language study, lunch, Korean Language Classroom Instruction time, more language study, dinner, go teach a lesson to investigators, more study, then bed. It's a lot of work, but this isn't my time I'm on. This is the Lord's work and his time, and anytime I start to slack off, I remember that and continue to focus. My district is awesome, I am truly humbled by all of them, most of them pick the language up faster than I do, and they have really strong testimonies. Some of them really struggle with punctuality, and so we have a very hard time getting places on time... But they all work really hard and I love being with them. 
      If I were to pick highlights from this week, I would have a really long list, so I'll try and keep it short. 1st--we listened to Elder Bednars MTC Christmas devotional from a few years back. It is called "Characters of Christ" and I would recommend taking the time to watch it. It has so many important lessons in it. 2nd--Personal Study. I love the time I have to sit and be one on one with the Spirit and the Scriptures. 3rd--In the MTC Choir we are practicing a song to sing with Nashville Tribute band. I don't really know the whole thing, but it is apparently the first time the MTC has ever done something like that, so we are making history. 4th--Watching all of the new missionaries enter the MTC yesterday. I don't know what it was about it, but watching all the new missionaries come in with huge smiles on their face really made the rest of the day great. It made me remember when I entered. That seems like forever ago, but it was such an amazing day. 5th--my first lesson on Friday. Oh it went so bad. Hahahaha I literally only knew how to say God loves you and will you get baptized, so I said both of those to him. I don't even know what he said back to us in response. We are getting much better though and tonight we are going to actually give him a legitimate baptismal invitation. 
      I have so much going through my head right now, so I don't really know what else to say, if anyone has questions I'll do my best to answer them next week. 
      I love this work. I know that where I am right now, is the right place for me to be. I am excited about learning Korean and maturing in the Gospel and my personal life, but this isn't for me. This is my time to give back to Jesus Christ for everything he has done and continues to do for me each day. I can truly testify of the truth of this Gospel. I also know that Jesus Christ is not sitting cheering us on at the finish line (as Brad Wilcox said), but he is with us every step of the way. I know that Christ died for all of us and that through him we can be made whole. Through him, we can become so much more than we are. I love this church and the peace and joy it has brought me.

Elder Nickerl

The new missionaries in the Korean MTC branch (Jacob's at the back).