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