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