Hello again from Korea!! I still can't believe I'm actually here, maybe I'll never be able to. Every day I still wake up and have to remind myself that I'm in Korea. Although, the fact that I wake up on a mat on the floor does help remind me. This week has had its ups and downs, as I'm sure every week will, but it has been mostly good. I wish I could report that I could suddenly speak Korean fluently but unfortunately that is not the case. One day though, one day I will get there.
I have a story to tell about different vineyards, and in my opinion it is a pretty interesting one. Last Monday night my companion and I went to visit a less active young man to share a message with him. Before we left my companion told me a little bit about him and also informed me that he was currently residing in a mental hospital. I wasn't really sure how to respond to that but I said, "okay" and we left. We rode a bus out to the middle of nowhere, missed our stop, then had to literally run back along the highway to the correct bus stop, at which point we then called the young man for directions. After getting directions to the mental hospital, (that is what it is called), we then had to walk a ways all up hill until we finally spotted the hospital. He was waiting for us when we arrived. He had also brought a fellow patient with him. Now just to be clear these men have complete mental capacity. In Korea those who suffer from depression often check into such places so they can receive medical and psychiatric help. Together we sat at some tables outside. A few minutes later another one of his friends joined us. So there we were, two sister missionaries, (one very green), teaching three young adult men wearing hospital issued clothes. It was an experience I never expected to have. But my companion gave a good lesson and they all seemed to feel the Spirit. While there we took the number of one of the young men who was going to be released within a few days. After he got home he called us and he is now our new investigator... Of all the ways to find someone searching for the gospel, I think I'm probably one of the few who has a story quite like this to tell. How many different vineyards might there be that we never even think about?
As I was studying the Book of Mormon this week I came across the allegory of the olive tree, also found in Jacob chapter 5. Re-reading it as a missionary gave me a different understanding of the message, as well, my missionary frame of mind has also given it more meaning. One verse that really stuck out to me is verse 72. It is speaking about the last time that the Lord is going to labor in the vineyard. He commands his servants to go and to work, but there is more. It says; "the Lord of the vineyard labored also with them". Instead of letting the servants do all the work while he supervises this verse explains that He works along side them. I think the word labored is important as it implies toiling, striving, and performing difficult and arduous tasks. It also has the implications of class distinctions. When dividing work there is usually one who manages the work of many. These jobs are usually divided by knowledge and physical action. The management understands the big picture and directs the workers what to do to best accomplish the task. However, this scripture passage specifically says that along with directing the work, Christ labors along side His harvesters. I love this phrase. I think you can read this two ways, one the Lord will descend to our level, or two, we can ascend to His. I do not think he lowers Himself to work with us, rather I believe He brings us up to a higher plain to work with Him. Similarly, the next sentence stood out to me also, it says, "and they did obey the commandments of the Lord of the vineyard in all things".
As a missionary we are told that obedience brings miracles. This verse helps show me that it is when we are obedient and when we live all of the commandments the Lord has given us, He elevates us to help accomplish His work. He doesn’t give us instructions to go out in the field and expect that we can bring His children to Him alone. Rather, He is our companion in the form of the Holy Ghost. In the Godhead the purpose of one is the purpose of all. They always work in tandem. And when we work for Him, we are part of that circle, because without our physical labor, His harvest cannot be gathered. So in order to be part of this work we must be given an added measure of the divine. However, this scripture clarifies that we will only have His companionship through obeying the commandments. It is only then that we can receive the Lord's help. I have witnessed this to be true. As I have strived to be obedient I have felt the Lord's companionship through the presence of the Holy Ghost in my life, and in my work as a missionary. His presence both physically and mentally sustains me. It is what motivates me to stay obedient. When all I want to do is nap during my study time I remember that I can't do this without the Lord's help. I am not a missionary without Him, and I definitely cannot learn Korean in a few months time if He were not here helping me every step of the way. It is this knowledge that motivates me, and it is by faith that I follow His commandments, for one is predicated on the other. I want to earn His companionship and I want to do all that He asks me to so that I can qualify for His added labor.
I hope that we all can remember how much we need the Lord's help in our lives, and that the way we qualify for His work is through obedience to His commandments. I know that as we strive to live the way the Lord has asked us to He will not leave us to labor in this life alone, He will come to us and He will help us toil. He will be our companion in all things, not just working toward His harvest, but those things that we need and desire, because we are His vineyard too.
I love you all and hope you are well,
p.s. I posted some new pictures.
p.s. I posted some new pictures.