Good morning everyone, I hope this post is finding you all well and happy. These past couple of weeks have been pretty good for me. Partly because I have had a few adventures. First, When we went to District Conference we were given the go ahead to sight see for half a day. I need to preface what I say next by explaining that Jeju Island is a beautiful natural wonder, protected by the World Heritage Sites organization. It is the home of purportedly unsurpassed lava tunnels, which geologists come from all over the world to study. Well, I was outvoted and my district chose to visit the Ripley's Believe it or Not Museum that for some reason is located on this island. Needless to say, It felt more like Las Vegas than an exotic foray into a primeval wonderland. Second, I had the absolutely serendipitous fortune of attending my first Korean wedding. It was for a sister who lives in our branch. It was thoroughly enjoyable and quite interesting from a western point of view. There was a lot of bowing involved, and it was tremendously entertaining. I don’t mean this to sound like I am belittling the event in any way. Rather, I love that each culture has distinct customs within universal rites.
Unquestionably, the most uniquely Korean experience I have had to date is being instructed in the competitive art of Ping-Pong playing. Apparently, I have being doing it all wrong. My companion and I received a call last week from the elders who are from the other area on the island. They wanted to visit a women in their branch who was less-active, so they were in need of our assistance. We were happy to take the bus over and help them out. This woman L O V E S Ping-Pong. When the Elders made the appointment she said that she wanted to play Ping-Pong with us. Now, my experience with Ping-Pong has consisted of playing for fun in someone's basement. What happened next was completely unexpected. When we arrived together at her home, the sister took us to a Ping-Pong training facility, much like what you would find in any sports training gym. It was a serious establishment. There were practice machines that fed you balls and scoring tables set up next to the ping pong tables, I could tell immediately that I was in way over my head. Of course I let the elders try first. They both played her and they both lost terribly. I decided to not even attempt a competitive game, but I explained to her that I had never played before. This way she would be gentle on me.
She insisted on spending about 20 minutes teaching me the basic techniques of basic Ping-Pong 101. For those of you who thought you knew what you were doing, you don’t, so I will share with you a brief overview of how we have been doing it all wrong. The first rule is, NEVER bend your wrist, but always bend your knees. Second, keep one foot planted and use the other to pivot. Third, the secret is in the torso. Always twist at the torso. Therein lies the secret to playing Ping-Pong like a pro and looking amazing while doing it. Because I will tell you that while trying to follow her instructions I looked absolutely ridiculous. I hope my pointers will help you all on your quest to become extraordinary ping pong players. I know I am now well on my way.
Amid all of my adventures this past while I also learned something that has touched my soul and that I want to share with those of you who are so inclined to read further.
I was studying in 2 Timothy when I came across this scripture. "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord." I've thought a lot about this scripture since reading it. I am not always the most outgoing person. I like to keep to myself sometimes and up until my mission I rarely talked to strangers. However, now my whole day basically consists of starting conversations with people that I have never met before. Sometimes the most difficult part of this is just saying hello. I find myself a little nervous or afraid to approach someone. Then after I have managed a greeting I have to follow it with an introduction. This is the point where I bring up the fact that I am here as a missionary for Jesus Christ. It is this point that makes me the most nervous. I am afraid of their reaction as a dismissal.
This scripture plainly teaches that those negative feelings do not come from God. The Holy Ghost would never cause me to be afraid to share the gospel of Jesus Christ. On the contrary, His purpose is to inspire us to preach of Christ, our Heavenly Father, and the plan of salvation. But Satan would love nothing more. His drive and purpose is to make us feel frightened, scared, and inadequate in sharing God’s message. When we get those butterflies in our stomach, when we hesitate, or when we look away instead of straight ahead it is Satan who is leading us. When we feel intimidated to bear out testimonies we give him power over us. But when we push through those insecurities we allow the promptings of the Holy Ghost to fill us with reassurance. We have to invite divine companionship, and allow the spirit and light of Christ to fill us with assurance that what we are sharing is “good news”.
Likewise, it is the same with all aspect of our lives. We should never be ashamed to live our standards expressed through how we dress, the words we speak, the manner in which we treat others, the way we carry ourselves, and the way we conduct business. It is through our example and courage that we can give others the strength to do the same. And it is through pushing those thoughts of embarrassment, insecurity, and inadequacy out, and filling ourselves with the divine understanding of who we are as children of God. When we do this we invite the Holy Ghost to accompany us daily. Encouraging us as He whispers that we have “power, …love, and a sound mind”.
I pray that we all can have the courage to live what we believe and to never be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
I hope you all have a wonderful week.