Sunday, August 31, 2014

Week 12: The Work Progresses and the Korean Adventure Continues Strong

Hello Family and friends! (as well as acquaintances, or..whoever else this goes to...the internet is a big place)

Wow, what a wonderful world we live in! I really love Korea. I love being a missionary. And I love my God who is so good to me and to us all. This week has been good and I'd love to share with you some of my comings and goings as well as some of the things I've been privileged to learn and to relearn. 

First, some Korean observations that I failed to communicate thus far:

Rice. Those little white thingies--I never realized how much I loved it or how much our meals revolve around it until we ran out early in the week. It was crazy, I forgot that I eat it three times a day and even Ramen (which is way more delicious in Korean (where it came from) than anywhere else, I've come to learn) wasn't the same without a little rice to eat the ramen dregs with. Sad, but then we got 20 kilos from some members so now we're sitting pretty. 

Ok, the hardest thing about Korea (besides the whole talking to people in Korean) has to be sitting cross legged. I never thought of myself as a flexible person, but I didn't think I was that bad. . . I was that bad. We eat all of our meals cross legged and my knees are either way up in the air or I'm fighting them down and then I walk away from the table all cramped and jello-legged. Note to self (or anyone heading to Asia): stretch. But I figure if that's the hardest part then I'm doing ai'ight. 

The food really is delicious here. Sometimes it's a different kind of delicious--the kind I don't appreciate--but it all is good. Spicy is a big thing here. I went on an exchange on Tuesday to the neighboring city and while there my "new" companion had me try "fire" ramen. I can't ever remember the Korean name but it nearly did me in. I was crying and my nose was running off my face and I was crying some more and I drank two cups of milk. Surprisingly, what cooled the fire after about ten minutes of purgatory--I mean pain, was a potato salad sandwich. It was good. I think I'll eat the fire ramen again this week. It kills, but it actually has a delicious flavor that makes up for the pain and suffering---it's like hard core crossfit of ramen! Pain and suffering--so much so that you cry, but a sense of satisfaction and the insanity you just put yourself through. Yeah, kinda is. 

New look alike this week. The most common comparison recently has been between me and Arnold the Terminator Schwartz...I'm not even going to try spelling that. 

I also had Korean tacos! The best of tacos plus kim chi and sweet chili sauce. They were so good! And everyone always feeds us fruit when we visit. The fruit here is so tasty. It comes in seasons so I've eaten a lot of watermelon and grapes. They're great and grown super close to 천 안 (Cheonan) too. 

This week God answered my prayers. We have a pool of eight or nine regular investigators now. I love all of them and hope for the best. We have two set baptismal dates (one this week!) and the rest we usually see throughout the week. But Thursday and Friday and Saturday were hard. Everyone was canceling on us or going out of town. We did a lot of finding activities, there was lots of street contacting and good practice for me, but I want to be teaching the gospel and be helping people really come closer to Christ, so we need more people to teach. I got down on my knees and pleaded for those we are teaching and prayed for God to place his prepared children in our path. I would do all I could to follow the Spirit and would open my mouth to talk to everyone and be 100% obedient. I promised God my all and knew that he'd follow through. Helaman 3:27 says "thus we see that the Lord is merciful unto all who will, in the sincerity of their hearts, call upon his holy name." I did this and He followed through. The next day, Sunday, one of our investigators came to church, and we received a referral from a member and one from the Elders in the city over. Then a person we met in the store a few days before responded to our text and we met with him that night. I think he is totally prepared and ready for the gospel! The Lord is so good. Have faith. Pray and do everything to help your prayer happen, and He will provide a way.  


A quick thought because time is short. A thought from Moroni 9:25-26.  To all of those whose hands may hang helplessly down. Look Up! Look to Christ! if ye do, "may Christ lift thee up, and may his suffering and death, and the showing of his body unto our fathers (so...that he suffered, bled, and died, but more importantly that he LIVES! He is living now. And he loves us infinitely.), and may his mercy and long suffering (which He shows to us because sometimes it takes a few times--or several--for us to learn a lesson) and the hope of His glory and eternal life, rest in your mind forever." Let this thought, the joy of Jesus our Savior, the good news of the gospel, the happiness in His Hope, sweep away the cobwebs of depression, discouragement, or doubt. "May Christ lift thee up" and may His grace, or the enabling power of the atonement - as Elder Bednar would say - carry you through. Carry you onward and upward until we are with him, with God, again!

I love this gospel. I testify that it is true!

Elder Tucker

Look at this huge Korean cereral!  It is just as delicious in Korea!

This is our kid getting baptized!

and....another selfie.  Korea is the best!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Week 11: Week 2 in the adventures and escapades of the tall and very American Elder Tucker!‏

Salutations to my family and friends,

I find it odd that as we speak (or as I write and as you read) I am half a world away. Or a whole world away if we're considering global circumference. Anyway, the wonderful world of Korea is just that: wonderful! I am loving it more and more the more I'm here. I realized in my last installment I left a few things unsaid, so here's a recap:

I am currently serving in the wonderful city of  천  언!  (Cheonan) It is a pretty big city and is one of the most northern in my South Korean mission. The weather has been nice. Some umbrella days, humidity is high as is to be expected, but I think it is terrific!

Yes, I don't have a bed. I live in a four elder house and together the apartment is about the same as our front room with a little bit of the entry way added onto it. We sleep on the ground on mat's called  요 's which is romanized as "yo's". The ground really isn't bad at all. Plus I'm usually so tired by the end of the day that I pass right out anyway. 

The language is...difficult but I foresaw that coming into this. We had a mission president's fireside on Sunday in our ward and President Shin spoke for nearly fifty minutes. He was going at it in his native Korean and I (to my consternation) was pretty sure that he was speaking a different language other than Korean (man, he can really talk quickly), but my companion understood most of it so there is hope for me yet. I guess most all missionaries feel that way when they jump in over their head in the language. I take comfort knowing that the one language that is supposed to be comparable to Korean in difficulty is Finnish and my main man Mr. Adam Anders Nissen gets to preach to the people of Finland. The task is hard but when I take to mind that I have God, the creator of heaven and earth, on my side it seems doable. The main thing is to be consistent. Hard work in the studies and application on the streets during contacting is the very best way to learn the  language. The gift of  tongues is real but it is not freely given. It is one of those special gifts that amplifies and multiplies the effort that I exhibit. I can tell that my prayers are answered because I feel the spirit so much every day, but I also like the idea that the Lord prefers working hands to praying lips. I must show my faith by my works and pray as if it all depends on Him then get up and go to work as if it all depends on me. It really is amazing to be a missionary. 

I feel like working here in Korea is similar to working in America. Here, like there, the people are interested in knowing about where they came from or knowing who God is and their relationship to him, but there are also lots of people who just don't believe anything... That said, we have two baptismal dates for next month.  I came in late in the game when they were really close or already had dates set, but I am still ecstatic! One is a man in his thirties with no previous religious background  유 민 호 He really believes in the church but his wife is Buddhist by blood (it's a cultural thing) and so that raises some difficulties. The other is a ten year old boy from a partially active family. The boy,  김 두 훈 , is super nice and fun. (we play bad mitten ...not sure about spelling anymore) I hope the best fror him and hope his whole family will start coming to church with him more often.

I love Korean people. My favorite is how they are still polite even when blowing me off..usually...One of my favorite experiences is when we met this group of people just visiting outside a convenience store who we stopped to talk to one night. While we were talking to a few of them one of the men went inside the store and bought us two iced coffee's! We exchanged them for sodas and they were not interested in the gospel at all, but all is well. My favorite is how Koreans will tell me what famous white people I look like all the time. The two most common are Jim Carey and David Beckham. Nice! Count one for the gipper! 

Oh my, the time flies really fast. and mine is nearly up today. I think I'll end with some spiritual thoughts..


One of our investigators asked this week why bad things happen to good god-fearing people. Great question. and I was able to answer it in parts in broken Korean but I will expound it for you. God is good. He is no respecter of persons and loves all of his children, and he always respects their agency to choose. Bad people often choose to do bad things and good people get hurt. The world is a scary place. There are orphans and starving children. There is murder and rape and all manner of bad things but the good news is in Christ. He was born and He died. The most important thing is that He lives and He suffered personally for all of our heartaches, pains, or afflictions. I feel like everyone has afflictions of some sort and He can take every one of them away. I don't have time to get detailed but read 3 Nephi 17: 8-9. I spent about thirty minutes there and cross referencing. We worship a good God who promises to heal us. He can heal us of anything. All we must do is have faith and come to him. Believe. Have faith. Come unto Christ. 

This work is true I love it with all my heart. I love being A missionary. Pray for me. You are in mine.

Keep the faith. Onward and Upward!

Elder Tucker

Editor's Note: Missionaries love mail!

Elder John McKay Tucker
Korea Deajeon Mission
Deajeon PO Box 38
Chung Cheong-namdo 300-600
South Korea

Crosswalks.  Crazy crazy crosswalks...
the comp with the city
the awesome sun behind the polluted sky

Monday, August 18, 2014

Week 10: Let the Korean Adventures and Foreign Escapades begin!‏

Hello Family, Friends, and America,

Salutations from your baby boy out here in the wide (kinda weird but kinda fantastic) world! I am safe and sound and loving it here in 천 안! The big city life is kind of exciting and it is a thrill to really be living as a missionary. It took two planes, several busses and a couple of taxis but I'm here. (and now I've ridden in a taxi...) The last couple days of the MTC were blissful and fun and I miss the clean, safe, kind of babied atmosphere I was living in but doing the Lord's work is really where it's at. I am so excited. 

The week has been great and kind of feels like a Korean blur. First thought of Korea: super big. I live in a 15 story apartment building and it is only one of hundreds in the area. The place feels kind of similar to the other big cities (LA New York, Boston) though its a little less clean than Boston. Having dwelt among the Asians for a whole week almost I really have no idea why people think that all Asians look alike. Sure 99.9% of the people are Korean, but there is so much diversity. I love the people. My companion, Elder Hollingsworth says that in 6 months they all just start looking like Americans. Bring it on. It's funny...everyone here has a smart phone. It is the Samsung kingdom and it is totally evident. Did anyone know that Samsung made cars? or water heaters or coffee? Ok, they don't make coffee. 

So upon arrival to Korea we bussed from Inchon to Daejeon and then teamed up with the office Elders and hit the streets for a couple of hours to 전 도 (proselyte). It was great! It is unreal how nice the people of Korea are. Even when they are totally blowing me off they just shake their head and proceed on their way. and bow. It's awesome. Being a tall, well dressed American pretty much everyone will stop and talk to me for a little and I exploit my "I've only been here 6 days" card and then practice my Korean with them and try to preach the gospel. I love sharing. I think that bus 전 도 is my favorite so far but tonight I get to go door knocking so we'll see. The language is incredibly hard but that is to be expected. I can see myself getting better and as I set and work towards goals I get better faster. Plus, the Lord is with me. This is His work and he called me to be here. He loves his children and I am the means by which they can get back to him. It's through my words so he will provide a way for me to tell them. Plus, Elder Hollingsworth is great! He's a Canadian/Ohio citizen and has been here a while and helps me out all the time. He is constantly telling me all sorts of meaning of words. The roots. I think there is a lot I can learn from him. It's funny: He corrects my Korean and I correct his English grammar. We make a good team.

The ward here is fabulous. 전 안 has one of the biggest wards in the mission (140 or so) and the people are awesome. I love how the church is the exact same wherever you go. There are still kids running around in sacrament meeting and afterwards they visit the same too. The saints all act the same. It's comforting to see and another reassurance that the work is true. It was awesome , I got there early to greet members then had priesthood, then gospel principles, then sacrament meeting. I had to introduce myself to the ward and share my testimony. Mission accomplished. Then we stacked the chairs and were drafted into the choir. Let me tell you, singing choir is way harder when you have to sight read and then have to sight-read in Korean. Dear to the heart of the shepherd isn't too bad but it gets compounded when I'm singing another language! We had a lesson afterwards then walked home in the rain...

In the evening we visited a member and were asked to give a blessing. (Clutch moment, I know) I anointed and again I realized how much harder it is in Korean. But all is well. the work progresses though the time is short. I love all of you. I miss you and America but I forget about it all whenever I walk out the door or put on my badge. It's nice. 

a short thought


In my scripture study this morning (which I wish was like three times longer. There is just never enough time to be the Lord's Investigator.) I studied Jacob 3 verses 1 and 2.....And Alma 26

In Jacob I learned that I need to do a couple of things. I need to 1. Look unto God with firmness of mind (see Alma 57:27) and 2. pray with exceeding faith. 
       If I do this then He promises to 1. console me in my afflictions and 2.plead my cause.
Verse 2.
I need to do three things:
1. lift up my head
      look up. acknowledge my god and my savior. see what's going on around me. I've got to look up and see what I can do; see who I really am
2. Receive the pleasing word of God
     Study it out. I need to come to know, to master, the scriptures. I need to receive the gospel more in my own life--into my heart. I need to recognize that it's the pleasing word of God and that it will make me and all people happy. His word is the key. That is what I'm out here to declare. 
3. Feast on his love
       What is his love? God's love was shown through his son--through the atonement. I need to partake of the saving grace and mercy offered through the atonement and let that fill me and change me. I need to feast on God's type of love i.e. charity. I need to be charitable and let that charity be evident through me. And for both of these God doesn't say to take one of those little cheese cubes on a toothpick, but to feast. Full to the brim. Full to overflowing. Filling to the overcoming of my strength (think Ammon) and through being full I'll be transformed. 

Christ's love is it. It is a miracle and it is why I'm here. I love Him and I feel His love every day. I know He loves all of his children and I am here to serve them, to teach  them, to love them. I love Korea and its people. I love this gospel. It is true. It simply is. it's simple and it is...true. I know it. I testify, in His name, Amen. 

I love all of you. Pray for me. You are in mine. 

God be with you, fight the good fight (I love P.P. Pratt's words), keep the faith and in all things press onward and upward!


Elder Tucker

Me and the map.  Classic.

I'll miss the temple!

And my peeps.

I love my Korean brethren.

ME and the gang
Welcome to Korea!

The platform 9 3/4 pickup.  With Elder Nybo

How about those bus seats?

Big City

And rice burger.  Must be Korea....

Friday, August 8, 2014

Week 9: Ground Control to Major Tom....three days and counting 'till entry

Friends and family, so...tis the last p-day in the America before I embark into the wide, unknown world (i.e. Korea). It is definitely an odd feeling: I have been here the entire summer. Wow, school is already in session. Where has the time gone? I'm not sure, but I feel like it's been well spent. I'm definitely in this dream like state where anything that happened pre-mish feels like some sort of other life, more like I'm remembering the details from some long-ago Psych episode or something. The MTC really is an amazing place. My favorite is to be in choir or lunch and overhear some English speaking elders talking about how "done" and ready to get out of here they are. I follow up with "yeah, how long have you been here elder?" and they invariably come back with "12 days!" I then shock their system with my "Hmmm, I've been here for eight weeks. Yeah, I got Here June 11th." Their jaw drops then they question how I can even live here that long...and you know, being here is easy; it has been great. The MTC is the best learning environment I have ever been in. Sure there are challenges and sometimes having the same routine or being in class for 11 hours a day gets kind of old, but I have come so far. I really feel like I am a better, more well rounded, happier, and more confident in the Lord. My capacity to do has increased and through my interactions with my companion and with my district I have been molded and strengthened...progress is so good. Plus, my residence is on the 4th (top) floor of 14M and my classroom is on the 5th (top) floor of 18M and we take the stairs everywhere, probably six to nine times a day, so nine weeks later I have some toned glutes (just so you know..). The blessings of the MTC are innumerable!

Missions are amazing. I'm not even very far into mine and I can already see some of the effects and impacts. I am reminded of some of Bruce C. Hafen's remarks from our Tuesday devotional. He grew up in St. George. As a youth he grew up with Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, they were in the same quorums, went to school together. They were friends. He said of Elder Holland that when the mission age was lowered from 20 to 19 that they were both confronted with the decision of leaving or not. Believe it or not, Elder Holland doubted whether he wanted to leave or not. (See there was this girl he had dated all through high school and he was afraid that if he left she might not be there when he got home. She wouldn't promise him she'd wait either but did encourage him to serve) He gave it to God, he decided to go because it was the right thing to do and was called to England. His mission was incredibly hard, but it changed him forever. (now say it like on the Sandlot  Forever!) Says Elder Holland, his mission changed him more than any mission has anyone since they've been sending missionaries. Everything he is as a leader, devout disciple, exemplary example, he chalks up to the influence his mission played on his life. His love for the Book of Mormon and his unshakable appreciation for the prophet Joesph and our Savior Jesus Christ first found sure footing on his mission. Says he "My mission means everything to me!" It's things like this that make me so excited and pumped, yet nervous and ready to throw myself into it and jump in over my head - all at the same time. To all of you whom I love who are out there and are still unsure: Serve a mission! it will change you. forever.

One idea from Mission Conference this past Sunday was the purpose of baptism. Why are we baptized? To become part of His church. Yes. 'Cause it's a good thing to do. Yes. But big reason: to gain a remission of our sins. In baptism, like in every other aspect of our religion, Christ and his atonement are central. The purpose of this life is to come here, learn, grow (to experience this mortal experience), and live right so we can make it back to God to live with him forever, forever happy. The bad news is that we are far from perfect. We all sin and because of those mistakes and trip-up moments we are separated from God; we can't be with him as we are. The good news is that Christ came. He atoned. He conquered both sin and death and through our coming to him, repenting and changing, we can be freed from sin, free from guilt, free to become like God. We are baptized and we have to keep repenting and renewing our covenant because that is how we get cleansed of that sin and guilt and just-not-niceness. Baptism is that application of Christ's atonement. And that is why everyone needs it. It's the Atonement, that's why it is essential to return to God.

Sunday's speaker was the new president of BYU, President Kevin J. Worthen. He and his wife are both incredibly impressive persons. They seem so personable and personally  knowable and so it's always a little eye-opening and jaw dropping when the conducting member of the MTC presidency reads off their resume and life accomplishments and it's longer than this email, practically. I wanted to share just one thought form his message. I loved the point he related from page 11 of PMG (maybe?) that the power and authority of missionaries is real. The authority I have comes from my calling. I have been called by God and endowed with authority and power. The power I have is dependent on my keeping my commandments. Obedience brings power. Keeping commandments and covenants is what strengthens us and protects us and is what gives me the ability to operate with God's power. so neat!


So Sunday ,post devotional there are always several options of films or old talks. This past Sabbath I watched a past devotional by Elder Holland (because I love him #favorite and because I haven't been able to see him here at the MTC. #tear) Just a few good points because my time runs short.

So I hear it lots and he mentioned it how we are a "chosen" generation. I love Elder Randall Ridd's interpretation from the last conference a lot but Elder Holland hit it home well to. Said he, "I have no idea why we were chosen for this day" whether we were more valiant or obedient or whatever I don't know for sure (that whole not remembering thing can be a booger at times), but really, it doesn't matter. The fact of the matter is that we were chosen, all of us, to come here now at this time. I'm (you're) part of that chosen generation who God has chosen to bring about the latter-day glory. Why? I don't know. But I do know that I have greater opportunities in one day than many of not most of my ancestors had in their entire lifetimes. What am I doing with that opportunity?

This work is true! I love it and I am so happy to be living it every day. Missions are the coolest because right now I am living my life the closest to God as I may ever get. From the moment I wake up to the time my head hits the pillow I am called to think and strive to do all that I can to build up and advance His kingdom. That is so cool. That is missionary work.

I love you all, thank you for the prayers and keep sending them my way. This week things are going to get real in a whole new kind of way.

Keep the faith! Onward and Upward!

Elder Tucker

Excellent weather this week

with Elder Pace

Look who I found at the temple.... me and my friend Cole Farnsworth

with Elder Whipple

selfie with some of the younger Korean missionaries

Elder Quackenbush

Elder Vernard

me walking from the temple all serious

Elder Hoyne....

ate too much sour pateh kid dust...

So funny!

I look like I'm leaning against the ceiling of the res.  If you turn your head sideways it kind of looks like I'm twerking....whoops!  #mishnono's