Sunday, September 28, 2014

Week 16: Transfer 1 check. Transfer 2 Yikes. Here we come. Where is the rosary?

Better question, what is rosary? I don't actually know for sure but I remember Billy Joel singing about it in "Only the Good Die Young" or whatever the title is. Whatever it is, I need some because I am now a Senior Companion.

What?! No worries. Elder Hollingsworth and I are still going strong together but my group of missionaries are the first to pilot a new 12 week program in the mission. We did the First 12 Weeks intro to missionary life book in six weeks and then spend the second transfer switching off from senior comp to co-senior comp for six weeks. Then after that who knows where I'll go or who I'll be with but potentially I might never be junior again. Yay! Yikes! I don't know how I feel. Mostly overwhelmed but oddly okay with the situation. Formula for success: work hard. pray hard. The Lord qualifies who He calls. What are you called to do? ...missionary work!! It's true I wear the tag over my heart with His name on it but we all have His name written on our hearts. So share! I've found the more joy in my short service than in all of my short 18 years preceding it. (And there is a difference between joy and happiness, I've found. You have joy in the journey, even if it's a crazy uphill climb. The view always brings happiness too, though. Just a thought.) Share! It's the best!

Fun fact about being eighteen. I have no idea why, but Koreans do age really weird. Rather than count the number of years you've been alive they count the calendar years you've been involved with. Then they go up one. Yeah, it's weird but here I'm 19. Technically because my birthday is in February I could even say I'm 20 because they do that too. It makes no sense. But I don't feel 18. I'm way bigger than most people. But it's always good.


I received a sweet pep talk from God in my personal study and wanted to share it with you today.

So I can't recall with certainty which movie because the mission veil has descended and obscured most all of my pop culture knowledge, but the quote is "Sometimes you just need 30 seconds of insane courage" or something to that effect. [Editor's note:  He is referring to We Bought a Zoo.] I subscribe to that philosophy. Often times I am afraid to move and I just need 30 seconds to get moving. I need that little "umph" to get my tires moving and get me out of life's ruts and onto the path that God has for me. I love the words of Paul because he so often talks of grace and "fighting the good fight," and my heart takes courage form that. I like what Paul said to the Timothy in 2 Timothy1:6-7 from Rome when Paul was sent before Nero for the second time. I'm sure he wrote because Timothy was going through a rough time. He probably felt under-qualified or was facing a lot of opposition, or perhaps life was not being fair (is it ever?), or maybe he felt like God wasn't hearing him, or this whole church thing was too hard or not worth it. Paul counseled him: "Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up thy gift of God which is in thee by the putting on of my hands (i.e. the Holy Ghost, comforter, the Revelator, and spirit of promise) For God hath nor given us the spirit of fear; but of power and of love, and of a sound mind."

Take courage (maybe of the crazy 30 second variety) square your shoulders. Apply unto him for power, love others because charity will transform you and put new wind in your sails, and keep a sound mind. Realize that God, the Creator of the Universe is on your side and his purpose in life is your success and happiness. All will work out in the end and if it's not alright it's not the end.

I love all of you and wish I could say more but I am called another way..

Take courage. Fight the good fight. Onward and Upward.

터커 장로

Elder Tucker

The Library.  I may have never been happier in life.

The view from my apartment.

The view from my apartment.

Me wearing Ben's tie because I needed a boost.  And because he wore mine to his farewell.
So sweet!  Love you....

Elder Ben Denton wearing my tie at his mission farewell.  

The ties that bind:  Best friends for Life.
Ben and McKay saying goodbye, last June, for nearly 2 1/2 years.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Week 15: Ground Control, this is Major Tom. We've crossed the 100 day mark. Over and Onward and Upward.

Hello Family and friends! (This is a salutation. Commas are not needed.)

This week has been another solid one in the ongoing adventures of Elder Tucker in the wide world of  South Korea. It is crazy to think that my first transfer out here is on the tail end and that I'm closer to October than to August. Time doesn't make sense. It stopped making sense after I took a class on A Brief History of Time but now it makes a different kind of nonsense. Make sense? Anyway, the Lord has been so good to me and I have definitely seen his guiding influence in my life this week. The blessing and neat part in life is that if you pray for eyes to see them, the Lord's tender mercies are over all of us (check out 1 Nephi 1) and they move our lives every day. He is so there and involved. Because He loves us. I really feel that; I've felt it this week.

In some respects this week has been difficult. All of our investigators either couldn't meet or didn't keep their commitments so that was disappointing and discouraging but such is life. With our current pool of investigators not swimming well, this week we've tried to get more people. We've been talking to everyone we pass on the street. (Very literally in some aspects.) And that is hard. Sometimes it is hard to open your mouth. I have a hard time communicating and even understanding at times (especially the toothless old men. And the kiddies.) but the trick in life is to just push on. Push forward. Onward. Upward. I pray to God for strength to "courageously act" on the prompting he sends to me and to just love and talk to everyone I come in contact with. I do that whenever I just let someone walk on by or when I realize afterwards that I was ignoring my bud the Holy Ghost. As I have done that this week I've been so blessed to make strides forward in Korean. We also have three or more solid potential investigators lined up for this upcoming week. It's still tough but improvements are visible and increasing in rapidity. Yeah! God is good. Just do what He says.

Cool Korean things I have neglected to tell you thus far.

McDonalds delivery. Yeah. It exists. And it's free if you order a set meal. Korean fast food is superior to American. It was so cool to open up my happy meal and go "wow! It really looks just like the picture I ordered!" I ate the French fries with a blissful, satisfied feeling. I think I realized that I've been missing salt. Good ol' sodium chloride. Korea is great for many things, salt is not one. They prefer peppers. I usually substitute seaweed to get my fix. Korean food, though, is delicious.


This week I have had so many rockstar quality personal studies. (I realize now that rockstar might not be the best description for awesome spirituality...  :-)  As I've prayed at night to know what I should study the next day, I've really been led and the heavenly faucet that cranks out revelation has been on high. I think my favorite study form the week was comparing the similarities and parallel messages of Moroni 10:32 and Ether12:27. They are great! The two great keys from this week revolve around receiving revelation; they're faith and humility. As you increase in these two then your ability to feel the Holy Ghost will improve and you will receive more revelations. Even "many revelations daily" as was the case with Nephi and Lehi in the book of Helaman. The reverse of the message is that if you're not receiving revelation then either your faith (and works for that matter) or humility need to be checked and improved. Also I learned that faith and love are synonyms. So great. Check out the verse comparison. They're great.

I love you and pray for you,

Onward and Upward

Elder Tucker

We got some grandma pants!  All the grandmas were them!  They're so stretchy and nice.

Here is a glamour shot with them.

And me sardined into a car full of Asians on the way to a conference.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Week 14: Chinese Checkers...Sleepovers...Pretty Much the Greenie Life

Hello World and salutations to my loved Family and Friends, 

Here we are again. Another dawn, another destiny, another week gone by, and what a week it was. The Korean life is treating me well. This week has been quite a busy week and my schedule has been a little topsy turvy because I've spent nearly half of it outside of the Cheonan area. Let me unfold to you some of the recent comings and goings of Elder John McKay Tucker. 

Monday was 추 석 as I explained last week. What I failed to mention was me playing chinese checkers for an hour with an eleven year old kid from Gangnam. Yeah, like Gangnam Style. Our investigator that we met with last week, 유 민 호 is the oldest son and his uncles are really young so his cousins are more like nephews and they were over for the celebrations and feasting last week. Not having a lot to do, we played games. My favorite was chinese checkers, though the Korean knock off of Monopoly, Blue Marble, was cool too. ---Break for a sec. Can I say K-Pop is the best!! As I type there words I can hear a remix of a chipmunks song and r&b rap version of "I am so lonely. I have nobody for my own!" I really don't know what the song is titled but it's blowing my mind--- ok, back to the checkers. The eleven year old totally beat me twice pretty soundly but I came back and won the third round. You would think I'd let him win because he was 11 and I'm a missionary but no, he was just way good. Also....I think chinese checkers might be Korean. I don't know the name but I have a sneaking suspicion and I don't have wikipedia to back me up, but I do have a much greater love for korean checkers this week.

Scary and miraculous moment for the week was probably Elder Nybo and my Greenie Split on Wednesday. I don't know whose idea it was to send two inexperienced and barely passable Korean speakers out into the wide world, but it was a great idea! I was definitely nervous leading into it (I don't know Korean yet) but I prayed and the Lord sort of calmed my heart--I thought it would be okay. Well we found out early on that all of our three appointments couldn't meet so we hit the streets and did our best to open our mouths and talk to everyone we met. And boy did the big man upstairs open his windows unto us. We had eight street lessons, miraculously met a less active recent convert and talked for 40 minutes (He bought us beverages too.), we got six numbers, and Elder Hollingsworth and I now have a new investigator who Elder Nybo and I met at the Bus Terminal. Awesome! Open your mouth and it shall be filled. Work and you will be blessed with fruit. Pray and it shall be given to you. Man, I love this gospel. 

Thursday was TNT (trainers and trainees) meeting back at the headquarters in Daejeon so the group all met up. We were interviewed, counseled and sent back out as a little more seasoned greenies. I think I'm becoming a little less green. Out here we talk about "finishing strongest". Finishing the mission the strongest so you can go home clothed in a figurative golden robe (there is some old story in Korean culture--golden robe.) I think as I constantly apply myself out here I lose some green and get a little more gold. 

This weekend was stake conference. It was far away, and we had Priesthood and the adult meeting on Saturday so I packed a small bag and we slept over at the elders' house in Cheongju. Conference was good. I didn't get a lot out of besides renewed patience but singing "Dear to the Heart of the Shepherd" was great. Korean choir is always fun! 

Fun food fact: Saturday some members took us out for dinner. They bought me some pig spine soup which was pretty delicious! It was similar to ribs in flavor but with a spicy soup to boot. The soup was hot. Like spicy but they also serve it to you boiling and in a stone bowl. It makes is hard to drain down at the end but somehow I managed, though my nose was running a 5k or something.


This week was pretty great. I picked up a copy of the Power of Everyday Missionaries by Clayton M. Christensen ---which everyone must read because it will change your life! and your perspective on missionary work! Plus Brother Christensen is fun to read. AND he served his mission in Korea many moons ago.

In there and also in the D&C I learned and developed a heightened sense this week of the divine role of questions in my learning and progress. (Check pages 30-34 in Power of Everyday Missionaries) 

The gospel, the entire restoration of Christ's gospel, came about because one fourteen year old boy asked a question and believed that God would answer him. If I take that same mentality and thought into my studies then I'm going to get a whole lot more out of it. In fact, all of my best studies came from when I took a question to the scriptures. Questions bring on revelation. Section 8 really lays this out. "Even so surely shall you receive a knowledge of whatsoever thing you shall ask in faith, with an honest heart believing you shall receive" This is how God reveals truth. This is how you can know the "mysteries of God". Through asking, God will tell you in your mind and in your heart the answer you seek. God calls the spirit of revelation and this process "thy gift" and tells us in verse 4 to "apply unto it" to "remember these words, and keep the commandments. Remember this is thy gift." Revelation is God's gift to you. The gift is just dependent on your asking. Think about it ..."ask and you shall receive." I love that practically the entire D&C came through Joseph's questions. I can get those kinds of revelations too... if I ask. So this week that will be one of my focuses.

I love you, pray for you, and know that God is with you.

This is His work and I'm so happy to be working in the Korean section of the vineyard. It's really nice :)

Onward and Upward,

Elder Tucker

That's a preying mantis.  A good district meeting.

some countryside

me and the boys

A really effective personal study looks like this!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Week 13: Hello! And Happy 추 석!!!

Hello Family and Friends,

Happy 추 석 (or Korean Thanksgiving)! It really is nothing like our Thanksgiving but it is all about family and remembering the blessings in life. It was so much fun; our most progressing investigator, 유 민 호 (sounds like You Mean Hoe, who should be getting baptized the end of this month or the beginning of October) invited us to celebrate with his family this morning. He picked us up and we went to their apartment (where the whole family gathers because it is tradition for the family to gather from all over and go to the home of the eldest son). It was such a neat experience, they had the names of several ancestors written in Chinese characters hanging on the wall, and he lit incense and there was lots of bowing and other respectful rituals that I didn't understand at all, but it was all so amazing. I felt so honored to be a part of such a special moment. 추 석 (sounds like chu suk) is a big deal here in K-town. Most shops close down and all the native Korean missionaries get to call home. Celebrations go for about three days, I think, and because everyone travels to the home of the eldest son there are a lot of people out of town and a lot of visitors from all over. The rest of p-day should be relatively calm and quiet. We aren't really supposed to do much proselytizing and will stay inside or visit members. We visited out investigator's house, and the other two elders in our apartment were invited to go hiking with a family in the ward. The good times are for sure rolling here in 천 안 (Cheonan)! The work is moving and the city is bustling; it's good to be a missionary here.

Where was I?...

Oh yeah, this week we had a baptism!! Our friend 김 두 훈 (kim du hoon) got baptized on Friday! He is our ten year old friend. Both of his parents are members and they have been less active or inactive for a long time. The missionaries have been teaching 김 두 훈 for awhile and his mom and sister now come out rather regularly. I hope that as we continue to meet with him that we will be able to help all of them come to full activity.. The baptism was terrific. Elder Hollingsworth baptized him and because he got baptized on his birthday we had a little party at the church. It was so fun. And oh my goodness, I have never eaten birthday cake with chopsticks before. (Really I'm so happy I can even use chopsticks! I had an irrational fear that I would never learn and would starve. But hey, that's what spoons are for--and they use them at every meal too! And if you're an elder who is really struggling sometimes they take away your chopsticks and hand you a fork. I haven't earned that one yet so I think I'm doing okay.) I must really be in Asia.  Funny story: we didn't start filling the font early enough and we couldn't get the boiler on so we were heating up water in rice cookers and frantically running back and forth from the kitchen to the font to add more water. It was comical and wonderful!

  훈, Elder Hollingsworth and me

Baptism and Birthday Celebration 

You can eat....

just about....

anything with chopsticks...

with enough practice!

This week English class was fun. Teaching English to Koreans is the best. It is so funny. Most all of them can't really speak at all so we do a lot of basic conversation practice and teach them expressions and such. This week was exciting because the sisters from the neighboring city came and they wore traditional Korean clothes in honor of today's holiday. Sister Matheson is one of our sisters from Australia and we had a fun time teaching "Australian English" g'day mate" and "bonzers" I was learning as much as the Koreans I think.


This week has been a great one for study. Can I just say that the Book of Mormon is true! I read from is everyday and everyday am just so blown away by how much I can learn from so little. The details are so amazing; and it all points to Christ. It is true. I also love PMG. Every church member should be studying it because we need to all be missionaries but also because the doctrine in it is so simple and so easy to understand. I learn so much from its pages--both about the gospel, and being a missionary, and just becoming who God wants me to become. 

Time is short but my study activity for today was reading about Abinidi and comparing his trial to Christ's. There are so many similarities. All the prophets relate to Christ: I love it!
My helpful scripture for the week is D&C 112:10. I like to be lead by the hand so this meant a lot to me 

I love you all, Onward and Upward!!

Elder Tucker

The church

Me and the boys in a super reflective mirror.  There are so many mirrors in Korea!