Sunday, February 22, 2015

Week 37: Tribute email!

Hello family and friends!

What a wonderful day it is here in Korea! I'm excited because it looks like spring is finally on the way. I was so distraught when I realized a few weeks ago that I did in fact have a winter birthday. I was trying to refute the fact so I didn't wear a coat last Tuesday, just my birthday suit. ...editorial note: the suit that was a birthday present to myself from me....not an actual "birthday suit"...^^ Elder Wagner made us go back to the apartment and get it after district meeting due to the drizzle.. I'm still in denial. :)

But I am excited because exactly one week after my birthday is the birthday of an individual who is most definitely the most Christ-like and wonderful and extraordinary and lovely and awesome person who I know in this large and exciting world: MY MOTHER! Happy Birthday Mom! I know that who I am is due to the innumerable folks who made up the village that raise me. (I have lots of great moms: Mom Denton and Mom Sirrine and Mom Cole, I have lovely Aunts, and I have three first rate, fantastic sisters who have been the best kind of motherly to me.) But I cannot help but conclude that the greatest impact goes to my Mom!! Thank you MOM! I love you more than words can express, but I will try!

Throughout my life I've kind of been blessed to learn lots of lessons. (Some the hard way and lots with grumbling of some sort but they were distilled!) I wanted to enumerate a few of the greats. They are innumerable but as time is short I will have to be limited.

First. Look at the big picture. Life is tough and life is short and is is so much harder when we don't have the right perspective. One of the most invaluable lessons is that of looking beyond yourself. It is about looking at my behavior, my actions, the actions of others, seeing how they impact not only me but the group then acting appropriately. I am still trying to get the big picture in my head and I must thank Mom for laying out the canvas for that big picture. (Think big picture and remember that the biggest picture is the Plan.)

Second. Service is the price you pay to dwell in someone's heart. This quote lives in our kitchen above a painting my Minerva T--whatever her name is of Jesus with Martha and Mary. It is written on the wall and I'd like to think is written in my heart because it has come in handy and directed my actions on several occasions since I've been in Korea. Thanks,, Mom!

Third. Come what may and love it. Ok, this actually came from Elder Wirthlin's mom, but My mom says it all the time so I also accredit it to her that it is part of me! This quote is essential not only because it promotes my eternal quest for optimism and thanking the Lord not matter the circumstance, but because it reinforces that love really is the essence of the gospel as President Monson said. There will be hard times. Said Sherri Dew, "if life were easy then it wouldn't be hard." The fact of the matter is that there will be hard times. There will be trying moments because that is our lot as members of the brotherhood (and sisterhood) of man. But with the life of the savior in view, we need not fear, truly because of Him no matter what comes we really can love it because All things are made Right through Christ.

Mom taught me to work hard--that we don't halt until it's through. It was our heritage to show early to help set up then be last to leave so we could vacuum and mop. Hard work is a part of life --thanks mom for helping me come to love it and not letting me quit football when I was a tired and tender eighth grader. But I think the thing that I will be most grateful for through out the rest of the eternities is her example to me and her aid in cultivating and conditioning my love of church, my love of the scriptures, my love of God. She taught me how and why we must all be exactly obedient, how obedience is the bedrock of the gospel, and how it is through our Savior Jesus Christ, through the power of His atonement (both cleansing and enabling) that I can be made whole. That I can be made His! And that I can be happy and successful in this life. So, Thank you Mom! Thank you so much! And though I can not be there myself I hope you have the most splendid birthday ever! I love you more that my words can say.

I love you a 1,000,000 red Swedish fish!

Onward and upward!

Your baby boy,

Elder Tucker

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Week 36: Wow! Mountains to climb, birthdays to celebrate, Chinese New Year.‏

McKay's email came later this week due to Chinese New Year impacting his regularly scheduled P-day.

Yep. It's a Thursday! Definitely weird emailing at the end of the week, especially because so much had happened since the last response home. I have limited time but I will do my very best to blaze the keyboard and let you know all I can!!!

First and foremost: I am nineteen! Wowza. 

How in the world am I already this old? Pretty crazy. It seems like just the other day I was eighteen! Though technically true, I just find it so amazing that I am here! Here I am! In Asia! In Korea! I am so excited to be a missionary! And I am so grateful to my Heavenly Father that I can already be his representative here at this time. It is crazy to think that missionaries have only been coming this young for two short years and I've already been a missionary for eight months!! That is some sort of crazy! Thanks to everyone who bombarded my inbox with well-wishes and your love! It is so felt and so appreciated! Thank you all of you for being a part of my life. I feel so blessed^^ (I included an Asian smiley face because I feel like it conveys the emotion better. You know..squinty eyes and everything^^) The birthday was fantastic! One of the highlights was most def when I got Settlers of Catan in Korean from Elder Wagner and our Australian Korean investigator Joseph! It was a good day! I had like three cakes! Plus Joseph's mom Agnes made me homemade banana bread! Then the next morning I got a package in the mail from the fam! So great! I feel like they know me so well! Thank you so much for the compilation of Elder Holland's Greatest Talks.. Love that guy! What a birthday!

I also sent home a picture of me with and an Old lady in front of a spectacular statue--thing. Monument! The word is monument! Sorry, I forgo...second language problems. ^^ 

Well I am out of time but the story goes that I was on a split in the neighboring area with a new greenie, ELder Salveson. We went and helped a less active 87 year old women. She likes going for walks. So we helped her down from her third story apartment then pushed her in her wheel chair following her directions to this memorial. What you can't tell from the picture is that we actually pushed her up a mountain! Yep. We pushed her up and over the mountain and then she wanted to take a different way back so we ended walking all the way over the mountain, through Cheung Beuk National University, and down the street back to her house. Quite the trek though it did give us a great chance to learn about her conversion story after the close of the Korean war! So cool! Korea is the best, and I love this gospel! Love serving! Love getting to help cute old little ladies that look like cute granny ewok's and getting to share the gospel all the while! The work is going well and I am sorry but time is up and I must be going.

I love all of you! You are continually in my prayers and know that your lives, your hopes, dreams, and needs are continually before the Lord. He is There! He is there to bless and strengthen and to uphold us by the hand of his righteousness! I pray that you can feel that love and see his ever-present hand in your lives today!

Love you so much.

Onward and Upward!

Elder John McKay Tucker

More birthday pics:

Thanks Mom and fam for the awesome birthday box! It came so quickly! I got it morning of the 18th!
Which is crazy fast for the mission office.

Also Elder Wagner and one of our investigators pitched in and got me CATAN! Needless to say it was a fabulous day!
Language study was never so much fun. (because it's all in Korean!)

The pic of our new team mascot:

Thanks, Malibu!

We made some mac and cheese with gourmet pan fired chicken breast.


So we went shopping at the supermarket on Monday and we found a coconut. It was pretty cheap and it is a we bought it. Found out that coconuts are really hard to open. We didn't have a hammer to drive the screwdriver into the coconut so we had to improvise. Ninja style.

[Photos without a story; maybe next time....]

Monday, February 9, 2015

Week 35: Welcome welcome, Monday morning!

Ok, technically it is past noon so it is 오후, not morning, but I was thinking of the hymn (you know the one I like to sing Sunday mornings?) works.

Dear family and friends,

This week has been pretty great! Very busy. I was actually kind of surprised as I started emailing and recalling the past week because last Monday feels so far away. This week I had two different conferences. One is Daejeon and one with the zone at our ward building here in CheongJu. ---important side note: next week is 설날 aka Chinese New Year so I won't be emailing on Monday because p-day is getting moved to the actual new year so we can do more missionary work. Pretty much everyone travels back to their hometown and it gets really hard to meet with anyone. Though I'm excited because the word on the street is that as part of the holiday, the oldest man of the house gives money to all the younger people. So ideally if we visit some members during the holiday we may or may not get a few bucks. I'm hoping for a manwan! ($10 Korean bill)---

I really liked the Tuesday meeting in Daejeon. It was a meeting with some of the mission leaders and President. We call it a conference. Personally, I'm a fan of the term "summit". I think it sounds more exotic. That meeting and zone conference were centered on consecration. Consecration is one of the biggest focuses of our mission right now. It is all about Love for God, love for fellow missionaries, and Love for the work. It was awesome! President shared an article he's been working on recently. It pretty much is a distillation of some of his bigger revelations over the past year and a half of his service and I love it! In the coming weeks I will forward it to you when the PDF becomes available. It is so inspiring.


Pretty much I am just so happy being here, where I am doing what I'm doing. I know that this work is true! I know it and I am so happy and really just ecstatic to share it with everyone who will listen to me. I don't always like labeling, but I would label myself as an "eternal optimist"! I am just happy and I know that it is because of the gospel. It makes me everything I am.

This week I really enjoyed the last verses of the Book of Mark. I love the Lord's call to his apostles and to us to preach the gospel and how when we do He is there with us and confirms the truth and confirms us to!

"And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature...And they went forth, and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen."

I love you all and you are in my prayers.

As ever, Onward and Upward!

Elder Tucker

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Week 34: 침례!!!!!‏

So for those of you who can't read gibberish this week's title reads "baptism!!!!!". I am so excited and so mad at my camera for being dumb and not uploading the pics from the service. They are good. Unfortunately, or fortunately, the only new pictures I could upload were of "fashion shoot February"! So this week our good friend 김명수 (kim myeong su) got baptized! It is so fantastic. I was happy and nervous because I got to do the dunking and you's in Korean. But all was well--it was more than well-- and the spirit was really strong.

So a little background on our investigator is that we met him at the beginning of the transfer. We just met him on the street while we were doing some contacting. He was smoking and drinking coffee (classic, right?!) and he was really excited to meet us because we were Americans. Truth be told, he was a little weird. He told us that he wanted to go to America because he wants to me Bill Clinton. Don't worry, I'm not sure why either. We now know that he is actually just a little special, but is there enough to function as an adult, and consequently 'there' enough to be baptized into Christ's true church. So over the course of the transfer we met several times and he came to church a lot and amazingly over the course of our meetings he "normal-fied" and now is doing fantastic. It was awesome. One of his biggest problems in getting baptized was that he was such a heavy smoker--pack a day for thirty years. Here is a miracle because God came through in a really amazing way. On the Tuesday before he was baptized we were worried about him still smoking even though he said he had quit. We asked him how the weekend went and when pressed he said that he had smoked one cigarette on Monday. But then he told us that on Monday night he had a dream. In the dream he was standing and then he went and washed his hands. After he finished God came to him and called him by name. He told him not to fear and He told him that he needed to stop smoking, that if he did everything would be alright. So amazing! The spirit was strong and he was able to get baptized this week. I am so grateful to God for crazy-awesome miracles. God is good and will do--does--miraculous things for us every day. If we look they are there and if we ask he will give us that which is expedient for us.

Funny story. So our investigators Anna and Terry own a burger shop right by the church. They love Elder Wagner and I and we lots of free potato wedges. (now picture happy Elder Tucker^^) This past week we were in the shop at night and "Lady in Red" came on their cd track. I like the song a lot and we actually did a choreographed dance to it in ballroom dance senior year so I appreciate it even more. SO....I may or may have started dancing a little and they practically died. They loved it! The downside is that now they play it every time I come into the shop. :) O Babylon, o Babylon, sometimes you are really hard to say good bye to. Especially when you're trying to save them!  But, thank you nightclub two-step for giving me a great story. Lady in red...classic!


Today for part of personal study I read in the October 2009 general conference ensign and I loved it. For part of comp study I read Elder Wagner
Elder Holland's "Saftey for the Soul" talk. It is his testimony of the Book of Mormon. You know, the "THEY WOULD NOT DO THAT" talk about Joseph and Hiram. I love it!  I read it with all the power and "eyebrow singeing fire" that I could muster. Super fun. But on more spiritual notes I really loved both Elder Christofferson's talk on Moral Discipline. I would encourage everyone to read it again and also President Monson's always applicable words. 

We often find ourselves swimming against the current, and sometimes it seems as though the current could carry us away.
I am reminded of the words of the Lord found in the book of Ether in the Book of Mormon. Said the Lord, “Ye cannot cross this great deep save I prepare you against the waves of the sea, and the winds which have gone forth, and the floods which shall come.”   My brothers and sisters, He has prepared us. If we heed His words and live the commandments, we will survive this time of permissiveness and wickedness—a time which can be compared with the waves and the winds and the floods that can destroy. He is ever mindful of us. He loves us and will bless us as we do what is right. 

Life is hard, but God is good! He will prepare us and protect us. Amen.

I love you all.

Onward and Upward.

Elder Tucker

So we are going to a meeting in Daejeon tomorrow and decided to bust out our new matching suits early! best part is they were 50 bucks and I just happen to own two matching ties. I'd call this a good moment for Team Malibu

Also I threw a bonus in there for the fam. I think they will recognize the famous "j-crew" pose. Classic!