Sunday, April 26, 2015

Week 46: First week on the job. I'd say it went pretty well..‏

Dear Family, friends, loved ones,

Week one in Daejeon! What a ride, huh? It has been pretty crazy week. and I'm not sure what to write so I'll just backtrack and see what my fingers pump out of this here keyboard.

So our transfer meeting was Thursday in Daejeon at the church next door to the mission office. This past transfer was a big one. The group that went home was pretty big and President felt really impressed to change a lot of companionships. Like half of the companionships in the mission had change-ups. And with some many older, experienced missionaries heading home, the lot has fallen to a lot of younger missionaries like myself to fill some leadership positions. My zone this transfer has all new district leaders and lots of young missionaries. Like, I'm still young and I have almost twice as much mission experience as our sisters in the district. Luckily Sister Lee is American-Korean so the language isn't a big deal. Our other sister, Sister Pahler is from some small province in the Philippines. Some small island in the sea. Elder Johnson in the other companionship is my younger 동기 (I'm not sure what the true English equivalent to that word is...younger MTC District?? Yeah, the jury is still out.) and is a senior over Elder Young. Elder Young is nice. He's from Ohio. And he kind of reminds me of Dudley from the Harry Potter books. But Dudley from the end of the series when he warms up and puts the tea outside Harry's door to wish him goodbye. Hmmm, I'm not sure if I'm painting the perfect picture. . . I'll just send pics in an ensuing email, tell ya a 1000 words, ok, sounds good.

Elder Hernandez. What a guy!  I love my new comp. And I need to publicly apologize. It turns out that he is from Honduras. NOT Guatemala. Though he likes Guatemala. But not Mexico. Ok, I had to straighten that out. But he really is the best. He is like my very own gordito burrito Hispanic friend! 

And really quite smart. Korean is his fourth language because he's fluent in Spanish, Portuguese, and English. His English really is quite good, especially considering he only studied it in elementary school. Let's just say the gift of tongues is real! Amazingly few number of communication difficulties. At least in the last four days^^. He is a convert of two years and is fantastic! I'm not really sure how they do things over in the Central America region, but they do it right! Elder Hernandez's mom and brother were members and Elder Hernandez was a minister for the evangelical church. (Pretty crazy. He was a minister for three years, and he was baptized at 19. Anyways.. moving on) One day his Mom was pretty sick and couldn't take herself to church to Elder Hernandez offered to take her. He went and they were super late for sacrament meeting. Like they got there at the "amen" of the last talk. He stayed to sing the hymn, then some cute old lady got up to give the benediction and prayed for FIFTY minutes!  I think my South American friends have more patience than I. Super long prayer. And Elder Hernandez didn't know what to think but decided to stay. And stay he did! He liked the block and was baptized two weeks later! I don't know his entire story yet but I imagine it's pretty eventful because at five months of membership he was called to the high council. So he was a high councilor for several months and actually went all up and down South America on church business. My favorite tid bit was when he went to Cuba to be a chauffeur and translator for my friend Jeffrey R. Holland. Yep, mom you did read that correctly! Elder Hernandez appreciated my bound "Best Talks of Elder Holland" book and I appreciated his picture of Elder Holland hanging on our wall. Elder Holland is the best! He told Elder Hernandez to serve a mission forward several months....he got called to Korea! So I guess Elder Hernandez is the first missionary from South America to ever serve in Asia. Ever. Yeah, I thought that was pretty cool too. I'll share more details forth-ward.

Another highlight of serving with Elder Hernandez is that one of our investigators Enrique is taught in Spanish and Emanuel is taught in Portuguese. And then we also get to teach our friend John who is from ..Nigeria?? We teach him with one of our ward members, Anthony, who is from Kenya. It has been a pretty international weekend. And the weekend was great because we had Stake Conference! Elder Whiting from the Seventy came and his talk was very pointed and so great! He taught so well and so clearly! The spirit was very strong.  Actually, I'll refer back to him for my 2.0.

I love my new area. It is very big, and very new and I feel like I'm in over my head, but all is well. I really feel and know that the Lord is with me. He is backing me up and helping me to so his work. My district is very young and there is a lot of pressure for us to have baptisms this transfer, essentially to do the work of missionaries twice our age. Sounds nigh near impossible. That's why I love God. For things which are impossible unto man are not impossible unto God! That is the truth. But if any of you have a minute you should check out SeJong on the web. It is huge! And beautiful. My area is the largest geographically in the mission and there is so much that is beautiful here! I love the Lord and am excited for this opportunity!


So Elder Whiting's question posed to the congregation was "what is the one gift you would give you posterity when you pass away?" varied answers may include "a prosperous future", "a great education", "a great job". These would be very common answers in Korea. But Elder Whiting shared the story of the Savior's visit in America and there we learn what the "most desired" gift should be. It is the gift of the Holy Ghost! He said it and I went like "...Yeah, ok, that makes sense that that would be the correct answer, but why?!" It is because the Gift of the Holy ghost is central to it all! It testifies of truth, the Holy Spirit of Promise is what secures for us the promised blessing of heaven and covenant. It is the Holy Ghost that will comfort us and will bring the love of God unto and into our hearts. That is the truth! That is the most precious gift! And we each have the ability and opportunity to receive it each and every day!

I love that! And I love the symbolism he shared with the signs of Jesus' birth and death. When Jesus was born there was a day and a night and a day of light., continual light! and when He died there was a day and a night and a day of darkness. In our lives when we are reborn with Christ, when we truly live up to our covenants then we can continually live in the light. When we are resurrected we will come forth with our families to forever enjoy the light of the Lord. And if we fail to heed, we will be alone in the darkness. I choose the former. I love all of you and I love this gospel! I know that is it true! I testify of that.

In all things, Onward and Upward!

Elder Tucker

me with the best convert in the world, Anna!~

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Week 45: Ten points for China and why Elder Tucker is feeling slight trepidation (nervousness..

Yeah, I think the word I was looking for is nervous. It's slight fear for the future mixed with excitement. Excitement for a new adventure, but scared that I'm going to be chased by orks all the way to Mt. Mordor. Really, I'm not sure how my buddy Bilbo did it. But, then again, life is all about adventures and getting there and back again. To spin the Hobbit into a gospel parable, it seems all of us in agreeing to come here to 현세 (earth life) have left our parabolic shire. There are some unexpected twists and turns in the road for each of us, but we are not alone and the we both know who wins out in the end. Plus, I'm hairy like a hobbit. I think it's the feet.

Why am I excited and nervous? I'll get to that in a second. First, ten points for China!~~ Yay! This week was amazing and we were blessed to have another baptism! So our friend Wang Yun Xuan (I'm sorry, Korean names are still a little tough for me so Chinese is the next step. I am probably butchering the spelling of her name in English:) So she is amazing! 

Elder Wagner and I met her on the street about two months ago as we were walking to the church. We struck up a conversation in English because she is in Korea studying English (don't ask me:) I don't know why either...) We exchanged contact information and she said she wanted to get in touch when she got back from China in a few weeks. We naturally agreed and hoped for the best. So over the next two weeks we corresponded a little over texting and when she got back we introduced her to the Sisters. Since then we've been team teaching with Sister Collyer and Sister 변수진 (byun su jin) and Yun Xuan has come to church every week. She came to four sessions of General Conference and she got baptized this Sunday! She is so prepared. She has accepted every lesson and every lesson amazingly well. Like, she asked why we don't drink tea (because China is really into tea, you know) and we said because of modern revelation through Joseph Smith. We read D&C 89 (She read it in Mandarin. Thanks gospel apps!) and she said "Ok! I won't drink it anymore!"! Who does that!! And she wants to do family history and go to the temple and even go on a mission! This is what we like to call a "golden investigator" to the MAX! It is really cool. There is also a branch of the church in her home town in China. I didn't even realize how big the church was there. So exciting! I am happy for her!

So today we got transfer calls from the AP's....and team Malibu (or Handsome HeongDeok as we are affectionately called) is breaking up. Elder Wagner and I have had a good run, but it is time to leave another shire. I'm heading to DaeJeon! I'm going to cover two areas. One is Yuseong and the other is SaeJeong (again not sure on the konglish:). SaeJeong is one of the newest cities in the world and will actually be the new capital of Korea in the next couple of years. As for now I'm going to be the only companionship there! Also I'll be serving with Elder Hernandez! This is exciting because he is the only Elder in our mission from Ecuador! Yeah, he speaks Spanish! Take that Ben Denton! Maybe I'll learn Spanish! I think he makes tortillas, So mom, send me some more beans.^^

But I am nervous because I'm going as a district leader. Yikes! I'm still a baby! Or, as my friend Elder Denton phrased is when we were talking about the young missions we're serving in "I'll be a toddler leading babies". So I'm nervous to be a leader. I'll be the oldest missionary in my district and to add more the Elder who's spot I'm taking just went AP. Classic. So keep me in your prayers! I'll need them as it seems I am meant to swim in deep water. Better deep than shallow. But the Lord qualifies who he calls and I get to be a messenger of the truth. This Gospel is True!  I know it! I love it!  I love all of you and my prayers are with you!

Also happy birthday's to best friend Elder Denton and my lovely sister Ashley Nicole Tucker Johnson. (Man, married names are wordy^^ But thanks Marc for adding^^ )

Onward and Upward

Elder Tucker

Alligator.  Thanks Korea malls!  Shopping well done!

My Chinese friend Yeun Xuan sent me these pics from after English class.  As you can see, life is good in 청주^^.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Week 44: "Abide in me, and I in you: therefore walk with me" and the GC Review

My Fellow Americans, (Ma, Pa, the fam, friends, and other loved ones:)

What an excellent week it has been! Happy Easter to you and I hope you had an excellent week too. This week has been especially fantastic because it was GENERAL CONFERENCE!!^^ (I added the Asian smiley faces because I think they convey the feeling better than the mundane:) Yeah, we had conference this week because of translation and time lag it's easier to just watch conference the following week. And what and excellent conference it was! We had all of the missionaries, some foreigner members, and investigators who are really good at English, all in the priesthood room in the downstairs. Normally we watch it via a satellite broadcast that the church sends in both English and Korean languages, but we couldn't get the feed through so we just downloaded all the sessions in HD and watched it on a projector. Movie theater conference. Man, I love the internet; it lets me hear the prophets^^. It was fun. I pulled a small desk up right close to the screen so it was just me and the brethren (and sisters) and wrote furiously in my 계시 book (revelation book--or the "small plates of Elder John McKay Tucker" as I like to call it). Yeah, pretty much I felt like Elder James E. Talmage sitting at his desk in the Salt Lake Temple when he was in the midst of his large writing project. Fun times.

There were a lot of investigators that came out to conference, the only bummer is that they aren't our investigators. This week has been a little rough on the teaching pool. We've dropped like nine investigators and are down to four, half of whom we didn't get to really teach this week. Funny how everything ebbs and flows. It comes and it goes. Easy and hard. Up and down. Missions are just real life with nice name tags. And I keep seeing, both through my personal experience and others', how "if life were easy, then it wouldn't be hard" (thanks Sherrie Dew for the quotation:) I think that's one of the things I felt was well covered in conference: life is difficult. There will be difficulty, challenge, and opposition. But God sent us here knowing all that. He sent us here because of all that! I hate growing pains, though I guess I take some comfort in knowing that if life is hard, it's because it's supposed to be that way. That if I feel weak, if I feel human, it's because I am human and we are all supposed to feel that way. We have weakness so we can (borrowing a phrase form Mormon) learn to "look to God, and live"!

It was funny, I was doing so good at taking notes during conference. In years past I have always tried to test my transcript skills and basically record the entire talk in my study notebook. I think this conference marked my first really good attempt to follow the counsel of Elder Bednar and write was the Spirit was telling me, not necessarily what the speakers were saying. So I did. And I had pretty great notes, but interestingly I hardly touched my paper at all during the talks of President Monson and Elder Holland. Mostly, I was just so consumed listening that I didn't have any time to write. I'm okay with that. I felt it a lot in their talks and also throughout the entire conference that God was talking to me. God was talking to me! For sure God talks to his prophets and reveals to them what we need to know for our lives now--that's why I'm so excited to devour the conference Ensign--and He will talk to me directly. He will tell me what I need to do to find fulfillment, to know what to do for work, to know how to help the family or the individuals I'm teaching, to know how to escape mediocrity, to know how to become way more than I can now hope or dream to become. I know that God lives. I know that He is there. I know that He knows you, He knows me, He knows it all! And He'll tell you what to do. Every time^^


I also wanted to add a tidbit from my recent personal study. I think it was originally influenced from Sister Burton's talk from conference. I loved the quote she shared, "you lift me, and I'll lift thee, and we'll ascend together". I was pondering on that and looking for like prose in the holy word of God and came across Moses 6:34 "abide in me, and I in you; therefore walk with me. Here God is talking to Enoch. Enoch is just getting called by God and he feels, in a hyphenated word, under-qualified.  And then the Lord tells Enoch to walk with him. When we feel like we are smaller than our job description, when we are "slow of speech", when we feel lacking in what we need, we need just "abide in [the Lord]". If we will turn to him then he will abide in us, and together we can walk together. I love that and I love the Lord. I want to walk with the Lord, I want Him to "always be with me", and I know that as I walk with Him, his path always leads onward and upward.
I love all of you and my prayers are with you.

Onward and Upward

Elder Tucker

Thanks Elder Jensen (our friend in the other companionship) for giving me a reason to sing my own Asian version of Frozen.

Fun Fact: Disney actually made Frozen in a bunch of languages and it is 겨울의왕국 which means "winter kingdom".  
I still need to learn how to sing "let it go" in Korean..#backburnertodolist

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Week 43: HOSANNAH! hos-ANNA! Happy Easter! And Happy Birthday to Jesus!

Hello All and Happy Easter!

Happy Easter for you and thanks to my friend, the International Dateline, happy April 6th to me! (and Asia) I love all of you and am so grateful for this time of year! I love the beautiful cherry blossoms that have come and gone, for grass coming up, April showers, the works. I am liking spring. I love Easter. I love my Savior Jesus Christ. I know that He lives! That's the heart of Easter. That because He lives we can live. We can live with Him again and truly because of Him we can live! And that makes me so happy. I will continue that thought in 2.0 but I need to digress because of the awesome Easter Miracle!

ANNA GOT BAPTIZED!!! YAY!! (enter heavenly hosts singing Handel's Messiah) Wow! Still so shocked and happy. I think the word is "jubilant"? Maybe? I don't know, I just feel great and I think I better understand why there will be so much rejoicing in heaven over the one soul who is converted. So HAPPY. But let me give you the background. I think you saw a picture of Anna last week. I was her assistant doctor when we performed foot surgery on Elder Wagner (it was acupuncture:). She is our investigator who owns a burger restaurant with her sister right behind our church building. Anna is amazing and had such an exciting life and is one of those people who is so real that you think they must be a book character or something. She is a bit larger than life and the light of Christ has totally transformed her over the past several months.

Happy Easter.  #baptism!!! #SOHAPPY

So she is 55ish? and is Korean, but moved to America when she was nineteen and lived in Hawaii and in California and all over. She lived through the rock n' roll scene in the 80's and the pleasant cultural experience that was the 90's. So she was a part of the drinking and  drug life; running with rough crowds and getting out of rough crowds. She was a successful chef and still is fabulous. Let me tell you, she makes a mean linguine! Also made me eat raw liver. Surprisingly slippery to eat with chopsticks, but then if you use your fingers you get blood everywhere and you feel a bit like Tarzan. Tarzan from the classic book series, not the awesome Disney adaptation if you were confused at my reference. Needless to say I'm stocking up on exciting personal experiences. Thank you mission. Back to Anna. . .  She is great and is doing great. Because she works at a burger restaurant right by the church naturally her restaurant was regularly frequented by missionaries, and one day Elder Wagner and my good friend Elder Garrett asked if she had any interest in learning about the Church. She responded in the affirmative and the rest is history. We've been meeting with Anna my entire time in CheongJu and she progressed decently well. Her turning point happened one day when we felt impressed to give her a baptismal commitment even though she had shrugged off commitment in the past and hadn't been moving far at the time. We set the date for the 19th of this month. After that she progressed amazingly well. She in now in the book of Ether and has come to church every week for over a month. The second turning point was a few week back at stake conference. She came  just a little late, sat in the back, and listened really well. Our Mission President and his wife as well the Area Seventy were speakers and the spirit was so strong. Anna said that when Sister Shin spoke something moved inside her heart and though she felt she needed to leave to go to work, she couldn't leave. That was the second turning point and the third was last week when she met with our ward member Sister Jo. Sister Jo challenged Anna to be baptized on Easter, we had to leave, but when we showed up on Monday Anna asked us what she had to do to get baptized by Sunday. It has been a bit of a whirlwind since then, but a really exciting happy kind of whirlwind. She has quit smoking, drinking, and coffee cold turkey and is so excited for the change. She knows it is hard but has an amazingly strong testimony that all will be okay. She was telling us the other day that even though she is getting baptized she knows that life will still be really tough, but all of that is okay because she is doing what God wants! So profound. So spot on! I love this lady!

She was baptized on Easter Sunday right after church. Elder Wagner baptized her. (It was a one dunk and done deal. The best way)  And because next week is General conference here in Korea (time lapse plus translation means I get a bonus week) President Shin gave us the green-light to confirm her a member and give her the Holy Ghost right after baptism. Bishop asked that I confirm her and because she is just as good at English as she is at Korean bishop asked me to confirm her in English. It was such a blessing to me to give that blessing to her. God is good and He is there! So blessed.

Kind of just a fun note. This week I had a split with Elder Barton who is serving in 예성 (sorry I'm not sure how to konglish that one). He is a greenie fresh from the MTC and is really awesome. It was kind of interesting being with a missionary who was as old as me in real life but younger when it comes to black name tag experience. We had a blast and were so miraculously blessed. Like unexpectedly we had three other lessons, a member lesson, found a new investigator and got free hamburgers. Not only that but in the morning Elder Stroud and I made breakfast in the morning and totally made like 30 pancakes in ten minutes. That boy is good with a spatula.

Does life get any better?  I submit that it does not!  And Elder Barton is a happy fellow.


I don't know. I just still feel so happy. I am so glad that all of you got to watch General Conference (or the Superbowl for missionaries as I like to think of it) I'm a tad jealous , but it's okay because I budgeted my email time really well today :) I know that Thomas S. Monson is the Lord's prophet. I know it!  I know that this is the Lord's church and that the Book of Mormon is true. Yesterday Elder Wagner and I were doing a role play (Role plays are important. All of my prospective missionary friends, remember that!) and he was asking questions because whenever we do role plays he pretends to be a non-religious Buddhist man who has no conception of God or any religious terms who is cynical and doesn't just take yes for yes-kind of investigator. Makes things interesting. Especially in a second language. Well he got me a little twisted up and confused. A little flustered explaining why this church was wrong, why that church was wrong, and so on. And then I broke to English and said "I don't have to prove why that church is wrong, I just need to help people know how this church is right!" And the awesome thing is that I don't convince anyone! It is the Spirit. The Holy Ghost, the comforter, he is the one that brings the truth unto their hearts and confirms my testimony. He makes conversion possible and will amplify my ability. I love the Holy Ghost! I love my savior Jesus Christ and am so especially happy this Easter season. I know that He Lives!

Thanks everyone! Thanks for the prayers. Thanks for the trust. I love you and you are in my prayers too! Remember Christ and make sure to wish him a happy birthday when it's the 6th for you!

Onward and Upward

Elder Tucker

So, here in Korea....  we have these awesome face masks....

Korea is obsesses with having good skin so some members gave us some.  I think I look good.

Plus my pores have never been so clean!!  Love it!  Got to love the work!!

chillin after a great lesson with Elder Barton on the split

With Anna.  We help out sometimes around the shop.

And yes, Elder Wagner is holding a knife.  Long story.  And yeah, someone should cut his tot'in chip.