Power of Friendship

2014-09-07 13.40.15
Handwritten letter received last week from Yeonsu area

I don’t know when you’ll get this letter, but right now I’m writing it in the heat of summer. Actually, I’m in the church because our church has air conditioning, but our apartment doesn’t. Hooray For churches!

Well, my story is about the difference of one righteous person. You might think of the prophet Abinadi—one person, and he was able to convert one other person (named Alma), who was able to convert thousands , if not millions now, through his faith and service to God!

My missionary story today is about one faithful member missionary in our Yeonsu Ward named Li-Kuni (sidenote: last names are said first in Korea if you didn’t already know–and names have been changed for this blog). So Sister Li-Kuni is the greatest at visiting and befriending less-actives in the church.

One of her less-active friends is named Bark-Sundi. So Sister Bark (spellings keeps changing—there’s no good way to Romanize Korean—it’s so hard) has been a less active member of the church for the past 20 years. Sister Li has been her friend that entire time! Even though  Bark-Sundi didn’t have much interest in coming back to church, she let Sister Li give her a Liahona almost every month just because she’s her friend and didn’t want to offend her.

And then we come in.

Sister H and I once ran across the two of them at a restaurant and were able to introduce ourselves. We learned that Bark-Sundi had interest in our 30-30 program, so we set up a time to start meeting her. Teaching English was fun, but during the gospel time we realized that she didn’t know anything about Jesus Christ and the gospel (even though she’d been baptized years before). We had to start at ground one.

We taught the first lesson almost 6 times before she understood it. Even with Korean members present, she just didn’t seem to understand (or want to understand). I remember a time when I studied so hard for what I wanted to share with her, and during the lesson I was trying as hard as I could to relay what I love about the gospel in as much Korean as I know, and she laughed. She flat our laughed at me and my slow Korean. It was miserable.

I came home from the lesson and cried for about an hour. I couldn’t understand how someone could be so mean and impatient. A big part of me was crying that we should drop her—she was rude and she wasn’t progressing. But something small and something warm inside of me felt this love for her still and felt that we should still teach her.

So with all the courage I could muster, we came back the next week to teach her again. In the next couple weeks, something miraculous happened. We started reading from the Book of Mormon and she started marking things! She asked for the Liahona in English so we could do her English studies out of that.

She told us that she had never felt the Spirit while praying, so we taught her about prayer, and invited her to say the closing prayer and she accepted for the first time!

She prayed and something peaceful and warm came into the house. She ended her prayer and with tears in her eyes, told us that for the first time she felt that good feeling of the Holy Ghost. She finally understood, so she started attending Sacrament Meeting again.

Her friend, Sister Li was there for her every step of the way. It took 20 years, but now Sister Bark comes to church every Sunday with a sweet smile on her face (volunteering to read scriptures and sharing what she has learned from the month’s Liahona). One person…one persistent faithful friend really can make a difference.

“By small and simple things are great things brought to pass.”

And the story goes on!!!

Her kids, after seeing their mom read the scriptures, Liahona and coming to church each week—decided that they want to start coming to church too. One of her sons (none of her children have been baptized) told the Bishop that he wants to be baptized, so we have been teaching him the lessons too! (He wants the sisters to teach him because Sister K is Korean and can explain and answer his questions better and help him understand everything completely)

So that’s where we are now. It has gone from “I want to drop this lady” to “her son’s going to be baptized!”

The Gospel is truly miraculous. It can change hearts, it can change lives. I’m so thankful for faithful members, faithful friends who watch out for those they love and continually, persistently invite them to come to Christ even when at times it might have seemed hopeless. Hope is never lost.

❤ Sister Stastny