Dearest Family and Friends,

Wow! What a week! Christmas was absolutely wonderful! I don’t know if I can convey all that I felt, but I want to share an experience with you.

So on Christmas day we had a mission conference, and had a wonderful time with all of the Missionaries here. Afterward we went right back out to work. We decided that as a zone we would carol in the streets, and while the rest of us sang, some missionaries would talk to the people passing by. Lots of people stopped for a second to listen to us sing, and many left smiling. As we were singing “Silent Night” I was struck by the Spirit testifying of the love of Jesus Christ. I felt his love for each of the people passing us on the street, and I knew that he wanted them to hear his message of peace. No mission is all that easy, and Korea is no exception. It can be so discouraging sometimes when you come back after a long day of rejection, but in that moment I could feel God’s love for the people of Korea. even the one’s who don’t want anything to do with him, and I’ve met those people many many times. This Christmas was very different from others because this Christmas had absolutely nothing to do with me at all. This was a Christmas only about Christ and the people he loves so much! I was only a messenger, like the Heavenly Host that testified of the Savior’s birth, singing “Peace on Earth, Good Will To Men” and testifying of his love. We saw many smiles as we sang, and we ended up giving away a whole box and more copies of the Book of Mormon as Christmas presents in a few hours! The Spirit was so strong as we sang praises to him on the freezing streets of Korea, and I pray that it fell upon the ears of those that would receive him. This has really strengthened my testimony and increased my understanding of the true meaning of Christmas. Christmas is for Christ and the people he loves!

I also was blessed to be able to talk with my family this week. They are so amazing, and I am so grateful that I was able to hear their voices and receive strength from them! Heavenly Father gives us our families so that we can find strength and happiness now and in the eternities. I am so grateful for my family and all that they have done to support me while I am serving the Lord. I know that other missionaries do not have the support that I have, and my heart goes out to them and I know that they will be blessed for their sacrifices. I know that I have been so blessed to have the family that I have been given and I rely on their strength and the strength of my Father in Heaven while I am away from them. After I talked with them on the phone, I felt such vigor and power and I talked to so many people that day! Our total was 50+ at the end of the day, and I know it was because of the strength of my family and my Father in Heaven.

Thank you for all the strength you all have given me while I’ve been doing my Father’s work. I feel it every day, and it is these prayers that sustain me and all other missionaries in the world. This work is not about us. We are only the messengers as we spread the happy message of peace and happiness. I am so happy that I have the opportunity to share my happiness with others every day. I have just about a year left before I return, and my New Year’s Resolution is to lose myself in the service every day because this is not about me; it’s about the people that God loves so much, and I am one of them! ^^

I know without a shadow of a doubt that Jesus Christ is our Savior, Lord, and Redeemer. I know that he lives, and he loves us deeply. He knows us better than we know ourselves. He can see who we are, but more importantly he can see who we can become. If we trust in him, we can become like him and receive that promise of eternal life and remain with him throughout the eternities. What we sacrifice now is tiny compared to the blessings we will receive! We are and will forever be God’s children, and he will love us whether we feel like we deserve it or not. I urge you will all the energy that I can muster to trust his love! He loves you so very much. Never forget that he loves you! I testify in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

I love you all so very much! Stay strong, and trust his love!

Love,
Sister Jessica Pope

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Imun Week 1 – For Unto Us A Child is Born

Merry Christmas, everyone!

I can’t tell you how excited for Christmas I am. It really doesn’t feel like Christmas at all because there is not much snow here, even though it’s freezing cold. Christmas isn’t very big here, so anytime I see or hear something Christmas-ey I just light up inside.^^ We went to the Imun Christmas party and it was really fun! All of the Imun Elders and us were asked to do a skit, so we did the Nativity. Since Sis. Kang was the only Korean, she read the story and the rest of us acted it out. You can guess who I was. That’s right! I was Joseph. ^^ Just kidding! I was Mary because I was the only other sister missionary. ^^ It went well, though it was sometimes hard to keep a straight face with the other Elders. I didn’t have a baby doll, so I just wrapped my scarf in a blanket, and it looked okay. Missionaries have to get resourceful sometimes. ^^

I hope that we brought the Spirit with that because we had two investigators with us. I’ve met a lot of interesting people from all over the world here in Korea, and one of our investigators is Polish. We had a good talk about how much God loves us and how he knows everything that we are going through. He knows exactly how to help us, and he wants us to be happy! It was really good, and she mentioned how she always feels really good when she meets with the sisters. I hope she continues to meet with us!

Our other investigator there was a grandmother who I had taught the alphabet to earlier that day. She was so cute, and we taught her how to say “I love you, teacher”. She said that to me all day, and I sang a little for her and she started to tear up.^^ I felt really good that day.

I really love Imun already. I love our branch! They are so kind, and it’s full of young families. Yesterday the 동데문 sisters (we’re in a four person house) had a baptism that we were able to attend. It was so awesome, and the Spirit was there. It was a Chinese man, so Elder South (who knows a little Chinese) learned the baptismal ordinance in Chinese. It was really awesome to see someone draw closer to our Heavenly Father and enter the gate to Eternal life! That is a wonderful gift that the Savior has given us, and I am so grateful that I get to talk about it every day!

I hope that this Christmas you take the time to remember those gifts that Heavenly Father has given you. I know that he has blessed my life so much, and I know that he loves us so very much! He wants us to be happy, and if we turn to him he will bless us more than we think we deserve. Christmas is truly CHRIST-mus, and I love sharing the message of his gift with the people of Korea. I love you all so much! May God bless you and keep you always!

“For unto us a child is born, for unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder; and his name shall be called, Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” 2 Nephi 19:6

“Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!” I love you!!!

Love,
Sis. Jessica Pope

Sinchon Week 5 – Keep the Commandmen​ts

Dear Family and Friends,

Another crazy week as a missionary! Let me just say it’s so nice to have a distribution center in your area. ^^ Recently we went and saw that they had mini Preach My Gospels in combined Korean and English! Of course, we bought them right away because it’s super helpful to have PMG in both Korean and English at district meeting when half of the missionaries speak English and the other half speak Korean! We were so excited! ^^

Wednesday is going to be exciting because the other 신촌 sisters (who were living in the apartment I used to live in) are going to be moving into our apartment with us. That’s going to be five sisters in one apartment. It will be just like home! 😉 That’s a lot of people for our small apartment, but it will likely only be for a week because the transfer ends next week. It will be interesting to see what happens!

I’ve thought a lot this week about keeping the Lord’s commandments. I love how when the Lord gives a commandment, he always provides a way for that commandment to be accomplished, whether that be keeping the Word of Wisdom, or coming to church every week, or serving the people in Korea, just to name a few. The Lord doesn’t give commandments just because he can. He gives them to us because he loves us and he knows that when we keep the commandments we will be safe and happy. Keeping the commandments protects us from harm and frees us from the guilt we feel when we make a wrong choice. Heavenly Father loves us so much, and he wants to bless us so badly, but He can’t do that when we choose not to keep his commandments. “For I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say, but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise.” (D&C 10) If we keep the commandments, then the Lord has to bless us. It’s as simple as that! We should always live our life in such a way that the Lord has to bless us, and that way is to always keep the commandments.

I love you all so much! Thank you for all your love and support from home, and I hope you will all have a wonderful Christmas! You are amazing! May God bless you and keep you!

Love,

Sis. Jessica Pope
“To bring the world His Truth”

Sinchon Week 4 – Families are Forever!

Dear friends and family,

Geez, I cried reading every one of your emails. You all are so spiritually minded! Thank you for your wonderful examples and testimonies.

I was so grateful for Thanksgiving! We had dinner with the Filmores, and it was wonderful! They had all the traditional food, which we were so grateful for because they don’t exist here in Korea. Lots of Koreans don’t even know what turkey tastes like! Sis. Yoon had tried it before and didn’t like it, but when she tried Thanksgiving turkey… ^^ She really likes turkey now. She does not, however, like pumpkin pie. She tried some of mine and I asked her (in Korean) “Is it delicious?” and she nodded, and then shuddered. ^^ She is so silly! They had stuffing, and mashed potatoes, and yams and all the good stuff. They had RANCH dressing for the salad! Ranch doesn’t exist in Korea! *sob* When we saw the meal we almost cried because it looked so good.^^ The Filmores are some of my favorite people.^^ It was a great Thanksgiving, and we seriously ate and ate until we were sick because we wouldn’t be getting any more for a long time. It was sooooo good! And they gave us leftovers… *sob* We were so happy! ^^

Today is going to be really special because we’re going to a Korean palace with one of our investigators. I’m so excited to see it, but I’m more excited because afterward we’re going to visit the Lord’s palace, a.k.a the temple.^^ We’re going to talk about how much the Lord loves her, and how we can be with our families forever. We are not perfect, but the Lord has created a way for us to repent and change when we make a mistake. He always is ready to welcome us back with open arms if we choose to come back to him, and he can help us get rid of those habits and thoughts that keep us from being truly happy.

Today we studied a lot about eternal families. I am so grateful for my family and the love and support that they give me! The family is so important because it is in our families that we learn and grow the best. They help prepare us for the world and to prepare to meet God, and what we learn in the home can shape our future, for the better or for the worse. I have seen this effect on the people we talk to time and time again, and it is heartbreaking to hear of the hurt that comes when family is not a high priority. It makes such a difference to have a support system at home to support throughout our lives. It’s heartbreaking to see someone distance themselves from that support system.

I know that the family is so important to God’s plan. We are giving our families for a reason, and we’re going to be with them forever! I am so blessed to have this knowledge! May God bless you and your family always! Love you lots!

Love,

Sis. Jessica Pope
“To bring the world His Truth”

Week 13 – Birthday Fun!

Dearest family and friends,

The end of another long week! I’m now 20/21? and my birthday was pretty good. We had interviews with President Christensen that day. I was really grateful because I felt like he really understood me. I had a thought about it: He said that he knew about my situation before the transfers started and he’s been watching ever since. If I needed help, he was waiting for me to ask. To me, that sounds very similar to how Christ works. He knows us and knows exactly what we’re going through. He knows exactly how to help us and he’s just waiting for us to ask and turn to him for help. I’m grateful to see these Christlike attributes in our mission president. It helps me know this work is truly inspired. ^^

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The Assistants to the President were very sweet. I saw them at the Young Missionary Companionship Forum (Which I will talk about in a minute) and so they knew my birthday was the next day. They made a “birthday box” filled with random things they had found at the church, like a 몰몬경, a missionary planner, some Youth CD’s, a first aid kit, and some chocolate (which I really hope they bought), They are silly, but it was very nice of them. ^^ Sis. Jeong gave me a present, and the elders in our ward sang “Happy Birthday” in Korean and brought muffins. Nothing big, but It was a good day. ^^

The Young Missionary Companionship Forum was great. It was for those companionships where both companions are young missionaries (i.e. one 3rd transfer, one 2nd transfer). Sis. Jeong and I qualified for it because she’s on her 4th transfer, and we were grateful to go because we learned a lot. They had this so that those companionships would feel more confident in their work and know that God trusts them. It’s interesting to know that 90% of our missionaries are less then a year out. We are a young mission. O.o One message that stuck out to me from it is that they said being clueless is a good thing. If you are clueless you are dependent on heaven and God can direct you. The minute you start saying “I know what I’m doing” that is absence of humility and the Spirit can’t work as well through you. I felt much more confident in my abilities after the meeting, and I know it will help me throughout my mission.

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I hope everything is going well for all of you! A special “Happy Birthday” to my favorite Mom! Love you so much! ^^ Thank you for all your prayers. I love you all, and I hope the Lord blesses you more than you think you deserve! Happy Halloween, because it’s not a big holiday out here. Eat a lot of candy for me!! ^^

Love you all!!

Sister Jessica Pope

Week 10 – The Secret to Happiness

Hello Family and Friends!

I hope you all enjoyed confrence. We’ll see it next weekend because of the time difference and translation to Korean, but I’m super excited to hear the words of the prophet! We were able to have dinner with an AMAZING American family in our ward (American Food!!!!!!!! ^^) and I was able to give a spiritual thought and invite them to prayerfully think of a question and have faith to look for the answer during conference. I’ve taken the challenge myself, and so I look forward to answers to prayers as well. I hope your prayers were answered!!

We’ve been running around all over the place visiting members and 전도ing trying to invite others to come unto Christ. I realized how blessed we are to have investigators who we continue to meet because some areas hardly have any. I’ve been doing better at recognizing what is going on in the lessons and recognizing when I should testify. Hopefully my Korean will start improving more quickly now.

The sad news is that this week I lost my voice pretty much completely, which is really bad for missionary work, but Heavenly Father helped me when I needed to speak and it was a miracle in my eyes. It was a miracle because had a voice during the following story:

I have been focusing some of my study on answering questions of the soul through the Book of Mormon. We were meeting with a recent convert and she asked me one of the questions that I had been studying! “How can I find happiness?” I immediately felt the Spirit and knew exactly where to turn to! We read in 1 Nephi 8, the story of the Tree of Life. We read about how the fruit “was desirable to make one happy” and then I turned to 1 Nephi 11 to explain how the fruit of the tree was a representation of the love of God, and that the rod of iron was the word of God and when we continually press forward in keeping the commandments and doing everything the Lord expects us to we can find happiness, not only at the end, but throughout the journey. I love how in Preach my Gospel in the section under Lesson 2, The Earth Life how it says that “our purpose in life is to have joy AND prepare to meet God.” (PMG, empahsis added) We can have joy NOW!!! “Adam fell that man might be, and men are, that they might have JOY!” (2 Nephi 2:25, emphasis added) This is a JOYFUL work, and we can be happy now when we keep the commandments. They aren’t given to bind us down by rules, but to free us from the guilt and sorrow that breaking the rules brings! I explained to the recent convert how there were different groups that tried to get to the tree, but only the group that continually pressed forward to partake of the tree and didn’t give heed to the people who were mocking found TRUE happiness. Happiness and joy are possible to obtain, and we can have it NOW!!! Doesn’t that just fill you up with hope? I love this message! ^^ I LOVE the Book of Mormon too! It’s so awesome!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The gospel is so true! I hope you all know that. I am still struggling to know how best to do missionary work, but I know that with the Lord I can do anything he needs me to. Never forget how blessed we are to know how to have happiness in this life! I love you all!

All my love,
Sister Jessica Pope
“To bring the world His Truth”

Week 4 – A Mission Exhibition!

Buenos Tardes, mi familia y amigos! ㅅㅅ (Wait, that’s not my language!)

We lived through another week. It was a little rough because we lost two of our investigators, but we have more return appointments planned! We met with one sister who is Korean, but she said that sometimes English is more comfortable because she lived in foreign countries for a long time, so sometimes she makes mistakes in Korean and Koreans don’t understand why. I am happy because I can participate more in teaching her, and she seems so ready to receive the gospel! I’m so excited for her! ㅅㅅ
We’re planning a big event for the ward this week. Before I got here they had an idea for a Missionary Exhibition to help members learn more about missionary work and how they can help and non-members can also come and learn more about the gospel. This has taken a lot of planning, but we are excited. There is also going to be a musical “concert” of sorts, so all of us missionaries in the ward plus another ward’s missionaries will be singing a lot. The good news is that the missionaries in our ward are very talented, and I really enjoy when we sing together before meetings because we have two tenors and two basses and I am an alto and my companion is a soprano! This worked out perfectly. ㅅㅅ Hopefully we we be able to invite the Spirit and help the members understand how much we need them and help investigators gain more faith and some friends in the ward. This will be awesome!
As for the language, I’m really nervous because I am supposed to pass-off on the first lesson this week with one of our district leaders. That is a lot of 다노 (dah-no), or Vocabulary, and I am praying super hard for the Spirit to be there and for the gift of tongues to help me. I’ve been studying as much as I can, but it is slow going. I pray that I will be ready by Wednesday, and I have faith that the Lord will help me. I have already seen some of the miracles that the gift of tongues can bring, and I have no doubt that the Lord will help me as long as I keep trying and have faith. 와이팅! (why-ting) Fighting! (Let’s do it/good luck)
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The food is still really good, but there are several things that are not my favorite. There is a drink that tastes like grain in water that is very popular, and a type of water Kimchi that is like a soup, but it tastes like pickling solution to me. I’m still experimenting at the grocery store since I can’t read any of the labels yet, and I have a suspicion that I’m buying skim milk again without meaning to. *sigh* Oh well.
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Thank you all again for your love and support. I need it so much! I love hearing from you all, and I hope you continue to write me! Love you lots! The church is so true!
All my love,
Sister Jessica Pope
P.S. These are pictures of us at an all-you-can-eat meat buffet. You grab the meat you want and then you cook it in the middle of your table. It was delicious, and I think it would be a bad idea if they had these in America.
The second dish is 팓빙수 (Pa ping su) which is like ice cream. It’s mixed with red beans and ice, and it’s super delicious. ㅅㅅ
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Week 8 – MTC – Sister Jessica Pope

Korea Seoul Mission

Korea Seoul Mission

Hello my wonderful family and friends!

So I didn’t quite make it out of the MTC completely unscathed. I caught a cold this week, but I am almost fully recovered! All is well, and the work of the Lord goes onward! This coming week is our ninth week in the MTC! We got our Travel Plans today!!!!!! It’s so exciting! We thought we were never going to leave, and here we are! This is going to be a really long plane trip, especially since we’re flying to Texas and then directly to Korea. Oh well! It will give me time to sleep and practice proselyting in Korean. 🙂 We’re so ready to leave the MTC, but at the same time we hardly know Korean. I’m so excited and so nervous at the same time. I know that the Lord will help us in whatever we need to do, and I’m grateful for his hand because I know without a doubt that I could not do this without him. We all know it is about time for us to leave the MTC because we all feel like there is not much else that the MTC can teach us. We have been taught many great and important lessons and skills, but the greatest knowledge comes from doing. We need to go out and do what we have been taught, and by so doing learn more than ever before. This is what the Lord expects from us. He has given us our talents, and now it is up to us to make them more.

So I think it is time to share my advice to the new missionaries who are coming to the MTC soon. First of all, do not be scared. The Lord is with you, and he loves you so very much. He will not let you fail when you are doing his work, and this goes for everyone, not just missionaries. When you are serving God, you will always come out stronger than ever before. Second, when it says it’s time to study, STUDY. That is the secret. It is always super tempting to have fun with your district, especially because you love them so much, but there is a time and a place for that. This is the time to be focused on the Lord. This is his time, and not your time. Make the most of it. And Third, if you are going foreign speaking, SYL!! SYL stands for Speak Your Language, and you’ll hear it a lot at the MTC. It will help you so much if you speak your language often. Do your best, and the Lord will give you more. I know you can do it! Stay strong, stay faithful, and the language will come. Slowly, but surely, it will come, I promise you.

This week I spent some time thinking about the song “Nearer, My God, To Thee.” I love this song. I was especially thinking of the first line “Nearer, my God, to thee; Nearer to thee. E’en though it be a cross that raiseth me.” This to me teaches that trials are there to help us. God loves us so very much, and he knows exactly who we are and who we can become. He sends us trials, not because he wants to bring us down, but because he wants to raise us up. Think about it! Every trial we have ever had has taught us important lessons that has shaped who we are. We stretch and grow with each trial we overcome! This is Heavenly Father shaping us into the child of God that he knows we can be. Remember, good movies have an inciting incident that allows the main character to develop and grow. We love the characters that triumph over their struggles! One of my favorite movies says this perfectly: “The flower that blooms in adversity is the greatest and most beautiful of all.” This is so true about our lives too. We develop and grow when we choose to push forward and rely on the Lord, even when it may seem like the world is pressing itself upon you. We are beautiful to the Lord. He loves us and cares about us so very much! We are his children, and he is our Father. He wants to help us, so why not let him? I encourage you to pray to our Father in Heaven and ask him what he thinks about you. You can read Luke 4 and Abraham 3 and ask Him if those verses have anything to do with you as well. I promise if you pray with faith that Heavenly Father will answer you it will come. I know this to be true with all my heart, and I say this in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Again, I love you all. You are amazing! Thank you for all your love and support because it keeps me going. May the Lord bless you and keep you!

All my love,

Jess

P.S. I want to say a quick “thank you” to Aunt Diane and Edmundo! Thank you for the card! It was beautiful! ❤

Week 6 – MTC – Sister Jessica Pope

Hello everyone!

4th-july-flag-fireworksI hope everyone had a fantastic 4th of July. I know we did. It was so awesome! Nearly all the missionaries here were in red, white, and blue and we had a special Independence Day Celebration. We got to watch “17 Miracles”, which was amazing because that was the one movie I was most sad that I did not get to see before my mission. It was so great, and missionaries of all sizes were crying.  Then, as a special treat, we got special permission to stay up later than our bedtime and watch the Stadium of Fire fireworks! That was especially fun as we ate our ice cream and sang some patriotic songs together. I love our country so much! 🙂

 

As I was watching “17 Miracles”, I was struck by the faith and courage of the Saints that came to Zion. There truly were miracles along the trail, and it reminded me how much I need to have that faith because the Lord can and will bless his children, even to help them learn a new language. I’m not perfect, but I am doing my best to exercise my faith and believe that the Lord will bless me. I know that if we believe and trust that the Lord will catch us when we have to step out into the darkness, that he will be there and that he will hold us up. Sometimes this is easy to forget, but I know this is true because I have seen it already in my short time here in the MTC. It may not come all at once, but it does come. I am so grateful for the Lord’s blessings!

 

So this week I’m going to claim my first baptism while I’m a missionary. My youngest sister is getting baptized on Saturday, and I have spent most of this week thinking about it and helping our “investigators” come to understand it’s importance. We were teaching our investigators about the Plan of Salvation and how Heavenly Father loves us so much that he gave us a plan to come back to live with him someday. Baptism is the gate to enter in order to begin our journey, and this week my sister is entering that gate. I was reading 2 Nephi 31 where that scripture is found and it just gave me exceedingly great joy that she has decided to take that next step in becoming more like her Father in Heaven! One of the most important blessings of baptism is that we receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, who is there as a comforter and guide for our journey through life. This is possible because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, who took upon him all the pains of the world so that we would be able to return to him if we accept his sacrifice and keep our covenants, including the covenant of baptism. We have the opportunity to apply the Atonement in many ways, both for repentance of what we have done wrong, and to receive the comfort and help that we need in times of trial. I love Alma 7: 11-12 in the Book of Mormon because it talks about how Jesus Christ suffered “that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities”. This means he has felt the pains and heartache of every single person on this earth, and that puts him in the unique position to know exactly what we need and how to help us. At times we may feel like he does not hear, but that is when we need to exercise a particle of faith to know that he will bless us if we are faithful. I love Alma 36:21 where Alma is talking about how Jesus Christ succored him. “Yea, I say unto you, my son, that there could be nothing so exquisite and so bitter as were my pains. Yea, and again I say unto you, my son, that on the other hand, there can be nothing so exquisite and sweet as was my joy!” (emphasis added) That is what this gospel is all about! Finding that joy in Christ, and exercising our faith so that we can return to live with him again. I am so excited for my sister to enter that gate of baptism so that she may experience that joy and complete happiness that the gospel brings, and I challenge you to study the chapters I have mentioned in the Book of Mormon so that you can learn more about the blessings of baptism. I am serving a mission for the Lord so that others may taste of this joy that I have felt. The church is true, and this joy is real! I say this in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

 

I want you to know how much I love you, and I am grateful for your prayers. I can feel them working as I continue to press onward. Thank you so much for your love. I know the Lord will bless each and every one of you!

 

All my love,

 

Jess