Elder Sam Lee: California to Korea and Finding Joy in the Journey

Elder Sam Lee in California

“It’s crazy to think that I’ve been a missionary for eight whole months now. As almost every missionary will confirm, time moves in a very strange way on the mission. After spending half a year in the field in Southern California, I finally got my visa to head over to Korea.

Although I studied Korean every day in California, I still can’t speak the language. I’ll tell you what though, the last three months I’ve spent in California have come to be brighter than the first three months. Being a reassigned missionary, you are inadvertently and unfortunately faced with a short-term mindset. Once I was able to recognize that and take steps to improve my outlook on the mission, I saw my joy increase. There is no greater joy than helping others recognize their divine potential. The divine potential of others is not something that’s merely existent in the short-term. There is nothing more everlasting than that, nor is there anything more everlasting than the means to obtain that—through the means of Jesus Christ.

Missions are hard in ways you wouldn’t expect them to be hard. They challenge your patience. They may challenge your faith. No wonder Paul triumphs almost ironically in tribulation, “knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience and experience; and experience, hope” (Romans 5:3-4). Why is there hope? Where is it? Hope is found in Christ. There would be no means to triumph save it be for Jesus Christ. He is the healer of all wounds and the succor of all trials. There has been a direct relationship between my personal faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement and my ability to teach others about the very same principles. I do not doubt God’s timing. While I am quite excited to assist the Lord’s work in Korea, I will not dismiss nor forget the impact California has had on me, and hopefully, the impact I was able to bring to others. I am sad to leave Southern California. I’ve learned so much and gotten through so much. Korea is yet the challenge laid ahead. “Therefore, fear not, little flock; do good; let earth and hell combine against you, for if ye are built upon my rock, they cannot prevail” (D&C 6:34).”

The photo at the bottom left shows Elder Sam Lee in Korea, while the other photos were taken in Southern California.

Volunteering through JustServe: Sewing for Native Nations

Early this spring, the service organization Sewing For Native Nations contacted JustServe administrators in Iowa seeking to fill the huge need for masks for native peoples. Many health centers, schools, and communities were suffering high numbers of COVID infections, and they did not have masks.

In a month, members of the Des Moines Iowa Stake sewed and purchased 541 masks to benefit the Kayenta Health Center on the Navajo Reservation in Arizona. Over a dozen other groups and individuals saw the need through posts on JustServe and also made and shipped masks to other Native peoples in need. Erin Besperat, a member of the Sewing for Native Nations administrative staff, said, “I just wanted to reach out and thank you for your excitement and generosity! …So many kind hearts.”

Besperat stressed that the need is great, and each and every mask will be used. “We have had people email or join our Facebook group who saw Sewing for Native Nations on the JustServe site,” she said. “There was even a super sweet high school student who created a neighborhood fundraiser, purchased fabric and then cut the fabric into precut kits for our community to sew. Thank you!”

Where can you serve today? Check out JustServe.org for ideas!

Eli Helps the Homeless

Eli Shill is a nine-year-old in Ankeny, Iowa who wanted to help.

He noticed people standing on street corners asking for money in the cold, Iowa winter, and thought that maybe he could do something to make their situation better.

Eli set a goal to create kits that he and others could hand out to those folks in need. He enlisted the help of his family, particularly his mother, Emily Shill. She sat down with Eli to decide on some things that would be useful that they could put in a kit. They came up with a list, with Eli being specific about the snacks that would be included (Goldfish was his top choice). Other items included hand warmers, hand sanitizer, water bottles, toothbrushes and toothpaste, and a warm blanket.

Emily then created a Facebook post, asking for donations to help with the kits. She said that Eli collected donations and put together the kits, and then he would give some of the kits back to those who had donated so that many people could participate in handing the kits out to those in need.

Eli collected enough donations for 52 kits, which are now being delivered to the donors and given out to those who are homeless or in meager circumstances.

Elder Murdoch: Miracles in Portland, Oregon

Elder Murdoch in front of a waterway
Elder Anthony Murdoch in the Portland Oregon Mission

Elder Anthony Murdoch, is from West Des Moines, Iowa. A pianist and percussionist, he played drums in the marching band and several jazz bands in high school. He’s loved music since he was young, starting piano lessons when he was eight and continuing for nine years. He later taught piano and drum lessons during high school. He enjoys hiking and backpacking, especially in the mountains of Idaho and Utah with his family.

Following his high school graduation from Valley High School, he chose to serve a two-year mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and is now in the Portland Oregon Mission. He says “the ball is rolling so fast, I am struggling to keep up.”

A recent experience reminded him of God’s individual care for each of his children. “I had a really small but cool miracle this week,” he said. “I pulled out my phone to do something, and tried to type in my password. But instead of my password, I typed “Monica.” There is a woman in our area named Monica that we tried to contact about a month ago, but she didn’t want to visit with us at that time. I told my companion that we needed to call Monica, but he said we should probably wait until tomorrow because it was so late. I agreed he was probably right and went back to study. I pulled out my phone again and somehow typed “Monica” again. I told my companion we needed to call her right then. She answered after the first ring and said she had been thinking about us and wanted to talk with us. We’re going over later this week.

“We called another Monica as well, who also picked up the phone right away. She needed help moving out of her apartment, so we helped her move all of her things.”

Elder Murdoch was originally called to the Lisbon, Portugal mission and hopes he gets to serve there when pandemic restrictions are mitigated. After his mission, he plans to study medicine.

Individualized English Classes Offered at Latter-day Saint Church

Jesus Galivan and the missionaries who teach his English class
Jesus Gavilan studies English with the missionaries at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

If you are a Spanish speaker looking for an affordable and personalized way to learn English as second language, then The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has a great option for you.  The Church provides free English classes for Spanish speakers in the Des Moines metro community. 

The English class is taught by Spanish-speaking church missionaries, and though student attendance varies somewhat from week to week, the class always has a fairly low student-to teacher ratio.  This makes it ideal for any individuals who may have previously felt intimidated in a larger classroom setting. 

One such student is Jesús Gavilan. Jesús and his girlfriend Maria have been attending the English class for the past few months.  He says he has been much more successful in the small class environment. Jesús explained that he has to speak English for his job and had previously taken an English as a Second Language (ESL) course at Des Moines Area Community College. But he felt overwhelmed by the fast pace of the class and the fact that it was taught entirely in English. 

Jesús said, “I like [this class] because there are nice people here, the teachers are nice. They care about [me and my progress].” Speaking entirely in English during his interview, Jesús said he didn’t know why more Spanish speakers trying to learn English don’t take advantage of this smaller, more personalized class setting.

Classes are held at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday evenings at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Saints building at 3301 Ashworth Road, West Des Moines.