Tuesday, July 19, 2011
It is so nice right now. I sit and drink my Zesty Mango Chillino at an
outdoor computer with absolutely wonderful weather. What a pleasant
mission. In a few hours we will go to Kowloon Tong to meet, teach, and
baptize someone. Why on earth did I get to come here?
I have been trying to find the records and get the information of all
the people I have helped to be baptized, especially the ones from
Mainland China. The records that the missionaries keep are, some of
them, old and not very well organized. Maybe lost. Here's a hard
learned lesson for me, it's much much easier to keep track of things
as they happen than when it's almost too late. So be a record keeping
people and keep a journal! They taght us that. Some church historians
came and told is about how we need to do it. It's nice to do.
Sister Liu was baptised on Sunday. It was a great service, with three
people entering the waters of baptism, one after a few months, one a
year and a half, and one five years. But next week is the topper.
Brother Tang (last week I used a character, but this might be nicer,
and I don't know how to write chinese on this computer) is good for
baptism on Sunday. He told us that his first contact with the church
was over twenty years ago. I can't beleive it has taken him so long.
He is such a good man. So humble and awesome. His name means soup.
Last saturday we taught and baptized a mom and daughter from china.
The dad came too, though he was not getting baptized. But he was
awesome. For some reason he just wasn't sure before he came, so he did
not prepare for baptism, but as soon as he heard the missionary
lessons taught by missionaries, he knew it was true and commited to
prepare and be baptized as soon a possible. It was maybe the first
time I've been able to teach a full family of investigators, father,
mother and child together at the same time. Unfortunately there are
many incomplete families here, especially amoung Mandarin speakers.
Divorce, seperation, or just temporarily living apart because of work
or school makes it very hard to find full families, and the families
that are full are often mandarin mothers with Hong Kong dads, usually
taught by Cantonese missionaries. So this experience was especially
awesome. And I talked about it in my talk the next day, which they
were able to attend. I spoke about family and love at home. I think it
went well, purely because of the help of the Lord. Some people
commented on my perfect grammer, some going as far as to tell me it
was much better than I normally speak and asking if I had practiced a
lot. No, I just wrote some notes and prayed. It works.
Well, mixed emotions are here, but I will take sister Tans advice and
endeaver to just be happy. Just serve where I am and be happy. If
we're always happy right now then we'll never be sad.
I love you. The church is still true.
Cool computer, this. It has a pad for writing Chinese. That's not nearly as easy as using pinyin to type it, because i can't write Chinese very well. But it's much easier than having to switch the setting every time I want to write a single 字. So nice 啦!
I don't know if you remember me talking about Sister 劉 or not. She is the one who finally accepted a baptismal date for July 10. Well, everything is going smoothly, and there should be no problem with her baptism on Sunday. The Branch President will baptize her. It's his first time baptising anyone. I'm so happy for her and her daughter. Now her daughter can fully enjoy the blessings of growing up in the church. It's just great.
We also met with a man yesterday who has known about the church for five or six years and wanted to be baptized the whole time. Because of different reasons he never has been able to, and now he is living in China, and thought he would have to move back to Hong Kong if he wanted to be baptised. We talked to him and asked if he could extend his trip here by a week, and be baptised on the 17th. He said of course he can. I remember hearing about him from Elder Pope. If Bryson Pope reads this, 湯弟兄 is going to be baptized finally. His wife used to object, he could not legally be baptized in China, he even went to Africa but couldn't find the church there. Now he can be baptized, and then can finally go to church in China! Yeah.
Did anyone know that Dr. SunYatSen stayed in Utah? There is a note written by him on some stationary from The Hotel Marion, Ogden, Utah in a museum here. Pretty cool. There is a movie out about him. About the whole cultural revolution. I'd like to see it.
We met maybe a missionary from another church and scheduled her for the English speaking elders. I'm worried about it for them. She seemed very nice, but mentioned going to door to door in Utah "to talk to LDS people about their religion." That's not normal. I hope she's as nice as she seemed.
I love you all! happy 4th! In Chinese it's called "America's celebrate the country day"
If there's one thing I've learned on my mission, I don't know what I'd say, there are too many. But 其中一個 (one out of the whole) is defiantly that planning is important. Elder Chung and I plan a lot. We plan for our companionship, for our zone, and for the mandarin missionaries. One hour of effectively planned missionary work is worth so many hours of just wingin' it. In fact I don't like planning very much. But I have learned it's importance. have been planning a zone training on planning that we want to have in a couple weeks. Planned things just go smoother. I hope I keep this attitude later on.
I've learned that an effective way to pray is to plan with the Lord. I try my best to always present my plan on what I'm going to do to get whatever blessing I ask for. I discuss the plan with the Lord and find it's holes, maybe things I can't control or don't do well. Then I ask for His help in those areas. It makes me realize what a commitment it is to ask for a blessing. It means I am willing to do everything I can to get that blessing, so the Lord can do the rest. If He did it all for us we would never learn to do it ourselves. He only does what we cannot.
Our mission is really taking off right now. It's really amazing. Elder Holland came and told us that "the Lord is hastening His work," and we are defiantly seeing that here. Through better planning, studying and praying we are all experiencing the Holy Ghost more in our lives and in our teaching, and it shows in the numbers. success isn't measured by numbers, it's just indicated by them. Just kidding, of course, but it is amazing to see the increase in the numbers as missionaries really do rely more on the spirit and do harder, more effective work for people, not numbers. Our zone is awesome, our mission is awesome. This work is awesome.
I ordered a tailored suit today. I am quite excited. It is so affordable here, cheaper than the non tailored suit I wanted originally. And it will fit better, I imagine. It'd better, he measured pretty much everywhere I can think of possibly measuring.
I love you! see you super soon!
I am happy and try to always be so. There are times when it is hard to be happy, but if I can just choose to be happy, then I'm a lot happier. So just be happy!
We cut out the letters of my full name and were trying to see what sentences we could make. "I create pies", "I can eat kosher pies", "Krishna eats kosher pies" "I, Stephen Norris, can shank hickies." That last one uses them all. In addition to pies, we found cherries, cheerios, and snickers. So many delicious foods! I have learned from this exercise that my English, particularly spelling, has gone way downhill. Although I have learned some nice new words from Jesus the Christ, useful ones, like antediluvian.
Today while on our way to email we saw a girl standing outside the church. I thought maybe we should go talk to her, but i didn't. Probably not a prompting, I thought. We crossed the street, climbed the stairs, and crossed the bridge before I finally decided to go back, that feeling just wasn't going away. I knew that if she wasn't waiting for missionaries or church friends she would probably just run away when I talked to her, but she didn't. She also didn't speak Mandarin very well, so my comp took over (he's ABC and has super good Mandarin and Cantonese). I don't know what will happen, but she can into the church and listened to him talk for a while, went with us upstairs to the chapel and gave us her phone number so the sisters up in TaiPo can give her a call. I could have just not said anything. Wow, I have a real homecoming-talk story!
Elder Holland came not long ago and told us we need to do better at planning, studying, and teaching with power and authority. As we work to be obedient and study and plan well, I have felt the spirit in my life, especially my teaching, as I have never felt before. It's awesome to be able to be confident that the Lord will not let me be confounded before men, and that he will fill my mouth, as long as I open it.
The Lord promises us blessings if we keep His commandments. I can testify that those blessings are real.
Hey, how is Angus? He must be home by now.
I love you!
Saturday, June 18, 2011
Last week I got my haircut for the last time on my mission. I asked him to also give me a shave with his strait edge razor, but he said I didn't need it and shaving too much is bad. I guess I missed my chance at a scary shave. I figured it was the most likely time to not get killed, as my companion was there watching, as were lots of other people (it's a big barber shop) and the barbers are all very nice. But no luck.
We also went to Central last week to get some chops. Afterward we went to Gateway, an American store, to look around. I looked at an enormous bag of chocolate chips, but decided I couldn't afford it. Then I picked up a big bag of whole wheat flour to buy, when all of a sudden the owner walked up and asked in English if I was going to make some bread for my brothers. I said yes, I was and he said, what about white bread? He had a damaged bag he would give me for free, because I was here with the church. Then he gave me a slightly damaged bag of whole wheat flour for half price and a very damaged bag of white flour for free. I guess he has some member friends and has investigated before. I was so happy that I bought the huge bag of chocolate chips anyway. I'm not sure I'll eat them all before I leave!
It's been nice to hear people testify of help I have given, members, investigators, and other missionaries. I knew the Spirit could help out when one didn't know what to say or how to help someone, but I never really believed I could do it. Especially these last couple months I've learned a lot more about the spirit and how to not worry about whether I can do it or not. If I need to, then the Spirit can do it. And now I know the Spirit has spoken through me to help others, because I really can't do it actually. There is no way. But He can. So no worries.
Our investigators are still progressing, some faster than others. An example of receiving Divine help cam on Sunday when we had two lessons to teach so we split up and Elder Chung requested I teach Sister Liu. I protested that I didn't know her very well. He said, "Yeah, but I am out of idea with her." I thought to myself at the time that if he couldn't help her, I had no chance. Elder Chung is pretty close to perfect missionary. I am not.
I don't know how, but as Elder Wall and I relied on the spirit, we helped her to see that baptism is an act of faith. An act of faith that will bless her life and her daughter's life for years. I shared about how on my mom's side, six generations back a man name Brigham Young had to make the same decision. He eventually did, and here I am, six generations later, still blessed from it. Then I shared about Janca's family joining the church. They didn't become prophets like Brigham Young, but they did make the same decision to be baptized and join the church of the Lord, and here I am, only three generations later, receiving the same blessings. I had never thought about sharing that before, and only did because the Elders quorum president suggested it. It really helps people to think about how much this will bless their posterity, I think.
So Sister Liu will be baptized on the tenth.
I know the church is true. The Spirit testifies of it to anyone who asks. In his book Jesus The Christ, James E. Talmage logically shows that Christ was resurrected by showing all the problems with any story of how it might not have actually happened, and says something like, the Resurrection is as sound or more so than any other fact we take as historically accurate, but that doesn't matter. The truth of this is not founded on written pages alone. Anyone who asks with sincere heart and real intent can know for themselves.
I have asked, I know that is true.
I love you.
I have a bit of a sore throat lately (I just don't know how to not get those. It's awful) and it reminded me of that nice Greek lady who worked at the gallery in New York telling us she was feeling "a little under the water lately." That's how I feel. I think it has to do with the serious heat and humidity and the powerful AC in all public buildings. Your body is completely damp within five seconds of being outside, which then freezes to your body as soon as you go into any church, mall, restaurant, store, or even bus. I've never imagined such a summertime threat of catching a cold.
About a week ago I started marinading some chicken for dinner. Due to circumstances beyond my control (or desire to avoid) we didn't end up cooking our own food that night, or again until today. The poor chicken was swollen and looked like beef. It tasted and felt like teriyaki stix chicken. I didn't like it. I think that's because I just used a bottle labeled "Chicken Marinade" instead of mixing my own. Lesson learned.
Our investigators are, most of them, experiencing trials of their faith. I wouldn't have it any other way. The gospel is true, so Satan sends trials. If he didn't it probably wouldn't be true. Plus it builds faith. And character. But it's hard right now. Parents unwilling to allow their children to "become christian", having to go back to mainland for family matters, fear, etc. I have no idea what to do about any of them. Good thing it is true and God helps us or this work would be done for.
Would everyone please particularly pray for Dats 李? He feels he needs time to develop more faith and wait for life to be less busy. Please pray for him to overcome his doubts and embrace the gospel and the blessings that are in store.
Another special help needed is for Joyce and Kelvin 陳. Their parents are Buddhist and do not agree.
Coming up on my last transfer. Looks like it will be still on the Island with Elder Chung, but we won't know for sure until next Tuesday. I am happy with that, or anything else I can think of. So far every area and companion has been great, I imagine President Chan will still be inspired this time.
I love you all 啦!
Family, as if speaking with you face to face,
We're at a coffee shop today and I got a berry smoothie which is about 100 times as sweet and creamy as the no sugar added smoothies we've been making at home. It's yummy, but a bit much.
On Sunday a member gave us some fresh unsweetened soy milk. It tasted like liquid soy bean and was not enjoyed. The cakes they make here are all very cute and perfectly done, but the store bought ones aren't very much more that that. Pretty and spongy in a bad way. All air and no good things. But there is a member who makes cakes that are just as beautiful but not at the expense of being enjoyable. So that's nice.
We have some awesome investigators who go to Kwun Tong Ward. That's a Cantonese speaking ward, and their Cantonese is way good, but their mother tongue is Mandarin so we still teach them. When we asked the little brother if he was going to attend his sister's baptism he said, "I think when my sister gets baptised... I will probably also get baptised." Yesterday he called us but we missed the call. Later, when I called back and asked why he had called he said, "I prayed about the Book of Mormon last night. I feel it's true." I guess he was afraid we weren't going to follow up on our commitment so he did.
On Monday we went with him (his name is Kelvin) to the Kwun Tong Family Home Evening activity. It consisted of a spiritual thought that the missionaries didn't know they were supposed to give, a couple of musical performances by members, listening to so very electronic songs on CD one of which was apparently the Miss Hong Kong theme, and then the missionaries singing Nearer My God To Thee. As soon as we were done a man no one knew who had arrived by motorbike jumped up and announced that he had come here from another ward. He then asked who knew what Rockabilly meant. I was the only one who tentatively raised me hand. He asked me to explain it in Chinese. I couldn't. So he did. Then he instructed the missionaries to sing "Onward Christian Soldiers," normally at first, but then to have everyone clap a "Rock Beat" (clap - clap clap - clap - clap clap) and us to sing it like a rockabilly style. "Let's rock." Pretty crazy. Why didn't we have FHE like this?
Our zone originally set a goal for nine baptisms this month, but the President Chan told us he felt we could get ten. Our zone members happily accepted his council. We ended up with 13. We had more baptisms than International! Not to compare or use baptisms as a measure of our awesomeness, but it was a great experience. It shows what a well set goal can do. Nine might not have pushed us as hard. But a goal of ten with everyone excited and working hard for it worked wonders.
Ah, the Beatles. How nice.
Everything is great. Excited to see everyone, but hoping to drag out these precious months.
Love you all