Sunday, November 29, 2009


Date: Thursday, November 26, 2009 8:08:50 PM
I'm so sorry I didn't email you yesterday. Being a missionary here it sometimes gets hard to email, what with all the Thanksgiving feasts you have to go to. But we're doing it today so I hope you forgive me.

Well, yesterday was Thanksgiving. We started it earlier than usual because we had a mission-wide service activity. We got to go to the outer reaches of Hong Kong, where you can only just hear the roar of the city, and work all morning on a tiny Chinese farm. It was so cool! It made me want to grow food so badly. I want, right now, to do more gardening with you when I get back. It's stuff like that that I'm afraid will go away when I actually do get back. Right now I appreciate my family so so much. I wish I had spent more time with you, gardening, cooking, playing games, making things, but I just hung out with my friends all the time. I feel like I'm becoming an adult, because suddenly everything my parents ever said to me or did for me makes sense. Every once in a while I think, "My parents are so perfect. I'm going to raise my kids exactly the same way. Only they will appreciate it more than I did." And then I realize that my kids will probably be just as stupid as I am. And then I get freaked out that I'm thinking about my future kids.

After service we went to the mission Thanksgiving feast, prepared by the senior missionaries. It was pretty normal; turkey, mashed potatoes, package gravy, canned veggies, canned cranberries, Stovetop stuffing, corn on the cob, white rolls. But it tasted so American, and so good! I ate SO MUCH! The pumpkin pie was just unreal. Though I rather think it was an unspectacular specimen of the great American dessert, it was still a specimen.

Then we went home and showered, and then went straight to the rich American in our ward's house for another. This time the turkey was really really good. The salad was just iceburg lettuce with tomatoes, but it was the first green salad with ranch I've seen since I got here. The sweet potatoes were yummy, the corn was yummy, and the cornbread was extremely yummy. They didn't have any pumpkin pie, but they had a lot of ice cream. Ice cream here is not cheap. I thought I was going to throw up.

Their apartment was so nice, the nicest I've ever seen and probably ever will see Hong Kong. They are very rich. I can't imagine how much that place costs. But they've decorated it with things they've picked up from all over the world, like buddhas and such, so I felt almost like I was at Grandma’s house with ya'll. Except there were only 9 missionaries, a lawyer and his Taiwanese wife. They were very very nice. My companion loves music, so he and I sang two verses of "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing", and then he told everyone that it was about being thankful and that we should all be thankful etc. I don't think that it's about being thankful. It's about praising God, which is close. But I supported him, and also talked about being grateful.

On the way to that area we ran into an American girl who said "Hello Elders" and then on the way back we ran into an American lady who gave us a bunch of pumpkin tarts. It seems there are a lot of rich, American Mormons living in the nicer parts of Hong Kong. I say rich because they have to be to live in those parts of Hong Kong.

Well, I only talked about one day. Sorry, but I'm out of time. I love you all. Read the scriptures everyday and be grateful. The pictures did come through. Thanks you.


I didn't make many notes this week, so I don't really have much more to say

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Getting Cold Now

Well, it's actually cold here all of a sudden. I had to buy a sweater. I mean, it's nothing compared to what November ought to feel like, but I must say I was surprised.

What is a tittle? I know what a jot is (I think, it's like, something that you jot down?) but I don't know what a tittle is. My native companion asked me.

The other day we were waiting for an investigator to come to the chapel for a lesson. I picked up a copy of the Ensign and opened it up, and there was "Fall Coming Like Three Sisters". Later I tried to buy that issue at the distribution center, but some how got the wrong one. Oh well, it still has good words, even if the pictures aren't quite what I was looking for.

But that made me realize that it might be a good idea to have some show cards or something to show to people. People always like to know about life in America, so any pictures you can send of people and or activities we do would be great.

Speaking of pictures, everyone always makes at least on of the following comments about our family pictures.
"Your sister (either or both) looks like a star."
"You look so young" or "Is this your little brother?"
"Your mother is so young!"
"Such a happy Family"
Yesterday for the first time someone said, "Your dad looks like a star." So there you go. We're a happy, young, star-filled family. They also always ask me if I look more like my mom or my dad. I often think, "you tell me, you're looking at the picture."

In district meeting an elder suggested that we put our mind in our investigator's shoes. I also heard this said, "I never said that! Stop quoting me!"

Eden, there are so many malls here. In each mall one floor is about the size of university mall, and there are always at least five floors. Sometimes the floors are a bit smaller and there are more like twelve or thirteen floors. And they have stores like Deisel and Marc by Marc Jacobs and Armani. It's pretty cool, but I never have time to look of course.

Some members had us over for dinner the other day. They spoke Cantonese, so I couldn't communicate much. The dad was introducing them all to me in English and he said, "and this one is Joseph (They all have English names too. It's a bit weird), so we call him little fatty (Bursts into laughter) because he is... he is a bit.. a bit fatter than I am." He wasn't even fat.

I found out that pistachios here are called "KaiXin Guo" or happy fruit because they are all smiling.

Most of our investigators want to go very very slowly. They don't really understand religion, so they want to be super sure before they commit to anything. They like meeting with us though, I think a lot of them really need friends. We pass some graffiti all the time that says, "Density rises but still we feel alone." I think that is how a lot of our investigators are. So we need to keep on being their friends and help them see all the other friends they can get at church.

Some see religion like just a bunch of meaningless rules. like, (us)"I'm hungry." (God)"well I'm not making you any food until you get on your bike and ride to the store and buy all of these things and bring them back" when really it's like, (us)"I'm starving to death" (God)"I know. And you can't make it to the store on your own. Here, take this money, buy everything on this list and bring it back. It will be hard, but not impossible if you use my bicycle. Here are directions. Go quickly so we can eat!" but we complain that he didn't give us a car, or enough money, or that we have to buy to many things, or that we bon't like broccoli, we'd rather buy a Snickers bar and spend the rest of "our" money on pokemon cards. I don't know about us all.

But we have one amazing investigator. Well, two. Yang Tai Tai and her daughter. Yang Tai Tai is willing to come to church, even though it's early, and she really wants to find the truth. She is progressing well. But last time she brought her daughter, who is incredible. This little girl is 8 years old, and this is an actual quote from here (which I didn't understand but was later translated for me) "My teacher at school had to pray for ten years before her family started believing in Christ. I've only had to
pray for two." She's like a tiny Joseph Smith!

I got a package with gloves and letters. Thank you so much! such good timing, it arrived on the first really cold day.

Today is my three month anniversary. I can't believe I'm already 1/8 through the two years! Two years really isn't very long. In another three months I'll be halfway through my first year! Sometimes it seems like a long time, but I know there is plenty of work I still need to do, and not enough time to do it.

Work hard everyone! I will also work hard. I love you!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Now I'm Here

Date: Thursday, October 29, 2009 1:51:00 AM
Subject: Hong Kong

(This letter was not posted when it was received. Catching up now.)

When I came up and set my small bit of reservation paper on the desk, the small chinese lady who was using this computer before me hurriedly deleted Firefox's history, checked that there was no way for me to see where she'd been, turned off the computer and walked away quickly. Odd.

Well, here I am. Finally in Hong Kong. I say that thinking, "I've been traveling forever!" But it's more broad than that. "I've been in the MTC forever!" But it's still broader. "I've been preparing for the my entire life, and maybe even before this life." That's better.

I guess I'll start from leaving Provo. That was probably the worst drive of my entire life. I spent ten weeks trying to not think about home, and then a short, one hour drive brought all kinds of memories back. Memories like, "I used to drive down this street." "I like Cafe Rio" "I live here." It was horrible. Luckily there was nothing worth seeing in the dollar theater as far as I could tell.

The Delta man almost didn't let me on the plane because my visa was for "on or before 09-12-09" He had to go get his supervisor, but in the end it was my companion remembered that in Hong Kong the day of the month comes first, then the month. It was a close one.

At the end of our two hour flight to San Francisco the Captain's friendly voice informed us that we wouild be landing in about fifteen minutes. About twenty minutes later came back and said never mind, the weather was bad so we needed to go to San Jose to get more fuel. Luckily we had a four hour layover, so we had plenty of time.

I slept most of the fourteen hour flight to Hong Kong. I got probably 10 hours, which is more that I have for a long time (ten weeks) but unfortunately it was airplane sleep, so it hardly even counts. It was nice though because it meant I didn't notice what the inflight movies where until there was only about three hours left. My favorite film ever, "The Brothers Bloom" was one of them. Had I known this at the beginning of the flight fourteen hours might have been too long to withstand the temptation. But I lasted three. I did translate the characters of the Chinese title, expecting it to be phonetic. In fact, the translation was something like, "Swindling without Hinderance," not quite as romantic. But rather accurate, I suppose.

I asked the information desk lady in Taiwan "Ni ZhiDao Wo Zai Nar KeYi Huan WoDe Qian?" (probably badly phrased for "do you know where I can exchange my money?) She said a lot of things back, but I still found it because she pointed too.

The meal on the flight to Hong Kong included what I think was a rejected bouncy ball. It wasn't smooth enough so they marinated it in a delicious sauce and fed it to me. It was the best part of the meal, actually very yummy.

And then we were in Hong Kong. My mission president is very nice, though there is a bit a for language barrier, and I'm not learning Cantonese. His English is very good, but I think he occasionally gets lost in the middle of a more complex sentence and it ends up going a different direction than he originally intended. The same sort of thing happens to me with just about every Mandarin sentence.

He took us to the Temple/mission home for lunch. I was excited for Chinese food, but we just had ham sandwiches. Ok. After that we went to "The Peak" with some of the older missionaries, each of us carrying a Book of Mormon to give away. It's hard for me, because most people speak Cantonese. But when we were at the peak looking at the view I noticed my companion talking so someone so I went over to help. I only talked for a few minutes, but in that he handed me his BoM and I got them to take it. I felt bad because I felt like I had stolen it from him or something. Oh well. Then later I convinced anther Mandarin speaker (again visiting from Mainland) to take my BoM. So I've handed out two BoMs now. Exciting. Elder Mills gave one to a man in the airport though, an American. I'm even more impressed by that!

Talking to people about the gospel is so hard! I feel like I have to sneak it in. I.e. an older missionary and I were talking to a man from Scotland, and he was talking about how there are so many different churches springing off the Catholic church. We were having a lovely conversation about it when I thought, "I should say something like, 'have you ever wondered why there are so many churches?' or 'have you ever thought maybe there is one true church?'" but I didn't and the conversation changed. After a minute the older missionary tried to just suddenly bring the conversation to missionary stuff, and the man said quickly and irritatedly, "I have my own beliefs thank you" and left quickly. I feel like if I had "sneaked it in," he would have been more receptive. But at the same time I feel like I should be bold and to the point, not trying to beat around the bush too much. But that's hard. I don't know.

Anyway. After the peak we went back to the Temple and ate chinese BBQ pork. Pretty good, but really greasy. After dinner we got our companions. Mine is Elder So. He is native which is wonderful because he can help me a lot with the language. Jason served in on of his wards. He's really nice.

We decided (he mostly decided, I still don't know what's going on) to sleep at a certain missionary's appartment, so we went there with them, but due to not wanting to take busses and heading the wrong direction a lot we didn't get there until about 11:20. That is rediculously late. And I was dead. I laid down when we finally got in and didn't know anything until the next morning.

That's today. It's P-day so we went to our actual aparment (who's last tenants were sisters so it's like a thousand times better than the one we stayed in last night) and unpacked. Now I'm all unpacked. We ate lunch and it was delicious. I had like a noodle soup thing with shrimp dumplings. Yu-Mmy. We tried contacting a little, but usually they are Cantonese speaking so my companion does most (all) of it and I just stand there smiling

It's hard, but I think it will get better. I love the city so far (it's weird how British it is other that the huge buildings. Elder So says "everything in Hong Kong is tall, except the people") but I miss you all so much. You seem (and are) so much farther away now. But I am always a little sad and lonely at the beginning of new things. I'll get over it.

I love you all so much! The church is true!

p.s. I saw Elder Wall. He looks great and it was great to see someone I know.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Hello from the Worst Person in the World. Ever.

Thursday, November 12, 2009 1:02:31 AM
Hello. I am the worst person at coming up with email subjects ever.

So everything in Hong Kong is so cool. Other than the fast food, which is weird but still ok. My companion always says like, "you should try this." Or "I want to show you this pretty cool store." and it is always so good and/or awesome. I tried this drink made by MinuteMade. We have MinuteMade in America, but here they have things like White Grape with Aloe Vera Pulp. And it's so good!

I didn't believe they could fit an Ikea into Hong Kong, so we went and looked at it today. Like everything else here, you couldn't tell what it was from the outside. But inside it was exactly the same. Except the food was cheaper and there was less of it. But Swedish meatballs are just as good in Hong Kong. Also I got real root beer there! Some kind of special Swedish Christmas version. I've yet to taste it.

Could you send me the lyrics to "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing" please?

I got a recipe for some delicious looking chocolate cheesecake, but it calls for brandy and Kahlua Liqueur, which we don't have. Is there something I could use as a substitute? Or could I just leave it out?

I saw Sting has a new Album. Maybe it's good? Also Mika does, I saw. Also maybe good? Also Toy Story 3!? The day after my 20th birthday, too. Dang it. Also go see The Fantastic Mr. Fox when it comes out and tell me if it's good.

They have amazing chocolate here. I'll just leave it at that.

Here are some pretty cool stories. We were headed back from a lesson and I thought, "Maybe we should not go home early, maybe we should do some *groan* finding. But I really don't have faith that we'll find anyone but I mentioned it to my companion anyway. He also didn't have faith. He said he had some calls to make. But he said my diligence inspired him, so he started talking to people. No one would listen. Finally, a college student slowed down, letting him friends continue on without him. He listened to us, and even went with us and toured the church building. He was interested!

Then, Tuesday we were finding in an area that was near a museum so we could spend our dinner hour in it. It wasn't going well. I thought maybe we had gone against the spirit in going there, and had just done it for the museum. I thought, "If I can just find one person who is interested and will give me their number this will be worth it." Just then I saw a twenty something year old dressed for basketball. I thought, that's him. But he quickly joined a game. I thought, maybe we should offer to play with them. But that was ridiculous because we were in slacks and ties and my companion hates basketball. I gave up. But then, my companion said, "Wait, let's take a rest right here, I need to look at the map." We sat down by the basketball court and just then my yellow jerseyd friend decided to switch games. As he passed I said "Ni Hao." He spoke Mandarin. He came over and talked to me. He was interested. He gave me his number. It was amazing.

Leah, yes, we have about 5 investigators, but they all seem to want to really take their time thinking about this. I'm trying to figure out how to encourage them and help them, because our president says we should go faster.

Just to clarify, there weren't just three people who came to get baptized from Mainland, there were eleven. I guess that's a pretty big number compared to usual. But still cool. I'm not sure if they can't get baptized in mainland, but they can't hear the discussions from a missionary which is important. They also might not be able to get baptized. I dunno.

I love you all. Thank you for your prayers and encouragement. The church is

p.s. If you could tell Trevor Christensen thank you for his letter, but I can't write back because he didn't give me his return address.

Monday, November 9, 2009

I've been here a week!

Hello Everyone!
Well, I've already been here a week and all I've been able to do is baptize three people. More on that later.

My P-Day is Thursday. I'm not sure what that means for you. I don't have time to figure it out right now. Sorry! I'll just go through the list I made of things to tell you all. It might not be the best order, but whatever.

They just reorganized the Mandarin missionaries into their own zone this month. I will apparently never know how cool this is because I never knew anything else. Oh well. So now we can go "finding" anywhere in Hong Kong, though we still can only teach people in our area. Still good.

They have root beer here!!! Or close to it. A delicious drink called Sarsae. I was so happy! And still am.

So my companion is way into art, especially music and film. We like lots of the same movies, though the music here is so different that it's hard to tell what kind of music he likes. I think the music in this city is the most different thing about it. Other than that and all the Asians, I could almost believe I was in America. Well, Europe anyway. With Root Beer. So Elder So (ha ha) and I are great friends. He also really helps me with Mandarin Grammar, though his Cantonese accent is pretty bad, so he can't help as much with pronunciation. He knows Jason (Bahr)!

I tried the allowable kind of tea, flower tea. It was so good.

Here is a list of funny things I've seen on shirts and such.

Sometimes happiness
is go
(pictures of a house)
sometimes happiness

This Next Trend International What Is Right

Taco System

I had a corn flavored gummy candy the other day. I assumed it was just corn shaped. No, that was the flavor. Sweet corn flavored candy.

There was the coolest ad ever for either a Nikon or a Cannon camera, I'm not sure which, with a guy in like, leather flying clothes and he had giant steampunk-esque leather wings! It was absolutely amazing. I didn't take a picture. If someone can find it and send me a copy I will be eternally in your debt. I also had a dream that I has the hero of a post apocalyptic story in which Mr. Ford (yes, founder of Ford Motors. Henry Ford? Herold Ford? Gerold Ford?) Was trying to take of the world. But I chased him down with my steam punk wings. It was rad.

The Raman here is just like in America, but the slightly more expensive stuff is delicious. My favorite step in preparation is Mingling the noodles.

Elder So told me I would like a Chinese Artist named JiMi. Somehow could you write a note and stick it with my clothes or something so I can remember? Thanks. His English name is Jimmy, but translated into Chinese it is "how many rice?" Haha, awesome.

We talked to some college students who listened politely but said they couldn't come to church (not allowable) because they are communists. I believe them. I they are exactly the kind of people I would expect to overthrow a government and take control. They were mostly interested in what I did in America and if I'd ever been to Mainland. I kept expecting them to ask me to join their cause for the people.

"I'm Islamic. Not like Obama, he's a terrorist. Like Bush, he's a terrorist, not a Christian."
In Chinese the word for horse is Ma and they use it a lot when doing phonetic translations. So. Which horse is the blackest? O Ba Ma. Oh Chinese jokes...

I was confronted by several middle aged/eastern men who said, squinting at my nametag, (have dad read this out loud) "ah... Spreading the Christianity!" I was a little unsettled, but I fended them off with, "Yep." Then they walked away.

This is really hard. Not because of anything really, my companion is great, the food is great, we get to stay up until 11 and sleep until 7, and we can watch "Kung Fu Panda" on P-days. But in the back of my mind there is always a little voice reminding me that I can't do the things I would normally do in this great city. I can't spend time with my family wondering the streets aimlessly, looking at all the little shops. I always have to try to talk to these people who for the most part don't speak Mandarin and don't want to talk to me. I told one man he could become like God, he said he wanted to become like Warren Buffet. I don't dislike what I'm doing right now, but if I had to search the streets everyday with the kind of results we are having right now it would not be "the best two years". I keep thinking that if I can just see the change in someone's life it will make it all worth it, but we have no investigators.

Then yesterday we got some visitors from Mainland. They came and we taught them all the lessons in one day and then I baptized them (the three we taught) and Elder So confirmed them. I don't know them, I don't remember their strange Chinese names, I didn't even really understand them. But it was so amazing. I felt the spirit so strongly. I love them each, and am so happy I could help them. And now, if I can help someone from the beginning and through the whole process, that will be amazing. That will make it the best time of my life. If not, as long as I'm doing my best, I trust that the Lord will help me fell good about this time. It is His time.

I love you all. I miss you all. The Church is true.


Sunday, November 8, 2009

Week 3

Hello everyone, how are you all?

I am doing great. Everyday I go through at least three distinct cycles that
go like this. "Ok, I guess I'll go learn Mandarin." "Mandarin is really
hard, I don't know what to study." "This is impossible! I'll never get
this down!" -spiritual experience- "I love this! I am going to work as hard
as I can and learn mandarin faster than I've ever learned anything!"

So yeah. That's my life.

I struggle to control my appetite on Sunday and wednesday when they have
BYU creamery ice cream. Their chocolate sauce is pretty good, and they have
peanut butter too. On sunday I put chocolate sauce, peanutbutter and
strawberry jam on my chocolate ice cream. My friend from France who struggles
with english said, pointing to it, "This looks like nothing. Like nothing?
Can I say this?" I guess it's a French expression. I don't know.

About the lack of letters. According to the white missionary handbook you
can only write on P-days. At first I disregarded this rule, but my branch
president told me I needed to be completely obedient if I wanted all the
Lord's blessings. He told me that part of that is not looking for Elizabeth
during mealtimes to talk to her. I don't know what that's about... Whatever,
she's leaving today anyway.

Yesterday I decided I would be 100% obedient. i would go to bed on time, get
out of bed on time, shave everyday, be on time, etc. So what do you think
happened yesterday? They told us about a new rule. Absolutely no music
in the residences. Ever. Three months without listening to music (other
than hymns in devotionals and other meetings, and "Mormon Radio" in our
classrooms if we're into that kind of thing). I think it's just a test of
my will power. It's a rule specifically made because made that commitment

On Tuesday someone started a rumur that the Prophet was coming to the
devotional. The lines were ridiculously long, but we got pretty good seats.
I knew it was just a rumur, so I wasn't freaking out. But it was a bit of a
surprise when Richard G. Scott walked in! He gave a wonderful lesson, the
best part of which was his beautiful testimony at the end. I would quote it,
but I left my notes in class. I said lesson instead of talk, I didn't mean to,
but it's kind of true. He called on people in the audience to answer questions
and give examples, and he didn't read out loud, just talked. He told us about a
time when he narrowly missed an encounter with Che Guavera (however that's spelled). It was a great first devotional for me.

I love you all, and miss you. I love getting letters. If you can, please send
a few tie tacks. I've never used tie tacks before, but i use them all the time

Love you very much!

-Elder Kershisnik

P.s If you'd like you can send me emails. I get on and print them and then
get off so I have plenty of time to read them. If I do it fast enough it
doesn't count the time. Also, anyone can email me who wants to. I just can't
email them.


I am finaly feeling like I am an established missionary here. I have almost
no time to be homesick. Usually I get homesick when walking to class and
I look up and see Squaw peak peering down at me, and I think, "I climbed
that recently." Then I remember that my house is a literal five minute
walk away, and that is when it gets pretty hard. But mostly my mind if
full of Chinese words and phrases and of course thinking about discussions
and such so it's not too bad. At night I have a hard time sleeping, but
even then I just sit and think about how tired I am and how annoying it is
that I can't sleep, and that pretty much occupies my mind.

My companion is pretty cool. He reminds me, oddly enough of a mix between
Griffin Taylor and Brendon Williams.

As you may have noticed, there is no spelling and grammer check, so I am sorry
for any mistakes.

I am doing my best to not gain weight. Elder Hong who is in my room has
been here since last monday, and has gained 10 pounds! I try to stay away
from bread and potatos (and rice, I'll be getting plenty of that soon). For
breakfast I like to eat half a grapefruit, a small bowl of yougurt and fruit,
and a bowl of fiberous (however you spell that if it's even a word)
cereal. Lunch and dinner I usually go for salads and wraps, with the
occasional chicken and mashed potatoes. I hope all of that is interesting
to you all.

I've been drawing decorative patterns around the edges of some of my paper
during large group meetings and devotionals and such. It gives me sonmething
to occupy my hands with and helps me listen. It also gives me a creative
outlet, which I've really been feeling the lack of. I know that Dad told
me my focus in life would change, but it hasn't completely done that

My poor companion hasn't gotten a letter from his family yet. Admittedly it's
been less than a week, but he's sent I think, four or five letters to
them and gotten nothing. Poor guy. I'm thinking about forging one...

We're supposed to report how many times we were on time to certain things
during the week, like...

6:30 am wake up
9:30 pm back at the apartment
10:15 pm quite time
10:30 pm lights out, in bed

and we aren't supposed to count it if it's a minute late. so last night the
church filmn we were watching went long, because the fireside went long,
so we were back at 9:32, and my companion says he isn't going to count it.
I was saying mt prayer in chinese, so I wasn't in bed until 10:31, so
they say I shouldn't count it. I think that is ridiculous.

Well, I am out of time. I love you all.

-Kong Zhang Lao