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.