Thursday, December 24, 2009

Baked Potato Christmas (and Lurpak, too!)

Date: Thursday, December 24, 2009 12:31:02 AM
Subject: Merry Christmas
It's Christmas Eve here and we just had our big Missionary Party. I still haven't been here long enough to care much about the slide shows. The curry was pretty good. The Tim Tam Slams were great. My secret Santa gift was a large bag of Oreos. I think I’ll make them into a crust for something.
The Elder I was supposed to give a present to had the same first name as me. Since I didn't know him, I got him what has always been my idea of a perfect gift. Lego. Ok, it wasn't real Lego, just stuff from a street vendor, but it was a pretty good fake. And when you take a brown paper package tied up with string and give it a good shake and hear the lovely sound of Lego jumbling around, you get a little burst of joy that fills your soul. At least I do. Always have. But I didn't get to find out if Elder Noah Davis is similar to Elder Noah Kershisnik, because he is still in America. I suppose this means he was injured playing sports, and is therefore nothing like me. I sadly handed one of my favorite things to the mission president's wife, and hoped that I am wrong after all and it will be a joyous time for him when he arrives to find a late Christmas present of Lego. I should have just kept it.

Well, I did something I thought I would never do. I sang an a capella song. My companion wrote it and we performed it today. So there you go.

The best performance was President and Sister Chan's Opera song. Chinese Opera of course. It was wonderful. I filmed part of it, but my camera died unfortunately. I missed the incredible look Sister Chan gave President Chan when he started faintly flapping his arms in time with the music. I could never describe it.

We still have a lot of slow-moving investigators. We are still trying to get them to read the Book of Mormon. It's still hard. They still can't progress if they don't do it.

We're teaching a really cool family. They used to be hard core Buddhist, but then the mom and dad started a business selling Buddhist stuff and got cheated out of a lot of money by some monks. Then the dad left them to be a monk. They have had a lot of trials, but they really recognize the truth. The oldest daughter is progressing the fastest, still rather slow. The mom always talks about similarities between us and Buddhism. She is very Chinese in thinking that Religion is good, but not grasping the "this is the one and only true church on the earth once again, containing the fullness of truth" concept. So we are mostly working with the oldest daughter. But they are wonderfully artistic and cultured. The mom says when I am making movies I should move to China because they have much better culture than America does.

We have a few other investigators who are doing well, but they all want to go so slowly. They want to wait for their family to accept the church with them. They want to get out of debt, so work always comes before church, even after they receive so many monetary blessings from attending church. Whatever. Just keep at it. Come what may and love it.

Still cooking, still loving it. Mom, I know you worried that you hadn't taught me how to cook, but don't worry, you did ok. The other day my companion was staring longingly at a menu of baked potatoes. He was debating buying one of the puny things. I said, "Elder So, we can just make some." "Do you know how?" "Yeah, which one do you want?" he pointed to a potato with broccoli, cheddar cheese, bacon, and chives. We made it. I didn't even need a recipe.

They have Lurpak here. Very near our house.

Even in a country where people only know that Christmas is a holiday that many Americans love and has something to do with Jesus and a man dressed in red (The Christmas Old Person, as they call him), Even with no snow and no real pine trees, even with hardly any time for making delicious bread and small gifts for loved ones, even though I have to go on exchanges with Elder O'Neil because I yell at him less than other people, even without my family here, I still have felt a renewed sense of joy and hope and faith in Christ and his atonement from the Christmas season.
I hope all of you have too.

I love you all. Merry Christmas!

-Elder Noah Kershisnik

p.s. I'm pretty sure I will call tomorrow morning, though I haven't made certain of that, and right now I am on exchanges with the a for mentioned Elder O'Neil, so I can't confirm that with my companion. Sorry, but it should be tomorrow morning.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

A Short One (and posted out of order)

Date: Wednesday, December 09, 2009 8:13:19 PM
Subject: 10-12-09

I wrote a long eamil, which was devoured by the ether. Now I'm out of time.
I'm so sorry.

Main points:
Why is 13 an unlucky number?

What is Mom's pancake recipe? Syrup Recipe?

More visitors from mainland. Average baptisms is still one a week.

"Just freakin play for a bit while!" (said by a member to me. stupid missionaries teach members to say 'freak')

I suddenly love cooking and baking and would love simple, quick recipes.

It is possible to stay clean and organized. I didn't think this was true when I lived by myself, but it is true, even when living with missionaries.
And being clean makes you happy.

We had to move to a gross apartment. But I will do as Elder Holland said and embrace everything about my mission, even dirty apartments.

I am apartment leader! This is the first step in my plan to one day control
the world.

The Book of Mormon is true and will answer any question you have if you read it prayerfully.

I love you! Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Merry Christmas

Really quick so that I don't forget, I think I will call on Christmas Day, on Christmas Day, on Christmas Day. I think I'll call on Christmas Day, on Christmas Day in the morning. Around seven to nine here. I just made some quick plans with Elder So. I'm not sure when that is for ya'll, but it will be easier for you to figure out than for me. I have no instruments for that sort of thing. I'll confirm in my email on Christmas Eve, so if you have preference or would rather I called in the evening, let me know in an email.

I'm excited.

One thing I've been meaning to write about but keep forgetting is this. It is interesting to note the different meanings words have in different cultures. In America we say, "We are LDS" and they say, "Oh, you're not Christian" and we say, "Yes we are!" Here we say "We're LDS" and they say "Oh, you're Christian" and my native companion says, "No we aren't." (translated from the original Chinese). Here, Christian means we believe in Christ and think you should too. Please start going to a church. I said something about this to my companion, and now he explains it a bit more when they ask that. Because we actually are Christian. It's just funny the mindsets people have about religion and how they differ.

I have been baking lately. It's hard without a real oven, but our toaster oven in this new apartment is rather large and works rather well. If anyone has interesting bread recipes, please send them. Also, why do you punch bread down? Also, if you leave bread to rise all day long is that bad? Also, what is the point of baking powder and baking soda?

They have all the commercial aspects of Christmas here. Those are nice, but it's hard to find the other aspects of Christmas. I read part of a talk by President Eyring called "I'll be home for Christmas.” In it he said, "What all of us long for in our hearts, at Christmas and always, is to feel bound together in love with the sweet assurance that it can last forever." That is so beautifully put. And that is why being a missionary is worth it. That assurance can still be there, and I can share that with others. It is a great honor and privilege to give my time back to God. Even though it is sometimes hard. But really, I think this is by far the easiest mission in the world. I never have to leave a ward I have come to love (or, only once anyway). I see the nine potential companions every week and can prepare for challenges I foresee before we are companions. People come for us to teach and baptize in a day. Easy. How will I ever grow?

I love you all so much! Merry Christmas!


Thursday, December 17, 2009

Street Encounter

Dear Brother and Sister Kershisnik,
My wife and I live in Hong Kong and were out walking this evening to a little restaurant for our anniversary dinner.
While walking we ran into your son and his companion. We stopped to introduce ourselves and to chat. He sure looked happy and excited to be there. He was giving off such a kind and warm spirit. I am sure he is a great missionary. I snapped a quick picture of him on my cell phone....sorry about the soso quality but I think you can catch the smile.
My wife Debby and I live in the Victoria First Branch. We just moved here after living in China for 10 years.
Again, thanks for having Elder Kershisnik out here. It's great to see our missionaries in action.
Kind regards,
Heinz Dickens

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Answering Questions

Date: Thursday, December 03, 2009 3:32:47 AM
First off I will answer Mom's questions. We go to a branch of all Mandarin speaking people. There is only the one Mandarin Branch in all of Hong Kong, meaning there are a lot of inactive people in the outer reaches. If they all started coming to church and got their friends to join we might be able to start another branch in the north (not actually on Hong Kong Island). That would be good. It is hard though. So for now we have one branch (not even a ward) with TEN missionaries. We make up a good percentage of the branch. We don’t meet in the Temple building, we meet in a very large chapel on Hong Kong Island.. It is where the English speaking wards (there may be more than one, I'm not sure) is also. There are a few Americans in our ward, but they are just guys who went on missions to Taiwan, married Mandarin speakers, and ended up in Hong Kong. There's this one Hong Kong man who is married to a Japanese woman. Both of them and all their kids speak perfect English, Mandarin and Japanese at least. I know the dad speaks other languages too but I don't know about the rest of them.
We go to the temple once a move (six week period, you don't neccessarily move that often) so I've only been once. It is very lovely. Workout? like working out? We work out in the morning. Most people don't really do too much. I try to follow the suggested things which are twenty minutes cardio (running in place or jumping jacks) and then every other day ten minutes of strength (push ups and stuff) and ten minutes of flexibility. I sometimes just do the cardio though. It's nice. For a week I didn't do anything cause I was a little sick. I didn't like it. Even though we walk around a lot I still feel better when I've worked out in the morning.
My companion really likes to eat out. Last month we both ran out of money. This month our plan is $100 a week on groceries and $25 dollars a day on eating out, and only eat out for one meal. When you think that one American dollar is 7.5 Hong Kong, that is not very much. but you can do it and you can eat for like, ten to fifteen sometimes so you can save up for more expensive meals (like the delicious Huevos Rancheros I had today. I have to idea how you spell that). That way we still get to eat out and I still get to learn how to cook better. I wish I had let mom teach me more. Do you remember Chasu Bau we ate with the Taylors in San Fran? Steamed bread with BBQ pork inside? They have a lot of different kinds of Bao here. I love it so much and it's quite cheap. They also have cheap rolls and buns that are so so very good. And you can get noodles and congee and stuff for really cheap too. I really like it. Congee is like, rice soup. Lot's of people don't like it, but I think it's great. I try to snack on healthy food at home like fruit. I like to mix oats, milk, coco and a tiny bit of sugar for a nice snack or for breakfast. It's like much healthier, dark chocolate coco puffs. Yummy. It would also probably be good with peanut butter. Like Reeses' puffs!
I have been waiting for someone to ask about pictures. I'm not really sure how to put them onto a CD and we are really busy all the time. I will do my best to figure it out and send it, but keep bothering me so I do it.
Today our Zone had an Airsoft war on an Island. I had nothing to protect myself, so we went to a second hand store and I got an awesome jacket for $80 Hong Kong. I'll hardly ever be able to wear it, so it should still be good in two years.
Yesterday all of our stuff (pamphlates, Books of Mormon, keys, money) got locked in a chapel while we were waiting for an investigator. We ran around Hong Kong for twenty minutes and finally got a key to the outer cage-like door. My companion then literally broke the inner door open. I couldn't believe that he'd done it. Then we took a taxi so we could make it on time to another appointment with someone who didn't show up. It was all for nothing. Of well, that is life.
I can't remember anything that happened this week because I left my planner with my notes from the week on my desk. Sorry. I'm doing my best.
Next Saturday a member is going to teach all the Mandarin missionaries how to make dumplings! I'm so excited. I asked her if she'd give me a recipe and she said she would, but I wouldn't be able to read it. So she's teaching us all instead. I remember the Li's showed me how once, but I forgot. I remember how to bou (like, wrap) them though!
I got to go on Companionship 24 hour exchanges with Elder Wall the other day. It was very fun and very nice to get to talk to him and spend a whole day with him. He's a really good guy.
Christmas in Hong Kong is exactly what you'd expect Christmas in a consumer based non Christian city to be. Lots of commercial stuff. It's still pretty Christmas-y, even though it's not even a little cold. Sometimes I see fake snow and it is weird because it's so warm. Haha
It's been a bit of a rough week. Our investigators are having a hard time progressing. They don't want to come to church or read the scriptures or pray, they just like meeting with us and telling us about how they still don't know if God exists. We are trying to figure out how to help them understand that they don’t need to actually know that stuff before they get to feel anything. But I know that they can feel that God exists if they do try. I know that God exists and that this is His church. This work is hard sometimes, but I know it's His work and it's what He wants me to be doing. I love you all so much! Bye bye!
-Elder Noah Kershisnik