Thursday, January 21, 2010

All the Fallen Elders

Date: Wednesday, January 20, 2010 9:07:55 PM
Subject: "All the Fallen Elders"

There is an old woman who comes to every English class in every chapel on the Island. Her accent makes 'foreign' sound exactly like 'fallen'. She wants to learn English so she can speak with all the fallen people. When she prays, she gives the exact same prayer each time, which includes a request for forgiveness that she is Chinese and cannot speak English well, as well as gratitude for all the fallen Elders to teach her English. She is very sweet.

Since coming on a mission I realize how true that is, all the fallen Elders. In my childish mind, Elders were so perfect. Now I realize we are just people. 19-26 year old males, mostly. We are far from perfect. And that is the miracle of missionary work.

There is a strange thing going on in our ward. A lady joined a while ago who actually shared the gospel with her friends. Consequently, Sister Deng joined our branch, even though she speaks Cantonese. Sister Deng is even more of a member missionary, and so Elder So and I (not really me, actually, she speaks Cantonese) have been teaching her friend Sister Chen. Sometimes it is hard to believe that there are any prepared people, but let me testify that there are.
Sister Chen has come to church every week since before we started teaching her. When she returns to work though, she will not be able to continue. Before teaching her one day, Elder So said he was going to bring up that issue. Turns out she has already been praying to find a new job. As soon as she learned about fasting she began to fast for a new job, without our even suggesting it. On Tuesday she changed us out (Chinglish for bought us food) to Yum Cha (drink tea, which actually means eat DimSum. Dim Sum is like, dumplings and buns and stuff like that and it's wonderful). Turns out she already doesn't drink tea. We had decided that the restaurant was too noisy a place to commit her to baptism, we would wait and do it at church. But instead she informed us that she had a very strong feeling that she should be baptized. Ok. She's prepared. Let me also testify of member missionary work. It works.

We also have a new investigator who seems to be prepared. We brought up church the first time we met with him, and before we could ask him to come he said, "See you Sunday then." And he came. Early. Really early. Most people don't even want to come at 9:00, but he came before anyone else. And God provided a business man from New Mexico who speaks Mandarin to fly into Hong Kong at 4:00 am so that he would be at church very early too so that our investigator would have someone to talk to. Wow.
When we taught him the restoration he said, "This seems right, and if it is, it's hugely important." Yes! That is soo right! No one ever realizes that! Ok, it's hard to believe, but what if it's true? Isn't it more important that anything else in your life to find out whether or not this really happened? If it didn't, fine, you don't have to come to church at 9:00. But what if it did? And why is it not worth it to wake up earlier than you would like once a week to come find out if it's true or not? And once you do find out, share that with your friends. It's funny, my companion said that before his mission he thought missionaries were the ones who should do all the missionary work. Now he realizes that actually members are the ones that can really make the difference, because they are actual friends, and they won't go home in two years.

Now that I feel the work here is really going well, I'm moving. I'm getting a new companion and a new house. I hear it's the best apartment in the mission. I don't know yet though. More on that next week. Also I'll let you know how Elder Gundderson is. I'm not sure if that spelling is correct. He's from Spanish Fork. He seems pretty cool.

As too Uncle Paul's question, actually the Hong Kong people are not very receptive. The mainlanders are very much more willing to listen than most Hong Kong people. I think it's because missionaries aren't new anymore for the people here, but we still are new to those from Mainland. I don't know.

My mission President suggested I teach a drawing class to get new investigators, any ideas? I don't know how to draw.

Finally I end with a poem I read in the park.

As the matter of fact there are too many roads and directions,
But confronted by all these,
We do not necessarily walk with an embarrassing gesture.

Kwan Wai Cho

I love you all.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Being an Adult at One a.m.

Date: Thursday, January 14, 2010 3:16:21 AM
Dear Family,

Yesterday I ate some little meatballs from a street vendor. At the time I thought, "these might make you sick." I wish I had listened to that thought. I didn't quite make it to the bathroom at one in the morning. In fact I barely made it out of bed, so there was all the food I had eaten all day. After throwing up there is a little grace period of feel good time. As a child that is the time for finally falling asleep while your mom cleans everything up. As an older person it is the time to clean it up, because your mom is far away. I have never felt so much like an adult than I did while cleaning up at 1:00 am. It made me miss home, although mom wouldn't have cleaned it up anyway. Being in Hong Kong doesn't make me an adult, being 19 1/2 makes me an adult. I tried to fix it by throwing the 1/2 in, but I'm still so old. Even keeping track of fractions of my age doesn't change it.

I didn't really make any notes, so I'm having a hard time coming up with things to say. I love you. I miss you.

Pizza here is weird, I think I've mentioned that before. The other day a member bought what looked like very normal Hawaiian pizza. From Pizza Hut even. Ok, it had chicken on it, but I didn't think that would mess it up too badly. Well, what I couldn't see was the thousand island dressing they used instead of tomato sauce. So weird.

We went to one of the buy-cheap-stuff streets today. I got a deck of cards to add to my collection. It is decorated with Cultural Revolution engravings. A selection of 54 engravings of Chairman Mao. It's pretty darn cool. But I wish I had Eden here to help me bargain. I'm just too nice. I'll take whatever price they offer first. My companion got four dollars off, but I'm sure I could have gotten more. Oh well.

The other day we walked through what many missionaries refer to as "the dirty mall" in Kwai Fang. It's like someone took a bucket of Canal Street and dumped it into a mall. I think Eden would like it as well.

My companion and Elder Ng are both very happy with the cooking situation. Elder Ng calls me Chef. Mostly so far I have just been cooking from the Chinese Cookbook the Corrys sent, but this week I'm going to try to cook some western food for them. Actually, I did make pizza, and we got some good mozzerella, fresh basil, thin sliced pepperoni and ricotta. The first time I make pizza it was just for me and it ended up baking the dough into a cracker. The second time was much better.

I did get the bread article.

We have a new investigator who seems really good. We told him "We have a mandarin ward that meets every Sunday at 9:00 am in Wan Chai" and he said, "Ok, see you Sunday then." We invited him to a sport night, and he said, "Is it ok if I bring a friend?" Wow. He's a student, working on his PHD in like, engineering. His wife goes to school in BeiZhing. I have great hopes for him.

We have other investigators, some who aren't progressing at all. One is willing to come to church, willing to pray, willing to read scriptures, but thinks there is no possibility that there is a God. That is a problem.

A few are right at the brink of baptism, held back only by coffee, smoking, their family, or work. It's hard, but we press forward with faith.

I love you all. The church is true.


Monday, January 11, 2010

Cooking more, Yelling less

Date: Wednesday, January 06, 2010 8:35:48 PM
Subject: Sorry about the horrible email confusion

I think it's just because of the switch to Google that things have been a little weird for a little while. But it's still a good thing. I'm pretty sure I got all of your emails, because email sent to the old address still get forwarded to me. From now on I will reply with a quick 'got it' if you like. From what you said though, I got everything.

I did get some recipes from Mom, thank you. I didn't get any part of a bread article though.

I did get Eden & Olivia's box of stuff. It was all good. Those dark chocolate and nut trail mix granola bars were nice, they have the other flavors here, but not those.

I did send Mom a Christmas card. I thought I also sent one to Leah. I didn't send one to everyone though, because it was just a random message sending machine we found while searching for prepared people, and we weren't too sure how xing (allowable? ish) it was.

I was on splits with Elder O’Neil because everyone yells at him, including me. But some people think I yell less. I don't know.

Yes, we do teach English classes. It's pretty hard, because we just have to kind of make it up. We have to program. But I've only helped two or three times when the missionaries in charge of it couldn't.

Reading blogs isn't too clear. I have interpreted our internet rules to allow me to read family blogs. So for now at least I can. I'll let you know if I find out otherwise.

My companion and I decided to splurge today and go to a little coffee shop for email. No one, not even a cool coffee shop, can beat a home mixed cup of hot chocolate. But it's pretty hard to beat a coffee shop for atmosphere. But they are ridiculously expensive. It's a hard thing.

I noticed that the Twilight soundtrack has a song by The Killers. White Demon Love Song. I think that is really funny.

A while ago I smashed my right middle finger. Later, while trying to get rid of the cuticle, I weakened the nail. Now, it has completely worn through to what I think is my bone. It looks like skin, but has no feeling and is hard. Disgusting. And it will be like, a year before it's all the way grown out. It's pretty scary.

Is 'sachet' a word? I have never heard it and it sounds made up, but we have a box containing "2 free sachets" of Horlick (malted drink mix).

I have mentioned Elder O'Neil before. He's the one I yell at less. He said to me on Tuesday, "Elder Kershisnik, come, partake of my prospects." I felt like that was a request I ought to answer with, "Actually, as a missionary I'm not allowed to do that." Actually he was just offering me some frozen chocolate. Not quite as sketchy.

Starting today my companion and Elder Ng will give me grocery money each week and I will cook for them. It should be nice, cause it's so hard to cook for just one person, and I can buy a bigger variety of veggies and stuff. I'm pretty excited.

We're in a bit of a lull right now, and are trying to find some new investigators. We stay very busy, but it seems like we aren't teaching too many people. We still have a few good ones who are slowly progressing, but we could do with a couple more.

If you go onto Google Map and look at Hong Kong Island you should see what looks like a giant space ship in the north side of it. That is the building where I do email each week. That might be fun for you to see. I remember wondering what on earth it was. Now I go there once a week.

This feels like a lame email. I'm sorry. I love you! I am happy. I miss you but I am happy. I am trying to become the best missionary I can be. It's hard. God helps. So do you.


Friday, January 1, 2010

Monkey Brains


Wednesday, December 30, 2009 8:57:44 PM

It's not really raw, they pour some hot water on it.

That was first said to me about an item on a menu (I did not purchase it) and then about how the Chinese eat monkey brain. It sounds like they prefer it fresh enough that it is still trying to send signals as they swallow it. Gross.

I have a few questions.

What are the parts of a marinade? Acid... that's all I can remember. Sugar? Oil? Salt? How long do you marinade something?

How do you make Thai soup? How do you make that Thai peanut sauce?

Can you send me some maple extract? They don't have it here, I think.

What do antioxidents do for you?

What does "wherefore go to" mean? As in Enos 1:8. I'm very familier with that phrase, and it's the kind of thing I should be able to interpret for someone, but I realized that I cannot.

A university teacher on the MTR said to me as he walked away, "Nice to meet you. Your Mandarin looks fine with me." Well thank you very much! It made me want to take a class from him.

The other day I was standing in our bedroom when I noticed what the words on our curtains actually said. There are four inspiring messages printed over and over, and they are as follows:

Here is gentle nature.

Nature is the friend of everyone.

You're always in top form!

I like it very much now.

Biting it is pleasant

These have a nice feel

haven't they?

This taste has warmed up

our mind as well as our body

Just thought I'd share those wonderful bits of Hong Kong with you.

Despite my lack of faith, I was able to get my companion to start getting out of bed on time and go running each morning. It has been very good. I feel tired, but I already felt tired, and now it's a more healthy kind of tired. Like, I'm tired, but I'm stronger. If I can keep this up, I should be able to ride my bike EVERYWHERE when I get home.

We have one investigator, Annie, who really wants to be baptized. She is one that Elder So has been teaching for a long time. We have set baptismal dates with her a few times, but she still has trouble coming to church on Sunday. But she should get baptized soon, we hope.

Speaking of her name being Annie, most people here go by an English name that they have chosen. It's weird, but actually kind of nice. Sometimes it's a little weird, like Ocean or Rainbow, but still easier to remember than a Chinese name.

The youngest child of the family I talked about last week, the one with the Buddhist monk dad, is the only boy in the family. I didn't realize how much he needed friends. We offered to play badminten with him, and he later asked his mom, "If I get baptized, will I have lots of GeGe [older brother, or just older male friend] to play badminten with all the time?” I hope he can find more friends at church. Not that I wouldn't just go play badminten with him all the time, but someday I will go home, so I can't be his only friend.

Talking to you all on the phone made me want to be better. Mom asked how often we spoke to each other in Mandarin, and I had to say, "Almost never." Now I try to use it as often as I can. I also try to be more diligent and focused all the time. Talking to my family was apparently supposed to ruin my work for a while, but it actually just made it better. Thank you for helping me like that. I love you all very much. Mother's Day will be here sooner than it has any right to be. I am already looking forward to another motivational boost.

love you,


ps, the church finally supported my beleif that google is true by switching their email service to google. My new email is

pps, thanks to the Corrys for the cereal and cookbook. It looks great!