Thursday, February 25, 2010

Turning Cantonese

Date: Thursday, February 25, 2010 12:51:45 AM
Subject: 25-2-2010

Dear Family,

I've started doing a weird Cantonese thing, which is add an odd "ahh" sound to the end of English (and Mandarin) words. At first it was just the ones I hear them say, like "Sorry ahh" and "ok ahh". Now it accompanies at least 25% of my English sentences. I also grunt (as if I had been hit in the stomach) to say yes and indicate that I am listening to the words that a person is saying to me. Just so you know.

There's a man named Brother Deng here in Hong Kong who's calling it is to arrange the visits from the "visitors" who come to get baptized. He arranged a meeting yesterday with all the mandarin Elders, telling us that it was "Urgent". Of course, we all knew it meant China was opening and we would be in BeiZhing by next week. During this speculation, the arrogant Australian I live with told me that no, if that were the case we would be meeting with the prophet. I told him we were. He said I would have to prove that to him. I said I didn't have to prove anything to him. He quoted scripture to me, "Prove me now herewith saith the Lord." I told him that he is not the Lord, and that is not what the scripture means. He told me that "If China opens I'd go before you! You don't even speak the language!" I pointed out that, as a Cantonese missionary, he also did not speak the language. He is pretty fun to mess with, but if I'm not careful I can get pretty mad at him too.

Of course, we are not going to China. Brother Deng just wants us to be more careful who we baptize. If they are not ready, he wants us to wait. Apparently about 300 of the 700 people he has helped in the last four years are inactive. Suddenly the visitors are an actual responsibility, not just free baptisms. We have about six hours to meet and decide if these people are ready for baptism. That's so scary to me. I'm really important. Yikes.

Brother Deng also told us that about 70% of members in Mainland are active. That is just amazing to me! Correct me if I'm wrong, but that has to be among the highest percentages of active members in a country. And it's not even open to missionaries! That's probably why though. Only people who really try and really believe go through the effort of getting baptized. It's just awesome to me.

I got a package from you for valentines day, and one from aunt Gabi. Thank you all so much for letters and packages. I love getting them so much. I am sorry I almost never write back, we are just always so bust on P-Day.

I love you all. We are keeping busy and trying to be diligent and obedient and patient and humble and all the other virtues things. I hope you all are doing the same. I know you are.


Saturday, February 20, 2010

Date: Thursday, February 18, 2010 2:37:47 AM
Subject: New Year

Dear Family,

Everyone goes back to the Mainland for Chinese New Year, so it's been a little slow lately. But lots and lots of people have fed us. Chinese New Year is crazy here. It's their biggest holiday. Lots and lots of red stuff everywhere. New Year's Eve all the Mandarin missionaries went and got a kind of expensive Chinese dinner with all the right food (I guess). It was very delicious and had lots and lots of different dishes, all eaten with rice of course. We ate a sweet and sour fish dish, because the word for fish is similar to the word for extra, so if you eat it you will be very prosperous this year and end up with extra stuff. Extra new members? I don't know.

I got a total of three red envelopes, altogether $80 (HK). Not bad. Cantonese Elders get more, because there are only two elders in each ward. We're supposed to use the money to help our investigators somehow. I'll probably make some cookies for them or something.

Church was only an hour long because of New Year, like when Christmas falls on a Sunday. The Priesthood President's family was in Mainland visiting family, so we all went to his house for dinner and called members and investigators and sang them traditional Chinese songs. I thought about having another missionary call you guys (technically not against the rules) but didn't have a calling card, so didn't have to make the tough decision.

A Taiwanese lady in our ward made us dinner on Monday. She is married to a white man and lived in America for a long time (she has the most awesome accent ever) so she always makes us American food. It's always very good and welcome (pork chops, salad, cornbread, ice cream) but I kind of want to try her real Taiwanese food sometime. Oh well. I will never complain about any delicious food here, especially American.

Tuesday was the big ward party. I ate a lot, played games with the adults, and the ran around with the kids until we were all exhausted. I think that is the way God intended for me to spend holidays. I didn't realize how much I like running around with little kids after eating a lot.

Today our entire mission went to Big Buddha. It was so cold. 2.8 degrees C. I'm not really sure what that is, but it's really cold. Especially with wind and humidity. Other than that it was pretty cool. It's just a huge statue of Buddha they built in the 70's or something. Not quite as cool as it might be. Not nearly old enough and far to accessible to tourists. They fed us vegetarian food which was pretty good. I don't know, it was mostly just really a cold experience.

There are two new Mandarin missionaries coming in next transfer. That means two missionaries have to go to either Cantonese work or international (English speaking). I most likely will not be called to Cantonese, but there is a chance I will be learning some Indonesian and Tagalog in the near future. I hope to stay in Mandarin and will keep studying it, but will strive to go where the Lord wants me to go, and do it cheerfully.

Well, I have to go eat with another Member. I love you all! Happy New Year! Have Health! Be Fat and Prosperous! May you have an expensive son!


Thursday, February 11, 2010

Knowing Everything

Date: Thursday, February 11, 2010 1:27:37 AM

Dear Family,

A while ago Leah asked me if I'd eaten Frog. I still haven't, but I did notice frogs and turtles for sale in the meat markets on the way to our apartment. It made me sad. The pickled lizards were weird, but not as saddening as live turtles.

I have eaten chicken feet. They aren't good.

We called an woman who was contacted by a Cantonese Elder. She is 23 and married. She already graduated, but doesn't have a Hong Kong ID so she can't get a job. I think she is very very bored and lonely because she calls us everyday and mostly just wants to hang out. But she listens to the lessons. She is kind of weird. Like a twelve year old. Not like Leah, she's not a normal twelve year old. Like a twelve year old with an extreme case of ADD. We want to get her some friends in the ward so that if she gets baptized she will not just immediately go inactive. The problem is there are only about two members her age, so we only have one shot to get her some friends and we don't want to mess it up. It's a little scary. Also I think she will do whatever we tell her to, including get baptized, so we need to be careful to make sure she has a testimony. That's also scary. What if I convince someone to make sacred covenants that they don't really believe in? Yikes.

I am fascinated with Dad's new hobby (collecting death masks), but I am interested in how he will store them. Will they be proudly displayed somewhere to show the eccentricity of his artistic mind, make him more adorable in the eyes of his admirers and more odd in the eyes of the people of Kanosh, or will they be hidden away somewhere safe, only showed to those who have earned the privilege (hao xiang [like] the glass eye collection hidden away under the counter in Cat's Cradle)?

I decided to take advantage of the fact that I live in the only apartment in the mission that has a piano in it. I really like playing the piano now, but I'm really not good. I really should have kept practicing. There's another point for my mom. When I was a teenager I thought I knew everything. I even thought that I knew that teenagers think they know everything so I didn't think I knew everything. I still think I know everything. Every time I learn something knew I think, "Oh of course I didn't know everything. How foolish I was. Now I know it all though, no problem." You'd think I'd start to notice the pattern.

We set a goal to find 6 new investigators this transfer. At the time it seemed immense. Now, not even halfway through with 5/6 it seems silly. What were we thinking? Six is nothing! You can get six without trying.

I'm really trying hard to not get fat. There is a kind of generally accepted missionary... xiang fa... uh... theory I guess. Way of thinking. That you can get fat now and just lose it all six months before you go home. I however know everything and so I know that losing weight is not just about losing weight, it's about changing to be the kind of person who is healthy and eats healthily. It's about changing your desires so that the desire for health is greater than the desire for delicious food. That is not an easy thing to do.

And it's more than just food, it's life. Life is not about filling your spiritual bank account with good works, going to church, reading the scriptures, blah blah blah, it's about changing our desires so that the desires of the spiritual man can be strong enough to overcome the desires of the natural man. I'm not here to get baptisms, I'm not even here to help people get baptized, I'm here to help people (including me) change into the people Christ wants us to be.

Or something like that. I know I talk about this a lot. Sorry if it's old news. But I'm still figuring it out, and then I will finally know everything!

I love you!


Thursday, February 4, 2010

And Red Clay on Top

Date: Thursday, February 04, 2010 3:53:27 AM

Dear Family,

I really will send you all letters soon. I write you a letter every P-day, and then put it on my desk to go into an envelope. Friday come, Saturday comes, I think "I still have time". Sunday I have forgotten about it. Monday yi yang (the same). And then it's Tuesday and I think, "Well, it's almost P-day again anyway. I'll just wait and send them together."
So now you know.

Since becoming Elder Gunderson's companion I feel rather undiligent. He is a really good guy, and a good missionary, but neither of us are too motivated to go out onto the street and search. I admit, I am already very discouraged about there actually being any speak mandarin, prepared to hear the gospel type people (Chinese grammar) walking around in Hong Kong. Prepared people come from other sources. Like, other missionaries or members. I'd much rather busily go around teaching people and try to be better at finding in between appointments. But my new area doesn't have too many investigators. We need to get more, but don't know any way other that finding. Sometimes I feel like being diligent is just working working working. But lately I am wondering if working working working ineffectively is really what God wants from us. I think if it's the only way, then we need to get over our laziness and get out into hot, humid Hong Kong in our suits and do it. But maybe we should try some new things. If we could find a better way, God would be more pleased I think. We talk about it a lot. So I guess we are diligent. Diligently searching for a better way to search. But if we already have the best way then I guess there's nothing we can do but to do it. I'm just rambling.

We saw a giant Rat last night. Don't worry, I took a picture so that one day you can all see it. It was about as big as my foot. Scurrying around under the empty tables of the closed fishmarket near our house. That place stinks so bad. We also saw an old man there barefoot.

We taught a man from Mainland the other day. He still smokes and drinks and gambles, but his wife is a member so he wants to join. He asked crazy questions about like, the third of the host of heaven and stuff. For some reason Elder Gunderson brought up outer darkness. I think it was a mistake.

We also taught a woman and her son two days later. They were ready to receive baptism this time. Then the next day we went so Elder Gunderson could give a baptismal interview to another person. Five people from Mainland total have received baptism in the last week. So cool.

I got a strange Chinese New years treat the other day. Like, sesame seeds on a ball with... something inside. And red clay on top. Way weird.

Love you all! This mission is going way too fast. No way will I be able to overcome all my defects in the next year and a half.


Monday, February 1, 2010

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Noah Christian Spence Kershisnik Add to Address Book
Dad, Mom, Leah, Eden

Wednesday, January 27, 2010 9:25:30 PM
Kwun Tong

Dear People,
Now I live in Kwun Tong. It is the biggest apartment in the mission (other than Maccau, perhaps). It actually has a piano, but unfortunatly no one to play it. I want to learn, but don't really have time. I took the guitar from the last apartment, so any music learning time I have is used up. The kitchen is pretty big, but the sink is super shallow, so it's a pain to do dishes, so no one ever does. It's a problem. Hopefully it will change today with the new chore chart.
Other free-time (at night, in the morning, mealtimes) is used playing settlers of Cataan and Chinese chess. That's fine with me, except sometimes I don't do other things that I really need to. I need to find a better balance. Or rather, I need to find a balance. Chinese chess is really cool. It's like our chess, only no less pawns, a few different pieces, the king can't leave his little area, and there's a river through the middle of the board. It's a surprisingly different game. I really like it. One day I will challenge an old man in the park. I will lose, but it will still be awesome.
There are tons and tons of cheap food markets on the way to our apartment. The first night I was here I bought six packages of strawberries for the price of one in a normal grocery store. I can now eat just about as just fruit as I want, instead of before when I could barely afford two pieces of fruit a day. Now I can eat bananas, apples, strawberries, pineapple, asian pears and mangoes to my hearts content.
My new companion is really cool. His Name is Elder Gunderson. He's from Spanish Fork. He's really nice and patient and easy going. A bit too easy going sometimes. I sometimes think we should probably be a bit more diligent, but he's really good at talking to people. We aren't on the streets quite as much as I was with Elder So, but we talk to way more people. I guess everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses. We just keep working and trying to overcome them and help each other grow.
We had zone conference yesterday, and the area medical expert and his wife spoke. His wife started out by saying, "I think we could find a connection with each of you if we just talked to you." She then went on to talk about a few she had found with missionaries. I had a strange, sad wish in my heart to have talked to her so that I could have a connection with her. And then she said, "And Elder Kershisnik is related to our very dear friends the Harrises." So there you go. And now they said they would invite us to dinner in the very tops floors of our chapel, where we've never been before. They are very nice and I am excited to get to know them better.
We don't have too many investigators here, so we're working on getting new ones right now. I guess most of the old ones just liked to meet and talk and come to activities, not so much read, pray or come to church. We did have a pretty good lesson with a new investigator on Tuesday. We kept trying to end it and go to the activity that we had invited her to, but she just kept asking questions. She seems to really want to know the truth, though she has a hard time recognizing God in her life.
I still might have to teach that drawing class sometime is anyone has ideas how to do that. But more pressing is my new assignment to teach a western food cooking class. So I am working on figuring out western food that Hong Kong people could cook. It's a great assignment.
I love you all! The church is true! I am so not close to perfect. I am trying. Sometimes harder than others. God is good. I know that with his help we can become closer to perfect.