Thursday, June 3, 2010

Date: Sunday, May 30, 2010 11:53:35 PM
Subject: My Fault

I forgot to tell ya'll that my new P-day is Monday. Oops.

So last email I was short on time and all I could think about was that soon I would go to international work, but didn't really have anything real to say about it. This time I have plenty of time, and I really have real things to say about this work. Not much, I've only been here a few days, but that is enough.

Turns out this is pretty awesome. It is challenging and you really do have to work hard, but it's way fun too. Do you remember a long time ago we heard something about how in China lots of people don't get Sundays off because their culture is different and so they hold church services every day so that everyone can go? Well actually, the culture in Hong Kong is basically American in that respect. What we were hearing about was the International branch here. Lots and lots of Philippinas and Indonesians come here to Hong Kong to be domestic helpers. They live with their employer and basically do whatever they want them to do. Cooking, cleaning, raising children, etc. They work ridiculously hard from early in the morning until late at night, often with very strict rules about not buying anything for themselves or calling or texting anyone while they are working. Many of them have young children back home, and all of them have some kind of family, to whom they send all their income. Usually they get one day off each week (though sometimes it's only once every other week, and I've even met one who only gets one holiday a month) which is most often Saturday or Sunday, though it can be any day of the week, and for some it is different each week. They sometimes find out the day before that tomorrow will be their holiday.

They really don't have anything to do on their holiday. They will often gather in certain places where they find a few friends and sit down and just eat, talk, and rest. Lots will go to church if they can.

So what we do is wake up each morning, exercise and eat breakfast, do personal study, and then go finding. We go to places where we know lots of them will be and start talking to them. We tell them we are missionaries and try to get them to come back to church with us. Almost all of those who stop will give you their number, which is exactly what I was after in Mandarin work. Here though, that's almost completely ineffective. The best way is to get them to come to church, where there is an instant support group of happy fellowshippers, busily cooking, chatting, and having fun while they wait for church to start. If we can get a pullback (someone to come to church with us) then we show them around, introduce them to the members, and then get a member or two (or five. or seven) to come help us teach. After we teach the first lesson then members take them away to be fellowshipped beyond recognition, and we go out to try to find another person willing to come back with us. This goes on until about 1:00 when church starts. At that point we usually eat lunch and then maybe do some phone calls (some of them will still answer their phones during working time) or study or something. At this point finding isn't as effective, because all the fellowshippers are in church already. After church we will maybe teach investigators found previous weeks, or make friends with the members (who are basically all awesome and love missionaries) and investigators. Then they have family home evening, and then they make dinner, which they are more than happy to give to the Elders. In fact, we have to tell them that it is a rule that we can't eat their food unless we have an investigator there, or else they will force us to eat.

After dinner they all start to head home to make it back before their curfew (usually at around 8:00, but later for those with Saturday holiday. I'm not sure why) and we go home to finish studies. From 9:00 to 10:00 we get ready for bed and write in our journal, and then from 10:00 to 11:00 we make calls (hopefully our investigators are done with work at this point). At 11:00 we go to bed. Then we wake up the next day and do it all again with a completely different set of members who are just as aware of their responsibility to bring their friends and help the missionaries find, teach and fellowship.

Most people (including myself) looking at international work from the outside think of it as "fake missionary work." It seems to easy to us. Having spent only a few days here, I realize that no, this is real missionary work. Missionary work is only real when it approaches what goes on here every day. When a member brings a friend or willingly helps teach, or an investigator is humble enough to joyfully receive another testament of our lord Jesus Christ, or when the love from the members is strong enough that there can be no doubt in an investigator's mind that this is anything but the truth; that is real missionary work.

Elder Oaks spoke to us again on Sunday. He spent a great deal of time speaking directly to the members of these wards, telling them, frankly, that they need to go home. "You are in," he said, "an unnatural condition." "Set goals to take control of your lives." "We must never choose temporal blessings at the expense of eternal ones." Of course he was very wonderful and loving as he said it, but it helped me to realize that that is one of my purposes right now, to help them be brave enough to go home to their families.

I ran into the Li's luckily and completely on accident by the exit to the MTR station. It was odd to be introduced to a large group of short Asian woman whom I had never met, and then have a short Asian woman run up to me from the left yelling, "NOAH!" How on earth does she know my first name? Oh, of course, it's Jasmine. I should have known.

They gave me the stuff. Thank you for it. I decided to keep the present from you, and the ones from the Corry's until my birthday and then open them. It's much more fun that way. I decided that if I didn't make a stand now and wait, I would never wait again, and that would make me a lame adult-like person. Now my birthday is a much more exciting prospect!

I tried the steamed bun recipe from the Li's and it worked! I did it! It was delicious. Now I just need to learn to make Cha Su.

Aunt Gabi sent me a lot of dried fruit and nuts in her package. That was very thoughtful, because I really like fruit and nuts, but they are quite expensive here. I appreciate candy of course, but as a missionary I find I am rarely lacking candy, but always lacking dried fruit and nuts.

My favorite scripture is, in fact 2 Nephi 5:27. I also really like 2 Nephi 22. It a very short chapter. All good.

Love you all! I am very happy where I am. I will learn a lot, and hopefully be able to apply it in all my mission, and my life.


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