Sunday, July 25, 2010

Thanks for E Mailing

[This is Noah with Elder Jaquier]

I won't lie to you, I expected you to forget last week. At least it was on my mind that it might happen. So when it did I wasn't too surprised, or upset. At least not on any conscious level, but I had two disturbing dreams in which I got no emails for the second week in a row, so I guess it did bother me a bit. But don't worry, I completely forgive you all. Other than Eden, who needs none at this time.
Last Sunday we went to Hong Kong because President Uchtdorf was in town. He came to pick up his grandsons (twins, serving in different missions in Taiwan). I am so impressed by people like them and my friend Elder Jaquier who have to learn mandarin from English when English is already a second language. It's just amazing. And Elder Uchtdorf is great too. His wife is so funny! As he put it, she brings spice into their life.
After Sunday we stayed in the temple's patron housing so that we could attend special training for zone and district leaders. Did you know I'm a district leader? Yeah. But it's ok, don't worry, I'm still a junior companion. And I was the third youngest person at the training, so I'm not an old missionary yet. I don't know what I'll do when I am.
The training was good. It was all about teaching with the spirit. It is all from Preach My Gospel, but the Bretheren have taken specific parts to helps us be better teachers. It was very long, but we were fed by Mandarin members every night, and mainland members staying in patron housing every other time we felt peckish. There was also a family from Paris staying there who know Elder Jaquier. I gave them a letter for him. Patron housing had a very nice shower, but very hard beds.
One morning we walked out of our room to find Elder Uchdorf taking pictures with Mainland members! We didn't get a picture (he was just leaving) but he shook our hands, put his hand on my shoulder and did a quick apartment check through the book. He said he wouldn't report us. He also said it was "pretty good."
Sorry this is short. The library cuts you off early when it's this late. Love you all so much!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Date: Wednesday, July 14, 2010 8:57:16 PM
Subject: I guess it's not called the city of dreams

The City of Dreams is just a casino. It looked like an add for the city of Macao itself.

I really like being here in Macao as Mandarin/International. There are lots and lots of Mandarin speakers here, so we can teach the greater portion of the people. It's harder, because if the helpers don't have Sunday Holiday they can't come to church, but the employers here are a lot nicer. Most of the helpers live in apartments with other helpers, so at night they can meet with us, or during the day sometimes. There are still plenty of Indonesians who don't speak any English, but more of them here can speak it pretty well. Sister Maya asked us today if she could have the Book of Mormon in Russian, because of all the languages the Book of Mormon is in, she is best at Russian. I'm not sure what part of Indonesia she is from, but she says she spoke a dialect, and her Indonesian is pretty bad. She now she will have Indonesian, English, and Russian to compare and see if she can figure out the meaning. She learned Russian cause she wants to be a Russian rapper. She's pretty cool. Most signs here are in Chinese characters and Portuguese, so the other day in the church she said, "I can't speak any Portuguese though. Like this [pointing to a sign on a door] Cust-od-i-al clo-set. See? I can't."

Macao has everything. Mandarins, Philippians, Indonesians, cheaper-better food, Mexican food, a big apartment, we even found the relief society's sewing machine. Now I can make my shirts fit me! And do it quickly even!

My Cantonese is getting better and better. Four of the six Elders here are from Hong Kong, so they just speak Cantonese all day long. I think I can understand more Cantonese now than I could Mandarin when I first got here. And I can now pick out a few gospel words in Bahasa Indonesian as well. The gift of tongues is real.

Remember how I like to ride my bike, but I don't like any helmets cause they are all super dorky? Well there are tons and tons of people on scooters here, and I see at least one helmet that I approve of every time I go outside. Maybe I'll go into one of the Scooter shops one of these days and buy a helmet to send home for after my mission. I know you'd like that Mom.
One problem is the the church floods all the time. I don't really know why, but sometimes we have to go over there in the morning and clean it up. It's weird. Maybe like a broken pipe or something.

Did I mention last week that you can get Blueberry Muffin Toppers (the Malt-O-Meal original cereal) at USMart? you can. You can get anything you want.

I haven't tried any Portuguese food yet, but I'm hoping it's as good as Grandma's Portuguese Chicken. I miss it so. Maybe Grandma could send me the recipe! I just thought of that. Anyway I hear the Portuguese food here is pretty good too.

We met an old lady on the bus from Spain. She speaks English and Mandarin and has been a Catholic missionary for fifty years. She travels from Macao to Taiwan, to Philippines. She was very nice. I didn't start talking to her, cause I could tell she was a Catholic missionary, but Elder So was undaunted.

Sorry this is a weird email. I'm not very organized in my thinking right now. I love you! I miss you! It's been 11 months already.

[This is Noah's friend Elizabeth, who is serving in Indonesia. She knows LOTS of gospel words in Indonesian.]

Friday, July 9, 2010

Dream City

Date: Thursday, July 08, 2010 5:45:19 AM
Subject: The City of Dreams

Sorry, you'll have to re-adjust to me having Thursday p-day. And I'll tell you why. I am now in Macao; The City of Dreams.

When I very first got my call to Hong Kong I went to my good friend Jason Bahr to find out a little about the mission. He served here several years ago and is still a legendary AP, though his name is beginning to fade, as quickly as most things in a mission. If your name lasts longer than two years after you go home, you know you were either very powerful, or very "apostate" (missionary lingo, translated from the original Cantonese). Bahr was powerful.
He told me that Hong Kong is the best mission in the world, and gave a few reasons for that claim. The one that stood out to me was that Hong Kong missionaries don't go to bed until 11:00 and wake up at 7:00. I said how excited I was about that, and he said, "That's nothing, if you go to Macao [a small city, formerly Portuguese colony an hour's ferry ride from Hong Kong] you sleep from 11:30 to 7:30."
And so I was sold. I wanted to go to Macao. The City of Dreams.
But I was realistic, and when Jason told me that "Everyone wants to go to Macao", I realized that I probably would not get to go. And then I got to Hong Kong and found out that there weren't even Mandarin missionaries here. So all my hopes were gone. I would never serve in Macao. But my Trainer, Elder So, had just come back from Macao, and he, like everyone who has ever served in Macao, was Macao trunky (meaning he missed Macao dreadfully). He often spoke fondly of his time spent in Macao and hopefully of time yet to come that he could return there. On several occasions he even went as far as to say, "Elder Kershisnik, one day I will go back to Macao. You would love it, I know you would. Perhaps we can be companions there!" I would protest that first, he was probably not going back, and second, I was defiantly not going there, as I do not speak Cantonese. "It could happen!" he'd say. But I knew better.
Well, Elder So has a lot of faith. He somehow got himself back to Macao. I admit, I was impressed. He overcame the odds, and went back. I knew that him coming back to Mandarin work wasn't likely, so I said goodbye to serving around my mission trainer for the last time. There were no Mandarins in Macao.
Not too long after that, another Mandarin Elder, Elder Ng went to Macao to open a Cantonese/Mandarin companionship (incidentally, his companion's name was also Ng. Both from Hong Kong). It gave me a slight hope that one day in the future there could be a Mandarin companionship in the City of Dreams. But not in my mission life time.
Then I went International. Mostly going International means you'll stay there at least, at very least, two transfers. I became happy and content there. I hoped to get three or four before going back to Chinese work. Then I got a call to be a district leader. Oh no, that means senior companion and real responsibility. Or so I thought.
Then came moves calls and the biggest shock of my mission. I was headed to Macao to be Elder (Zone Leader) So's junior companion. It was about as likely as me going Cantonese, but it happened. Elder So and I are serving International/Mandarin together in Macao.

Elder So says now he owes a lot to God. He prayed himself back to Macao, he prayed Elder Ng there as the other Zone Leader, and then he prayed me here to be his companion. He's getting a little bit scared, he says.

All would be sunshine and joy, except that this morning as I slipped the Macaopass card from Elder Wall into my wallet, I noticed something was different. My wallet didn't look like it normally did. And then I realized that my mission money credit card was missing. All my cash and my personal card was still there, just the mission one was gone.
So that's annoying.
And also Elder So is already low on money for the month, so even when I get my new card we won't be able to partake of the wonderful food Macao is said to have. Delicious and cheap is all I hear.

It was terribly sad to leave the investigators and members in Hong Kong International. Some even cried when they found out. I almost cried as we taught Sister Gena this morning. She will get baptized on her next holiday, and is very sad I will not be there. She's the first person I've really taught who will be baptized.

But it's ok. The Church is still true. I am still happy to be a missionary. And I am in Macao, the Las Vegas of the Orient, where people are nice and will actually talk to you, blueberry muffin toppers are available at US Mart, Chinese speak fluent Portuguese, and quality buffets are almost affordable on a missionary budget. So there are lots of casinos, but it still feels like people care less about money here than in Hong Kong.

I love you all! I will use some personal money to live until I get a new card. Sorry about the change again.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Twenty. Still.

Date:Monday, June 28, 2010 12:52:29 AM
Subject: I'm still twenty

We now have three investigators with Baptismal dates. That is very exciting. I think it might be more than I've had in the rest of my mission combined. I think I will be less afraid to ask people to set a baptismal date after this. But none of them are people we found. Street contacting is probably the least effective thing that we do. Member referrals are where it's at.

Today we are going to the Hong Kong Museum of art. My past companions didn't want to look at art, except for Elder So, but he lives very near the museum, so he doubted he could have gotten permission to go there. We probably won't be able to stay long, but I am excited. I do love museums.

Speaking of Elder So, the branch I attend on Sunday meets in the same chapel as his home ward, and did I tell you that his sister found me the other day and gave me a bag of food? I was so surprised. It was so nice of her to do that. I guess Elder So told her to. She is funny, she looks like she's maybe twelve. She is literally about half my height, but she's actually a bit older that me. It's just incredible.

I had to talk to a walk-in from Bei Zhing yesterday, and my Mandarin was fine. I kept thinking it was so horrible, and then I realized that actually that's how it was before, too. It's not that good, but it hasn't gotten worse. And I can read a lot more characters now. That's mostly what I do for language study. It's really fun to be able to read a sign every now and then. It's even more fun to understand it, which happens, but even less often.

I'm trying to think of cool things that have happened. It really is like groundhog day here. I: wake up, go finding, hopefully teach some people, eat lunch, make phone calls, study, talk to members, eat dinner, study, write in journal and get ready for bed, make phone calls, go to bed. A nice member did buy us Mexican food the other day. There were baked beans on that taco salad. Baked beans do not belong on a taco salad. At least not in my book. But it was quite delicious none the less. I found a Thai place to try. Still haven't been though. Probably this week.

Last p day we watched Moses, Prince of Egypt and Meet the Robinsons while playing Bang! and Monopoly Deal, which are two quite good movies and two quite fun games. Especially Bang! which is super fun. It's a western card game with outlaws and a sheriff and gun fights and stuff. I admit, the first time I played it was the most fun. Partly because it was the closest thing to a new movie I'd had in a long time. But it's still fun after playing it many times.

I can't think of anything else to say. Things are going well. I'm learning a lot. I'm still baking when I can. I love you all.
-Noah Kicker or Cornick or Niknik or Hersheys (somehow...) or Snickers or (my favorite and impossible to say correctly unless you are from Indonesia) Shrickshrick