Thursday, October 28, 2010

One Year

The other day someone said this funny Chinglish. "I have drink so many water." Guess who it was? Me. I guess it is getting more obvious that I've been in Hong Kong for a year. I also really like eating rice, playing ping pong, and thick rimmed black glasses. And speaking English. All very Hong Kong people type things. Yesterday when we had our cleaning check I was startled to realize that the reason I was the only one talking to the senior couple missionaries about the weather during winter and spring is I am the only one in our apartment who was here during those times. I'm not young anymore.

Speaking of the weather, it is lovely. Chilly, even. Wearing a suit is pleasant. Also, the typhoon never hit. A recent convert, David, scaled a mountain and prayed for the typhoon to not hit Hong Kong or Mainland. The storm then turn and beat itself out on Taiwan, leaving Hong Kong and Mainland China unharmed. I guess God agrees that Taiwan is not part of China. Elder Zhong's friend sent a letter saying that the floods in Taiwan were above her waist on her bike. It didn't even rain here. We are all sorely disappointed.

I saw Tom and Katy sending some funny Chinese names. I saw one on a TV in the bus the other day. Her name was Pikki. Silly.

We started teaching a family. They first met missionaries seven years ago and are super good. They travel a lot and spend a lot of time not in Hong Kong, so it turns out they actually haven't heard that much of the lessons, but they are really good, they know it is right and good and are willing to come to church each week (except the dad who is in Beijing. They say he would come to church if he were here though). They are really great. They were some of the few of our investigators who were not ill on Sunday. Not too many investigators at church, I'm afraid. I guess the pleasant weather is just too much for them here.

We went to a charity foundation yesterday and helped them cut boards for a LCD TV storage container. I guess they just have far too many and don't know what to do with them all. You never know what you'll do when you go to Crossroads. Digging a hole, using a power saw, or making some rocks look dirty for a display. The table saw was pretty fun. Do you think there's any chance Dave Williams would teach me about furniture making later on?

I love you. The church is true. Chinese food is yummy.

Lots to Do

As a middle aged missionary with another middle aged missionary I feel this is the prime of my mission. We are both young enough to not assume we already know everything, but old enough that we do know a few things. And since we are both motivated and happy, we have plenty to do. Much of which is travel. If you look at the map, [Sorry, Mom's not posting that, it wasn't all that helpful. You'll just have to visualize] our area is everything from Lai King west, including the pink line and Lantau Island. We live in Kwai Fang and still attend church in the Mandarin branch in Wan Chai on the Island. From our home it takes about forty five minutes to get to church, as well as forty five minutes to get to Tuen Mun, where we sometimes have lessons. Buses are faster, but less reliable. It's rather a mouthful, but we're trying our best.

There is a typhoon coming. We are not to leave our house if a warning signal 8 or higher is hoisted. Right now it's at 4. We are also to secure our windows and find a safe place in case they break, as well as make sure we have plenty of food and water. We got this (along with our instructions) forwarded to us today.

Dwight Pincock is not here today and I have been asked to contact you three to obtain a report on your preparations for Typhoon Megi that is scheduled to hit landfall late Friday, or early Saturday according to reports we have received. We just need to know your plan for the missionaries’ safety. If you could let me or Dwight (who will be back tomorrow) know so we can inform the brethren I would appreciate it."

I could feel scared, but knowing the brethren know and are thinking about us, I'm not worried at all.

In fact the approaching Typhoon has given us very very pleasant weather, with a nice breeze and cool temperatures. It's actually really lovely out which is a very lovely change.

Yesterday we taught a visitor from Hai Nan Island, the little island at the bottom of China. It was hard, because all she can speak is her dialect, but we did ok and she accepted everything. Now all that's left is endure to the end. So daunting a task, but so doable on a day to day basis, as long as we have the Lord. That means daily scripture study no matter what. Daily prayer, weekly church attendance. Those three things are so crucial. When Elder Uchdtorf was here he said at very least two minutes of scripture study a day. He promised that if we do that and really study the scriptures we will find that two minutes is not enough, and we want more. That's the way it is with good things. With truth.

I met a young man named Karlo from Indonesia who had come with his family and other members to get his Endowment in preparation for his mission. He was so happy. His family was so happy. They didn't know Elizabeth, but he knew her name. It made me so happy to see a happy, faithful, functional family.

There are so many broken families in our branch. It also makes me so happy to see our recent convert Sister Zheng's husband so supportive. He isn't interested at this point, and maybe he wears basketball shorts to church, but he comes. He supports his wife going to church by going with her, even though his Mandarin isn't good at all. Even though it's hard to get both their kids up and ready and to Wan Chai by nine in the morning. I know that he, like Grandpa, will eventually accept the truth of the gospel and be sealed to his wife in the Temple. It's so cool!

On a slightly less happy note, sister Ning couldn't make it to her baptism on Sunday because her son was in the hospital. She says she doesn't understand why she has so many problems trying to join the church. I know why, Satan doesn't want it. But she has strong faith, and it's just getting stronger. I know she'll be a good member soon.

I love you all. Be good.


Thursday, October 14, 2010

More Chinese

Date: Wednesday, October 13, 2010 11:22:16 PM
Subject: More Chinese

Reading the letter from the Taylors I realize how little I am enjoying the culture here. As a group, missionaries here seem to try to search out as much American culture as they can. It's really a shame. Of course we all miss home, so we look for things that remind us of home, like food, activities, stores, but we are missing all the wonderful stuff around us! So my companion and I are trying to become more Chinese while we are here. It's easier for him, he looks like the rest of them.

Part of that for me is a renewed emphasis on studying the language. And part of that is doing my first ever week long English fast. And that is a pain. Tomorrow is the last day and I am terribly excited. One of the problems is that the other missionaries don't speak this language. So I cannot communicate with them. But it helps me find words I do not know.

Another part is trying to learn to make Chinese food. Usually I just make whatever, often American, but lately I'm trying to master the use of ginger and soy sauce so that my Chinese food tastes authentic. I usually add too much and it's just a blast of salt and ginger and garlic. It's hard to get the subtlety right. But what better place to learn that in China where I can test it against the real stuff whenever I want?

Recently the Brethren have asked us as missionaries to teach at least twenty lessons a week, if not to investigators then to recent converts, less active or part member families. I think they want us to focus on teaching and improving our teaching skills, and encourage the members to do more of the finding. So far we have not been able to do it, but we are working hard, and teaching more than ever before. It's really nice. I much prefer teaching.

Yesterday we met with a former investigator from Taiwan. He loves drawing and painting and art. It was fun to talk to him, but it became obvious that the most important thing in his life is art. He said that. First art, and then church on Sunday. Everything we tell him he accepts, but doesn't seem to understand why it's important. He wouldn't accept a Book of Mormon, because he said he wouldn't read it. "When I have time I read those book, self help books, books about what to eat and how to live." "Who wrote those ones?" I asked. "Well, people did." "And what about this one?" "Well, God did, so it's different. I can't accept it." It's really hard not to get frustrated with that kind of response. Luckily we had a recent convert with us who is very optimistic. Afterword he said, "Well, that went well! I was the same at first. Don't worry, it'll come." I guess that's true. Getting frustrated and mad never helps. Loving and serving and teaching the simple principles does help. Sometimes after a long time, it just suddenly clicks, and they understand why the gospel is important. The same thing happens to me with gospel principles all the time. I learn them, I believe them, and understand and can answer any question about them, but then one day while reading the scriptures I suddenly just get it. Understand so much more the things I've known since Primary. So i just have to keep giving people that opportunity. And remember it isn't from me. It has to be between the person and God. Like a less active member said on Tuesday, "No, I won't commit to you to do anything. That's what I've always done, committed to the missionaries. But as soon as they leave it becomes so easy to just give up. This has to be between me and God." Oh yeah, that's right.

I love you. The Church is true.


Date: Thursday, October 07, 2010 1:01:37 AM
Subject: Good

In Chinese everything is good. Hello = you good?, Yummy = good taste, done = do (to the point of becoming)good, "it's hot" = "good hot", fun = good play, ok = good type. So the only adjective I can ever think of in English is 'good'. It's good!

But things really really are good. Elder Chung and I (I think last time I said his name is Zhong, which it is, but that's the Romanization of his Chinese name, while the Americans gave his parents the name Chung, so this is actually his English name, but all missionaries call him Zhong) are working hard and having a good time. As I said, he's really obedient to every tiny thing, but he still has a lot of fun. It's really nice to be with someone who wants to be obedient, but doesn't think that missionary work can't be fun. And the Lord blesses us for it. For example, I will share two contrasting stories about the same stretch of road.

Elder Zhong and I set a goal to teach three lessons yesterday, but by about five thirty only had two with nothing else planned. I felt that if we did what we were supposed to do and went finding we would meet our goal. We did go finding, but I decided that meeting our goal was just me being silly. We got to a stretch of road that I had had previous experience with (the second story) and I told him that every time I walked down that road at least one person would stop. but, nearly to the bottom, no one had stopped.
Then, someone stopped and talked to us. At first he walked past, but I saw him look back, so I turned around. Then he asked if we were Mormons and said he didn't have time and didn't speak good mandarin, so Elder Zhong started talking to him in Cantonese (he studied it before his mission). Despite not having time, the man talked to Elder Zhong for half an hour. A full lesson, complete with opening and closing prayer. And so we achieved our goal.

Once, in my first transfer, I was on exchanges with another young missionary in his area. We set a goal to contact 10 people and then went finding. After two hours we had contacted 7 people. We still had an hour, but the other missionary wanted to go in. He thought it was enough. But I convinced him to stay out and go up and down that road again. "We always stop at least one person" I said. So we did. And we stopped one person. "Ok, 8. Now let's go in" he said. But again I convinced him to stay out and traverse the road once more. One person stopped. "9 is enough. Now we go in." "But we have fifteen more minutes, in fifteen more minutes we can talk to one more person and get our goal." but I don't want to" "But, our goal! One more person! someone stops every time!" "I don't care. I don't want to."
So we didn't. And we didn't get our goal.

So as you can see, Elder Zhong and I are blessed for obedience.

In fact people come up to us and talk. Sketchy 14 year old girls. Groups of them. Blocking our path. Giggling. With questions like "Why do you come here?" and comments like "Your eyes are so beautiful." So we get their numbers and turn them over to the Sisters. I felt bad for Elder Zhong trying to remain serious while telling Sister Hancock that she could try giving Watermelon, Abalone and Cucumber a call. He did his best, but in fact I've never seen him laugh that hard.

We found a really good dumpling place very near our house, so I'm happy. Although there aren't any good chaxiao bao places nearby. We keep looking.

And finally, and most importantly, on Sunday, for the first time, I baptized an investigator. (Technically Elder So and I baptized one in Macao, but I only taught her once or twice and it was just review in preparation). Sister Zheng is so happy and excited and changed. Her husband is really supportive, but doesn't think it's worth giving up tea and coffee at this point. He hasn't really heard the lessons though, so I imagine he just lacks a testimony. I hope he will keep coming to church with his family, and then, like grandpa, he can learn this is all true.

Because it is. I love it and I love you.