Friday, December 17, 2010

Merry Christmas

We had to go to the other side of Hong Kong to get a package for my companion. It was a long trip, but we got to go to a very yummy curry place from my second area, and then get some wonderful "milk yellow bread," a steamed bun with egg custard inside. This certain place is particularly good. The custard is hot and runny and delicious. Especially good on a freezing cold day.
Technically it is not 'freezing,' but it is very cold. So thank you so much for the scarf Leah!
We also got to go to MUJI. I go there as often as I can. Even though I have seen everything they have right now and don't intend to buy any of it, I just love the feeling in the store. Especially at Christmas time. They get as close as I can find to a real Christmas, not just mall Christmas.
There is MUJI in New York.
We are having a Christmas party tonight and making gingerbread houses. I am excited. Tomorrow we have to go sing and dance at a cultural activity. Also pretty fun. Dancing is fun and I miss it.
Our investigator Sister Ruan might be able to be able to be baptized on the 26th, the biggest question right now is just whether or not her husband will support her right now. He is indifferent to religion, but has heard the Mormons are a cult. Told his wife all about Warren Jeffs. Also didn't like the word of wisdom, but is ok with it now. I think it'll be ok. But we might have to wait until 2011 sometime. I am so impressed with her though. She hears anti stuff and then looks it up online, only to find more anti stuff, and so does she block our number or say she's too busy to meet? No, she schedules us and asks us about it. She's felt the truth in this message and when something comes up, she's going to find out everything about it before she decides to do anything drastic. That's why I'm not worried about her.
I love you all. Thanks for the music.
Merry Christmas.

Stress and Joy

Isn't that what Christmas is all about?

Yesterday we couldn't email because of a visitor. Sister Ma (horse) was converted in the UK and then went home and took her mother (also Sister Ma) to church with her. Actually in this circumstance she could have been baptized in China, but there was a bit of a misunderstanding so she came here, which is just fine. It gave them the chance to get some of their ancestors' work done, Ma mama (yes, that is how you say mother horse in Chinese) could learn about the temple from the chapel inside the the chapel, and they could meet with full time missionaries. So it was great.

But it seems that Murphy's law is always in force when trying to set up a baptism for a visitor from mainland China, especially since we moved across to the new chapel. Because of Institute we usually end up holding the baptism in the temple chapel anyway, and it seems there is never enough time to find an interviewer, get the temple unlocked, get the font unlocked and filled, fill out the forms, get the baptism clothes, set up chairs, call the right people, find hymn books, choose hymns, and get everyone in the right place. As a junior companion I just kinda flowed along and did what my senior comp told me to do, and Elder Zhong is just a very organized and competent person, so this is really the first time that all the responsibility is on me. Of course Elder Edwards is great and will do whatever he need to, but it's still up to me to tell him what that is.
So. Stress.

But it is worth it. How many missionaries are there in the world who have to give up a P-day now and then because of an unexpected baptism?
So. Joy.

Also, Christmas is just a plain old joyful time. This year I am focusing on creating a happy Christmas for all four of us living in our apartment. Last year I did Christmas things to remind myself of home and try to be home for Christmas, if only in my dreams. This year I'm trying to bring Christmas here so that we can all celebrate it together and not get so sad as I did last year. I'm the only one in the apartment who has done it before (Christmas as a missionary), so I feel I ought to do my best to help them have a good time.
So. Joyful Stress.

We have a golden investigator right now. I don't know if I told you about her, but she's great. Not much to say really. She's just ready and was looking for the church. We found her on the street. at first she thought we were selling something because of our bags. "I couldn't think what it could be. Insurance? Drugs?" But it turned out ok in the end. And now, like I said, she's golden.

Wednesday we were waiting for an investigator to come. He was late and not answering his phone. After waiting a half hour we were about to leave, when some members from Utah (originally Taiwan) showed up with one non member friend from Hong Kong. We talked to them, talked to their non member friend, got her contact information and then they left. As soon as they were gone I called our investigator who answered and said that he had to work longer than he thought so he couldn't make it. If he had answered any earlier we would have left. Shall we not press on is so great a cause?

I love you all.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

I'm thankful for Turkey

Happy Thanksgiving. We had a project this morning, then ate. Our project was making notes to put into red envelopes for members to give their friends on Chinese New year. It was so much fun. I love writing in Chinese, though I can't even kind of remember how. I must check at least 2/3 of the characters I want to write to make sure I do it correctly, but it is still so fun. Especially because they had these AMAZING pens for us to use. I do not know where to get them, but I will find them and buy many.
Our eating was turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, green beans (with almonds and stuff on them), and gravy. Of course it was just great. Then came pumpkin pie which was not in the traditional shape, and had thick sugar cookie-esque crust, and was served upside down (cookie on top), but it was delicious and had whipped cream so everyone was happy.
Then I got very very stressed out trying to orchestrate my companion's exit from and re-entrance into Hong Kong. He had to go with the Macao Elders and then come back because the customs official was silly and stamped him as a visitor instead of activating his visa. It shouldn't have been a problem, but it was. Very much a problem. And the whole time the turkey in my stomach was telling me to just go to sleep and forget it all. But now it's all good and we'll probably even be able to make it to the second Thanksgiving dinner of the night.
So now I know Elder Edwards a little bit better. He is from Pleasant Grove, but has lived in BeiJing and somewhere else (Ireland? That is a really cool place, I don't know why I can't remember for sure). When you ask him what he likes he says he doesn't know. I got out of him that he likes computers and computer games. He was quite a programmer it seems and was able to tell his computer to kick his sister off Facebook at certain hours of the day. Sounds like something Mom would like to be able to do. He always orders the same food I do (usually making sure to ask me if it's ok first) and wishes he had studied Mandarin better in BeiJing. He's happy to be here and ready to work. He has the kind of faith that young missionaries so often do. He understandably feels hesitation about talking to people in Chinese, but is more than willing to contact foreigners, which is more than I can say. We are doing a lot of finding, but hopefully will be able to start teaching some less active members soon. Our investigators are good, but busy. It's hard to communicate the magnitude of our message to people. I don't even get it.
We made some doughnuts this week. We are all excited for Christmas to come, though I always say one should wait until after Thanksgiving at least to start celebrating in order to appreciate it most, but they all call me a scrooge or a grinch when I say those kinds of things. So I eventually gave in and made doughnuts. We're also going to try making some eggnog, as it is unavailable here and we all miss it.
Speaking of food, a surprisingly common question I hear is "what did your mom/do American moms feed babies and small children?" Many mothers want their children to grow up big and tall "like an American." So... any answers from moms? I always say apple sauce, but I thought I'd ask.
I love you all. I am so grateful to be here on Thanksgiving day and this past year and a bit. I am also grateful for you, my family. And my friends. And the church. And everything God has given to me.

Date: Wednesday, November 17, 2010 10:30:12 PM
Subject: Oh no

I want to share an experience that I found very funny, but I just realized that it shows that I am quite missionary. Oh well. I guess that's good.

The other day on the street I was trying to explain that the spirit is not something that I can explain, so I followed that example of Elder Packer and asked him "What does salt taste like?" In English the answer is, "Salty," which of course just means Salt Flavor, In Chinese, salt is pronounced 'yan' while salty is 'xian'. So it didn't quite work out as well. It still worked, but not as beautifully.

I am no longer companions with Elder Chung. We are split, our enormous area is split, and we are both training. My new companion is Elder Edwards from Pleasant Grove. I just met him yesterday so I don't know very much about him at this point, but he seems like a lovely chap. He spent two years in BeiJing and now regrets not studying Mandarin harder. I am excited to be able to help him and learn all the things they taught us in the MTC that I forgot.

Recently I somehow was able to change my attitude toward finding. I always hated it. I remember once a rather pompous Elder told me "Why hate something you have to do? If you have to do it, there's no reason to hate it." At the time I was just annoyed, but the advice has stuck with me, and suddenly went into effect this week. I am happy when finding, I feel the joy of the gospel, and then I can share it with people on the street. Not only does this make it much more enjoyable for me, it makes it much more effective. It is no longer a annoying waste of time, it is actually useful. There really are prepared people, and the Spirit really will lead us to them if we listen. For reals.

I talked to Sister Ning last night on the phone. She is too busy taking care of her children and grandma to meet lately, but she is so happy! She cannot even contain it when she talks. It is by far the biggest change i have ever seem in any one. She is great. Her Life hasn't changed, but now she is happier in it.

The gospel is true.