Tuesday, July 19, 2011
It is so nice right now. I sit and drink my Zesty Mango Chillino at an
outdoor computer with absolutely wonderful weather. What a pleasant
mission. In a few hours we will go to Kowloon Tong to meet, teach, and
baptize someone. Why on earth did I get to come here?
I have been trying to find the records and get the information of all
the people I have helped to be baptized, especially the ones from
Mainland China. The records that the missionaries keep are, some of
them, old and not very well organized. Maybe lost. Here's a hard
learned lesson for me, it's much much easier to keep track of things
as they happen than when it's almost too late. So be a record keeping
people and keep a journal! They taght us that. Some church historians
came and told is about how we need to do it. It's nice to do.
Sister Liu was baptised on Sunday. It was a great service, with three
people entering the waters of baptism, one after a few months, one a
year and a half, and one five years. But next week is the topper.
Brother Tang (last week I used a character, but this might be nicer,
and I don't know how to write chinese on this computer) is good for
baptism on Sunday. He told us that his first contact with the church
was over twenty years ago. I can't beleive it has taken him so long.
He is such a good man. So humble and awesome. His name means soup.
Last saturday we taught and baptized a mom and daughter from china.
The dad came too, though he was not getting baptized. But he was
awesome. For some reason he just wasn't sure before he came, so he did
not prepare for baptism, but as soon as he heard the missionary
lessons taught by missionaries, he knew it was true and commited to
prepare and be baptized as soon a possible. It was maybe the first
time I've been able to teach a full family of investigators, father,
mother and child together at the same time. Unfortunately there are
many incomplete families here, especially amoung Mandarin speakers.
Divorce, seperation, or just temporarily living apart because of work
or school makes it very hard to find full families, and the families
that are full are often mandarin mothers with Hong Kong dads, usually
taught by Cantonese missionaries. So this experience was especially
awesome. And I talked about it in my talk the next day, which they
were able to attend. I spoke about family and love at home. I think it
went well, purely because of the help of the Lord. Some people
commented on my perfect grammer, some going as far as to tell me it
was much better than I normally speak and asking if I had practiced a
lot. No, I just wrote some notes and prayed. It works.
Well, mixed emotions are here, but I will take sister Tans advice and
endeaver to just be happy. Just serve where I am and be happy. If
we're always happy right now then we'll never be sad.
I love you. The church is still true.
Cool computer, this. It has a pad for writing Chinese. That's not nearly as easy as using pinyin to type it, because i can't write Chinese very well. But it's much easier than having to switch the setting every time I want to write a single 字. So nice 啦!
I don't know if you remember me talking about Sister 劉 or not. She is the one who finally accepted a baptismal date for July 10. Well, everything is going smoothly, and there should be no problem with her baptism on Sunday. The Branch President will baptize her. It's his first time baptising anyone. I'm so happy for her and her daughter. Now her daughter can fully enjoy the blessings of growing up in the church. It's just great.
We also met with a man yesterday who has known about the church for five or six years and wanted to be baptized the whole time. Because of different reasons he never has been able to, and now he is living in China, and thought he would have to move back to Hong Kong if he wanted to be baptised. We talked to him and asked if he could extend his trip here by a week, and be baptised on the 17th. He said of course he can. I remember hearing about him from Elder Pope. If Bryson Pope reads this, 湯弟兄 is going to be baptized finally. His wife used to object, he could not legally be baptized in China, he even went to Africa but couldn't find the church there. Now he can be baptized, and then can finally go to church in China! Yeah.
Did anyone know that Dr. SunYatSen stayed in Utah? There is a note written by him on some stationary from The Hotel Marion, Ogden, Utah in a museum here. Pretty cool. There is a movie out about him. About the whole cultural revolution. I'd like to see it.
We met maybe a missionary from another church and scheduled her for the English speaking elders. I'm worried about it for them. She seemed very nice, but mentioned going to door to door in Utah "to talk to LDS people about their religion." That's not normal. I hope she's as nice as she seemed.
I love you all! happy 4th! In Chinese it's called "America's celebrate the country day"
If there's one thing I've learned on my mission, I don't know what I'd say, there are too many. But 其中一個 (one out of the whole) is defiantly that planning is important. Elder Chung and I plan a lot. We plan for our companionship, for our zone, and for the mandarin missionaries. One hour of effectively planned missionary work is worth so many hours of just wingin' it. In fact I don't like planning very much. But I have learned it's importance. have been planning a zone training on planning that we want to have in a couple weeks. Planned things just go smoother. I hope I keep this attitude later on.
I've learned that an effective way to pray is to plan with the Lord. I try my best to always present my plan on what I'm going to do to get whatever blessing I ask for. I discuss the plan with the Lord and find it's holes, maybe things I can't control or don't do well. Then I ask for His help in those areas. It makes me realize what a commitment it is to ask for a blessing. It means I am willing to do everything I can to get that blessing, so the Lord can do the rest. If He did it all for us we would never learn to do it ourselves. He only does what we cannot.
Our mission is really taking off right now. It's really amazing. Elder Holland came and told us that "the Lord is hastening His work," and we are defiantly seeing that here. Through better planning, studying and praying we are all experiencing the Holy Ghost more in our lives and in our teaching, and it shows in the numbers. success isn't measured by numbers, it's just indicated by them. Just kidding, of course, but it is amazing to see the increase in the numbers as missionaries really do rely more on the spirit and do harder, more effective work for people, not numbers. Our zone is awesome, our mission is awesome. This work is awesome.
I ordered a tailored suit today. I am quite excited. It is so affordable here, cheaper than the non tailored suit I wanted originally. And it will fit better, I imagine. It'd better, he measured pretty much everywhere I can think of possibly measuring.
I love you! see you super soon!
I am happy and try to always be so. There are times when it is hard to be happy, but if I can just choose to be happy, then I'm a lot happier. So just be happy!
We cut out the letters of my full name and were trying to see what sentences we could make. "I create pies", "I can eat kosher pies", "Krishna eats kosher pies" "I, Stephen Norris, can shank hickies." That last one uses them all. In addition to pies, we found cherries, cheerios, and snickers. So many delicious foods! I have learned from this exercise that my English, particularly spelling, has gone way downhill. Although I have learned some nice new words from Jesus the Christ, useful ones, like antediluvian.
Today while on our way to email we saw a girl standing outside the church. I thought maybe we should go talk to her, but i didn't. Probably not a prompting, I thought. We crossed the street, climbed the stairs, and crossed the bridge before I finally decided to go back, that feeling just wasn't going away. I knew that if she wasn't waiting for missionaries or church friends she would probably just run away when I talked to her, but she didn't. She also didn't speak Mandarin very well, so my comp took over (he's ABC and has super good Mandarin and Cantonese). I don't know what will happen, but she can into the church and listened to him talk for a while, went with us upstairs to the chapel and gave us her phone number so the sisters up in TaiPo can give her a call. I could have just not said anything. Wow, I have a real homecoming-talk story!
Elder Holland came not long ago and told us we need to do better at planning, studying, and teaching with power and authority. As we work to be obedient and study and plan well, I have felt the spirit in my life, especially my teaching, as I have never felt before. It's awesome to be able to be confident that the Lord will not let me be confounded before men, and that he will fill my mouth, as long as I open it.
The Lord promises us blessings if we keep His commandments. I can testify that those blessings are real.
Hey, how is Angus? He must be home by now.
I love you!
Saturday, June 18, 2011
Last week I got my haircut for the last time on my mission. I asked him to also give me a shave with his strait edge razor, but he said I didn't need it and shaving too much is bad. I guess I missed my chance at a scary shave. I figured it was the most likely time to not get killed, as my companion was there watching, as were lots of other people (it's a big barber shop) and the barbers are all very nice. But no luck.
We also went to Central last week to get some chops. Afterward we went to Gateway, an American store, to look around. I looked at an enormous bag of chocolate chips, but decided I couldn't afford it. Then I picked up a big bag of whole wheat flour to buy, when all of a sudden the owner walked up and asked in English if I was going to make some bread for my brothers. I said yes, I was and he said, what about white bread? He had a damaged bag he would give me for free, because I was here with the church. Then he gave me a slightly damaged bag of whole wheat flour for half price and a very damaged bag of white flour for free. I guess he has some member friends and has investigated before. I was so happy that I bought the huge bag of chocolate chips anyway. I'm not sure I'll eat them all before I leave!
It's been nice to hear people testify of help I have given, members, investigators, and other missionaries. I knew the Spirit could help out when one didn't know what to say or how to help someone, but I never really believed I could do it. Especially these last couple months I've learned a lot more about the spirit and how to not worry about whether I can do it or not. If I need to, then the Spirit can do it. And now I know the Spirit has spoken through me to help others, because I really can't do it actually. There is no way. But He can. So no worries.
Our investigators are still progressing, some faster than others. An example of receiving Divine help cam on Sunday when we had two lessons to teach so we split up and Elder Chung requested I teach Sister Liu. I protested that I didn't know her very well. He said, "Yeah, but I am out of idea with her." I thought to myself at the time that if he couldn't help her, I had no chance. Elder Chung is pretty close to perfect missionary. I am not.
I don't know how, but as Elder Wall and I relied on the spirit, we helped her to see that baptism is an act of faith. An act of faith that will bless her life and her daughter's life for years. I shared about how on my mom's side, six generations back a man name Brigham Young had to make the same decision. He eventually did, and here I am, six generations later, still blessed from it. Then I shared about Janca's family joining the church. They didn't become prophets like Brigham Young, but they did make the same decision to be baptized and join the church of the Lord, and here I am, only three generations later, receiving the same blessings. I had never thought about sharing that before, and only did because the Elders quorum president suggested it. It really helps people to think about how much this will bless their posterity, I think.
So Sister Liu will be baptized on the tenth.
I know the church is true. The Spirit testifies of it to anyone who asks. In his book Jesus The Christ, James E. Talmage logically shows that Christ was resurrected by showing all the problems with any story of how it might not have actually happened, and says something like, the Resurrection is as sound or more so than any other fact we take as historically accurate, but that doesn't matter. The truth of this is not founded on written pages alone. Anyone who asks with sincere heart and real intent can know for themselves.
I have asked, I know that is true.
I love you.
I have a bit of a sore throat lately (I just don't know how to not get those. It's awful) and it reminded me of that nice Greek lady who worked at the gallery in New York telling us she was feeling "a little under the water lately." That's how I feel. I think it has to do with the serious heat and humidity and the powerful AC in all public buildings. Your body is completely damp within five seconds of being outside, which then freezes to your body as soon as you go into any church, mall, restaurant, store, or even bus. I've never imagined such a summertime threat of catching a cold.
About a week ago I started marinading some chicken for dinner. Due to circumstances beyond my control (or desire to avoid) we didn't end up cooking our own food that night, or again until today. The poor chicken was swollen and looked like beef. It tasted and felt like teriyaki stix chicken. I didn't like it. I think that's because I just used a bottle labeled "Chicken Marinade" instead of mixing my own. Lesson learned.
Our investigators are, most of them, experiencing trials of their faith. I wouldn't have it any other way. The gospel is true, so Satan sends trials. If he didn't it probably wouldn't be true. Plus it builds faith. And character. But it's hard right now. Parents unwilling to allow their children to "become christian", having to go back to mainland for family matters, fear, etc. I have no idea what to do about any of them. Good thing it is true and God helps us or this work would be done for.
Would everyone please particularly pray for Dats 李? He feels he needs time to develop more faith and wait for life to be less busy. Please pray for him to overcome his doubts and embrace the gospel and the blessings that are in store.
Another special help needed is for Joyce and Kelvin 陳. Their parents are Buddhist and do not agree.
Coming up on my last transfer. Looks like it will be still on the Island with Elder Chung, but we won't know for sure until next Tuesday. I am happy with that, or anything else I can think of. So far every area and companion has been great, I imagine President Chan will still be inspired this time.
I love you all 啦!
Family, as if speaking with you face to face,
We're at a coffee shop today and I got a berry smoothie which is about 100 times as sweet and creamy as the no sugar added smoothies we've been making at home. It's yummy, but a bit much.
On Sunday a member gave us some fresh unsweetened soy milk. It tasted like liquid soy bean and was not enjoyed. The cakes they make here are all very cute and perfectly done, but the store bought ones aren't very much more that that. Pretty and spongy in a bad way. All air and no good things. But there is a member who makes cakes that are just as beautiful but not at the expense of being enjoyable. So that's nice.
We have some awesome investigators who go to Kwun Tong Ward. That's a Cantonese speaking ward, and their Cantonese is way good, but their mother tongue is Mandarin so we still teach them. When we asked the little brother if he was going to attend his sister's baptism he said, "I think when my sister gets baptised... I will probably also get baptised." Yesterday he called us but we missed the call. Later, when I called back and asked why he had called he said, "I prayed about the Book of Mormon last night. I feel it's true." I guess he was afraid we weren't going to follow up on our commitment so he did.
On Monday we went with him (his name is Kelvin) to the Kwun Tong Family Home Evening activity. It consisted of a spiritual thought that the missionaries didn't know they were supposed to give, a couple of musical performances by members, listening to so very electronic songs on CD one of which was apparently the Miss Hong Kong theme, and then the missionaries singing Nearer My God To Thee. As soon as we were done a man no one knew who had arrived by motorbike jumped up and announced that he had come here from another ward. He then asked who knew what Rockabilly meant. I was the only one who tentatively raised me hand. He asked me to explain it in Chinese. I couldn't. So he did. Then he instructed the missionaries to sing "Onward Christian Soldiers," normally at first, but then to have everyone clap a "Rock Beat" (clap - clap clap - clap - clap clap) and us to sing it like a rockabilly style. "Let's rock." Pretty crazy. Why didn't we have FHE like this?
Our zone originally set a goal for nine baptisms this month, but the President Chan told us he felt we could get ten. Our zone members happily accepted his council. We ended up with 13. We had more baptisms than International! Not to compare or use baptisms as a measure of our awesomeness, but it was a great experience. It shows what a well set goal can do. Nine might not have pushed us as hard. But a goal of ten with everyone excited and working hard for it worked wonders.
Ah, the Beatles. How nice.
Everything is great. Excited to see everyone, but hoping to drag out these precious months.
Love you all
Elder Holland came and talked to us missionaries on Tuesday. He is so cool. When I shook his hand and introduced myself he said "well, you're Brian and Suzanne's boy! Well, I have to give you a hug!" That was a surprise. He knew I was going home soon too. I had asked Heavenly Father to give me a reconfirmation of his apostolic calling, and felt the spirit at the time of asking, later on in another prayer even stronger, and strongest when he hugged me. I just felt the spirit of that servant of the Lord fill me right up to my tiny little spiritual capacity. I know he is called of God and given the authority to teach us as God would, were He here.
We taught Sister 金 (gold) yesterday about prophets right before she got to listen to Elder Bednar answering questions (yeah, Holland and Bednar both came and spoke at the same time to members. Luckily there was a special missionary meeting with Elder Holland so we could hear and see them both). But we pointed out that a big part of what he was doing was teaching us to find our own answers through scripture study. "This book has those kind of answers?" she asked. My companion said he had personally learned that through experience. "Do you know like, which page to find them on?" No, you have to just always read to keep on learning. "Really? Well then I should read this book every single time I have time." So true. It's great when investigators figure stuff out that we don't even mean to say.
We ate delicious western style sandwiches for lunch. I really love the mix of cultures you get here in Hong Kong, especially food. It is so wonderful and yummy. I try to focus on Chinese, as I am in China after all. But mixing it up is such a lovely thing to be able to do.
Elder Chung is still great. I'm just worried he'll get called AP after this move and I won't be able to finish my mission with him. I said this last time I was his companion (interesting side note, this is the third time I've served with the same companion twice), but he is a rare mix of %100 obedient, but still relaxed and fun. It's great to be able to serve with him.
I love you all! I hope all is well.
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
We went to the temple today. We get to go once a transfer. I am so glad I can go at all, and feel so bad for missions without a temple in them. I noticed an old old man who was a nearly every session I have been to in Hong Kong. I have thought before "oh, nine a.m. on Thursday must be his weekly temple time, what a good thing for this man who can barely walk to be able to do each week." Today he was in our session. On the way out, I noticed him sitting in the room, waiting for the next session. Then I overheard someone who is visiting Hong Kong say that they have done a session every day this week and that man was in every single one of them. What an amazing man. I imagine that because of the condition of his old body he cannot be a temple worker, and so he found another way to take all or at least most of his time and give it to the Lord. It is so amazing to me.
We have an investigator named Sister 金 which means gold. And she is. We met her today for the second time and talked about coming to church. She says she thinks her boss might give her at most two Sundays a month off. We talked about it for a while and why it is important and asked if she thought she could at least get every Sunday morning off so she could go to church. She said, "well, I've been thinking maybe I should just quit, that way I could come to church every week and find a better job. Is that ok?" She is so humble and awesome.
We went to a museum that has an exhibit about Pixar today. It was pretty cool. Lots of artwork goes into those movies. And lots of other work too. But there is so much awesome concept art etc. that is unseen. Years of sketches, paintings, paper cut outs, sculptures, all kinds of stuff. It was way cool.
I'm out of time, but things are good. I am happy. It is hot.
I love you.
My companion Elder Pope flies home tomorrow. It is very weird. He was a young missionary when I was. Very young. Now he is "dead." That makes me almost dead. That is weird. In missionary slang, we say I have killed Elder Pope, which is only fitting, because he "killed" my "father" (trainer). So now I guess I have to look out for Elder Wyatt, Elder Pope's "son."
But killing a missionary has a lot of advantages. Especially one as outgoing as Elder Pope. [I'm sure Noah didn't intend that pun, but I think it's funny!] Everyone in the branch wants to chang us out (chinglish for feed us). So we haven't had to pay for a meal in at least a week, and they are all super yummy Chinese food, and always so much of it! I love it. Today was the first time I paid for my lunch in a while, but it was also a very large meal, as we went to a Mexican buffet to celebrate Cinco de Mayo. So yummy. And now it's about as exotic as 叉燒飯 seemed when I first got here.
One of the people who bought us such delicious food was Sister 施. She is a recent convert of ours who went back to mainland right after baptism. She had been a member of another christian church for over twenty years, and struggled with the concept of authority. We were especially worried because in her home town there were only two other members, no branch, not even a small group. I remember Elder Pope saying, "I hope one day to find out what happens to her." Well, she went back and was unable to find one of the members, so she and the one elder she did find met several times to hold a two person sacrament meeting. When the Jehovah's Witness she met in Hong Kong calls her each weekend (very illegal), she listens politely,and then tells him he is very smart, but doesn't have authority. Even when her son found anti material online and told her about it it didn't shake her testimony. Now she lives in Guang Zhou where she attends the Guang Zhou second branch. She is still very powerful and brought her son and his girlfriend down to meet us and say goodbye to Elder Pope. I am so happy I could be a part of helping her.
I love you. 五月五號快樂! (happy cinco de mayo)
Thursday, May 5, 2011
I got a haircut today. We went to the usual place. A bunch of old guys, most from Guang Dong, who came to Hong Kong before my parents were born and started cutting hair. I can imagine the excitement they must have felt, coming to this big city and starting work as barbers, so much opportunity here. And then, sixty years later, they cut my hair. Talked a little about their life in thickly accented Mandarin so I could barely understand. Each one has his own personal style, and no matter what you tell him will pretty much just cut your hair the way he's going to do it. I just say, "quite short" and let them go. The general style they all have is longer on the top, maybe 1-1.5 inches with the sides shaved to only a few mm's if you're not careful, and no sideburns. It ends up looking rather like an onion, and seems to be designed for Chinese people as it looks much better on them. But the atmosphere is great and it's pretty cheap. I am getting better at touching up my own hair.
This is my companion's last P-day so we will go buy some cheap things on the street tonight. He wasn't going to do it, but then one of the international elders we live with who is also going home next week came back with his cheap stuff, and my comp was done for. We also eat out a lot lately, because he wants to try new things and eat old favorites one more time. It's ok, but I'm running out of money for the month. But still am happy.
I saw an ad for Pirates of the Caribbean. I wonder if it will be saved.
We have quite a few investigators getting close to baptism. But it seems that all of them have problems arise at every possible stage. As the Elder's Quorum president pointed out, this is a very good thing. Without having to overcome trials, how can they be expected to develop the faith to overcome trials in the future? But it's hard right now. And I can't honestly say I'm glad they have trials. That sounds awful. But God knows what He's doing.
The Elder's Quorum president is so amazing. He loves his family so much. He is so humble and willing to change. He listens to us, reads the scriptures, reads every bit of church literature available in Chinese, and tries so hard to help everyone else. I cannot think of any way he can improve as a person. It is a testimony to me that this church is for the world, not just Westerners.
I love you.
We had to move again. I was hoping I would not have to, as I dislike moving. But they decided to close an apartment, so we moved out and closed our apartment. It is a taxing ordeal. But not nearly as bad as it is for the housing elder, so I'm pretty OK.
When I first moved here I tried Vita Flower Tea, a popular brand of herbal tea. I thought it had a nice, light flavor. Then I switched to Yeo brand, because it had less sugar. Now the original kind I thought was so light seems way too sweet for me. I am so Chinese.
Thanks to Aunt Gabbi and family for the package. It is lovely. I have not been able to try any of the soy milk cupcakes yet, but I will soon. I am especially grateful for the dried fruit. Also very grateful to the V's for all the pictures. I always show them to the other elders and say, pointing to Corryn, "She's married now." Although none of them know who she is, they all understand the strangeness of that statement, usually expressed by by them thus, "Weeeird." Just the same as when I say, "all of these guys are back from their missions already." "Weeeird." Somehow we all seem to understand each other in this respect. Not a bond that any other group than missionaries have, I imagine.
We are a unique group, missionaries. I'm so glad I came.
We've just been finding and teaching all over the place. Elder Pope is a very good, very enthusiastic finder. It is easy to be more excited about finding when I'm with him. It is mostly easiest to follow my companion's attitude toward everything. I need to work harder on having a great attitude, no matter what other people are feeling. It makes a better person.
We're still plodding along, trying to help a few people make their May 1st baptismal date, just before Elder Pope goes home. It's fun and exciting to see people who want it so badly and are trying so hard to overcome all the obstacles in their path, as well as to see people who don't want it too badly, but start to understand why they need it slowly. It's just great.
I may have broken my toe playing soccer. At any rate I hurt it.
I will miss dumplings. I hope I can find some good ones. I love them so.
And I love you.
I always assumed, early on in my mission, that eventually talking to people on the bus or MTR would eventually become more natural and easy. It never did. After a year and a half when I still sometimes would go a whole string of MTR stops without opening my mouth once I just gave up. And now, suddenly, it's so much easier. Just like that. Of course I don't like it anymore now than I did before, but as soon as I stopped relying on my own inadequate self and let God help, it became very doable to try, at least try. If it makes me uncomfortable and them uncomfortable for a few seconds at most, at that it is well worth someone's salvation. Thanks for everyone's help through prayers and other things.
We have an investigator whose only problem is work. She is here to find work so that she can put her son through college, and does her very best for him (I hope he is a wonderful boy), but the only kind of job she can get is dish washing, which means it is almost impossible for her to not work on Sunday. She has a desire to keep all the commandments, it's just this one that gets in her way. I think it's so sad, because I've seen so many people who don't have a job get baptized because they say it's no problem to keep the commandments, and then as soon as they need to get a job they just stop coming to church. They weren't tested on it, so they didn't develop that desire. Now, because of her situation, Sister Chen knows she wants and needs to go to church and does everything she can to do it, but as of now still isn't sure if she'll be able to come to church much at all. That makes it hard to baptize her, but she is so much more prepared than so many other people who can be baptized. We will keep praying for her. She needs the gospel so much.
We actually have quite a few dish washer investigators. One walked into the church, and then they all started coming together. Humility is so essential to feeling the truth of this gospel. Pride is such a problem. Especially amongst people who are having moderate to great success in their lives. They don't see the need for God. Blessed are the dishwashers who have been compelled to be humble. I am reminded of my first week here when a businessman told me that reading the Book of Mormon was not practical. "I want to read this book" he said, holding up something written by Warren Buffet (is it really spelled Buffet?) "Why would I want to become like God if I can become like Warren Buffet? It's just not practical." Being successful is good, but being Humble is better. It is practical in a sense that most of us won't really understand for a long time, I imagine.
I am a little sick right now, so I am tired and can't think of any funny experiences. I am excited for conference (we get it a week late here). I love you.
Saturday, April 30, 2011
Last week we arranged for Qing You, Zi Xuan and Zi Yi to have their baptismal interview. We were worried that Zi Xuan wouldn't be ready, since she hadn't heard everything she needed to. She is much busier than the other two. Not too surprisingly, she couldn't even show up for the interview. We had planned on teaching her while her sisters were interviewed, to make sure she understood what she needed to first, but now we couldn't. The other two were fine (great, actually), so we asked them, do you want to wait another week for your sister or just get baptized this Sunday? They said they did not want to wait. So we planned the baptism for Sunday.
Then we called the West Point Ward correlator, who, along with the bishop, decided they ought to wait, partly for their sister, but mostly to let all the members know so they could plan on attending the baptism. We agreed and scheduled Zi Xuan to try to get her ready.
She came and met with us. She is a very sharp 12 year old. She understood everything so well, but just didn't have the same fire about it as her sisters. She is a bit sarcastic and cynical. I was very surprised as we walked her home after the lesson when she told us she like to play house with her friends. She seems so much older than she is.
A few days later(Saturday), on the way to teach her again she called and said she wasn't coming because she needed to make lunch and Qing You was going back to Mainland on Monday so there was no use. We couldn't get her to come. Finally Zi Yi came and we met with her and a member of West Point Ward. She is only ten, so she had some sweet questions about God. We talked about about Him and what she could do when her big sister was back in Mainland. She's so cool.
That night we called so many people about the situation. It was some of the most stress I've had in a while. But in the end everyone agreed they should be baptized the next day. So we frantically organized a baptismal service (Actually that was the correlator. We just felt relieved and went to sleep).
The next day, after church, Qing You and Zi Yi were baptized. Qing You also received the gift of the holy ghost in preparation to return to mainland. It was one of the most spiritual experiences I've had on my mission so far.
Zi Xuan slept in and missed it. Some other missionaries are going to start working with her. I hope her and her family will be able to all receive the blessings this gospel has in store for them. I've seen it bless me and my family. I've seen it bless others and their families. I've seen people unwilling to allow it to bless them. I don't know why, but people do that sometimes. I know God Loves us and will help us if we only let Him. We can't expect to be saved if we don't grab the rope that is thrown to us.
I love you.
Thursday, March 24, 2011
The days of the week in Chinese are called "week (day) 1, week (day) 2, week (day) 3, 4, 5, 6, and week (day) sun or heaven." But I just learned from our correlator that they adopted this method in 1911 to make it more simple. Before that they were called sun day, moon day, fire day, water day, wood day, gold (or generic metal) day, and dirt day. Interesting to me that the first two are sun day and moon day. Of course it sounds nothing like that in Chinese. I think this way of reckoning is much cooler. The months are also just numbered, but used to be named according to the 12 heavenly stems and the ten earthly branches, but I have no idea what those are. But they are definitely cool and cultural.
Also I learned that Mainland has only been using simplified characters for thirty years or so. That is crazy.
It is interesting and sad to learn about how many problems people still have forgiving the Japanese people. I think it has hung on much stronger than it has against the Germans. Although many, many youth are quite obsessed with current Japanese culture.
American Eagle Outfitters has arrived in Hong Kong. Did I say that before? I may have. I think it's silly. But there are ads for it everywhere. I guess it's like an In'N'Out burger coming to Utah kind of thing. They were tired of people copying them or selling their products on the streets, so they just came. It looks exactly the same, except usually there is one Chinese guy in the ads.
We are teaching three sisters, 18, 12 and 10, and they should all be baptised a week from Sunday. They are very excited and happy to accept the gospel. The oldest and youngest were originally going to be baptised this week, but the middle isn't ready (she is so very busy with school and activities) and neither is the ward, so we will wait until next week. Not a huge deal. It will be good for them to be able to be baptised together.
I am staying with Elder Pope for his last transfer. Even more likely now that I will finish my mission here in Wan Chai. I am happy, though I would like to serve up in the north. It is the only area I have not served.
We bought some weird Chinese health drink from a small shop. They give it to you in a glass bowl to drink down there on the street and then return the bowl. If you want to you can add salt. It should help with most problems I might face.
I love you.
Saturday, March 19, 2011
One thing I really want to learn to do for living in Utah is make 包子 or Chinese steamed buns, especially 叉燒包, the kind with char siu pork inside. The problem with that is that you first have to make the Char Siu pork which is pretty difficult alone and requires lots of things that might be hard to get in Utah, like fermented red tofu. But in is delicious. Here you can just buy the pork already in its 叉燒 form and then make the bread. That's hard enough. The baozi I made (that's how you say 包子) always turns yellow as it steams. It still tastes yummy, but does not look at all appetizing. I just want an old Chinese woman to teach me, but normal people don't know how to make it. So it's hard.
Our new investigators sister 夏 and sister 陳 are both doing good. They have a baptismal date for the 27th and are progressing well. I feel really bad for the older one. She is 18, but really looks 13. Elder Pope always calls her and her sister little kids, but that's just his habit, he calls everyone 小朋友 or little friend which just means little kid, no matter how old they are. Normally it's just fine, but I think she might get a little self conscious about it. But they are still good and she's really sharp and quite sarcastic, which is very rare among Chinese people.
We met a mom and her little daughter on the mini bus yesterday. The daughter was five and very cute and very outgoing. The mom said they were on the way to therapy because she was afraid her daughter had adhd. I thought, "Oh no, another tiger mother. Just let your daughter be, she's probably fine." By the end of the ride I knew exactly what the mom meant and supported her entirely. We asked our ten year old investigator "do you have adhd?" (mostly just to practice new vocab) and she said "I used to think I maybe did, but now that I've seen that girl I'm not worried anymore.
We made strawberry pie for pi day. Happy 3.14 everyone!
Lot's of Chinese recipes call for shaoxing rice wine, which is a cooking wine of about 16% alcohol. Does anyone know how long it takes to cook all the alcohol out?
I love you. See you later.
[This is not Mentor. This is just someone with Noah]
He is such a rad dude. I was a little afraid that he was doing it all for a friend of his, but after his testimony I know he knows this is true. He talked about how a few years ago he learned about Christianity. At that time he didn't have any big problems in his life, until he got in a car accident or something. it still was a huge deal, no long term problems or anything, but he decided at that point that he didn't want to rely on anyone else, including God. If he had a problem he would deal with it.
Then he came with his friend to our branch. Now he has lots and lots of problems in his life (Family health problems and financial problems and such). Sometimes he can't sleep because of worrying. But now he knows that he can't do it without God. He still doesn't like relying on other people, but he knows the power of prayer and what it has done for him and that he needs help from his Father in Heaven. He's so good.
We also have two knew investigators, neither of them have English names. They are sister, one ten and one eighteen. They are so humble and love the church so much. They have baptismal dates for the 27th. It's so much fun to teach them.
I got a nice big cookbook with really good authentic Chinese food in it. And it's in English, which is great because Chinese words for food, especially vegetables are so uncertain. Depending on where you are they call things completely different things. But it seems really good and I can completely understand it!
In the trendy little bookstore where I got it we found a book called "Who's your hero? Book of Mormon stories applied to everyday life." And one with lots of paintings of Utah with the Salt Lake Temple right on the front. We wonder if the owner is a member. We asked the worker where he got the book. "That?" He replied, "Oh, that, that is from, that is from the factory." And now I know where books come from.
I love you all. The church is true.
Lately we have run into a lot of Buddhists. I remember thinking that Buddhism and tea would be my main adversaries in China.
Actually tea is not hard for people to give up. It usually takes a bit of explaining, but anyone who has enough faith to meet with us and listen usually has enough faith to give up tea. One recent convert, Yuki (yes, she chose a Japanese name for her English name), didn't understand why she couldn't drink tea, and then went to the doctor about some problem she'd been having and he told her not to smoke, drink alcohol, coffee or tea. Once people think about it they usually know that it affects them, causes them sleeplessness usually. So it's not a problem.
As far as Buddhism goes, there are lots of Buddhists, but I wouldn't say it's really a big problem. In a week or two with the Internet I think I would be able to have a far deeper understanding of Buddhism than about 85% of the people who have told me they believe it. That's the real problem. So many people don't care to find out the truth.
"My family traditionally believes this, yours traditionally believes that. It's true if you believe it."
"What if this really is true and there really is one God and He really doesn't change according to culture, would that be important to you? Would you want to find that out?"
If you believe that 2+2=5 that won't change the number of apples you end up with at a buy two get two free sale. Even if your family all believes it. We don't ask anyone to change their nationality or culture, just count the apples. If you have five then you're right. Just give them a count.
There is a blind man at the computer next to me. I think his headphones tell him what's happening on screen. Amazing.
On Tuesday Elder Pope and I did a demonstration of extending a commitment to be baptised. That's not too unusual, but this time it was at the Asia Area Mission President's Conference. Three members of the seventy and about ten mission presidents watching us. It was pretty fun. Of course they were all very nice. But I wish we could have stayed for the meeting.
Mentor has asked to push his baptism back a week, he is having some family problems. Vivian Huang is getting more excited about the gospel, she is mostly just waiting to feel like she has received an answer. That's a pretty hard thing to help people understand. Sister Liu has seen lots of blessings in her life, but wonders if it's just luck? She also has pushed her baptism back a bit. Sister Deng is doing very well and just eating everything up. She totally believes it from an intellectual stand point, she just wants to be perfect after baptism. So we are trying to help her understand continued repentance. Once you know it's true, enter the door. 2 Nephi 31, the door is baptism.
Any ideas about the reason Faith is so necessary?
I love you.
Thursday, February 17, 2011
Our apartment is having a "healthy transfer", so we set some rules to try to improve our health, like don't buy unhealthy things, etc. The problem is we threw in a disclaimer that if someone else buys in for you you can eat it. I think our health has improved, but I don't know that you could actually say we are healthy.
I really like to play Chinese Chess, which is similar to western chess in that you have to put the king in checkmate to win, but there are other rules like a river in the middle of the board, elephants, and jumbers or canons. I find it more interesting that western chess, possibly just because it's new to me. But I recently purchased a set of Japanese chess which is, again, new and so interesting. It is played on a 9x9 grid, most of the pieces are different (jade general vs king general, gold generals, silver generals, knights, lances, bishop, rook, pawns), but the two most fun new rules are promotion and dropping. When a piece gets to the far three rows of the board it can be promoted, giving it better (or different) moves. Both teams are the same color, so who owns a piece is determined by it's orientation, which allows you to "drop" or place one of your opponents pieces that your have eaten (that is what they call it when you take a piece) anywhere on the board for your turn. It makes it very difficult to guess your opponent's moves. It's rather complicated, but so much fun. I'm sorry to have gone on and on about that.
We have a lot of people to teach right now. As we hoped and prayed, after New Years things started to pick up again. On Sunday we got a great referral who is the first person I've ever met that seems to just get it. The gospel, I mean. To me it seems so obvious. Of course this is God's church, it has to be. Nothing else makes sense. And that's how she is too. We are still making sure she has a good strong spiritual foundation as well, as that is the most important part, but she already feels it is true, at very least in her head. She also says "tell me the hard commandments, I hear there are hard ones. Coffee, tea, chastity, weekly church attendance, that is all easy. Tell me the hard ones." No, that's it. Those are the ones.
We also met an awesome little family. Right now just the grandma and little girl live in Hong Kong, but the Dad works in ZhuHai and seems to be able to come at least close to often. We met the two on the street and pulled them back to the church and got their number. Then, the next day we ran in to them in the exact same place, but the dad was there. They said, "Oh good, we were hoping to see you again, we told him all about you two and were hoping to see you here!" The little girl calls us (in English) little uncle kong and little uncle pu. They invited us to go play ping pong with them at four. The grandma claimed to be a pretty good player. So we went. And she was. She owned everyone. She is just an older, stout woman, but she can play some table tennis. Apparently she has represented China at international competitions. At the place we played there was a 72 year old lady who could beat everyone, but she didn't stand a chance against our old lady. Yeah!
The dad trusts us completely and wants us to teach his daughter English and about religion. He feels most of the problems in China are because of a lack of religion. So good.
I love you all.
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
So I will stay on Hong Kong Island as the fearless leader at least six more weeks with Elder Pope. That means I could easily stay here with him for next transfer as well, his last, and then easily train a new Zone Leader the transfer after that, and then easily just finish off my mission here in Wan Chai. I wouldn't mind that, although I would like to go serve in Tolo (north New Territories). But it's really great here, and no one can say the church is too far. And we have a lot of people to teach right now. Sister 王 (Wang) brought two friends with her to different lessons, both named 陳 (Chen, the same as my mission president, a very common surname). They are both very nice, but the second one is pretty amazing. She doesn't know anything about Christianity, but she knows she needs God's help in her life, and the first time she came to church she felt the spirit so strongly she cried. She is so happy to meet with us and learn about this. She already has a baptismal date and wants her son to be able to learn about the church, but he is in Mainland studying. And we have an investigator who is half Taiwanese, half Danish. He is way cool and willing to find out if this is true. He has perfect English (I don't know about Danish, anything I could say to him dad?) and is a bit surprised that Mormons don't reject modern technology. Now that he knows that, he will read and pray to know if it's true.
After a year and a half of spending a lot of time in Wan Chai chapel, the guard finally heard my English name and asked if my dad came here on his mission. I told him it was my uncle, and he said that Elder Kershisnik was his AP. His name is Sunny Wen and he asked how Elder Kershisnik and Sister Lambert (is that right? sorry, I forgot Aunt Virginia's maiden name) are doing. He says he remembers them both very well and though it was a good match and to say hello from him. That's the fourth person who has known Uncle Paul, and the first who seemed to know he had married "Sister Lambert." It was funny because I've seen him almost every week since I came to Hong Kong and he never saw my last name.
Well, I'm out of time.
櫳馬精神! ([Wishing you]dragon horse energy)
It is now the year of the Rabbit. There are strange little cloth monkeys wearing rabbit costumes at Big Buddha which confuses me profoundly.
Missionary work getting slower and slower as this holiday goes on. Hopefully it will start picking up from here on out. This week I have attended about 22 hours of meetings in under three days time. It was rough. But it's over now and we're all feeling trained and ready for the new year.
Just a suggestion, no matter who it's for, try to avoid holding a nine hour meeting. Ever. And two in a row is right out.
We went to Big Buddha today who is still sitting right where we left him last year. Still big. Not cold this year though. Lots of missionaries carrying big heavy coats today. We saw "walking with Buddha," the twenty minute cartoon about the big guy on the hill. He was pretty cool, but whatever it is he actually taught has been changed a lot. That's why we need authority.
We went inside him and saw the paintings done in blood. I don't know whose blood, probably not animal blood, they don't even eat those.
There is some absolutely beautiful calligraphy in there. I can't read it, but I stared at it longer than any of the Chinese people there. Wonderful. Really.
Pretty slow. Lots of meetings. Been thinking about humility lately. I like what Elder Uchtdorf said, "Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it's thinking less about yourself." I hope I can do that. Oops...
I love you
Saturday, January 29, 2011
The biggest festival in China is here! It's Chinese new year. So what does that mean for a missionary in Hong Kong? All of our investigators have gone home for at least a few weeks. Deep clean time is here. We have tons of meetings to give us something to do while no one is here.
Deep clean is what we did today and it is very nice to have done. Now our apt. is so nice and I feel comfortable walking around barefoot. Everything left there by old missionaries has been taken care of. All the food no one wanted to eat is gone. We can move around and know where everything is. yeah.
We get to go to Big Buddha again next week. I guess that is the mission activity every year. I am much more excited this time, because I have a better coat (last year was by far the coldest I've been in Hong Kong and I was not prepared) and because I understand the culture here so much better that I did last time. I will appreciate the paintings and calligraphy and carvings so much more, although there is still so much I don't know. Our correlator always tells me about Chinese history and culture (he loves history so much) but it is really hard to understand everything he says because it's weird vocab and he as pretty strong southern accent.
Our best investigators right now are Sister Wang, Sister Liu, and Mentor. Sister Wang works on Sunday and is still trying to figure that out. She doesn't think she can get every Sunday off and is worried that she would not be able to find another job and would have to go back to Mainland. Sister Liu is willing to come to church and read the scriptures and pray and everything, but just doesn't feel she knows whether God exists or not. Mentor is was cool. He's tall and handsome and stylish. Our correlator said, "oh him. I'm afraid to talk to him, he's too cool." I think a big part of why he started coming to church is his friend Emily, but he is doing everything he needs to do and seems to believe it.
I am happy. I love you all.
Xin Nian KwaiLe (Happy New Year)
GongXi FaCai (Congratulations, may money come to you [another new years greeting])
Sunday, January 16, 2011
It is getting close to Chinese New Year, so everyone is going home for the holidays. For most, Hong Kong is not really home. Even if they were born and raised here, their ancestral home is the holiday place. Even the ones who have been here long enough to not remember where they came from or know any people there close up shop and stay inside. Although that won't happen until the actual week of the new year, it's still rough on missionary work. We're still ok at this point, but I know that lots of people have less and less investigators as time goes on. But it's still a fun cultural time.
Two days ago while on splits two twenty-something girls followed us off the MTR and, at a safe distance, all the way to the church. "Should we go contact them?" asked Elder Reber. "I don't want to, but this is your area so it's up to you." "Ok, um... uh...ok... I just prayed and I don't think we should do it."
Safe from sketchiness.
And then next day on the way to the same church we got a call from an Elder to say that there was a Chinese girl looking for me at that church. It was them. It was way too scary to my poor missionary mind. Those Elders taught them the first lesson. They said they were willing to be baptised when they knew it was true. They got the number of the Elders who cover this area and started texting, inviting them to go out and play at 10:00. Oh dear. Luckily they are just visiting and will leave soon. I hope they can find a real testimony from this experience. But it was traumatizing for us.
On Sunday we baptised Sister Shi. She is so cool and powerful. She told us we needed to get over our fear and go preach this in Mainland! Now she understands the law more I think. She will help her son to join the church though. She is so cool.
Sister Wang really wants to be baptised, but she has to work on Sunday. It's really too bad. She is also really cool and is building a strong testimony, though at this point she is afraid of losing her job. But with faith she can overcome that and work out this problem. I know it.
I love you all.
A member found out that I like art and got really excited. She lent me a book about Chinese brush painting (written by a white woman, which seems slightly lame, but means it is good englich. I think I'll leave that typo). In it it gives "The Six Cannons" one of which is Copying other's work, so I started doing a bit of painting. It's super fun, and makes me feel so Chinese. As an apartment we set another goal to be more Chinese. We are all Mandarin Speakers, so we can speak Chinese together and eat Chinese food and steam Chinese buns and play Chinese games and paint Chinese pictures. So fun. Englich.
Since last Monday there have been seven baptisms of visitors from Mainland China, five of which were men. I love helping anyone to receive the restored gospel, of course, but it makes me so happy to know we are strengthening the priesthood in Mainland. I love this work. Pray for them.
We have some good investigators here. Sister Shi will be baptised on Sunday. She is so cool. Such a strong christian woman. Took her a little while to understand authority, but she always talks about how she has never been so happy before ever and loves meeting with us and wants her son in Beijing to find this Church so much. She always thanks God for helping her meet us. She came here in order to keep her Hong Kong ID Card active, so is only here for about a month. Her brother-in-law knew she was christian so he set her up in a hotel near a big church he had seen and told her how to get to it. Despite things getting in the way, she found it and came Sunday morning a few weeks ago. Now she will be baptised so that she can attend church when she goes back to Mainland. It's so exciting.
I love you all. Happy New Year.
Saturday, January 1, 2011
It was so wonderful to talk to you all. I miss you, but it isn't too long before I see you. It's strange. I've already been out here so long. Two Christmases. It doesn't seem possible.
Monday night I got a call from President Chan to be a Zone Leader. Yes, it is a proper noun. That means I have to lead a whole zone and be a good example. Help them to work hard and be happy. I feel I can do a good job with the 'be happy' part, but I'm the one who will probably be learning the most in the other aspect. Do I run as fast as I have strength? No faster, but still diligent? I hope so.
I am replacing my 'Father' (trainer) Elder So who is going home. One or two MTR stops home. I really respect the Hong Kong people who serve here. It can't be easy. Just like everyone else who has ever met him, I love him. He is just so loving to others. He's great and I'll miss him as a missionary.
I don't know what to say. We've had a hard time with the holiday season as far as teaching people goes, although there have been more visitors from mainland than usual. There was one who came with her American boyfriend and stayed for a while. We were able to teach her for a few days instead of just one. She has been learning about the church online for several months now and so understood everything and asked lots of really deep questions. 'What about people who don't go to those kingdoms? What about Satan? Is he going there?' It was great.
Elder Welling's mother bought us all dinner yesterday (not in person of course. A thin piece of plastic represented her) and it was really really good. I don't imagine she will read this, but thank you Kathy Welling. It was so so good.
In the bathroom of the mall where we ate was a sign that read:
Mess easy to use
I say we get one.
I love you all. The church is true.
I'm lucky people think that my way of doing things is at least interesting. Everyone calls me indie, so when I wrap all the presents in solid colors and simple designs and newspaper, they just say "it's so indie" and like it as a change from the normal flashy Christmas. It's the Christmas I grew up with, even though I often wished for the colored lights and four in the morning fits of mad present opening that my friends and cousins had. I'm afraid I don't know how to do that Christmas. I don't imagine it would be hard to learn, but now I feel ours is the right way. Slow and paced. Bridling the appetites. Thanks Mom and Dad.
In China, Christmas is known as Silent Night. So today we're having our mission Silent Night activity. Food, skits, gift exchange. I got a Chinese piggy bank and filled it with M&M's for Elder Fogt. I don't know him at all, and those who do just told me to do something crazy. I'm afraid the bank was maybe still a bit wet from washing it, so the M&M's might be all stuck together. It will be an engineering challenge for him.
Sister Ruan's husband is opening up a bit, though he still has a lot of doubts about "the Mormons." He actually came to a few activities though. But he doesn't want her to be baptised into a church that he is not a member of. He says that can lead to problems later on. He is right, so he needs to join too. The problems would not come from her baptism, but from his not being baptised. He believes that no church on the earth has authority from God. So close, but as of now unwilling to find out for himself. But he's nice. Just stubborn.
On Sunday at a caroling zone find we met a man from mainland who is here staying with his daughter for several months. He had no Hong Kong Cell phone, so we just scheduled him for Tuesday. We had no way of contacting him, so we were afraid he would forget, but he came, and accepted a baptismal date for next month, and is going to church with us Sunday, and got a cell phone so we can contact him. Yay! It's a Christmas Miracle! Or just a miracle. A regular old one.
I love you all! Happy Silent Night and Merry Christmas. Talk to you tomorrow!