Thursday, March 24, 2011

Cool and Cultural

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.

Mentor Got Baptized!

[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.

Ultimate Truth

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?"
"... No."
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.