First week in Hong Kong Week 10

Monday, October 26, 2015

**Ian's friend Kadyn Hillstead received his mission call this week and we told Ian.  He starts with his response to the news**

That's so wonderful! I wish I could've been there to see his family's reaction. They all are so well bound in their relationship as a family. I wish them all the happiness that I have found as a missionary and more. He's going to make an amazing missionary. Tell him that even after 3 years consecutively taking Mission Prep class, I still wish that I had studied Preach my Gospel SO much more. Memorize his purpose, the first vision, and whatever else is required of him PRIOR to entering the MTC. It will be a good head start for him on the MTC.

Anyways, about this city...HONG KONG! This city has some of the tallest structures in the world with even more floors because everything is super short. Hitting my head all the time has become a nuisance, but I will get over it.

It's very hot here, very humid, and VERY polluted. My vision has noticeably adjusted. I can't see as far because of the haze, but I don't think it's hurting my eyes. Everyone here is also super short. There are about 5 people total out of the million that I have seen that are about my height. Elder Turner, Elder Warner, Elder Smith, And myself are probably in the top .001% of tallest people in Hong Kong.
Sorry mom, you were so close, but my companions name is Elder Tung. He's a bundei (local Hong Konger) who speaks near fluent english. You must have been praying really hard, because he is GREAT! He likes sea kayaking and studied at BYU Hawaii for a year. It's a little hard to go finding with him because he has a really bad injury from his childhood where he has a little bit of difficulty walking, but we press forward. I try to be a support to him in any way that I can.

The food here is indescribable. There are no similarities to the food at home, even the stuff that claims to be genuine Chinese food. I have some of the freshest fruit in the world in my fridge for about $5 HKD/lb. My companion knows how to cook, but we are often going out to eat because of how cheap it is. You can't order water when you go out because they only give this to you hot. I learned that the hard way when I had a literal trial by fire in ordering my first meal of noodles. I accidentally ordered the spiciest kind and asked for water. I was miserable, but I finished the food. It actually tasted pretty good. It just hurt.

The apartment is super tiny. You could fit it all in the front entry area of our house with plenty of room to spare. We have a washer and a dryer though. YES!

I'm sweating so much. I have worked hard to make sure I don't lose weight though. Still about 180, just a little more defined. My face broke out really bad initially, but I think I'm more used to it now. It was probably just because of the plane ride.

Speaking of the plane ride, Elder Herzog and I had a really interesting experience. A man named Mark would walk down the aisle of the plane about every 25 minutes and would put a slip of paper on Elder Herzog's tray with a scripture on it. We both looked up all of these scriptures. All in the Bible. All talking about deceivers, false teachers, sons of perdition, and other evil stuff. I was actually surprised to find myself laughing a little bit. This man had never met us before, didn't know that we were 18 year old young men, and the only things he'd heard about the church were quite anti and untrue.  We ended up talking to him for about 40 minutes at the back of the plane explaining some of his questions, sharing our testimonies of the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith, and teaching the first lesson of the Restoration of the Gospel. He agreed with everything we had to say. We gave him a Book of Mormon, a pamphlet, and a passalong card. Don't know how he's doing right now, but we sent his contact info in when we arrived at the mission home.

I have my interview with president Lam today because there are simply to many new arrivals. He seems very kind and interested in our welfare, as well as his wonderful wife.

I am right now in the Kwai Chung area. We are actually opening it with 2 other elders and 2 other sisters because of the twenty four of us that just showed up. Elder Tuhng, Elder Shipp, Elder Fields, Sister Taylor, Sister Hadley, and myself make up the district. So many missionaries. We have been invited to so many members homes to eat amazing food and meet amazing and happy people.
I have had my eyes ripped open by the spirit to see through God's eyes how much he loves these people and see how much he has in store for them. The work in not only's accelerating at such an amazing rate. All the gifts He has promised have hit me in the face one by one every second as I open my heart a little more to the reality of God's love and power being exercised. We are protected and supported on every hand. Forget left and right, it's almost like swimming in God's love and care. So this is what missionary work is supposed to feel like. I have never been happier.
The language is impossible, but I was thankfully prepared for that. With the spirit and the gift of tongues, I see so much potential here. and I can't wait to hit the ground running after all of this craziness.

To all the missionaries from ages one to 92, I say Gayauh, and keep the faith. This is worth it and more. God is almighty and all loving. I have nothing to fear but my own unwillingness to work hard. I won't ever let that happen.

Subway was easy to figure out. Still working on the bus system, but I think I'm close.

My ponderize scripture is D&C 4 because I still have yet to memorize the cantonese version.

I love you all! I was so grateful to be able to talk to everyone. Gayauh!

Elder Taylor's Mission President, President Lam, is so wonderful to post things on Facebook.  He included pictures and video of the trainer/trainees that recently arrived.

A picture borrowed from another blog, which has a back of the head shot of Ian.  Desperate for photos here.  

Elder Taylor's first area:  Kwai Chung (just an image from the internet.  No pictures from Ian yet.)

Thank you so much for your experiences and love. It's a real support and blessing. Two more things before I have to go. 1) Saw and thankfully killed my first Cockroach. 2) I don't have time to share a thought about the message from the first presidency this month, but PLEASE tell the Andersons and the Lundbecks that I love and pray for them. Also thank the Lundbecks for their kind card that they sent. Love you all!

Missionaries arrive safely China Hong Kong Mission...October 20, 2015

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Today we got an email from Ian's Mission President.  He included a quick note and a photo. There was also a photo on his Facebook page.  It was so great to get this news and see Ian and his group arrive safely!

Dear Parents,

Just to let you all know that your missionary has arrived safely in Hong Kong. They are a little tired but excited and enthusiastic. Thank you so much for raising these fine young men and women of God. We love them already.

Best regards,

President Lam
China Hong Kong Mission

We may not hear from Ian on his P day because Russell M. Nelson is going to be visiting the mission.  Whatever we hear will be wonderful!  

President Lam has a Facebook page, on which was posted the following:   

Transfer week
We have 24 new missionaries and 8 departing this week. The 24 new one arrived the evening of the 20th. We were so busy that day and the APs and office elders were getting things ready for the new apartments that the mission has recently rented. We ended up grabbing a quick bit to eat at a Thai restaurant a few minutes from the airport before meeting them. This is another great group of missionaries that the Lord has sent to labor here. You can see from their countenance. They are eager and ready to serve and to bring people to come unto Christ. We are grateful to have them here, serving with us.  

So, not only did we get to see the group picked up at the airport, we got to see them standing in front of the temple.  This is taken just outside the mission home, which is across the street.  

Then, we also got video posted on President Lam's Facebook page of the trainers and the 24 new trainees!  If I can post a link to the video I will.  For the time being, here is the picture of the trainers

and the trainees!  Ian is the last one on the right.

Another missionary posted a photo in their cramped patron housing.  I'm pretty sure they were just glad to be off the airplane after such a long flight.

Missionaries depart the Provo MTC October 19, 2015

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Wow.  So today we got to talk to Ian several times through the course of the day.  We spent some time arranging for him to have a phone with which to call us from the Salt Lake City airport, as well as the Seattle airport.  It was great to hear his voice!  He had time to call home, call his aunts Chrissy and Carrie, and even his grandfathers.  His call to Chrissy was hilarious.  He called her, and because she didn't recognize his number, she said "Sorry-I don't take calls from solicitors" and hung up.  He called her back.  She repeated herself,"Sorry-I don't take calls from solicitors" and hung up again.  He called her back and she answered aggressively, "Are you HARASSING me?"  Ian was finally able to talk to her and said, "You are making this a lot harder than this needs to be."  She quickly replied, "What is your name?!  I want to talk to your supervisor!"

Ian meekly said, "This is Elder Taylor."

She felt so badly, but it was so funny.  We got some photos from Elder Hansen, whose mom posted them on the Facebook page Hong Kong Missionary Parents.  It is a great place where we share photos, stories, and information.

Ian at the airport in Salt Lake City:

Ian at the airport in Seattle:

We all got to speak to him and hear some great stories.  Ian informed us that he scored a 5 out of 7 on his fluency exam.  He was pleased with how much he's learned, but he knows he has a long way to go.  The missionaries were able to call home only at the airport. They destroyed their phones as they boarded the plan.  He is excited to get there and meet his trainer.  We watched the progress of his flight as he crossed the Pacific.

 We know he will be really happy and work really hard!

Today week 9

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Notes from Mom:  We heard from Ian on Saturday this week.  It was a half P day as they are leaving next Monday so they are taking care of some last minute emails.  There was a lot of back and forth.

This picture was posted on Facebook by another missionary's mom.  Sister Hoxer's mom had a bunch of t shirts made.  We ordered a few extra to wear at home to show our solidarity.

A couple of pictures we wish we'd gotten are Ian's MTC teachers:  Brother Johnson (Jong Hing Daai), and Sister Kuok (from Macau).

From Ian:  I will be checking this a couple times today, so send any questions or final statements and tidbits of wisdom. Love you!

I don't think I have Chrissy's email, but I'm short on time either way, so please tell her I said thank you for them! I also got the pictures. They are great. Also, guess what...I got a 5 out of 7 on my fluency test! 7 is supposed to mean that you sound fluent when you speak, so I'm on my way (hopefully).

Is there any way that they would just be able to skip the morning part of school (Ana should still be able to go to seminary and then come back home for when I'm calling). I don't know if we're using trax. They haven't told us means of transportation to the airport, but We're supposed to get there no later than 8. Maybe what I could do is talk to Simon Ana Adam and Owen for the first bit and then talk to you and dad for the rest of the time while Simon drops off everyone at school (He has driving privileges now right?). This is as specific as I can get as far as itinerary goes other than what I have already told you.

Thank you for your advice that you give so freely. I hope that I can constantly improve myself in every aspect in order to more fully fulfill my calling. Also I sent Art City a few things in a red new balance shoebox (including one of my nametags) for you guys. I would have sent both name tags, but they messed up on our new ones so we won't be getting those until Hong Kong, so until then I will be wearing the other one.

I love you all. I hope that you are able to figure out monday. You always do. I can't wait to hear all of you!

Also, this message is probably my last one I will ever send in America (unless you need me to answer any questions tonight). To Hong Kong!

Nope nevermind. Actually, about being in Seattle, the time I previously sent was Seattle time, so just so you know, I will be calling at 12:30ish seattle time which is, here, 1:30ish Springville time. I think that might be a better time to talk to Simon, Ana, Adam, and Owen since I won't be leaving TO Hong Kong until 3:30 in Seattle which will be 4:30 Springville. Sorry for the misunderstanding! Ask me if you have any questions or if you want to clarify.

Yes I did mean the airport. I'm pretty sure I can only call people once I get in the airports. I have actually pretty much finished packing and have everything at a good weight. I sent the box today. What happens is Art City is supposed to send someone every day to drop stuff off and pick stuff up, but sometimes they "forget" to pick it up because they usually don't have anything to pick up. Otherwise, that is how it should work. I used the MTC on stuff like a Hymn book, study supplies, envelopes (which I will bring with me to Hong Kong), and LOADS of flashcards.
You are all hopefully either having dinner right now, reading scriptures, scripture reading, or possibly just have a bunch of people at sport practices. I'm proud of all of you for having such faith in your lives. I thank you all for the strength you have given me, and for the love that I have felt here. I hope that all of you have success in the years to come. I have a lot more free time than I thought today, so I will just be reading talks here on the computer. If you wan't to say anything, I'm right here.

I'm sorry that I haven't responded to you as far as discipleship. I have every letter I have received in my suitcase (somewere among the 3 dozen other letters you and your sisters have sent). However, I am studying that question in my scripture study: "What are the attributes of a disciple?" I use a blue highlighter because true diciples are loyal and true (and it was the only highlighter I had initially brought with me).

Tell Simon and Jacob hi for me please. Tell them I love them and hope for their success. Also tell them that I invite them to TODAY share their ponderizing scriptures with each other and their testimonies in no more than 10 minutes and no less than 5 minutes. If they don't have ponderizing scriptures yet, tell them to GET ONE! Also, tell them to laminate and/or frame their trig sheets that their teachers gave them. Memorize them like their lives depended on it. I always found myself looking back to that stuff in Mr. Frossard's class because everything always built off of everything else. Sorry I can't be there to enjoy your company, but I hope that my notes are still at least somewhat helpful.

Also, tell your young women group, especially Ana, that I said hi, and that they should have an eternal perspective in relation to their church attendance. What if there was a recent convert in the room? Even better, what if their was an investigator there? Would they be more willing to share comments, or to pay attention? Would their hearts be more turned towards how they can improve their own testimonies? Elder Holland said that we are our first investigators. You wan't your investigators to keep their commitments? God wants you to keep yours! You wan't your investigators to pray more earnestly and study more intensely? God wan't you to that too! You wan't them to fully understand and keep their covenants they make with their Eternal Father in Heaven, the only one that can bring everlasting joy? You must strive every day, every minute, every second (muih yaht, muih fanjung, muih miu), to keep you own and focus on the real purpose life with trust in God that he will provide all other necessities for you if you will do it HIS way.

You can actually find that this is an invitation that Elder Bednar gave in an old MTC devotional: to read the Book of Mormon with one specific question in mind (or two in my case). You'll have to look for it. It might be the one titled "Character of Christ" but I can't be sure.

Note from Mom:  I asked Ian about the other talk.  His response was, 
"How can I become the missionary, husband, and father that I was meant to be?"

He also sent a music file of "Brightly Beams Our Father's Mercy."  It was magnificent.  
"Elder Jensen has a little voice recorder that we used to record the song we performed. It's difficult to hear in some spots because we were in a brick-wall classroom with 7 people singing into a tiny little 20 dollar USB. Hope you like it though. The third verse is a duet with me and Elder Chen. He's got a GREAT voice."

This upcoming week...week 8

Monday, October 12, 2015

Thank you so much for the shirt. I'll take whatever I can of those. I promise I will use all of the money on my card before I go. I'm getting my second free haircut here too. I saw Tyler in a glimpse when we sang for his group when they got here, but I haven't had the chance to talk to him. This I just kind of a list of stuff that I would like to have ready before I start packing. Don't worry about it if you can't get it all (or any of it for that matter).

I think I'm going to need those other shirts, as well as maybe some socks. I also really miss my Air Force Jacket. Could you PLEASE send that? I only have one tie that my companion doesn't want to kill me in with my blue suit, so could you please send me a couple of ties that would match that one? Also, I am really hoping to be able to get those other photos soon.

We all got our travel plans on Friday! I am supposed to end up with time to call you between 7:30 and 11:15 in the morning before I leave for seattle. From around 12:30 to 3 is the time I have in seattle. How much time to you wan't? That's all I have as far as that. I will also be given a little more lenience this weekend as far as emailing goes in order to make sure that there aren't any loose ends.

Thought I'd relay a story:
Elder Pahn is a member of our zone going to cambodia. He's a very fresh convert of 15 months now, and he taught his first ever lesson in priesthood quorum this week. Talking about the Atonement, he shared his conversion story. How he went to the visitors center in Australia, felt the spirit while looking at the temple, and asked the senior missionaries there about what this was. He was baptized 1 month from that day he visited. He could feel the pull toward the temple, and when he learned about the Atonement, he made the connection saying that the Atonement itself was attempting to pull at him, trying to help him gain salvation in what he now knows is the true and restored gospel.
My ponderizing scripture this week is 2 Corinthians 5:7.  Faith leads to success in life. Actually if you obey any of the commandments fully, you would have a natural desire to obey the other ones too. It's amazing how that works.

This week, the hand of God was definitely in my life. I lost my camera memory card on Tuesday, my wallet on Thursday, and my little Book of Mormon I have been studying on Friday. I just about lost my mind on Saturday too, but "in this moment of great alarm," I found all of that in a small pile on my bed. Everything was there. Was it a prank? Was it me being blind? I'm just going to say that it was a miracle either way.

I hope you have a wonderful week. Be expecting an email on saturday and/or sunday with any last thoughts or complaints. It's almost the end of the beginning. Hou hingfan! (Very excited!)

Yup, all is well. Should have been the wendnesday morning that Elder McGrath and I decided to go for a little temple dining. After this MTC food, it truly seemed like we were dining in the House of the Lord (go figure).

Here's a few pictures from recently. My companion is a weirdo. It's great.

Me with Elder Anderson:

Also, Owen, I wasn't able to get him to draw one, but I am sending you home a copy straight from the source.

I will leave myself about five minutes tonight to answer any questions you have today. Tell Simon I'm excited for him to have his concert. I'm sure it will sound amazing.

Notes from Mom:  Ian's ward mission plaque was getting ordered and there were a couple of questions. Ian was told his release date will be September 5, 2017, but school will have started. I sent Ian a copy of the picture that Carrie took of him.  It is the one on the right-hand side of the blog.  He had this to say:
"Just tell him to do Aug to Aug. I'm not sure what is going to be happening for school, but my branch president said to just mention it in my first interview with the president. We'll see how it goes! I look like a four year old."

This week...week 7

Monday, October 5, 2015

Notes from Mom: As usual, I had several questions that needed answering.  

1.        Did you get the scriptures I ordered online?  I don’t know when they should have arrived.  If they didn’t, please let me know so I can call the store.
2.       Do you want your blue suit here at home sent to you?  If not, totally fine.  If you want just the pants, fine, but they don’t look quite as good as I know your others do.
3.       Any toiletries you need?
4.       Any specific treats?

"Please send the suit (whole thing). I'm about to go get the suit. Still working on weekly message. Still have way too much candy left over. Stop the love flood before it kills me.
I'm about to go get the package is what I meant. Sorry, I'm typing like mad right now!
We might get them on Fridays or saturdays, but there was an explosion of packages in the Mailroom on friday and saturday due to general conference weekend. Couldn't get it. Thank you though...and STOP DISTRACTING ME! You're throwing off my emailing groove;)

Also, just so you know...we all got money on our cards this month! The church is true!"

Craziest MTC week in the existence of all MTC weeks. 360ish new missionaries, Temple on wednesday, accoplishing 100% my language goal of 140 words, 30 Phrases, and mastering 20 grammar sequences. General Conference where 7 members of my district sang Brightly Beams our Fathers Mercy and in the same session everyone had a mass panic because President Monson seemed like he was going into some sort of revelation/cardiac arrest mode at the podium! Oh, plus the BYU vocal point came for the devotional last night...WHAT!
All in all, more has been done this week than I thought possible, attesting to many of the talks in General Conference. I will just talk about that this time (please remember that this is also my home teaching, so please send it to the Andersons and the Lundbecks!):

Mom, to start with you, I felt that you were being directly quoted by Elder Holland when he was talking about the divine role of motherhood and the power of the love that you feel for me. I felt my understanding of that love deepen and I felt guilty for every single time I brushed you off or talked rudely to you or disrespected you rather than treating you like the queen you are in my life. Ana, the same goes to you, being guilt tripped through the understanding of my sins toward you. I hope you have forgiven me for the countless times that I have mistreated you. You are also deserving of my highest respect as a member of the class which represents the crowning jewel of the creation.

Many people, though especially President Uchtdorf in his initial address to the saints at the beginning of the conference, talked about looking at your life and circumstances through Heaven's Eyes (cue chorus to sing: lailailailailiddlelailai...). That song was stuck in my head for the whole two hours between sessions on Saturday.

Larry R. Lawrence in that same session talked about listening to the spirit no matter how  and in your prayers including these: 1)What lack I yet? 2) What am I doing right?  Francisco J. Vinas perfectly followed Elder Lawrence's in talking about repentance being a process, and not necessarily occurring at any specific moment.

I am reminded, as we all were, of the sacred sabbath day, being repeatedly reminded to keep it holy, remembering our covenants we made at baptism to be representatives of Christ in thought, word, and deed.

Robert D. Hales, whom I hold a very special place in my heart, talked about seeking a spouse and raising children. We don't marry perfection, but potential, and we seek to be the kind of person that we look for in our eternal companion, or in application to my specific circumstances, to be the missionary I would want my companion to be. We shouldn't hold outrageous expectations though, you may find that you will end up lonely and angry with everyone around you if you do that. I especially have an issue with having ridiculous and even hypocritical expectations. As for raising a family (or teaching an investigator for me), work through faith, not temporal mediums. Come to yourself in personal counsel as well as holding companionship counsels and family counsels. 

Bradley D. Foster emphasized that we must win the battle for the children in bringing about a lasting conversion through reception and understanding of the gospel "...for the Son can do nothing but what he seeth the Father do." Teach in simplicity, patience, gentleness, and having a hope that the spirit will fill in the gaps for all of your personal weaknesses. This filling can only occur if you have faith though, and are obedient to the commandments that you have been given by your Father in Heaven.
You can feel the Comforter sharing the love of christ anywhere if you will but allow Christ to lift you.

Elder Oaks stated that Christ is perfectly positioned for the lifting of souls unto salvation, having literally descended below all. From the walls of the Temple to the walls of the darkest prison, the Charity of God knows no physical boundaries. The only boundary is YOU!

As for priesthood session, Elder Anderson bluntly began the session by stating that we as priesthood holders can no longer stand on neutral ground in any circumsance, and invited us to remember that the future is only as bright as your faith. Have you noticed the pattern of simplicity in all of these talks? Have you noticed that they are ALL based on the contents of, you named it, the missionary purpose (which I now have memorized not only in cantonese, but in Thai as well for some odd reason). 

President Monson's message was the most straightforward of all: Keep the Commandments. Be strong and alert of anything that could cause you to lose your blessings. Satan is cunning. Be firm and steadfast in faith. Satan is relentless...So am I. His slightly hilarious quote of 1 Corinthians: "There are so many different voices in the world...(slight giggle) close quote." We watched that again Saturday night just because we all thought it was the most hilarious thing ever. You really can quote anything when you are the president of the church (except Jeremiah 4:19 and pretty much anything from Songs of Solomon). We cannot allow ourselves to participate to any extent in that which is addictive, immoral, or unrighteous.

The "panic session" as the Sunday morning session is now called here at the MTC, is so named because President Monson seeming to almost fall over at the pulpit after an amazing and powerful address about the attributes and role of Christ in our Salvation, as well as how we should replicate those attributes in our lives. We also received the powerful testimony of three amazing new members of the Quorum of the Twelve. We have another heart specialist as well as what I believe is now the youngest member of the quorum. Congrats to Elder Bednar for making it that long as the youngest one. Russel M. Nelson brought me to tears as he mentioned his indescribable loss of friends, but he knew where they were. He just misses them, and their amazing influence that they had on him. He focused on the support that they had from their unwavering wives as well as his own wife. President Kimball saw the women of today, knowing how powerful they are as well as the struggles they would face.

Claudio R.M. Costa actually gave the devotional on Tuesday last week. He is a HILARIOUS guy, and his love for the missionaries all over the world is so full. He's a convert to the church, and he talked about his own conversion story and how he couldn't get baptized fast enough.

As far as Ponderizing, this week my scripture for ponderizing is Philippians 4:13. Mom and Dad, take this challenge seriously. It will help everyone. Put your scriptures in the cars, on the windows, frame them, do whatever it takes. It will help the spirit have a constant presence in the house. This challenge goes to everyone within the sound of my technologically enhanced voice. The spirit has confirmed to my entire zone the importance of this invitation.

Finally, Elder Bednar's concluding talk praising those who have passed. The church is run by old people for a reason. Each person, if you didn't notice the super obvious pattern, gave Elder Bednar a "Powerful lesson of a lifetime...From a man [he] loved."

The music was especially profound. SO MANY PEOPLE I KNOW! I saw Brother Mendenhall conducting, Sister Walker and Sister Crockett singing, and a few new friends from the MTC there as well. Every single missionary enjoyed the session with the unbelievably adorable children's choir, and the Spirit of God was sung so loudly in the MTC that we literally caused the chairs in the room to vibrate (yes, we did sing with them, because president Burgess told us to).

Tell Sister Walker that I about broke down because I heard "The Pasture" sung by the MoTab men. Good memories can hurt too when they flood your mind. Simon, tell your team that I say good job. Strive even harder for a perfect season in this life.Ngohdeih dou bitseuiyiu dakdou funsyu taugwo Yehsou Geidukge Suhkjeuih (translation: we all desperately need to receive forgiveness through the atonement of Jesus Christ). I love and miss you all. Tell Abby Nielson that it was great to see her on the 29th.

Love you all!

This was the only picture for the week:  Kim Jong Hitler.  

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