The Christmas-New-Year Blast! Week 19

Monday, December 28, 2015

Well, hello everyone, and ALOOOOOOOO-HA! Not in Hawaii, but I thought I would give it a try. Didn't really work did it...

This week has been hectic. We have been having SO many lessons at the most inconvenient places in our area. We're jumping all over Tai Wai Hong Kong in order to get to these lessons. I'm so glad to say that we are having a huge BURST of success, be it in finding new investigators, or getting more progressing investigators. This is probably the best I have been doing all of my mission, though I haven't reached the baptism yet. That should be happening in February though!

Talking with family is a very strange experience, but I'm glad to see that my family is in Ship Shape and "Bristol Fashion" as Elder Cook would say.

I hope that Everyone had a good week and had a good Sunday/Monday so far. I love being ahead of everyone else in the world as far as time goes. It's crazy how that works.

This week, Elder Powell and I found 2 new investigators and have about 13 potentials. Still working on calling all of them. LOVE IT!
Shout out to my amazing Elder friend Enrique Cahua for killing it in that one place that he's serving... I think it's Texas...;)

My Pondering scripture is 2 Peter 1:1-10. This scripture is very similar to D&C 4:6, but I think it's more appropriately in depth and instructive. I think it's a good reminder of the need for eternal progression. Giving up the lusts of the world in the search for our call to virtue.

I also read a talk in the November Liahona (FINALLY GOT IT IN ENGLISH!). I really appreciate the talk "What Lack I Yet". The Spiritual Practice is definitely something I will be looking into and that I would invite you all to do as well: Ask your Heavenly Father that question "What Lack I Yet?" and just sit quietly waiting for a response. It may just come through your thoughts. It may come from a random comment from your companion unaware of your prayer reminding you that you need to write in your journal that night. I have found so many different ways that revelation comes and am SO grateful for that.

This is some of the Buddhas from when we went for last P-day to 10,000 buddhas. I lost count after about 5 or so. Sorry about last week and the slow computer problem! I hope you all have an amazing new year!

 The district:

The original selfie stick Buddha:

One of these guys is riding...A PEACOCK! The other one has the Eyebrows of Eternity and wisdom.

The pool of turtles...of eternity. Everything has "of eternity" at the end of it in Chinese.

That baby is forever rocking that pose... 

And Sister Jeung is forever such an awesome member of the Church with such a powerful testimony. I think it may be the first native testimony that I have actually understood (mostly). 
Me with Elder Powell and Sister Jeung (the amazing mom I mentioned).

Christmas in the Temple Apartment.

The district went Banner finding.  They sang Christmas carols in Cantonese and English:

Elder James telling the story of "How the Grinch Stole Christmas!" That was especially awesome because he has a slight tremor when he talks, but you couldn't tell. You would have LOVED it. I hope they got a video of it on the Facebook page or something. If not, that's too bad for you.

An additional picture from a building.  We were on the 45th-ish floor. That was one of the freakiest things I've seen. You can't even tell where the bottom is. This picture from soaring heights is at full zoom in, so yeah.  I couldn't tell what was lining the edge and asked Ian.  He replied, "People just leave stuff hanging out. Most people don't own a dryer (or sometimes they have more clothes than they can fit in their apartment)."

Notes from Mom:  This week we got our phone call from Ian for Christmas!  He actually called us on the evening of Christmas Eve.  It was wonderful to see him and hear his voice.  I'm attaching the email we received from the office elders.  

Hello Brother And Sister Taylor,

These are the assistants of the china Hong Kong mission. We would like to inform you that your son Elder Taylor will be skyping you at 10am Hong Kong time which is about 7pm on the 24th of December your time. If you have any questions please feel free to email us. Merry Christmas!

Elder Peacock (孔長老), Elder Liew (劉長老)
Assistants to the President
China Hong Kong Mission
Cell: (852) 9751-9706
Office: (852) 2337-7556

One of many screen shots of Ian:

On the # day of christmas my mission gave to me...week 18

Monday, December 21, 2015

I have eaten way to much. In one week I gained 5 pounds. I have a lot of money left over because people keep feeding us (that or we have no time for a meal so we just don't eat. Still don't feel super fat though, and I am definitely keeping word of wisdom standards.
People really like GamSaa (The golden ball Ferrero Rocher chocolate ball things) and they'll give them to you until you run away or explode.

I have four old friends with me. Sisters Lo and Nettles and I get to keep Elder Walker with me in the District. 50 percent of the mission is now 6 months or less experience in the mission. My MTC companion and Elder Warner from our MTC group are companions now in the New Territories. Inspiration that will bring forth miracles.

Speaking of miracles, I found 2 very special men this week. One is Horis, who has not talked to missionaries for 10 years, almost as tall as me and about 40 pounds heavier (not fat at all).
The other man is amazing. Missionaries were teaching him in September, but he disappeared into mainland never to be seen again...or so we thought. I was calling on the potential list and saw the name and didn't recognize it (boy was I exhausted). I called it, heard him and when I asked him if it was Toby, I remembered. He is back in Hong Kong. We have met with him once. We have a scheduled baptism for the end of the transfer in February. What a miracle. I will send pictures when I actually remember my camera in a lesson.

This week was also the "My conversion" testimony meeting. A member of our ward named Sister Jeung (pronounced jerng). She has such a powerful testimony, and she is also one of the sweetest and most patient mothers I have ever met (though not in comparison to the woman that gave me life and the light of the gospel whom I dearly call mom). She has a little 1 year old named HayHay who is a monster and an angel. By the time she had finished her testimony last night, Hay Hay had successfully given me a stack of about 30 hymn books that he had been stealing from the pews. She's originally from mainland, but she speaks fluently both Mandarin and Cantonese. She's actually a life saver for Sister Kino and Ellsworth, who are the Mandarin missionaries that visit about every couple of weeks. I have a picture with her and Elder Powell from last night.

My ponderization scripture is probably one of the most widely used and most widely ignored and hypocritically used. Matthew 5: 3-12, rightly called the Beatitudes. I would desire to emphasize two points that are essential for FAMILIES. Blessed are the Peacemakers and the Pure in Heart. Ponder the meaning of the meaning of being called the children of God and "see[ing] God." An example of the Believers is a peacemaker and has pure and humble desires to do what is right  in serving those that are around them. If we apply these principles in the home, it invites the spirit of peace and charity into the halls that are meant to be the most hallowed in our worlds.

I read those two specific verses hundreds of times over and over, going to every cross reference possible, and discussed it with Elder Powell, who agreed with me that in addition to the rest of the principles in this scripture, the home's true foundation is based and structured around making peace and building hearts that are pure. Look to the children that are sinless and without guile. How could something so simple and tender have the ability to apply the most powerful tool and build the most sturdy foundation? Don't overcomplicate it. Follow the guidance of the spirit, and use the Light of Christ to discern the good from the evil (evil in this case could also be considered confusing or useless or distracting).

When we get rid of all of that fluff, The extra functions, parentheses, and finish through the order of operations which are faith, repentance, baptism and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost (and renewing those covenants and the worthiness to have those gifts with us through the sacrament) and enduring to the end, we can realize that it comes down to our agency. Learning the Laws, Knowing Good from Evil, and a consequence connected to our action, be it a blessing from God or a curse that we place on our own heads. The example of Christ is given and explained. It ISN'T SUPPOSED TO BE THAT HARD!

Read the Conference talk from President Monson from the Sunday Morning Session. There's more in there than you can find.


PS Chance, I might end up actually being your trainer when you show up. That is my reason for pushing myself really hard right now for language. Who knows though. I hope you're not stuck with me, but that still would be SO cool. Springville to Hong Kong like your life depends on it!

Move Calls...week 17

Monday, December 14, 2015

So this week, we have end of transfer move calls. I will no longer be with Elder Tung. He's headed to Pok Fu Lam learning again sau yuh (sign language). I will be with Elder Powell, who is the legend of being the "Happiest Missionary in Hong Kong". Super excited. I'm staying in the temple. I have pictures of my district in our last district meeting before move calls. They are all such amazing missionaries. Sister Hansen and Sister Cochran are both leaving this Thursday. Sad to see them go, but I have learned so much from them.

About Skype, I have found out that I actually might be able to do that. Dad, could you please set up an account for me so that I can then use it in an internet cafe in my area to call you all. Please be utterly specific in any instructions you send, otherwise, I might not be able to do it. All the computers are in chinese, so I am relying on memory of functions here. But also, we are actually allowed here to have 1 hr of skype. Tell me what day and what time you would want me to call you. HK is 15 hours ahead of you (so at 00:00 on Dec 25 in Utah, it will be 15:00 in Hong Kong for the same day). If you have other questions, email me and I will get back to you. I don't have to call you on christmas day though. Just some time that week or the next week.

Also, my Christmas gift to you, Dad, is a little info about magical chinese medicine. Elder Tung says that if you do this every day for a month, you with get rid of your allergies:

Take 1 cup of raw soybeans. Immerse them in water and let them soak over night.
Peel the outside layer in the morning. Should be relatively easy.
Immerse peeled soybeans in boiling water for 6-8 minutes.
Immediately blend in a blender and drink. It's not meant to taste good. It's gross. Start when your allergies start acting up and see what happens though.

Elder Tung and I have been through a hard transfer together. We have no progressing investigators, our finding is very unsuccessful most of the time, and I still struggle with language because that's the way that missionary work is supposed to feel. We are still happy though. Still feeling the spirit. Still loving the work. Still doing our best every minute of the day.

Ponderization this week is about that. Even when Mormon and Moroni had a literally hopeless people, God still had a work for them to do. Maybe it's supposed to be a trial. Whatever it may be, growth comes because it's from God. I've come to be able to feel calm in the most panicked of situations. I say what needs to be said when I myself have no words. I love this work. I love remembering the birth of Christ. This is His work. Moroni 9:6

Picture 1: Left to Right is Sisters Gamboa and Hansen (Tai Wai) and Sisters Cochran and Yong (Sha Tin)

Picture 2: Elders Walker (training with me) and Zone Leader Elder Phung (he's from California).

Picture 3: Liu Wa (Mandarin for "Green Frog")

To Adam, I met this Less active. His name is Hugo (he calls himself "Handsome" as his name). 

He really likes Legos. He's 12 turning thirteen in about 2 months. Could you send me pictures of some of your fine creations so that I can show him? Here are some of his Legos.

Also my last sunday dinner with Elder Tung. Eggs on Rice with a sauce made of Ketchup, tomatoes, salt sugar, and companionship unity.

The week's change and some important people...week 16

Monday, December 7, 2015

Merry Christmas everyone. Hope you have all seen the amazing videos and devotionals that have been coming out for this amazing time of year. They are so inspirational and thought provoking. Definitely a good tool in China, especially since there are so many people that don't even know who Christ is, let alone what Christmas is or what it means.

There were so many miracles that came out of my challenges this week. Elder Tung and I really tried to get one of our investigators to come to church this week. He's been keeping his other commitments, but he just doesn't have the dedication or faith to set aside the time for Church. We are actually going to be talking to him about Faith next time, so I think that will help either way. We got a less active at church though. For those who don't understand the weight of that, in HK there are on average about 60% of the members in the ward that are considered "Less-Active" because they are baptized, but decide that they would rather make money and go to work than go to church and sleep. This Less active wasn't asleep though. He brought his children. He was attentive. He asked us when English class was. He participated. We almost forgot that he was an inactive in the first place! What a good opportunity for him as well as for us.

The monkeys are not so spread out anymore. We used to see them half of the nights on our way home from Tai Wai, but its probably because it's getting colder. It's actually really funny. We visited another set of missionaries' apartment because Elder Tung has to do his number report for the week on Sunday. We showed up a little early though, so we studied for a little while. I loosened my tie and took off my shoes and got to work. Elder Tung was in the corner farthest from the window though, freezing and shivering trying and failing to turn his pages with his fuzzy little mittens on.
"Are you cold?" he asked.
"No, are you?"
He just mumbled something about me being fat and went back to his studies.
Note from Mom:  this is very common in the culture.  It is not meant as an unkind statement. 

That is all what I wrote this morning. Let me tell you a little bit of what happened today:
I went to Sha Tin with Elder Tung and 6 other missionaries to a buffet because we were "Chenged out by one of the Ma On Shan Members. He paid for everything. He does stuff like this all the time (but he's not fat at all, as you will see by the pictures). I actually had this REALLY GOOD stuff called "Almond Tea". Completely okay. It's like almond milk that has sugar in it and is heated up. It's AMAZING! If you ever have a chance to try it, DO! I feel so full right now though. I've never seen a mountain of noodles that big. They had a chocolate fountain too. A really big one. I recall fuzzily accidentally putting a shrimp in, but I think it actually tasted all right.

Afterwards, we shared stories (of which I have very few). Elder Peacock, one of the Assistants to the President, has TONS though. Gruesome, funny, and strange. All inspiring. He's an amazing missionary.

After that, at 2:30, we went to go get groceries in Lok Fu. We had just arrived when we received a call from an investigator who has actually been progressing quite a lot. I was not expecting what happened next. He said that he didn't want to meet with us any more. He said that he will be really busy for the next few months getting ready to become qualified to teach english. He thanked us, and before he hung up, all I could do was testify that if he read the Book of Mormon, he would know that it's true, and that our message is true. His last words to me were "I will, thank you". I don't know what will happen, but I hope he keeps his promise.

After Groceries, we headed home and cleaned the apartment. Now I'm here. All in a couple hours. Obviously I'm devastated, but I have a testimony, and I can't stay sad with the knowledge that I have of what is most important. I definitely have a greater understanding of what missionary work is like. You can't control people. If they are ready, they will accept it. If not, all will be well, and God will never forsake us.

Tomorrow I give my first training in District meeting on teaching the restoration. I not only feel unqualified, but I am actually unqualified, at least as far as normal standards go. Remember though, "Faith, Hope, Charity and Love with an eye single to the glory of God qualify him for the work."

Otherwise, I really don't have much left to leave with you. Never give up. Even though it's hard. Even though you may feel like your efforts are for naught, remember what you have been taught.

My ponderizing scripture this week has to do with gifts, being a christmas season. Not wrapped gifts though. 1 Corinthians 12:27-31 tells us that, as the body of Christ, we should covet the best gifts: of discipleship, healing, service, leadership, tongues, teaching, and miracles. The greatest miracle of all, the greatest servant, teacher, healer, speaker, and disciple was Christ Himself.

May God support you all. My heart now is heavy, but 2 Nephi 4:19 "...I know in whom I have trusted." I love you all. If you are reading this, you hold a special place in my heart. Be willing to share the message of the true joy of Christmas this year. Find someone who needs that true happiness and feel the joy that comes. You know what I decided to do on the bus ride after the investigator called me? I talked to someone. A random lady that I actually wasn't able to get the name of. I gave her a flyer with our phone number on it. Told her if she had questions, call us, but I bore testimony of Christ, and told her that we can become forgiven of everything we do wrong if we change. That really is the best way to boost your spirits, ESPECIALLY if you're a struggling missionary.

These are some important people. Elder Peacock, who is one of the assistants with Elder Liew. Elder Peacock is from Ireland. Was a professional golfer. Super nice. Knows a lot of stuff, and is one of the best people overall that I have ever met. 

Then we have elder Chu. He's the most busy of all the missionaries in Hong Kong because he's the OFFICE ELDER. He makes flyers, takes care of technical problems (of which there are many). I wasn't able to get a picture of his companion, who is the other busiest missionary, but Elder Tam is the Housing Elder. He takes care of ALL of the apartments and keeps track of all the problems and maintenance.

You also have me and Elder Walker at the Buffet there. We were SO full. Couldn't handle all of the almond tea that we drank. 

This is a picture of the famous Yoshi.

 Then you have some Elders just enjoying their P-day.

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