Elder Stevenson...week 28

Monday, February 29, 2016

So the same day as last P-day I had the amazing opportunity to shake hands and listen to Elder Stevenson of the Twelve address our mission. He spoke about the recent Worldwide mission training they had in January/Febuary. It's so cool to have such specific revelation and questions pointed to us as a mission. Very Powerful.

This week was also a little rough. After finding a couple friends on the street that had a TON of interest, their teachers showed up and started speaking in broken English telling them to get home. It was approximately 7 o'clock in the evening (which may seem decently late for some Americans, but in Hong Kong everyone is just getting out of their sports practices (which are only an hour long maximum). The teachers followed them and, assuming that we didn't speak Chinese, started shouting at them about how we were a wicked and evil church and how they needed to avoid us at all costs. We walked away and prayed as hard as we could that the spirit would protect those two young men and that we would still be able to contact them. We still have yet to talk with them.

We also, for the first time in both mine and Elder Powell's mission, we got a street contact FAMILY! They have a beautiful 2ish year old daughter who was really funny because she kept calling me their dog's name. They weren't able to make it to church this week, but we should be seeing them soon. They read "The Family: a Proclamation to the World" and really have a lot of interest in the concept of Eternal Families. Super awesome.

We also have an investigator who is getting ready and on his way to be baptized. He is about 40 years old, not married, no children, and he loves reading the Book of Mormon! Elder Powell and I are both so glad that he's working so hard to understand this. He's willing to keep every commandment that we have taught him thus far. We're actually going to be hiking with him today, as well as with the Sha Tin elders and a member that Elder Powell knew from Wan Chai. SSSSIIIICCCCKKKK!

My scripture of the week is actually a talk by Ezra Taft Benson from his opening address for the October 1985 General Conference titled "Born of God". My favorite quote in there comes from the Addiction Recovery Book. The last paragraph says "Be changed for Him." I am willing to change for Him, and I hope that after reading this talk, you will have more desire to do so as well. OBEDIENCE! SANCTIFICATION! CONSECRATION! That is something that we all can have a little more in our hearts. I know that Jesus is the Christ. He provides the way for us to attain perfect happiness in the most perfect way.

This is a picture of the District right before transfers. Sister Lo had to leave, but otherwise no changes were made. Happy missionaries.

 It was one of the sister's birthday!

The is a recently attained investigator who is pretty awesome. He runs track. His 400 meter time is 57 seconds, so he is pretty shootin' fast. He's about my age, but he is still in high school because that's just how China works.

Elder Farr of the province of Springville of the Kingdom of UTAH is HERE! Got a picture with him. Shoutout to him for making it through the MTC alive and to his family for supporting him the whole way!

The Batmobile that somehow got parked in the Festival Walk

A picture of Brother Li at the Mic, Brother Dennis Lam at the DJ station, and Brother Chan in the background on his phone.

The week of REAL missionary work...and the power of setting goals on a weekly basis...week 27

Monday, February 22, 2016

So this last week Elder Powell and I finally got tired of not having anyone to plan for baptisms. We set a goal that we would have baptismal dates by the end of the week, specifically deciding who we thought would be ready and seeking inspiration from our Heavenly Father. This is what happened:
Ng Sin Saang: We recently found him. Right now he is a little shaky on the restoration, but we actually found out that he was a former investigator. We met with him and tought about the Book of Mormon and invited him to read Alma 32. He didn't. We read it with him together and the Spirit was there. Elder Powell and I looked at each other, and then proceeded to invite him to excercise his own faith by following the example of Christ to be baptized by someone holding HIS authority...He said yes. March 20th is the date. He came to church. We're seeing him tonight to help him learn about the restoration. Solid...

Simon: This has been a little rough for him. He completely understands what we say and believed it. We invited him to be baptized after our first lesson with him. He will also be in March. We hope he will be the 27th. He didn't come to church because he found some anti-material online and said he wouldn't go to church until we answered his questions. He also made us agree to not have any members with us when we teach him. We hope that it will be okay. He's definitely got a powerful spirit, and I have faith that if Elder Powell and I are worthy, this will pose no problem. It's all about Simon's faith though...

Leo: We actually had not seen him for a while. That is, until yesterday. We called a bunch of formers and asked if they would like to eat dinner with us and a member who makes the most amazing food I have eaten here (I know I keep saying that, but it really does just keep getting better). No one was answering, and we almost skipped Leo because he actually never answered his phone beforehand. We had faith though, so we called...and he answered, proceeding to agree to meet us and eat with us. After we ate and were satisfied, we taught a member present lesson about the plan of salvation. He believed it all, and said that it helped him so much to know it. Everything makes so much more sense as far as why missionaries are here talking to him. The spirit was there, and he accepted a date of...March 27th. We just need to get him to wake up and get to church. That and get his mom's permission.

Dicky: This is actually a story that I feel bad about. This situation was actually the most powerful spirit of the week, and we were positive he would be accepting a date. He said no though. We didn't understand. We read over his record though. There was a lot of stuff and he is known as THE Tai Wai eternigator. His family is all members except for him. He supports his family and says that he loves the members. We have asked him repeatedly why he doesn't want to be baptized, but he continues to tell us that he feels that he doesn't fully understand what the church and the Gospel are. Well, we didn't understand what we meant until we realized that every single missionary that he had ever met simply assumed that he knew the gospel because his family was members. They would just come over and ask him to be baptized and tell them the same answer every time about not understanding. No one ever thought to invite him to take the lessons so that he could FINALLY understand what it was. We immediately called him and he told us that he would be happy to take the discussions. He even said that he wanted his 8 year old recently baptized son to be there with him when we tought. So happy to finally realize this. Hopefully it won't be too long before he's baptized too. His wife has been waiting for almost 20 years after all.

So many miracles, and a huge explosion of success in our faces. Elder Powell and I spent more time than ever on our knees praying for a sign of progress, and this is what we got. The windows of Heaven really can open. You better be ready to catch all of it though.
Scripture of the Week: Words of Mormon Chapter 1 verse 7 - God works in me according to HIS will.

Miracles are real. Never would I ever be able to deny that fact. Though we didn't get the 4 accepted Baptismal invitations, we got more than we could have possibly done on our own. The Lord is God, and He loves us. If we choose to give up our sins, He will carry us home. My prayers are for you all, in hopes that you will feel any portion of the spirit's strength as to what I felt this week. Love you all!
Elder Taylor   /   戴長老 (衣永)
Additions from Mom:  "There are times like that where you will be walking and randomly hear people shouting angrily about things that are LITERALLY of no value. Old people are both hilarious and profane here. Sometimes I wish that I didn't know what they were saying though. Tough ride."
Pictures for the week:  
Sister Pin, Sister Pin's sister whom I don't know, Sister Chan, and Brother Au (or chairman). It was for Brother Au's birthday. 

 Dim sum

 Chicken feet (cantonese direct translation is actually "Phoenix Claw" because that sounds a lot cooler.

So first we have me back in my first area that I spent two weeks in. Me and Elder Belknap (also from the Hobble Creek west stake) are there in the so called "dirty mall" where we got lost multiple times and bought gummies that taste way better than normal American gummies, and I don't say that just cuz I'm in China. Left to right: Elder Taylor, Elder Belknap, Elder Powell, Elder Boyd, Elder Merrell, Elder Leddinham! 

We also have Lions Rock, and if you look at the top left portion, you can see Lion's head.

This last one is Ng Hing Daaih (Brother Ng) who is going to be my first baptism in China. WOOOO!

 Finally, after a deprivation of a few months, I got a gift from a member: Gatorade. It even had Lionel Messi on it. I was happier than I should have been, but juice and sports drinks in Hong Kong just are not the same. They're either disgusting or they have a TON of tea in it. Happy times with Gatorade. No they don't have it in Hong Kong (as far as I have seen when I go to buy groceries).

Valentine's Excuses week 26

Monday, February 15, 2016

Well, yesterday was my first Valentines as a missionary...anyways, we were at church, I had to give a talk about member missionary work with the rest of the missionaries in the ward (super awesome and I really felt the spirit). We also had Elder Wong of the Seventy speak to our ward right after us. He's a really nice man, and fun fact, he was the first general authority to speak in general conference in his native tongue...CANTONESE! You can even look it up.
We have officially been given 600 HK dollars in red envelopes by members and strangers we meet on the street. That all goes into a fast offering because we're not allowed to take stuff like that.
We also called a new investigator about why he didn't show up to church. I quote the conversation in translation to english:
Me: Hey, so sad we didn't get to see you today, is there something wrong?
Him: Don't you know what day it is?
Me: Uuuuhhhhmmmm...Valentines day???
Him: YES! I couldn't go outside to day because I am a single man and I don't want to be cursed.
Me: Oh...uh...
Him: I will see you this Tuesday though okay? You can give me a tour of your church at 3 o'clock. BYE!---
Yeah, that was weird. Never knew that was a thing anywhere, especially in China. After Church we met Brother and Sister Ng who talked to us about missionary work in China.  
Their house was also SUPER nice. Huge and the property has 5 clubhouses that are all MASSIVE and amazingly decked out. My camera died too early to get very many pictures, but yeah. The house was REALLY fancy. Super high security too. I felt like someone was going to shoot me from nowhere.

My scripture this week is 2 Nephi 26:23 about God not working in Darkness. I know that is true, and I hope that I can seek more light in my life and help others do the same. Love you all!
戴長老/Daai Jeung Louh/Dai Jiang Lau (i think that's the mandarin pinyin but I'm not sure...)
That's my missionary name by the way (I figured out how to put characters in a computer because it's awesome like that...)

From mom:  Elder Taylor and Elder Powell live in an apartment with 2 other missionaries, Elder Walker and (as of this week) Elder Chen.  Ian met Elder Chen this summer at a mutual friend's farewell and then they (Elders Walker, Chen, and Taylor) entered the MTC together on the same day!
Events from this week included the following (an excerpt from Elder Walker's blog): Then Sunday night we had an interesting experience.  I woke up to a bell ringing.  It sounded like one of the alarms we have set for the morning.  Except when I got out of bed I realized that it was coming from outside our room.  I also noticed my watch which informed me that it was 1:30 in the morning.  So it was hte fire alarm in my building.  I stuck my head out of the window to see if I could see anything and I didn't smell anything other than the normal amount of smoke.  However, I did see some people congregating outside.  So I flipped on the lights and announced to my roommates that the fire alarm was going off.  So Elder Taylor jumped out of bed and came and looked out the window and we watched 2 fire trucks pull up and the fire fighters jumped out, but they were walking really slowly...not running with hoses or anything.  Then the fire alarm went off and people started going back inside so we got back in bed and went back to sleep.  We were really tired the next day."

Elder Walker and Elder Chen now companions:

Ian to the right of the Dragon at the Sha Tin mall.  Apparently it goes around the mall, into the shops, blessing them and all of the old people

Additionally, from mom:  I asked Ian a few questions recently, which included wondering about his retainer.  He answered with some interesting information I wanted to include.  "I'm still wearing it every night. I clean it about every week (unless something goes terribly wrong. I also leave it in water during the day when I'm not using it. My container broke, but that's why it's a good thing I brought duck tape (news flash: Hong Kong doesn't have duck tape so I treat that stuff like pure gold). If I lose it I'll tell you. I definitely don't want any more mouth stuff than required, trust me.

I hope Carrie showed you the Valentine from Calvin for me. I actually can't really, uuuhhh, read it. It's still super nice of him to remember me though. Definitely felt the love:)

Also, tell those rascals (otherwise known as the Hobble Creek 6th ward Priest Quorum) that they have no idea how amazing it is to have so many powerful young men in a room like the bishop's office every sunday. It blows my mind when I think of Hong Kong reaching that point someday (though only God knows when). Remember every blessing and make the best of them. Use your skills, not for your own benefit or pleasure, but according to the Eternal Will of our Eternal Father in Heaven.
Lastly, tell all the youth there that I love them and hope that they are striving to maintain happiness in the home."

Elder Taylor and Elder Powell at the Ng's home:

Money he has received. People are literally handing out small fortunes here, which goes to the fast offering fund.  

A special Valentine from Ian's cousin, Calvin: 

The New Year that Tuen Mun Burned because of a slightly crazy old lady...week 25

Monday, February 8, 2016

So it turns out that the Fire that overtook a huge portion of forest in Tuen Mun was started by an old lady that was in the process of worshiping her ancestors by burning special rice paper to them. She had probably spent a small fortune on these papers, and got a little more than she came for. She's also supposed to be a little crazy from what the New Territories Missionaries have reported, but I'm not sure.

Otherwise, I also had the opportunity this week to eat pig intestines, chicken feet, and star fruit as well as raw sugar cane. All of it was super good, though the pig intestines were super rubbery.
Elder Phung also got moved to international work in Hong Kong speaking English. He's going to do great. We now have in our apartment me, Elder Powell my companion, Elder Walker, and now from my MTC group Elder Chan! We have 3/4 elders in our apartment that have been out for only a little over three months. Crazy, but it's a ball having Elder Chan in here with us.

This week quite a few miracles happened. We were able to get a hold of Alan who hasn't answered his phone for the past month. He said that he's willing to try again to find out whether or not it's true because he realized his half hearted effort was not enough to reach an eternal truth of the gospel. Very humble young man who has a lot to overcome. His dad is actually a member, but it's very difficult to communicate with him because he only speaks a specific dialect from Mainland China, where he escaped from when he was a kid. He cannot read. Alan is a SUPER smart kid, who aspires to be a doctor. So much to overcome though. China success has a lot to do with your connections and extraordinary talents, and it's hard to look good compared to the other 100,000 people on the block.

We also were able to have a very scripturally apt experience this week:
Remember when Alma was teaching the rich people of the Zoramites who wouldn't listen because they already thought they were somehow God's chosen people and didn't need to do anything else, and how the poor came behind Alma as asked him for guidance? We were finding around the Che Kung Temple and this man just would not have it with the Book of Mormon because he already believed in God and had decided that it was only for those who didn't believe. When he walked away, Elder Powell and I were about to go walk away and evaluate when this lady came up behind us, scared the daylights out of me, and humbly asked which church we were talking about. We got to hear her story about how she had been left by her husband to fend for herself, having no children or close friends to help her. She lives in a very inconvenient place for buying groceries, and was carrying these grocery bags filled with heavy melons and rice. We carried it the rest of the way for her, and in doing so were successful in inviting her to church. She is another super humble woman of Hong Kong who was blessed and protected by her Heavenly Father, guided so as to cross our path at THAT moment. It's amazing the principles that have reached across the expanses of eternity to bring us knowledge of the ways of God.

We also had a 7 hour long Zone Conference where we watched a worldwide broadcast. I saw Elder Tyler Schunk on the screen a couple times and he seemed a little tired but nevertheless as lengjai as he has ever been. Hope he's doing well, and I send him as well as his family my love and support.
Everybody stay safe, and try reading chapter 9 in Preach My Gospel about the importance of Member-Missionary work!

Everybody needs this gospel. I know it, and I will always seek to find more and more effective ways to bring it to the world. This is the work of our Heavenly Father, who's desire is to bring us safely into his arms.

Some additional notes from mom:  I follow Hong Kong Free Press to keep apprised of what goes on in the area.  I asked if he felt the earthquake 400 miles east in Taiwan and how things were with Chinese New year.  "No, I didn't feel anything as far as the earthquake goes, but there's actually been a lot of rioting going on in Mong Kok. Missionaries have been moved, kept indoors, and seen some scary stuff, but it's all okay. No members or missionaries have been hurt. Just a little frightening. As for Tuen Man, that was actually in the area that my MTC companion is in right now. Everyone is pretty sure that, due to the new year, everyone has been doing baai sahn pretty hard. Baai sahn is where people burn special papers for their deceased ancestors to have things like houses and servants and food in the afterlife. Around new year is when people go a little overboard and the fires get out of hand. I'm pretty sure that they actually found the culprit of the huge fire: a little old lady bent over with age. Doesn't matter who you are. If you have a lighter, you are dangerous.
New Year isn't really much else though. Just a lot of families out on the street together going to visit friends and family as well as burning more rice paper than I thought was possible to even exist. It's crazy. Good opportunity to find families though!

PICTURES! Elder Walker and I crouching in the MTR. Super uncomfortable, but fun at the same time.

The Squid probably don't want to hear the gospel,

  and my inspirational photo in the middle of a housing building.

Deep Cleaning week 24

Monday, February 1, 2016

**Ian just wrote last week, so he didn't have much to update. **

Well, this has been a short while, but important things happen every day.
Today is the special day of the year where all of the missionaries in Hong Kong stay home and do a deep cleaning of literally everything. We are to do Personal Study for an hour, email our families, and otherwise do cleaning work. the Fridges in our apartment literally look like they have been transformed. That as well as the AC units and the bathroom. We still have a way to go, but we started off well this morning by eating a rare delicacy of chocolate chip pancakes.

I have in this email some pictures of the apartment and you can take a look at just how small it really is. We have a small bathroom (15 square feet). Two offices, each about the same size as the bathroom. You can see the main area where we have the bunks. Our kitchen is a little bigger than the bathroom and the offices. It's amazing how much we are able to fit in it though (i think it's because it's tall). My bed is the top far bunk. Elder W and I have to be careful when we wake up because we have hit our heads up there before.

I have only seen one cockroach in this apartment, all thanks going to Elder P because he has spent the past month fighting them like a master.

Next week is Zone Training, as well as a mysterious broadcast where we are all fantasizing about someone finally giving this mission ipads because that would help us remove so much weight and bulky items. I have really begun to crave for the LDS library app in its convenient beauty. Just a hope though. I'm not sure what will happen. Not a super big deal though.

I'm reading in the book Jesus the Christ by James E Talmage for the second time through. I can definitely tell the difference between before my mission and now. I actually look at my notes now and think to myself "was I really that short sighted?" I love the guidance of the spirit that is so freely available here though. I feel like I'm at the Tree of Life, beckoning others to come and taste of this wonderful fruit of the Love of God. Nephi shows what is necessary to have this in a fullness. In 2 Nephi 4, he exclaims that he has trusted God and will trust him forever. This is going to be my ponderizing scripture for this week (possibly next week too). 2 Nephi 4:34. Trust in God and let the blessings flow, unhindered by whatever pride or sin may currently exist.

All my love and prayers go to you and these people of Hong Kong that I so dearly love and serve. Please find someone that is seeking the truth, because their problem just might be that they don't know where to find it.

Additional notes from mom:  I asked Ian about the weather.  It's been unusually cold for the area.  "It's not that cold mom. Sorry to misinform. It's just that it's comparitively cold when you look at the first day I was here and sweating more than I thought was possible. Last week was the coldest it's been in Hong Kong since 1956 though (I think).  I'm still fine though."  

I also asked him what he'd like in a package.  "You can send whatever you like. Everyone is a fan of granola bars because you can't get them here. Malaysians are especially fond of them. I know that because Elder Liew (the assistant to the president) is from there and had never had a granola bar prior." 

As Ian was moved recently from the temple to the Sha Tin Mall I asked about the housing situation and his new(er) companion, Elder Powell, who is known as "the happiest missionary in Hong Kong":
"Not being in the temple is definitely different, but I am still having a blast in Sha Tin. It's definitely cheaper as far as travel goes. Before we moved, we had to take the MTR every day and that would cost at least 11.5 HKD every day (if not more if we were finding in a different part of our area).  I have found myself comfortable in teaching with Elder Powell, but that may just be because Elder Tung trained me so well. I feel like Elder Powell and I have improved our skills in Finding, Teaching, language, and feeling the spirit so much as a companionship. I definitely find it easy to work with him. I just hope that he feels the same way about me.

Trainings in District meetings have all been about the Atonement, specifically about it's Healing, Cleansing, and Enabling effects. It's been more of a discussion than anything, and we are all so in tune with the spirit that sometimes it doesn't even require verbal communication to explain how we are all feeling. Sometimes the entire district will sit there in silence so as to completely submit ourselves to the sacred spirit that is present in the discussions. We all have deep conviction towards Christ, and we have all grown closer as a district because we are more aware of how we have each personally utilized the Atonement and it's affect that it had had on us. Next week I'll try to remember to bring my notes with me to share with you some of the promptings that came to my mind.
The weather is starting to warm up, and the monsoon season should be just around the corner. After the coldest period of time in decades, I keep hearing rumors that it's also going to be the rainiest it's ever been. Hopefully I'm just hearing it wrong. Who knows though. I might actually get permission to wear those boots that I brought (yeah, turns out that we are actually not allowed to wear those without special permission."

One of Ian's friends from our ward at home just gave his farewell and I told Ian about it:
"I'm sure Kadyn did wonderfully. He's always been a sober guy, and I know that he'll be great on his mission if he continues to apply the same endurance that he has in the past. Tell him that he's awesome for me, and that I would love to be able to contact him via email if he has any interest or questions about anything. He's probably got plenty of different resources as far as that goes though. So many missionaries..."

"Love you mommy. It seems far away, but Mothers day is just around the corner. Thank you for teaching me so much, and I am especially grateful now for how much you taught me about keeping stuff clean. A clean house is a godly house, and today is the deep cleaning day of the year. The fridge has never looked so nice."

The newly cleaned fridge!


Elder Powell on the left, Elder Walker in the middle, and Elder Pung on the right.  "Elder Walker and Elder Phung are the missionaries that are serving in the Sha Tin area. They are in our apartment as well as in our district."

Huddling around the heater.  Apparently if they don't keep it on low it blows a fuse.

A picture of the district before Elder Phung's transfer.  

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