The Baptism...and other amazing miracles in the Tai Wai area...week 32

Thursday, March 31, 2016

**This week Ian and his district went to the temple so their P day was pushed to Thursday. Pictures below.

First off, Brother Ng Chun Kuen was baptized and confirmed on the 27th of March. One of the happiest days of my life. No doubt about it. We had a lot of investigators there, and Brother Ng also brought many, MANY friends to see him enter into the waters of baptism. Brother Li did the confirmation. Brother Ma did the baptism.This is the first baptism in Tai Wai in 6 months, and we have quite a few more on the way. The work in this Zone is being hastened at quite a miraculous rate. SO exciting!

Also, I can't remember if I told you yet, but the Tai Wai ward is in the middle of a "40 day's of fasting" activity. The members all sign up one out of forty days where they will fast for the missionary work of the ward to progress. So many people have informed us of miracles that have been happening. The bishop's day was actually the day of Ng Chun Kuen's baptismal interview.

Allow me to tell you a special miracle that happened just a couple of days ago:
We were walking on the way to Mei Tin Chuen in order to find a former investigator from 2008 which we miraculously found his address. We stopped a Mrs. Li on the way. She initially wasn't very interested, and she was about to just walk away. Then, around the corner comes the hero in the store: Sister Han. She comes around the corner with her son Jacky and his friend Ben (all members) and immediately kicks off the contact by being best friends with her and inviting her to go to the women's session together. We went from a couple of white strangers with okay Chinese talking to a non-religious woman to having pictures shown to us of her 18 year old son who was in need of an English tutor once a week on Saturdays and decided that she would come with him with Sister Han. This goes to say that as powerful as some missionaries are, specific people need specific help, and Sister Han was that help. I'm just getting started though...she then gives us a bunch of food to take home, escorts us to the address, easily brushing off one of the guards with her local ID card, and utterly exclaims "I know these people! Their daughter is my daughter's best friend! I'll get them in contact with you and we'll get them to church on Sunday. Sound good?" Elder Powell and I were speechless. We made it down stairs and there she got a little teary eyed in telling us that she and her daughter had been the most recent members fasting, and they were praying for a missionary experience. She told us about how glad she was to see us, and the example that we provide for her son and Ben (she literally has taken Ben in as if he was her own because Ben's parents are abusive). She asked us for advice, which we told her she could talk to the Bishop about because advising members is not our job. We bore our testimonies though. I'm so grateful for this ward. The spirit is strong. The work is progressing. Miracles are happening daily. I wish I could show you my journal, but that will just have to wait until later I guess.

Keep the faith. Family, friends, anyone within the reach of this email. I know that God lives. I know his Son, Jesus Christ, is the Savior of the world and overcame sin and death for all, and we must come unto Him to find peace and joy in any lasting aspect of our lives. Be sensitive, loving, spiritual, bold, and FULL OF CHARITY! It is truly the perfect love of Christ. I felt it today as I went through the beautiful temple of our God. I feel His presence there, as well as the companionship with us, His servants, as we strive to seek the elect and the few. I invite you all to strive to obey the commandments of God, and by so doing, gain a testimony of the Love and Grace of almighty God.

Joseph Smith was the tool and mouthpiece on this earth that brought about the restoration of the Gospel on this earth in these final days. Thomas S. Monson I sustain as the President of this Kingdom of God on earth, and as a Prophet, Seer and Revelator. Follow the Prophet, and you will doubtless be following God. His path is straight. His way is narrow. His patience and love are infinite, as well as his forgiveness and grace sufficient. Death hath no sting. The grave has no hold. Sin is conquered, and the righteous will be found at the right hand of God in that great and terrible day. I hope that we can be ready for that day. I bear my solemn and joyful testimony in the sacred name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Brother Ng's baptism: Me, Brother Ma Chung Yeung, Ng Chun Kuen, Elder Powell, Sister Gamboa, Sister Fullmer (That's all the Tai Wai missionaries)

 Me, Brother Ma Chung Yeung, Ng Chung Kuen, Elder Powell, Elder Chen, Elder Walker

A close up of Ian with photo credits to Ange!

Griffin and Georgia with a darling Chinese baby at the Tai Wai Ward

Family photo with Griffin, Ian, Elder Powell, Jared, Ange, and Georgia.  
Explanation from Mom:  My sister Catharine and her family live in Saudi Arabia.  For their spring break they went to Hong Kong on vacation.  They attended Ian's ward on Easter Sunday, the same morning as the baptism.  They loved the ward and were so impressed at how welcoming the members were.  It was a great experience and I'm so glad she was able to see Ian and get some pictures!

 Elder Powell and Elder Chen wrestling with Elder Walker and Ian observing.

 Elder Chen, Elder Powell, Elder Walker, Me, Sister Gamboa, Sister Fullmer, Sister Alipao, Sister Nettles (That's our District, which is made up of the Sha Tin and Tai Wai wards).

Some additional stories from this week:  
My arm was bitten ALL OVER by these nasty black flies while is was weeding in a rice field. I'm better now though.  Elder Walker had this to add: "the Tai Wai elders (Powell and Taylor) came home from a service project where they were doing something with horse poop.  Turns out there was a lot of bugs and Elder Powell ended up with 214 bug bites on just his arms.  So they were not very comfortable." 

My arm was NASTY!

On a silly note:  Bishop Mak took some pictures with Ian and Elder Powell and emailed them to Ian.  Ian said, "This is the Bishop and I while we are waiting for Ng Chun Kuen's Baptismal interview to be over. We got distracted by the snapchat that he had...super funny. This is why apps like this are terrible though."
 Ian and Bishop Mak

"This is Elder Powell and I with our faces mixed. Sincerely, the bishop."

7 days and counting...week 31

Monday, March 21, 2016

It is literally 168 hours from the time that I am writing this email before our investigator brother Ng enters into the waters of baptism. It's been amazing to see him progress at such an exponential rate. He's up to reading three chapters of the book of mormon and praying every day (he definitely struggled with that because he thought praying was only for people who had emotional swings like girls. I say that in a direct quote of him, I promise;). We just finished teaching him the law of tithing and fasting, where he said that he would be joining the fast the ward is doing right now for the missionary work to increase. This fasting activity has been really successful and such a unifying experience for the missionaries and the ward. Sacrifice truly does bring forth the blessings of Heaven.
I also got to go on exchanges with Elder Walker on thursday and had the chance to teach a man named Mr. Cheui. He was baptized when he was twelve and then disappeared for thirty or so years. He came back with his brain majorly addled by alcohol, smoking, and many hard family experiences. He has difficulty communicating, so you simply cannot go to teach him without having a member with you. He is really such a nice man though, and no matter what his mom says about him being a hopeless cause, he's been progressing. He used to be 3 packs of cigarettes and who knows how many beers a day. Now, he's changing his life in order to again come into the fold of God. Even with the damage done to his body, his soul's strong yearning for nourishment is even more powerful. It's truly inspiring. The member that is working with him for the majority is also an Angel provided for this struggling man. He's very patient, positive, and probably the only one persuasive enough to convince Brother Cheui to set and achieve goals. This was a team that I'm positive was made in heaven. This member is doing so much for him, and I am grateful for the opportunity to have seen the charity shown.

One other investigator is struggling to realize that only God can provide undiluted and unpolluted truth by the power of his spirit. He has progressed a lot, but he is hitting this wall of requiring evidence before believing. I realize more and more that it will simply take time for him to have this realization. Heavenly Father simply wants us to not impede him in any way by showing forth frustration or impatience, which I cannot say I have controlled very much with him. We always find our own weaknesses when we look at others though. Being to skeptical. Being to slow to believe, or to slow to try. Experiments rarely have any negative consequences though. There are dangers in some things, but you can also rely on the experience of someone you trust or that you have seen. Above all, the safest and surest pathways in this life are prophets, revelation, and the guidance of the Holy Ghost.

A scripture that is becoming more and more prominent to me is Alma 7:23. I really love thinking about family and friends in my life who have been submissive, meek, gentle, penitent unto the One True God.

Please remain faithful, but do it for no other sake than for God. Don't even do it for yourself, for we should love God before anyone or anything else. Become consecrated. Sanctified. You will be endowed with power from on High. I know this. I have experienced it. It is my testimony of the Grace, might and majesty of He who atoned for the sins, pains, afflictions and sorrows of the world. May we seek Him. May we follow Him. This is my prayer, as well as for the safety of you all, in the name of our Lord and Master Jesus Christ, Amen.

Apparently swords were actually purchased. Elder Powell didn't get one so he's using his finding pen.

I was on exchanges with Elder walker on Thursday. We were doing an hour or so of street finding when we came across this place in the middle of Nowhere.

 Notes from Mom's email(s).  The washer is fixed now. There was a foot missing that we had to get replaced, which explains why it was SO loud. The shirt is from the Tai Wai ward (That's all it says. the English is on the back.) I'll have to send you a picture next week of the front and back view. I feel so weird wearing it though because it's a XXXL in Hong Kong Sizing. The bishop just kept getting more and more surprised as I had to come back and tell him that the one he gave me was too small. Ian is referring to the purple shirt in this picture:  

And a bonus pic from Elder Powell's mom off Facebook!  At this point I want to thank Sheriece Farr, Julie Walker, and Missy Merrell for augmenting the pictures.  Together we get it done.  Ian is in the back with Elder Powell, Elder Walker, and Elder Chen.  Elder Merrell is taking the picture!

The washing machine monster and a bit of testimony...week 30

Monday, March 14, 2016

So we had a really, really old washing mashine in our apartment. We did everything we could to make it work, but when you start having to bail the water out and rinse your clothes off in the shower, that's when you have to draw the effectiveness line. It was a good washing machine while it lasted though.

Elder Tam, who is STILL the housing Elder, came in one day with the new washing machine. It was this sleek new looking one that  made the entire apartment excited. Elder Powell was the first one to put a load in.

What we didn't realize was that this washing machines preset spin speed was on the highest one. We were just about to go to bed when the spin cycle started. We all started tensing up as the washing machine got louder and louder, quickly coming to a level that was similar to that of a crashing helicopter. We all layed there in fear hoping that it would finish before it exploded and killed Elders Walker and Chen. It slowed down and we thought we were safe, but it ended up going through two spin cycles and starting the third before Elder Chen got up and shouted "I can't take it any more! I don't wanna die!" He quickly shut it off and my  mucles again relaxed. I realized that each spin cycle I had been holding my breath. It really was one of the most frightening experience of my mission.
I also had a slightly frustrating moment during a lesson. We could only meet with him for about 20 minutes and he said that we probably wouldn't be able to walk all the way to the chapel and have a good message in that time period, so we sat in an area next to the station that seemed to be a nice place to sit down. I realized a couple seconds later that all the people in that area were smoking like there was no tomorrow. I shrugged it off and tried to focus on the investigator, and for the most part I was doing all right. About 10 minutes in though, I sensed the smoke get stronger, and suddenly this old man started shouting at our investigator about catholicism and how evil it was. We tried for a couple seconds to convice this man that we were not catholics, but he didn't really want to listen to us in the first place. He thouroughly distracted our investigator at the same time as waving his cigarette in my face for a full five minutes. I was sick from the smoke and I could feel an emotion that until that moment had not been within me for a while. It was anger. This man was taking not only our investigator's time, not only our time, but the time of the Lord. I was thouroughly convinced that this man was under the control of the devil and I was ready to either rebuke him or puke on him, because he and his cigarette smelled TERRIBLE!

I then looked at Elder Powell, whom I expected to be having the same feelings as I was. I was surprised to find him completely calm and in full stature. He seemed to be reflecting, and I knew that he was waiting for the Spirit to tell him what to do. I then immediately repented and did my best to submit to the will of the Lord. After a short prayer, peace filled my soul, and I calmly turned to the man and asked if we would be able to finish our lesson with him and then address his concerns. He wasn't offended. He simply stood up, nodded at our investigator, and waddled away. The spirit was there. I smiled at Elder Powell, knowing that we did the right thing the right way. Finished a lesson, and walked away feeling much less frustrated and much more focused on the work.

Prayer is real, and the promised blessings are attainable if we will but exercise a little faith unto experimenting on these commandments. I would invite all to try this, whether member or not. Please accept my testimony and know that God, your Heavenly Father, loves you and has a plan for you whereby you and your family and loved ones may return to His presence. I know this to be true. The divinity and truthfulness of the message of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has been revealed to me as well as countless others by the gift of God's Holy Spirit of Promise. I know that Joseph Smith, as well as all of his successors, are prophets, seers, and revelators of God's will and glory. It is by obeying those modernly as well as anciently revealed precepts and principles that we may gain an immovable testimony of the fact that our savior, Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God, LIVES, and that He took upon Himself all the sins of the world, that whoever will come unto Him will find and attain Eternal Life.

The new washer.

HERE is Elder Chen and I on Lion's Rock. 

Elder Powell found something gross on the records...

Elder Farr and I in suits.

Elder Walker cooking while he's mad ;)

The week that it went a little south and a little west and then back on track...week 29

Monday, March 7, 2016

Well, we got to hike Lion's Rock last week with our investigator who will definitely be getting baptized. We may have to push his date back a little bit for word of wisdom's sake, but he said that he shouldn't have any problem giving it up. I love it when the spirit works like that. Makes everything easier and much more lastingly effective.

Tuesday was a day of a slightly awesome MIRACLE. It was a Tuesday afternoon. We were finding because we weren't able to schedule very many investigators last week for this week. We found an estate that we realized was the home of a few less actives. No one would be home though...
Spirit told us to go in anyways. We went to a couple of different floors without any success. We almost couldn't find the last one because it was just tucked in a random corner. Then we almost left after knocking a couple of times. We almost left multiple times. We were on our way away from the door when we heard it OPEN! We bolted back and greeted him. He let us in and he was super nice. His family is awesome. We only met his wife that day (not a member yet), but he's only not been coming to church because his job is super hard and super complicated hours because he's a chef (chefs in Hong Kong have to be at work for about 14-17 hours for five to seven days a week. He said that the busy season was almost over (don't know what that means, but great!) and that he and his son would be coming to church in a couple of weeks. Hopefully we can convince his wife to come to.
Hugo, the one who calls himself "Handsome" for his English name, is almost to the reactivated stage now. I LOVE that kid. He's reading his scriptures more often and enjoys church more now. His mom is happier than ever. I'm so glad to be able to witness God acting in their lives.

The only other thing is a former investigator that is agreeing to start meeting with the missionaries again. I won't disclose his name, but he is having some really big struggles. His wife is very violent and unfaithful. His daughter steals money from him sometimes for dating. He really needs a friend right now. We know that there's more that we can provide for him though. He's very humble now, and he's willing to do anything we tell him because, and I quote: "[He] can see the truth in our eyes." The power of the spirit is more real than anyone could possibly know. I cannot deny that. I love this work. I love my Heavenly Father and my Savior. I know they love me, and will guide me throughout my life as long as I am willing to do it their way. I prefer it that way anyways (most of the time. Still working on that, as I'm sure we all are).

I love you all. Seek to increase and strengthen your faith throughout your lives, and provide a light whereby others may find their way to the safety of the Gospel Shore. My testimony is of a Loving, Living God who will not let us fail.

That's also my scripture this week. Doctrine and Covenants 50: 40-42 (40-46). He plans the success of all of His children. All that are in His care will surely be provided the necessities to accomplish the necessary needs of life, as well as have the blessings of Heaven poured out of the windows of Heaven like an over pressurized fire hose. I know this is true. I have seen it in too many lives, including my own, to deny it. Love you all. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

This is my area from Lion's Rock view.

This is Batman in the Festival Walk Mall.

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