The last full week of the transfer...week 36

Monday, April 25, 2016

Well, I have had the amazing time to spend with Elders Powell (my companion) and Chen and Walker in the TaiWai district. SO much progress has been made and as we had a little bit of a family council just last night (applying Elder Ballard's advice:), we realized the major difference in our numbers. Numbers may not tell us very much about the personality of the people that we teach, but as far as the progress of the area, it's very evident that we have worked very hard. These Elders are also very humble, and we each shared things about which we would like to improve in our next transfer. I am going to be looking at my weekly goals more often and work harder to write things down that I need to do in a way that I can most efficiently contact people.

Elder Powell keeps telling me I'm going to be training next transfer, but the call hasn't come in yet. I doubt that I am qualified in the language for training a missionary. We will see though. I really want to stay in this ward though. These members are just so amazing and willing to help us in any way possible.

We actually just finished an activity where for 40 days, there would be a different member each day that would fast for the ward missionary work to progress. I know that it's been very effective and miracles have been wrought through the faith of these members.

I also have a picture of my exchange that I had with the Zone Leader, Elder Merrell.  He's very powerful, and he is very in tune with the Spirit when it comes to finding on the pier. This pier is so beautiful though, and to add to it, the testimonies of some of the most righteous people I know have been borne on it. Though I didn't get to see Yoshi during this exchange, I did get to meet their ward correlator and teach a man named Norton. I actually know him. He and I are really good pals because he comes to our extra awesome English class every week. He's getting baptized on the 8th of next month. I'm so happy for him. He's so awesome. I bore testimony of Joseph Smith to him though. We were watching restoration video and I tried to imagine Joseph's feelings throughout the restoration, which is continuing to this day. He really was supported by God the Father and truly had seen them in the flesh, just like Moses spoke with God face to face. I know that because this gospel is true, therefore Joseph Smith is a Prophet of God. The Book of Mormon is the word of God, and if we abide by it's precepts we will become closer and closer to God.

Love you all, and I hope your weeks are all going well. Santai gihnhong! Samseuhng sihsihng!

Notes from Mom:  I asked Ian what this closing meant, and he had time to reply:
"Body Healthy! Heart wants will have success!" That's the literal translations. It's just a couple of 4-word blessings that are original to China.

Also, another scripture that I want Dad, Simon, and Adam to pick apart for Owen is D&C 84:33-44. I love these scriptures and the promises included are infinite.

Just the amazing view from the 40th floor in the MaOnShan Apartment overlooking the Tolo Harbor. It was a good thing I took this picture earlier, because the fog was much thicker later.


Birthdays and new investigators...week 35

Monday, April 18, 2016

So this week was the birthday of Felix Chu from the WanChai ward. We hang out with him on P-days all the time because he and Elder Powell and I are just really good pals. He's an awesome member. We also had Handsome/Hugo's birthday just on sunday (he's the Less active, who sadly decided to not go to church yesterday because he was having his birthday party). We made both of them cookies. That was surprisingly not a complete mess though.

We also had a great time at the science museum in Tsim Sha Tsui (i'm actually not very sure if that's the correct British spelling for that). That was a lot of fun as well. We played Badminton with the young men and one of our investigators. Elder Powell and I destroyed, even though Badminton is actually pretty big here. A story I think is worth sharing though.

We contacted a lady on the street. Nothing too crazy, but we were making progress in our conversation with her. All of a sudden, this man comes up, listens in for a couple of seconds, and then starts interrogating this lady. He then starts saying that he knows what we talk about. He didn't at all though. We had to stop him when he started saying that we would talk about God living in our souls and how if we let him he would control us. There were some serious doctrinal errors in what he was saying, but by the time we got rid of him, the contact was gone off to finish her shopping. We kept walking. Found another contact and had an even better time talking to her. We were about to start talking about the restoration when out of nowhere, the same man came up again and did the same thing. I was about to explode, even to the point where it may have been inappropriate. However, the Spirit came just in time to remind me of my prayer that I gave this morning. My planner has a 14 day challenge that we are supposed to, that day, pray for an experience to show patience. The Spirit told me: you are the one that prayed for it, so take it. I did. I was still. Elder Powell was as well. After the man left, we told the woman that what he said was not true, and she said "I know. I felt that in my heart." Maybe if he hadn't said all those untruths, she wouldn't have had the opportunity to feel the Spirit tell her that it wasn't true. The Spirit will guide you and protect you. That's my simple testimony, and I say this in the name of Jesus Christ Amen.

The people besides me, Elders Powell, Chen, and Walker are Jonny (orange shirt) Joyce (girl) and Felix (birthday boy).

 I'm also bodyless in one of them,

and the last one is Elder Powell crying in victory over the couch we moved.

Note from Mom:  We got an extra picture from Elder Powell's mom.  I would recognize that head/neck anywhere.

General Conference and more...week 34

Monday, April 11, 2016

**Ian had to wait for conference to be translated into Chinese to watch with his ward in Tai Wai.  I gave him a bit of a spoiler as to some of the talks, but really, they were all good.  His first response this week was regarding conference.**

I wish I could just send home all of my notes and impressions of the conference now. That'll have to wait though. It's in my journal though! It's amazing how much more personalized the general conference is becoming. I don't know if it's because I have a greater need of it, more preparation in advance, or a mix of both. I truly do sustain these men as Prophets, Seers, and Revelators in these last days.  I also really loved Robert D. Hales' talk about the guidance of the spirit and using it in all aspects of our lives.

So this week was Elder Walker's Birthday. Super fun. A member donated a cake and we had loads of fun for the dinner hour. The two days after that was General Conference. So amazing. Three specific words that I got from it that I know are key to the progression of the kingdom as well as on a personal level: Sustain, Serve, and Sanctify. These were all applied in the aspect of caring for refugees, temple work, and ESPECIALLY the family. I loved Elder M. Russell Ballard's talk about the family council. It wasn't too long ago that the family home evening was implemented. I guess it is now time to take it to the next level. We should be willing to sustain our family and each individual member, serve them for the ability to develop charity towards them, and participate in ordinances that will, as the bread and water of the sacrament, become sanctified through the Priesthood authority of God.

Joshua 3:5 was once again made mention by Elder Jeffery R. Holland. We must sanctify ourselves. We must be purified and consecrated to the cause of Zion if we are to come forth in the morning of the first resurrection having eternal life and become crowned with glory from on high. This is my prayer for all of you and your families. I pray for you. I love you, and wish to have even more love for you as another apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, serving in the China Hong Kong mission. May you all choose the HARD RIGHT rather than become distracted, angered, or downright deceived by the devil and his counterfeits. May you all be protected and feel the support of my soul. In the name of our Savior Jesus Christ, Amen.

Food is important. Chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast, photo courtesy of Elder Powell.

Elder Walker had this to say about conference:  "The Tolo Stake gathered in the Stake Center in Tai Po and watched the Saturday sessions.  We got to watch in English which was really nice.  Some of the members who spoke really good English watched it with us."

Then on Sunday we were able to watch it in our Sha Tin building.  That was fun.  In between session the ward had a huge pot luck so we got to eat!"

The entire ward, with the missionaries and the investigators, had lunch together between sessions. 

The Apartment is together for Priesthood session.

 The cake was donated for Elder Walker's birthday, and it brought back very fond and somewhat embarrassing memories of my passion for that little train. Elder Powell's mom Carrie sent me her son's letter, which included some additional narrative that Ian didn't include.  "This week was Elder Powell's birthday, so we woke up early to wake him up singing happy birthday and poking him.  It was good.  Then one of the members, Eva, got us a cake to give to him which was great.  Thomas the Tank Engine cake for the win."

Finally, this is A-Ken, or Kenny. He's super powerful. He came to General Conference. He's preparing for May 22 to receive baptism. He is probably of of the most specific and intent men that I have ever heard say a prayer. He truly strives to communicate with his Heavenly Father the desires of his heart.

Notes from Mom:  Elder Powell indicated that suit season is officially over!  They are happy, but it is going to get hot soon.  Spring session of General Conference marks that they don't have to wear suitcoats until the fall, unless theree is a formal meeting.  

Ian posted some video to a dropbox account we set up.  He has updated that and told us:  "Also, I just added a bunch of videos to the drop box account. Should work alright. Tell me if it doesn't. There is the monkey that stole our bread, rain coming through an alleyway, and most recently, the toads that are taking over the sewers. Yes that is the sound of toads, though they sound more like cows. Super funny to walk past, but kind of distracting when you are talking to someone on the street.  The water from that stairway was awesome. It got up to my shins!"  I will try to link to the short videos on this blog.  The frogs are unreal.

Also from Mom, I updated Ian on some recent events here at home.  Our neighbor's daughter was baptized and it was a beautiful service.  Some people he knows were there.  
"I'm so happy for the Andersons! They really are such an amazing family. I hope that they're doing all right.  I'm not surprised that Katie is just wrecking college right now. She really is just super awesome."  Owen turned 11.  The primary put a sign in the yard wishing him a happy birthday.  I sent Ian a picture so he could see it.
"I love this so much. I'm going to have to show this to my ward's primary presidency!"
I also asked him where his companions got the dinosaur costumes. Everytime I see pictures of them I laugh.

Ian responded, "I don't have a dinosaur costume, don't worry about that. Another beautiful thing about Hong Kong: you hit the street with an item in mind and you will eventually be able to find it. The skill comes it getting it down to a quarter of the price that they start at, if not lower. It helps to be able to surprise them that you are white and know Cantonese."

Simon has been a great example of temple attendance to our family and friends.  I mentioned this to Ian.  He had this to say:  "Isn't Andrew Oviatt in Peru, where there is going to be yet ANOTHER temple built!
Speaking of temples, tell Simon that I'm proud of him. That is one of the focuses that I hope you all caught in conference: temple attendance is one of the only things that will really keep you sane in the church. Otherwise the challenge is just too much. You need the strength of the temple in order to make it. I personally would be dead if I didn't have the temple every three months. I don't know how other missionaries could do it otherwise."

**As I've been catching up on Ian's blog I've run into some of the Cantonese salutations and subtly included them in my last email.  He was more than impressed:
Where'd you learn to talk like that!? Ngoh dou haih hou hingfahn! Gayauhgayauh! Beisamgei!
I'm also very excited! the literal translation is "Add oil", but you get the gist of it. Beisamgei is literally "give heart machine". Same effect as gayauh."**

Another Baptism to be getting ready for...week 33

Monday, April 4, 2016

HALO FAMIRY! HALO EVERYBODY ELSE! We have a new baptism to be getting ready for at the end of May in Tai Wai. His name is Kenny. He's super cool. He actually is a former from about 2 years ago. He has a very cool background in religion because about 7 years ago, he actually was put in prison for selling illegal substances. After he got out, he found his family very sad upon his return home. They were scared of him. They didn't know what he would be like. He didn't know what to do. Then a friend, not of our faith, offered his hope in God. Very basic knowledge, but he knew it was all true. He has known for a few years now that God loves him, and he said that this same feeling is in his heart every time he meets with us, prays, or hears the name Joseph Smith. He's very specific, especially in his prayers, and they have only become more powerful as he learns more about the nature of the Godhead.

I've been studying that a lot this week, and I have found that it's very true that the first eternal truth that Satan attacked at the time of apostasy was man's understanding of the nature of the Godhead. I would like to bear testimony that Joseph Smith saw the Father and the Son, face to face. I have gained, by personal experience, a knowledge that they are in perfect bodies of flesh and bone. The spirit was also present at the time of the First Vision of Joseph Smith. Though we cannot see Him, he is the one we can most often feel, being a messenger from the Father to all who will open his heart to His gospel. They have the same mission, the same purpose, and that is to help us become perfect as our Father is. They love us, and if we trust them, they will guide us. We must be willing to walk the path that has been given though. We must be submissive, gentle, easy to be entreated, and having charity and humility (refer to Alma 7:23-24). Not much more to say. Remember to cherish the words of the prophets, especially the ones that have been handed to you TODAY on a Silver Platter named General Conference. Take care, and remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God.

From Mom-a few fun things that happened this week that Elder Walker shared:  
"Last month we had a list of words that we banned as an apartment (for example:  referring to Elders as "guys", dang it, gosh, etc.) and we kept a tally throughout the week, and whoever had the most at the end of the week has to buy a bag of Tim Tams and at the end of the month we would slam them. Well, there were a few ties so we had a huge pile of Tim Tams and last Thursday we slammed them!"

Pictures from this week are endearing.  "Cross Eyed-ness for fun and because I didn't have anything else to send... I also figured out how to cross one eye without moving the other one. super hard to do..."  First Elder Powell:

 Then Elder Taylor:

"It's important for you to know that this is at the end of the day in the church after yet another awesome companionship inventory."
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