Key Indicator Code Red: Accountability...week 45

Monday, June 27, 2016

I am now permitted to start learning how to read. It's been a while and quite the wrestle, but I now have that permission and I'm SO EXCITED! Elder McGrath and I are the only Zone Leaders in the mission who had not yet started, but now we are BOTH getting ready to start.

We have quite a few investigators now who have a Catholic background. It's rare enough that you meet someone that has any religious background, but these people were definitely prepared. Any recommendations as to how to help them understand the difference between Catholicism and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints would be welcome!

We have changed the work here. As a Zone Leader, I have been stuck on the council that we are not supposed to put any personal emphasis on one key indicator. When I first got here, New Investigators was the main focus, and there was just nothing happening. Then, with the influence of President Lam, member presents have increased in importance and we have seen miracles because of it. There has been a major shift in the focus of what makes the ideal missionary here, as well as the ideal ward unit. Please take this advice personally as all things related to the gospel are of spiritual importance (D&C 29:34).

We are all one day going to be held accountable for the sins we have committed and for the responsibilities that we brushed aside. We will also be rewarded for our valiant and diligent obedience in keeping God's commandments. God has provided his church on the earth in order to help us know his will. We are blessed to have leaders who hold the priesthood and whom we report to at least yearly for Tithing settlement, and probably more often for council and spiritual support. Especially in the missionary work, we are told to report to our leaders our efforts and our goals. We are expected to put forth our heart and soul into accomplishing worthy goals set through the guidance of the spirit. Sadly, it is not quite so streamlined or outlined in the family (because the presiding authority in the home is the Father, being an equal partner with his spouse and intent on adhering to her counsel as they both seek to teach their children as God would have them). Elder Ballard said in the last conference that families are becoming more and more in need of Home Evening activities and Councils. I would recommend setting goals in our families to aid in the work of salvation. Minimal if ANY contact with full time missionaries is required. Only a vision of the work. Set yearly, monthly, weekly, and even daily goals and plans. Of course, you are not name tag missionaries at home, but you are what Elder Bednar refers to as "full time finders." I definitely want to maintain this feeling that I have in AND out of my full two years as a representative of the lord, because I have been such a representative since 8 years old when I promised that I would take the name of Christ upon me. Take it for what it is. I know that we are blessed daily for our efforts.

I also am pondering 1 Corinthians 14:19. I would rather have 5 words of Prophecy and understood doctrine than 10000 words in a completely foreign and misunderstood language.

We got super comfy, super cheap, super fly companionship shirts. Useful for missionary work and Valentines day!

The week of adaptation...week 44

Monday, June 20, 2016

Notes from Mom, a lead in:  Ian's birthday is July 8.  He will be 19.  I asked him what he'd like for his birthday, and he would like a suit.  I asked him about it.  "I don't know when I will be ordering the suit. It's just very far away, so maybe next week or the week after (I probably won't actually have my suit on my birthday).  It's about $120 American dollars for a tailored suit that is completely chosen by you and even gets your name inscribed on the inside. Here's the fabric color that I like. Very dark blue wool. Super nice looking (in my opinion). What do you think?" Mom:  I think I love how my boy looks in navy blue, just I am completely biased.

I also asked him about his district and how it has been affected by the creation of the 2 new stakes. His response was informative! "By the way, it's not really my district any more. With the stakes splitting recently, President Lam has now split the zones to match it. Elder Powell and Sergeant are the zone leaders over there. Tolo Harbor's Zone Leaders are now Elder Guinn from Tai Wo and Me. Elder Wilcoxson and Elder Hansen are the District Leaders of the Two districts in our zone. Elder Guinn are in separate companionships for now, but the transfer is almost over, so we are not sure what is going to happen with moves. Super excited to be able to have this new responsibility. I just wish at times that I could have gotten more used to the District Leader stuff first, THEN do this, but oh well."

Additionally from Mom, some commentary from Ian:  
So glad to hear that Simon is doing well and I am sure that it was an amazing experience to be called as the first assistant. I hope that he enjoyed the young mens activity, and I hope that Ana enjoys girls camp. Football camp will be good for Simon, and I'm really glad to hear that Owen is doing better with his anxiety. How's Adam doing? Nothing too crazy obviously, but I hope he's still as happy as when I talked to him at mothers day.

So I don't have much time left because I have to adapt to the new responsibilities. Crazy news: I'm now the Zone Leader with Elder Guinn. Also, Elder McGrath is the new Zone Leader over the New Territories! MTC POWER! Otherwise, no time to explain what happened this week. Hahgo singkeih sin! Take care all! My ponderizing scripture this week is gonna be John 8:32 because there's nothin better than a little bald eagle spirit of truth and freedom amongst the dragons of the east...anyways, off that note, I love you all and thank you for your support and prayers!

The newest and youngest Zone Leaders in Hong Kong Elders McGrath and I!

The create your own burger that I bought this last week.

When walls cry...week 43

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

So this week got a little cooler in temperature because of the rain, but I have also gotten used to just being wet all the time. We have umbrellas, but the rain is not the cause of every inch of us being wet. Even the walls are so covered in condensation that it's as if the walls are either crying from it or sweating with us. It's quite the sensation to have sweat to the point where it's even soaking up my socks. It's fun though. We aren't the only ones who have to deal with it. You see people slipping in the malls because they are only wearing flip flops, which if wet can be slippery. I send my consolations to all the southeast asian and south american missionaries who have the jungle life. KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK! It's true though, this really is the "good work" that we are involved in.

Kung Fu was a lot of fun this morning. We were able to almost be finished with the form we are on right now, and Lee Sifu is still mad at us for not being flexible enough to sit in some crazy position that I don't think that any point of flexibility could make me physically capable of doing it. I will have to take a picture next time and send it to you all.

So we met with a very nice, very blind, and very drunk investigator of 2 weeks the other day. I wasn't ready for what he said though. In China, you hardly have anyone who will say they know anything about Christian religion, and even fewer have actual experience with going to church or being familiar with the bible. This man came out from the beginning by yelling at us about Joseph Smith being a false prophet, polygamy (super hard to understand that word in cantonese), how we don't believe in the Bible, asking us if we had even read it before. He wouldn't hear us. I had nothing to say. Frankly, I was actually very angry. He slandered my family, my companion, and my beliefs and all while telling me that he forgave me for being an ignorant and impulsive teenager who hadn't even been to a University to get permission to teach the gospel.
He was doing this all while downing his second beer and feeding the mice in the garden with peanuts. Elder Love was definitely a support to me though. I was able to keep my cool and his example was a support for that. We bore testimony of revelation and the answers that we had both received from God through his Holy Spirit, and then left. Just remember 1 Timothy 4:10-16.

Note from Mom:  I asked Ian if we was "blind as in can't see, or blind as in won't see.  His response: "Both, but he's still very appreciative of Hymns that we sing for him:)"

Also, Brother Lee, on the opposite end of the spectrum, is the most humble man I have ever met. He doesn't know how to read. He has speech impediments that make teaching him a very slow process. He is getting baptized this month though, after the miracle of his boss coming out of the blue and telling Brother Lee that he didn't need to go to work for that day. He has the rest of the month off too, so we are SET and he has been ready for a while now. The members were very supportive in helping him get to the chapel in Sheung Shui from his job site in Tai Po. He will even be able to see a member that just turned 8 get baptized by her dad next week after church.

I'm sorry about the low amount of pictures lately. Not much time to really use my camera...
I've really been thinking about that 1 Timothy passage though that I just mentioned. I really am learning to trust the power and rights and authority of my calling. Being bold however, is only effective if you are not over bearing. Therefore, we should also remember in D&C 121:39-46.

Love you all!    -戴長老

What is losing a sheep like?...week 42

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Notes from Mom:  a couple of weeks ago Ian let us know that his mission is having 2 new stakes opened.  Incredible news.  There were 4, and now there are 6.  So much work being done by these members and missionaries.  Ian had some information to share:  Oh, I have an ORIGINAL map of it. The meeting was amazing, and guess what... Bishop Mak is now PRESIDENT Mak, because he is now the Lion's Rock Stake President. His talk was inspiring and I felt so much love for him. I really do know that God will work through him to continue the work in Hong Kong, especially in this new stake.  So all the counselors are in the very back line of people. The Lion's Rock presidency is the fourth set from the left. President Mak has a pinkish orange tie on (I think that's what it looks like).

Notes from mom:  I asked Ian how they were teaching so many lessons. As a family we went to Hawaii and while we were waiting for our flight he was able to email us, just in time. This was his response. Ian didn't want other missionaries or their parents to feel like they were saying they are better than the other missionaries.  I'm sure they don't.  All missionary parents are excited for all missionary successes!

What we did is, a couple of weeks ago, we prepared a missionary covenant where we would do our best to hand out a specific amount of fliers, copies of the Book of Mormon, and have a certain amount of street lessons every week. We also have a gradually increasing number of full lessons as part of the covenant. We fasted and then knelt in sincere and humble prayer in order to set these goals that would be accomplished over a period of 8 weeks. This last week, I was happily able to report 25 full lessons, 6 copies of the book of mormon, 6 street lessons, and 16 flyers handed out and phone numbers received. We actually worked very hard yesterday because we were not going to make it. Keeping an attitude of faith was extremely difficult yesterday, and I found myself fasting for a meal in submission to the will of our Father in Heaven. At 9:45 at night last night though, after having handed out 3 copies of the Book of Mormon, had 3 other street lessons, and 6 full lessons in that day ALONE! God truly tested us to the end and provided a full lesson with none other than a Japanese Jehova's Witness for our last full lesson that night. It's very humbling to be able to come at 10:00 at night and literally fall to our knees, soaking in sweat and even a couple of tears falling from my cheeks as I expressed my gratitude and awe to our Father in Heaven. There is no doubt that he is Omnipotent and aware of each of His children, including you and I. I love you all, and I hope that you all are safe and enjoyed Hawaii. Just know that I'm happy, healthy, safe, and on the way to being sanctified (as we all should be as we do the work of Him who sent us). After all, even Christ said that he of himself could do nothing of himself save it be through the power of the Father who holds the ultimate presiding keys to any power that comes to man. Thank goodness for His mercy and justice, and his patience with us as we grow.

We were able to go to the farm this week, where we helped a man named "A-Kelvin" get sand out of the river that he would mix with his concrete for his house that we're helping him build. Promise that we were not swimming. We were just VERY sweaty.

Also, the sign in Kowloon Tong for the Church is NEW! We are famous!

Sunset in Ma On Shan from the Apartment window during exchanges.

We also had Yoshi, the fourth of the three Nephites, gave us all cake for a birthday that happened in the OTHER district that was meeting across the hall. Love him to death, and he is working on loving us to death as well by giving us food.

Sorry mixed up the map of the new 6 STAKES in the mission. Here's the cakes.

Don't be too depressed by the title of the email. This week was actually more successful than I think I have ever felt on my mission. We really have miracles happening here every hour of the day, and if we're not seeing them, we get on our knees and pray to either have our eyes opened to them or for the strength to bring them about. Reliance on the Father of Heaven and Earth would obviously make the work a lot more simple and manageable, though I don't think that I will ever be able to say that it makes it easier. There are ALWAYS the sheep who are falling away, or the investigators who just can't take it any more, or the missionary (that's me!) who sometimes just wants to throw in the towel, have a sleeve of potato chips for lunch and take a nap for your lunch hour (that happened a LONG time ago and I felt terrible because, though we are given an hour for meals that's true, who actually needs that much time to eat lunch!). We now are finding ourselves to "anxiously engaged" in the work to even want to take the time to cook healthy food, so we will often make about 4 servings of food when we have time so that we can just reheat it later (and you NEVER tell a native Hong Kong person about leftovers. They may think that you are evil or at least they will think that you are a low-life scum).

Anyways, I want to share my feelings that I had this week after continuing to struggle with a new convert who is on the edge of going less active. He is NOT GONE YET! But we are fighting an uphill battle with him because he has already given up, and the only reason he still schedules us is because he knows that we love him, but he doesn't understand quite why yet. He even said last night that he thinks it nice, but useless that we would "waste" so much time trying to help him. It was a powerful moment for Elder Love and I to bear testimony of Charity. We all felt it, and we are simply holding on as long as we can until he is done with his job. We are hopeful, just struggling, so prayers are always appreciated. His name is Wally. He's my age. He's super smart, and plans on going to Hong Kong University studying mathematics. We have a hope that he will continue to keep commitments, and we will be walking alongside him for the remainder of time that he's willing to walk with us. I remember doing a Strong-man workout with my brother simon where we did  something called the farmer's carry. If I remember correctly it was about 225 lbs per hand that you would just have to pick up and walk in a circle for as long as you could. I found myself just conflicting in my mind as I told myself not to let go, but my hands screaming that it HURT! After walking with it for a while, I no longer had control over my hands and they fell with the most disappointing thud to the ground that I may have ever heard.

We must be careful that we are not letting these people in our lives lead us my a rope and drag us through the dirt as we strive to keep the commandment to "bear one another's burdens." However, we MUST HOLD ON! The salvation of our brother's and sister's souls may at times be resting on our shoulders. Just remember, and find hope in the atonement of Christ, realizing that in reality, it is all of us that are hanging on to HIS everlasting grip. He will not let go of us. It will always be us letting go of HIM, So remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God, and also that it will ALL be worth it in the end. Have a hope for a better tomorrow. Relish in the blessings that you have, and plead for more and for the capacity to bless others.
Keep the faith, and in line with that should be to keep the HOPE! 2 Nephi 31:20 and 1 Peter 3:15!

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