A Fullness of the Holy Ghost?...week 67

Monday, November 28, 2016

Notes from Mom:  This week Ian didn't really send a group letter.  I asked him some questions and he chatted about Thanksgiving, and sent some pictures.  "Yeah, we were given a day for Thanksgiving actually. I made a turkey without a recipe and it turned out to be one of the greatest things that I have ever made on my mission. I haven't made many good things though. The turkey was good though, and we actually had quite a lot of food for the entire zone (20 people). Butter is expensive." 

I also asked him about what he needs or wants for Christmas.  His response:

"While I write this, I do need to tell you that it became very cold VERY quickly, and I actually had to buy some extra clothes and a blanket in response. I will be reimbursed for the blanket, but I don't have enough money now to go pick up my suits today. Would I be able to get the equivalent of 500 HKD so that I can pick those up?  I felt like such a wuss though in the morning because I was shivering in the shower and COULD NOT get warm. Thanks mom! LOVE YOU!"  Ian didn't really express specifics about Christmas so we decided he should buy another suit(s) since he gets so much use out of them and they are so inexpensive to have made there.  When I asked if he needed me to send gloves or other clothes he said, "I don't need gloves. Hands are rarely a problem for me. I bought a sweater and some sweat pants (the ones that I brought are wearing out and the sweat pants that I brought have many many moth holes in them. The rest of my clothes are okay though. I need to begin to regularly wash all of my clothes.

Thanks momma. I can get thermals and sweats here. There are a few nike outlets (they are the only ones that have pants long enough for me that aren't so tight that I couldn't fit my leg through if I wanted to. EVERYONE HERE HAS SUCH SKINNY LEGS!"

I asked about his shoes and socks.  His tennis shoes seem to be holding up well because here is one of the best things he's written:  "Those shoes are the STURDIEST thing that I brought other than my testimony."  I love it!

He also told us about his new companion.  "Elder Lee was born into a traditional Taoist family. They had this lifestyle for about 10 years, but then Elder Lee's dad because very busy with work as a doctor, so they didn't do all the traditional stuff that they used to. Then Elder Lee's uncle became a bishop of the local ward. Elder Lee LOVE's his uncle, and when his uncle told Elder Lee about this change of responsibility, Elder Lee was curious. Curiosity turned to interest, then faith, and then turned into the path of conversion in July 2014. His mom and brother then became a little interested and Elder Lee pounced on the opportunity. NOW his dad is meeting with the missionaries and his sister is turning 8 next year. He went on a mission only a year after his conversion (meaning that he would miss his moms endowment happening in two weeks). He loves the scriptures and is VERY familiar with them."  

He asked if that made sense, but wrote it in Chinese, which I don't read.  得唔得?

Our neighbor Ruth recently returned from Hong Kong and brought some gifts.  One of them was a package of candy that she said was more of a gag gift.  She wouldn't eat it.  It smells and tastes disgusting, but I tried some and it wasn't horrible.  When I asked Ian about it he was very informative.  "Durian...Elder Lee eats it EVERY DAY and it doesn't smell good at ALL. I have learned to LOVE cottage cheese which is now a rare delicacy, but Durian is the one food that I have not yet conquered. 
This is also the most dangerous fruit to harvest. It is a large cause of death in that line of work because it grows in a tree and is COVERED in spikes. The small ones weigh four or five pounds. The BIG ones can be as much as 25 pounds. Elder Lee Loves it!"  I asked if I should include the leftover Durian in Ian's Christmas package for Elder Lee.  His response was quick and specific:  "NOOOOOO!"

"President Lam invited me in an interview as well as on multiple other occasions to study this verse of scripture. Please tell me any thoughts or comments: D&C 109:15. Feel free to invite the rest of the family too. I really want to see what ideas everyone has on this before going to President Lam next week in interviews.  Get everyone on it please." We had a lot of fun as a family discussing this scripture and the significance of the dedication of the Kirtland Temple.  I'm not sure that we had much more insight than Ian did, but I liked that it allowed us to focus our study together.  

糖水...week 66

Monday, November 21, 2016

So I would like to share a little thing that I have been able to apply in the missionary work. Lately I am beginning to develop a craving to learn about the culture of Hong Kong. Buddhism, Taoism, Bai San, languages, wars, stories, and most importantly, FOOD! You don't just go about this just willy nilly as a missionary though. There is strategy to it. The example of this strategy is in this weeks example:
We have a brother in our ward. He is the only member of his family that has been baptized. The rest actually are very against the church and even the bishop of the ward has not had the opportunity to meet his family members.
However, this is a very TRADITIONAL chinese family. In this context, that means that if you ask them to teach YOU something, they are VERY willing to impart of this knowledge that they have, especially when you place the request the way that we missionaries have been taught here.
I want to learn how to make Tong Shui (糖水) a dessert soup that is AMAZING! I will make some for y'all when I get back...
I came to Brother Tong in one of our lessons and mournfully brought up my dilemma. My companion is not knowledgeable about cooking arts (though I still love him nonetheless). Moreover, I REALLY want to show everyone in america upon my return that Hong Kong culture and food is just undoubtedly better than americas. To prove it, I will use this Tong Shui. I begged him to ask his wife if she would be willing to teach us uncultured missionaries how to make this surprisingly simple dish the way that only a traditional Hong Kong mother knows how.
Long story short, she has accepted the invitation, and we are going to their house this week. YES!
I know that God will continue his work in ANY WAY POSSIBLE! Even if it means he has to teach missionaries how to cook at the same time. I would encourage all people to never give up, even in the face of all the resistance that we are facing. God will fight for you.

Notes from Mom:  I sent a screen shot to Ian and some of the other missionaries from our ward.  I thought they'd get a kick out of it.  

"Today I got an email from Jesus. We know he speaks to us in language we will understand, right?! I haven't opened yet. I'll just assume it's a call to repentance."

Ian said, "Elder Lee and I both got a kick out of that one! You should just send it to the first presidency to record as direct revelation;)"

I also sent him a meme of scuba diving:  

"As 唐兄弟 would say: "mh,mh,mhmhmhmhmhmhmhmh!" In Cantonese, that actually is just a statement of agreement or confirming that something is correct."

I also sent Ian some pictures from Simon's musical that finishes Monday, November 21.  I told him that we've really enjoyed it.  He said, "I need to see that VERY desperately. I will be in my room for about three full days just catching up on all the 'records of the people of Taylor'."

I also mentioned Christmas to Ian.  He's looking forward to the Christmas call, and so are we.  I asked him what he wants and asked if his other new suits have come in.  His response:

"Suits won't be ready until the beginning of December. Thank you for all the pictures. I'm excited about the christmas call! Adam is looking tall. I don't see many pictures of him though...How is he doing? He and Owen are really the only ones that regularly email me (other than you). I'm actually thinking that I don't want anything for Christmas other than pictures. I could buy clothes at Uniclo or Baleno for SO cheap, and I literally have to walk for just 3 minutes out of my house to either of those stores. Food I am learning to LOVE here even more! Thank you for your prayers! 我愛你地! (That probably won't make as much sense in Mandarin...)"

From last week's emails there was something he mentioned that I googled and asked if the translation was correct.  

"I hope that you can get a translation of this somehow that actually makes sense, but get this: 欲速則不達."
The google translation was "Haste makes waste."

He replied that it is close.  "It means 'no shortcuts to success'. It's not too far off, but not the same either."  I forgot to ask more about his companion's conversion story.  Until next week!

Trials of faith...week 65

Monday, November 14, 2016

This week I felt kind of bad for Elder Lee. I have been praying for trials of faith lately, and this week is where that happened. Almost every single one of our investigators cancelled on us, and every single lesson that we scheduled, the people that actually did show up were very very late. I am very grateful for having invited these trials on my own though. It actually really helps to open your perspective and we are enabled to see the blessings building up just beyond our reach. We just have to be ready to catch as many of those blessings as possible. We must expand our capacity to receive, but that only comes when we increase the capacity to give first.
Not much else to say, nor do I have time really to say much, but I hope you all know that having a testimony of Jesus Christ is the most joyful and precious gift I have. It has gotten me through everything. I am learning more and more to rely on it as I have more and greater challenges. I love my Savior. Also, I hope that you can get a translation of this somehow that actually makes sense, but get this: 欲速則不達. Shoutout to my amazing companion. I'll try to tell you all his conversion story next week.

No photos from Ian this week, but Annie Fong never fails!  She posted these on the ward website.

New Companion...week 64

Monday, November 7, 2016

The news of the week is my new companion Elder Lee. I think it's funny that right after my trainer from Hong Kong finishes his mission, I get a new native companion. This is going to be VERY helpful for language. 

That's not all though. He draws like a boss and, because he is a convert of two years, he's actually had more time of exposure to missionary lessons than I am, so he's a VERY good teacher. I think that this is going to be a very good transfer.

Not much time for anything else, but I think y'all need to know that Hong Kong is the best place on earth. I love my mission...THERE I SAID IT AND I WILL SAY IT AGAIN IF I HAVE TO! This is the best experience of my life. I've always heard that life never gets easier, but at the same time, what would the fun be in getting easier? Thank goodness for the gospel of Jesus Christ! Thank you for all of your prayers and support. I hope that you all are safe and healthy. Hopefully it doesn't get too cold where y'all are at!

This is the new Sheung Shui bunch! Sister Hoxer is from Utah and is also sister training leader. Elder Lee is my companion. He is a convert of two years from Hong Kong Sham Shui Po ward!

Pictures: Elder Powell with his temporary companion on his last day.

 Elder Love and I part ways. 

New set of Sheung Shui ward missionaries.

I found my trainer after he finished his mission! He misses us.

Without Love...week 63

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Well, Elder Love is going to be leaving Sheung Shui after 10 months here. I have been blessed so much by his patience as well as how hard he works. I will miss being able to sing beautiful music with him and being able to harmonize hymns on the fly.

I'm also the only Zone Leader staying. Sister Kessen, Cote, and Elder Guinn will also be leaving. Don't know where everyone's headed yet, but I'm gonna miss them. They are all such powerful missionaries.

We are getting ready for something big though. Elder Wong and President Lam told us last week that we should try to double the trend for baptisms in the mission. We were informed that this is on average 5 baptisms per zone. We are going to triple it though. We really want to prepare a Christmas Gift for our Heavenly Father, as do all the members of the 5 wards in our zone. 8 baptisms here we come!

I'm excited for the training that I'm giving tomorrow as well. This will be my last one with all these previously mentioned people. I hope that I can have the spirit guide me as we all try to become better servants of our Father in Heaven.

Thank you for all of your prayers. I have been feeling so much love this last week. The progression of a missionary is so reliant on how much he is supported. I myself don't know how I would be able to do this without the dozens of people supporting me and my fellow servants. The biggest miracle in the church however, as an apostle said and is quoted in Preach my Gospel, is when the members will pray more for missionary experiences than they do for the missionaries themselves. Keep seeking to lift the hands which hang down, and keep the faith. I love you all, and pray for your safety and happiness. This work is the work of the Savior, and we should consider it our privilege to be able to share His love with the world.

Shoutout to Matthew Bingham, an example to all who know him, for choosing to serve a mission. I know that God will support you in your efforts Matthew!

First is our district at the Hong Kong Temple. I love the Hong Kong Temple. I'm also proud to say that I always see a member working there from the ward that I'm serving in as well as from Tai Wai. Strong people here! Elder Love, Me, Elder Stone and Elder Wilcoxson, Sisters Kessen, Cote, Thomson and Hugo. 

The Other is Elder Love and I with Sister Kessen, Sister Hugo, Elder Darrington and Elder Garcia at Elders Quorum President Wong's house. His Kids are adorable. Adia and Alston. Those are spelled correctly. Elder Darlington and Garcia are Mandarin speaking elders.

I'm excited to see the pictures of you and Elder Powell! He leaves this week, but not today.
Our ward actually has two elders in Toronto. Both are Cantonese Speaking. The one who left most recently is Sunny Yeung. The other is Mars Lee.

I love hearing about Matt. He's just such a powerful servant of the Lord. You need to tell me when you find out if he will live in the MTC or not.

I didn't realize that Sister Skinner was already so far along though. I remember her coming into the same classroom building as I was in when she first got there. She just looked so happy. How is she doing?

As far as the package, I can't think of anything specific. Pictures are always so much fun.

My time with Elder Love is coming to a close though. We were told that he needs to pack. We don't know where he's headed yet though. I'm actually the only zone leader that is not leaving. Sister Kessen, Sister Cote, and Elder Guinn are all moving as well. It's interesting because Elder Love has been in the same district with Sister Cote and Kessen since the MTC and Elder Guinn and Elder Love have now lived in the same apartment for a year. It's all falling apart, but it's good. I'm excited for this upcoming transfer. We are hoping to increase the baptisms for this transfer by more than three times. Our christmas present to God.

Last thing: We are going to a new place today that has tailored suits for even cheaper than 100 American dollars. Would you be able to transfer some money to my card if I find a fabric? This is probably the last suit that I would be ordering (not going to want to worry about it around next summer since there is going to be too much other stuff to do). If I ordered it today, I would be able to pick it up just before christmas. 多謝!

Notes from Mom:  I had a couple of question answer exchanges with Ian about the new suit supplier. I asked him about ordering another suit, the timing, etc.  Is it excessive?  "I believe excessive happens when you realize at the end of the mission that you don't have enough room in your suitcases for all the suits you bought (that has happened to some elders. It's very funny and we make fun of it very much)."

Also, Annie Fong posted some pictures of the ward missionaries before everyone parted ways.  

She also included some pictures from the English class they have been teaching:

Sister Cote's mom also posted a picture of the Zone Leaders before transfer calls were made:

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