It's coming faster than you think...week 76!

Monday, January 30, 2017

My companion, whom I have been with for only three weeks, leaves in 10 days. I've never had the opportunity to be companions with someone who's prepping to go home, but it's definitely interesting.

I don't have any new pictures today, but I did some tracking today myself (not gorillas). We had to get some cows away without getting within their reach. So we cut up some apples and started a little trail. Most irritating thing was that monkeys came out of nowhere and started taking the apples. The cow didn't seem very happy about it either.

Something that came to me this week was during Sunday's sacrament. I was doing just fine. Nothing to crazy happened to cause this reaction. We sang Hymn 220, Lord I would Follow Thee. The words of verse three for example: I would be my brothers keeper. I would learn the Healer's art. To the wounded and the weary, I would show a gentle heart. I would be my brother's keeper. Lord I would follow Thee.

It seems so impossible to Love God with all of our heart might mind and strength at times, but can we try a little harder to be our brothers keeper. To heal broken hearts.
Not much time this week. Maybe I will finish my comments next week.
Keep the Faith!

A few additional notes from Mom:  I brought up a few questions to Ian about church, a message from Rosalind about Ian singing, and the language.  

"I was sitting nearby. I had forgotten that you mentioned that their family is all really talented vocally. Quite a surprise to hear some vibrato that wasn't my own. President Lam said that the endorsement is done and that I don't need an interview now because he interviews us at least every six months. I am actually starting to pick up a lot of Indonesian and Tagalog, but I'm not going to be putting any language study in for it (like I have that kind of time anymore...) This is all that President Lam told me to do.

I hope that Adam is doing better now. I'm not fully up the list of emails right now, but hopefully good news is to come."  Adam's surgery went great and he is quickly mending.  

He sent more pictures from the temple this week:  

This is me with Elder McGrath and his other past companions. Such a powerful missionary!

Me, Elder Love, and Elder Guinn (I lived with him back in the day).

Bonus post...week 75

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Another member of Victoria 1st ward sent a picture of Ian!  Jeff Johnson took Ian and his companion out to eat and he sent a photo and a test.  Ian learned that they had some common friends from Mapleton.  I really appreciate that the members are so kind and generous to Ian, as well as to us in that they send us a photo.

Miracles at the temple... The 上水 empire strikes back...week75

Monday, January 23, 2017

So an update came out of the blue from the Bishop of my last area, 上水支會. I was not initially scheduled on Wednesday to go to the temple, but because Elder Aldridge had to speak on Thursday at church, we were permitted to go on Wednesday. This happened to be the same day that both Elder Love AND Elder McGrath were attending, two of my companions from the past year and six months. That was a good reunion and many pictures taken (which may have to be sent later because I only have a few and my camera's not the best in the world (but it get's the job done:)). THEN (it gets better) as Elder Love and I were walking into the temple, the Bishop that we served under together in 上水, Bishop Choi, shows up (because he works there...). He proceeded to hug us and tell us about all the investigators that we taught that are still coming to church. One of them who's grandpa is a recent convert that just got the melchizedek priesthood brought his grandpa to church and stayed for all three hours plus a lesson with the missionaries, and has been doing this for the past three weeks. That's probably the best preparation for a temple session that anyone could ask for! I also got to see a bunch of missionaries from my previous zone! Elder Gibson, Sister Kessen, Sister Cote, the list goes on. It's fun to just be able to walk into a different area in the mission because we were asked to speak somewhere or were invited to an investigator's baptismal service (because we are everywhere) and scare the missionaries that are in that area, wondering what on earth I'm doing on their turf. Sister Kessen and Cote especially freaked out because they thought that I was out of their hair for good (they are both almost done with their missions), but NOPE! Sadly, I forgot my camera yesterday, so no pictures with them, but oh well.

One other interesting story. In the same day, we had a less active walk into the chapel on a weekday with his non-member wife and told us his entire life story and how he was having some health challenges that are not yet diagnosed. His family counseled him to get a priesthood blessing. Then a man with VERY good english came saying that he didn't have much time, but he needed as much reading material that we had available and as much information that we could cram into his head a bout baptism. We took about fifteen minutes to do so, and then he left as quickly as he came with a promise to come back when he was done reading.

Then we went and taught a teacher of the Islamic religion. I learned a lot, and found out that they have MANY similarities to our religion, but you see also the many breakout points in the doctrine. They believe that Muhammed is the seal of the Prophets. They believe that God doesn't have children because he doesn't need them. He only has creations. There are a lot more points, and DON'T base any judgement of religion upon what I just shared because it's neither thorough nor complete. Just some interesting points.

Busy for sure, but happy. I love being a missionary. I always have. I always will! Have a wonderful week!

A couple of pictures: 1) Elder Aldridge (my companion with 18 days left) 2) with me, Elder Love, and Elder Guinn (used to live with him in Fanling) and 3) Elder McGrath and I chilling at the temple entrance!

Notes from Mom: Sundy night was busy and we were not home when Ian emailed.  We were at the Young Women New Beginnings program.  We got home in time to get a few notes referencing the ecclesiastical endorsement and the potential for buying suits.  "Yeah, sorry for the tone of impatience. Elder Aldridge pointed it out too late that it was 1 in the morning when I was sending them. My bad...As far as the suits, I left out a couple of details: Cheung Hong's has THOUSANDS OF OPTIONS! They inscribe your name in the suit and have some more options for what you can do with the suit (additions or types of coat-tails or changes in the lapels etc...) but their stitching quality at times is questionable. If you give it enough time (no longer than 2 months) I could make them do a better job so that it has better stitch quality. Erics has maybe 3 or 4 hundred options, works a little slower, but is more reliable to do a good job on the stitching. They don't let you do as much with changing the style of suit, and I haven't experimented as much there with what they can do with the suit (her cantonese is a little rough). You can choose a flap or slit style coattail though. Eric's is 700 HKD. Cheung Hing's is 1100 HKD (normally 1000, but because simon is bigger than normal, they require more fabric, so the price goes up. That was a surprise for me too...)"

Notes from Mom:  One of the missionaries from Ian's mission lives in Lehi.  I attended her homecoming last year. "I heard that Sister Escher got married. Random, but I wanted to see if you had heard about that."

Notes from Mom:  Ian ate last week with Ruth's sister and Ian wondered if we got pictures. "Did you see the pictures from the Burns'?"  We did and love that people do that for us!  

Bonus post week 74

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Notes from Mom:  Our wonderful neighbors are the Platers across the street.  I've mentioned her before. Ruth has a lovely family, and also comes from a family of 5 girls.    Ruth was in Hong Kong and dropped off a package to Ian for us.  Her sister, Rosalind Burns, lives in Hong Kong since last summer with her husband Chris and daughter Addie. They are a precious family and have enjoyed living there.  Ian's transfer to the island has made it so that he sees them probably weekly.  This week I got a message from Chris asking what Ian would enjoy eating when he had dinner with their family on Tuesday night.  I'm not sure what they ate, but they sent a picture of Ian and Elder Aldridge and their family.  I love that Ian has this link to home.  I am so grateful for Ian's mission, and I am especially grateful for the kindness of people all over the world. Ian has been very blessed through the generosity of others!

Out of the pan and into the fire...the value of the Holy Ghost...week 74

Monday, January 16, 2017

There's a man who just got baptized last year at Christmas, and Christmas still isn't stopping for him. When he was young, he was not a faithful husband, and was abusive as a father. However, after years of regret followed by just as many years of searching for healing, he found this church. Though the repentance was long, he was faithful all the way through. He had the opportunity just last night to have all of his children and his wife come to the church. He had a marriage counseling appointment set with one of the Branch Presidents and his kids had fun with the sister missionaries and members. Though Elder Aldridge and I had other appointments to be to, we returned to excited stories about how his wife and children were wanting to come back next week to attend church.

Another story about an investigator who will be baptized next month: His boss has been very good to him and helped him pay off a few debts  with advance payments, so he feels a need to be loyal to his boss. However, he feels uncomfortable in the middle of an affair that is going on with his boss, the wife, and another woman. He is told to drive all over Hong Kong and even to take his family to other countries on "surprise vacations" to give him time. We told him to talk to the branch president about what to do (because I cannot believe how many reminders I have had in the past few days about how I'm still just a 19 year old boy from Springville, Utah who thought these kinds of situations were fake horror stories about third world workers to help me be more grateful for my job). He wants to talk to his boss about his discomfort, but doesn't know what to do and is very fearful for the debts that might be brought up if he tries anything along these lines. Elder Aldridge and I took the opportunity to teach about the Holy Ghost and how if he has it's guidance, he has no need to be worried, because his employer's heart would be softened. There was a good feeling that came when we shared it, and I actually began to tear up a little. I felt Heavenly Father's worry and concern as well as his love for this man. I felt portions of what this investigator felt and I wanted to help I bore my testimony. I know that God loves us. He has sent His Son as our teacher, savior, and brother to break the chains of death and sin. God has blessed His elect, covenant people with the Gift of His Holy Spirit, the third member of the Godhead and a testator of the truthfulness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, a guide for the lost, a comforter for the disheartened. A teacher that knows how you learn even better than YOU do. He speaks to you through feelings, memories, desires, and even through visions. He carries the blessings of God's love to the broken hearts of God's children. He helps us feel the true character of Christ, and motivates us to change in harmony with it. I have felt the Spirit so strongly so many times in my life. I cannot deny it's power. I cannot label it's value, only testify of it.

Otherwise, I can finally send pictures this week. I ate dinner 3 times last night, so I'm feeling a little bloated right now. Filipino and Indonesian food is really, REALLY good...I'll have to take pictures next time I'm not having food shoved down my throat.

Elder Lee and I at the last Zone Training I had in Tolo Harbor.

I got it for free, so...not sure what to do with 800+ pages of apostasy, but it'll be a good read for later.

3+4 some pretty cool suit fabrics, but not necessarily ones that I'll buy.

These are people that I will miss, at least for the time being (until next transfer happens and we all get moved around again...) Elder Darrington, Elder Samuel Taylor (from England), Elder Walker, and Elder Harding.

International missionaries have the best job ever...week 73

Monday, January 9, 2017

I will try to describe the system of the international Hong Kong District. First, the situation:
There are approximately 400 active Filipino and Indonesian active members that attend in the Wan Chai chapel (FYI, there are actually four chapels in this building). These workers have very difficult schedules and only one day per week off (usually not on Aunday). If I am not mistaken, they are the only members in the world that are allowed by the first presidency to change the Sabbath to a different day other than Sunday.

Therefore, we have almost daily worship services (except on Mondays). Because there are almost no priesthood brethren except for the full time branch presidency for this branch (called Victoria 2nd branch), Elder Aldridge and I are assigned to administer the sacrament every Sunday. We do not attend the other meetings that they have. There are then the Victoria 1st and Island 1st and 2nd branches that meet on Sundays. Island 1 and 2 meet at 1:30 on Sundays, so we can only make it to one every other week to administer the sacrament to these two sacrament meetings. We rotate with members of other wards and branches, whichever priesthood brethren are available at the time. The Victoria 1st ward is all of the people that speak fluent English and are able to come on Sunday. Because this branch meets at 9 am, there are not too many Filipino members here. It's mainly other races: American, English, Russian, French, etc...Mainly white people or American born Chinese people. We have a couple of African American families as well. I hope this is clear enough. I am literally super-ultra-active in attending my church meetings. Don't worry though, I will still attend all of my meetings when I'm done too.

I will probably be finishing here. I didn't know this before, but I will also be learning Indonesian in addition to Tagalog and RE learning fluent English. My adaptor is somewhere in the depths of my suitcase (too busy to unpack fully so far...) so no pictures today. I will only be with Elder Aldridge for five weeks and then he finishes his mission. I will probably be finishing my mission in this area. That's what has happened to the last ten or so elders that have been sent here.

Have a great week! GO TO CHURCH! You should feel privileged to have it so available. These sisters have sacrificed everything. They have been abandoned by their families, husbands have been unfaithful, and so much wrong has been done. They come faithfully to church though because the gospel is literally the only thing that they have working for them!

Notes from Mom:  Last week after we heard from Ian I asked more quesitons so he could clarify this week what his assignment is. I was impressed by his faith/hope that he expressed at the end of the last letter.  "This is going to be fun!" Considering he added Indonesian to his repertoire, I am impressed and humbled and recognize that I can personally put more effort into what Heavenly Father asks of me.  His reply:  "I have Tagalog and Indonesian to learn. The details about the system for the branches will be described in the mass email. I'm not clear on the date, but probably around late July or early August. Remember that around this time President Lam will be releasing approximately 33 missionaries. That's about a quarter of the mission. He doesn't want to do that in one single flight's worth of missionaries.

The languages are hard. You're right though, I'm not worried about it. These people's English is actually quite excellent. I will still do as much as possible to learn these languages though because I have learned in my experience of Chinese that a communication of love is infinitely more effective when two things are done. First is always to be done by the power of the spirit. The other is to actually speak their mother language."  

I also asked to clarify where he lives because it was rumored that they live IN the Wan Chai chapel building.  His answer is no.  "The missionaries DEFINITELY don't live in the church building. Those are high-level general authorities that live there. I live about 15 minutes walk away from the chapel. The Mission President lives in the temple. I lived across the hall from him for four-ish months." Our friends, the Burns, attend church in that building.  Ian said, "I saw her husband at church, but not her. Brother Burns is SUPER nice though! The entire branch is."

Ian spoke briefly about his new companion, Elder Aldridge.  "Elder Aldridge is awesome. Random fact, he can solve a seven by seven by seven rubix's pretty legit."

English, Tagalog, and Cantonese...but not Mandarin...week 72

Monday, January 2, 2017

So I will be moving out of 上水支會 after serving here for 8 months. I wouldn't even be able to start a list of names that I would miss from the ward. They have all sacrificed so much and gone through so many tough times, breaking out into what we are now. We started here with a lot of investigators not progressing a long time ago. I'm proud to say that there are now more baptisms planned in the next two months than we had all last year. I hope that I can be a help to the members in the Victoria 1st ward. I will be assigned to start learning Tagalog in addition to having English and Cantonese investigators. I won't be teaching in Mandarin though.

Now that I look back at it, I have "taught" a lot of Mandarin lessons here in Sheung Shui (meaning I really just said a few words every five minutes and turned it back over to Elder Darrington when we were on exchanges). This is going to be fun!

I'm going to miss these guys. I am getting moved to the Victoria 1st branch in Wan Chai to be a zone leader over there. My new companion is named Elder Aldridge. I'm not sure what language I'm speaking, but I am actually pretty sure that, as part of the "International" zone I am assigned to speak English, Cantonese, and possibly Tagalog. For those who are not aware, Tagalog is the main Filipino language. I have to be careful here or I'm going to get SO FAT from all the food that the Filipinas make here.

Ian is sitting next to Elder Harding. Elder Lee is sitting next to Elder Harding's trainee, Elder Rylee. 

Is Sister Plater's sister in the Victoria 1 branch? That's where I got moved to.

Look what Graciela sent me! I'll have to ask Elder Garcia to help me write a response email to her. It's nice having a Mexican friend in China.  Bryan's aunt Graciela in Argentina sent an email to Ian from herself and Bisabuela.  Dice tu bisabuela Fina (y Graciela);Querido Ian:  me Siento orgullosa por tu  importante Mision. y deseo que tengas los logros que tu dedicación merecen.Para el año 2017 deseo exito y felicidad con todo mi amor,te mando beso y abrazos.

Notes from Mom:  I translated for Ian, although Elder Garcia's version probably sounds so much better.  "I am proud of your important mission, and I wish you have the achievements that your dedication deserves.  For the year 2017 I wish success and happiness with all my love, I send you kiss and hugs."  This is a sweet message from 2 very important women in Ian's life.

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