Must be tough not being on vacation and having to work on a schedule all the time again. I can only imagine what that must be like. There's no guitar music at the MTC. We do sing a lot though. At the start of every class we sing in Cantonese, which is really tough sometimes. Any time we do a song that we don't all know really well we suffer, which is especially evident when Gou Jimouh is teaching us, because she is an amazing singer. Every devotional we sing some prelude hymns as well, which is usually nice, except that about a third of the time this one woman who always conducts each song as monotonously and slowly as possible leads. Those are rough days. My only other major music related complaint is that we hear a small handful of songs ALL THE TIME. Be Still my Soul, Come thou Fount, and Called to Serve are played almost constantly. Half of the special musical numbers are one of those songs. I used to like them, too. We did have some guys sing about 2 weeks ago who both were amazing. One sounded like an actual opera singer, which I was impressed by if not appreciative of. The other guy was also really good, sang some song called O Savior Redeemer of my Soul, or something like that, but not the hymnal version. Some arrangement done for 17 Miracles. He was excellent.
We're leaving on Oct. 7, or maybe really early Oct. 8. Judging by some other people who left to Hong Kong recently and the Phillipino missionaries, we should be in the air for about 17 hours with at least 5 hours of layover. We've seen two groups of missionaries leave from our zone so far. It's been weird both times. All the missionaries head over to nearby the mail room, usually at 3 in the morning or 12:30 PM, and load into vans, to head to a train, to go to SLCAirport, to go to LAX, to wait for 5 hours, and then finally leave for whatever small Pacific island they're going to.
I haven't used the tape player at all, nor do I expect to any time soon. I won't leave it, I'll try to send it along with an SD card within a week. None of the computers in our classroom building can recognize USB drives, and I keep forgetting to bring my camera to 1M when we write emails, so this is probably the best bet. Honestly, I've barely taken any pictures, so you'll probably be mad at me when I send it. It is funny what some people leave, though.
I don't think we'll need rain boots or anything, at least not for a while. No one else in my district brought any. I think if I need them it would be easiest just to buy them in Hong Kong, so don't worry about them. If you send the Khaki pants I'll wear them. I haven't needed any more slacks, but I could use them if I have them. I know you probably don't want this answer, but do what you think is best. Just follow the spirit.
We aren't able to see anything online except for this email client, LDS.org and Mormon.org, so I haven't been able to look up the blog. I feel too lazy to write a separate email just to put on the blog or send to extended family. I think anything I say is basically fine to send to everyone. Unless there's something you don't want on it, I'm fine with whatever. I wish I could see it, but oh well.
The Sunday dinner you described makes me a bit hungry, but I honestly like the food here. It's all pretty good, and the variety is decent. I will say though, it's very heavy and greasy. Lots of fried stuff, lots of cream, etc. Most meals I don't care, but we have dinner only 5 hours after a really big lunch, so I sometimes just want something fresher. Oh, and the vegetables are absolutely disgusting. They have barely any flavor, always under cooked or over cooked. I haven't been eating a lot of them, unfortunately. Just can't stomach them. I do have burgers often, because they have them almost every day, and I started putting tons of ranch dressing on them every time I eat them for whatever reason. Sunday meals and Tuesday dinners are horrible, because they both are super busy. On Sundays, the meal times are less spread out because of meeting schedule, and Tuesday dinner everyone eats early to make it to choir, so they are all just horribly packed.
I feel bad for the Sister Missionaries in your ward. It would be really rough working in such a small area. One thing I have learned, though, is that missionaries' purpose is not to convert new members, but to help everyone come closer to Christ, so even if they're only teaching members they're doing important work. I like what you said about the Sabbath Day. Our teacher gave us a great lesson about why inviting people to church is important, and we've been learning a lot about how keeping any commandment is vital to increasing people's faith. On this more spiritual note, this last week I've had a couple great moments reading the Book of Mormon. One time, our teacher had us just read together as a class, and pick out a specific question to look for revelation for. I asked what to teach our investigators next (of course), and realized right as we finished that I'd been making tons of comments about how the stuff we'd been reading (alma 36-37) was all about the basic overview of the Gospel of Christ, which is of course lesson three of Preach My Gospel. So that was cool. Then, just today, we were reading during personal study, and I was asking about how to explain the atonement to our investigator today, and I ran into the story of Aaron teaching the King about the atonement. Same deal.
TRC this last Saturday was also really good. Our old teacher, Sister Chang, was there as always, and we were talking about how the Book of Mormon helps us receive revelation (unfortunate this was right before all these great experiences). She is taking 5 physics classes, a Stats class, and Japanese all at once at BYU and is feeling overwhelmed. She said that she had been praying, but hadn't received a clear answer yet as to what to do about her schedule. She's obviously a very spiritually mature person, so it was weird giving her advice, but I recommended that in 2 Nephi 2 it talks about how our purpose is to be happy, so God would give her an answer that would most help her. Don't know if it did anything, but I hope it did.
"Sand" volleyball is often more than a diversion. When you have 8 hours of class time or study time with only 30 min meals in between, it becomes essential. I haven't seen Evan yet, I looked for him that day but didn't see him. I think I'll be able to be an escort when Matthew's coming in, so maybe we'll get lucky.
P.S. We did initiatories at the temple instead of endowments today, which was fun. It's too easy to forget that there are anything but sealings and endowments at the temple. Plus initiatories give us time for laundry :) I really regret the emoticon, but it has to be there to make the sentence less irreverent.
I can always tell it's you writing from the first sentence that like runs on with no punctuation or anything and talks idealistically and then ends all excited! Guess what, that also helps me tell it's you. I'm glad you're doing the youth symphony thing. Take my advice as from someone who did an instrument I hated for a long time and then stopped. It takes a long time to really appreciate good music (and by good I mean instrumental, e.g. not Taylor Swift) and if you give up practicing or don't learn how by then you'll feel stupid and sad forever no matter what. SO, unless you want that, don't stop playing violin. Learn how to play more fiddling or Lindsey Sterling ish stuff if you're bored. I hate to say it, but Christmas is not for about 4 months. I'm looking forward to it a bit, because I'll get to phone home. Eventually I'll be hoping my mission won't end, but at this stage I'd still be glad if I could suddenly be only a month away from coming home. Love you Abby.
I can sympathize, I've been sick to some extent for most of my time here so far, and it is really annoying. Don't miss putting contacts in, because soon your eyes will get worse and you won't be able to see at all without contacts, and if you're in the habit of forgetting them you will crash a car and die, or fall down some stairs and die, or walk into a pole and die, or accidentally buy a jelly filled donut when you wanted a glazed donut, or touch an electrical socket and die, or get lost in the desert and starve and die, or mistake someone's face, offend them, and lose your best friend and die. So don't forget them. If you think you're bored you're probably right. I've got no time to be bored. But lest you think I've got it all great, all my friends here get letters from their friends, whereas I have just my silly family. So chew on that.
This is two weeks in a row you have failed to be my most loving sibling. And school doesn't JUST continue, it goes on. Honestly I don't have much else to say to you, probably because you've given me nothing to go on. I would very much enjoy to get your story outline, but you probably are being way optimistic. I shall take it upon myself to crush you. I would send you my story outline, but I actually haven't written it because I've got no time because I'm more busy serving the Lord, so feel guilty about that.
If you've hit a roadblock, do what you'd do in Need for Speed and drive around it or through it or get arrested. "I don't know what your malfunction is, but you can think about it in "DEBUG MODE". If you cease coding, I will be forced to come home from my mission early to force you to continue, and then hundreds of Hong Kong ese people will not hear the gospel, and you will probably burn. And you won't know how to code. If you do learn any sweet computer hacking skillz, put some secret message to me on the LDS.org homepage (because that is the only website I can view).
Hours of Study Time,
While Outside Autumn (!) Sun Sets,
Let's Play Hacky Sack.
To us, politics,
Run by like water on glass,
Storms (!) outside raging.
Time flows like the clouds,
Sometimes in a raging storm,
Sometimes slow as fog.
A world of Hellos,
Sound, like the stars in the sky,
All so far away.
So much greasy food,
Brings to mind forgotten verse,
Think Honey Bucket.
Good to hear from you family.