Monday, October 28, 2013

October 28, 2013 - Monkeys & Moving near the mountains

Hello family. I think I'll just say some stuff that happened separate and then answer emails after.

So, surprising news. On Friday, we got a call that said we are moving to Ma On Shan, which is near the mountains, very far away from Tai Wai, which we are still serving, and that Elder O'Gara is going to be District Leader. We had to pack and move by Monday morning. That was surprising, and at first very annoying. I had finally gotten really comfortable in the Mong Kok apartment, and then had to move. Plus, I really like the guys in our apartment, though the two Mandarins (Mandarin speaking, not Chinese bundeis) are really weird. They cook gross food, come home after 10 o’clock, and Elder Henrichs is a big endearingly naive. Anyway, so we packed up and lived on minimum stuff for two days, which was actually very nice, moved this morning, and found out that the Ma On Shan apartment is AMAZING. Everyone said it was small, but it seems to me to be about the same size as the Mong Kok but with 2 less people living in it, has an ocean view, amazing surroundings, etc. The only bad part is the guys who left were kind of slobs, so we need to deep clean the fridge and freezer tonight. Still, I think it's a good deal.

Still very little success, no new investigators, only one street lesson. I don't feel discouraged most of the time though, because at least I've gotten better at initiating conversations. I try to talk to many more people now, actually a lot more than E.O'G, because he's old and jaded and gets really bitter when people don't listen (though I told him to try to improve and he's done an amazing job). My main problem now is figuring out what to say after dang yat jang, (wait one second). I've tried talking about families a lot, but they usually don't listen. No big deal, we just need to find somewhere where the people are already relaxing and are a bit more willing to listen.

Hong Kong is still full of surprises. This week we had two times where we saw tons of monkeys. They were pretty small, about the size of large cats. The first time was right next to the Tai Wai chapel, and about 30 monkeys crossed a street via tree tops. The second was when we were wandering over around the mountains at the edge of Tai Wai trying to find some villages. Pretty crazy.

We've had 3 cheng outs, (member dinners, tell Eva it’s the chang as in invite to eat). Two at the Fu Family’s house and one at the Bishop’s house. The Bishop, Mak Jyu Gaau, is amazing. He played around admirably at the Halloween Party on Saturday, and every Monday he does a Family Home Evening thing where he invites missionaries and anyone available over to his house, feeds them dinner, and has one of us missionaries teach a lesson. The Fu Family is more interesting. The Mom is a saint, fairly recent convert, moved from mainland a long time ago, so still has a weird accent, but just as nice as you can imagine. Her kids are insane. Yuki is 13 or 14, not too crazy but sometimes very annoying. We see her at church a lot, she's okay though. She helps out her mom a lot. Her younger brothers are 9 and like 6, both completely out of control. The dinner is fine, lesson afterwards usually not so much. Both times we've gone with the sisters (there is one sister companionship in Tai Wai, they're great), and the first time they got mooned by the younger one. This time they were talking about how we all make sacrifices for our religion, like Abinadi.  Mentioned how discouraging it could be when people call us cheh gau (cheh gau literally means evil church, fairly common, since there's a lot of misconception and prejudice against Mormons, and to say it right you have to say it in a very low, breathy, old person voice, and imagine you're sitting with no shoes on a bench smoking), so the two little boys spent the next 5 minutes saying we were all cheh gau, they were cheh gau, their mom was cheh gau, etc. Sister Fu was not pleased. Still hangin’ in, enjoying things immensely, having a good hard time.

Today as a P Day treat we had Korean BBQ, which is basically an all you can eat cook it yourself buffet. 120 Hong Kong dollars, which is enough to eat really really cheap dinners for a week, and you get to go over to these buffet lines full of raw meat, load up a plate, then bring it to your table where there's a little burner and grill, and cook to your heart’s content. Very good. If we ever get to go to Hong Kong together, we'll go do it. It's not even that pricey in US dollars, less than $20.


Thanks for the advice, I actually really enjoyed reading it. I like what you said about comfort zone, I feel like that happens to older missionaries a lot. They get jaded, experienced, and then they don't want to try to talk to anyone who doesn't fit the demographic they've found to be most likely to listen. I am still clueless, so I have an advantage.

I think the main hard thing about the finding is that it's so easy to go finding and not actually DO anything but walk around for three hours. If I was tracting, we'd be forced to at least have contact with everyone in the houses, or at the very least know that you tried to. If you're not careful, you can go finding and never even try to talk to anyone. Or you'll get unlucky and try a place with no people, or a place where there are just crowds and you can't try to talk to anyone. It makes it hard, but I also think it forces me to have more faith, because I have to choose to initiate conversations, to stop for people, or stop them. As long as you're willing to try to work hard, and you really go at it with that attitude, the success is kind of up to the Lord. So it's not too bad.

Oh, the Fu family had some Tabasco sauce, gave it to us, reminds me of you. Very funny. Also, I've eaten so much weird food here that my taste has expanded a lot.


I will write you now because time is short and you got gypped last time. I love your description of YCC. It warms my heart to hear the youth of today working to serve that great metropolis, that paradigm of cleanliness and community involvement, that monument to human goodness and suburban life that is Cottonwood Heights.

That is insane that it's already been a quarter of school. Woah. Church for me was hard too, because I CAN’T UNDERSTAND ANYTHING. SO DEAL WITH IT.

Also, we got up at 5 every day this week to call a less active named Billy and pray with him, because he works from 7 am to 7pm, and he hasn't been praying. We were exhausted. On Sunday, after we crawled back into bed, E.O'G was sneezing, and Elder Henrichs for some reason thought he was vomiting and got up, at 5:20 am, to see if he was okay. He's crazy. Even if E.O'G was vomiting I would have maybe felt bad for him and gone back to bed. E.H is a good kid, very big heart.

If you're going to do running instead of swimming, I highly recommend doing track or cross country or something. At least practice with them if you can, it makes working out hard a lot easier. I am sad, but that's your choice. Please send me the story. Actually, don't until it's done, then send me a box of chocolate, some GOSSNER'S MILK (I have to talk about this for a bit. Gossner's milk is my favorite thing in Hong Kong. It's probably actually gross, but I love it. Vitamin D fortified whole fat goodness in a super pasteurized no refrigeration needed, friendly red box, shipped from LOGAN, UTAH TO THE KONG. I love it) and my priesthood authority line thing, 4 generation chart (it should be down in my used to be room) and a small family photo, wallet sized. I actually could use those last ones.

Love ya Joe. Keep happy, talk to people, don't become a reclusive writer (awesome as that would be).


I am proud you have followed in my legacy. Books are the only friends you need. When I was younger I read mostly books like you do, the bookshelves downstairs have some really good books. Try reading Artemis Fowl, or the Redwall books. They're both great. When you're older, Bartimaeus trilogy is amazing, classic books are great. One of the guys in our apartment had read Crime and Punishment, so we talked about it for a while. Nice job winging it in Relief Society, I feel like I could do that too now a days.

Love you, miss you.


You are going to turn into a crazy artist violinist girl. This pleases me. One of the sister missionaries is a music major, apparently her violin skills are amazing. It does end up being worth it. I wish I'd stuck with piano. I like music a lot more now. Sorry so little, not much time.


Things sound good on the home front. I only have 5 minutes, so excuse my briefness. I love the restoration lesson. I used to think it made no sense, wasn't very important, but having taught it in brief lesson form once or twice, I love it now. I think I would have enjoyed your talk, feel free to send it. Right now the thing I want is a stronger testimony of the Plan of Happiness, so I've been praying about that. LIke it says in Alma 43 I think. He prayed and fasted intently to understand.

I think one time I went on vacation, got back, and you had done the lining of the pond and landscaped it. I'm imagining that happening again. We do emails in a YMCA library about 15 min. from our apartment. There's not a ton of Christians, but a ton of Christian schools and stuff here. You sound very busy, but you're already down to 4 kids to deal with, so you'll be fine. Sorry I send so few pictures. It is really hard for me to remember, don't know why. I'll try to send some of the new apartment. Glad E.O'G had some on his blog.


JSUT leave me alone. I jsut want to preach some true gospels stuff, ya know? I jsut can;t take all theese deestractions, you jsut drivign me OVER THE EDGE. that will be enough, you jsut stop right away. Oh, I jsut remembered, I know what your Christmas present will be. I'm gonna buy all o' yall nice ladystreet things for christmas, so be ready. And send me some stuff. Oh, ask Mom if she's okay with me occasionally jsut using that card/debit card, and if I am able to withdraw money. jsut curious.

Peace out fam.

Monday, October 21, 2013

October 21, 2013 - Tai Chi & Tim Tam Slam

Hello family. Things have been kind of nice this week, finally starting to get into the hang of Hong Kong missionary lifestyle, so I'm a bit less confused about stuff now. I'm also going to try to add more spiritually significant things in to my letters, because that's what you're supposed to do.


The cabin sounds pretty nice. I really liked it when we went up in the winter that one time, when everything was cold. I think it'd be pretty nice. I haven't run into too many of the missionaries here so far. I don't see any of my MTC group on a regular basis, but I am in the same stake as Elder Ah Mu so we saw each other at Stake Conference yesterday. If I run into Elder Beall I'll say hi.

So far we've been having a slow time, from what my companion tells me. I'll briefly go over my usual daily schedule, answer some other people's questions at the same time.

7:00 am - We get up at 7 am each day, and go to bed at 11:00 pm, because Hong Kong people don't get home till later and we wouldn't be able to contact anyone's home phones if we didn't do calls later. So our whole schedule is 30 min back from usual. We usually will go over to a soccer field cum exercise lot about a block from our apartment in the morning and do some exercise while old Chinese people (of whom there are a lot) do Tai Chi or weird apparently ineffectual exercise routines. I would run but my right hip muscle is strained or something. Doesn't bother me unless I try to run, but I don't want to risk making it worse for walking. Usually I'll just do pushups and lunges or something else like that. After 20 min of work out, we return to the apartment, and eat breakfast. I'll cover food later, but I will say we eat on a fairly regular schedule, 8:00 1:00 and 6:00. We have 6 people who need to shower, so that's interesting.

8:30 am - We start personal study, where I read the Book of Mormon most of the time. I'm trying to read at least 20 pages a day, which should let me finish every month. I really enjoy that, have gotten a lot out of Book of Mormon study recently. I hope you guys are still reading together. One thing I might recommend to make it more meaningful and less boring is something we did in the MTC. We would read together and stop anytime anyone found anything significant, then discuss. Helps. Also, you could make a sort of family B of M study journal to record some stuff. Then show me when I get back. Just some thoughts, but I am a missionary so I kind of have to follow these rules.

9:30 am -12:30 pm - We do companion study and language study. For comp study right now is 2 hours because I'm still in the training program thing, later it'll be 1 hour. During comp study we do a lot of sih faans (quick note here. I will try to use pingyum when I talk about Cantonese words. You actually could learn it fairly easily. It's much easier than the English alphabet because it's much more consistent. Sih faan pronounced see fon.) or demonstrations, basically practicing teaching segments of lessons. I don't really enjoy it but it's very useful, especially considering we haven't been teaching a ton recently.

1:30 pm - We have lunch for about an hour, then we'll leave and usually do finding. Our area, Tai Wai, is a lot of government housing/government assisted housing/ slightly low end large apartment "houses" or "mansions", chyuhns I think (ch yoon s). So there’ll be a couple big 30 story apartment blocks, then the lower floors and area around them will all be stores or schools or stuff like that. We just wander around talking to anyone who looks open, e.g. not super old people or super busy people or women under 40. Not very effective. From what I hear the average for Tai Wai is like one or maybe two people will be available for you to teach a street lesson to each 4 or 5 hour tracting day. We've so far had less success than that. You quickly become familiar with the word mhdaakhaan (mm dock hon, sort of), or unavailable. Very maahfaahn (ma fon, annoying). Honestly I wish I could do tracting. We did that once in a village area that looked very poor, as in semi open sewers and rats in traps, but it was kind of nice to tract. At least you know that you've done something. I know you (Dad) probably felt like you were wasting your time sometimes while tracting, but when you feel like that while finding you really are. You can't even say that you've tracted a definite area or make a goal to tract this many houses per day. On bad days you just walk around literally doing nothing. I've done a lot of thinking and praying about how to improve my finding. I think the lack of success these two weeks has forced me to begin early the humbling and prayerful self evaluation part of my mission. One goal I made a little bit ago was to try to talk to one person every ten minutes, even if they look very obviously uninterested. I figure I need practice at approaching people, because that is extremely hard to make myself do. The times when I am prompted to talk to someone I need to make sure that I've practiced enough to be able to make myself follow that prompting. I think that is true of lots of things. Gift of tongues, obviously. gift of discernment, etc.

Dinner is usually at 6:30 pm. These last weeks we've cooked our own a lot so we eat at the Tai Wai chapel (which we spend a lot of time at, usually go by at least 2 times a day), but otherwise we'll just eat at a restaurant. Then we'll maybe do a little more finding. Then return at about 8:45 pm to do calls for an hour. I hate calls. I don't like talking on the phone when I can understand the other person, so you can imagine. But, it is helpful for sikteng (literally, be familiar with-listen, meaning understand. sick tang) and I have had one guy randomly agree to meet with us on Saturday, so who knows.

9:30 pm - We do daily planning, then we have an hour to relax, get ready for bed, and write in journal. That is fairly consistent.

Anyway, that's a lot for one family member out of 7, especially you, Dad, who barely writes anything most weeks, so I’ll move on.

Oh, and while watching General Conference again last week, I got 3:30 min. for breath holding, which is a record.

Hey there Abby.
Sorry, won’t write a ton to the rest of you because I spent so long on the schedule thing, but I understand what you mean about getting older. That bugged me a lot when I started growing up, still does. I wish we could all keep that easy excitement to go do things that we have when we're young, but oh well. I recommend just keep making yourself do stuff. You feel better afterwards. Several people mentioned Joseph and making a fire at the cabin. Making a fire is tough. I'm actually not great at it. I don't have a high mental tolerance for putting my fingers where they might be burned, so I'm not great at fire making, and that stove is extremely hard to reach into. If it makes Joseph feel better, I don’t know any computer stuff because he makes it too easy. Same deal with fire for him.

CHOCOLATE! We're going to the mission home today, I'll see if it's there yet. mhhhhhhh :) Oh, this morning, I did a mission tradition, tim tam slam. Apparently it's big in Australia. You buy these cookies called tim tams, basically two wafer cookies with fudgy stuff in between covered in hard ish chocolate (or jugulik JEW GOO LICK in Canto), freeze them, then cook up a big bowl of hot chocolate. Then, you bite the ends off the tim tams so the wafer is exposed, put it in your mouth, and suck up hot chocolate through them until the fudgy stuff melts, then you eat them. Look it up. It's good.

Hey Mom, things are pretty good here. I feel somewhat well adjusted. Fixing up Rebecca’s room sounds interesting. When I first read Abby’s letter about the room I thought she meant you demolished one of the walls in my room.

1. "Do you live in one area and work in another? Eva thought you would have to take a train or bus to Tai Wai."

Yes, I live in Mong Kok, work in Tai Wai. Two subway stops away. The subway's great, though. Very fast, the wait for a train is rarely more than 3 minutes. And they have really handy octopus card things to pay for it, ask Eva if she knows them. Trip from apartment to Tai Wai chapel is about 35 minutes, so a bit long.

2. "How can 6 elders fit in that small a space? Sounds pretty tight. Take a picture of your apartment so I can see how that works. As your mother it is hard to think of you in any discomfort. You sound very chipper about it though."

I'll try to send a picture, but yeah, it's tight. We have barely enough room. I almost couldn't fit my suitcases, because they're really large, had 3 days where they were just rolling around. Lets just say only 3 people can eat food realistically at a time, maybe 1 1/5 can cook at a time, can't use fridge while someone’s ironing, and everyone's suitcases have to stay under the beds. It's doable though. I'll be well adjusted to any apartment when I return.

3. "I’ve been worrying about the fact that you only have one suit, and you have to wear it now for the next 6 months. Do you think we should get you a second suit? I suppose you could find one there in Hong Kong."

I wouldn't bother sending one. I think you can find suits, they would be decently cheap, but I don't know. Most Elders will just wear one suit, dry clean it at the end of suit season, and eventually throw it away. I'm not sure, but for now don't worry. I think eventually you could send a really cheap one, or I could buy one with some home money, but it won't be a nice one.

4.  "We loved how descriptive you were about life in Hong Kong. I’m glad your companion can cook. Learn a lot from him. Does he cook French food? Green beans amandine sounds quite French. Where does he get his recipes? Does everyone cook separately? That makes it hard I’m sure. I had some companions that wanted to do that, but with others we would cook together. I preferred cooking together. Where is your companion from? Does he speak amazing Cantonese? Any Chinese elders in your apartment? Sorry for all the questions."

His sister sends him recipes, so if you have any good simple recipes feel free to send them. We have a bit more ability to cook than you might think, though our oven is a toaster oven. We cook together so far. E. O'G. says that usually when you start, the trainee will just eat what the trainer eats, later I might split off. He's good though. He is very charitable with his cooking as well. He forces me to learn often (which is painful for both of us) but he'll cook a ton for other people on his own. Also does a lot of dishes on his own. I'm very grateful to him. His Cantonese is about as good as any missionary would ever need it to be. He can sikteng (understand) very well, very decent vocab, he's learning characters right now so he can read semi decently, maybe 2 or 3 grade level, maybe different. All the elders in my apartment are American, though I think Elder Huff was originally born in Hong Kong. They all speak decently. I feel fairly inferior, but you know.

I learned a lot from the book of Mosiah yesterday, about how if we are obedient to covenants we have promised blessings. I think it's very hard but important to strive to develop faith in our covenants we've made, keep them, and then rely on the promised blessings. I like the comparison of the stories of the people of Limhi, who were orignally wicked, and the people of Alma, who were righteous. Worth reading.

Oh, send me something about how Matthew's doing, and Evan, if you can.

Love you mom,


Glad to hear you’re not so sick anymore, and that the room is coming along nicely. I remember it was cool but a little weird when I first had my own room. You'll like it.

1. "What’s the weather like in Hong Kong?"

So far it's actually been really nice. No rain, not too hot, though it was really humid the first couple days. Yeah, though, very nice. I'm being spoiled. Even so it's been pretty uncomfortable at times.

2. "What food do you eat?"

Chinese food. I had spicy noodles, tam ji, the first day, which really were very spicy. We've been eating a lot of homemade food recently, like spaghetti with Campbell soup stuff on it, or curry chicken and rice, or mabo dafu, tofu pork stuff. It's been good.

3. "How do you fit so many elders in one room?"

We don't, we have a bathroom too.

4. "Have you had any investigators?"

No new ones. I've taught two lessons so far, though we did run into a slightly odd guy reading a Bible. We're trying to meet with him soon, but we'll see. Like I said, things have been very slow. Sorry to not write more, but I'm almost out of time.


Get dat program done, bouy. I'm still not familiar with the degrees here, but about 27 or 28 Celsius outside during the day. So fairly hot. Oh, for breakfast I usually eat FROST CRIBBS! Basically Frosted Flakes, but French. Not sure what they're doing in Hong Kong.


I feel bad, but really no sih gaan. I really want the outline of your book, send me a couple chapters or something. I would say, make sure you keep like doing stuff. If you're boring when I get home I'll just send you away or something. Get it, because you'll be leaving on your mission soon. Ha ha.

Goodbye family, love you. Feel guilty when it's nice and cool outside.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Pictures from Elder O'Gara (John's trainer)

John eating a bowl of spicy noodles. 

The missionaries had 2 baptisms John's first week.

Monday, October 14, 2013

October 14, 2013 - 350 square feet & 6 Elders

Leih Hou, Ngohge Gatihng!

Just so you all know, everything has been fine so far. We will usually do emails at 11:30 am on Monday, so if you can get them done by like 9:00 pm Sunday night, you should be safe.

Hello Dad,

Wish I could be up at the cabin right now. It would be very nice and the complete opposite of Hong Kong in a lot of ways.
  1. Everything in Hong Kong is busy and loud, tons of shops everywhere. Our apartment is in Mong Kock, Fa Yuhn Gai, which means flower garden road. Below us are tons of random stores. For some reason, the stores around us are all shoe stores, Adidas. Elder O'Gara (senior, of whom I will speak more shortly) says in Hong Kong if one store does well, everyone nearby will try to do the same thing.蓉密\小吳寒莫 That took some time. There’s a little character drawing thing here, that last one is my name, mohk. 莫莫莫莫莫莫莫莫
  2. Everything around the cabin is big and open. That is literally the opposite in Hong Kong, though not quite to the extent that I thought. A lot of the areas that we serve in, (which is Tai Wai) are somewhat open, it's all right next to the jungle and the new territories, but our apartment is all buildings nearby.
  3. The cabin has carpet. From what I've noticed, there's no carpet in Hong Kong. Just stone or plastic floors. Which get gross when there are 6 people in one apartment eating random food with no table, which brings me to
  4. The cabin is HUGE, at least compared to our apartment. I think the numbers are about 350 square feet. We have 6 elders in it. It's small, especially considering we all have huge bags, all need to store food for a week, all need to have a companionship study from separate from the rest of the apartment. Our kitchen has about 31/2 feet from counter to wall, maybe 8 feet deep. Small stove, microwave, and sink, plus washing machine (we have our own washer and dryer, which is nice, but takes up more room). Our bathroom is literally too small to fit a normal door into, so we have a weird folding glass thing that you would usually put on a very small closet. It actually is about the size of my closet at home. Our study rooms are too small to put beds in; the bunk beds are all in the main entrance. We have one 'table' but it's got so much food on it that we couldn’t fit into the fridges that there’s about 2 square feet of room on it. Oh, speaking of food, that's been one of the more awkward things. I have no food. We eat 2 meals a day in our apartment. Luckily, the outgoing elder left some frosted flakes and stuff, and Elder O'Gara had plenty of raw materials and loves cooking. He's pretty good.
  5. The cabin is cold and dry. Hong Kong is not. Sometimes is gets kind of cool outside, but so far never cold, and it is extremely humid. Every room in the churches (and our apartment) has its own air conditioner, because cooling the whole building would be stupid. If you enter a room, you turn on the cooler. It can get really cold, but often you don't notice because you still feel all sweaty, then all the sudden you're freezing. Hasn’t been awful, yet, but this is the fall. We just barely started having to wear suits all the time (because it's after conference and that's what President Hawks has decided), so we'll see.
  6. The Cabin is consistent. It looks rustic on the inside, on the outside, still rustic, trees everywhere, all the buildings look rustic, no super nice areas, all log cabinny, and so on. Hong Kong is the opposite. Our apartment, for example. Super nice looking entrance way, all marble and granite, up some stairs, then you realize there's no lobby, just a wooden table with a tired Chinese person behind it and grey confusion behind them. Little weird. You get in the nice looking elevator, and all the sudden you standing in a 4 by 4 foot metal box with weird ads inside, buttons that are falling apart, and a floor made of plywood taped to the real metal floor. Then you see the apartment. Hong Kong as a whole is kind of like that. Super poor looking areas, then random granite subway entrances, then medium looking subway cars. Nice looking parks, then right outside what looks like a slightly more substantial Indonesian shanty town. Huge glass skyscrapers, then huge apartment complexes with laundry hanging out to dry on the outside of the windows. Nice public park, then outdoor fish vendors and old sleeping Chinese men playing chess and gambling on the benches. Very weird. But pretty cool. I haven't been down to the island or the central district, where the super rich things are, but some day...Oh, Joseph would love the cars. Lots of Audis, Porsche, Lamborghini, then these little siubas, small bus's, that look like they were made for a terrorist organization to drive around in and cover in camo netting and barbed wire.
So that's kind of what China's like. It was really rough the first day in the field (we actually spent two days in the mission headquarters building, across from the temple, which in comparison was heaven.). My luggage was late, so I was filthy, no room to unpack even the tiny bag I had, hot sweaty and confused everywhere, didn't understand anyone, etc. The apartment was the worst part, no sense of home or relaxation or organization, but I honestly feel much better now. Already feel fairly acclimated. We'll see. Oh, I had an idea of converting everyone around me on the plane, which did not happen at all. The guy next to me was watching movies I wasn't allowed to look at the whole time. Actually that was true of everyone. If I wanted too, the in-flight movie list was actually amazing. World War Z, Iron Man 3, Oblivion, the curious case of Benjamin what's his name, etc, and I could see people watching them all over, but spent the whole time trying not to look. Kind of rough, and disappointing.

It's been cool so far though. Already taught a lesson to a progressing investigator, Gwok Houh, who's actually the Hong Kong table tennis champion, will be baptized near the beginning of November to accommodate his family. First Sunday, after general conference, watching O'Gara baptize two twins. Very cool. Hong Kong's a bit rough, though. No tracting, we mostly street contact, and most people are just obviously too busy, wave us away, talk to us about how nice their lives have been or how their children are, or are 14 year old school boys who lack the confidence to tell us to leave. According to the Mission Pres, in Hong Kong there are about 30,000 baptized members, 14,000 of which are inactive and still can be located, and 13,000 of which are inactive and cannot be found, leaving about 3000 active members. Not the best statistics. So we try to fix that.

Abby Dabby,

I started in Tai Wai. I hope you (and the rest of the fam.) don't mind that I don't say too much, said most of it in Dad's. I didn't feel too bad after the plane ride, still walking up a couple times a night but I usually fall right back asleep. Like the quotes, odd girl. I've been eating weird stuff. First day I had these super spicy noodles that I couldn't finish, E. O'Gara finished them the next day, and in the noodles were......OCTOPUS BALLS. Which were not too gross but honestly not that hou sihk, tasty, either. Had a French bean dish, green beans with roast almonds, Amandine or something like that, because E. O'G made it, that was okay la. Had some rice, not too much actually, some chicken and duck on rice, some cooked pork and zucchini from a little store, some housihkdi, yummier, noodles at a place called shanghai noodles, some Frost Kribbs (German frosted flakes randomly lying around), and ramen noodles with green beans and Campbell’s cream of chicken soup. So far so fine. Oh, sorry you couldn’t talk more on Monday, but it was very nice to hear you not totally deranged. I was getting worried.

Hey Joseph,

Your bitter ramblings depress me. Pour them into your book. Most famous authors seem to be troubled or tortured somehow, this could work, though it's pretty weak. Try adding tuberculosis.


Your perfect record is besmirched. So sad. I don’t know why you keep getting sick, maybe you just miss me. You should see a doctor, little girl. In Hong Kong, none of the tap water is clean. That's right, richest city in the world, massive public transit system, and if you drink the water you get horrible diarrhea. We have a filter on our sink that we replace every couple weeks and all the church buildings have these cooler things that boil all the water in them. Also, in Hong Kong anytime anyone feels sick they wear face masks, so it always looks like there's a pandemic on the loose. weird. Feel better, klein madchen. sai ge leuihyahn.

David O,

I too felt very cool when I got to the top of silver. High templar will take you into gold, but colossus or air are usually more reliable thereafter. Keep it up. My companion also played Starcraft a little bit, also said he likes command and conquer. Just saying... Kramer dead, the world has changed. In Hong Kong they refer to missionaries as dead when the leave and babies when they're like me. Very funny. So and so was born here, but he's dead now. Yeah, so and so's almost dead.

Mother Dear,

Sorry this letter can't be longer, but not much time left for email. I will tell you of my companion, E. O'G. He is a very cool guy, very odd as well. He took French in high school, so he is in the same boat as me with lamenting our language loss. He likes cooking, which I am very grateful for and a little bit guilty feeling about. Oh, as a side note, I've actually gotten pretty good at chopsticks. I still make a mess of myself and eat very slowly, but I can use them now. Anyway, he is very smart, his Cantonese is pretty good, been here a year and a half, so he knows his way around. He's extremely comfortable with the members and people, pretty polite when street contacting, but also very good at being interested and talking with people. Slightly cynical, but not harmfully so. We talk a lot about the people as we walk around. He did karate a lot, fairly good at it. He can be very goofy at the apartment, usually much more serious while tracting. I'm very grateful to have him as a companion, I can't tell for sure yet, but he seems like a hard worker.

Miss you guys a lot. I think very often of how fun it would be to show Mom and Dad around Hong Kong after my mission, I hope that you guys are able to come over and pick me up instead of me just coming back. We'll see. So far so great, 22 months left.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

1st night in Hong Kong

President & Sister Hawks with Elder Morrell

October 6, 2013 - This is the last day & General Conference has been amazing!

Sorry I didn't see your extra email until now. Yeah, our teachers taught us the “have you eaten yet” phrase (Barbara note: That is a way to open a conversation in Cantonese). I felt really cool because I already knew it. I also was the only one to know how to pronounce the Church's name for the first week, so tell Eva thank you!

We're taking the FrontRunner train up to SLC, so we have to be at the travel office in the MTC at 3:30 in the morning, which I think might be the absolute worst time possible. Too late to really just stay up through, too early to go to bed for a while. It'll be interesting. (Barbara note: They actually didn’t take the train because it wasn’t running that early in the morning. The MTC vans took them right to the airport).

This is the last day! General conference so far has been amazing. I got a ton more out of it than I ever have before. I actually wanted each session to go on longer instead of falling asleep halfway through, so that was probably part of it. I'm glad that I got to see conference now instead of at the beginning of my mission, because I don't think I would have gotten much out of it at the beginning. I actually really liked Elder Bednar's talk about tithing, which was odd because that was the least applicable to missionaries. It made me think of Dad's work situation. Hopefully he does get success, though. I did see Dad once during the Saturday morning session.

Next time I write I'll probably be in China. I forgot to buy a phone card because I forgot that the bookstore was closed on Saturday, but one way or another I will call home from LAX, around 9 o’clock probably, so please be there.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

September 30, 2013 - One Week Left & Humility

Hello Family,


I think it's great that you got to have that dinner with the Bealls. That other family sounds very confused about their national loyalties. Be nice to them, but don't trust them too much.(Barbara Note: We had a dinner with the missionaries, a nonmember Russian family from our neighborhood, and another family that is living in our Stake for a year. Gilles François works for the Church and is French, his wife is Russian and their kids all speak 4 languages. They live in Frankfurt when they aren't here.) We were all very excited to get our travel papers, but it's going to be a really long flight. We started practicing street contacting this week, so we're all pumped and terrified of the plane ride, because we all have to at least try to save the people who'll be next to us for 18 hours, but we can barely speak. I'll be arriving in LAX at 8:20 am on OCT 7, and I'll buy a phone card to call you guys. Hopefully I'll remember our number. So try to be available. That'd be really pathetic if not.

I saw the Bennetts, but I haven't seen Matthew yet. I was directing traffic, so I couldn't go look for him. If you can, (quickly as possible) send me his P-Day, residence, classroom, etc. I hope I can see him before we leave. I feel kind of weird now that there's only a week left. I wish I could start over, because I've learned a lot in these last two weeks that I wish I could apply from the beginning. I think I can see a little glimpse of how it will be at the end of my mission. For example, temple visit today was by far the best I've ever had. One thing I have found about the temple is that it helps to do initiatories often. It makes the endowment more meaningful.

Cool experience this week. I had prayed one night to be more humble, because as always I'm fairly prideful, even if I don't show it too much. I didn't even realize till days later, but that day I had three humbling experiences. Our teacher, Foong Hingdai, who is by the way an amazing guy (He is the linguistic genius and is incredibly thoughtful about basically every aspect of mission life. Teaches us a ton.), had us read some part of the Book of Mormon together. One of the guys picked the epistle of Moroni to Pahoran, which was cool. We talked about his uncompromising righteousness and his willingness to be an instrument in God's hand. Then we talked about Pahoran's response, which I think is even more significant. Though he's been incredibly insulted and threatened, he calmly and humbly forgives Moroni without any resentment. We talked a lot about that, about how it takes that kind of humility and maturity to respond gracefully to something like that. That night, we were all kind of goofing off because we had 30 min of study after gym, which makes it hard to focus. To be honest, we were watching Johnny Lingo again. Some teacher, who none of us knew, came in and briefly told us that we should probably use the time to study, and then shared that he would have loved to be able to be a missionary again, and that we should cherish the time we'd been given. He was very polite and gentle about it, but it really shook me, made me realize that I'd been wasting a lot of time so far. That same day, when Elder Ah Mu and I were planning for a lesson, we were arguing about what scripture we could share, and he suggested the story of Peter walking on the water. I won't waste time talking about what the lesson was on, but I didn't want to use that scripture, because I thought it just wasn't right. We kind of argued for a while. Then decided to try to think of another scripture. I couldn't think of anything, and after a couple minutes finally realized that that is what they call a stupor of thought, so I told Ah Mu he was probably right and that I was just being stubborn. SO, prayers are answered.

Hong Kong food is supposed to be great, because literally every person who's been to Hong Kong that we meet, and I mean literally EVERYONE, tells us that the food is what they miss the most (except for Sister Cook, she's obliged to say the people). So yeah, we'll be eating really good Chinese food. Hopefully talk to you on Monday!


Your letter was the strangest and definitely the funniest. I too, for some reason, got kind of excited for Christmas on Sunday. Don't know why. Dad probably is smoking, and if he is it's your job to call him to repentance. So get to it. You can read in Preach My Gospel about how to do that. There's a section in Chapter 10 about addiction recovery, try that. I honestly don't know what else to say to that (I guess you could call it) letter. Oh, I have a question. When do you read my emails? Has it become a treasured Family Home Evening thing? I always write them while the laundry's going. You could read them while the laundry's going, have some empathy for me. I still want to go home, so I'm obviously not a great missionary yet. Sigh.


Similar to the temple, “The Phone Call” (a BYU Production from the 70’s) is something you can really only understand after repeated viewing. I recommend watching it once a week or so until you can quote it line for line. That's what we did, until we realized we were wasting time. “Phone Call” quotes can be used in a large variety of situations, such as:

"Scott that's fantastic!" whenever anyone does anything good.

"Scott, I think we should hang up now." whenever anything seems awkward.

"Don't push your luck, Joe." Anytime Joseph does anything.

"It's not." Anytime anyone says "how's it going?"

If you don't recognize those, you obviously haven't watched it enough. Could you guys put those on the blog? There is much to be learned from Marc McLure's acting.

"3 cows is many" Johnny Lingo, also worthwhile (unless you're a missionary).

I hope you didn't miss the CELG implosion. That only happens once a 14 1/2 month CLEGer comet cycle.

I hope you do take another coding class. It'd be cool.

"We love mother"


I'm glad you've decided to stop being depressing, after this letter. How did you manage to be sick 3 Sundays out of the last 4? That's odd. Eat more Red Meat. I think it's typical for you that everything would occur at the same time as dance. Glad to hear you're still the girl who always makes it to the toilet when throwing up. This week, one of the guys in our district tried to drink 10 glasses of chocolate milk in one meal. He made it to 7 then threw up in the bathroom a couple times. I didn't think he'd make it that far. He's not as strong as Becca Boo, obviously.

Don't feel guilty about missing the Bishop's fireside. I know it's really annoying and frustrating when you feel like you should have gone to something, even though you have a really good reason not to. That's kind of how I felt about school dances. Going made me sad, not going made me sad, what can you do. Anyway, just remember that it's all fairly unimportant in the grand scheme of things. You should take karate instead of dance. Just saying.


I think this is the first week that you've actually gone to any effort to send me a cool letter, so thanks. I guess.

We're all pretty nervous to leave, actually. Excited of course, but we've talked to a couple Hong Kong people and we can barely understand them. And Hong Kong is mostly street contacting, so that'll be fun. Still, it'll be really cool to feel like I'm helping someone other than myself for a change. I think I've already started learning about that lesson you were talking about. Out of my district, I'm easily the most comfortable with Cantonese (probably because of German) and it was kind of frustrating at first not being able to SYL more. To be honest, it's still kind of frustrating. I'm pretty sure that my Cantonese would be much better if the guys in my district were all really great Cantonese speakers. But I'm kind of realizing that it's probably more important for me to learn that it's not about me than it is for me to learn about Cantonese. I hope I don't have to use that lesson.

I've decided my new favorite chapter is Ether 12. Faith Hope Charity stuff, and a lot of other great stuff. Just felt like saying that. I've read through the Book of Mormon once so far in MTC, and hope to finish again before I leave. We'll see.

Don't let the (wo)Man get you down, even if she is the BIG BOSS WOMAN. If it's not too difficult, I'd be curious about what new responsibility you've been given. Like you said, I have no idea what's going on in here. Very excited for conference, except that you guys get to sit on a sofa in your pajamas, I have to sit in tiny chairs in an auditorium in my suit for 10 hours. So, that'll be fun.


On the note of buying a laptop, I never realized how much time I wasted studying in school when I could have done other things. Your point is very true. I think you could improve your experience significantly by focusing a bit less on school and focusing more on insignificant skills. That's what I probably should have done. And as a famous person once said, “Girls like guys with skills”.

The book you are writing honestly sounds pretty cool. Dear Elder it to me, do not email it. Or do both. I really want to see the massive pile of Dear Elder things filling up the mail box. The message of your book seems a bit too earnest and uplifting. Maybe throw in some depressing views on the futility of life (without the gospel). That would be cool to graduate early. I will say, though, it's easier to stick with people you know if you just suffer through IB and graduate with them. I don't know if I would have loved graduating early, but your choice, not mine. Seriously, don't take my opinion into consideration.

See you in 22 months, Triads willing! Talk to you on Monday, maybe.

Elder Morrell