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.

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