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.
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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.