Monday, November 25, 2013

Nov. 25, 2013 - Chinese Etiquette & Helping Investigators Feel the Spirit

Hello Family. This week I will be slightly shorter because I watched a couple of the Bible videos already, and we have to go play RISK afterwards, which is an essential P-Day activity, very important to missionary work.

This week was great. We had two investigators turned over to us, both of whom have been taught the First Lesson, and one investigator who we found by our own efforts, e.g. street finding. One thing that I have learned very quickly since coming on a mission is that nothing in missionary work is ideal, especially not the investigators. You do find some people like my first baptism kid who accepted baptism on the first visit and always calls to confirm appointments himself, but not many. Most are hard to schedule, hard to get to read, hard to give a really strong desire to. That, as I have found, is probably the most difficult and most essential thing that we do, is giving people a desire to progress. If they don't have that they won't keep commitments and won't develop faith, and it's something we have very little control over.

This week we were facing that challenge with A-Keuhng, who is very happy to meet with us but will not accept baptismal date, go to church, read a lot on his own, or feel the spirit very much. Elder O'Gara explained to me that one of the most important things we can do is have some spiritual experience with them, or help them see during a lesson what the spirit feels like, because if we can do that they'll want it again, and then they're trapped.

I feel like one of the tough things for me is that it's impossible to describe to people or convince them of the power of the atonement, which is the center of our message and gospel. I have experienced the edifying and sanctifying power of the Atonement many times before and on my mission, and I know that that is the real reason we teach people, or accept this gospel for ourselves, is because we all need that power and the change it brings. But it's just not possible to let other people know that in a street lesson. Very few Hong Kong people want to change, to be honest. It’s one of the biggest challenges, besides the business.

Taught an atheist kid last night, and he started just discussing a lot of unnecessary stuff, lots of weird kind of anti material and ideas from "1984" (George Orwell (he he Joseph)) about brainwashing or something, and the rest of us in the lesson spent about 10 minutes trying to just discuss things with him and answer his questions, basically wasting time, until E.O'G randomly burst in and cut the kid off mid sentence. I got nervous, because E.O'G occasionally gets irritated and rude to really annoying people while finding, and I think walking away from someone is more acceptable when you just met them on the street instead of scheduled a lesson for them. He basically said that he respected the kid’s thoughts but that he had no interest in hearing them, and that as missionaries we really just want to help him understand us. It was a little rude, but actually quite appropriate, since we had little time and no one else was really willing to say anything to get things on track. SO, we taught the rest of the lesson, gave him a Book of Mormon, and challenged him to read. I think that illustrates a very important principle that is worded well in some verse in the Book of Mormon but I don't remember where. Basically, if we don't believe we won't understand. There is no point in trying to argue an investigator into belief using logic. We have to help them believe, then the spirit helps them understand. That actually takes a load off us as missionaries. Our job is not to teach people these huge complicated concepts and get them to understand them to the point where they're baptized, it's to give them experiences with the spirit, teach them how to repent, and let the Holy Ghost do the rest. That is true of us as well. We need to believe, and then trust God will help us understand. Otherwise it's not faith.


You go first today because I always run out of time for you. Your dance sounds like it's going great. I remember the Arabian dance as just having the 2 people, where they do a lot of crazy lifts and stuff, kind of acrobatic. Help me remember which part it actually is (unless you're so good you are the Arabian acrobatic girl).

It is a good thing that you have taken my mantle upon you and spearhead the religious discussion in your classes, my sister. Now that I am away in this strange land the heavy burden of maintaining the impeccably righteous and in all ways scholarly Morrell fall to you (because David's too goofy, Joseph too cynical, Abby too young and quirky). Bear it well or depart.


Here I am trying to rid the world of silly religions that lack the truth and lead the sons of man astray, and you, my younger brother, are actively striving against me! As I live, you shall cease this despicable idolatry and hearken unto the words of your siblings. Pray I do not return to end this heresy in person, for you would not abide such a chastisement, wretch that you are. Harden not your heart, and heed my words, or at least send me a copy of some of your ideas that I might counsel you in wisdom and the cunning of the world, not that I would ever take part in such heathen practices. And as for your various repulsive sensory and artistic experiences, I say wo wo wo unto such as reject the arts and the craft of his family, both literal, clerical, and academic. Censure your soul, youngling, lest you be pierced with spears or other sharp things.

Hello, my esteemed Father.

I feel like before my mission I would always point out Pride as my fault, but I didn't really understand how I was prideful. I just had a feeling I was. Since working with Elder O'Gara, however, I really have come to understand what it means to be humble and how lacking of that I was, and still am. E.O'G is a very nice guy, not super picky, not really annoying, but he is also very quick to correct things, and expects me to follow his example as a trainee. That was really hard for me at first. I thought that he was just being dumb, or refusing to discuss things or explain his reasoning, and I would often assume that he was wrong because he had gone against an opinion of mine that I considered absolute truth. Over time, however, I've learned that unless I stop trying to get my own way or argue, or even follow half heartedly or grudgingly, I would never be able to see the truth behind what he was saying and I'd never grow from it. It's the same as it is with Heavenly Father, but I'd never been able to really apply that to people who I considered imperfect. So I feel like I've learned a ton. How to improve finding, teaching, etc. If I could become the most humble missionary I can, I will be happy when I come home. It's the quality of not just accepting criticism, but seeking it out, and not just listening to people's advice, but wholeheartedly applying it.

That reminds me. That principle has been heavily applicable to my language study, because in the MTC I thought my Cantonese was great, and here I realize it's not. So I've been trying to listen to advice more, which has been hard but good. Just wondering, how did you learn German on your mission? What worked for you?

Almost forgot to mention. Yeah, in keeping with my statement about un ideal missions, one kid never showed up, the other's phone number was lost, and he was probably mandarin speaking, so we need to somehow find him and then turn him over to the mandarins. Yeah, underwhelming. But finding them was still a miracle, helped me a lot.


I am joyful to hear of your online strategic exploits in the game of kings. Do continue, but beware I will return to pawn yo face. So be ready. Also, you should try Chinese chess. It's weird, but cool. I like the coding idea, and I can only hope that your words of warning are a reference to a certain fictional narrative involving pencils...


I feel like you love me most because you sent me twoooooooo letters! You can send me a DVD of your recital, we all have little DVD players, though it might be slightly rebellious, not sure. I definitely want to hear it. I love the First Noel. 12 songs is a ton. How did you do it? I would be exhausted, and I'm way more diligent and naturally talented than you. And I LOVE big black stick figures.

I love them.

Hey Mom,

Sorry, you get short stick this week being last, and I don't have a ton of time, but I will endeavor to comfort your weeping soul.  Writing late last week made me realize how much you guys must depend on me. If I stopped writing you'd probably all just weep all day.

The etiquette dinner sounds nice. Etiquette is rough in China. Everything has bones in it and you spit them out on the table. Really. And, my chopstick skills are rough, so that's always slightly comical. Our ward mission coordinator “chenged” us out to a place that served really good tomato stuff and rice, not very Chinese but delicious. People in China give the missionaries a lot of food, which is nice. It's very weird to think of another musical come and gone without me there. It's such a big deal at Hillcrest, and through the lens of nostalgia it seems very nice. While I was there it was pretty boring. Thanksgiving should be interesting. We are making turkeys and potato and coco rice, very weird. Sorry, not a lot left to say and my hands are literally frozen right now, dumb air conditioning. Your little Star Wars reference made me laugh and feel bad for you.

WOAH almost accidentally discarded this. That would have been tragic.

P.S. I tried to plug in the camera but the computer is all characters and I can't figure it out. I'll ask E.O'G for help next week. Sorry, but that's me. I don't like cameras.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

November 20, 2013 - Temple Day & Yam Chah (Dim Sum)

Hello Family!!!!!

Okay, this week was fairly poor on the doing of actually missionary work side of things but, I feel, very instructive and useful on the grind my pride into powder and then mix it with some other materials and probably some chemicals and make it into a strong sort of concrete that can be used to construct a bridge in between the heathen nations of the world and baptism. My meaning (or yisi) is that we got very little done this week, BUT I feel l've learned a lot more about humility.

We had our Zone Conference, which is done by having one or two zones all come down to Kowloon Tong and be taught by the AP's and President Hawks. It was a great experience. They talked a lot about planning, planning for lessons and sticking to our plans. That is something that I've found is that we actually very rarely will plan out lessons in much detail, so we've been trying to fix that. I also set a goal from the conference to use the Book of Mormon more. In our 9 week training schedule, this week is about using the Book of Mormon, and it really has been great. I've realized why we need to have such strong testimonies of the Book of Mormon, at least in terms of missionary work. Because the Book of Mormon is the keystone of our testimonies and religion, the main way to get a testimony of Joseph Smith, and the restoration, and priesthood, etc, it is vitally important for investigators to have a very strong testimony of it. Any concern can be worked out if they know the Book of Mormon is true. SO, we as missionaries need to be very active in challenging and inviting investigators to read it. As I talked about last week about faith, having faith means choosing to do things because of our belief in God or the Book of Mormon or anything else. If we as missionaries don't have a very strong knowledge of the Book of Mormon's power, we will not have the confidence to challenge investigators to read it. The same principle goes with prayer, church attendance, bearing testimony, etc. If we don't know that it will help them we won't have the courage to put their interest, their salvation on the line and trust in it. That's why we need to continually read, go to church, pray, bear testimony, etc, to strengthen this knowledge and conviction. You never know when you'll need it.

I also had the opportunity to do two splits this week, with Elder Ah Mu (again) and Elder Barker (his comp). They were very helpful. I realized, especially during the split with Elder Ah Mu, that I need to humble myself not just before God but before other missionaries as well. If I won't accept and apply their advice or if I get annoyed when criticized I can't benefit from them and I won't be able to help the Hong Kong people. That feeling was reconfirmed by some really good comp. studies with E.O'G, where he was giving me advice on how to introduce the Book Of Mormon for a practice thing, and I really just thought he was wrong. Fought against his advice for a while, then finally humbled myself a bit and found out he was right.

This email is late because our P-Day got moved because TODAY WAS TEMPLE DAY! IT was an awesome experience. The first time I went to the temple I really thought that it was strange and didn't get a ton out of it, same as first time doing baptisms for the dead, but I feel like I'm at the point now where I can really take advantage of the sacredness of the temple. It was great. Also, very cool, very weird, very beautiful temple.

1. We do English class for kids and adults every Saturday. Recently we've had very few people there. Honestly, I'd like to put more effort into them, but it's hard because the people aren't there every time. Right now the classes are okay but very awkward and definitely not the most useful. We did get a guy to say he and his daughter would come to church, and even though they didn't they're moving closer, I think.

2. We get about $1800 Kong of Hong dollars per month, which is about 245 US dollars. Each week we spend about $110 on travel, and this week I had to spend an extra $133 on “Sounds and Tones” discs (I left mine at the MTC, as did many in our group, because we never used them, thought they were a waste of weight. President Hawks says every missionary should do 15 min a day for their whole mission, so I kind of needed them.) So money is slightly tight, but we get reimbursed for anything over $250 a month, so if I can make it to the end of the month I'll be fine. I actually like the challenge of spending very little money, though I do daydream about coming back afterwards and buying huge amounts of baked goods. The bread here is tasty.

3. (Mom Question - How often do the missionaries go to the temple?) Every transfer, usually, but it's not a set rule.

4. We are all given a $50 reimbursable budget to buy stuff, and as far as we are able it's going to be a proper zone wide Thanksgiving feast with turkey and everything, thank you very much. E.O'G is cooking a lot of it, which means I'll have to help or feel guilty. Jerk. His family was going to buy us a huge turkey, but they gave it to the Philippines instead. NOTE when you pay my tithing (which I am fine with you doing) throw in an extra $200 for the Philippines. I don't need it that much and they really do.

Just to specify, that is $200 of my money, not yours. Got nervous for a second.


We still haven't had a ton of success, and lots of the people who will stop to talk to us don't actually follow through at all. It's very unlike the romantic missionary portrayal, where you run into someone in the park and 2 weeks later, after several intense lessons in a nice house, their whole family is baptized. No one ever lets us in their house, for one. And in the Hong Kong Mission they have a policy where they really prefer an investigator to have attended at least 4 sacrament meetings in a 6 week period before baptism, so even when they don't drop us it will take a while. But it's a huge growing experience already. I can see why you loved it so much, though I haven't really gotten to the point where I want to do it for the people yet, not quite enough actual teaching interaction, but I feel like I'm slowly getting there.

I probably shouldn't say this, but I'm curious if you've played Rome II. I talked with a guy on the MTR who had a copy in his hand. Actually you probably shouldn't tell me. It'll just distract me. Sigh.

I haven't missed home too much so far, but I have noticed all the cool things I'd love to do when I get back and I finally start using time well. For example, I'll sometimes catch myself daydreaming about doing a personal study on my own when I get back. Very odd. Honestly, I need to focus a bit more on the here and now, but it's better than wishing I could go home and screaming at Chinese people, so we should all remember gratitude.

Also, Joseph probably envies you.


I like the gold fish picture, but I have a little bad news. Since we moved, we're not as close to Lady Street, where you can buy all the stuff, so I might not be able to send any Christmas presents. I'm actually really bummed. I can just imagine you guys anxiously looking at my stuff...sigh.

Anyway, you can change a bit but only if it's to become a little taller and a little skinnier and reading the BOOK OF MORMON WITH BECCA EVERY NIGHT. You must begin. I anxiously await word. Also, you can get a bob and learn French and stop eating goldfish, but that's it. If you change any more I might not come home, so be careful.

El Daveed,

Wow, what a waste of time. I've had all sorts of weird dreams since I've come here and you don't see me spraying them all over the world, not when I've got better things to do. And if I feel like dying, I will, and phooey to your lack of forgiveness. Humph


It's nice to see that 5 out of my 6 family members still love me. It's hard sometimes when you don't know how to work really hard. Especially with street contacting, it's just so easy to waste time and not know how to stop. And I have been feeling a lot recently that I need to improve my teaching. I don't know how long it took you to feel like your teaching skills were okay, but right now I am realizing that the ways I always like to teach are almost always not the best way and often not good. But, the nice thing is that that is a problem that I really feel good about pleading for help with. It's not really a sin at all, it just takes humility, faith, and patience to overcome, which I am working on. SO, I hope I can do better this week.

I have 90 minutes at a public library to do emails, so it's plenty of time. I did get some letters from Rachel Kirkland, Morris Matthews, and Grandpa Carmack, all of which were really amazing. If you have time to send letters in the mail, I do enjoy them a lot. I understand that it's hard though. I've written 4 letters and never gotten around to sending them, so yeah. Elder Brown is an Assistant, we usually have 9 week transfers, but natives and Filipino missionaries mess things up a little sometimes.


I got really nervous you would, because a member gave me a free really nice suit that fits almost perfectly, and gave E.O'G one, and bought us yam chah, also known as dim sum, which is where members order huge amounts of food which comes in little baskets. You order small amounts at a time but a lot total, ask Eva, and then laugh as the missionaries try to eat it all and be polite without vomiting all over the yam chah place. It was lovely. Ate chicken feet, weird meat balls, weird fermented sausages in rice, weird bread with chicken inside, weird wrapped up rice things, etc.

My acne is fairly bad, sometimes really bad, and sometimes fine. It's bad enough that the members keep asking me if my 'skin is always so angry?' or if it's just Hong Kong. I tell them I don't know. It's funny. Send whatever medication might help.

You sound essential to the ward, and your kids are a majority of the youth program.


Good to hear from you, my kind sir. You account of audio visual antics intrigues me, but I must warn you that your multimedia triumphal money may accompany prophetically warned love of lucre, which would dampen my joy. Actually, it wouldn't, but I need to practice English. Sounds legit, bro. And I like the account of your nasal hemorrhaging. When things get bad, I will reflect on my younger brother’s suffering.

I love hearing about the sacrament thing and Stake Youth Council, I wish I'd done more stuff like that. Honestly. Keep running, I've burned my chronologically metaphorical rope.


You may find this strange or disturbing but I have considered standing on a bench and just screaming that everyone will burn if they don't listen to us. Maybe if I had enough faith I could. Worked for Ether.

It is very hard to get people to understand why they need the gospel. We don't like preaching about destruction, but I find myself tempted. A lot of people think that they just don't need our message. Very sad, honestly.

Don't tell me not to sin. If I feel like it, I will.

Not, I'll pray instead. SO there.

Love you family, I will send you a triad member's fingers for Christmas.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

November 11, 2013 - Chicken Feet & Choosing to have Faith

Heeeeeeelllllllo family. It was really creepy when I started answering this email because it arrived here only 45 minutes ago. Spooky, but that's how you can tell when to send it. Any later than that and I might not get it.

This week was very good. I'd been feeling like I was going through a very long humbling period, which is great, but not productive to missionary work. I don't know if I'm just desperate, but every time someone stops to talk to us or if I even testify before they mhdaakhaan (I have no time) us, it makes me feel like the day was a miracle and I have been richly blessed. So that's kind of funny. This week though, I actually did have some success. On Thursday, I stopped some kid walking by a park and he sat down for 10 minutes, took the first lesson, and prayed. Almost a new investigator, but we needed a concrete reschedule, and he didn't know when he was available. So that was amazing. Then, like 40 minutes later, stopped another kid and the same thing happened, except he did give a solid revisit, making BOB the first new investigator of my mission. THEN at dinner at the chapel, Nick, the first kid, called us and RESCHEDULED HIMSELF. That means 2 new investigators, one day, various other success, me very happy. Granted, BOB ended up not showing up (or we couldn't find him, he was unclear on where we'd meet.), but Nick showed up and is still awesome (though quiet, and he'll probably get switched to the Mandarin Elders, we think he's a Mainlander). Also, I had made a goal to talk to people on the train every train ride, which is incredibly hard. I don't know why but it's super awkward for me. I'm not great at casual conversation, but I read this article given by President Hawks about being a testifying missionary, so one Saturday, I had great success talking to people (though no one listened) and on Friday evening had a good discussion with a Catholic guy. He didn't have any interest, but my Cantonese was good enough and maybe it helped prepare him. He was really nice, so maybe later if something horrible happens to him he'll realize that Catholicism is flawed. Don't know.

Had a very cheap week of food. We had several people give us food this week, 4 chang outs. Oh, I have now officially eaten Chicken Feet, which were really boring to be honest. They're just steamed chicken feet, most of what's on them is just skin, and there's no real flavor, so, disappointing. Did have a very good dish with eggplant and dried fish in it. My taste has expanded a lot since coming here. I'll at least try basically anything, though there's plenty I still don't enjoy. Coconut, for example, or cantaloupe is now much more edible to me.

Read a great article about faith, you may have heard it before. Story of a farmer who needed an irrigation ditch to water crops during summer, but would never use it on Sunday. He would find some way to get water throughout the week and things would work out. Then one year, there was a drought, he absolutely needed to water, but received a witness that things would work out again. Although it looked like he was dooming his farm and maybe his family, he chose not to water, and it miraculously rained. I think that is a great example of true faith. Exercising real faith is doing things that will be, at best, a waste of time and at worst dangerous or deadly if the Lord doesn't support or help us. It is when we commit to these things and rely on our faith that miracles happen. Something that always bugged me was how it says in the scriptures and the prophet's words, we need to have faith. I never understood, how do we choose to have faith? What are you supposed to do? The answer, I think, is this. We can choose to do the things that require faith. We can choose to pay tithing, read scriptures, repent, bear testimony, go on a mission, follow the pioneers and abandon our possessions, ask for a priesthood blessing, give a blessing, and other things. We don't need to have absolute faith to do them, we choose to. And when we do them, and the Lord follows through, our faith is strengthened and confirmed. And if we're looking for them, we will find as many opportunities to try and strengthen our faith as we want, until we finally have a perfect knowledge.

(Part of Glen's letter to John that will help explain John's words to Glen)

"I made up a metaphor when I was a missionary about how to deal with constant rejection.  I thought of it as if you have a nice patch of green lawn.  Either you can fence it off so that no one can walk on it, or you can make it so strong and hardy that it can handle any stress and still be green and beautiful.  If you try to shield your psyche from constant rejection, you can preserve your own sense of self but you don’t help anyone.  On the other hand, if you let your grass grow like crazy, you can share it with others and not worry about whether they mow it down a little.  This might not make much sense to you, but this is the mental image I envisioned to help myself keep putting myself on the line.  If the grass is growing strong, it really doesn’t bother you much when someone takes a swipe at it.  If you try to fence off your own psyche, you can’t reach other people very effectively.  When you reach the point where you are talking to people on the street out of love and a sincere desire to communicate with them, their response changes."


I like the metaphor, because it doesn't require fence building or lawn mowing. I think that fencing yourself off is an alternative that also doesn't require any growth or strength, and the other way encourages. I agree with the sentiment.

I had a very cool sort of revelation thing this week about what type of people we teach and how we teach. It occurred to me that the Lord will put people in your path based on what type of missionary you are. If you're lazy, he'll put no one in your path, if you're industrious, a lot of people. That is fairly well understood. But, I realized that the same is also true of how you teach. If you are a very careful teacher, who tries to not offend your investigators and is patient with them, you will find people who will take time, will maybe be easily offended, or in other words need more preparation before baptism. If you are a teacher who is very committed, who testifies boldly and challenges their investigators to be baptized, you will probably find more people who have been prepared and will respond well, because the Lord trusts you to teach them boldly and very spiritually. I for one would prefer to find a lot of the elect pre-prepped investigators, who will feel the spirit and respond to challenges to repent and be baptized. Obviously, this metaphor can't be taken too far. Having patience and tact and teaching to an investigator's needs are really important, and I don't want to drop people who don't respond to testimonies or who take a lot of time to be baptized. But, I think that if you won't testify boldly, you'll never find those miracle people who would accept a bold challenge.

Those are just my thoughts. I have considered how hard it will be to try to keep doing missionary work at home. I would say, one truth that comforts me is that you'll never regret trying to share the gospel with someone. If you ever feel like a middle aged man might be a good avenue for a friend to be converted, you know the gospel pretty well, so you've got no excuse.

Thank you for the advice, Dad.


Trying to write super fast, only 25 min left.

Your dream made me laugh. I've had some odd dreams, but I don't really remember any.

District meetings are on Tuesdays, in Ma on Shan, which is more convenient for us I guess. We're the only companionship in our district not in Ma On Shan.

Tell Eva that Book of Mormons are free now. We grab like 10 every time we go to Kowloon Tong, try to pass them out a lot, and Pres. Hawks wants us to have one in our hands at all times. Emails are done in a library, which is very pretty. We actually go to Kowloon fairly rarely. Kind of pricey, and we're spending about $80 on train each week as is.

We have a washer and dryer. We actually wash all the ward baptismal stuff, because most of the members don't have one. Yeah, living with Elder Ah Mu again. He makes a lot of food. He's Samoan, so, yeah.

Yeah, heard about Spencer, he emails me.  I'm pretty careful on money, almost obsessively so. I really feel like buying treats is a waste. Tastes good for 3 minutes and then what. You wasted $7. So yeah, I'm okay.

I wish I had Deux Arabesques, but I don't think I could ever justify practicing it, so no. Sigh.

Love you Mom.


Sorry, you didn't say a ton, so I ain't got much backwards to say, iffen you picken it up. Jsut hang in there. Coding does seem really cool, I feel like I need to learn.


Convert the habibins, david.

In Hong Kong, they have gross ice cream bars made of beans. Beans. Not bean flavor, beans!


I do understand with the running. I actually really enjoy running, I'm just not great at it. We run in the morning 3 days a week, and Elder O'Gara really likes it, so hopefully I'll get good. It does wear your joints a bit, but the lack of chlorine and total body workout/immersion is a lot easier. You should do some weights for you arms, be all buff when I get back.

Keep it up with the book. See, me still waiting for it is like the faith I was talking about earlier.

Oh, I have felt recently like there were a TON of things that I really wish that I had done earlier that I didn't do. I therefore challenge you and David to

Go to the temple on your own once a month or so.

Actually plan and do some real work on organizing at least one YM activity. It sounds weird, but just do it.

Be nice to siblings. Lots of regrets there.

Keep up the inscribing, mein Bruder. IA sounds like it was okay. Don't skive off in school, I'll have to look down on you and apparently you're taller than me now, so it'll be awkward.


Love you girly. Sounds good with cleaning the playroom. Sorry, not a lot of time, but I hope you and Becca are being nice to each other. And Mom, she's probably still mourning me. Long after you guys have forgotten. Don't send me gold fish, I don't like them. How do you like the idea of jade bracelets? They have a lot here...

P.S. I'll try to be nicer, but only if you pay me money.


My companion is doing a stretch routine to be able to do the splits, so that's funny. I like the Laser Quest story. Isn’t Star Wars 7 coming out soon?

Keep up the dancing. I think I had a dream where you did dance, but I don't remember. You and Abby should read the Book Of Mormon together at night. I just thought of that, and I'm a missionary, so you need to do it. Make sure you actually discuss stuff. Please, actually do that. Tell me about it next week. I'm not joking.

How do you like the idea of a silk Chinese shirt thing? Like in the Nutcracker, but better? Lady Street has some...

And Mom might get a picture...

Don't know what the rest of you will get or if I'll be able to at all because the shipping might be too much, but...

We’ll see...

I found out that there are Triads active, but not very active, and they keep the other criminals down. Hopefully I can become first Triad elder...

Monday, November 4, 2013

November 4, 2013 - "Perfect Love Casteth Out all Fear"

Hello mine family.

It has been a pretty good week. I got my first 'baptism', though I didn't really teach the guy and didn’t actually baptize him. A Houh was our investigator, he was basically ready to be baptized when I got here, waited a while for family convenience. I did teach him a bit, though, and it was pretty great. When he was baptized, he came up and was like, "Woah, yeah yeah!" Not really loud but more than you would expect. He is pretty spiritual, but I think it also may have been the water was really cold. Afterwards he kept saying he was 'gam syufuhk' which means so comfortable. Pretty great kid.

It made me realize that the counting of baptisms is not only bad because people focus on the numbers and judge success off things they can't control, but also because it really is hard to tell whose baptism it is. I only taught 4 lessons, maybe, nothing new, just maintenance stuff while we waited, but some elder in Macau helped do all the major teaching. So, baptismal count is pretty worthless. It takes like 6 weeks at the least to be taught in Hong Kong anyway, so you have a really good chance of being moved before finishing.

Finding, still lacking success, but good. I've been trying to talk to more people on trains, since we have two 30 min train rides a day. It's awkward, but good practice. I feel like I have a very easy to please measure of success. We'll have a whole 3 hours of contacting, and if one person that I stop,stops for 2 minutes and then waves us off, I'll count it a success. This is a strength. I can do no wrong in mine own eyes.

Obviously exaggerating. But it does keep me going. I had one time this week where E.O'G stopped to watch a Chinese chess game, and I randomly stopped some guy, talked about Heavenly Father, the gospel, the Book of Mormon, etc in about 1 minute, and the guy, surprisingly, asked where he could buy a Book of Mormon. So of course I gave him mine (we always carry around copies in our hands), got his number, and he said we could call him, seemed very interested. Made me giddy, partially because I did it on my own. Then of course I've called him 5 times and he hasn't answered, but we'll see.

Did some tracting in these little villages that are honestly really creepy at times. It gets dark at 6 pm here, so by 7 pm it's pretty black, and we're walking around on these tiny alleyways, over concrete trenches we suspect may be semi open sewers, past a surprising number of starving cats, and knocking on tiny houses. Most have bai sahn (worship god, or ancestor worship) shrines, some are next to large cenotaphs (which are like empty buildings with nothing but incense sticks, a dark and suggestive altar, and two disconcerting red bulbs glowing in the night) some have doors covered in bai sahn pictures. We almost got trapped by a large amount of dogs once, so that was fun. It's just weird. Like mud huts, but closer together, and everything including the ground is concrete.

There are a lot of people in Hong Kong who don't like the church, who are biased against it, or who go inactive for no reason, or don't do their home teaching (actually that is almost everyone). It can be very frustrating. When you go contacting for 3 hours, and the only guy you talk to believes in 'himself' (which is a very common idea) and gives illogical arguments, it can be easy to want to argue, to prove that you're right, and to conclude that he's an idiot, that he doesn't know anything, or that he's just wicked. But he's a child of God, same as us. He needs the gospel as much as I do, and he could be just as good a person. One thing I'm really grateful for is that I've been blessed to not feel angry at them, to start to have that love for the people. It might just be that I'm new, haven't been jaded yet. But that is one goal I have for the end of my mission. By the time I leave, I'll know which people are statistically more likely to listen, which people will basically never listen. I want to still try to talk to the unlikely people, and never say that the people are stupid or prideful or racist. They're not. They are people who need the gospel, same as everyone.

When we ask people for referrals, they usually say they don't know anyone. But obviously, everyone we know needs the gospel. Don't be scared off by thoughts that they're not ready, or that they are not sensitive enough or are too prideful, or whatever. As Mormon says, "...perfect love casteth out all fear." (Moroni 8:16). Love them, and help them. If you don't love them, serve them, pray for help, and then love them.


Keep on keepin’ on with the grants. Just think, if they do fire you, then you can go into private practice and have twice the money. You could have a bike for each day of the week.

That's scary about Grandpa Carmack. Luckily he's in a pretty healthy state, but I will pray for him. It is fun to brag that my Grandpa dedicated the land that our temple's on.

Mission is really cool, difficulties notwithstanding. I feel like I've learned a ton and I've still just started. Time passes very quickly. It seems crazy I've almost been here a month. I've had people tell me my Cantonese is amazing for having been in Hong Kong 3 weeks, which is gratifying. Honestly, I would be happy with things like this for the rest of my mission, except that I feel like I could be working harder. It's tough to figure out how to work best. And it's hard to be humble enough to accept criticism from people I know aren't perfect, like companions. E.O'G is great, but he's fairly jaded, gets really negative about Hong Kong people and “Antis”. It makes it hard for me to accept advice, even though he does know what he's doing. Still, I'm trying. I finished the Book of Mormon for the 3rd time on mission. That was cool. Thanks for the advice Dad.


I would really love some snow. It's not hot per se, but it's definitely not cold, often warm, always muggy. Still, weather has been really nice, and I feel fairly adjusted already. And Ma on Shan is right on Tolo Harbor, so the air is great here. If the whole world were like Ma On Shan... actually we'd all die because there'd be no room for crops, no room to actually produce anything, just very pretty apartment complexes and garden areas. Lots of playgrounds, though, so we could play as we starve.

I figured out I have about 375 Hong Kong dollars per week for food and travel, which is actually plenty. I’ve been trying to not get snacks or stuff very often, save money, plus most people seem to gain a lot of weight on their missions here. Elder Ah Mu, for example, has gained 10 pounds, but that's largely because he cooks huge pots of coco rice every day.

Halloween literally had nothing in Hong Kong. Nothing. We did nothing. Nothing special occurred. The day we were tracting was much creepier. I didn't mind too much, though. I will admit, I'm looking forward to Christmas season. I keep practicing Christmas songs on the pianos at the chapel. Oh, and I'll say it. I really wish I'd played piano more. Particularly because I only have the first 4 lines of “Deux Arabesques”. I have played them many times. Many.

Jsut the boy, (David)

Oh how fondly I recall the autumn night, when gathered we to peruse and survive the dark mansion. Many were the shrieks that day.

I enjoy hearing of mein bruder punishing incompetent chess players. Play a lot, or code. Do something cool, bro. I need to brag to the Hong Kongs ' bout choo. Oh, and they know what Halloween is, but don't care. So sad. Jsut about brings me to tears.


You’ll be glad to hear I stretched a lot today. Working on my splits. Don’t let any boys hang out with you unless they're really smart or they give you money. But don't let it go to your head. You're too much like me, Becca. I never cared about girls in school because I knew I wouldn't marry them, so what was the pointe?

Did you get that, pointe? Ha

Anyway, keep golden girlio I don't know what else to say. No one in Hong Kong is named Becca. They're all called Destiny or Kelvin or Cameron or Yuki or Naicy pronounced Lancy. I wish I could read. Tell Dad and Mom to make a list of good classic books, I want to read them when I get back.


I too, have felt stirrings of excitement for the First Noel. I play Christmas songs often. It's kind of sad. I’m glad you like violin a little more. And you really should be first chair, just saying. Do your best, little munchkin. I feel like I don't know what to say and I am slightly rambling. Also this keyboard is hard to type. Don't send me goldfish. I might send you girls silk shirt things, or jade bracelets, think about what you want.


If you can't take the water, you might as well take the dirt, I suppose. I wish I was a better runner. I ran a lot in the MTC, but never more than a mile at a time, and now my hip muscles need time to rest a bit.

I would point out that establishing a female ruler as incompetent doesn't exactly decrease the chauvinism of your book. Might want to through a stereotypical tomboy princess who loves fighting and hates dresses.

Actually if you do that I will never read your book. Nothing against tom boys, but if you do that do it with some class. Send a hard letter, even if it's not done, when mom sends the stuff. Please, I have nothing to read, but SCRIPTUUUUUUURES. What more do we need? Oh yeah, other books.

Okay family, love you. You must not be praying hard enough because I still haven’t had tons of success. Work harder. I will try to as well. Triads subdued by nice weather, maybe hibernating.