Monday, December 23, 2013

December 23, 2013 - Organizing, Finding, & Being Sick

I got the package about 3 weeks ago, I think, but I'm not sure. It was probably 2 or 3 weeks coming. I'll answer these and then start the real email. I kind of want Joseph to look into whether or not multivitamin pills are bogus or not, because sometimes I feel like calorie wise I'm eating enough but it's not varied enough and not enough vegetables. If it could really be useful, I would kind of like some multivitamin pills or chews. A lot of missionaries here have them.

Elder Tong has been out 1 year and about 4 days. His Cantonese is basically perfect in so far as everyday language goes. His parents both spoke Cantonese at home and he's been pretty diligent at studying, so the only words he doesn't know are the ones that have very specific meanings. Not useless words, but words that I'll probably never learn. And he's learning a lot of characters right now. I do need to SYL more, it's tough. Elder O'Gara was like Elder Tong in that they didn't worry about it too much, so they don't remember to. Then I forget often. Kind of rough, but I will work harder.

My shoes are great, except the Ecco ones that were more fancy and narrow are pretty quickly scuffing and wearing at the front. They probably won't last super long.

I will call at 10:00 AM Hong Kong time, which should be about 8:00 PM your time. If I am wrong on the math I will call at 10:00 AM Hong Kong one way or another, so you can figure out when to be ready. 45 minutes maximum.

Wow, my family failed to send in the letter in time. That hurts. That really hurts. 12:30 PM Hong Kong time and nothing. Repent ye repent ye. Well, I will begin writing and hopefully you will send your letter in time for me to read it.

This week was a very interesting week. I had some of the hardest days of my mission so far at the end of last week and the beginning of this one, where I just felt inadequate and guilty, and felt very little desire or hope to do any missionary work. It was pretty tough. On Tuesday we just had a lot of finding to do, and the whole time I was suffering mentally. But, I got through it. I don't know why I was feeling so down, but I just prayed a lot and tried to focus on working, and since then it has been really great. I've had a ton of fun this week.

Elder Tong and I get along very well. He is a really good missionary and a really funny guy. One of the things that he has done that has been good has been (your letter just arrived) helping us get organized, get our area book in better shape. I honestly had never seen another area book, never seen what things were supposed to be like, so I didn't really realize that we were pretty disorganized. We had recent coverts that were 2 or 3 years old that hadn't been moved into the member book, etc. So we've started cleaning everything like that up. He is also really good language wise. Elder Tong knows most words that I can come up with, and knows how to say anything I ask him. It's mainly up to me now to work harder to use that. He also has a lot of really good desires to work hard, improve our finding skills and ward coordination, etc. We are very similar in a lot of ways as well. We find the same things funny a lot, so finding has become a much more enjoyable experience. We can just kind of laugh it off when people really awkwardly turn us down. And he knows a lot about how to teach well. I feel like I really have a great chance to not just improve language skills but teaching skills. The only problem is that he loves what the Chinese call 'da gei', hit machine, or play computer. Elder Tong is diamond league Star Craft 2 player and almost pro DOTA II player. I have to try very hard not to get in off topic conversations. He's good at not initiating them, I just need to focus more. And learn how to be pro when I get back.

Teaching is something that is really emphasized in the mission, obviously. I have learned recently a lot about why it is such a good thing, and I think I'm starting to get the vision behind the importance of teaching, what it actually is, and how to do it. It really is about awakening interest. It you can let the spirit testify of your words, and have your investigators develop an interest in what you're teaching, they will learn. I don't know, just stuff like that. I've been thinking about it a lot more. Or what makes people remember what you say, what tends to make people zone out, how to ask questions effectively, etc. My main problem now is that we have very few people to teach. We've been finding pretty intensively, so I feel hopeful in that front.

Wednesday was freezing. It was probably in the 40s, very windy, and we had 5 hours of finding. No success, except we talked to a weird, sad drunk kid whose girlfriend had just dumped him. By the time we went home we were totally frozen, hands numb, etc. But I felt great. It's always nice to finish a long day of work. Better if you have success, but still.

Then, Thursday I felt a little tickle in my throat, Friday I was horribly sick, Saturday my sickness continued, Sunday I did not mend my ways, today a little better but still pretty bad. Being sick on a mission is rough because you feel like you have a responsibility to get better and be wise, but you also can't waste any time getting better. Elder Tong forces me to rest every now and then, and everyone keeps force feeding me 'essential oils'. Look them up; they're supposed to cure everything from bad breath to cancer. I just think they taste weird. Anyway, pray for me to recover. It's hard to teach people when you have water flowing freely from your nose.

Something that I want to include about Hong Kong, it is really weird. There are many ways that it is weird, I will spend a few minutes and describe two. The first is that rather than remove inconvenient things, they tend to just build around them. Big tree root growing in the side walk, threatening to trip people? In the US we'd just cut it out. Here they paint it with yellow and black caution lines. GO figure.

The second is the way western things move into Hong Kong, particularly Pizza Hut. In the US it is a somewhat pricey low end pizza place, very casual, something for parties. In Hong Kong, no one eats pizza, not a big desire for pizza, and cheese is expensive. So, Pizza Hut noticed that there was absolutely no other pizza places, and rather than create their usual casual pizza American niche, they reinvented themselves. As...

A gourmet sit-down Italian restaurant, which works because there are no other Italian places either. It really is like a nicer version of Olive Garden, but with pizza as well. So weird. Anyway, Elder Barker (who lives with us and is awesome) "chenged" us out to it on Friday, so 3 cheers for him. Now I will read your tardy email and respond.

HEYYYY my tardy tardy family.


The Engineering dinner sounds much more interesting than the MOTAB Christmas Party Dinner, though both seem fun. There are not a lot of really big nice spaces in Hong Kong. There's big, and there's some nice, but there's usually something off, or done really cheap and covered up. They don't care quite enough to have Grand America class things.

Elder Tong is from Sydney, though he has U.S. citizenship as well. He really is an awesome guy.

There's a lot of pork. Ground pork is super cheap, about 1 or 2 US dollars a pound. So that would be good. I made Tuna patties for the second time last night. First time was before I had the recipe, and I just used tons of mayo and no egg, but both times it was pretty good. Makes me think of home.

That sounds very like Sister Bangerter and Morris. Oh, I should say that I would love for you to thank Mo for me for sending so many letters. They are always very awesome, and I am really bad at writing letters, so I will commission you to take care of my guilt for me.

It’s pretty weird to not be home for Christmas. I included the time for our phone call in the first little email I sent, should be about 8:00 pm your time. Looking forward to it, but also trying to focus on mission. Tough split.

Other birthday items I might need are new socks. No, seriously, the socks that we bought shred like mad every time I wash them, so they are quickly shrinking. I will need new ones soon. Honestly mission has made me realize that I don't need material stuff too much. We talk a lot about how we're getting US $250 a month and we still have way more than we need. Life is cheap if you're willing to focus on important stuff. Oh, by the way, I share the story about you and dad being really frugal and paying tithing every time we teach it. So 3 cheers for you!

Love you mom, thank you for all that you have taught me over the years. Don't cry too much for me, but cry at least a little.


Sorry, not a lot to tell you this week. Yes, the face lines up perfectly (David draws pictures in his letters to John), and if it didn't I could guess pretty well what you were trying. You need to get up to diamond league so that when Elder Tong comes home you can pone him and tell him it was his step trainee's little bruder. That would bring me great joy.

Man, I wish I could still be in touch with science and all. Make sure Dad is saving all the IEEE and Nat Geo and Pop Science magazines so that when I get back I can binge on them. China. Beating us to the moon. Hopefully it will galvanize America to step it up again. The Space Race 2 would be quite a Christmas present.

Get ready to speak some German to me on the phone, I need a booster to remember it.


You know what's weird? It doesn't feel like Christmas at all here.

There's no snow, but there are a lot of decorations so it looks kind of like Christmas, I guess, but we missionaries have no Christmas holiday. I am so used to that that I keep thinking, 'Oh, Christmas holiday hasn't started yet so we still have at least 2 weeks till Christmas day.' It's 2 days away. Also, we don't have a big tree, we're not doing any mission Christmas thing, etc. Kind of weird, but I don't mind too much. It would be nice to be home but we're going crazy doing finding recently, so it's all good.

P.S. Good job getting Becca to read with you. I'll ask about it on the phone call. I felt really bad since I didn't really get to talk to you at all when I called from the airport either. I kept imagining that you would cry afterwards. You probably did.


I feel like I actually do kind of understand what you're saying. Elder Tong is kind of like that, but I think I know what you mean. There's some hard to grasp attitude of faith or what you're focusing on or something that turns effort into success. I feel like I really haven't developed quite yet the desire that I need to actually bring others to Christ. I'm working on it, though, and I actually feel really great right now.

It is interesting, though. Everyone looks forward to the end of their mission with trepidation and anticipation. I really want to be able to come home, see you guys again, relax a bit, (if I'm honest) play some computer games, and most of all have a feeling that I did a good mission, that I used my time well. But at the same time I get nervous, because I look forward and worry that the time will come and I won't have done enough. I think one thing that I'm realizing is that your desire to be a good missionary has to be focused on the now, on the present. It isn't about day dreaming about having done a good mission, it is about wanting to do it today. That is one thing I'm trying to improve. And as I said before, I am getting really excited about how to be a better teacher.

I read Romans 14 today and it reminded me of some of the things that your mission president taught you. I’m just throwing that out. Talk to you soon, and thanks for all your advice.


Don’t fall into the basics of money and greed with your book. Make it something about pure evil. That sounds funny but I'm serious. Think about someone who becomes really evil, or is turned evil by something. Make it symbolic or something like that, but the concept of really pure evil things is pretty interesting, kind of creepy. Lord of the Flies, my brother.  Edger Allen Poe and The Scarlet Letter. They all have it.

I feel that your letter is a good venue for this insight, which I hope will help everyone who reads this come to understand me as a person better.

Today I read the story of Nephi, son of Helaman, son of Helaman, son of Alma, son of Alma, who was of uncertain decent. Nephi was so humble and was so willing to submit to the will of the Lord that the Lord knew he could be trusted with literally unlimited power. And then Nephi used that power to teleport around preaching and do the Lord's work. Lots to be learned from him, I would advise you to read it.

My point right now, however, is this. Nephi could do whatever he wanted. The people were wicked, so Nephi called down a famine. Obviously, I am not perfect enough to be given this power, but (and maybe this is a sign that I am not perfect enough) I feel like I could have chosen some pretty interesting ways to humble the people. It just makes me wonder, what could you do besides famine? I think of making all the plants poisonous, clouds all the time so no sunlight, dragons attacking their towns, horrible monsters coming out of the ground, etc. Could be pretty interesting.


Sorry, very little time, but your letter was hilarious. I feel like you are so similar to me. I am very proud of your dance achievements. Seeing you in the Nutcracker was actually something that I missed seeing, believe it or not. Read with Abby. I will now pat myself on the back.

Oh, Dad, in our apartment we had a copy of the 2008 Music and the Spoken Word MOTAB + Galaxy Children's Choir (Chinese Children’s Choir) thing. Do you remember that? I saw you several times singing It's a Small World. You didn't look happy.

SO sorry, can’t get the pictures to work. Don’t know how I got it last week. Sorry sorry sorry, but I got more important stuff to do.

Got a bit more time, so just going to say I love you guys. Time passes oddly here, won't be long till I’m back. I just really want to use this time as well as possible. Don’t want to waste it. 莫 mohk 大 daaih, big. 小 siu, small

Monday, December 16, 2013

December 16, 2013 - New Companion & Joy at Christ's birth because of the atonement!

Hello, my family. This week has been very interesting. In a lot of ways it was really hard, probably the hardest week of my mission so far. But hard times are usually hard because a lot of stuff is happening and changing, so I have some good hopes for the future.

This was the end of my first move, or transfer as they call it in most missions. 2 months in. Elder O'Gara left to go be the District Leader in Yeun Long, which is about as far away from everything as you can get. He's really gone. I was actually pretty sad to see him go, but frankly I'm bad at being sentimental or emotional about things like that, so I didn't really react at all. He was a pretty good trainer. He's taught me a lot about humility and learning from others, and about hard work.

My new companion is what we call an ABC, meaning his parents both spoke Cantonese in his house. Not quite a bundei (native) but 2nd best thing. His English is perfect, though Australian, and his Cantonese is really good. He can speak and hear pretty much perfectly, though he can't write at all, his reading is still progressing, and he does have a comparatively limited vocabulary. Still, I feel like my Cantonese is already improving from having him as a companion. Oh, he's also the new Tai Wai district leader. I just get stuck with leadership where ever I go.

Elder Tong (man, I forgot to say his name until now, embarrassing) is also really big into organization, which I'm realizing Elder O'Gara was sort of average at. I've become quite well accustomed to hearing, 'Oh goodness!" as he discovers another neglected part of the area book or apartment, or another of Elder O'Gara's exotic food experiments, such as a live sour dough starter in a MILO jar.

It has made me realize that we actually weren't doing so great in Tai Wai. We've had a couple investigators, but no one really progressing quickly, and not really any new investigators since I've gotten here, which has been a long time. But Elder Tong just looks at it and says, well let's change it. SO we shall.


The Christmas package arrived, and was very much appreciated. Elder Ah Mu in particular loved the Christmas Choir CD, Alfie Boe is a pretty good singer. We also randomly found the one with Natalie King Cole, which has some good parts, but, you know, mediocrity.

I actually did get one chance to go over to the island. We actually had to go get some watch links that got left behind at a watch repair store in Central District by an Elder right before he left for home. Not sure what he was thinking, but it was kind of cool. Central is a big place. And Hong Kong really goes crazy with decorations here. Our apartment lobby has wreaths and trees and lights all over, but no nativities, no Christ, just western Christmas decoration. Weird. I got to go to the Bruce Lee museum for last P-Day, which was pretty interesting. He has almost a whole floor of a medium sized museum for him alone. Pretty weird. Also had a lot of Chinese art and porcelain, which reminded me of Grandpa and Grandma's house.

I tried to make Tuna Patties 2 days ago (you can definitely buy tuna, and mayo is a little expensive but not bad) but totally guessed on how, so I just used some torn up bread in place of crackers (because I had none) and mixed in a lot of mayo. I figure mayo is made of mostly egg anyway, so I was close, they weren't too bad. Thank you for the full recipe, though. I just finished a cheng out, and I feel uncomfortably full, so enough of food.

I will call you. We'll buy a call card or a SIM card, one of the two. I will have to see with Elder Tong, so I can tell you totally finalized details next week, but probably 9:00 PM at the earliest. We'll see.

Miss you, Mom. You’d hate the weather here. There are very few heaters and it's been cold rain for the past 3 or 4 days. Not Utah cold, but pretty bleak.


I am sad that I have only recently gotten a taste for music. And that sounds pretty impressive, Gimli, son of Gloin, reading Luke 2. I will have to read over it on Christmas Eve with that voice in mind. I liked David's comment about tossing. Also, you should probably get out of the choir while you still can; before they start you all taking tap dancing classes or having you dance down the aisles of the tabernacle. Things can only get worse in that respect.

It's weird to think of people on Christmas break. The Hong Kong people decorate a lot here, but you can bet no one is getting days off school yet, never mind work. And for us missionaries it's still a vague more than a week away thing, so it seems pretty far off. And honestly, we won't do much. Our mission president said that because of the increased size of the mission and the cost, as well as our big Thanksgiving thing, we'll do no group Christmas thing. Which I think is fine. More blessings for me, going finding on Christmas.

Thank you for mentioning that at the end, Dad. I actually have struggled a lot this week with keeping happy and non-guilty, I know what you mean about the way to be happy on a mission is by working hard. It really hit me pretty hard that you included that, because it's something that I did learn a lot specifically this week, and something that I needed to hear. Thank you, and love you.

Hey Abby,

I can't say too much BECAUSE YOU STILL HAVEN"T READ SCRIPTURES WITH BECCA but I will say this; I do TONS of dishes here! I have to cook breakfast and lunch almost every day and there is absolutely no room in our apartment to let dirty dishes pile up. For that matter, there is no room for clean ones. So every morning I cook pancakes and then scrub the pan, scrub the plate, the fork, the spatula, etc. It could be worse, little one. Believe me.


I'm not sure if that first sentence is or is not a subtle joke, because on the trains I've been seeing ads for some space program shuttle thing that is heading for or already went to the moon or is maybe planned to eventually go to the moon. I can't understand what they're saying, so I'm not sure, but I don't trust you one bit.

Strewth, it doth awaken mine brain to the length of the time in to which between mine ears have Recife the word STREWTH. Verily.

I don't really want anything for Christmas but baptisms, and there's absolutely no snow here, so that would be great advice if you weren't so dumb all the time. Really.


'Wink wink' did you get that? You know, the message, huh?

Did you know that dancing is actually illegal in Hong Kong? Too many people got hurt, so they just banned it outside of professional companies. I don't care too much, of course, but it is pretty weird.

That last paragraph is a complete lie.

Hey, guess what! I was being a missionary in Sunday School this last Sunday too!

Actually it was really nice, usually I miss most of the vocab, just can't follow along quite well enough to get the lesson really well, but this week I understood most of it, and I wrote down a ton of new vocab that Elder Tong translated. Oh, you won't care too much about this but the kid in our ward who will go on a mission in February and does most of the fellowshipping for us is our new Ward Mission Coordinator. So when he gets to the MTC he'll be the only one there who's already done that.

Anyway, love you Becca. Wish you could see Hong Kong, or be all moody. Either one.


Aston Martins, whatever. I'll have you know that I saw 4 of those weird 5 seater Porsches at one intersection, all within 1 minute, and at least 20 since I've gotten here. Plus about 50 A4, 20 or 30 A6, a couple A8, I think an R8, a lot of Q7s, and a surprisingly large amount of TT's. I think my first night I saw a Bugatti. Lots of funny looking cars here. Lotus Elise, etc. I also accidentally saw a good deal of World War Z on the plane ride over, against my will.

Anyway, I need to focus. Yeah, got your package, I really wanted to read the story, but I just can't in good conscience. I need all the help I can get.

I age just as much as you every day and I have only gotten Christmas presents so far. Don't know what that's about. I was actually pretty sad that I couldn't send anything back for Christmas, but as the Chinese say mouh baanfaat! no solution. And as for Micah and his brother, don't worry. We're bigger than them. Just sit on him or knock him over or something.

Thank you for your emails, and thanks to everyone who has sent me letters. Grandma and Grandpa especially have been so great at sending me mail, it really has lifted my heart up until it is stretching at its arterial connections. I'm sorry I haven't sent anything back, I don't have much time, I have no Chinese stamps, I have no clue where or how to send it from here, and I’m a bad person, so there.

I feel like this week I have learned so much about hope and faith and repentance. I just really want to be able to stand before God with a clean conscience, and know that I have done my part. Preach My Gospel says that the Restored Gospel will bring peace in this life and eternal life in the world to come. I know that this is true. I think we should all strive to look at our lives, analyze what we're doing, and honestly see if we feel happy with where we are right now. I know that I am not ready right now. But I also know that the promise of the gospel, the message we as missionaries share, and the reason for our joy at Christ's birth is the news that through the atonement, we can all be cleansed of sin. We can all be healed, and change ourselves so that we can stand before God free of guilt and without spot, no matter what we have done or where we are. Our lives may always have trials, but we can have that peace in life that comes from knowing that through Christ we are saved. I invite you all to think about and be grateful for the atonement, and think of how to share the message of the gospel with others this Christmas. Especially since you're all on break, you've got a lot of time.

Elder Morrell

P.S. STREWTH, I KNEW IT! I can't remember where I heard that originally, I think in Ivanhoe.

In Hong Kong they say, Sing daan faai lohk for Merry Christmas (or I guess Happy Christmas, since they have the whole British thing going on). Sacred egg happy happy. Go figure.
At Ward Halloween Party with the Bishop

A wild boar in a fenced off area right next to a super densely populated Luhng Hang area. 

My new desk in Ma On Shan

Elder Morrell w/ Elder O'Gara
(I like the random slab of concrete that bench is sitting on.)

Elder Tong, my new companion.

Yes, I know I'm wearing glasses.  I wear them half the time to make sure I'm used to them if I get an eye infection.

Monday, December 9, 2013

December 9, 2013 - Acting Senior Companion & Trying to Turn Finding into Teaching

Hello my family dear,
In this the Christmas season, my thoughts often turn to home, except they don't because I am busy and don't let them. In fact, to forestall said homeward ruminations, I often engage myself in the multiplication of two 3 digit numbers, which occupies my mind so fully I find myself incapable of entertaining any intruding sentiments. You should try it, Mom.

This week was interesting because as part of my training Elder O'Gara made me do acting senior companion, which job entailed the choosing of our finding location, the choosing of our daily plan, the choosing of our daily meals, and the direction and leadership of our companionship study. I have learned from this that surprisingly, 2 month old missionaries are not good at being senior companions. Not that anything especially bad happened, but it's hard to decide where to go all the time.

On Monday we found a magical place above one of the apartment complex areas near our Bishop's house. Hong Kong uk chyuns (village) are usually laid out as large 30 story buildings in a line or cluster with parks and walk ways and sometimes stores underneath. This one had a massive man made pond full of koi fish, which was pretty cool.

Tuesday was a very good day. We went finding, and in about 90 minutes had 3 street lessons and several contacts that couldn't stop to talk but were willing to listen for a while. That was a great experience because we have not met very many of our numbers goals at all since I've come to Hong Kong. People just don't want to stop and talk; we have only 2 or 3 regular investigators, etc. But by finding really aggressively, e.g. stopping people a lot and actually standing in their way so they couldn't just wave us off, we found some pretty decent success. The main problem that we're facing overall is that we'll have these street lessons, we'll exchange numbers or emails, and then we are just totally unable to turn them into investigators. They just won't reschedule, they're all too busy, it's inconvenient for them because no one ever meets in apartments here so we have to try to get them to come to the chapel, which is hard to find and out of our area, technically, and they won't answer their phones. I've seen some miracles with street lessons so far but I really want to learn to teach more powerfully and challengingly, because I feel like too many of the lessons are having almost no effect. Anyway, Tuesday was good.

Thursday was not good. We were finding next to a canal that runs through Tai Wai and Shatin, and we met a 25 year old guy who stopped to talk to us for a while, who was Taoist. He had some slightly unorthodox beliefs as well that included Jehovah and a heavenly government, but I think he was also saying that everyone needs to have their own beliefs or something like that. Our lesson started okay but quickly became just a discussion on a little of our beliefs, a little of his, no real interest in changing or discovering about ours at all on his part. I was getting concerned because 1. I didn’t think we were actually helping him at all, I felt like we needed to be more testifying and less focused on his beliefs, if that makes sense, and 2. We had gone over time into our dinner hour and had an appointment at the chapel, which was 15 minutes away, in 20 minutes. So I tried to say that basically I respected his beliefs but that I knew that the Book of Mormon was true and he could find the truth of our message by reading. We left, he didn't take a book or a reschedule, and then Elder O'Gara was mad at me for being rude. That really threw me off for the rest of the day. I was really confused and annoyed because I really felt like our lesson had just been pointless. I had a hard time participating in our lesson afterwards and just felt annoyed and down that whole night and part of the next day.

Then, on Friday we had miracles. We got stood up for a lesson with a new investigator (he hates us now for some reason, keeps hanging up on us) with a member there, so we apologized to the member and started doing finding. But, he said he was available so he did finding with us, and in 40 minutes we found some people to come to English class and taught 2 street lessons. That was incredible. One of the kids we taught was Buddhist, which gave me an awesome chance to learn that there are better ways to deal with other people's religions, and he said his reason for talking with us was that he was shy but felt like he needed to practice his English. He probably won't become an investigator any time soon, but it started his preparation. And the other kid was really willing to listen, very interesting, and hopefully will meet with us again. THEN that night we had a less active kid reschedule his revision time (revision, or boujaahp, is a horrible Hong Kong invention where kids pay money to listen to lectures on subjects and become unavailable to do any gospel related thing for months on end. Eva says it is like tutoring.) from Sunday to Saturday. He hadn't been at church for about a year, and showed up this week. So despite things looking bad, the Lord does work miracles some times, right when we're feeling the worst.

Then to ends things anticlimactically, no one came to church. 0 investigators, but the less active kid did show up, so it was okay.

This week I learned an important lesson, trust Preach My Gospel. It was the Preach My Gospel method that worked when we were talking to the Buddhist kid. Every time I have realized that PMG is not telling me obvious or corny suggestions and used it, things work out better. So that is what I'm trying to do.

I have also experienced more that God will comfort us when we are down, if we trust and rely on Him. It is really hard for me to stay positive all the time, because we don’t have a ton of success. It's tempting to despair about stuff. A scripture that has really comforted me is in Alma 31, I don’t know the exact verse or wording, but it says that their sorrows were swallowed up in the joy of Christ. I try to remember that and be grateful when things don't go well, and retain a hope that if I work hard enough and endure I will have success.


Thank you for the advice. It seems like younger people will actually stop and talk with us, whereas most older people just brush us off. Honestly the thing that is the hardest right now is going from people who stop to people who meet again. I had some really cool thoughts recently, though. 1. Number goals. I would like to become the type of missionary who every night prayerfully and thoughtfully sets goals with my companion, then the next day looks at those goals not as regular goals, but as what the Lord has told our companionship we can accomplish if we are exactly obedient and work as hard as possible; then achieving or missing goals becomes a way to know whether or not we are living up to and working to our potential. I hope I can develop the faith to do that. 2. Inviting people to talk with us is the first commitment we give them, in a sense, and when we extend commitments we are supposed to promise blessings and testify. I've being thinking about how to do that better recently, and it fills me with hope.

I made cornbread today, and last night I ate 6 eggs worth of egg salad sandwiches. My diet is a bit random and probably unhealthy. Could you send me some recipe tips that are extremely simple? Also no cheese, it is obscenely expensive here.

I miss you guys, but like I said I try not to think about home too much. Focus is worth more. So I hope you won't be too sad. Keep on facing that tough Utah winter, and just don't think of the long January, February, and March coming up.

Dear David,

I did wonder where that piano bench had gone (David was excited that the piano bench in the gym was back because he played for Priesthood Meeting yesterday. I was not excited because the piano bench in the Young Women’s room was gone). They have mostly electric pianos here, because they’re smaller, and the one in the primary room randomly has an insanely powerful bass. Like the whole room vibrates.

You know me so well, mein Bruder. Du sollst nicht vergessen, meine neue sprache sind Cantonese, so I will suffice myself with a quote from our purple grammar book, "She has inhaled quite a bit of poisonous gas".

Dear Dad,

I realized when I got to the MTC that I developed a taste for classical and church music just 1 year too late, and now I don't have time to listen to it. I think this year I might have actually enjoyed the Christmas Concert, but it's too late now. I still always pull out your Motab membership when people start bragging.

I have been very slack on my goal to talk to people on trains, so this week I will try to repent and really sincerely try to talk to everybody. I hope I'm able to.


I saw an ad for Frozen in Hong Kong about a week ago. It looked weird, but that means you'd like it, I guess. I bet mom fell asleep. (I did for a few minutes.)

Wish I could have seen David, Rebecca, and you perform at the Ward Christmas Party (they played Jingle Bell Rock on the piano, flute, & violin). I just realized when I think of home I imagine that I wouldn't actually have to do anything. In reality I'd be in school or working. That means that you're in school right now. Ha ha. Read with Rebecca, I mean it. I won't stop mentioning it until you do.


You epitaph was quite humorous, as is the thought of a person like you creating confections. I chuckle.

However, I also stop chuckling and type with sadness to inform you that I will not be able to read your book. With heavy fingers I tap out the reason, and then insert a semicolon; after a discussion with my senior companion, I have come to realize that to really focus on a mission means leaving everything but missionary work behind. Your book will be the biggest sacrifice so far, but I cannot read it. Shoot to the mark, not the tolerance. But, my fingers dictate a short thought of hope, I will with pleasure read it on the plane. And this way I can read it in fully edited (besides my final review) glory when I return. See to it. And be that eagle scout, bro.


Your language conceals your age well. From your clever remark on teeth brushing I would have pegged you at 16, not 12. I also have experienced this phenomenon (Rebecca said that everyone at church was complimenting her on her flute playing); I cannot tell if it is just the inherent excellence of our family or the kindness of the ward, probably the former. Ga yau, or add oil, as the Chinese say. Read with Abby. Do it.

Monday, December 2, 2013

December 1, 2013 - Thanksgiving & Trying to Find People

Oh my goodness.

It just deleted 30 minutes of writing.

I am really upset right now.

Okay, it wasn't that great of a letter anyway.

30 minutes left.

Helllo family. We had a Thanksgiving meal with our whole zone, which was good, but we wasted a lot of time, I think. Elder O'Gara made a 7 kilo turkey, which involved buying, brining, baking, bathing, and bisecting the poultry. It wasn't a huge waste of time but it did throw off a lot of schedule stuff and the like. I feel like partially because of this our numbers were very poor this week. I had a really cool paragraph written about how numbers aren't success but they help us work harder, but oh well.

I felt kind of frustrated this week because finding is still extremely difficult, and I don't have very good finding methods or success. I've been trying to humble myself and learn from other missionaries more, but it is really just hard. I don't know who is most effective to talk to or how to do it. I used to stop a ton of people, but I realized once I humbled myself a bit that Elder O'Gara was right and it was sort of a waste of time. Not that you don't want to find people, but just telling someone to stop if they obviously have no interest is not really putting in the effort needed for success. Working hard, not smart and hard. And a lot of people just aren't interested. I know that I wouldn't want to stop to talk to weird religious nuts unless I had a good reason, and I don't really blame the Hong Kong people for being uninterested. But I do know that if I put in the effort, I can improve my finding skills and make it more effective. When I get down on my finding or teaching skills, I am comforted by the fact that the scriptures say specifically many time that he who prays for help and is worthy can have the spirit teach through them. I have also been reading in the book of Acts recently, about Paul, and he is a great example of being bold and hard working, and the power of the Holy Ghost that results because of it. SO I carry on.

Abby and Becca,
Because you have still not read together every night, (and because I have such little time) you will be one email this week. You two sound pretty great. I'm really glad you got to hang out with the Emerys. I miss doing things with them like we used to when we were younger. Hopefully you gave them a good example, but you probably just pulled each other's hair. Oh well. I like the idea of the Ward Christmas Party performance thing on 3 instruments (violin, flute, piano). You should make Joseph sing, that would be hilarious. Becca, of course your ballet teacher complimented you. She's probably been jealous the whole time, but now she realizes that she's sinned, so she'll make you the head of the level 5 class soon. Abby, his hat did smell good. Don't be silly. Read together. make a plan on when you will each night. Please. Or I won't come home.

Dear Daddio
Hong Kong actually has gotten pretty cold. It is down to about 14 or 13 degrees celsius, which is pretty warm for December but cold for Hong Kong. And, none of our buildings have central heating, and most apartments have open air hallways, so it's a bit chilly. E.O'G hates it, he's too jaap gwan (accustomed) to the warm, but I think it's really nice. We are going to find out who the new AP's are today or tomorrow, so everyone is excited for big changes. It made me realize that you were an AP, which hadn't meant much to me until now. Interesting.

I wish working hard was easier, but then it wouldn't really be hard, would it? I've been trying a lot this week to focus my desires on missionary work instead of daydreaming or being homesick or thinking about physics, which is always a temptation. Oh, I had a thought. If you have a wire like this

with that loop touching but not connencted so that it can slide along the top wire (as in an electirc train) is there anyway to use a magnet at position a to generate a little back current or somthing to increase the resistance of the part of the top wire that the loop is bypassing so as to divert current through the loop even if it had a lot of resistance, as in a train motor? I'm not sure how the MTR trains work, but I think it flows from the top down through to an electric rail.

Group 4 (IB project in Science) was very stressful for me for that same reason (given very little direction). I did some weird experiment about lasers and leaves, and basically did the whole thing myself. How was it for you? Group hou m hou? Ask Eva.
Elder O'Gara is actually a writer, amateurishly at least, and was telling us about some of his story ideas. He said solid outlines are essential, I said my brother's outline was like 50 pages long. SO there.

I also have seen ads for "Ender's Game" here. I was afraid it would be horrible. It's just not the type of book that translates over to a movie very well. Turns out all my companions and roommates so far think that I'm way too critical on movies, and other things in general. I think they just have poor taste. And they should focus on missionary work more. Oh, how was the Stake Youth Rep thing?

I look forward to your package and story. Unfortunately, I probably won't be able to send anything back. OH ALMOST FORGOT,  you guys need to tell me when to call for our Christmas call, the day before, the day of, or the day after, 45 minutes. Figure out when everyone will be there, and remember our weird time schedule. Christmas Eve for you guys and Chrismas day for me is probably best.

You should know, I'm always flattered, always.

Play that klavier, mein silo, gogo haih yatgo hou ge sihou.
I miss Amnesia (a computer game). I still haven't finished it. It's actually really hard not to talk about video games, so I will try not to sabotoge myself.

You might be last, but your letter is always biggest, so you love me the most. The suits were used, from the sister's husband, but still pretty good. It rains violently every now and then, so it's nice to know that the suit is free if it gets ruined. Speaking of which, it already got pooped on by a bird, so yeah, good thing it was free.

Tell Eva thank you for the advice, I actually really like it. I like the idea of testifying and teaching quickly without being super awkward, though no matter how you do it, finding is, as Elder O'gara says, 90% awkward 10% miracle. I for one find it really easy to not argue, I just don't feel like arguing with people. Maybe I'm just still new, but I don't get annoyed at them very often. Elder O'Gara does very easily. Sometimes it irritates me, but I've learned a lesson I should have learned years ago, which is that criticising often just doesn't help.

One of the things that bugs him a lot is bureaucracy, like the guards at the chyuhns where our members live that won't let us in because they hate missionaries and Jehovah's Witnesses, even though it's illegal. So I sympathize with your efforts to get my paycheck stubs from the Salt Lake County bureaucracy.

I'm really happy about Grandpa's medical report. That actually made me kind of worried, though he's such a good guy that everyone knows he'll be fine no matter what happens. Oh, by the way, tell Grandma and Grandpa and the Relief Society that I loved their letters, they were awesome. Morris Matthews' as well. I'm trying to get around to sending some back but it is just inconvenient and I'm really bad at stuff like that anyway. I really do love it.

Thank you for your advice from your mission. It is comforting to know that it might just take time. I'm still loving it, it's just hard to work hard. I think this month is going to be a good one. Love you all.

Triads say hi.