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.

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