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

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