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.

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