This week continued to be pretty tough, not a ton of investigators, actually none now that I think of it. We have had some pretty bad luck for a while, people keep fonging us (to fong fei gei means to release airplane, or to stand someone up. Very often applicable, hence code switched a lot by missionaries.) not really anyone showed up at church, etc. Pretty depressing. But, our finding over the last couple days has gotten progressively better. We had several days where we literally didn't talk to anyone besides saying hello and getting shut down. Recently, we've had several people actually stop to talk to us, taught one lesson on the street, and HAD MY FIRST BIBLE BASH!!
It was a pretty interesting story. Yesterday, after church, we did a little finding, decided to go somewhere we hadn't planned on, and started talking to this old man. He started off with the classic Chinese 'seun jih gei' or I believe in myself, or basically non-religious hedonistic standard person. But, as we taught him, a few odd things occurred. First, he actually let us teach him. That should have set off warning flags. Second, he was very interested in understanding our exact beliefs on things like heaven, the god head, the gospel of Jesus Christ, why we need the atonement, if we knew that we were saved or not, etc. Last he kept saying we could use English to explain some weird points if we needed to. No old Chinese people who ‘suen jih gei’ (I believe in myself) know English. Little odd, but I was too excited to actually have someone to teach to notice. Then, after we finished a rather comprehensive discussion of things, he said something about 'the word became flesh'. He quoted the Bible, in English. I, with a voice thick with suspicion, said, “haih mh haih yeuk hon fuk yam?” Isn't that the gospel of John? To which he responded yes, do you know which chapter? One, verse one, “haih mh haih?” Yes, that's correct, “The word was with God, the word was God, the word became flesh.”
Thus began our true discussion with the man who turned out to have perfect English, and very likely a theological degree. He was a classic saved by grace and faith in the Lord Jesus, pulled out the Bible on his phone, very very friendly but quite convinced of his beliefs. We argued for about 30 minutes, and then ran off because we were really late for numbers reports. It was a very interesting experience. He had pretended to be a classic Chinese guy to see how we preached, which I found hilarious. He genuinely believed his stuff, wanted to help us, but he just doesn't have the truth and it showed. There were weird loops of theological logic trying to support uninspired doctrine. I thought it was really fun, which is probably why I am in a country where we don't get to do that often. I really feel a lot of love for him. At the end we defaulted to 'bearing down in pure testimony' and gave him a Book of Mormon. I said I would spend 40 minutes studying saved by grace if he would spend 40 minutes reading Book of Mormon. I don't know if he did, but I really hope so. I know the church is true, and this experience strengthened that knowledge. Our doctrine is inspired. The Book of Mormon is our proof. I thank God for it.
Thank you to other non family members who have sent mail, such as Morris Matthews. Your letter showed up when I was feeling pretty down, an answer to prayer.
Also it was really cool to hear from the Kinnisons. I don't expect all family to write every week, because honestly I couldn't read it all if they did, but it was very cool to hear from you and Marshall's advice is great.
Your letters never cease to bring me smiles. You have a very interesting writing style, my young sister. The play, "Peter and the Starcatcher", would make more sense if you'd read the book, Peter and the Starcatchers. We have it, I think. You should get it. Life always seems boring when you get back from vacation. I just hope the opposite is true of missions, but I doubt it. You very quickly develop an odd perspective on what is really important, what is a good use of time, etc. I'll probably feel like I'm wasting my time when I go home.
I bet you were super happy your violin string broke.
I would love to see some pictures. I wonder if you guys have changed at all. I haven't, except that my acne is much worse. I have weighed myself several times, literally no change in weight. We'll see, though, A lot of missionaries get pretty fat in Hong Kong.
Perspective changes things. Motorcycle, car, bike, all feel very different speed wise. Once at a Chinese restaurant I read a fortune cookie that said 'stillness and motion; it only a relative matter' exact quote. Oh, on that regard, we're not allowed to start 'studying' characters until at least 1 year in, but I have already started learning some just from seeing them around. 口 hau, mouth 易 ma, horse 因 yan, I don't know what it means but it's part of becasue 主 jyu, Lord
Your letter this week is uninspired and frankly disappointing compared to last week’s letter, but I suppose I will forgive it if you attained a 36 on the ACT. Not shabby, mein Bruder. I bet that showed the cousins what's what.
I find myself wanting to have time for a lot of random things, like sitting on benches, or watching plays, or watching TV, etc. Obviously not important, but for at least a couple weeks when I get back I will have an impressive appreciation for such things. It's hard having no down time. We watch the Testaments a good deal in our free time. I watch it while making flash cards for the sake of my sanity. I shall soon have it memorized, but we don't have any other material, so oh well.
At such a day as this, when dirt piles are attended by a lone boy, ye shall know that Elder Morrell is departed, and has left his kindly home. Oh well, dirt piles got to be dirt piles, just keep it up.
I ran up 34 flights of stairs for exercise this morning, (which, as a side note to my more physics-minded father, requires the more gradual exertion of the same amount of effort as would be expended by throwing myself off the 34th floor. The thought is impressive, you could really do something with that if the human body was capable of using it all in a few moments. And to think that a bowl of cereal contains more than that...) and got stopped pretty quickly. Fast Sunday aftereffect. But I can sympathize with your 50 mile bike ride.
Referencing back to Joseph's letter, one of the other things I sorely miss is time to look through libraries. We showed up today and found all the computers taken, so we had to spend 40 minutes waiting while they freed up. I sincerely enjoyed my time. Obviously, I didn't start reading any fiction, a little too ‘buhn gaau’ (buhn gaau means apostasy, which is used as a missionary term to mean any rule breaking, also conveniently can replace the ‘chyuhn gaau’ of ‘chyuhn gaau sih’, or missionary, giving a concise and lyrical title for disobedient missionaries. Cantonese is a very Adam-ic language) for me. But I did find a fascinating and pleasantly written CHESS ENCYCLOPDIA, entitled Encyclopedia of Chess Wisdom, by Eric Schiller. Very good. You should find it and buy it. I'll buy it from you when I get back if you don't like it.
Mom and Dad,
I want to write to the cousins a bit so I will combine your letters. I hope you will not be offended. Things have definitely been rough. I won't lie, I've had a lot of really low moments. It's hard to stay positive with very little progress, and there is a danger in becoming too introspective and self critical. But I feel good about things. I have realized that if I use this time well, this can be the time that I look back on and remember as the turning point for my mission. Hopefully.
Don't worry too much, but please keep praying for me. I miss you two a lot, (no offense sybs) much more than my siblings. But this is the Lord's work. I want to be an effective missionary, and I really do feel like I'm starting to love the people. At church and at English class this week I felt overwhelmed with happiness. I know that the message I'm sharing can help these people. I had a revelation a while ago as well that no selfish motivation can make me be a good enough missionary. Only love unfeigned. You two have taught me a lot about how to treat others, and how to be a missionary. Keep it up with your own missionary work! There is a lot to be said about what you expect to achieve. If you know you can help people and you base your efforts on that belief, you can get a lot done. I have come to really appreciate the example of Nephi as I start reading Book of Mormon again. I used to think he was a bit overrated, being the first prophet, but you can learn a lot from him.
It was very weird to have Katharine write see you in a year and a half in her email. Not quite that close, but time flies. I know the Church is true, and I love you all.
Editor’s note: While the Morrells were with the Kinnisons in California, Paula made fried rice. Marshall commented that in Japan they would never put soy sauce on rice like that. I asked John about it and he replied, “Yeah, they don't put soy sauce on rice. Rice is just like a filler that makes all the rest of the meals calorie-worthwhile. Lots of restaurants have meals that are basically meat chopped up on top of rice, the meat is the flavor, and the rice is just there to feed you.