Monday, February 10, 2014

February 10, 2014 - Transfers & Zone Conference Coming Up

Dear Family,

Besides Dad none of you really said a ton that happened. I hate to say it but not a ton happened over here either. We have had a very rough time getting anyone to sit down or meet with us for a lesson recently. It has been a little frustrating, but I have taken comfort in the fact that as long as I'm following the spirit and trying hard, I'm doing my part in God's plan. If I'm functioning properly, God won't waste my efforts. He knows what He's doing and as long as we don't mess up our role, we are working in his vineyard. That is what comforts me as we find for 3 hours in the rain without any lessons and a total of 3 people who stopped to say they were busy and ran off. Woops, little bitterness slipped out. Just kidding, I actually do feel pretty good right now.

I have established a lofty goal of memorizing the entire MTC vocab book, which contains about 2000 words. I worked through is slowly for about a month, then last P-Day (that is Monday for you lay people out there (creepy people who read my family's emails, you know who you are (especially the people who talk to Becca about it making her feel awkward (or Sister Kirkland)))) I bought 200 3 by 5 note cards, and in 2 days folded are ripped them into 800 3/4 by 5/4 cards, at which point I began frantically writing them and studying them. My rate of learning is accelerated by the fact that I have already looked over these cards at least once in the last month, but I am making about 70 or 80 a day. Pretty decent, and that's with all my spare time being used making them. I will finish making them today, and my goal is to learn all of them by the end of my birthday. So wish me luck.

We have a lot of cool things coming up. Zone Conference is next week. I read over the Joseph Smith History in preparation for Zone Conference and found a lot of principles of the gospel very simply and powerfully expressed and demonstrated therein. I think it is inspiring how clearly Joseph's experience follows the process of faith. He began with a witness of the spirit and a desire, then prepared himself and followed on that desire, surpassed a trial of faith, and in the end gained a witness of 'the testimony of James'. His faith was then dormant; he knew the principle of asking the Lord to be true. I think I can learn a lot from more study of Joseph Smith.

Then on the 24 or 25th or something we have ELDER HOLLAND coming to HONG KONG to talk to us all. Anyone who is a missionary right now knows that the most overall popular member of the 12 is Elder Holland, because he's fiery and bold. I personally will not comment on who my favorite is, because that would be childish. But everyone is pretty excited for him to come. It ought to be cool.

I'm also looking forward to my birthday, though here there's not much in the way of celebration. I find out tomorrow if I’m moving the day after my birthday, so if I am leaving Tai Wai I will probably celebrate by eating all the food I can't bring. People get pretty antsy at the end of moves. Pretty antsy. I had a weird dream last night that I was moved with a native from mainland China who spoke perfect Cantonese, Mandarin and English.


Your email was exceedingly strange. You probably will lump this question with the things you can do after your mission that aren't important, but how do you measure the oxygen levels with an MRI machine? (Glen is doing experiments on pigs right now.)

I definitely feel a disconcerting sense of urgency. All the time. Every week slips by faster than I can imagine. I am already 1/4 of the way done. I have definitely grown a lot, but I don't think I could ever do enough to feel like I'd used my time as effectively as I should have. I wish that I could see my efforts helping people, but as I said there's more to missionary work than baptizing people. I definitely feel like I use the phrase 'definitely feel' too much. I have certainly experienced a massive improvement of my understanding of the gospel and my sense of priority. I look back on so many things and feel like I really wasted time. I think more than anything else I am learning how doing things like missionary work, intensive study of the scriptures, and getting rid of worldly things makes your whole life more guided and meaningful. I feel all the time like I'm not measuring up to standards, but before I never even realized that the standards and blessings and potential was so high.

The most frustrating thing right now is teaching. Honestly I have very little practice, and my teaching is just not that powerful. I fall into talking too much very often, and I have felt many times frustrated that I can't get my feelings or intentions across powerfully. I am actually grateful of this, though, because it has helped me really think more about what it is that I want to improve. I have been trying recently to bear testimony a lot more, because I have learned that the only way that lessons are effective is if the investigator feels the spirit. If they could feel the spirit when they talk to us on the street, they would want to meet with us again.

At Zone Conference now I can't help imagine you as an Assistant to President giving trainings, which is a little disconcerting.


Just so you know all the not Dad specific stuff in Dad's email also applies to you, so don't feel bad if yours is shorter. I will probably see something about the Olympics on the trains today. They have TVs that constantly tempt us by playing news and stupid ads. Very difficult to ignore, unless you're trying to talk to people, which is what I always do. :)

They have some weird food here. Lihn Gou, year cake, is like rice goo and sugar made into a sort of stiff jello and put into molds. You fry it up with eggs, for dessert. Pretty good. Turnip cake stuff, which you can also get at dim sum places, is savory but the texture is really mushy, and I personally don't like them. They have a ton of mushrooms that they eat at New Year that are really expensive. And something called Abalone Noodles, which I don't know what they are. And oddly enough, they give out tons of Ferrero Rochers and Butter Cookies, not traditional at all but very intensely marketed. So we have eaten a ton of those from members who don't want to finish them off. And yes, people are still celebrating. Saturday we saw and heard a ton of lion dance things going on. You can google that one. Or ask Eva.

We are going to a mall in about 2 hours, so I will buy one with my credit card. That sentence has some simple dignity to it. (I told him to buy a sweater because we never bought one for his mission and it’s been cold and rainy in Hong Kong lately.)

Love and miss you Mom. I understand now how much cleaning and cooking it takes. I feel for you.


If the time we had had had had hardly enough repetition in it, I would have had to have your head hacked off with high dudgeon.

You really don't deserve any more but I am learning to be generous. Driving is weird and not really that fun unless it's snowy or you break the rules, so don't expect much out of it. But I do support driving much. It is necessary. Sigh. (David is learning how to drive.)

How about happiness? If you were happy when you did something but don't remember it, were you really happy? Does it only have worth in the looking back? And if not, how do you differentiate happiness from pleasure? Talmage wrote something about that.

I am beginning to sound like a certain old man named Septimus, so I will do like the Chinese and wave you off with an mhdaakhaan.


I would point out to you that I got an 800 on a section of the SAT and no one cared about that. Stupid. And does this imply you are watching TV on Sunday? (Joseph was interviewed by FOX 13 News about his 36 on the ACT and it aired tonight.) 

Real missionary life is like that too. There are plenty of movies about missions. They tend to skip almost all of what you actually do and dwell only on the few minutes after nightly planning before you go to bed. If you have a 2 year long mission and you skim out only the best bits, you might have enough for a kind of boring movie.

Oh, to you and David I repeat my plea; go to the temple at least once a month or so. Really, that might be my biggest regret from before my mission. Please do it.

As brethren fighting the abyss, I say, exist on my brother.


We discussed this already. Being sick all week is not productive nor does it result in interesting emails for me to read. I don't know what an 'intensive' is. I also still don't know what a turning board is. Hint hint.

I notice, Rebecca, that most of your email consists of you repeatedly saying that you don't have anything to say. It is probably interfering with the things that you actually do have to say but are too busy obstructing to say. If not, go out and do some crazy stuff. Get up at 3 AM and poor syrup on David while he sleeps in MY ROOM.

Oh, and keep reading with Abby. I request a report next week.


I don't have too much more to say to you than what has already been said. Don't get sick, I've tried it and it's not actually worth it. I don't know what you mean by hiding. I am filled with rage at these cookies being eaten by not me. Read with Becca, or be cursed. Also, your email is not childish or silly enough. Usually you have less punctuation. David's is also like that. hmmmmmm. LOVE YOU.

Your Son, who is named after a pork company but who does not support or enjoy being stuck or having his organs dissolved, even for the sake of science, (Again referring to Glen’s experiments on pigs.)

Elder John Morrell

Red Pocket Money at Chinese New Year

Elder Tong on the train

Rainy weather in Ma On Shan

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