Tuesday, March 11, 2014

March 10, 2014 - Faith, Miracles, and 65 Baptisms in July

This week had some pretty cool things faat saang, as they say in the Kong. And by cool things, of course, I mean MISSIONARY WORK!!

This was the most effective Sunday I have ever had on my mission. We had 3 people come to church. One of them was an 'eternigator', eternal investigator. That was weird. A Chinese lady just walked up to me in the library and asked me if I knew how to get some stuff from her phone onto 'a paint', or the printer. Unfortunately the phone was an iPhone, thus built with many restrictions and obstacles to prevent the successful accomplishment of tasks without specially, apple made hardware and specially trained apple workers, so she was thwarted. But apparently, people think that because I speak 2 languages I am smart.

Anyway, the eternigator comes to church every week and is probably more active than some members, but doesn't want to be baptized. We had an investigator who was turned over from the other ward that uses our building, who's got a baptismal date and everything, (though he was late because he was the witness of some triad crime at his school and the police were doing witness interviews from 5 pm Saturday to 9 am Sunday) and the last was a new investigator who was turned over from Tsing Yi. He is a member referral from a recent RM who already taught the guy the first two lessons (though we'll have to reteach). He's already read the whole Book of Mormon, which in Hong Kong doesn't happen. Pretty cool. I've never felt like I didn't have enough time to manage all my investigators, and it feels pretty nice. And this is only 3. We have big plans coming.

These plans were started by Elder Holland's visit. He spoke a lot about high expectations and the reality of the dispensation of the fullness of times, the hastening of the work, etc. It was pretty cool. I got to shake yet another apostle's hand. Tick.

It really inspired President Hawks, too (though with him, it probably doesn't take much to trigger inspiration). He has been thinking about how our mission wasn't doing anything for the 65th anniversary of the gospel in Hong Kong, and had some idea. A crazy idea. An idea that we could get       65 Baptisms in July. I will put this into perspective. An above average month is about 35, 36. In 2009, the mission got 64. That was the highest since the early days when it was fishing, not hunting (see Jeremiah 16). 65 baptisms in July, without slacking off on the lead up time or postponing baptismal dates. When they announced that, it made me more excited than a less exciting thing would have. I am filled with desire right now to achieve that goal, to do my part of it. The way we do it is nothing amazing, nothing too new or radical. We just need to be absolutely obedient, work harder, and have it as a goal. Have this as a vision. There is a really great quote by Elder Packer about faith that was included in this announcement. It talks about how normal faith is the belief in things unseen but basically scheduled, the sun the next day, Dad coming back from work each day, the reality of the Savior, the consequence of sin. These things are sometimes un-provable, but predicted, promised, settled. This faith leads us to action. Because we believe the sun will rise the next day, we brush our teeth, because we have faith that tomorrow will happen and we don't want bad breath unless the world's ending (I recommend brushing whether or not you think the world will end). We set the table for Dad because we have faith that he'll be back. We repent and are obedient because we believe that the atonement can help us and we believe that righteous living will make us happy. This is faith.

There is another faith. It is the faith that works not on our actions because of circumstances, but on our circumstances through our actions. It is the faith that changes how things were. It takes the desires of our hearts and makes them as firm and real as the sun rising or Dad coming home. It is the faith that performs miracles. It depends on obedience, on receptiveness to the spirit, on righteous desires, and on goals. It uses and molds our actions to bring to pass what otherwise would not be. This is the faith that, when called upon, moves mountains (e.g. Zerin) or affects the weather or the elements or the hearts of men. This is the faith that works miracles, and causes 65 people to be baptized in July. I don't think I have quite enough of this second kind of faith yet. It is developed by exact obedience and by using personal agency. As an example, Yoshi

Yoshi is a convert in Ma On Shan ward. When he was meeting the missionaries, he decided the church was true and wanted to help them. He saw that their shoes were old, and decided to buy them new shoes. The problem; Yoshi is a teacher and doesn't have that much money. He decided he would pray to get more money to buy the shoes. At this point I would be very impressed if a member had this much faith. But Yoshi has an understanding of miracles. He decided that if God really wants us to test and show our faith first, he couldn't wait until after he got the money. That wouldn't be faith, wouldn't be sacrifice. So, he bought $5000 HK of shoes and gave it to the missionaries, one nice pair each. No idea how he would pay for it. Next week he got a tax return. Exactly the same amount as the shoes, down to the cent. Post dated the same day he bought them. Needless to say, he is doing pretty well right now. He teaches Elder's Quorum. He is not yet an Elder.

We can all work miracles. God wants us to. I think he really, really wants to work more miracles in the world. He doesn't mind us putting ourselves in positions that require miracles, he wants us to. He encourages us to try him and then stand still and see the power of God. Think of Nephi. Think of Ammon. Think of Nephi and Lehi. The War Chapters. Brother of Jared. Peter. Everyone worth writing about. Then do it. That’s what I'm trying to do right now.


Maybe I shouldn't say this, but I spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to break into Festival City, or Peak One, or The Riverpark, or every other really wealthy apartment complex I see. It is a serious distraction. Maybe after my mission...


Business first, I just went to the Dermatologist again today (one of my pictures is his 'vanity wall'. I hate to say it but it outdoes ours) and the antibiotics are doing okay, so we're holding off on Accutane for a while. It has been much better recently. I am sending back two receipts for you to shove down the insurance company's throats. Do not be alarmed.

I don't see a ton of what I always thought of as Chinese food here. Potstickers, yes. They are called Wo Tip if fried, Won Ton if not. They are super cheap to buy and really easy to cook, so we eat them a lot. And there's a restaurant nearby that we just call the Wo Tip place that we go to a lot that has pretty good ones. They eat them with vinegar often. Rice, obviously. You find some things like Orange Chicken or the like, but they are usually not set up like they are in the U.S. It's more like they are part of the meal that you are eating, but you are expected to have some other vegetables besides that so often they are just chicken. They cook a ton of chicken wings. Almost every cheng out. Lots of semi-sweet soup based on carrots and corn and a couple pork ankles. Tons of fish cakes, pork chops, etc. I will cook you all mapo daufu when I get back. It's pretty amazing.

I would actually kind of like some more MoTab stuff. I have listened to the 'This is the Christ' disc quite a lot. Helps me stay more focused, sort of. The 'Men of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir' has some nice ones. Anything super American and easy to cook, especially those cheap fettuccine Alfredo boxes. I did find some Mac 'n Cheese. And Reesees. Maybe some more pajamas, or some nice pens. These are just suggestions, not demands. I am doing fine right now. But if you send candy make it all at least chocolate based.

Oh, one of the major changes I've made on my mission is I now like coconut, so that's a thing. Sorry mom.

I like bragging about my eccentric Grandpa Morrell. He usually trumps other people's relatives. Either the 300 tomato plants or the plumbed compressed air indoors. Or having his kids making cement for their driveway.

I really do think that is true, Mom. I know that I felt like I couldn't do any missionary work before my mission because they all already knew about the church, but if no one invites them they probably won't start looking on their own. Be brave about it. If they turn you down, you've still done your part. And it sounds like you're being great with working with the missionaries. I really do feel like that is important. It helps to have willing fellowshippers. The Holy Ghost gives chances to people who will use them. The more willing you are to share the gospel, the more chances you’ll get.


Your emoticon count continues to escalate. I don't have a ton of time either, but I remember what it was like to have my own room for the first time. I was 12, I think. So be grateful. It was quiet. Strange at first. But I liked it. Maybe you'll miss being with Becca, though.


Enjoy the praise while it lasts. Chinese takeout. The irony. Oh, interesting side note. All restaurants here are super fast. Menu has like 80 things on it and if it takes more than 5 minutes to get there you ask questions.

Everything in physics is cool. Wait till rotational mechanics. Oh, that was so much fun...

I like the idea. Try this one. 30 years in the future (about) and the Olympics have become just a big corrupt corporate advertising competition between companies selling various types of prosthetics. They just want to win to get advertising, gov. contracts, etc. Lots of corruption. The athletes aren't that important any more since the technology has totally surpassed people. They are just picked to be the ones showcasing the tech. But obviously, they still have to have things amputated, because otherwise it wouldn't be fair. Main character is the "athlete" for a big company. Add social commentary, could be a nice science fiction. Setting is everything, you know.


I forgot to write to you last week, which filled me with sorrow. I realized right after we left. Now you are punishing me but falling asleep instead of sending me funny, slightly sarcastic letters that consists of you just saying that nothing happened and then taking up all the space that could consist of the interesting things that happened. (Just realized how unfair this is, you guys send one letter, I have to send a cool inspirational and spiritually uplifting thing and write 6 other letters. As we say in China, san fuh saai) I am sorry, but I can't imagine you playing basketball. I don't think I've ever seen it, it just doesn't work in my head. But nice job. Enjoy your big comfy mattress I think it quite odd that of all the beds in the house, I was sleeping on the very smallest. How did that happen?

Keep it up Becca. I really hope you are planning on going on a mission, because you'd get some stuff done. And you already know how to work hard. Plus, everyone in the Hong Kong mission knows we always need more blondes. Well, this is your make-up letter. Notice that it is longer than almost anyone else's. That was on purpose. Because even though you hate me I still love you.

Farewell all, Elder Morrell

How serendipitous. (John got Glen's & Rebecca's email that they wrote late because Glen had to work on Sunday and Rebecca fell asleep.)


I hope you are not intimidated by the many shiny plaques of Doctor Ronald Leung. They outnumber yours, I'm afraid. And we've done the math on his finances a bit. Assuming his secretaries are well paid he's making millions a year. So you have to step it up, or I might stop telling people you're a doctor out of shame. Especially since so many of your (admittedly porcine) patients are being killed by you and not saved.

I really do feel like there is no other circumstances that could have led to me learning this much. The requirement for all men to serve missions is kind of like saying all people need to be baptized, it feels pretty essential for salvation right now.

I would be pretty afraid to go senior companion right now. One move ago I literally think I would have been unable, now I could but I would not enjoy it. That got humbled out of me pretty quickly. Next transfer is in about 5 weeks, I think. Love you, Dad. I brag about you alot (mission stuff, not pig sticker (though I do brag about that too)).

You are not forgotten. Ha ha. Don't worry about mock trail, you're in 7th grade, you've got 2 more years to try. And debate in high school seems a lot more fun than the debate you're used to. So get ready. You seem pretty fast and jumpy to me usually, so I can see the appeal.

Central Hong Kong

John didn't say what this building is.

Dermatologist's wall 

John's desk

Elder Tong (Companion) & Elder Ah Mu (John's MTC Companion and now flat mate)

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