Monday, October 27, 2014

October 27, 2014 - New Companion, Elder Tse

Hello mine most glorious ga tihng (ga tihng means family). This week has been quite great. Elder Au has transformed into Derek Au, almost the same on the outside but radically different on the official side, though obviously still on the Lord's side. It actually has been really weird to see him finish. I'd be lying if I said that I haven't felt trunky at all, because I would see all these end of mission things all the time, but I think that I learned a good deal from it about how I want to finish my mission. Basically work super hard and have no regrets.

My new companion is... Elder Tse! Who is even more native than Elder Au? How, you ask, can one be more native than another? Because Elder Tse don't speak one lick of English. He started at the same time as I did (in fact, I actually went finding with him my very first day before we got assigned our companions) but for reasons that I cannot discern his English is "so bad". But he's a cool guy. He is senior, I am junior again, which I am actually happy about. I really feel that what I can learn the most right now is not how to lead but how to follow. Elder Tse talks things through very methodically and basically, which I felt a bit condescending at first, but now I am really glad because I think that he's really got a good grasp on a lot of basic skills that I can improve on. Looking forward to things.

We just ran downstairs to go to the bathroom, and at a booking desk for a sort of sports center thing, was a sign that just said "No lying" and the equivalent Chinese, as if a simple reminder was the solution to the age old vice. Very quixotic.

See, my English is still better than some people's.

What else to relate about this week. Our finding has been pretty great. We taught 14 lessons on the street, maybe 15, and 2 with members, because as with last week many of our investigators are busy. We did have Ben come to church. He made it to Gen. Conf. but this week was the first time he went to normal Church services. Pretty awesome kid, if he's able to find the time for church he’ll be baptized for sure. We are also teaching a guy named Zero (not that uncommon) but he's sick so pray for him to recover. We had a cool finding experience on Thursday. We were at Choi Fuk Chuen, which is my favorite place in our area, and we were headed home for dinner. There were two ways to walk, I almost picked one then switched to the other. We found over there for a bit, talked to a lady with no interest, and then ran into a lady who, as it turns out, had met missionaries 2 years ago and had a Book of Mormon but didn't remember or understand much about us. So we taught her for about 40 minutes and rescheduled. We haven't met her again yet, so I can't really say that she's an investigator, and there is still that dangerous period between the first and second time meeting someone, but it was a cool experience to feel guided by the spirit. Honestly that happens all the time. I have taught many lessons like that.

I had a cool sort of epiphany yesterday about what kind of missionary I should be. (It was an excellent Sabbath day, by the way. Sometimes it's hard to feel like the Sabbath is special as a missionary, but if you put in the effort it's worth it.) I had heard some story about one of the RM's in our ward who had been a zone leader for 20 months of his mission, and I realized that despite all I've learned, I still felt competitive and jealous about it. So, later as I was walking back home I realized that the missionary that I wanted to be and the missionary that God wants me to be are not the same. I want to be successful, often in a lot of shallow or competitive or prideful ways, where as God really doesn't care about that at all. I thought of the traits that make scriptural missionaries successful. I hope that I can use the time I still have to really become what God wants me to be. I like what Joseph said, our potential to change is really great. I hope that I can change to be like them.

This is a copy of my email to Caroline in relation to characters.

In my defense we actually have a rule about not studying the Book of Mormon in Chinese during language study, and not learning characters at all until you live in Hong Kong at least 1 year and speak proficiently. The reason is twofold; one is that the Cantonese language really doesn’t have a real written form. There are many words that can't be written. Period. And the common words used don't actually match up entirely with written Chinese. And the grammar is different. Essentially reading Chinese in Hong Kong is like using Cantonese pronunciation to read Mandarin, because the written and spoken words and grammar for Mandarin are yat yeuhng, which being translated means the same. 2) Learning characters, as I can now attest having done so for 1 1/2 weeks, is ridiculously fun, and would totally distract people from learning how to speak or do actual missionary work. SO presently I can read about 200 characters, which is actually enough to guess my way through about 60% of the pamphlets, because I already know the gist of what they say.

I am not the most fluent foreigner, and honestly probably won't be, because I don't spend enough of me extra time learning Chinese. Real intense people, of whom I think that I should belong but don't yet, spend a lot of time learning words they hear off the street. I am a bit lazy in that regard, but honestly I don't feel too bad because I like to use my extra time to do more gospel related things. Like reading "The Mortal Messiah" which is like Jesus the Christ but by Bruce R McKonkie and filled with a lot of doctrinal exposition on, well, every single part of the gospel.

I love reading characters. It is so fun. I understand completely why President Hawks has the rules in place that he does, because it's super fun.

I don't really have any more time today, sorry. I will try harder to send pictures next week. Joesph looks ridiculously skinny and handsome, David seems almost as tall as Dad, Becca and Abby and Mom and Dad haven't changed.

Goodbye, one and all, until we meet again at the crossroads of the shadows of the everlasting sunset in the west where fluffy bunnies sing.

In all seriousness, I know the gospel is true. I read Mosiah 11-18 recently, powerful. I love the principle of repentance. I find myself daydreaming at times about giving talks on repentance. The Book of Mormon is true. The Savior is real. Repentance and the gospel are sweet.

Elder Morrell

Monday, October 20, 2014

October 20, 2014 - Testimony, the Most Valuable Thing to Take from Mission

Dear Family,

I apologize. This week my time is short; because I had a ton of emails that had piled up in my inbox from all my adoring fans and I just couldn't let them go unread forever. Also, Elder Au and I are soon to go to Jo Jo's, an all you can eat Indian restaurant to celebrate Elder Au's final P-Day. So my letter will be a little short. Also, you may not send your letter in time. If so it is okay, I feel less and less attached to your lives. That's not entirely true but if I didn't get any email for a month I'd be fine.

This week was pretty cool. We got back up to 14 street lessons, which we haven't done since the second week I was here, but the reason that we were able to do that was because we didn't really teach anyone. Hong Kong is a hard place for missionary work for a multitude of reasons, but perhaps the most grievous and pathetic one is just that people are too busy here. Seriously, they're always working, protesting, going to mainland China, getting part time jobs that take up all their non-university time, going to tutorial (which is an evil study club/cult that has subverted the majority of high school students here. I believe it is useless.) or going to buffets. It's madness. So we didn't get to meet any of the 4 people who went to General Conference. But that is okay, it is only a momentary setback. There are still a lot of people progressing, slowly. Ben is a really cool kid who wants to be baptized and believes the Church is true but just has no time at all, Brother Wong is a really cool guy who's wife suddenly reactivated herself, but he's a police officer and sort of busy with the protest things (which don't affect us at all aside from jo jyuhing (obstructing?) our investigators, A Wing has a new job but we'll meet with her tomorrow morning, etc. Basically my point is that things are good, though not perfect.

I just wanted to follow up on some of the General Conference talks, e.g. daily reading, morning prayer, family home evening, my letter being read in the aforementioned nightly family gathering, temple attendance, etc. I like what Hermana Kirkland said in one of her emails, being baptized and then not keeping the commitments is useless, and in a similar way watching conference and not keeping the commitments is useless. I can't wait for the Liahona with the English talks.

Cool experience this week. A month of two ago the Elders from the Pok Fu Lam ward gave a little training on sau yuh, which, being translated, means sign language. Thanks to many miracles in the past year the Pok Fu Lam Elders were able to find a lot of sign language speaking deaf investigators, and the ward split to include an official translating service. In the training they gave, the Elders shared a few simple things about how to ask for a phone number. I actually have run into several deaf people but always fail. This week, as we were walking home, we ran into a couple on a bench speaking sign language. I contacted them, and in a bizarre silent 5 minute conversation got their phone number, explained about the real sign language elders, and felt super cool.

I've now officially started learning characters. It is super fun. I totally understand the need for the rule, because it is addictive. I've been trying to learn how to write all the things that I need to write in my planner in characters, which is hard but fun. It's interesting, because when you look at the characters with no background they seem totally random. After you learn some of the more common ones, you start to recognize certain radicals and parts that are repeated to form the characters. They are mostly not just random strokes, they are composed of a number of smaller, more basic characters or shapes, most of which have names and some inherent meaning. So far I can fake my way through reading a tiny bit in the scriptures, because I know what the verses say, and I have learned a lot of the most common or linguistic ones.

I have been thinking a lot about testimony this week. A testimony, in my mind, is the most valuable thing that you can take from your mission. It was a testimony of the Savior that sustained Nephi for 4 days as he stood tied to the mast of the boat he had built. It was his testimony of the atonement and the plan of salvation that filled Jacob and his people with joy despite being "cast out of Jerusalem, born in tribulation, in a wilderness, and hated of our brethren...". Enos came from his prayer armed with testimony and knowing that the atonement was real and his sins were forgiven, and that God would spare his people. Testimony sustained Alma the Elder as his son destroyed the church, and Alma the younger as he went about to repair his wrongs despite "being greatly persecuted by those who were unbelievers, being smitten by many of them". It was Ammon's testimony, confirmed by the Spirit that wrought a change in the heart of King Lamoni. It was a testimony of the goodness of God, of the atonement, and of his promise to them that gave Ammon's less fortunate brethren strength to endure their early trials and failure. Mormon and Moroni, who lived to see the destruction of all the people of Nephi and the fall of the righteous, had nothing but their testimony of the Savior to give them solace, but it was enough.

I know that the church is true, that Christ lives, that he is at the head of this work and that he can relieve everyone of us from the burden of guilt, sin, and death. And I know that the Book of Mormon is true, for it testifies of Him. I want to strengthen that testimony, because it is not perfect yet. This morning I read in Mosiah 5. The second verse gives us the way that any of us can know and strengthen their knowledge of these precious truths.

Elder Morrell

Thursday, October 16, 2014

October 13, 2014 - Every Sliver of Time Spent Finding Can Be a Miracle

Hello my (presumably still) beautiful family. I want Mom to know that I just plugged in the camera so if no pictures end up coming through I really have poor self control.

As always conference is a great time. We had a pretty good week overall but the dominant event was definitely conference. I don't really know what else to say for the rest of the week. We did exchanges twice, once with our district leader Elder Osbourne, who has a very interesting teaching style that uses silence a lot. It was really fun. We taught some former investigator for Kwun Tong area named Jax. He hadn't been to church for at least half a year, randomly came back to church, and when we taught him we felt impressed to ask him to be baptized. He said he needed to work out some personal problems first. Nothing unusual. We asked him when he thought he'd be ready. He said, "umm, two weeks". Actually he said, ying goi leung go sing keih. We were pleasantly surprised, reminded him of the seriousness of baptism and the fact that here we have a sort of policy of going to church 5 or 6 weeks first and set a goal in December. He went to conference, I believe. The second exchange was with Elder Peacock, who is from Ireland and has been in Macau his whole mission because UK people have easier visa requirements. He was super cool, and his Chinese is really amazing. All his companions so far (6 months) have been natives, and he did a good job with it.

I went running on Saturday with Elder Peacock, for the first time in a while. None of my companions have really had any desire or willingness to run. I probably could have forced Elder Ferrar to but it may have killed him. After 5 months of not running I am still feeling the soreness.

Conference was obviously awesome. I will admit, I still couldn't maintain absolute focus, physically I was tired by the end, spiritually and mentally I was done by the end, but I loved the whole thing. Before my mission I had never experienced the feeling of wishing that it could go on longer. Before conference I wrote down 4 questions to be answered. They were answered within the first day in a dramatic way. I know that God knows us and that those men and women have the authority of God to receive revelation, because I have never been so personally answered by people that I have never met before.

After Conference we visited a family, and got to their house early. We did 10 minutes of finding and soon taught a nice simple lesson to two totally non-religious 20 year olds. It was a short, sweet lesson, talked about Jesus giving us remission of sins and prophets letting us know of him and testified of the restoration. Shared one of my favorite scriptures, Mosiah 3:13. Just goes to show every sliver of time that you can spend finding can be a miracle.


I loved the Elder Christofferson talk, obviously. Down with laziness, moral relativity, and those annoying and depressingly common people who say that if you believe in God he exists, if not he doesn't. I saw you twice on Saturday, many other missionaries were suitably impressed. I also loved Elder Eyring's priesthood session talk. I always find him inspiring, he has a reoccurring theme of a Priesthood Man, and how powerfully he can influence those around him for good, which always lifts my views a lot. I (and all the other Elders) loved the guy Jorg Kleighnoiknsdgn something on Saturday Afternoon, who basically told everyone to get into shape spiritually and physically, and I thought Brother Callister's talk was a clear enjoiner (don't know if that word is used correctly) to pray for a wife. He and Elder Scott were both very clear on the importance of morning and evening family prayer, scripture study, and Family Home Evening. I have been trying to improve my morning prayers, because I think that it's easy to make them repetitive, meaningless time to sort of doze a bit longer. I've been trying to really ask for specific help over the coming day.

My friend Elder Yim has a foreigner uncle named Brother Welch who sings (sung?) in the choir, and some random white guy at Wan Chai during conference said he has a friend named Aaron Dalton who's a second bass right now. Any yan jeung? Oh right, you don't speak that language. Do you know them?

I think what you need is a 60 miler. I haven't heard you say anything about boxes within boxes for a while. Nothing blasts off the materialism like thin air, leprous feet, and stark isolation. I see super rich cars all day long in Hong Kong, especially at Wan Chai, but I always just wonder where they think that they are going to drive them. It's hilarious and sad to see these super rich guys go from zero to 60 and back down to zero between two stoplights set up a couple hundred meters apart. Don't let that become you.


Even though you omitted your name I could tell your email was from you. You have become quite the party girl. Last week I recall a bit of grumbling about the scripture study and family prayer and stuff. But I really think and know that it is important to us. It can give you a lot more strength to be righteous throughout the day. I know that you're young but temptations come younger and younger now a days. So do it. Elder Scott said it will give us buoyant peace. Which is even better than the 3 kilograms of peaches that I ate in two days this week.


I would be so good at conference jeopardy. I don't want to brag but that is what my memory is best at, remembering phrases and facts like that. Plus I really find myself a lot more able to pay attention these days. I didn't sleep at all (except for some of the prayers, but in my defense I haven't slept well recently (a curtain broke in our bedroom (which Elder Au may be responsible for but has insufficient money to pay (he eats a lot and wants to go to a lot of buffets his last week) so no one will blame him for it (meaning it won't get fixed for a while) ) which always lets in enough light to wake me up at 6:00 AM) and any empty time it becomes hard to stay awake) and just felt comforted by their messages. I hope the women's conference was good. My favorites were Saturday, and I loved Elder Bednar's talk, Elder Scott, Jorg what's his name, Elder Cook, Pres, Uchtdorf and Eyrings, etc.

Elder Peacock just has 2 younger brothers left at home, and he says he doesn't know what his mom does in her spare time. I fear this is coming for you as well...

Though if you're not careful you'll soon be YW president over multiple groups, not just one big conglomeration of young women. Congratulations!


I wish I could get snarky and criticize you for a short email but I don't have much to say either. I will say, did you notice my email last week matched up perfectly with a part of Elder Scott's talk about going to the temple? It is true doctrine, my sister. It is true doctrine. I have a request to make of you, and shall put you in charge of seeing it done. As they emphasized so much Family Home Evening, and as I don't really have any chance to participate in FHE, I shall require you all to begin a tradition of reading my email as part of FHE. You may have to wait longer, but this is my will and wish, incumbent on Rebecca to carry out.


So much for no fancy ending. I wonder, what was David Morrell's favorite conference address. I can see you being entertained by Elder Bednar's description of the "great reason to howl and wail and gnash their teeth". Or perhaps Jorg what's his name impacted you, or Elder Holland's impassioned call to serve the poor. Report back to me.

I will grace you with the message that Elder Au and I will soon go to the place called "Korean BBQ" at which place I will not fall into gluttony but will eat heartily and pleasantly. I have learned my lesson.


If it were me, and with my perspective, I really would do a better job on the extended essay for IB. I think that the essay is actually the best part of IB. That is a useful skill, no matter how you slice it, and hopefully you will show that you can actually produce high quality, interesting, and edifying material. That is what I suggest. Elevate yourself.

I loved Elder Eyring's talk. I will say to you and David, you don't have much time left to be Aaronic priesthood holders, make the best of it. Yours is the call to serve, to bring others to repentance, and qualify them for the blessings of the Melchizedek (?) priesthood. Magnify it.

Did they argue about "hard" vs. "soft" science? My theory was that soft science is just science that we don’t have the information or technology to reduce down to a realistic, concrete form yet. Medicine was a soft science for quite a while. Astronomy as well. It is depressing, being mathematically or scientifically minded in a world of soft squishy philosophy.

Love you all!

Monday, October 6, 2014

October 6, 2014 - I Can Smell, Feel that it's Autumn!

Oh no, Abby's starting to count down. I can't read her emails anymore.

Well, mine family, it has been a pretty good week. Honestly there's not been too much special, so I'll just mention some of the highlights. One is the weather. It has gotten much cooler recently. We walked the few minutes to church this week in suit coats (usually we go there and then put them on) and even though our chapel is at the top of a really huge staircase, I didn't sweat. The afternoons are now a little warm but really not bad. It's funny because I really can smell, feel, that it's autumn. Strange how people can do that. It's a good thing that it's getting cooler because after conference we are back to suits all the time. I still have the suit I started with, which is really not in too bad condition, and some suit given to me by a member, which was a bit worn to begin with but has held up stoically if not stylishly.

We've been trying to improve our teaching as a zone. We are using some idea given to the zone leaders by a recently returned missionary, which is using pictures to teach. You just use the restoration pamphlet, hold a picture in front of them, and ask them what they think. It's a bit dicey sometimes, maybe a bit awkward, but you really keep the lesson focused on them, the ideas are very relevant to them, and it keeps them talking instead of just us. I've had some cool experiences with that. The whole goal is to make the learner an agent unto themselves. Help them see that this is meaningful to them, let them choose whether or not to learn. Invite, by showing them a picture or sharing a scripture or an experience and then asking them a question, asking them to think. It sounds obvious but so often it is neglected. For example, in church this Sunday some older lady who is a very long term investigator was asked a question, why is the church called the church of Jesus Christ of LATTER DAY saints? As soon as it was asked, the teacher and a friend sitting behind her both started doubting her ability to answer, which was not unreasonable. But their response, instead of giving her time to think and learn something or receive an answer from the spirit, was to start rephrasing the question or whisper the answer in her ear. So a 70 year old woman who has a mind of her own and could have learned something was basically made into a parrot trying desperately to hear the answer and copy it out. That sounds a bit blunt, but it's really not uncommon. Giving people time to think and really inviting them is giving them a chance to learn, to act and not be acted upon.

Today we had some frustrations to our plans. Elder Au, seeing as this is one of his last P-Days, really wants to go to do stuff with missionaries, in this case go to Korean BBQ which is a very popular restaurant. We had planned on going with our apartment and the Kwun Tong sisters, but last night we found out that after we told them this idea, the other elders had invited the TKO elders to go with them to the place. There is a rule that we can't have groups above 8 missionaries at one time, so we lost out. I was a bit hurt, honestly, because they just ignored us, but I understand how it happened and I myself am not such a big go out and do things guy. Elder Au was really hurt, because he really doesn't have much more chance to do things like this. He scrambled to find some other group to go somewhere all last night and this morning, to no avail. But this experience was cool, because it prompted a really great discussion about forgiveness in our comp. study. I myself learned a lot from it. I think that this is why God lets others do things that are bad and hurt us. There are some lessons only to be learned through forgiving when you have been wronged. I love Nephi's example in I Nephi 7. It takes such humility and sincere love to forgive those who do things wrong. We can learn a lot from such experiences.


I'm sorry about the pictures. I took a few, but this computer has no place to plug in the camera. Next week I will hopefully have some. And we do have another native in our apartment, good old Elder Yim! He randomly got moved up to zone leader here, probably for the rest of his mission. I was quite pleased.

I really look forward to General Conference, but now I'm worried that we'll get the dumb voice over thing like you. We watch the English session. It's interesting to hear these things get translated. I can usually understand both sides pretty well, and sometimes stuff gets left out. Elder Gong is in the area presidency, I think that he actually speaks almost perfect English. But I think this is cool. Many people think our church is American, but it really just started in America.

I cooked some delicious curry this week. I have cooked curry many times on my mission but never as well as this. It was Japanese, made from these flavor blocks. I boiled up potatoes, carrots, and chicken, and then added some onion and bell pepper, and then a bit of this ridiculously spicy curry powder I had the misfortune of buying once for a bit of heat. So good.


I want to start by saying that I am really so happy about you going to the temple. I know that this is going to bless you and the rest of the family more than you can imagine. Whatever you do make sure you go again on Friday. I can almost promise that Satan will try to get in your way, things will come up. But work hard, make it the top priority. It'll be worth it. I think that your dedication to the gospel along with your dedication to dance are what have given you this great opportunity in dance right now. Just so you know I love to brag about you to people.

German has some hard pronunciation too, but actually it made learning Cantonese a lot easier, because I already looked at sounds differently. Practice with Mom. I really should have practiced more with Dad. As for math, Matthew once told me his solution was copying all his assignments and when they were marked not done he'd show the teacher the copy.

One more question for you and Abby. I know it's early, and you have no obligation, but I'm curious. Do you plan on serving a mission? Just a thing to think about. That goes for Abby too.


Not too much time, but I really love the idea of the house thing. You could do that with your school too, if you have the time. Then you can see what it'd really be like to fight zombies at school. But on that note, next to me right now there's a guy watching YouTube. I imagine his house has no computer. When some lady came to take her turn, he rudely told her to double check. Computers can make us stupid. Just a thought.

I really want to learn more history now; especially ancient history and Chinese history. Dad's got some good books. Tell me which Conference talk was your favorite.


O do I make crazy noises all day long. I speak more Chinese these days than English, though I'm still not that great. Today I learned how to say a neutral stance, as in towards to protests in Hong Kong, and furlough, as in the holiday. My favorites are when I find things like inertia, electron, prose, etc.

I look forward to the Elder Christofferson talk. Before my mission I would find these things boring, but know my eyes have been sort of opened, and I can see how important this is.

I love bragging about Becca to people. I laughed at the description of the pumpkins. Typical. Sorry, not much else to say, but I love you Dad. (and Mom. Sorry, almost forgot)


Yea, I feel much different now. I wonder every now and then what to do when I go back to the natural world. Lots of stuff won't make the cut, if you know what I mean. You would never guess how many times in the last hour I have misspelled things and wasted time fixing them. Especially that. That. arrgh.

I think before my mission, intellectually I knew that the gospel was the most important but I hadn't really applied that knowledge. I also had a lot of bad habits or things to repent of that being on a mission helped me see and correct. It's been incredibly hard and painful. But great too.

I must say in my experience emotional and spiritual are not always connected. Our emotions are a product of our spirit, but also our physical body. For example, clinical depression is a physical disorder manifesting itself emotionally, but not always spiritually. The real problem comes in looking at what IB could possibly be qualified to teach about spirituality. I teach object lessons about that every day. It's called the Great Apostasy.


I don't have much time, but let’s face it. You are the best out of the family. I can't lie anymore. Keep it up with French. Tell me some sentences in French next email. And think a bit about the mission question. It's not too important right now, but I'm curious. Also, I think that violin is to you what dance is to Rebecca, though Rebecca always loved Dance and you historically have hated violin.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

September 30, 2014 - John's District

Elder Morrell & District after last Temple Trip

John's District