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.