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.