Sunday, December 28, 2014

December 29, 2014 - I Love Being a Missionary, Because This is the Work of God!

Well, I don't have too much to say, honestly. The phone call was very fun, so I don't know what to say beyond that. I just spent a while and deleted all the old messages and emails from the beginning of my mission to now, because I don't like the little box on the bottom of gmail saying 4% full. I feel right now I may have been a bit hasty in doing that, but honestly I'll never have time to read them all again.

Christmas was really great. I honestly really enjoyed talking to you all, it was awesome. Really, David and Becca's voices have changed a ton. I can only imagine that Abby's voice has too. David and Joseph sound very similar now.

After we talked we went to Sai Kung for a ward activity. Because I spent the morning opening presents and my lunch time talking with y'all I didn't actually eat anything, so some members gave me fruit and granola bars. Our activity went from about 2 to about 8;30 pm. We got on a ferry and went over to some little island in the middle of the harbor where Sai Kung is. The island was quite beautiful. I have photos but this computer can't send stuff, so I'll get them next week. It was largish, for a little island, I would guess about 1 mile diameter. The beach was sandy and rocky, but the majority of the island was covered in a dense and fairly low jungle. The center was a hill, maybe 200 feet or higher, and there were some beautiful mangroves around parts of the island.

It is been being used as a sort of YMCA boys camp thing, and (you won't believe this) the Boy Scouts in our ward had organized a campout there from Christmas Eve to the 26th. Yes, they scheduled a sleepover campout for Christmas, because you can do that here. They weren't really roughing it, there were cabins and everything, and the Boy Scouts had organized some games for us to play while we were there. The most fun by far was an archery range thing. Some random member from some other ward had made these sort of toy bows out of steel rebar, and a bunch of arrows out of rolled up paper, which I wouldn't think would work but turned out fantastic. I must confess, I found it too fun. I had to leave after about 15 minutes because 1)I was afraid I would hog it 2) I was afraid the members would see me obsessing over it and 3) there were non-members there to talk to. But while I played, my slight archery experience paid off. I was pretty accurate.

Then we had a dinner. My Christmas dinner was very traditional Chinese: soup made from boiling pork bones, carrots, potatoes, and some other vegetables for a couple hours, rice (of course), chicken wings (also of course, it's like the most classic Chinese food) some Chinese red sausage thing, some other Chinese fish patty thing, choi sam, which I think is some sort of kale?, and fried pork chops. Delicious.

Then we had a weird sort of devotional thing, some nice sharings and testimony, and some weird music video things showing pictures of the savior and EFY music (of which I am not a fan). Also one weird music video which was clips from some bizarre movie about the Nativity, which according to some other Elder is called "The Nativity Story". That video was odd because it began suddenly with Mary going into labor and screaming. Kept us awake, I guess.

Then we went home. I felt really good about that Christmas, because the whole activity long Elder Tse and I worked our hardest to get to know the ward better and invite the non-members to investigate, and in the end we had some success.

Sunday was also good. Sister Lai, who had finally gotten a friend to church last week, got another friend and her son to church this week. She's scheduled to meet with us again on Saturday after our English class (which is not a shabby production now a days, if I say so myself). Really happy for her.

That's basically all. I know that the church is true; I'm loving being a missionary, because this is the work of God.

Monday, December 22, 2014

December 22, 2014 - The Gift of the Savior is a Precious Gift

Elder Tse & Elder Morrell with members

District Dec. 2014

This Book of Mormon kid’s story book is about perfect for my reading level. I am fast approaching 1000 characters but my retention is a bit lamentable, and I predict that when I review there will be more than 200 that I don't know. But I can basically read this book!

This is somewhere between Kwun Tong and Mong Kok, but looks like a cheap European chapel.

This is a super Chinese looking meal that I cooked all on my own. Dumplings (cheap, frozen) vegetables (cheap, packaged) and duck breast meat (cheap, frozen and vacuum packed, but tasty) with rice. I am the Chinaman.

This is a collection of nice pictures that I found. I felt a bit gloomy last week and I decided it was because of my working space (which you'll notice is already randomly occupied by a MICROWAVE! Everyone who moves into or enters our apartment tells me I will get cancer, I try to explain that 1. Microwaves are lower wave length than visible light; I'm as liable to get cancer from them as I am from sleeping with the light on in our room and 2. The front door is a Faraday cage anyway, so nothing gets out. No one seems to believe or understand me, expect Elder Buss (who was a chemistry major but just moved out). Elder Tse even implied that microwaving food makes it radioactive. I don't have the vocabulary in Chinese to express my disagreement with that idea. Does sun ripening tomatoes irradiate them?). I am a big fan of parenthetical statements.
I have discovered that the only way to get things done (in emails or in life) is to put down everything else and do them immediately. So that is what I just did with these pictures. It's a big step for me, I feel I've grown a lot.

This week was pretty cool. I honestly had struggled with some unhappiness last week, and some doubts. I think it's interesting that people comment on my apparent firmness and devotion, because I don't feel too much like that myself. I especially wish that I could have a more powerful testimony. I know many people who can cite a specific instance, a powerfully answered prayer that let them know. I can't say one time when I suddenly knew that the gospel was true. This week that sort of bugged me a bit. So I prayed a lot, really a lot. I can't say that I had any remarkable vision, but I feel that gradually through this week I've been re answered that this work is true. I will clarify, I wasn't doubting my testimony before. But I worried a bit. I know that God will answer prayers, it's just often not in the time we want or the way that we want. For me, this week, the sweetest answer was one day out finding, when I had several chances to testify of the Restoration of the Gospel of Christ. At that moment I knew that what I testified of was true. I think that that is one of the coolest experiences that I've had many time on my mission, feeling that what I'm saying really isn't coming from me, but from God. Sometimes when I testify of a commandment or the atonement, I don't feel like I'm saying it, I feel like it is being said through me.

In other news, pretty good week. We didn't have as many people at church, but we have one member (sister Lai) who is a super hard working member missionary, and she finally got a friend to church. The friend loved it, and her son didn't want to leave. I was super happy for her.


I got to watch the First Presidency devotional this Sunday, unfortunately no remotely close shot of you. But it was nice to hear the MoTab again. I love Christmas songs. Our investigators are doing well, though not as many at church yesterday. This week we met with a new investigator who got caught up on Nephi killing Laban because she thought that it conflicted with the 10 commandments. After sort of arguing for a while, I grabbed a Bible, randomly opened up to Judges 1:1 which, surprise surprise, is about the Lord commanding the Israelites to destroy the Perrezites and Cannanites.

I think one reason that I went to Hong Kong is that the language makes it a bit harder to argue logically. Thanks to that and experience, I really have learned that while you can and sometimes have to prove points using the Bible or logic, it doesn't invite the spirit, and usually doesn't lead people to do the most important thing, which is to put forth some personal effort and learn if it's true. That being said, it is fun to use the Bible to quash Bible rooted concerns. I'm sure Elder Bennett has more practice than me, but in that same lesson I had a good time responding to the concern that "no man can see God" with Acts 7, Stephen the Martyr.

Transfers led to no change for us, except that we now belong to TKO district. That means that I'm still junior companion, validating my theory. But I am really being honest when I say that I'm grateful to be Elder Tse's junior companion. I have learned more being he and Elder Au's junior companion than I did training Elder Ferrar (not to short change Elder Ferrar). At the beginning of my mission I'd be really alarmed at being junior companion up to my 1.5 year mark, but though it's not entirely easy it is not a problem for me now.


As I told Abby, I had a dream that had a lot of you in it, but don't remember it. At least I could face death without fear as a missionary. Maybe I'll pull a Stripling Warrior.

I have learned buying groceries on my mission that money lasts a lot less than the stuff it is exchanged for. I always feel like that with the food we buy. But this Sunday we had like a hundred members give us dessert, one gave us apple pie, and Sister Lai gave us some cereal. So I am in good hands. Looking forward to the package, though I may need to pay for a storage fee.

As I said, I don't feel like an especially great missionary. But I do feel a firm determination to keep all the commandments all the time. If you thank me for the reminder, the best way is to do it. I really love the talk that I mentioned in Abby's email. Thank you and Dad for the good example. I'm also curious, next week (or at the call (at 12;00 my time)) could you guys have a little testimony sharing thing? What you all believe? Sorry, this letter doesn't feel very understandable. But I do love you.


I love the morning, and from about 7:00 am on. Midday depresses me because I always notice that time is running out. Congrats on the sterling scholar! Though to be honest I think an honorable mention in science is worth more than a victory in English. Yeah, time seems super weird for me. I get a bit panicked.


The dream that I mention had you specifically, in a friendly way, but I don't know why...

Keep on treading on the tanks. Just make sure that you don't neglect the Civ V. Also if I recall in that game, I and my jsutites stomped all over Elder Bennett.


I don't remember what TTYL means. I'm going to pick up my package today. Because you guys insured it I have to go to some place in Yau Ma Tai to get it, but at least it's safe from the scheming office Elders. I don't trust them farther than I could throw them.

Christmas is cool because of all those traditions. I remember you especially loved the stockings. I'll give you an assignment for the telephone call, so you can speak more easily. Tell me where the Book of Mormon Christmas story is. And what you gave me. I'm excited for the package, 4.2 kg, pretty intense.

I want to follow up on your fitness. Joseph said that you were starting to track calories. Christmas is probably a pretty rough time for that, but keep it up! I really love what it says in that Gen. Conf. article, Approaching the Throne of God with confidence. You will really feel a lot better about life and everything if you know that you're in shape and in control of your body. You can do it! I had a dream last night that you and Becca were babies or toddlers again, but I can't remember it now.
(you're my favorite)


Artemis is a fabulous name no matter what you say. I did miss your Nutcracker performance. It's a great tradition. My favorite part of Christmas is always Christmas Eve, I'm glad I get to participate a bit. Sorry, we have a zone Christmas party so all you guy's emails have been short. But it's not that I don't love you, it's just that I don't care.

Just kidding.

I know that the church is true, and especially at this Christmas time I know that the gift of the Savior is a precious gift. I know that he suffered and died for us so that no matter how dark things get, there's a light at the end of the tunnel. I add my humble witness to the thousands who stand with me to testify that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Highest, born to set us free.

Elder Morrell

Sunday, December 14, 2014

December 15, 2014 - Transfers this Week, I Hope I Stay!

The Ko family.  Another awesome family, Brother Ko has literally perfect English and is the Young Men counselor, so he helped a lot with Ben getting baptized.  Super cool family.  THeir house is also really amazing.

The Lai family.  They are pretty awesome. Sister Lai often brings friends to our English class, and recently has been lending us a ton of English books to help teach the kids.  Brother and Sister Lai both went to BYU, so a lot of English in that family.  And they have the Magic Treehouse books.  That was a shock.

​Our ward Correlator, Yuen Hing Dai's family.

My companion, Elder Tse, though he's not normally so grey.  (I was messing around with the color filters on the camera).
This week has been pretty cool. This area has been growing a ton since I got here. My first week here there was only one investigator who dropped us after a week. This week on our progress record we had 10 investigators who are actively meeting us, and at church we had 4 people. It's been amazing and instructive to see how people find and come to accept the gospel. The natural man in me wants to say "Ha ha! Look at all this success that I have. I have more investigators than most other people in the mission!". But on my mission I've come to realize more and more the folly of the natural man view. Obviously I was involved in these people accepting the gospel, I mean if I'd just been lazy and slept all day long they wouldn't have been found. But when we go out finding and actually find people, it is because the Lord shows them to us, or shows us to them. And when they get baptized, or feel the spirit, or become converted, it is the Lord. Can I make someone's heart burn within them? Can I give people peace of conscience or remission of sins? Of course not, to really think that would be ridiculous and probably blasphemous.

We missionaries may have an important role, but we can't do those things for others any more than we can do them for ourselves. So I try to remember, that while we may have a lot of success right now, it's not me, it's God.

One cool experience this week. We had a new investigator that we met on the street on Tuesday and scheduled for Saturday who suddenly canceled the night before. We were a bit bummed. But when we went out finding, after about 3 hours of no success, who did we bump into but the guy, who is named 阿華, or A wa. Turns out he was available and we walked with him for 30 minutes all the way back to the chapel and taught him. Then he came to church on Sunday. So, when the Lord wants you to be converted, there's no way out.


A brief report of some of our investigators, because I don't have time to say all 10. Mr. Lo is still loving church, and we had a good meeting with him this week. Honestly the thing that I'm worried about with him is smoking, I think he's a bit in denial that he can't quit without some serious effort, but he doesn't seem to like to bring it up.

A relatively new investigator, Rachel, is doing pretty well because she's been reading the Book of Mormon a ton. We started teaching her 2 weeks ago, and she's read up to 1 Nephi 15 ish.

Our investigator A Wing has been having some problems recently. She's doing okay but we were really hoping that we'd be able to help her get baptized this December (our mission has another goal like July, 65 in December) but she's just not being serious enough about keeping commitments yet. As Elder Klebingat said in General Conference, “Casualness in spiritual matters was never happiness”.

Brother Wong, whose wife was officially reactivated this week with a calling of Relief Society teacher, is struggling with reading. Basically without that I don't see him progressing too quickly, though he's been great about going to church each week and he likes it.

Transfers are this week, so I may be somewhere else next week. I really hope I can stay here for at least one more move. We have so many people who will probably get baptized next move, and beyond that I really love this ward and this area. I'm a bit nervous, because so far I've only had one companion for more than one move, and if that stays true then Elder Tse is about done with me.


We have a couple who work in the mission office, like the Talls. They are called the Packs, super awesome people. You'd be surprised at the importance that the Talls probably played. If it's like this mission, it's not just financial stuff, it's moral. All the missionaries love going to the office to talk to the Packs. I'm sure the Talls were the same, We have a Bank of America card, I've learned a lot of useful life skills from that.

I will prepare myself to answer questions. Are we talking about what classes to take? Or housing? If housing I'll need you and Dad's advice.

Another cool thing this week, A Chun, who was a 14 year old kid that Elder Au and I found, was baptized yesterday in Kwun Tong. He shared an awesome testimony at a fireside. Great feeling.

All Kids,

I have little time. It's not that I don't love you, it's just that I find it hard to remember who's who.

I do miss playing Risk. You can write that one on the board of things to do when I get home, and get rid of some TV show or movie. Risk is better. David, it was a public computer. Joseph, sounds pretty intense. I tried some sprints again and it really wiped out my whole body. Becca and Abby, I'm pretty sure neither of you hate the other. Things are doing okay right now, I feel a bit down the last few days but I've found that to be normal, my mood will gradually swing up and down. Joseph, nothing good happens late at night anyway (says the guy who, on one of the few dates I went on, got back at 3:00 AM. Don't do that), Artemis is a great name.

I love you all!

Monday, December 8, 2014

December 8, 2014 - The Real Gift Given at Christmas is the Savior

Elder Morrell in front of the Hong Kong  China Temple

A random picture of the inside of an MTR Stop

Elder Kang and I on exchanges.  He is 4 months ahead of me, from Provo, Korean.

This is a pretty average meal for me.  I would say it's spagetti, but I think it's actually linguine noodles.  Not sure why they sell those.

Average street nearby our house.  Lots of stores around here.

This is our "humbling Board" which used to be an ironing board.  Ironically, the office elders replaced our iron the day after this photo was taken.  The board remains.

Yeah I can do that now. My characters are up to about 800, though I think that at least 100 of those I have already forgotten. To what shall I liken the study of characters? It is like unto flight, for it frees the soul to peruse through a menagerie of Sino-commercial material. It is like unto a well of water which gives more and more abundantly the deeper it is dug.

I had a quite lovely week. Some announcements: I am now wearing sweaters and glasses. No, I am not trying to look less threatening, it is in fact because 1) the weather continues to be pretty cold. It is warmer today, and this week is supposed to be okay, but I think that we've been paying for the warm weather in Utah. The damp just sharpens the blade when the wind blows. 2) Apparently there have been several serious eye infections in either this or other missions recently, and we suddenly got a text from Sister Hawks directing all those wearing soft contact lenses to jik hak cheuih keuihdeih, immediately remove them. That was initially distressing to me but "sacrifice brings forth the blessings of heaven". So I now stand be-sweatered and bespectacled. David will love this, I'm sure.

Ben was confirmed this Sunday, a really stellar young lad. Our finding was a bit tougher this week, perhaps because of the cold weather. But last night we had a cool experience. We were both pretty tired from fasting and what not, but we went out finding again in the evening. After about 1.5 hours of no success, we started walking towards a place called Choi Wan Estate. We walked basically directly to a place pretty high up that had some benches, we didn't manage to stop anyone on the way over there but as soon as we arrived we saw a guy on a bench. We walked right up to him, and taught him a lesson. Turns out he had been to the Kowloon Tong chapel once 10 years ago. He's a cool guy, I'll tell you more next week if he turns into a real investigator.

I am really loving being able to sing Christmas songs. This year I really have been able to feel more that the real gift given in Christmas is the Savior. I am a lot more aware now of what the Savior has done in my life, what Heavenly Father really has given me. The peace that comes from living the gospel and applying the atonement both to remit our sins and also to change our characters and grow is both one of the greatest motivators and blessings of serving missions. It takes a lot of effort to do, though. I bore testimony in Sacrament meeting last week about how Ben had been given the gift of the Holy Ghost, but without the actually "receiv[ing] the Holy ghost" it wouldn't do anything. I just feel blessed that I've been able to serve this mission and really work to receive this, and all the other blessings that God has in store for us, and have been able to help some other people as well.


Our investigator Mr. Lo was at church again. We taught him after church with a High Priest in our ward. The High Priest was a bit crazy and talked pretty fast, but I think that Mr. Lo still was able to learn lesson 3 (check your Preach My Gospel) decently. He's still doing well, but having a hard time quitting tea, and I suspect smoking though he won't say it. Brother Wong, who has been investigating for a while but because of the protests is busy these days, has been to church the last two times. He's still struggling with a lot of doubts. He sort of questions a lot of the stuff we say, but he's not trying to be difficult, it's just hard for him to accept some of this stuff as true. And because he's busy he hasn't been reading Book of Mormon. We shared 3 Nephi 1, the Book of Mormon Christmas story (which I've never shared with investigators before but was very powerful) with him.

Our Zone had it's Zone Conference last week. It was pretty great. They talked a lot about the President Uchtdorf talk "Lord, is it I?" and what it takes to change yourself. Very powerful. Our zone's "plan and action" this month is called Silent night. We spend 20 minutes each night from 10:40-11:00 reflecting and pondering. It has been really good.

I am really grateful, as I mentioned, for the real gift of Christmas. Particularly that I, though grossly imperfect, can ponder if I was suddenly called to finish life right now and not feel alarmed or unprepared or afraid. I have so many things that I'm still working on improving, but I know that I am doing what I can right now to improve them and that God has provided for what I can't make up.

Don't let the Muppets get you down. I feel like our ward is a bit fired up, but honestly one of the problems we've got right now is that they all feel like they are asked to help us teach lessons too often. I am inclined to tell them to deal with it, but Hong Kong life is really busy, and we do bother them for that a lot.


Kids will be kids. I really find it impossible to think of David really growing up. He gets bigger, but his spirit is still unmistakably David. I look forward to fudge with eager anticipation. I've been eating really healthy this week. I bought a ton of fruit and vegetables, so I've started just eating less and then filling in the "hey, you haven't filled me up all the way yet" feeling of my stomach with something called wa wa choi and fruit. I am still skinny, but I believe that I may be as heavy as I've ever been in my life. I have the new temple photos, I will procrastinate that no more.

I'm glad to hear the box made it there, it cost a fortune. Actually, I just realized something. You and Dad's presents are sort of in boxes, you probably can't tell what they are from the outside. Unless you want to be surprised together, you and dad could open it up and individually wrap the presents. But if you want to be surprised, leave them.

I miss my family a bit more than usual around Christmas, but in a good way. I'm glad that we have the gospel to help us be so happy together. I really think about that particular blessing a lot more around Christmas.

Our investigator A Wing is doing okay but we are feeling a bit anxious because our mission is going for 65 baptisms in December, and it's looking like we may have to move her baptismal date into January. Pray for miracles.


Yes, because there is great and solemn import every time a virtual gun is discharged. Just think a bit of the tens of thousands of teenagers wasting their lives playing COD right now.

I've been running a lot recently, just like you trying to build up some muscle. The tricky thing is that we only have 30 minutes, which is counted from 7 in the morning, not when we start. Hard to get a lot of work out in. I've been running at a nearby soccer court recently. I timed a mile at 6:10, which is a rough estimate. A bit to go before I get to my goal of 6:00, you've probably passed that I while ago. On Saturday I did some sprints, and I planned on doing more today. I ran about 1.3 miles, then did the first of a planned four 75 meter sprints, then found myself unable to walk. I think I almost pulled a muscle in my thigh. I feel better now but that ended sprinting for the day.

There was some drama about the same thing in the last ward council in our ward, primary competing against other ward's primary for spots to do primary program. They considered having two wards in a row do it. I didn't say anything, feeling it was not my place, but if it happens I will not be looking forward to it.


Rather than write a letter to you, per se, I will instead describe those around me. On my right is a normal guy, but just moments ago there was a slightly nervous looking guy who was checking his Facebook and muttering. He seemed very afraid people would see his password so he covered his hand when he was typing it in, and he was wearing gloves which I think are for covering fingerprints. On my left is a man who smokes heavily. Behind me is an older guy who 5 minutes ago was asleep and snoring. Just thought that you'd like to know.


The English class kids actually all love me. I was on exchanges last Saturday and couldn't teach them, and apparently many of them asked where I went. And one of them made a Christmas card for me, but not the other Elders.

One of the Sister missionaries in West Point right now is a professional dancer. She said she never planned on going on a mission but her patriarchal blessing changed all that dramatically. What song are you and David playing? When is the performance? How long do you dance for in it? Was the rehearsal mostly just sitting around? What do you mean by "bleak"? And how could anyone be offended by the name Artemis? It's like the coolest of all the Greek Mythology names.


It's nice to hear that I am constantly missed.

When I was on exchanges we helped the West Point ward decorate their chapel. They really went all out, you'd have loved it. Christmas here is not as big as in America, much more commercial. It was fun to tell them about all the traditions that we have. None of their trees are real, they are all fake. I had to explain the difference.

Make sure that my weird cookie ornament gets put in a cool place.

I really like what Joseph said about the calorie counter thing. There's a really great General Conference talk, my favorite in fact, by Elder Jörg Klebingat about "Approaching the Throne of God with Confidence" and one of the points he makes is that being in control of our physical body helps us control our actions more and gives us more confidence before God. Can I invite you to read that? And ask Joseph, he's a pretty impressive example. Ask him if he wishes that he'd gotten into such good shape earlier. Then take action yourself.

You are still the most emotional and most obviously missing me person.

FYI I think that for the phone call we can just do it at 11:30 my time on Christmas day. If you want to do it earlier that'd also be fine. Just tell me by next week so we can avoid all the confusion.

Love you all!