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!

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