Wednesday, May 27, 2015

May 27, 2015 - I Was Spit Upon!

Well, that was a pretty anticlimactic email. I don't know exactly why you all sent me one sentence emails (I assume time was short? Or you don't love me?), but I would have thought in the next 2 or 3 days you would have reconsidered and sent more ( Or you don't love me?). It's fine. I'm not bitter.

This has been a pretty cool week. We were really busy last week with some Zone Leader stuff. We meet with the Stake Presidency every month or so, and discuss all the ward's needs and all the recent converts (RC) and such. Lots of paperwork to fill out from every ward. Let me explain why paperwork is so hard here. Everyone has a Chinese name, which we missionaries usually know as a sound nice and neatly coded in our Romanization system. But for official purposes, that Romanization is 不得 (not allowed). There is a specific British ping yam or Romanization that the government uses that doesn't actually describe the sound at all (just like Kowloon Tong is not close at all to the Chinese name) but is basically randomly decided at birth and can usually be guessed, unless the person is from Mainland originally in which case it reflects the Mandarin pronunciation which will be totally unfamiliar to us. Difficulty one.

Difficulty two is that we need not only the English name but the Chinese characters, which many missionaries don't know how to write, which are difficult to look up, and which may have multiple different characters for the same sound. There's a little girl who's an RC in our ward with the name 靜 Ching, but there are 3 Chings with the same sound and the same meaning.

Then add in that we need to find confirmation dates and priesthood ordination dates and home teachers and ages for each one, and that Elder Little and I have to collect all of them from a whole zone of very young missionaries, and it gets tricky. But honestly I love it; it's oddly fun to struggle through.

Our tri-panionship is now broken up; Elder Busby is training a native named Elder Chan, who is hilariously paranoid about eating left-over food because he's sure it will make us sick.

Other news, we had an awesome day on Monday. It was Buddha's birthday, so everyone was free, we met with two kids to eat lunch together and they opened up with "So what's the difference between your church and other churches?". We found them because I had bumped into one of them on 3 different occasions, and he felt like there was some real fate working there.

We've been planning our next Zone Training recently, which is going much smoother than last time, though we still take a long time to plan. Honestly our Zone is struggling with new investigators, so we're working on how to fix it.

And last but not least, I was spit upon! Yes, just like it says in the scriptures! I walked up to talk to an old man in a train station and he shouted something (probably profanity) and then spit upon me (though luckily it was blocked by my umbrella). He probably meant to insult me; I was rather honored by it. The scriptures take on a whole new meaning. I just need to be stoned now.


The weather this week has been pretty crazy. It has rained more than Utah will in a whole year, I can guarantee. I don't know why, but people here are really scared of rain. And everyone always just says, "Hey, it's raining!" even when it's really obvious. So we do as well. It rained "Black Rain" on Tuesday, which means that it's big enough to flood things and close businesses. But the warning got canceled pretty quickly and we weren't where the action was.


So our investigator A Chung who changed his name to A Lai just keeps standing us up and being flaky, so we're not scheduling him this week to see if he'll find us on his own or not. The Chi family is doing okay, but Brother Chi was feeling pretty stressed out because of how many commandments there are, and by the pace we were teaching. We had a really good lesson where we just listened, understood him, answered some questions, and resolved his concerns. Really sweet lesson.

This week we also taught a cool part member family, and last week one of our RC's, A Yung, brought both her kids to church, and we taught one of them last night. So things are going well, but we definitely need some more people progressing towards baptism.


Your comment reminds me of Omni 1:9.


Make a water feature in the court yard and call it de_water.feature.SUPERBOSS


Congratulations on making Dance Company. I don't know exactly what that entails but I do know that I saw them perform in many an assembly Though I don't understand dance, I do understand hard work And excellence It's a habit, not an event This is one sentence because there are no periods!


I suppose the birthday party planning you sent me last time was so accurate and complete that there was no need for the typical detail rich Abby report.

One last message for 大家, which being translated is big family, or everyone.

We're about to go to the temple. I'm not the best example of temple worship because before my mission when I had lots of opportunities to go, I squandered them. And I feel there is still a lot I can do to recognize and receive all the blessing of the temple now. But I do know that it is a great blessing to have a temple on the earth. I look forward today to taking my questions and concerns and having a place to meditate and ponder about them. It's just a chance to put down my problems, serve another, and have spiritual rest. Go to the temple often and together if you can, and just enjoy the atmosphere. It's a free gift to us.

Elder Morrell

Monday, May 18, 2015

May 18, 2015 - Man, I Wish I Had More Time! 我愛你們! (I love you all!)

Hello, dear family. I've written a lot of email to you over the course of my mission; do I really need to keep sending them? You could re-read some of my old ones. I'm sure that there's lots of good stuff there. I used to complain a lot more consistently about you guys reading scriptures and going to the temple.

This week was super awesome, or, as we say in China, chiu kap sai leih. Obviously it was nice to talk to all of you on the phone, and later that day we had a miracle member present lesson that scheduled itself at the end of our P-Day. On Tuesday we had 6 lessons scheduled, though they didn't all come through. 6 lessons in one day is a lot of lessons. Recently we've not had a lot of time to go finding, which stands in stark contrast to the start of my mission. I remember back then most of our days were just finding, for at least 3 or 4 hours. If we get 2 hours straight now we count it long and blessed. Honestly if we actually spend an hour for lunch and an hour for dinner we call it a slow day. On Wednesday, for example, we did language evaluations for every new missionary in our zone, which took about 3 hours. I feel super weird doing language pass offs because I don't really look at myself as being qualified. It’s interesting.

This Thursday we had our Zone Conference, where President and Sister Hawks train us. It is President Hawks’ last Zone Conference. He's an amazing guy. I've never met anyone so passionate about obedience. To call him strict is really not an accurate description. He's not nitpicky, he's not Pharisaical, he's just really really passionate about obedience and powerful teaching. I think it's really been a blessing being in this tri-panionship, because there's a lot of power in Elder Busby and Little, and we're really able to teach powerfully, though there's obviously still room to improve.

Saturday we had a really cool experience. We went to visit a member, and on the way out suddenly decided to go to a restaurant called Tuen Mun Curry House (a delicious Indian curry house, I got the ox tongue. Yum.) Then on the way out, while walking home, Elder Little suddenly turned off the sidewalk and talked to some guy. We spoke for a moment and in 10-15 minutes taught about the Restoration and got a new investigator. The Spirit really is active, especially if you are willing to set high goals and let them be the focus of your day.

On Sunday that principle was again demonstrated. We had a goal to have 2 member present lessons and 1 new investigator, which we had all scheduled. We went to the Lord and promised we would do this if he would help us. If you recall we have two wards to attend right now, so we had absolutely no time to go finding. Well, at 9:00 the first lesson fell through, and at 12:40 the second one did as well. But we were doing what we were supposed to be doing that day, you could say perfect in our Sunday morning sphere. Randomly a member brought a referral to church who we taught between our ward correlation and sacrament, and Mr. Chi (who's been in mainland) felt impressed (or as he said "called by God") to come back to Hong Kong a day early on the high speed rail and attend church so that he could be baptized on his date. We started teaching them after church and couldn't find a member, and suddenly I felt prompted to ask a certain guy who was still there after church ended. We achieved the goal.


It's interesting to think of you and Dad doing companionship inventory. In this tripanionship we have pretty good ones. I think I mentioned it before but the nicest thing about being will relatively experienced missionaries is that meetings, study time, comp inventories are all very edifying. I imagine you and Dad are the same, seeing as you’re a lot more experienced than the 3 of us in my companionship put together. By the way, we found out at Zone Conference that Elder Busby will train a native on Wednesday, so we will be split up again. Very sad.

We had a recently returned missionary speak in both our wards this Sunday. He was really good, the thing that impressed me the most about him was that he seemed to have really figured out how to effectively research and study out questions, and from that had a lot of really cool insights. I learned over the past couple Sundays the importance of being willing to learn, grateful, and humble, especially in church. Because we had to listen to so many talks and lessons, sometimes it would seem a bit boring. I've also noticed that I have a bad tendency to think that as a missionary I am more spiritually mature or knowledgeable than others, which obviously is false. It's hard to learn from Church if you're mentally criticizing others for poor speaking skills or other defects. But this last Sunday I did my best to humble myself and learn, and had an amazing Sunday. I got 2 full pages of notes from it.

Our Bishop called us up in the middle of sacrament meeting to speak, which was unexpected, but actually sort of fun. I hope my talk was okay, it felt decent. Maybe I just won't prepare anything for my homecoming talk, I'll just wing it.


That sounds like a well planned out party. We have an activity coming up in August that I'm partially responsible for planning. I think you're better at planning than I am. It's a weakness of mine. Our P-days are usually pretty boring as well, because we just never do anything. We wanted to go get suits today, but couldn't because we're going to tea (ha ha, that's how they say dim sum in Chinese, it's literal translation is "drink tea") with a less active member.

2 questions. Would something go wrong if all the people went out to see the chickens at once? Would they be panicked or something? Also, I don't remember what “Minute to Win It” is.

Because you play violin I pretend to be a violin expert as a way to get people to start talking to me. Anytime I see anyone with a violin I tell them that my little sister plays violin. This week I stopped some guy and his daughter in the middle of the sidewalk, totally randomly, by saying that.


How the heck did school finish so quickly? That's weird. Do you know that your voice literally sounded the most different on the phone? Not only the pitch of voice but the inflections, speech patterns, everything. It must have something to do with all the dancing. No one else's voice changed that much, and no one else dances as much as you do.

I remember Abby said you went to the temple recently. Have you gone again? Will you? Why wouldn't you? Hmm? Hmm?

I have to agree, I don't think you can explain ballet in writing.


I do feel that a solid hour of piano is a lot more useful and productive than 5 12 minute slots. I did the same thing before, but in retrospect, and especially now that I've spent some time learning a new language, it's clear that learning for at least 30 or 40 minutes at a time is a lot more useful. How's the German going? I feel a lot more empowered in regard to learning languages now, I'm excited to learn me some German when I get a chance. This Wednesday on the way back from Zone Conference I talked to a guy from Mainland. My Mandarin is almost good enough to hold a real conversation with a reasonably patient person. It's super fun.

and as to the question about the smiley face, yes.


Recently because Elder Busby's knee has some problems we haven't gone running at all, aside from the many many times that we seem to run out of time in the evening and have to sprint back home to make it in on time. I have an odd proclivity to schedule things just close enough together that we have to rush, or manage to talk to one too many people while finding and almost be late. There's a hill under our apartment called the hill of dreams. We ran it 2 or 3 times this week. I love it.

The Hong Kong DSE test is finally done, so lots of people your age just don't have to go to school at all anymore. Today in companion study we were studying how to teach Lesson 5 with more power, because it often becomes a sort of rote presentation of information. But today as we practiced teaching about priesthood, I could really feel the power of it. The priesthood is an amazing gift. It is a chance to stand in the Lord's place and do what he would do. I really believe that it has power to do miracles, but that doesn't happen without preparation.


As I said, an awesome week this week. Our investigator who mystically came to church is Mr. C, who, with his wife, is super awesome and they are preparing to be baptized. I'm just worried because he feels really strongly about his baptismal date, and we might have to move it back because he hasn't quite quit smoking yet. But he's got such amazing faith that I'm not too worried. Kelvin, from a while back, randomly called us and said that he wanted to meet again. He seems to have really changed a lot and is way more humble, is preparing much more intently than last time we met him. We have an investigator, A Lai, who used to be named A Chung but randomly changed his name. He's great, and every time we teach him I feel the spirit, and he seems really willing and ready to learn, but he stands us up consistently 50% of the time. I don't know if you ever had anyone like that. It’s annoying, but he's cool.

Love you all. Be grateful for all you have. You have a lot. I am so grateful I get to be a missionary. It's so worth it. Man, I wish I had more time.

Monday, May 11, 2015

May 11, 2015 - Happy Mother's Day

(We just got to talk to John on Sunday for Mother’s Day. Even all four grandparents were here. It was great to hear his voice and to think he’ll be home in just over 3 months. He’s working really hard until the end!)

Thank you guys. You are all so awesome. I really feel blessed to have such an amazing family. And thank you Mom and Dad for the advice. Not just about the suits. You guys are the best.

I don't have much to add, our investigators are doing pretty well. We're really busy so it's hard to meet them sometimes. Mrs. C was at church with her kids and we should meet them again this week, her husband is still in Mainland. We found a potential new family on Tuesday, the Chan family, who seem really cool. We originally had the husband scheduled for Church but he had to cancel, and we haven't gotten him again yet.

This is a copy of part of my weekly report to President Hawks:

"We had an amazing experience on Saturday evening. We had more finding that day and some lessons scheduled and we set some very high goals, but all our lessons fell through and by the evening we had about 1 hour of finding left and only one mediocre street lesson. So we decided that if we were going to reach our goal we needed to find a family. We went out and in about 15 minutes met a couple from Ukraine and Israel, brought them to the chapel and toured them around. It seemed perfect but they were too rushed to teach at that moment. I felt really bad because it seemed that we had failed our chance, but then on the way home we found another mom and her son, toured the chapel again, and scheduled them for church the next day. Then, on the way home (still 1 lesson short of our OL goal) we met a guy who turned out to live in our building and taught him in his house. It was amazing, and we felt like we could succeed and miracles would happen in a way that I've never felt before.

It was awesome. There was a certain feeling there that we could do things that we'd never done before. The last guy we taught was an older man, the type I'd usually try a bit and maybe pass over for time's sake. Elder Busby actually told him that we were rushed and asked if we could walk and teach at the same time. And he said yes. And Chinese people never let you into their homes; it's just not the culture. So the fact that we got that to happen was just amazing. There have been a few times like that this week where I just felt like faith was doing the work for us. I set a goal one day to talk to 10 people outside of finding, and I prayed intently that I would do my part talking to everyone if the Lord would help me succeed, and there were times when it seemed like people couldn't not talk to me.

That's what I wish I could have started to learn earlier in my mission, because 1 I know that if I can really do missionary work this way people will get baptized, and 2 it's extremely difficult and we need to prepare ourselves as a companionship to do it. Honestly working with that kind of faith is almost terrifying, because you have to commit yourself to a high goal. You can't set low goals and do it, because it won't exercise your faith, and you have to really care about and commit to the goal, because if you don't you won't exercise faith. But that's terrifying to do, and it forces a lot more introspection than I really want to have. But if I could do it..."

Anyway, that's just what we've been mulling over as a companionship. It's been great being in this trio. I've really enjoyed it. Love you all! Really, I really truly love you all. And Happy Mother's Day, Mom. You don't need to be perfect to be the best mom in the world. I love you.

Monday, May 4, 2015

May 4, 2015 - Why the Restoration Matters!

Elder Barker's Last PDay

Ida Chau gave the missionaries this meal in honor of Elder Barker

Dim Sum
Well, this week was pretty goodly, but strange. I had my last 3 days with Elder Black on Monday to Wednesday. We visited a super rich family in our ward. Their house had 2 stories, which might not sound like much, but believe me, there are probably more old ladies above the age of 95 than homes with 2 stories within a 15 mile radius of this library. So that was fun. Tuesday we had a very interesting district meeting because we announced our moves, which I'll get to in a moment. Wednesday we went to Crossroads, and helped them remodel the free trade shop in there. Crossroads is cool because they all love the Mormons and they fight over who gets to use us when we come to volunteer. Some guy treated us to this crazy good chocolate ice drink randomly. Honestly I would go even if there was a moderate fee to serve there. It's crazy fun. Did you know I know how to open a shipping container now? Yeah, there's a special way to open them.

Then Thursday. We went down to Kowloon Tong to the mission office to drop off Elder Black, who is speaking sign language on the island now, and Elder Loderup, who is finishing (Elder Loderup is a really cool missionary. He's by no means perfect, but I looked up to him since he served in Shatin and I was in Tai Wai. And he managed to pack all his earthly belongings into one 50 lb suitcase, so that was impressive.). Then I, and Elder Little, and Elder Busby headed home.

I am still in Castle Peak Bay, but now in a tripanionship with Elder Busby and Little (Elder Little served on the Island when I was at Chai Wan, so I know him a bit, Elder Busby's the previous Zone Leader with Elder Loderup, and from my group in the MTC!) and Elder Little and I are the Zone Leaders, Elder Busby is the District Leader. That was pretty unexpected. But it's been really fun so far. Because all three of us are relatively experienced, we've been able to have some really great lessons and set some awesome plans. It's going to be a powerful 3 weeks before we split up again. But we're ridiculously busy, because of Zone Leader things and serving 2 wards. We were at the chapel for about 10 hours yesterday. Went to church twice, had 2 ward correlation meetings, and gave a training in a stake mission leadership meeting. And we've been preparing our Zone training meeting like mad, because neither of us have been Zone Leader before. I haven't gone finding with them yet.

I'd like to share something that we have taught several members recently, and which I love to testify of, which is the apostasy. Everyone knows what it is, and most know why it happened, and many can tell you in great depth exactly how and when and where it happened, much more clearly and persuasively than I ever could. So I won't try to teach about the history. But when I teach investigators the apostasy, I'm honestly not too worried about the history either. Sure, I want them to understand that other churches are false, and that is very difficult to teach sometimes, but that's really not enough. For an investigator to care about the Restoration, they need to know really WHAT WAS LOST IN THE APOSTASY. So, what do you think?

Usually members will answer; prophets were lost, or scriptures, the organization of the church, priesthood authority. It's really true. All those things were lost. Have you ever thought of what that would mean to you? Mom and Dad, if you had no chance to be missionaries, if you knew you weren't sealed to your parents, or each other, or us kids, would you have made it through medical school or other challenges in your lives? Joseph and David, if you had no chance to repent, to come unto Christ and change, if you didn't know about the plan of salvation, who would you be right now? Where'd you be going? Rebecca, Abby, if you didn't know that you had a Father in Heaven, who loves you, and listens to your prayers even in the toughest and darkest times, could you be truly happy? I think if I didn't have a chance to know Jesus, to be a missionary, or to have hope for my future, I really don't know what I'd tell myself when things went wrong. I can't put it into words, and I'm no great writer or speaker to illuminate this idea, but I just want you to feel for a moment, and let the spirit tell you what it'd be like to live in the apostasy.

That is why the Restoration matters. And when people understand that (which is not often) they really understand the need for the Restoration, and they feel a need to know if it's true. I testify that Joseph Smith saw God. Through him the Gospel was restored. I know that God lives, and that families can be forever, and that forgiveness is possible, and that prayers will be answered. And though I'm a missionary, I say that as a normal person, just like you guys or anyone of your friends. It matters to me; I hope it matters to you and to everyone else.

And you all have those friends who are living in the apostasy right now. Their restoration hasn't happened yet. So I invite you to remember the blessings the Lord has given us, rejoice, and tell someone else. I know I'm not a great writer, but listen to the spirit of what I'm trying to say and do it, please.


I never thought I'd be Zone Leader, and now that I am I don't know how you'd do it alone. Especially since we at least have Elder Busby to answer our questions. You were alone. It's been super stressful but really fun. We had time for only 30- minutes of personal study yesterday. I've also noticed I lie awake at night for a long time thinking...We'll see how this all pans out. We may be fired in a month or two.

Brother Chi and his family are doing great. He's getting ready for his baptismal date, but he's going to mainland soon, and we won’t be able to see him for a bit. His biggest challenge is quitting smoking, but he's got such great faith and is so teachable, I think he can do it much more easily than my previous investigators. Oh, by the way, Rachel from NTK got baptized! I heard that a few weeks ago.

The only other guy from CPB ward that we taught this week was A Chung but he changed his name to A Lai just to mess with me. He came to the last 2 hours of church on Sunday and was really interested in Temples. He's a bit flaky sometimes, but he's got really great, pure desire. Hopefully this coming week will be good for him.

I feel like you do in the sense of not being able to keep track of things to fix. We already have so little free time and now it's full of Zone Leader stuff. I have a big goal to read the Book of Mormon in Chinese, I'm now in Words of Mormon, but my time is seriously limited now.


Our Mother's Day call should be on Monday, the 11th, 8:30 am my time. If that doesn't work than find a way, because I'm calling then. It should be about 35-40 minutes long. This will be my last call home. Super weird.

The weather’s finally been getting hot again. Summer is on its way. It's been really humid recently as well. The deodorant you sent last time is actually super effective. You wouldn’t' think it, but Chinese deodorant is really pathetic. It just doesn't work at all. So thank you. I spent like $200 (HKD don't worry) on a wart freezing thing because I've got a couple warts on my hand and I feel like it's awkward to shake hands. Sorry your email is so random, that's just what I had to say. I'll be more sincere on Mother's Day. But I really do love you.


I feel like I started to learn that only a little bit senior year and mostly on my mission, so that will serve you really well if you can really apply that in your life. I think you're a lot more mature than I was when I was your age...

You say you're my equal as if that was a good thing. Odd.


First off, I want to say that I'm glad you weren't hurt in the car crash. I do mean the advice I gave last time, but as I was leaving the library I realized that my little brother (Chinese sai lou) was uninjured in a car crash and I didn't really even express any care. I really am glad you're safe. Keep limping on. Good on the German, keep up the legacy. Leaf blowers? Lawn trimmers? etc?

I can only imagine your exhaustion.


I like how your victory at the tournament is such an expected thing. "Oh, by the way, we got first in everything, so that was nice." Have you ever heard my line of reasoning for why dance is not a sport? It's really not offensive, don't worry. The family we visited on Monday had a young girl, 12 year old, who loved ballet and jazz, so I told her you were better in every way. Just kidding. gong siu je! But it really was like being at home because she kept doing stretches everywhere and randomly standing up during dinner to do pirouettes and jumps.


That was my bread you ate. Mine.
Our area near our house.

 Frozen yogurt place (expensive).

The Yau family (Rebecca, the girl is like you).

 Elder Little is super huge.  I feel very safe with him in our companionship)

Elder Busby