Monday, November 26, 2012

November 26, 2012

I am doing alright, still not sleeping to well. I wake up all the time at night .... Also my bed has bugs again.... Yayyyyy... I got 7 bites on my left foot, 6 on my right foot, some on my legs and some on my arms... I am going to as Sister Hawks about getting a new bed cause my feet hurt right now... Also I get my suit today!!! Finally... They didn't finish it last week, I am super stoked because my current suit is ugly and WAY, WAY to big for me now. I can fit a fist (maybe more) between my waste and the pants.... They are too big...
So there isn't to much going on right now. Wayne was supposed to get baptized this Sunday but  his parents have asked him to wait until he is 18 (he turns 18 this Feb) because they are afraid the church will distract him... Haha sometimes the excuses people make are really lame here. He still comes to church every week so it's not like anything will change... It's okay; his parents aren't against the church at all so that's good. We are still working with him to try and get baptized sooner but we will see. 

Felix is doing great! He is such a great kid; he comes and meets with us almost every other day I think. He asks a TON of deep doctrine questions like in 2nd Nephi and some of the Abinadi parts when he quotes Isaiah .. It's good though because it also helps me and Elder Ward. His parents still haven't said he could get baptized but he hasn't lost faith which is good! 

We also have this newish kid... I called him two weeks ago; he met with the missionaries once then went to mainland for break (this happens A LOT in Hong Kong) then the missionaries couldn't get a hold of him since July but he answered me. We finally met him this last Sunday and he stayed for all three hours of church; he super shy (like most Chinese people at first) but he seems like a great kid. Then there is David. He is a super nice kid but sooooooooooo quite. He actually didn't have an English name so I gave him David because he seemed awesome like my friend David Belnap. He is a very brave kid with his living circumstances; he has shared a lot with me and Ward. We just asked him to prepare to be baptized and he agreed. He still has a long way to go but he is at least willing to try and change. He is pretty awesome!
The area I am serving is where a lot of the businesses are. I serve in Causeway Bay (which it has Wan Chai (where I currently live), North Point, Quarry Bay and one more place). By the way you should just google it, it would be much easier. I spend most my time in Wan Chai because that's where I live but when we go finding it's normally in North Point or Causeway Bay. It's really pretty here. We are on the Island, we have a mountain to the back of us, a bay then we can see Kowloon across the sea. It's a really pretty place I like it a lot. The weather right now is super nice, around 65 F but it has been raining a lot lately which blows because it halts almost all finding possibilities for us in Hong Kong.

(Here is my full Chinese name)
ngaaih suih leuhn
Surname - Billion/Trillion/Infinite - Relationships
That's kind of the translation? lol

Sunday, November 25, 2012

November 18, 2012

Elder Arrington did not include a blog post in his last letter but here are a few answers to general questions we asked.

How is you language? Do you dream in Cantonese yet? what about reading...has that been any easier?
Language is okay, I am getting better but I still have long way to go until I am good. No dreams yet honestly I have had only had two dreams my entire mission. One in the MTC and one here... So no dreams. Reading... Interesting you ask that. They just gave a couple missionaries the new pin-yum (Romanized Cantonese)  Book of Mormon to a couple of  people (2 sets of elders) and its not published yet but we get to use it. So I will start reading the BOM in Chinese soon-ish....

In your letter you said this was your "second move" what did you mean?
A move is a transfer. Every move is 6 weeks. I am on my second move in Causeway Bay (I've been here 9 weeks- so 1 move and 3 weeks).

You never mention much about the other missionaries you live with. Do you battle it out Cantonese or Mandarin is better? What is the primary language there? 
The other elders are pretty cool. They are still Mandarin  We got a new one Elder Burwiser and still elder Bradley. I'm close to Bradley since we are both babies and we both are really good at soccer. We play together and just dominate the pitch haha. The primary language is Cantonese but most people can speak Mandarin because Mandarin is a lot easier than Cantonese.

Were Coco and Silence able to be baptized? How is Felix coming along? You mentioned Wayne as a resurrected investigator- how did you come about him?
Coco Silence and Felix are still working with their parents. Felix is doing great he has such a strong testimony about the church; he is just trying to get his parents to understand why he wants to join. Coco and Silence mum lives in Mainland soooo we can't really help them it's kind of up to them at this point; but they are both great kids and have a ton of faith. Wayne is an old investigator who wants to wait to be baptized on his birthday in Feb but we talked to him and explained waiting to sign your own papers (cause that's why he wants to wait) doesn't make your baptism any more significant. He understood and said he wants to get baptized as soon as possible so next Sunday!

So when you teach discussions you you have an order you go in?
Uhmmm we teach to people's needs soooo if that means by going in order of the lessons we will but often times it isn't  We almost always start by teaching about prayer, who God is, why we need to pray, how to build a relationship with him and kind of go from there.

Where should I have a package sent to? Do you know how long it takes?
The package should be sent to the mission home and it should take like 10 days if you send it by air mail (i think?)

Okay explain how the money thing much do you get a month and what do you have to pay for? How much is a good pizza? you said your suit was 880HK) much is that in America money? 
Money... ahhh ... We get HK$1780 a month (like $235 ish) and that's for food travel and other stuff. Sooo just use a converted things are pretty similar in price we missionaries just don't have a lot of money so we don't get nice food hahah:)

What do you do on Pday? Do you go sight seeing? Will you get the chance to go to Disney Hong Kong? (In Anaheim they let us go to Disneyland once a year).
We don't really do much right now on pday. We travel all over Hong Kong and just do little stuff. Shopping on Ladies street (really famous place you buy fake things), Golden Computer Shop (world famous computer shop) and going to the dirty mall today haha. We can go hiking but with the new rules of always wearing long jeans no one wants to do anything that takes effort... President Hawks is really strict soooo no on the Dinsey thing haha.

November 11, 2012

So Coco and Silence were not able to be baptized this week; we are hoping we can prepare them for the end of the month. They are still super faithful but they haven't talked to their mum about it and their older sister is super anti to the church! So we will see. We also are still teaching Felix, trying to over come the issues with his parents. We also have Wayne a "resurrected" investigator, he wants to wait to be baptized when he is 18 (Feb something) but we are trying to see he needs it now and not to wait. We also have a couple other new investigators but we are waiting to meet with them and see how we progress from there.
The mission right now is going pretty well, my language is getting better but it still sucks. I can't speak well or listen well... Yeah Cantonese... but I have natives helping me a lot so hopefully I can improve quickly. So this is my second move and things are going okay. We have 4 good investigators Felix, Coco, Silence and Wayne. We also have a couple great potentials right now Lohk family, David (and his friends), and a couple others. So overall it's going great. I am getting better at street contacting and phone calls. I hate them both but I am having some success now.
About my food... I make oat meal for breakfast and buy lunch and dinner everyday but Sunday .. Members probably take us out to eat at least once a week. So I'm content with food I guess...

November 4, 2012

This Sunday was my first baptism! Melody was able to be baptized with her parents permission, it was pretty awesome. We had some members of the ward give talks and Elder Ward was able to baptize her. She will receive the Holy Ghost this up coming Sunday at church, it's all been pretty fun here. The work here is still absolutely hard though, I think out of all of the people Ward and I talk to in a day probably 10-15 will give us phone numbers, 2 of those will meet with us again, and 1 will probably actually show up (maybe...). So it's cool to see an actually baptism in my mission already. Elder Ward found her in Fortress Hill, taught for 2 weeks then I came and taught her for the last 6, this is Elder Wards first full find/teach/baptism. He was pretty happy about that.
Things I miss from America... Well, my Family, my friends and diary products... They seem like such a trivial thing but in China/HK there aren't many dairy farms just chillen. Milk, yogurt, cheese and pizza are all pretty expensive. You can't really find REAL milk here but except at a few place but even then it's not even good; so I drink a lot of soy milk (which sucks). Just to show you how expensive dairy product are; a thing of 4 Greek yogurts is like HK$120 so about $15... It's not that bad but for a missionary it's to much. The weather here beats America's at the moment (the summer here sucks) it's only like 69 F to 73 F with a breeze so it's not to bad. I kind of just miss food and music really... I miss Mexican food sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo much but apparently there is a Mexican buffet here for HK$60 so we might try that out today!
My language is coming along but it's not very good. I don't have a lot of time to study because we are always out so I just talk to people and don't understand anything... Not much help there. Being immersed helps but at the same time it doesn't; it's pretty intimidating at times. I really hope it starts changing because a lot of the time I just feel like a I waste peoples time because I take forever to talk.
In our mission we make a lot of phone calls (and texting) because that's the only way to reach people. It's to inconvenient to go to someones house; plus everyone's house is small so it's uncomfortable to have everyone there. We basically contact people on the street try to teach a lesson or get a real phone number to call them back at. The biggest frustration here is the people always act like they are sooooo busy. They have school and tutoring; most kids don't have jobs or play on sports teams. They always make excuse about how busy they are and Americans don't understand... I had college classes, 2 soccer teams, a job (for a while), church, friends and I still had time to do stuff... These kids need to make better excuses because they are just getting stupider and stupider -___-''

October 28, 2012

So about the baptism. Melody had to delay hers to Nov 4th because the bishop said so. She got her parents to sign the slip (because she is 16) but he found out they know nothing about our church and wants her to go back and educate them. Bishop Sihk is a super strong leader and is an amazing guy so we trust him. Felix was suppose to get baptized Oct 28 but last Wednesday he told us his mum said no (he is 21 so technically he doesn't need their permission  but we wanted to wait). We didn't want to cause a rift in the family this last Sunday Elder Ward got the impression he will be able to get baptized this next Sunday Nov 4th (the same as Melody) so hopefully he is right. Melody and Felix have such a strong testimony its unbelievable. When Felix told us he couldn't get baptized he almost broke down in front of us it was crazy, he really knows this is true and wants to be apart of it. Coco and Silence (suppose to be baptized Nov 11th) are progressing just find and shouldn't have any problems; they still haven't talked to their mum so we are trying to get them to do it now instead of the last minute like Melody and Felix.
Two things about the mission... I absolutely HATE finding (street contacting) and phone calls. I hate talking to random people because I CAN'T SAY ANYTHING... I'm like "how are you" "did you just get out of school?" "have you seen missionaries before"....blah blah its sooo awkward and I feel like I scare them off because I am a weird white guy  or they laugh at me and its all chill. Then phone calls (like calling potential investigators back) its terrible. Phone service in Hong Kong is not great so it's hard to hear them and they talk SO FREAKING FAST and I talk so then they hang up... A lot of the time when they hear hello I am a missionary the line instantly cuts dead haha. It's funny but super frustrating to go find and make phone calls. Elder Ward is soooooooooooooooo freaking good at both its ridiculousness  He can stop anyone and he can talk on the phone with anyone forever! He talked to a less active for 2 hours and really built a connection with her. I can't even talk for 10 minutes.... Eh it's all good just two things I have to get use to because that's the majority of my mission.
Our ward is cool. There are roughly 60 - 70 active people (technically a branch, 100 active is a ward but for some reason we are called a ward right now) we have about 100 inactive members in our ward. In our ward we have 4 young men, 5 young women, 5 - 6 high priest, and I think 10 -18 elders (and all their wives and children). Our ward loves the missionaries they bring food for us to church every Sunday  like this last Sunday we got cereal (which I miss), milk (I miss American milk soooooo much), candy, snacks and some ramen <3. Our ward is pretty great we still need to get a bit closer with them though.
My language is just hard and I have to accept it. I am starting to improve a lot in this last week more then this whole move. We have sister missionaries in our ward and they are native and told me that this last week I have improved a lot. So hopefully by Christmas I can understand fully and speak 50%; because around January to late December time I should get a new companion.

October 21, 2012

Things are going fine in Causeway Bay. We have our first baptism coming up this Sunday and his name is Felix. He is my first "real" investigator who I have helped teach from the very beginning. We also are having Melody's baptism the week after that Nov 4th and then Coco + Silence (Sister and brother) getting baptized Nov 11th. So there is a lot of good work going on in Hong Kong. It's really exciting except when they all get baptized we will have to go find new investigators; which really sucks in Hong Kong. I think I have already talked to 3000+ people and all we have are these four progressing investigators.
Missionary work is an interesting life style. I tend to be happy all day when I am out working, studying, teaching and everything else but as soon as Pday email comes or I think about home at night I get a sick feeling in my stomach. I don't know if that is home sickness or fear of being here for two years... I realized I have almost hit 5 months on my mission; Dec 5th is my 1/4 mark and I feel as if I haven't done anything and have seen no progression in my life. I mean small things have changed like I never cuss, I don't say words like retard or gay that often, or get caught up in sports but over all I don't feel a change in my person. I try very hard to get lost in studying in the scriptures (in the last week I read Nephi to Mosiah and Alma 40 to end of the book) and doing my best in my work here but at the end of the day I don't feel like much has changed with in me or my life. I don't know. This mission isn't really what I expected it to be either; no one can really prepare you for this. I have never worked so hard in my life for nothing in return; I could work as hard as I could from when I wake up at 6:30 am until I go to bed at 10:30 pm and have absolutely no success. Then at the end of the day all I can think about is "What did I do wrong?" "Why can't I speak well?" "Do I even have the spirit when I taught?" or stuff like that. I think a lot about the quote, "Do your duty, that is the best, leave unto the Lord the rest." I know I am trying my hardest and I need to be patient with myself but I feel as if this is completely pointless 98% of the time. No one cares here and just to show you: 1/4 members here are inactive; there are 20,000 members in Hong Kong but only 5,3XX are active. How can you help someone who doesn't care? Although I am currently seeing a lot of success in my area, it's due to Elder Ward and Elder Liu (his old companion) not me. I haven't found anyone willing to listen and I have been here 5 weeks. I will talk to a 200 people a day when I go finding and no really cares, they put a fake smile on and nod nicely to me.
A mission is a great opportunity to grow and I see how with all the issues you face but I also see how it can crush some people. I tend to be stubborn so I don't think I will be one who gets crushed but I know this mission is going to be very hard for me.
I love you all very much and didn't realize what I had back home. College was a pointless experience as far as making me a man and seeing the importance of life. I have seen and heard things that could crush a man's heart. The fear and doubt people have in Hong Kong is no different than America, people can't afford things and can't help their families, some people leave their families when it gets hard, suicide is high here, everyone wants a future they can't have especially for their children, and no one really has hope anymore. Life is depressing, hard and strenuous but I know it can be happy from what I have seen in our home. I thank you for that and should have known that sooner than now being almost 20 years old.

October 17, 2012

My ward is super amazing. There is about 60 active members (maybe more?) and they are all super awesome. They all love to help with the missionary work, we have members almost always present at every single lesson, they go finding with us and they give us a lot of food! Bishop Sihk is super great he is an amazing leader and helps plan with us on how to use our ward better to find new investigators and to befriend our current ones. His family also is one of the key members who helps us with our missionary work he has four kids (girl 16 Celeste, son 14 Enoch, girl 12, girl 10) they are super cool.
So about the food situation here in Hong Kong... I almost never cook food, I think I have cooked maybe 5 to 8 times since I been here. We are WAY to busy to stop and cook; so we either eat out, eat with investigators/members or we just don't eat (and that tends to happen a lot... Actually I didn't have dinner last night or breakfast today hahaha). I like a lot of the food here cha-seui-faan [HK$ 26] (chAW-sew-fon) its like BBQ/fried pork; missionaries tend to eat it a lot because its cheap, taste good and fills you up! We also eat a lot of noodles [HK$15], McDonald's (ew, a big mac combo is HK$21), these bread donut things [HK$12 - 17] and some other foods. I have had some weird stuff since I have been here. I have eaten chicken feet, pig's knuckles and a lot of other stuff I'm not sure what it is... So normally I just close my eyes and eat it and hope it's good... Normally it's good... Normally. (The Mandarins that live with us tend to eat out with us because we study, work, and live with each other. It's a lot of fun, we are all really close friends already.)
Elder Ward and I have four AMAZING investigators. Felix (21 college student been teaching him 4 weeks), Melody (16 Form 5 student been teaching her for 6 weeks), Coco (19 Form 6 Student been teaching for 3 weeks) and Silence (Coco's younger brother 18 form 5 student). Felix and Melody are getting baptized Oct 28th and Coco and Silence are getting baptized Nov 4th or 11th. They all are progressing so quickly they all went to general conference with us last Sunday and Felix went to EVERY SINGLE SESSION.... My investigators are sooo cool. They also are all best friends; me and Ward got them to hang out with us during some lessons/activities and now they are all hang out. It's super crazy how much success we are having in Causeway Bay. Hopefully it continues this way.
Last thing before I go; I had a cool experience. In Hong Kong you don't go door to door obviously so to find people you do pull-in's, finding on the street or receive referrals. I absolutely hate doing findings because my Chinese is pretty poor. However this week we had exchanges/Zone Finding. I had known about this so I prayed all day asking for help to teach one person by myself (because normally I just say hi then let Elder Ward take over). So I found my temp companion was my ZL Elder Parry... We were to go find in TKO and the first hour I tried my hardest to stop people on the street in the middle of a huge city. I had some success, I handed out a couple of flyers and got some numbers but I still hadn't taught a lesson after the first hour. I had almost 30 to 40 minutes left and neither me or Parry had a lesson yet. (You have lesson when you teach someone something and it starts with an opening prayer and ends with prayer.) So I prayed in my heart to find ANYONE who would just listen to me and Parry. I saw kid and decided to talk to him, he had just walked out of his school building. I came up to him and did our little introduction. Asked him his name (Keith), introduced ourselves, asked if he had seen missionaries, told him our purpose is to help people and teach about Jesus Christ and a couple other things. Right as I finished that two of his friends showed up, so I did it again and another kid came up... I was teaching four 16/15 year old at once, and this was my first street lesson by myself... I look at Parry kind of giving him a look of "you can take over, I don't wanna screw up." He just smiles and looks into the distance... Leaving the lesson to me. By this time Keith's brother shows up and now I am up to five people listening to me half speak Chinese... Most of them didn't seem to interested but Keith so I really focused on him, I taught him why we needed to pray, how and asked him if he was willing to try to pray right now on the street. He actually did... So I began a quick lesson of why we pray and how it can strengthen our relationship with God and some other things. Then I asked Keith who he wanted to pray me, Parry or one of his friends. He chose me... So I said an awkward little Chinese prayer. I got all their numbers and instead of just teaching one person as my goal, I some how managed to teach 5... So that is probably one of the coolest experiences I've had here, with God giving me a small little blessing. 

October 10, 2012

So about Pday its on Thursday Hong Kong time BUT as of Oct 22nd (HK time) pdays will be on Mondays. So look for that change. 

Everyone in my apartment is white so we normally speak English because they can't really speak Cantonese and we can't really speak Mandarin. Although Elder Ward actually can speak some Mandarin but he has a Cantonese accent when he speaks. I don't know any Mandarin anymore - I can remember words but I can't speaks soooo I don't use it. When I teach with the Mandarin missionaries we both just speak our Chinese language so they speak Mandarin and we speak Cantonese because most people in Hong Kong can speak Cantonese, Mandarin and know English pretty well. I do use English a lot but not really when I teach.

We taught during the festival but most of the town was shut down but that means most people are free, so we visited less actives, members and some investigators during the entire festival. It was pretty hectic.

We have 5 progressing investigators now and we lost some due to their personal choices. We have Coco, Silence (Coco's brother), Melody, Felix and Dung Hingdaih.

I have done some soccer finding where I play with kids but normally we play from 7 to 7:30 in the morning but its normally Elders with a few kids so its pretty fun.

The only thing we aren't allowed to eat on our mission is raw food like sushi and some other fish food but everything else is find. It really more depends on what you can handle because some people just loose their stomachs with certain stuff soooo yeah. 

That's about it for the mission, I am not really sure on what else to say. Not much has changed but I get caught up with the fact I can't speak or understand Chinese, or no one will listen or people just bash our church and I can't defend because I don't know Chinese. This mission is an interesting one. There is a lot of success but there is also a lot more failure. Hopefully I see change soon because sometimes I feel like a lot of the work done here is pointless because no one does anything with our message. Just have to keep a smile on my face and enjoy it for what it is.

October 4, 2012

A typical day here in Hong Kong is waking up at 6:45 and playing soccer from 7 to 7:40 every morning. Then we study scriptures with our investigator Horace from 7:40 to 8:00 (ish). Then we run home and shower, hopefully we get back by 8:30 then we have personal study from 8:30 (ish) to 9:30 (ish) then we have companionship study from 10:00 to 12:00pm. We normally get lunch then come back to the church building and do language study from 12:00 to 1:00. After that the schedule can be about anything; normally we do a lot of teaching here because we have 6 progressing investigators (16 total investigators) but we also do a lot of finding and pull-backs. We teach, find, do pull backs, make calls, work with members until about 10pm everyday. There is a lot of work here in Hong Kong and we travel a lot here. I am on the MTR (light rail here), riding a bus or walking all the time from 1pm to 10pm; its amazing. One thing I do love about the living in the city/island is the shade from the tall buildings and the breeze from the ocean/canal! Its hot and humid but not to terrible.
This last weekend was the Mid-Autumn Festival, it was freaking crazy.... It was more packed then Washington DC during the 4th of July fireworks 3 years ago! Last Saturday we met with an investigator named Roodey for dinner (during the festival) at the most amazing Thai restaurant. Then we went to his flat taught him and his friend a quick lesson and then watched the festival from his flat. I saw fireworks, ate a TON of moon cake, ate tradition fruit (star fruit, dragon fruit, pomanelo, and a couple others), watched the dragon dance (has a boy made of incense and was 100 meters long!) and got to see some other stuff. It was pretty awesome, I came at a good time! I cant even imagine Chinese New Years.
A little more about my living situation. Its the size of two of my dorm rooms from college... so really small. We have four missionaries sleeping in one room, a nonexistent kitchen, a small toilet/shower and a small living room. Even though there is no room its not that bad because everyone in my apartment is pretty awesome. Elder Ward my companion as I have said before is awesome, we his pretty relaxed but organized so its fun living with him. The other companionship we live with are Mandarin Elders named Wright and Bradley. Wright has been out 14 months, he is a trainer and he is from Utah. He is super fun, really good at basket ball and pretty chill; he also is an amazing teacher. I have taught with him a couple times it was a lot of fun. Elder Bradley is also a baby like me but he has been in training for 7 weeks so he was the district that left right before me. He is really smart, he knows a ton of Mandarin already, he is pretty awesome at soccer (we do soccer finding all the time and bring kids in with our awesome skills haha), and has an amazing comprehension of the Book of Mormon and Bible. Over all I think I came into a really good group of friends for my first move here in the mission!
My Chinese is coming a little faster, I am starting to understand a bit more of the conversations but I am still a long ways off from being fluent. I really hope it comes sooner than later because it is really frustrating having something to share but not being able to express it or not having a comprehension of what they are trying to say to you. Meeting new people on the streets is one of the hardest things for me not because I have a problem with being bold but rather I don't know what to say or I can't express what I want to say. It's really demoralizing but I know I can get it, I just got to forget about it for right now and realize I still have 18 months(ish) to become perfect at this.