Friday, December 31, 2010

A flower show in Fanling on 12/28, updated w/ more pics on 1/4

   On our way home from the temple, we decided to stop to see the flower show just west of the Fanling subway station.  It was about 4 PM when we got there (temple schedule was 7:30 am - 3 pm that day), but there was still a big crowd since it was the last day of the show.

   What we saw was very amazing.  Elwin took a bunch of pictures for your viewing pleasure.  I missed posting a bunch of the bonsi trees.  They were so pretty.  You have to see them.  Also, the orchards were out of this world.  All so pretty.



Thursday, December 30, 2010

Ventured out to China

    Thursday, 12/30, was our day off, so we took a trip to Shenzhen, China.  Actually, we live in a town called Fanling, in the New Territories, which is only 2 MTC train stops away from the border.  We were in Shenzhen two years ago when we went to Hong Kong for a China Teachers' Conference, but it was a very short visit then.   So we looked forward to going back for a visit.

    We left at 10 AM and got to the border in no more than 10 minutes.  We already got our visas when we were at home in the US, so it didn't take very long to get through the Immigration to go into China.  What we saw when we got out of the Customs/Immigration building was amazing. 

    Luohu Commercial City Mall is one of the worlds' most intense shopping experiences, over 700 shops are squeezed into seven floors. Everything you can imagine is for sale, but clothing and custom tailoring are the biggest ...  There must be at least 100 stalls of fabric shops tightly clustered together.  Electronics, nail salons, arts and crafts, massage places, you name it, it's there.  They are so eager to do business with you.  Elwin and I went in to have foot massage or reflexology for RMB$35 each, but they asked for $15 tip each.  So, it came to about US$7.50 each.  Not bad, is it?  After all the walking we have done since we came here, it was a great relief!  Wish it were around the corner though.

    We even ventured out to find WalMart.  We were there 2 years ago, but had no idea where it was, but after some investigation, we took a city bus and found it.  WalMart carried a lot of things they do in the States, but not everything.  It was fun to be there.  Things were a lot cheaper in China than in Hong Kong.  We carried 3 bagful of grocery home.  Well, Elwin did.  Bless him.  We stopped at another grocery store and found pigeons in the cages by the meat department.  Hmmm...what are they doing with the live birds there? 

    We had lunch at the mall and loved their mapou tofu and rice noodle dishes.  They were close to what Taiwanese foods taste like.  May be that's why we liked it.

    It was a fun day, but sure not worth the money they charge for the visas to go in to China though.  It's gone up from $30 for multiple entry visa to $140 for multiple entry if you are lucky as most Americans were given only single entry visas even though they protested.  We were so glad to know ahead of time to get the visas before we left for Hong Kong.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas Luncheon

President and Sister Aki treated all the temple staff to a wonderful lunch buffet at the Quan Dong Restaurant.  It was so interesting to see what kind of foods they had there.  About every 30 minutes or so, the waitress would bring in a big platter of salmon fillets.  People would crowd around and fill up their plates.  This is raw sashimi.  I hope no one gets sick from eating so much raw fish.  There was a grill station, but the lady would not grill my salmon because, as she said, it was only for beef and pork grills.  Nice try, Sister Davis!

It was fun to get to know the people you work with each day at a relaxed atmosphere.


Christmas Celebrations


     The LDS Church puts on a Christmas Devotional each year.  Watching the devotional helped Elwin and me catch the spirit of Christmas.  If you haven't watched it yet, it's worth the time as the Spirit is strong there.  The Bishops, fellow temple missionaries from Utah, invited us to watch it with them a week ago.  We were glad we did.  If the link above doesn't work for you, you can go straight to and click on the Christmas devotional and watch it there.

     Other than the 4 temple missionary couples, there are also at least a dozen senior office missionaries at the Asian Church Office.  We see them once a month at the monthly activity night.  We also see some of them as they volunteer to work at the Temple.  One of the couples from Idaho, the Taylors, hosted 3 Christmas parties to accommodate all the senior missionaries (three parties because the apartments are so small that even 5 or 6 couples make it a tight squeeze).  We were invited to the 1st of the 3 on Wednesday, Dec. 22.  At the Taylor's Christmas gathering, we sang a song that goes with the tune of Jingle Bells and reminded me of my life in December back home:

"Dashing through the house, a million things to do.
Got to get the shopping done, and make the fruitcake, too.
Christmas Carols ring, making spirits bright.
It's time for peace and joy on earth, so why am I up-tight?"

    There are 9 more verses that describe the holidays that should not have been.  So, I'm especially grateful that we did our Christmas over Thanksgiving and now am really enjoying the holidays with friends. 

      On Christmas Eve, we attended a concert at the Tsuen Wan City Concert Hall.  It was an LDS singing group and very well attended by mostly church members.  The missionaries were able to bring their investigators to the concert, so it was a good effort for missionary work.  We had dinner at the mall by the concert hall and it was very nice.  The bus ride was about an hour each way, so we didn't get home until after 11 that night.  

     On Christmas day, we, the 4 senior couple temple missionaries, gathered at the Bishop's apartment and had brunch together.  Elder Bishop made a ham and egg casserole, the Wilson's and the Arnell's brought fruits, rolls and breads.  We made wassail, carrot cake and even found some small mince meat pies at a local store for the occasion.  (Elwin was especially delighted to have the mince meat pie because he says "What's a Christmas dinner without mince meat pie?")  After eating, we watched the video of our children that our daughter I-Shuan put together for us for Christmas.  Then we played a couple games, and exchanged white elephant gifts.  But there were more things to do... 

    We then headed to Kowloon Tong to watch a movie.  Since it's a holiday in Hong Kong, it was crowded everywhere.  We couldn't get the tickets for Narnia, but were able to get in to see "Gulliver's Travels".  After the movie we had dinner at EXP, a pasta restaurant.  Elwin had Thai prawn fried rice and I had baked sea bass on a bed of rice.  Others had pasta dishes.  :-)  It was very festive, but I missed being with our children and grandchildren so much.  

    We are so grateful that I-Shuan called after we got home on Christmas night when it was Christmas morning in Oregon.  Nelson and his family called us using Skype on Christmas Eve in Hong Kong, or Christmas "Adam" in Utah.  It was so good to see them.  Thanks for getting a webcam for the occasion.  We talked to Kong and Cami before that, too, and were so happy to see them and the boys.  Max kept on trying to crawl up to the screen.  He missed his Baba so much, and we missed them all too.  Kong and Cami drove up to Sandy, and Cami's dad picked them up and drove them up to Wyoming for Christmas.  There was so much snow that they would have had a hard time driving up there.  Thanks, Wilson's.  We haven't had a chance to talk to Elaine and her family as they were traveling to Virginia to be with David' siblings.  We finally heard from them this morning that they were snowed in and had very limited internet connectivity.  They are safe and sound.  We are grateful for that as most of you know traveling during Christmas can be very stressful.

     Monday is a half day at the Temple, so Elwin and I are supposed to be at the Temple by 6:30 AM, meaning catching the train at 5:40.  But we finish at 1 PM affording us to see the Nut Cracker's Suite at 2:30.  We are looking forward to it.  As I said, life is busy here.  But then, you could put us anywhere and we'll find ourselves busy digging holes.  :-)

     Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all our friends and relatives!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Temple Schedule

For the benefit of those who might be contemplating coming to Hong Kong for a visit, here is the temple schedule:

1.  The temple is closed Sundays and Mondays, except for Dec. 22 and Dec. 27 (half days).
2. Maintenance closings:  June 20-July 4, and Nov. 28-Dec. 12.
3. Other dates closed:  Jan. 1, Feb. 2-4, Apr. 9, Oct. 8, and Dec. 24.

Temple Phone #:  (852) 2339-8100
#2 Cornwall Street, Kowloon Tong, Hong Kong, China

Sunday, December 12, 2010

shoppers' world (updated 12/16)

    Hong Kong is known as the shopping mecca of the world for a long time until China's large cities started competing.  But, still, it's a great place for bargain shopper like me.
   Our apartment is right next to the Fanling Mall.  When we come down from our 26th floor, the guard (yes, the place has a doorman/woman on guard 24/7), there is the Seven-Eleven next door, a spa, a buffet restaurant, then the mall with hundreds of stores.  To go to the MTR subway station, about a 10-minute walk, if we go through the mall, we'd go pass at least 3 or 4 bakeries, several restaurants, shops for anything you can imagine, dim sum fast food, smoothie shops, 2 grocery stores...the list goes on.  It's hard to be on a diet here when temptations abound.

    We do a lot of our grocery shopping at the "park and shop" at Fanling Mall where one can find a lot of western food products.  To give you a little idea of the cost, a 6-oz Yoplait yogurt is US$1.50, a quart of milk is HK$20 or US$2.57, a bag of 24-oz oakmeal is US$4, a stick of butter is US$2.57, 4 slices of multi-grain bread US$1.30.  As you can see, western type of foods are available, but quite expensive, but fruits and vegetables are fresh and inexpensive.  One of the images below is that of a "dragon apple" with red skin outside with white and sesame seed like black spots inside.  It wasn't as sweet, so I didn't like it very much.  But star fruit is great and mangoes are plenty.  I saw several different kinds of fruits that I grew up with in Taiwan.  It was exciting. 

    There are shopping centers at each area/district.  Some are world famous, such as Stanley's Market, Tsim Sha Tsui, the Nathan Road shops, Mong Kok, Kowloon Tong, to name a few.  Elwin and I stopped at Ikea and picked up a few household items for the apartment.  The only thing is whatever you buy, you have to carry it home.  Consequently, we bought most of our stuff right by the apartment if they are available.  Carrying heavy bags can be hazardous to ones health as we experienced in China.  Not having a car to go places probably is one of the biggest adjustments for Americans here.  We are quite spoiled, aren't we?
    There are more pictures to upload.  So please come back to this page to check for updates.  Please leave a comment so I know who's been visiting our blog.

Our first week in Hong Kong

    Yes, we got through our first week here.  It's been GREAT!  We work with a group of very special people in the temple.  First, our fellow senior missionaries are great, and they take very good care of us!  Their help has been invaluable.  They took us on the MTR (subway) to the temple, to church, to markets, to anywhere we needed to go.  They are the Wilson's, the Bishop's, and the Arnell's, all from Utah.  Their dedication to their work as temple missionaries is exemplary.  What a blessing to know them and work with them.

    Since we are in training the first week, our schedule has been a little different.  Monday is always P-day, Tuesday and Wednesday we worked from 8 AM to 3 PM.  Thursday and Friday, we worked from 2:15 to 9:15 PM.  Since it takes about an hour of traveling each way, we are exhausted when we get back to the apartment.

    Can anyone expect to have a better place to go than to the temple each day?  I have had to pinch myself a few times because I'm not sure it is for real.  We are so happy doing what we are doing serving those people who come to the temple.  We were especially thrilled to have met several members from Mainland China.  Their love of the gospel touches me each day we meet them.

   This week three (church) sisters traveled from a branch of the Church between Shanghai  and Nanjing to be patrons for a week.  We guess that the distance is seven to eight hundred miles away.  They brought their genealogies with them so that their ancestors could also share in the same blessings we have in being together as families in the hereafter.  We find it somewhat overwhelming to see the sacrifices they make to travel so far.  When we think about how much we have and how little effort we sometimes make, these faithful saints who look up to us make us feel very humble indeed.   

   Elwin and I are learning our work in Mandarin Chinese so as to be able to communicate with our patrons from Mainland China.  We are also assigned to attend Sunday services in a Mandarin Chinese Branch in Wan Chai on Hong Kong Island, south of us.  We take the "blue" line MTR from Fanling to Hung Hom, then walk through the station for about 10 minutes and down the steps to take Bus #104.  The bus takes us through the Harbor Tunnel and a couple of stops later, we are at the vicinity of the Wan Chai Chapel.  This is probably the most expensive area in Hong Kong with financial institutions.

   The church office building houses several wards and branches from first to 7th floor.  The 8th to 10th floors are the church offices and apartments housing Area General Authorities.  It's simple but also magnificent.  We were there for the senior missionaries activity night and the night view was unbelievable.  There are many senior couples working at the church office building.  Most of them were there as volunteers and a few others who are church employees working on buildings and/or other projects.

   Over all, this has been an eye opening week.  We feel very blessed to be here.   


    Every Monday is our P-Day (preparation day).  Hey, I bet all of the missionaries look forward to p-days.  You get to wear casual clothes, watch a movie, or any fun things you do within mission rules.  I wonder what our 4 children did on their p-days when they were on their missions.  It would be fun to compare...

    On our P-Day, we started out with a hike with the Bishops.  We met at 7 AM and headed up Butterfly Mountain that is not too far away, but within walking distance from our apartment.  The hill side is covered with cemeteries, bushes and trees.  I'm sure that it would cost an arm and a leg to get a plot there with fantastic views we saw.  But the story is quite different.  One hiker who spoke some Mandarin Chinese told us that people would claim a spot for their deceased and build the grave site.  The government couldn't do anything about it because of the sacredness of burials.  I'm not sure if this still holds true, but is interesting.

   The hike is moderate (30 to 45 degrees) with paved trails all the way up.  Every half a mile or so, there is either a pagoda with benches for us to rest or a trail going off to either side of the trail if you don't want to climb on up.  Some steep areas have steps, others have concrete tracks so the hikers won't slide, especially if it's raining.  I know my hiking friends from St. George would love this.  The views are super.  Here is a slideshow of the hiking trail.  I'd love for my hiking buddies to come with me.

    Other things we do on P-dys include shopping, cleaning up the apartment, and rest.  So far, we haven't had much time to rest.  Even though the apartment is small, it's taking a lot of time trying to organize things.  But, that's what P-days are for.

    We are hoping to be able to do some sightseeing when things settle down.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

first few days...

     Saturday, Dec. 4 was a special day as the Wilson's took us on MTR subway to the temple in Kowloon Tong where we received orientation from President and Sister Aki.  President Aki admonished us to do 3 things:  take care of your health, take care of your health, and take care of your health.  We felt the spirit of love and respect.  How special that we are called to serve in the house of the Lord.  We'll most likely be helping the members from mainland China.  A group of 180 youth came to visit the temple from Shenzhen a few weeks ago.  Next week, there will be visitors from Singapore and Thailand.  We are so thrilled to hear this.

     The patron's housing is across the street from the temple.  The brand new building has a chapel, cultural hall, classrooms on the first floor and an housing area on the 2nd floor.  The kitchen is humongous to accommodate members from various areas of Asia.  Many visitors come from Mongolia and travel 3 days on the train to come to visit the temple.  Then it would take another 3 days on the train to go home. Others fly in from India, Singapore, Pakistan, Thailand; far away distance-wise, but not time-wise.   It's going to be a special experience for us to serve these people. 

     On Sunday, Susan Bishop took us to Wan Chai to attend church.  We took the MTR (Metropolitan Transit Railway) to Hong Hom, then bus 104 under the bay.  It took about 45 minutes.  We are assigned to attend Victoria branch, Mandarin Chinese speaking.  There were several wards and branches meeting in this big office building, and it was so interesting to see so many people seemingly from everywhere.  We already love the people there.  It's going to be a fun learning experience.

At Home in Hong Kong

     The two Hong Kong senior missionary couples, the Wilson's and the Bishop's, worked tirelessly to find us an apartment, or a flat, here in Hong Kong.  They found us a newly renovated flat in Fanling, New Territories in Kowloon.  When the Aki's, the Temple President and his wife, brought us to the apartment, the Wilson's and the Bishop's were here to welcome us.  They, along with the temple staff, had come and spent a lot of time cleaning up the flat for us.  They furnished the apartment, stuffed the pantries with food, refrigerator with milk, OJ, vegetables and fruits.  It was so wonderful.  We can not express our thanks to them enough.

    Here are the addresses of our house.  If you are sending us a card, please use the first one which comes right to our apartment.  If you are sending a package, please send it to the temple on Cornwall Street. 
2608 (Flat 8, 26th Floor) Block G
33 San Wan Road
Fanling, NT, Hong Kong

the Temple address for postal service:
               #2 Cornwall Road
               c/o Hong Kong China Temple
               Kowloon-Tong, Kowloon
               Hong Kong, China

We arrived in Hong Kong

   It took us 26 hours from St. George, Utah to Hong Kong.  The actual flying time was about 18 hours, with about 7 hours of layover time in Salt Lake, San Francisco, and Taipei.
Hong Kong International Airport

San Francisco Airport
     After a 14-hour nonstop flight from San Francisco, we arrived in Taipei on Thursday at 8:15 AM.  We crossed the International Dateline and lost almost a day there.  Taipei airport was big and friendly.  Afterall, I was home.  But the air was very polluted.  Below is a picture of the sunrise I took from the airplane as we were landing.
Sunrise in Taoyuan, Taiwan (very polluted)

Eva Airlines - we had deluxe seating, but Elwin had to fold up a couple times to fit.
     We arrived in Hong Kong at 10 AM on Thursday.  President and Sister Aki and Brother Lai were there to greet us and took us to our new home.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Saying good-bye to our family

    It had to be the hardest thing to do - say good-bye to our family before leaving for the mission in Hong Kong.

     We planned something to do almost everyday.  Hiking was on the top of the list.  The kids got to see the new Harry Potter movie.  Of course, there was tons of food.  Everyone complained that they've gained weight.  Well, that was why grandma planned all the hikes.

     Then it was time to say good-bye!

@ the St. George Airport

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

major hiccup but now resolved

    The countdown was on...finally we loaded up and made our 7-minute trek to St. George airport to start our journey to Hong Kong.  We had four 50 lb suitcases, 4 carry-on bags and were full of enthusiasm and excitement.
    Can't believe how this happened, but when we got to the airport, we could not find our passports.  They were sitting snugly in Elwin's shirt pocket all day with the printed boarding passes.  They were no where to be found.  Kong and Cami went home to look for the passports for us thinking that we might have left them on the dresser by mistake.  But, nothing.  The staff at the St. George airport were the nicest and most helpful people.  But, still, the passports were no where to be found.  Finally, the lady at the counter changed the schedule to a day later.  But we still weren't able to find the passports. 

    We have been on bended knees and know they will appear soon.  I had put the passports in a ziplock bag in our special pouch in the purse, but decided that Elwin would handle the paperwork this time.  We had some errands to run before going to the airport.  So we thought they might have slipped out of Elwin's pocket without him knowing it.  We have backtracked and will again stop at the banks to see if anyone had picked them up. 

    I did my morning hike first, and felt good at the top of the "gap trail" behind our house.  On top of what we called the Relief Society Rock, I prayed.  It was quite a morning as Elwin and I went out looking for the lost passports.  St. George has to be the nicest place to live because of its people.  Everywhere we went, people stopped their work and helped us.  But, still no passports.  We took a break and went to the St. George Temple.  It was there we felt the solace and assurance that things would work out.  Elwin unpacked the four 50 lb suitcases and carefully checked each and then repacked them; he was frustrated but calm.  At 2 PM, he said that he was going out to the car and look again.  Within a few minutes, he was back with the passports.  Hallelujah!  We surmise that the ziplock bag had slipped out of Elwin's pocket when he was loading the suitcases.  He had to put down the 3rd row seat and the bag/passports had fallen in between the seats.  The passports were at the airport when were there; we just didn't know where!  What a relief!  We were worried that we would have to replace them and the visas (the one to China mainland is very expensive and we were fortunate to get them for a year); it would also mean that we would have to wait for new documents in order to go.  As it is, we were only delayed for a day.    As our new friend Helga in Hong Kong said:  Satan sure is trying hard to stop you from coming.  How true!  Glad we won.

We are now at SFO.  Our second trip to the St. George airport went flawlessly.  Kong, Cami and the kids sent us off.   When we got to SLC we exited one plane, walked to the adjacent concourse and got on the flight to SFO.  In SFO we went to retrieve our four humongous suitcases and requested the help of an airport worker; he got a cart and hefted the bags onto the cart.  He then took us to the International terminal and to EVA airlines; no waiting!  We got our boarding passes and headed for security.  We got body scanned.  Our plane for Taipei leaves in an hour and fifteen minutes on EVA airlines, a Taiwan carrier.  We

    As much as we don't want challenges, this experience taught us many lessons.  Love, humility and patience can conquer all.

    Thanks for those who heard of our plight and prayed for us.  We love you and thank you! 

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Thanksgiving before going to Hong Kong

It's hard to believe we'll be leaving in two days.  The last few days have been so much fun.  Thank goodness for family.  Sister Alice from LA came Monday, 11/22, daughter Elaine, her husband and their 5 children came on 11/23, so did sister Ling (from Spokane) and her husband, Stan, their daughter CayeLing and Paul (Provo) and their two children.  Nelson and Hilary with their 3 kids came on Thanksgiving morning, braving the sub-zero temperature, but no snow.  We had a blast.  Since I-Shuan and her family couldn't come, we skyped each other.  What a fun day!

 Hiking at Snow Canyon Mountains, the Gap Trail
Thanksgiving with family

Because we'll miss Christmas here in the US, we decided to opening Christmas presents on Thanksgiving night.  No one objected.  The children had a great time and I'm so glad it's done so I don't have to worry about it.  Thanks for all the sweet gifts from our children.  Cami spent days, weeks to make a beautiful hand-made quilt with oriental theme.  It's exquisite!  Megumi, with the help of her aunt I-Shuan made us a beautiful Christmas chain with faces of each grandchild on each link.  Beautiful!  What a great send-off from everyone!

Everyone will be gone by mid-day Saturday, except for Ling.  She offered to stay to help me finish packing, clean up the house and tie up the loose ends.  What a sister!  I'm so lucky to have super sisters, great husband, great children and grandchildren.  What more can I ask for?  I'm so grateful.

Our minds go back to preparing for our mission in Hong Kong.  Will keep you posted.

Hope y'all have a great Christmas Season!

E/S Davis

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving Cliparts and Graphics




Also, try this recipe that I got from my friend, Doris.  She invited the Posse (the hiking ladies) to come to her house for breakfast and as a farewell.  We all had a great time.  Doris served Creme Brulee French Toas).  The best ever.  Here is the recipe.  (my modification:  use a cookie sheet with rim instead of the 13x9.)


½ CUP UNSALTED BUTTER                                             5 LARGE EGGS
1 CUP PACKED BROWN SUGAR                         1 ½ CUP HALF-AND-HALF
2 TBSP. CORN SYRUP                                                       1 TSP. VANILLA



Friday, November 19, 2010

MTC Training - Day 9, Nov. 18

Can hardly believe this is the last day of training for us.  We appreciate the Hammonds for taking time to be with us this week.  They truly are good examples for all of us, and the epitomy of how Christians should behave.  They admonished us to remember 3 things:  love, humility, and patience.  My order should be patience, love and humility.  What a learning experience this has been.  

We had a delicious lunch with our colleagues.  The chicken with lobster filling was delicious.  Since we packed this morning before leaving Nelson's, we were able to just hop in the car and head back to St. George. 

We met Cami and the boys at Costco in St. George since we were all going there.  (I think Elwin and I were having a Costco withdrawl).  It was quite a reunion.  Max kept calling Baba and put his head on Grandpa's shoulder and wouldn't let go of him.  It's going to be hard leaving these sweet grandchildren.

MTC Training - Day 8, Tue. Nov 17

We just have 1 1/2 days of temple training left.  Time sure flies.  We've learned a lot and people have been so kind.  We'll treasure the memories of these 2 weeks of training.

Today we had our last Cantonese tutor session with Brian.  He went over the verbs, question formats and reviewed a few important rules that he taught us.  Then we went on a field trip.  We looked at the pictures hanging on the walls of the main MTC building and had to create a conversation using Cantonese.  It was fun.  Hope we remember how to do it in real life.  :-)

We were done by 6 PM today.  So we went to visit Elaine and her family.  We had a delicious meatball with teriyaki sauce and rice dinner.  Delicious!  Homemade meatballs beat cafeteria food anytime.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

MTC Training - Day 7, Tue. Nov 16

A view from Nelson's house in the morning

Becoming a Disciple of Jesus Christ

     Tuesday is a special day at MTC because at 7 PM, there is a weekly devotional as we mentioned in last week's blog.  My friend Hazel would be proud of us...most people were in their seats by 6:40.  The choir director started the music for us to sing.  Then, at 6:50 everyone was there.  It was amazing.  They did say to be in your seat by 6:50.  Senior missionaries had reserved seatings, so we were told to be in our seat by saving seats.  After 6:40 the seats would be given away.  Honestly, most everyone was there by 6:30.  What a show of respect for the people in charge and the speaker.

    The speaker was Kevin Pearson, a former mission president in Seattle/Tacoma, Washington.  He's in the first quorum of the Seventy (for my non-LDS friends, this is a relatively high position in the Church) and has held many other leadership positions.  A graduate of University of Utah, and having received his Ph.D. from Harvard, he was a great speaker. He told us to rely on the Holy Ghost to teach us, to make moral choices.  He said that we are free to act as we want, but are also accountable for our actions, or lack thereof.  The Holy Ghost is here to help us develop our divine identity.  We should ask ourselves if we are committed to become a disciple of Christ.  When we realize that we are a disciple of Jesus Christ, then we will know who we truly are.  Those are great words of wisdom.

    Various people came to talk to us about the significance of the temple today.  We also had some people talk to us about the day-to-day operations of the temple.  We toured the laundry facility.  Wow, it was more like a science lab.  It was amazing.

    The food at the Provo Temple was super.  All in all, we had another great day.   

Monday, November 15, 2010

MTC training - day 6, Nov. 15

This week is temple training week...we are very excited!

    The rain and snow this morning didn't dampen our spirits.  In fact, the snow-capped mountains were beautiful!   The picture below is a summertime picture of the Provo temple.  We'll post a picture later of the snow on the mountains.
    People ware so friendly at the temples, especially Provo Temple.  We had a wonderful morning with the Hammonds.  They gave us words of encouragement.  Nice people.  In our group, there are people going to Germany, Paraguay, Chile, Nova Scotia, Hawaii and Hong Kong.  It's fun meeting these very interesting people.  They are very dedicated people.

    At lunch we met several young Asian missionaries.  One of them almost cried when I asked him how the food was.  He missed his mom's cooking.  One of the young men came from far northern China, just south of Siberia.  It was so fun to listen to him talk.  He wanted to know why he couldn't serve more than one mission.  What enthusiasm!  Great kids!

   The Hammonds came to be with us again in the afternoon.  Then, we had dinner with Brian, our Cantonese tutor.  We talked about Hong Kong and the Cantonese language.  We all agreed that it might be one of the hardest language to learn with 7 tones.  Have no fear, we'll get it..... someday.  :-)

   Good news!  Our colleagues in Hong Kong may have found us an apartment to live in.  Hooray!  The apartment is less than 500 square feet but more than $1000 a month.  That's pretty expensive square footage, but it is nearly penthouse level - second floor from the top.  I think that it was the 27th story.  We wonder what a typhoon or earthquake will be like.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

MTC Training - Day 5, Nov. 12

This is the last day of our week 1 general training.  The focus was on how we can help the local wards and branches.  The message is we are servants of God and should offer our support to the local leadership and membership without telling them what to do.  One of the main assignments may be to reactivate members.  We role-played various scenarios and it was quite interesting.  Two returned senior couples came to share their experiences as they labored in the Philippines, New Zealand, Ghana, and other places.  It was a very beneficial opportunity for us to learn from these people who served unselfishly.  One couple came from Brigham City and was there at 8 AM for our workshop; they get early every Friday morning to travel 1 1/2 hours to come and instruct us.  We are meeting a lot of amazing people.  We learned a lot from them.

For the language session tonight, a young couple came to visit.  We were able to relate to them quite well.  The girl is from Hong Kong and her husband is a returned missionary from Hong Kong.  They both spoke Cantonese and Mandarin.  We had a great time practicing with them.  We also practiced what we would say at the testimony meeting later on.  Our tutor told us to forget that we were speaking Cantonese and just let the spirit guide us.  It did.  We were so grateful for that.  At the testimony meeting, one couple spoke Russian, one French, one Spanish and we did Cantonese.  The spirit was there with us, so we didn't feel that we stumbled.  We came out of the meeting feeling very happy that we are learning Cantonese. 

2 Ne. 32: 2  Do ye not remember that I said unto you that after ye had areceived the Holy Ghost ye could speak with the btongue of angels? And now, how could ye speak with the tongue of angels save it were by the Holy Ghost?

MTC Training - Day 4, 11/11

7:30 AM - 8:30 PM
 The Baines who taught in China with us in 2008-2009. 

Quite a long day...we are so tired, but happy.  We sat through many workshops, conducted by the young return missionaries.

The cafeteria food is, what should we say?  Interesting!  Yes, lots of choices.  But we are focusing on people, not food today.  We met several young Asian missionaries.  Most of them stay for 3 months for language training.  Several of them will be serving at Temple Square.  I have met some Asian missionaries at the Temple Square and thought they were excellent missionaries.  One of the girls came from Taiwan.  I found out she majored in Elementary Ed at BYU Hawaii.  We talked about the courses she has taken and her prospects for work.  We'll stay in touch with each other.

Tonight at dinner, we sat with the Asian missionaries.  We were so surprised to meet 2 sisters from Pakistan; people who convert from Islam to Christianity are sometimes killed for apostasy.  There are only senior missionaries in Pakistan, and all of their investigators are brought by members to be taught.  We suspect that those who come to be taught are not Muslin as that would put their lives in danger.  We met several sister missionaries from Taiwan, Japan, and Hong Kong.  We also met 1 Elder and 1 sister from SiChuan Province.  It touches us greatly to see these young people devoting the next 2 years preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ when I suspect some of their home town people might despise them for doing it.  When you see them in the streets, or at the Temple Square in Salt Lake, please give them a hug and talk to them.  Most of them are not English speakers and are spending 3 months at MTC, eating foods they are not used to, and following customs they are not familiar with.  I know none will waiver because they are committed.

At our language class tonight, our tutor invited a native Cantonese speaker to practice with us.  He is a teacher at the local high school and we appreciate him coming as a volunteer.  This state should be called a volunteer state as many people here at MTC are volunteers.  It's amazing.     

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

MTC training - Day 3, 11/10

Missionary Training Center (MTC) in Provo

     We are staying with Nelson and Hilary during our MTC training.  They live about 1 mile from the MTC making it very convenient.  On a good day, we'll walk to MTC, but not today.  It's snowing a little and cold.

     Today's schedule was packed with workshops.  Our young return missionaries came to teach us and we did some micro-teaching.  The topic was on "restoration" with 8 subtopics.  Volunteers were brought in to act as investigators.  They follow the same teaching  methodology we do as educators, 1.  what do they know (prior knowledge), 2. what do they want to know?  3.  teach them what they need to know to answer the questions they have on what they want to know.  It was very interesting!

     Mealtime was a fun time.  The cafeteria is huge with various stations of smorgasbord.  There were so many choices.  We heard some young missionaries gained as much as 20 pounds while at MTC.  We could see why.  Wednesday is a special day as new young missionaries come in.  So, one of the stations is an ice-cream bar.  They dished out at least 10 different flavors of ice-cream.  You pick the flavor you want and move down the bar to add toppings, fruits, whip cream and hot fudge sauce or others (in giant pans).  They sure know what young people like.  Today's lunch choices were:  Texas Chili, bratwurst, deli sandwiches, wraps, fish and chips, pizzas, salad bars, fruit bars, and more.  Everyone is dressed in their suits to come to the cafeteria.  It's quite a sight.

     We had small groups with the young return missionaries to teach us again this afternoon.  We finished our classes at 4:30 which gave us a little time to start our assignments for tomorrow.  For dinner, we had cordon bleu and spinach salad.  We skipped desserts.  It's so easy to gain weight.  There is a gym, but who has time for the gym?  The auditorium converts into a gym, much like a transformer turns into tens of other possibilities.  It was interesting!

     After dinner, we had language tutoring from 6-8.  We were happy to meet Brian, our tutor, in person.  He has been teaching us using skype.  We were asked to bear our testimonies in Cantonese on Friday night during the fireside.  We worked on that tonight.  We first wrote it out in English and I translated mine late last night (pulled another late nighter).  This certainly is one of the hardest thing I have to do for this mission - learning a different language.  It's been rewarding as BYU probably has one of the most advanced language programs in the world.  As an educator, I'm impressed with how they are teaching foreign languages here.

    We got home in time to say good-night to our 3 grandchildren.  It's been a long day!

MTC Training - Day two 11/9

    Many of you who served an LDS mission would remember this big map at the Wilford Woodruff Building.  It's still there.  We are standing by Hong Kong.  Wow, it's been wonderful to experience what our children have gone through at the MTC, or part of it anyway.  
    We arrived at the MTC at 7:30 this morning in light snow.  How we miss St. George already.  Several meetings were scheduled for us to learn how to represent the church as missionaries.  All the leaders conducting and teaching were young returned missionaries.  They have developed great teaching and leadership skills from serving in various missions around the world.  It was incredible to see how much these young people were able to teach us old folks.  They were fun, serious, knowledgeable and all that.  I can't help thinking what roles our children played when they were here.  I talked to Elaine after we came home and she told me she was a Japanese language instructor, plus being a supervisor for the instructors.  Wow, Elaine, great!  I-Shuan was also hired on as a Korean instructor and taught the missionaries.  It was there that she met her future husband, Ryan, who was also teaching Korean at the MTC at that time.  What a stellar group of young people they are!  I know Nelson and I-Kang came shortly after Elaine and I-Shuan and did similar things.  We are so proud of them.

     Every Tuesday is a special day with a 7 PM Devotional.  We were told to be seated by 6:40 as senior missionaries have reserved seating.  When we went to the auditorium at 6:30 there were already long lines formed by the young missionaries.  They were lined up on the outside of the building, in the cold, so they started singing.  We were told to go in from the south side entrance.  It was quite a sight to behold.  We sat right in front of the podium.  My dear friend Hazel would appreciate what I'm about to tell you.  By 6:40 most were seated.  The chorister came on and led us in some singing.  At 6:45, the speakers came in and everyone stood up.  It was Elder David Bednar and his wife Susan.  The feeling of respect was evident.  The opening song was "Called to Serve" (my grandchildren sang this at our farewell).  Wow, can you picture this!  About 100 senior missionaries in the middle front part of the auditorium, with 2500 plus young missionaries sitting on the risers.  All started singing.  It was so powerful, so touching!  I wish I could take a picture.  It was like the 2000 warriors from the Book of Helaman.  I was very moved.  

     Elder Bednar talked about the doctrines, principles, and application.  He told us to understand the doctrines and principles and focus on these, not the application.  The application will come.  It was one of the best talks I've heard.  

     It was past 8:30 when we drove home.  Another wonderful day! 

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

MTC training - Day one 11/8

     The long awaited MTC (Missionary Training Center) training started.  The rain and the sleet didn't dampen our spirit.  The orientation was well organized.  We were first introduced to the MTC presidencies after which most spoke to us.  We were informed that our days will be full from 8:00 AM to 9:00 PM, but we have time at lunch and dinner times for naps if we get too tired.  It's good to know that our leaders understand the stress that can be created by the long days.  Indeed, they told us to watchful of our health, not only while in training, but also while we are in our assigned fields of labor.

     There were about 100 senior missionaries attending the training this week.  We were divided into 2 groups, then into 6 or 7 districts for special instructions.  The young missionaries were everywhere.  It was a sight to hold at the cafeteria.  They are looked so happy and YOUNG.  Several came to our meeting and sang for us.  In all, there were around 2700 missionaries at the MTC this time.  We met some young missionaries from Eagle Pass, San Antonio, Texas; Denver, Colorado; Utah; and several other places.  The senior missionaries from our group came from Montana, Utah, Washington, Kansas, Canada, and other places.  We were happily surprised to meet the Baines from Canada who were China Teachers while we were there 2008-2009.

    We met the Foreign Language Director, Maria Johnson in the afternoon.  She is a linguist, and met with 8 of us (among 50+) who will be serving in the foreign speaking countries.  She was very encouraging and told us that the age didn't make much difference in learning a foreign language.  From her research with the missionaries, young and old, she found those who were willing to learn and put forth time to study, progressed and advanced quicker.  We will have tutoring sessions on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, 6 - 8 PM.  We are looking forward to meet our Cantonese tutor, Brian, who has been teaching us through Skype the last few weeks.

    After the meetings, Ling, our dear sister, took us to Four Season's Hot Pot Restaurant to have dinner.  It was so wonderful that she came down from Spokane and met us here this past weekend.  She was also here to be with her daughter, her 2 small children, and also Dennis.  It was perfect timing as we love to be together.  the hot pot was delicious.  We met 2 young ladies from Shanghai who are attending BYU.

    It was a great day.  It was especially wonderful for us to see and to experience what our four children went through at MTC when they served their missions.  Our children set great examples for us.  We love them and will miss them a lot.   

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Voice of Warning from Elder L. Tom Perry

Stake Conference at Grove Creek on Nov 7

We attended church with Elaine and her family today. It was special to hear an Apostle of the Church speak in person. A summary of the talk is below:

Matt. 13: 25 - But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed atares among the wheat, and went his way.

Be watchful and do the following:

1. be self sufficient, take good care of your homes
2. avoid debt
3. become educated and continue to learn (Grandparents, you may need to sell your camper to help support your grandchildren)
4. prepare for the future
5. Plan through prayers and the Lord will open the way for you to accomplish the things which the Lord has commented you to do.
6. Spirituality: need a newness of heart, simplify our lives. Callings should be split with your families but not negatively impact ones family.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Fall in love with Utah Lake

Elwin, Elaine and I took 6 grandchildren to Utah Lake State Park in Provo to take a stroll.  We walked along Provo River and enjoyed the breathtaking views of Fall in Utah.  Enjoy the slides below:

Saying good-bye to the Posse

D&C 121: 9 - Thy afriends do stand by thee, and they shall hail thee again with warm hearts and friendly hands. 
My hiking friends and I (Tobe called us the Posse) have been hiking for years at the Tortoise Preserve.  We met at around 7:30 AM, depending on when the sun rises, and enjoyed the beautiful sunrise, fresh air, beautiful scenery and friendship.  These pictures were taken on Nov. 4.

Serving a Volunteer Mission

Shirley's Farewell Address on Oct. 31, 2010
(Elwin and Shirley have been called to serve a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Hong Kong from Nov. 8, 2010 to May 7, 2012.)
I was like a child thinking this day was so far away and would never come.  But time sure has caught up with us.  Here we are, ready to go into MTC in 8 days.  We are very excited to have this special opportunity to serve.  It makes me think about what happened through out the years that brought me to this point.  
It all started when I was 19 years old.  I was introduced to the gospel of Jesus Christ when 2 young missionaries knocked on our door in Taiwan.  The Spirit impressed me that it was the right thing to do to join the church, but I was afraid.  In our family my mom’s sister was the first person to embrace Christianity.  The LDS church had just been introduced to Taiwan a few years earlier.  I asked my mom what I should do.  She told me to find out all about the church.  If I could abide by their rules and guidelines, then, I should go ahead.  With my parents’ support, my sister Alice and I were the first ones in Sung family to join the LDS church.  My younger sister, Ling, joined the church a couple of years later.  Throughout the years, I have tried to follow my mom’s words of wisdom and I know I’ve been greatly blessed because of it. 
Elwin served a mission in Taiwan.  We met at BYU and raised 4 children.  Our 4 children served in Japan, Korea, Italy and Hawaii.  I remember Nelson’s farewell address well as he said:  I know y’all think I am going on a mission because of my parents, but I want y’all to know that I want to go, myself.   That was my thinking.  Since we had great influence on our children, I wanted our children to go out and found out for themselves if this was what they believed in and to conduct their lives in the manner that was pleasant unto God.  They set a good example for me.  I knew I wanted to serve a mission in my later years then.
About 2 years ago, Elwin and I went to China to teach as part of my sabbatical.  This was the first time living in China for both of us.  Little did we know that that experience changed our lives.  My friend, Hazel, said it right on the button:  I knew we lost you when you went to China.  It was like a rude awakening.  I saw the thirst in their eyes that they were looking for something.  We knew we would go back to share the gospel with them.
My talk is based on Nephi 1:7:  “…7 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, said unto my father: I awill go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no bcommandments unto the children of men, save he shall cprepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.
Many of you know that we have anticipated this mission call since January this year.  This scripture rang true in my ear as I contemplated the telephone call from Elder Kikuchi of the Seventy of the Church, to Elwin that the Hong Kong Temple is in need of a Mandarin Chinese speaking couple.  I rationalized in my mind that he didn’t say when to go.  Going on a mission has always been in our plan, but I wanted to work one more year at Dixie.  After many prayers and fasting, I told our department head, about the possible calling and that I might be leaving.  It was hard to leave a career I’ve working on for many years.  But, I knew in my heart the Lord has a plan for us.  Elwin also knew that the Lord had a plan for us.  My love for the Lord, for my husband won me over.  We decided that the Lord would provide a way for us to accomplish the thing he commanded us.  By obeying the promptings, miracles started to unfold. 
In preparing for this mission, we went through all the motions that all the missionaries in the Church had to do.  We filled out applications, were interviewed by the Bishop, and resolved lots of other details.  Then, an unexpected thing happened; Elwin failed the physical, which we never even thought was an issue.  We pride ourselves to be healthy people.  Neither one of us has had any physical ailments.  Elwin ended up with a triple bypass 2 days after the stress test in early May.  He was told that if one of the blockages in his heart triggered a heart attack, he would not even hit the ground before he was gone.  I marveled at the mercy the Lord has for us.  I had no doubt in my mind that following the Lord’s timetable was the right thing to do.
Do you remember back when you were on your mission, the joy you felt when you taught the Law of the Lord to someone who has never been taught about the gospel of Jesus Christ?  Do you remember the joy of being baptized, becoming a Deacon, or entering the Young Women’s program? For the Dixie College students, while you are doing your practicum, your student teaching, or teaching in your own classroom,  remember how happy you were when you saw the light bulb came on in your students’ eyes?  The scriptures tell us that “Men are that they might have joy” in 2 Nephi 2:25.  This is the joy that we felt when we received the mission call from President Monson on the 20th of July.  I know we’ll feel joy as we work in the Hong Kong Temple and feel the joy of the Chinese people when they come to the temple to be sealed as eternal families. 
We know there are a lot of unknowns and challenges waiting for us.  We lived in China for a year just two years ago.  And I remember the inconveniences there. Elwin seems to deal with those daily things well.  I need to remember Lot’s wife and not to look back and ask for things that I take for granted here or I may turn into a pillar of salt. And I know Elwin won’t bring back salt in his suitcase.  Perhaps he could ship me back in a box like we did with my electric bicycle. 
Another challenge is feeling inadequate with new and radically different callings.  Hong Kong is a former English colony where they speak Cantonese.  The Missionary Training Center has assigned a Hong Kong returned missionary to teach us Cantonese using Skype on the computer.  It’s funny to have a white man teaching a Chinese how to speak Cantonese.  The tutor is doing an excellent job.  Elwin is doing quite well as he learned Chinese through English, and he understands tones.  My Chinese tones came naturally.  I never had to learn it.  But Cantonese has 7 tones and I have to learn the tones because they are not the same as Mandarin.  I have to put things in perspective.  I could barely speak English when I went to BYU in my younger years.  I’ve learned so much from my family, my friends and my students.  I know my brothers and sisters in Hong Kong will help me with the language as you have helped me. 

I’m sad to think about leaving our family and friends for 18 months.  But I hope it’ll be like Alma the Younger and the sons of Mosiah in the Book of Mormon, Alma 17:2 - that we’ll find each other still strong in the gospel when we meet again.  I hope and pray that my children and grandchildren will be well taken care of.  I hope my hiking and walking buddies will continue to hike and walk and stay healthy.  I hope my Dixie friends will continue to work hard to prepare their students to be the best teachers they can be.
I testify to you that God lives and loves us.  I say this in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.