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!