Sunday, January 23, 2011

Coincidence? Be amazed!

Sunday, January 23, 2011
   On our posting last week I mentioned that I met my friend Carol Lee's son, in an elevator at the Wan Chai Church Building in Hong Kong.  Hard to top that, right?  Read on...

   One of the friends of BYU China Teachers from Jinan came to Hong Kong last week.  She brought us the much needed winter clothes from Jinan.  I went to the airport to pick her up and showed her a few places, then took her to the temple patrons' housing.  This new found friend Gwen was expecting a friend to come to meet her from Salt Lake that same night.  Well, I was able to meet her friend, Elissa.  Elissa is a delightful lady and we had good visits together.  Since she was leaving Sunday, Elwin and I went over to say good-bye and said we should stay in touch.  She told me she would see me in St. George because her daughter lived there.  Just out of curiosity, I asked her what her daughter's name was.  She gave me her last name.  I asked her if she was a teacher and she said yes and her first name was Melody.  Now, what's the chance of this lady's daughter being one of my favorite students at Dixie State College?

    It's hard to believe, but Melody was one of those students that you don't forget.  She was one of the best; caring about her students, hard working, responsible and delightful!  Three years ago, I was leaving Dixie to go on sabbatical in China, but had just received a science grant for a local elementary school.  I recommended Melody to do student teaching at that school to oversee the science program there.  The administration was very impressed with her work and before she graduated, she received her job offer.  So, this week, I met her mother.  I could tell why Melody was such a fine young lady because her mother was special.  Now, this coincidence is hard to beat, don't you think?

    Next amazement:  Thursday was our day off and we decided to go to Shenzhen, China to pick up some clothes from the tailor and do some sightseeing.  Before we left, I thought I'd e-mail one of our students from Shandong University who graduated and was from Shenzhen.  Henzer is working for a medical equipment company and went to the States for business from time to time.  We didn't see him in the States, but stayed in touch.  Within seconds after my e-mail, Henzer called.  He just got back last night from a business trip to Morocco and Saudi Arabia, and this would be his day off.  So, within an hour, we met him at the subway station in Shenzhen.  It was a great reunion as we haven't seen him since we left China 3 years ago.  He used to come to our apartment in China once a week to visit and chat.  He brought us a box of almond filled dates from Dubai thinking that he would come to Hong Kong to see us, but instead, we saw him the next day in his hometown.  He took us out to lunch and then took us to visit his parents.  His parents thought he was still on a business trip and he thought his parents were still visiting their hometown in FuJian for some celebration.  But, everyone was back the night before.  Coincident?  His parents were delighted to meet us.  During the conversation, I kept on hearing them speaking my hometown dialect, Taiwanese.  So I carried on the dialect with them and found out they actually migrated to Shenzhen from ChauChow, Fujian many years ago, near where the Taiwanese dialect originated.

    Now, is this amazing or what? 

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Reservoirs of Hong Kong

     On our p-day, Sister Kwok took us to Plover Cove Reservoir for a visit.  We took the subway to Taipo Market stop and met her at the 7-11 store.  We then took bus #75k and 30 minutes later we were at the Reservoir.  It was beautiful with a park at the front part.  It's set up so people can have lunch on the beautiful picnic tables and BBQ grills are available for anyone to use. 

 Ariel view of Plover Cove Dam

Plover Cove Dam bike lane

     We had a good time visiting the reservoir.  It was in the 60's F and not too many people were around.  Sister Kwok took us back to her apartment in Taipo for some home-made soybean milk, then took us to the mall for dim sum.  Elwin performed his Chinese ettiquette and paid for the meal before anyone even noticed it.  

    Below is some information about how Hong Kong deals with their water supplies, found in wiki. 

Rainfall and storage of runoff

About one-third of Hong Kong's 1098 square kilometres has been developed as water catchments. Hong Kong is dependent on adequate storage for the maintenance of a regular supply. Shortage of natural storage reservoir sites led to the construction of Hong Kong's first 'reservoir in the sea' at Plover Cove - the Plover Cove Reservoir. The initial scheme, completed in 1967, was created by damming, and draining an inlet of Tolo Harbour and had a storage of 170 million cubic metres. The storage was increased in 1973 to 230 million cubic metre by raising the dam. A similar but larger scheme at High Island, completed in 1978, created the High Island Reservoir that has a capacity of 281 million cubic metres.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Sunday, Jan. 16 in Hong Kong

   Today we left early as we told the China Teacher who was visiting Hong Kong that we'd pick her up to go to Wan Chai to attend the English Speaking church services.  Elwin and I left at 7:30 and went to Kowloon Tong.  From there, we walked to the temple patron's housing, which is across from the temple.  We picked up her and her friend who had just arrived from Salt Lake City and took bus #182 to Church.

   At the Wan Chai Building, in the elevator to go to our Mandarin Speaking Services, we talked to a young American couple who live in Hong Kong.  Upon a short introduction, we found out he was the son of my dear friend, Carol Lee.  Now, what's the chance of meeting your friend's son in an elevator in Hong Kong, 1 out of a zillion?  What a small world!

  Sister Shih, the lady who was baptized last week, was confirmed during Sacrament meeting and given the gift of the Holy Ghost.  She was thrilled and we were too.  She's set to go back to Fuchow, China in a few days.  My prayers goes with her as she has started a new life in China.  There is an LDS church group there in Fuchow but we don't know where as it is not readily available.  Her son lives in Beijing, and she knows there is a local LDS church there that meets regularly.  She'll work her way up to Beijing since most parents live with their children when they get old.  She promised me that she would come back to Hong Kong in a year and see me at the temple.

   Last week, one of the young sisters brought me some cough medicine because she heard me coughing at church.  It was a pack of Chinese herbs ground into powder.  I mixed the powder in water and took it as instructed.  It tasted horrible, but seemed to work.  This young sister called me on Saturday to see if she needed to bring me more.  What kind things people do here!  Then, Sister Shih brought me a bottle of cough syrup made out of "loquat".  When I started coughing at church, I went out and had some of this syrup.  I didn't cough for the rest of the day.  People here at church are so KIND!  I'm so grateful to have met these sweet people at church.  They don't really know me, but immediately they have adopted me.

   Around 6 PM, we called our friends, the Thelins, in Jinan, China.  They told us one of our Chinese friends wanted to talk to us over Skype.  So, we called and talked to Tricia, a medical doctor who we have befriended in China.  It was so great to renew our friendship with her.  Her son, Bill, who we met in Jinan, and came to visit us at our apartment regularly, had been diagnosed with ADHD, plus Autism.  He's now 15 years old and falling behind in his studies.  Tricia cried and asked us why God gave her boy this problem.  She was always asking us about God when we were in Jinan.  But because we weren't allowed to talk about church, we weren't able to tell her anything about God.  But, she knew there is a God.  She could not understand that she, as a medical doctor, and her husband, a banker, would have a son with problems such as this.  She expected her son to be intelligent, smart and high achieving, but he is struggling.  Her family is torn apart and she is in despair.  We asked her to set up a Skype account so she could communicate with us regularly without going through our friends.

     We are glad to have met Tricia, and we are also glad that the Thelins are there to be her friends.  We know the Lord is merciful and loves all of His children.  We suggested that she google "autism support" and try to get more information. There is little to no information available in China.  She even thought about changing her field in medicine  and go abroad to do research in autism.  We know that one or another of parents will sometimes give up his/her job to care for a child, but our friend is thinking about changing her field of expertise. I hope her family will find ways to help them meet the challenges that face them.

    We talked to most of our children and grandchildren on Skype.  It's wonderful to be able to see them and talk to them.  We look forward each week to get on Skype.  We hope that everyone has a wonderful week!

I was an idiot

  They outwitted me in Lohu, the border town shopping center in Shenzhen, China.  A friend, a Hong Kongnese, took me to Shenzhen Thursday, 1/13, our day off.  Lots of people from Hong Kong go there to shop as it's cheaper.  Elwin and I went a couple of weeks ago and found groceries a lot cheaper, so I was excited to go with a local to show me around.

   Mistake...we went in to get our nails done and a pedicure, plus foot rub, all for RMB $50, or less than US$8.  Good deal, right?  Well, a lady came and sat next to me and started telling me that I needed to have my eyebrows done, and she would shape them for free.  If I liked it, she would fix it for me.  I told her no, but she was right in my face and started working on my eyebrows.  Before I knew it, she was plucking my eyebrow.  I told her to stop, but she kept on saying I'd like what she was doing.  My hands and feet were all tied up with 2 people working on them and I couldn't get up.  So, I told her if she didn't stop, I was calling the manager.  Then, she said:  coming on, you are from Taiwan, you can pay for this service with your credit card.  I reminded her that it was supposed to be free.  She laughed.  She said it was a RMB$3000 service and she would only charge me $1500.  I was aghast.  She saw my reaction and whispered in my ear that she would only charge me RMB$750.  By this time she was done with my left brow, and started working on my right.  I looked into the little mirror she gave me and was horrified to see what she had done.  She had completely reshaped my left eyebrow.  To make the long story short, I ended up paying them HK$800 or a little over US$100.

    Well, I don't look the same as you remember me anymore.  Kai and Kang, you may need to redo my wii picture.  My eyebrows are quite different now, they have been changed forever.  If you see me with my bangs over my eyebrows, you'll know why.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Sunday, Jan. 9, 2011

    The temperature was in the 50's when we got out of the apartment at 7:45 this morning (Sunday).  Beautiful weather and we didn't get lost this time going to Wan Chai Chapel.  Hooray!  The key is to have a prayer first, then get on MTR car #1 or 2.  This way, when the train stops, we just follow people up the escalator, then out of toll turn stile.  We are now on our way to Bus #104 to cross the harbor tunnel.  Getting off at the 2nd stop, we are right in front of the chapel building.  It only took us 55 minutes this morning instead of an hour and fifteen minutes.  Life is good!

    The #104 bus is a double-decker.  We exit the subway station, walk about 300 yards and go down the stairs or the escalator to the ground level to the bus stop.  But, today, the line waiting for #104 was so long that it wound up the steps up to the walkway of the subway with at least 100 people.  It was amazing to see people keep piling into the bus.  I was one of the last ones to get on.  Elwin is such a gentleman as he always lets ladies go on first, which means he is way behind me.  Each time I think he is not going to make it, but he does.  Nice guy!  (When he opens the door for me at the mall or somewhere, at least 10-15 people try to slip through before he makes it in.)  Nice guy! 

    Today is a special day as the Asian Area Presidency and representatives came to visit.  One of them was Elwin's companion when he was on the mission in Taiwan.  As a counselor in the Area Presidency, he goes to various units in Asia to visit.  I was so impressed that his whole speech was in Chinese and he explained gospel principles clearly with examples.  Wow, what a good example he set for us.  We better get cracking with our Chinese.

    At 12:30, there was a baptismal service for a young girl, Tina, who just turned 8; and a lady from FuJian, who is in her 50's.  The little girl was so cute.  She gave a speech about why she wanted to be baptized.  I met Sister Shih (the lady from FuJian) a couple of weeks ago at church.  She told me she was investigating the church.  She had already joined a Christian church in the Mainland.  When she came to Hong Kong a year or so ago, she heard about the LDS church and decided to come for a visit.  She loves coming because she feels the spirit so strongly.  Her husband died in his 40's from being overworked.  She talked about him and tears came.  The lesson in Sunday School a couple of weeks ago was on "eternal families".  The Spirit touched her so much.  I told her one day she would see her husband again and she nodded.  She understood.  She was baptized by the missionary who taught her.  She then gave a beautiful speech and bore her testimony about her conversion.  She said that she is now ready to go home to teach her son, and her parents.  It was a very beautiful ceremony.  Just so everyone understands, people in China are allowed to teach members of their family about the Gospel, regardless of religious belief, but they are not allowed to teach others outside of their family.  Missionaries are not allowed in China, regardless of religious belief.  To be a Communist party member one must be an athiest, and atheism is the only "religion" legally taught to the masses in China.

    Tina's mom and some other ladies prepared some refreshment for the occasion.  It was a very special meeting for us all.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

A Marvelous Work and A Wonder

    As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we've been admonished to study the scriptures.  We followed the Church curriculum which covered the Old Testament last year.  Church members world-wide, attended Sunday School and centered their studies from Genesis to Malachi.  When we left St. George we were studying about the 3 friends of Daniel as recorded in Daniel Chapter 3:

"Nebuchadnezzar had a golden image made and commanded all men to worship it— Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego refused and were cast into the fiery furnace—They are preserved and come out unharmed."

    Then, the next week, in Hong Kong, Victoria 3rd Branch of the Mandarin Speaking Sunday School class, we talked about how Daniel interpreted the King's dream as recorded in Daniel, chapter 4:

   "Daniel interpreted Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of the great tree, describing the king’s fall and madness—The king learned that the Most High rules and sets the basest of men over earthly kingdoms."

    It was an amazing experience.  This year we go on to studying the New Testament.  I used to think I love the New Testament best, but after studying the Old Testament, I have to say I have a change of heart, I love the Old Testament.  Still, as Latter-day Saints, we have been asked to study the Book of Mormon, along with the other scriptures.

   We were reading the Book of Mormon as a family, (just Elwin and me), again, and finished the book shortly after we arrived in Hong Kong.  When we were working on our New Year's resolution, for scripture reading, I suggested to Elwin that for the Book of Mormon, I would read 5 verses in Chinese and he would read the next 5 in English.  We take turns reading for about 3 chapters or 6-8 pages each time.  Some verses in the BOM starts out with "And it came to pass...", and is translated as "事情是这样的。。。".  We have so much fun reading that and the recorded events.  I wonder if, when we finish the Book of Mormon, that will become my "favorite".

   To start the year, we stopped by the Church Distribution Center and bought a copy of the Book of Mormon in Chinese.  It was a toss-up between buying simplified and traditional Chinese.  I grew up with traditional Chinese and especially love the beauty of the written language.  To see the simplified version makes me feel very sad...still, I thought I should at least learn how to read it.  So, I purchased the simplified version.  I'm struggling with the simplified words, and may stop at the Distribution Center to buy another one in traditional Chinese.  :-)

   President Benson called the Book of Mormon a "Marvelous Work and a Wonder" as recorded in his speech at the April 1980 General Conference.  He said:  (I'm quoting only the first paragraph of his talk, but please take time to read this link for the full article.

"Seven centuries before the birth of Christ, Isaiah foresaw and foretold the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ in these latter days. He declared it would be a “marvelous work and a wonder” to all mankind (Isa. 29:14). When Jesus appeared to the Nephites in America, He confirmed the prophecy of Isaiah in these words: “For my sake shall the Father work a work, which shall be a great and a marvelous work” among the people of the land of America in the last days (3 Ne. 21:9)...."

    As you can see, we are enjoying our mission in Hong Kong.  It's a challenging and growing experience.   


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

a Trip a Macau

   For our P-day, we, the 4 senior missionary couples, went to Macau for a fun adventure.  The Bishops and the Arnells researched and we were armed with maps, brochures, notes...  We took the famed "turbo jet" ferry across the South China Sea and an hour later we were at Macau.  The city/island previously was ruled by the the Portugal government.

   According to Wikipedia:

Macau was a Portuguese colony and both the first and last European colony in China.[7][8] Portuguese traders first settled in Macau in the 16th century and subsequently administered the region until the handover on 20 December 1999. The Sino-Portuguese Joint Declaration and the Basic Law of Macau stipulate that Macau operates with a high degree of autonomy until at least 2049, fifty years after the transfer.[9]
Under the policy of "one country, two systems", the Central People's Government is responsible for the territory's defence and foreign affairs, while Macau maintains its own legal system, police force, monetary system, customs policy, and immigration policy. Macau participates in many international organizations and events that do not require members to possess national sovereignty.[9][10] According to the CIA factbook, Macau has the highest life expectancy in the world.[1


   For this adventure, the ferry tickets were the most expensive part of the trip.  It was US$35 round trip for each person.  Upon arriving at the port of entry, we were bombarded with tour guides.  One was more aggressive and followed us around.  The asking price was $1800 HK (US$232) for a van to tour Macau for 4 hours.  It was easy to rationalize that it would save us a lot of time looking for public transportation and all the bad things that came through my mind.  But, Do Not Take the Bait.  Just listen to Elwin...  He was able to get us on free shuttles all over the city and saw all the things we wanted to see.  He was the hero of the day.  Except for one time when we took a taxi to St. Paul's Cathedral because it was misting and freezing, we fared very well.  We even found the highly recommended buffet at the Star World.  It was a buffet to die for.  The food choices were superb, like East meets the West.  For desserts, we found custard pies, coconut tarts, mango and pomello dessert, mango ice-cream, tarts of all sorts with raspberry, just to name a few.  :-)  We rolled out of there.

   Luckily, we had to do quite a bit of walking to go through all the ruins of the monastery the rest of the day.  Earlier in the day, we saw a fabulous dragon show at the "City of Dreams".  It was like a 360-degree IMAX video with dragons, tigers rolling all over the screen.  Our grandchildren would love to see that.  We saw the water dancing show which was fine.  I would say the dragon show and the monastery ruins, museums were on the top of the list.  

   It was a fun day.  Let us know if you need more details for your trip.


Sunday, January 2, 2011

Sunday, Jan. 2, 2011

    Hard to believe that we were late for church on the 1st Sunday of the year.  The sun didn't "come up" and we overslept; it was overcast and the morning was not very bright.  That was our excuse.  But, we didn't get lost at the Hung-Hom MTR depot this time on our way to church, so we made pretty good time and were only about 10 minutes late. 
The LDS Church in Wan Chai - an 11-story building with chapels for 6 wards

    Since this was the first Sunday of the month, we got to listen to some incredible spiritual stories.  One man from Dallas, Texas, a returned missionary from Taiwan told us the following story.

"I was laid off last year after working for a law firm for 3 years.  It was a turning point for me and my wife.  We always wanted to come to live in Asia.  With my Chinese, I felt like I would be useful working in Asia.  But, do we want to give up our beautiful home, a comfortable life style, leave our family, loved ones and friends behind, and take our two little ones to Asia?  After many prayers and much fasting, we decided to start looking for a job in Hong Kong.  I ended up with a fabulous job with an international law firm and moved here last year.  We couldn't be happier.  We are very actively involved with church activities.  My Chinese speaking abilities have increased.  We just had our 3rd child and we have lots of support.  We are very blessed."

    A woman said:  "I had "dim sum", afternoon snack, with my old girl friend who joined the church a few years ago.  I hadn't seen her for a while and wondered how she was doing.  The story she told me made me cry.  After she converted to the LDS faith, she felt that it is important to pray.  She lived with her husband, his parents and some of his siblings.  When she insisted on having a blessing on the food, the in-laws declared that she had gone crazy.  One day, a white van showed up at her house and picked her up.  It was from a psychiatric ward.  They took her by force and put her in the institution for a while.  She's out of the hospital now, but has to take lots of medication for her nerves, the uppers and the downers.  She's shaking and jittery all the time.  She's so sad and unhappy, but doesn't know what to do.  I feel so sad for my friend, but in the meantime, I'm so grateful that I have a supportive family and church members.  I'm so happy to come to church each Sunday and partake of the sacrament and feel the spirit here."

    Yet another young woman said:  a year ago, I was a hopeless unwed mother with two young children.  I was lost until 2 missionaries approached me and brought me the gospel.  I have been in the church for almost 1 year now and I am so happy.  My two children were unruly, but the members here help me handle my children."  I remember her little boy, about 6, was running wild at a church function one night and ran into my side and knocked the breath out of me.  The children have calmed down and are willing to attend the children's Sunday School now.  I'm so happy for them.

   I also befriended a lady from the mainland, who is probably in her 50's.  She lost her husband a few years back.  She said he just worked himself to death.  She is lonely because her son has graduated from college and got a job working in Beijing.  We have sat together the last couple of weeks at church.  Today's Sunday School lesson was on "eternal family".  I had the feeling that the message was for her.  I wasn't sure if I had to substitute for the teacher again this week, so I ran off the lesson from the church website.  I gave her my copy, and she read the lesson over and over again.  I saw tears in her eyes.  I whispered to her that the message was true.  We can be "forever" families.  She nodded.  She's going to be baptized into the church next week.  I'm so happy for her.

   We came home and I fixed a delicious Sunday dinner for 4 missionaries, 2 from Provo, Utah, 1 from Spokane, Washington, and the other from Taichung, Taiwan.  We had curry chicken with about 6 or 7 different vegetables, over rice, deviled eggs, a green salad and home-made bread.  I also made "wassail", a warm Christmas drink, for the elders as it is cold.  For dessert, we had home-made brownies.  It was a good Sunday.  We don't seem to be hurting for good food, do we?

   We miss our kids, grandkids and friends, but we know we are supposed to be here.  We are happy to be missionaries.             

New Year Celebrations in Asia

     Fireworks at the Victoria Harbor to celebrate the New Year sounded great...but it would start at the stroke of 12 midnight and expect 400,000 people participating.  No, we decided to stay home and enjoy it peacefully.  We were able to watch several versions of the fireworks on youtube, including the fabulous one from Taipei 101. Wow, they sure put on a show to remember.  Afterall, it's the 100th anniversary of the Republic of China.  Yes, Dr. Sun Yat-sun ended the reign of the Qing Dynasty in 1911.  It's hard to believe it's been 100 years since the fall of the dynasty and all the events that transpired since then.
    NTD TV Network (based in New York), reports:

   Incredible fireworks displays seemed to be one of the best ways to ring in the New Year in many parts of Asia.

   Thousands of people gathered in Hong Kong to watch one of the best displays which lit up the skyline against Victoria Harbour.

   A numbered countdown on the city's tallest building signaled the start of the New Year.

   It was a similar story in Taipei, where crowds gathered at a concert for the New Year celebrations. The countdown was followed with a display of white colored fireworks from different locations around the city with the centerpiece display coming from the Taipei 101 skyscraper, the world's second tallest building. The celebrations also marked 100 years of Taiwan, officially known as the Republic of China.

   In Tokyo, thousands of people gathered at the historic Bhuddist Zojoji temple to celebrate the end of 2010 and the start of 2011.  Revelers released balloons in celebration of the start of Year of the Rabbit, according to the Chinese calendar.  In keeping with tradition the 15-ton temple bell was rung repeatedly to bring in the new year.

   And in Beijing, China, residents gathered at the ancient Big Bell Temple to see in the New Year with the traditional ringing of one of the biggest bells in China.

   For the 4 Hong Kong Mission senior missionaries, we celebrated by going on a hike to Sheung Shui/Fanling Park and enjoyed the beautiful flowers, lake, trees, gold fish and also a community farm.  We came back to the Davis' for a delicious "Tennessee Bean Soup", made by Shirley, home-made bread by Susan, a vegetable plate by Martha, and some delicious desserts furnished by the Wilson's, a basket full of "almond Joy" from home.  We then watched "Narnia".  It was a fun day for us.