Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Sunday, May 29, 2011

A Picture Tour of Shirley's Hike

Friday, May 27, 2011

     Don't have to be at the Temple until 2:15, so I decided to go on a longer hike this morning.
  1. Ground 0 - that's our apartment on the 26th floor, G Building.  Started off at 8:35 AM, I took off going south along San Wan Road.  Follow the road to the Overpass to cross the railroad track and also Fanling Highway.  It is about a 10 degrees incline on the Overpass.
  2. Reach the Avon Park within minutes.  There were people doing kung fu, walking, jugging, dancing, doing exercises on the park equipment, walking dogs, pushing strollers, wheel chair, etc.  
  3. The Chinese instrument group meets at the pagoda playing their music.  The group consists of 5-8 old gentlemen, enjoying themselves at the park and sharing their talents.
  4. The Park has a ball field, open air theater, lots of old banyan trees.
  5. Ground 1 - Entrance to the Wu Tip Trail/Mountain.
  6. A nursing home is on the right after the entrance.
  7. Nice trail, with about 8% incline, mostly, but after the 3rd rest stop area, the steps become more steep.
  8. Ground 2 - a little "Guan Yin and Buddha altar", one can hear the Buddhist music coming from the Buddhist middle school off the trail. There are benches to sit and rest!
  9. Ground 3 - quite steep stairs to lead you to where there is a covered pagoda and a patio for people to do kung fu, dance and whatever exercises you see there.
  10. Ground 4 - the top of the Wu Tip Trail, after many steep steps.  You can choose to come back down on the same trail, go right to the northern end of the trail, or turn left and go down to Wah Ming Estate.
  11. I chose to go down to Wah Ming Estate.  The steps down are steep, but the views are  spectacular.
  12. It was 3.8 km from Ground 4 to Wah Ming Estate.  I made it by 10:15 (started @8:35)
  13. Grocery shopping @ Wah Ming Estate:  a wet market, Park and Shop, a bakery, a few restaurants there.
  14. A mini bus 52A, and big bus #273 would take me back to Fanling Rail Station.
  15. Couldn't find the station (too exhausted to find it), so I walked home.
  16. Walk down Wah Ming Road, then through Avon Park, the Overpass, then home sweet home.
  17. The whole trip took a little over 3 hours, including grocery shopping (about 45 minutes).
  18. It was a fun, moderate hike.  I would recommend it to everyone.



Monday, May 23, 2011

A Very Long Day, 5/22/11

     Visitors coming from afar...we are delighted!

     It was so fun to welcome our dear friends' cousins, the Dalby's and the Miller's to Hong Kong, today, Sunday, May 22.  We left for church services at 8 AM and didn't get home until after 10 PM.  No rest for the wicked, on a day of rest.  It was a very long day indeed.

    President and Sister Aki from the Hong Kong Temple were our speakers at Church today.  They brought such a beautiful spirit with them.  Sister Aki spoke in Cantonese and Sister Pai was her translator.  President Aki spoke in English and President Lin was his translator.  We are lucky to be working with them at the Temple.  It was so encouraging!  One sister came afterwards and asked if Elder Davis and I would be willing to teach her more about temples.   

     After Church, we were able to do some home teaching and visiting teaching.  Since we live so far out, and with our temple working schedule, we opted to do our visiting after church.  It was fun as people are not usually rushing home after church like we do in the US.  Many people would stay and visit.  We met a family from Shenzhen.  They were not members of the church, but the son wanted to bring his parents and brother to attend the church services.  The young man is a junior at BYU.  He loves BYU and begged for his parents to let him go to BYU after attending a university in New York for a semester.  He majors in Accounting and already has secured an internship at Wall Street for the summer.  He's home for a short visit and brought his parents and his younger brother to church.  We also met a couple of young ladies from the Mainland who came to take gospel lessons from the missionaries.  They are going to be baptized next Sunday.  Elwin visited with a young man who is a junior in college and was baptized a couple of months ago.  I visited a young lady who has a 7-year old son.  Her story is a very sad story of the struggles young Chinese women who came from Mainland.  They are not legal residence of Hong Kong, so not allowed to work, but do have a child born here, so they are stuck in between.  We also visited a couple with American husband, Hong Kong wife and a 3-year-old son.  We enjoy visiting with them very much.  

    After the church services and visiting, we went to the Hong Kong Grand Harbor Hotel to meet our new friends.  It was pouring down rain and we weren't quite sure why the bus was taking a long time to come, so we took a taxi.  This was our 3rd time of taking a taxi in Hong Kong.  The hotel is located right by the harbor, hence, the Grand Harbor Hotel.  What a beautiful sight with a glass wall looking out to the harbor.  There was a wedding party taking pictures.  The beautiful bride and the handsome groom had an entourage of 8 bridesmaids and 8 escorts.  It was a beautiful sight.  The Dalby's and the Millers got there around 4 PM.  We were delighted to meet them.

     We first took our new friends on the local bus #15 to the Hollywood Mall to have lunch.  Then, we walked to Lan Lian Garden.  The rain stopped just long enough for us to tour the garden.  It was such a serene place, and the noises of cars and trains nearby were quite muted.  We were all delighted to be there right after the big rain.  The whole garden seemed to be rejuvenated after the hot summer shower.

     After the garden, we took the Tsung Wan Line Light Rail and went to Tsim Sha Tsui for the "symphony of Lights" at 8 PM.  It was so crowded and the light show was not nearly as pretty as the ones we saw before.  It was quite a disappointment.  But it was a good day, nonetheless.    

     The picture below is from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Hong_Kong_Night_Skyline.jpg if you prefer to see one in full resolution.

    Monday morning, we were pleasantly awaken by our young grandchildren on Skype.  We then called everyone and got online with the group video call.  It was great, except for one video kept on getting dropped.  Still, the grandchildren were so happy to see each other online.  Poor Johnny strained his shoulder and collar bone and was wearing a sling.  Noelle's 2 arms are still in the casts, but should come off the next few days.  She's very happy about that, as is her mom.

     After we talked to the children and grandchildren, we did a fast P-day clean-up.  I think I twitched my nose and the vacuuming was all done.  Elwin finished the wash early, so we were able to get out and to meet the Dalby's and the Miller's for our tour today.

    We first went to Tsim Sha Tsui and took the Starr Ferry to Wan Chai.  At Wan Chai, we took everyone to the a very tall building in Hong Kong,  88-story Two International Finance Centre.  We were allowed to go up to the 46th floor and got a great view of the harbor and the buildings around it.  We stopped and had lunch at Subway on Jaffe Road in Wan Chai.  We then stopped by the Church Headquarter on the corner of Gloucester and Fleming Roads.  It's a beautiful building.  We went in and immediately felt the peace and tranquility from the outside world.  

    After the visit to the Church, we took everyone to Johnston Road and picked up the Ding Ding double-decker street car and headed for Central.  We went up the hill on the famous Mid-levels travelators and went up the longest escalators in the world to Caine Road where Dr. Sun Yat Sen's Museum was located.  A couple of postings on this museum appeared in the previous blogs.  It was the Kom Tong Hall, that we referred to before.  It was a fun ride going up and our friends enjoyed the tour very much.  Elwin and I opted to stay at McDonald's down below since we just visited this place for the second time last week.

    We then headed for the jade market.  We decided to take the mini bus down to Central to catch the light rail to the jade market.  It was a fun excursion.  We were all exhausted after touring the jade market, and the Temple Street night market.  It was another good day.

    Last week was mostly work.  But, we celebrated our 44th wedding anniversary a day late, on Saturday after work.  We had a wonderful teppanyaki dinner at the Mix C Mall in Shenzhen.  Elwin bought me a Joyoung blender for the special occasion.  It grinds nuts, makes soybean milk, smoothies, etc.  I missed "the blender" so much, now I have a substitute.  Great gift!

    We look forward to the special days this coming Tuesday and Wednesday when two Apostles of the Lord come to visit Hong Kong.  


Monday, May 16, 2011

Our Choir sang on May 15, 2011

    Yes, Victoria III Branch sang at the District Conference today!  It was a miracle!  Two weeks ago, we started practicing as we were invited to sing at the Conference on May 15.  About 40 people stayed for the choir practice each week.  Naomi and Ben Tai selected two songs and sent us the links to youtube.com where 2 Polynesian sisters sang one of the songs in various arrangements.  I listened to them in disbelief!  They really sounded great!  But we are going to sing in arrangements like them? How? I don't know enough about music to pull this off in just two weeks!

     Listen to them, if you have time.


    Then listen to the Mormon Tabernancle Choir singing "I Know That My Redeemer Lives":


    My fear was confirmed when we found out that most of the 40+ people who stayed for the practice did not know what singing in parts meant, nor did they know what they sang.  So, the few who knew, practiced a few times with the newbies.   On top of that, someone had the bright idea that we should bring in the older Primary girls to sing with us, a different song, but  the music should match well.  Heck, I have a hard time singing my part, let alone trying to merge two songs...

    In any case, it happened...on the Conference day, we first sang "I Know My Redeemer Lives" with everyone singing the 1st verse in unison, and then the Primary girls sang "I Feel My Savior's Love".  After that verse, everyone joined in singing the 4th verse, while the Primary girls sang the 2nd verse of "I Feel My Savior's Love" until the chorus. Then together, everyone sang harmony.  It was the scariest moment to me to direct such complicated pieces of music.  But it happened...they all came together and sounded great!  When the others know what to do and follow a lead, they inspire! 

     For the second song, we sang "How Firm a Foundation".  Three brethren sang the first verse, with baritone singing the first line, tenor came in on the second line, then the bass came in.  It was angelic.  Then the sisters sang the second verse in parts, and ended with everyone singing the 3rd verse.  I truthfully don't remember if each sang parts, or unison, or what in this verse, but they all smiled and it sounded great.  For me, it was a defining moment, the Spirit does help those who try.  As a director, I was getting all the kudos after the Conference when I knew I didn't deserve any of those.  Heaven did help us.  Thank you, thank you!

     I came home Sunday and crashed.  I took a nice long Sunday afternoon nap.  For dinner, we had chicken pasta.  It was delicious.  Later Sunday afternoon, I got the dreaded phone call from the Branch President.  He said:  you did such a good job, we need to start a choir.  I wanted to dig a hole and hide in there forever.  For those who know me, I do not have much musical talent, even though I love music.  

     What happened before that beautiful Sunday was all a blur.   I do remember meeting a sweet lady from India.  She found us on the web and we connected.  When I saw her at the temple, I got the feeling that it was her.  I never met anyone online like that, so it was a special experience.  This lady had the desire to come to the Lord's temple, and her good husband took care of the children for her so she could.  It was beautiful.  I also met a lady from China.  She had just one day in Hong Kong and wanted to come to the Temple.  She also wanted to do some work for her grandmother.  It was a miracle that with the help of the temple staff, we were able to get her ready and do all of the prep work.  It was the most intense 60 minutes I've ever had at the Temple.  Working with these workers was an amazing experience.  They sensed what we needed and stepped in, without a word, and we just got the work done.  What can I say?  It's been wonderful working with these people at the Temple and in the Branch.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Celebrating May

     This has been a very special month.  We celebrated Max's 2nd birthday on May 1, then dear brother-in-law, Stan's b/day was on May 2.  Our sweet Megu turned 12 on May 4.  Elwin had a b/day on May 7, Mother's Day on the 8th, then the finale goes to Shuaner on the 12th for her special day.  We received a gift subscription from the Warr's for the skype premium for multiple video calls.  How fun it was to have all the children on the screen.  The children were so excited to see one another on the computer screen.  Kong had it on the big screen and we even saw Max coming in to the room and started a little temper tantrum session.  It was so cute as we all tried to call him and calm him.  Then he realized we were all talking to him and smiled.  It was so fun!

     The week of May 3-6 brought some members from Thailand.  One sister spoke a little Chinese.  Came to find out that she's of Chinese ancestry and her father made sure she learned Chinese.  She says she has forgotten a lot, but we were able to communicate with her.  Another couple came from India who speak English well enough for us to communicate with them.  They brought with them such sweet spirit and we felt very fortunate to be there with them.  It was a short week for us at the temple as we were invited to participate in the senior missionaries' conference on Saturday, May 7.

     The Senior Missionaries Conference started in Wan Chai chapel with the Asia Area Presidency speaking to us.  They gave us a Q/A at the end and I asked about Church in India.  It was so amazing to know that even though India has suspended visas to the North American missionaries for the past 2 years, the Church is strong and doing well under the leadership of the local members.  As of late, 10 visas have been issued to North American missionaries as educational support staff.  We do see members from India coming to visit Hong Kong regularly.  Then, Elder Wan spoke to us about Kom Tong Hall, the original Church Headquarter in Hong Kong.

     Elder Wan grew up in Kom Tong Hall when his parents were hired to be custodians of the building.  One blog in February was devoted to this when we visited the place.  He told us many interesting tidbits of the place.  Since Kom Tong Hall used to belong to a wealthy family, the Ho family, it was a magnificent mansion.  At one time, his parents applied for him to receive free tuition and fees at the primary school, it was rejected because he lived on 7 Castle Rd, the Kom Tong Hall.  His father had to go to school to prove that he was a custodian to receive the special benefits.  We toured the building with Elder Wan and it was so interesting to hear the background of the architecture, the stain glass, wood work stories.  It is now the Dr. Sun Yat-sen Museum which the Church sold to Hong Kong Government for 53 million dollars, and traded for the property on Wan Chai, a great trade for both the Government and the Church, even though we don't know the details of the transaction.
 Kom Tong Hall as the LDS Church HQ from 1960-2004

    the intricate woodwork of Kom Tong Hall
in front of Kom Tong Hall w/Elder Wan

     After Kom Tong Hall, we headed for Victoria Peak.  It was like a different world from when we took a tram up about 20 years ago.  A beautiful galleria was developed with shopping mall and great restaurants.  We even saw a shop with Hard Rock Cafe t-shirts, but no restaurant yet.  Under the guidance of several missionaries, we were able to find the place where Elder Matthew Cowley dedicated Hong Kong for the preaching of the gospel in 1949, after World War II.  It was a beautiful, tree-lined trail, overlooking Hong Kong Harbor.  This is a must see spot of Hong Kong.  One can catch bus #15 or mini bus #1 at Central or catch the tram to go up there.
  The site where Hong Kong was dedicated for the preaching of the gospel on July 14, 1949

@the Victoria Peak near dedication site

Taking the tram down from Victoria Peak

     It was a delightful conference.  The best part was to be together and socialize with fellow senior missionaries.  Now, we are ready to go back to work.

 Senior Missionaries
     This Sunday brought new experiences.  We listened to talks from the Peterson's and found that Sister Peterson joined the church a few years ago and her husband is from California.  They have a little boy.  We had great Sunday School and Relief Society classes.  Then, we had the choir practice.

     By default, I was asked to be the choir director.  Before we came, I had a nightmare that they asked me to play piano and direct music.  When I saw that a couple of sisters played piano, I was very relieved.  I've waved my arms a few times, but never directed any choir.  But, for this choir, everyone has been so helpful, they picked the music, sent me youtube of what they were supposed to sound like, took care of what we were supposed to wear, to stand, except for directing music themselves.  If I were a real choir director, I might have resented that, but since I'm not, I feel so fortunate that they took care of all those things for me.  So, with a few practices, we are supposed to be singing at the District Conference next Sunday.  God help us!

     Before we close, we wanted you to know that we didn't forget Cinco de Mayo.  After all, we've lived in 5 different places in Texas and have grown to love the culture and the food.  So, for Sunday dinner on the 8th, we had Mexican food.  The Leonards and 6 missionaries joined us after choir practice and we had a great time.

     To prepare for the Mexican dinner, I found homemade recipe for 'refried bean w/o the fry' which was excellent.  I went to the grocery store and found tortillas, salsa, and also tortilla chips, which cost us an arm and a leg.  Unfortunately, I wasn't able to find olives and avocados.  May be better luck next time.   The menu is below:

     chicken enchiladas - http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Chicken-Enchiladas/Detail.aspx
     refried beans - http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Refried-Beans-Without-the-Refry/Detail.aspx
     Spanish rice - http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Spanish-Rice/Detail.aspx?prop31=2
     layered bean dip - http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Spicy-Layered-Bean-Dip/Detail.aspx?prop31=4  (no olives)
     Pork roast - pork tenderloin, baked (would be better to make it into carnitas)
     tortilla chips
     Try it!  It's fun and delicious!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Sunday, May 1, 2011

    We had our fast and testimony meeting today and several of the sisters who received their endowments the day before shared their testimonies.  One such lady went up to share her testimony.  She started speaking in Mandarin, but then she said: I'm speaking in Cantonese because I'm too excited that I can't speak in Mandarin.  She started talking very fast in Cantonese.  Her home-teacher went on stage to help her translate since most people there didn't speak Cantonese, but she was speaking so fast that he couldn't put in a word.  It was so funny, but also so spiritual at the same time.  We couldn't understand what she said, but we sure understood her heart and the messages she gave us.  Is that called the gift of interpretation?

    On another note, our Branch has been asked to sing in the District Conference on May 15, 2 weeks away.  I don't know how I got volunteered to be the conductor, but it happened.  I could not convince anyone that I didn't know how to conduct a choir.  So, I asked for the first practice after Church today.  Everyone, or almost everyone stayed for the practice.  What an amazing spirit they have here.  Sister Dai picked the music and Sister Pai will play the piano.  We also have 10 missionaries who will sing with us.  Heaven helps us!

   We were invited to the Dai's for dinner after church.  They also invited the 10 missionaries, the Branch president and his wife, the Elder's Quorum president and his daughter, and one more person.  They took us in their car, and asked their older children to take the bus with the missionaries.  When we got to their house, the food was all ready.  They have an Indonesian lady who cooked and it was very nice.  There was a pot of delicious curried rice, an Indonesia dish with vegetables, tofu and a special hot sauce, chicken wings, a salad dish over rice, and desserts of brownies and carrot cake.  Everything was so delicious.   Their living room is bigger than our whole apartment.  They live in Causeway Bay and it was very nice.

   As I was talking to Sister Dai, who is Japanese, I mentioned Elaine had served a mission in Fukuoka.  She remembered Elaine, or Sister Davis as they served on the same mission and also because Elaine was the only American sister missionary there.  What a small world!  They have 6 lovely children, ages 2 - 14 and Elaine has 5, ages 3-14.  It'll be fun for them to get together when Elaine and her family come to Hong Kong later this year.

  It was a fun day as we also got to talk to most of our children Sunday night.  Monday is a public holiday in Hong Kong, and we have to work at the temple, so no p-day this week.  The temple is open on public holidays so that those who generally cannot come due to work schedules and family considerations can attend on those days; needless to say, the temple is especially busy on those days.