Sunday, July 31, 2011

Sunday, July 24

    Where did the time go?  The blog is one week behind...must be having too much fun, or too busy.  The week of July 18, we worked the PM shift, 2:30 - 9:15 PM.  It's nearly 11 PM by the time we arrive home.  We are busy, but happy!  We continue to try to help the new temple missionaries.  They are adjusting quite well.  When one is doing the Lord's errand, the blessings abound.

    One happy thing for me when we work the afternoon shift is that it affords me time to go out for hikes, walks and grocery shopping in the morning.  I was able to do the above mentioned things almost everyday, from Tuesday to Friday, July 19-22.  On Saturday, we went to Shenzhen in the afternoon to get my hair done and do some small shopping.  We love the sour milk from China, which is not available in Hong Kong.  We usually pick up 2 or 3 of the 2 litter bottles of this sour (yogurt) milk at the grocery store, such as Wal Mart or Trust Mart in Shenzhen.
    The most amazing thing that happened had to be that I was able to get hold of Sister Shih,  who was baptized on Jan. 9, 2011.  The missionary who baptized her was getting ready to go home and asked if I'd try to get hold of her to invite her to the farewell party.  I tried several times to call her without success since she has moved a couple of times since moving back to China, but I felt confident that I would be able to talk to her this time, which I did.  On my first try to her cell phone, she answered.  She was delighted that I called and told me that she was doing well.  When I told her that her missionary was going home and would like for her to attend his farewell, she said she very seldom travels by herself, but she would pray about it and see if she could come to Hong Kong to attend the farewell and visit the temple.  She called me back the next day, Thursday, July 21 and told me she would come.  I was so happy and told her I'd wait for her at the temple on Saturday.

    When we got off the bus at around 2 PM on Friday, July 22, the Elder called to tell me that Sister Shih was here at the Kowloon Tong Station.  I asked if she would come to the temple then, and she agreed.  What a happy reunion that was.  She did temple work for her late parents and late husband.  It was very emotional and we all felt the Spirit.  I walked her to the bus station afterwards for her to check into the hotel in Wan Chai.  She invited us and the missionaries for lunch on Saturday.  Everything worked out so well.  We had a delicious lunch buffet in Wan Chai at the Charter House.  She insisted on paying the bill which was around US $100 for the 5 of us.  She was very gracious.  She brought me special summer drinks and bought me a skirt at the Time Square mall.  She even took off her special bracelet and gave it to me to remember her.  I was overcome with her kindness.  It was a very special weekend because of her.
Sister Shih and Shirley

    On Sunday, July 10, 3 people were baptized.  I forgot to include this event in the July10 entry, partly because we had a 7-hour day and we were so tired and went to sleep in the train and missed our stop.  In any case, here was what happened:

   Sister Liu 劉國萍, Sister Wu 吳晶, and Brother Pong 溤源浩 entered the waters of the baptism and became the newest members of Victoria III Branch on Sunday, July 10.  劉國萍 is a senior at the Hong Kong Polytech, is very friendly, outgoing and pleasant.  Sister Wu is probably in her 30's and came to know the gospel a few years back.  She is shy and didn't say much.  Brother Pong is in his 60's and lives in Hong Kong, but is on his way back to China for the summer.  He has had the missionary lessons for a couple of years, but never could make a decision on what he should do.  Every night when he wanted to read the scriptures, his family would interrupt him and made it very hard for him.  He remembered the missionaries told him the only way to know what he should do was to read the scriptures and ask the Lord to help him see it clearly.  Well, one morning, he decided to get up early to read the scriptures and to pray without his family interfering.  As he did, he opens up his scriptures, the words jumped up at him so clearly.  He read and read and received a confirmation that the gospel was true and wanted to be baptized.  Of course, the missionaries were very happy, we were happy for him, and the most happiest of all was of course, he, himself.  We enjoyed hearing their conversion stories.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Sunday, July 17, 2011 (update on 8/1)

     It has been a great week.  The Hong Kong Temple stayed very busy as people came back to visit the temple after closing for 2-weeks of maintenance work.  We saw many new people from all over and were thrilled to hear their stories and their excitement in entering the temple for the first time for a lot of them.  We met a 12-year old boy who was waiting for his mom.  We talked with him and when we were ready to say good-bye, he said to us:  I hope you have a successful mission.  Wow, what a boy!  The maturity, the social skills, and the pleasant demeanor impressed me.  The gospel shines on his face and in his heart.  Here is a picture:  (it was so humid outside which fogged up the camera lens):
the 12-year-old boy from China and his friend with us
    On Tuesday, July 12, we welcomed our new senior missionaries, the Deans, who joined us as temple missionaries.  We were assigned to be their hosts and busied ourselves to get their apartment ready.  The Bishops and the Wilson's set a good example for us as our hosts when we came, 8 months ago.  I'm posting a list here to remind us of what to do when the next set of missionaries come:  (many supplies were stored in the temple storage units for the missionaries)

  1. bedroom:  made sure a comfortable bed was brought with a nice padding, 2 sets of sheets, 4 or 5 comforters/blankets, a couple of chest of drawers, a heater, a fan 
  2. office/bedroom: desk, 2 office chairs, a clothes rack, a rod to hang clothes over the window ledge (about 30" wide), a fan, a heater.
  3. living room:  a nice couch, a rattan easy chair, TV w/stand, 2 bookcases
  4. dining area:  a dining room table that folds with 4 chairs, 2 extra chairs, a toaster oven with a nice stand, water dispenser
  5. bathroom:  4 sets of towels, extra wash cloths, bath mat, floor mats, cleaning supplies
  6. kitchen:  6 place-settings of ceramic dishes, 8 place-settings of melamine dishes (left by the Bishops), plenty of glasses and mugs, a set of pots and pans, a microwave, a refrigerator, a toaster, a shelf unit, lots of plastic containers, kitchen rug, dish cloths, dish towels, 2 aprons, cleaning supplies
  7. foods:  the Wilson's and us split the bill and supplied some basic food items, such as spaghetti and sauce, some spices, ham, bread, butter, eggs, juice, milk, cereal, and a basket of fruits
    The Deans are very gracious people and appreciated the things that we and the temple staff have done for them.  They came from St. George, Utah.  George served in the then Southern Far East Mission and learned Mandarin and some Cantonese.  They will be a wonderful addition to the Hong Kong Temple.  We spent the rest of the week showing them places to go to get foods and supplies, and the work they would be doing at the temple.  We hosted a luncheon for them at our apartment on Tuesday.  For lunch, we had a mix of American salads, Chinese soup and fried rice, and ended with the famous custard and coconut tarts.  It was a fun, busy week for us all.

    During the week we had some of the people attending the temple who came from diverse places in China.  They also came to the Victoria III Mandarin Speaking Branch for church services.  We were so happy to see them.  We are all brothers and sisters, and yet we live in two worlds apart.  Their tenacity to stay true to the gospel touches me greatly.

    After church Sunday, we had all 8 missionaries in the Victoria Third branch home to our apartment for Sunday dinner.  We had spaghetti, garlic bread, salads, mixed vegetables for dinner.  Thanks to Cami and Alice for sending spaghetti spices, mixes, garlic bread topping, Parmesan cheese...the spaghetti was delicious.  For dessert, I made a batch of brownies and a batch and a half of carrot cake with caramel frosting, topped with ice-cream.  Visiting with the missionaries is always the highlight of our dinner.  One Elder shared the story from the July Ensign on "Start Moving", about a couple of storm jumpers:  "Relaxing on the ridge may seem a safe way to avoid making mistakes, but it’s also a way to avoid making progress".  It was a good article to remind us of our roles as children of God.  President Packer made the following remarks:

President Boyd K. Packer, President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, has taught us:

“We are expected to use the light and knowledge we already possess to work out our lives. We should not need a revelation to instruct us to be up and about our duty, for we have been told to do that already in the scriptures; nor should we expect revelation to replace the spiritual or temporal intelligence which we have already received—only to extend it. We must go about our life in an ordinary, workaday way, following the routines and rules and regulations that govern life.

“Rules and regulations and commandments are valuable protection. If we need revealed instruction to alter our course, it will be waiting along the way as we arrive at the point of need.”1

    The full article can be found at:

    Our 8 month mark is approaching.  It's hard to think that we've been here that long.  I hope we heed the counsel of President Packer to be doers of the work and not wait around for things to happen.

Update:  A brethren from Tianjing, China was baptized after church today.  Brother Tang 湯杰 was a pleasant man in his early 40's (I think).  He was curious about the Church when he walked by the Church Building in Wan Chai.  The Church does have a beautiful 12-story building in one of the most expensive, prosperous financial districts of Hong Kong.  The Church has a kiosk outside with a 52" screen.  People can touch the screen and see whichever topic they may be interested in.  It's usually very loud outside, so people would walk in to take a look.  Inside of the building, there is a large lobby with beautifully arranged fresh orchid arrangement, several church paintings.  It's like another world from outside.  Anyhow, missionaries gather around there to take a break from their proselyting or appointments.  This guy walked in and had some interesting conversation with the Mandarin speaking missionaries.  They talked for a while and he realized he just missed the plane leaving Shenzhen which was almost an hour away.  In any case, he left and hurried to the Shenzhen airport.  To his amazement, the plane was delayed.  The passengers were all angry for the long delay, but he was so happy as he had ample time to catch the flight to go back.  When he came back to Hong Kong again on business, he met up with the missionaries again and again.  Today, he was baptized.  The room was full and everyone lingered to congratulate him. He said his life has been calm and happy.  He loves the feeling.  We know he will be an instrument in God's hand to bring many souls into the Church.  We were all so happy for him.   
at the front lobby of the Wan Chai Church Building

Friday, July 15, 2011

Taiwan Journal, Part 1, Taipei

    With permission, we were allowed to visit Taiwan during our 2 weeks of break while Hong Kong Temple was going through some maintenance work.  You see, as senior missionaries, during a break, we are allowed to go to anywhere in China, Mongolia, Thailand, Singapore, or even India, without special permissions because they are all within our mission boundaries.  But, we could not go to Taiwan, because it's out of the mission boundaries.  Anyhow, since I have two aging uncle and aunt in Taiwan who have been quite ill, we were granted special permission to go for a visit.

    Uncle Shih is losing strength in his legs, but in good spirit.  He tries to speak English to Elwin, as he did before.  Aunt Ah Yu pretty much forgot who I was until I reminded her that my mom, who went to high school with her, was "Mei-lien"san (her Japanese name).  She kept on repeating that name and then, suddenly, she remembered that was my mom.  She even asked if mom's leg was amputated.  Well, mom's leg was amputated 23 years ago from diabetes related problems.  So, she did remember us.  Wow, I was so glad to see them.  They made me miss my parents who have been gone for a long time now.
             Ah-Hui, Uncle Shih, Aunt Juan                  Uncle Shih and Elwin

                                                 Ah-Dean, Aunt Ah-Yu, Ah-Hui

     Visiting Aunt Mei-Juan was always a fun experience for me.  She's my mom's youngest sister.  Since mom's been gone for 20 years, she's become my closest relative.  Her daughter, Jean-yu (Nancy), is probably our closest cousin as we communicate by e-mail regularly.  We arrived in Taipei, Thursday, June 23.  After checking into the hotel, we went to see her.  I had Nancy reserved a table at a restaurant near where they lived in Da-An District, off Xin-Yi Road.  Except for Ming and her two girls, all of Aunt Mei-Juan's children, grandchildren (2), and great-grandchild were there.  Uncle Shih was sitting in a wheel chair because of the weakness in his legs.  It was sad.  He was a Taiwan Air Force Colonel when he retired and was always very kind to us.  Nancy spent the next day, Friday, June 24, helping me get some of my genealogy documents from the city offices.  It was fun, but tiring as we walked, taxied, to various places.  But, at last, we did as much as we could and were rewarded with a shopping trip to Xi Man Ding, 西門町 and 城中市場.  I love shopping in Taiwan.  They seem to have clothes I like, the sizes I need and also the styles that I'm more used to.  The rain didn't dampen our spirits.  Nancy and I ended up with a bowl of shaved-ice with 4 toppings, mangoes, pineapples, red beans, and condensed milk.  I'll repent and go on a diet tomorrow.  That was all I could do.  There is no such thing as willpower when it comes to shaved-ice in Taiwan.  It was delicious.  Since Elwin went back to the hotel to rest and didn't go with us, I'm going to have to bring him here tomorrow.  He loves shaved-ice.

    Nancy left at 4 PM as I told her I'd walk back to the hotel which would give me a chance to  browse through ton's of vendors on my way back.  As I was walking, there was a tap on my shoulder.  I couldn't believe my eyes, it was my dear friend, Clare Banks, from Dixie State.  We were going to meet at the hotel at 5 (I knew she was in Taiwan taking care of her mom).  Well, she was an hour early, so she wanted to do some browsing too.  Coincidence?  May be!  We walked back to get Elwin and went to the most popular part of 西門町 where we used to go to watch movies.  The place has changed a lot, but it is still 西門町.  We were treated with a big bowl of Korean BBQ, with rice, and a bowl of boiling soup (still boiling when it was served).  It was so good that we had no problems finishing up everything we ordered.  Thanks, Clare!
 Shirley and Clare in Taipei, 6/24

    Saturday was a day for us as we had lunch at Cousin Nancy's daughter's Italian Restaurant.  It was excellent as usual.  It was delightful to be with Nancy, her boy friend, Huang Lu Shi, and Meri, Cousin Ah-kin's daughter, for a very good Italian food.  Elwin had his usual lasagna, I had my seafood pasta.  Afterwards, we went to see Meri's mom.  Meri's mom and my mom were the best friends when they were growing up.  Meri's grandfather is my mom's oldest brother.  But since the two of them were close in age, they did things together a lot.  May be because they lived in the big house with Grandpa Shih.  They were nicknamed soldier boys because they were adventurous.  It was too bad we didn't see my cousin as I was ready to ask her to share some of their growing up stories.  Meri took us to her mom's house even though she was away.  The apartment is located in Da-Zhi 大直.  It was a pent house apartment.  The living room overlooks Ji-Long River and had a projection TV that comes out when a button was pushed.  It was a very fancy apartment.  Two domestic helpers came out to greet us and had all sorts of snacks ready for us too.
Huang Lu Shih and Nancy Shih
Jia Jia, Meri, Shirley and Elwin

     Later that afternoon, we were able to visit our old friend, Grace Fisher.  Her mom passed away a few days earlier and we were able to visit with her and her siblings to give them our condolences.

     We couldn't go to Taipei without visitng Fang Mama.  She helped me raised the kids when we lived in Taiwan from 1977 - 82.  Elwin was the engineering manager working for Philco, Taiwan.  The Fang family still lives in Tien Mou in their old apartment.  They told us that people in their area were offered a large sum to rebuild their building into a skyscraper.  This would instantly make them very wealthy as land there was very valuable.  We were so happy to see her and her husband.  They are both in their mid-70's and in good health.  Fang Mama missed our children and continues to ask for their well-being.  Our children have fond memories of her too.   

    Sunday, June 26th - we attended church at Jin Hua Jie, 金華街。  Even though Elwin and I didn't meet in Taiwan, we had common places that we visited a lot.  Elwin was one of the early missionaries who picked up the shovels to build this first church building in Taiwan.  I, too, had worked there many times, but my paths never crossed there until we were both attending BYU.  The place now housed a beautiful Taipei Temple and the Church Office, Chapels and stake center.  We went early to see if we'd see someone we knew.  It was a long shot, and we didn't see anyone we knew, except for a missionary, Elder Xu 余 who was in our Branch in Hong Kong, but is serving the last part of his mission in Taiwan.  Coincident?  Not really.  We decided to attend the English Speaking Branch where our friends, the McGhee's attend.  The McGhee's are in Provo for the summer, so we knew we would miss them.  But we met many senior missionaries from Taiwan.  It was great.  At the Sunday School, we met a couple from Riverside, CA.  We mentioned to them that our son and his family would be at UCR to do research work for his Ph.D. and inquired about the housing situations there.  What happened next was unbelievable.  They offered an open invitation for the kids to go visit and they'd show them around and help them in anyway they could.  This was the first time we met them and how gracious they were to offer help to our kids.  In fact, Cami already went to visit last week and we knew this probably wouldn't have happened so fast if it wasn't for the help for the Samaritans.  We love the spirit we feel at the church.  People are truly Christians.
Taipei Temple
Taipei Church Headquarter

LDS Mission Home and Administrative Building
LDS Church Headquarter
     We went back to Uncle Shih's house one more time and wish him well.  We saw the tears of joy as we walked in to his house.  How grateful I am that the Temple President granted us permission to visit Taiwan and see my uncle again.  His health is deteriorating quickly.  May the Lord be with him and his family.

     This ends the portion of our trip to Taipei as we leave on a bullet train the next morning to go down to Tainan.  Many wonderful things await us and we are anxious to go.   (the Taiwan high speed rail travels almost 200 miles an hour which put us from Taipei to Tainan in an hour and 15 minutes)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Off to Zhuhai we go!

We took a ferry to Zhuhai, China, on the afternoon of June 18.  We caught the ferry at the China Ferry port and took the 70-minute ride there.  We booked a hotel through RCI (one of the very few times we were able to do this successfully).  We had a great time staying at the "Paradise Hill Hotel" which was an older hotel that Premier Dong Xiao Ping used to stay at when he went to visit Zhuhai.

What a great time we had there with some friends.  On Sunday, we were able to attend Church remotely through an Internet hook-up since we weren't allowed to meet with the Chinese members.  It was so cool.  We felt the Spirit.

On Monday, June 20, we went to Zhongshan to visit Dr. Sun Yat-sun's old home.  It was really special as we read through story after story of his struggles to build the modern day China.  He is the Father of Modern Day China, both acknowledged by the People's Republic of China and Taiwan (Republic of China).

On Tuesday, June 21, a very unusual event happened.  I was able to meet my best friend from primary school, Wu Liyun and her family in Macau.  We haven't seen each other since the 5th grade.  A few years ago, we were connected by a common friend.  Liyun was a Special Ed teacher and her husband taught at the University of Ohio, Special Ed.  We recognized each other right away.  The funny thing was that Elwin and her husband hit it off liked old pals.  They had so much in common, it was unbelievable.  Their son and daughter-in-law came too and we had a great time.

We had the buffet lunch at the famed Star World Restaurant.  We had a great lunch when we went to visit Macau in January with the other senior missionaries.  We then went to see the Dragon Treasure at the Bubble.  I found a you-tube video that you might enjoy.  It was almost 10 minutes long, but worth the time.

The next day, we had a ferry time schedule of 5 PM, but there was a typhoon approaching Macau.  Since we had a flight to catch the next day to Taiwan, we decided to leave early.  We were back to Hong Kong by 3:30 PM.  My sister's friend, who came to Hong Kong to visit her family, brought us a couple of care packages.  We met them at the bus station after we got off the ferry; it was already raining from the effects of the typhoon.  It was a wonderful trip and we ended up with care packages to boot.  It was great.  When we returned to our apartment, we washed all of our dirty clothes from our Zhuhai trip and repacked our bags for Taiwan.   

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Time to get back to the blog:  Since the temple was closed for 2 weeks for maintenance work, we were able to do some traveling.

We'll start out with our Sunday blog first, then take you back to the last 2 weeks for our great trip.

When we went to Church in Wanchai Sunday, it was like entering a different ward/branch.  Luckily, most of the missionaries were still there. So we knew we were at the right place.

The Sacrament speakers included a lady who came back to visit Hong Kong after serving a mission and is now going to a law school in the States.  She was raised in Toronto, Canada.  Her testimony was truly awesome.  She told of the story of her grandmother and her grandmother's conversion, which  brought tears in my eyes as we experienced a lot of the similar things.  Then, Elder K spoke because he will be going home in a couple of weeks.  I was so impressed at how well these missionaries have picked up the language.  He did the whole talk in Mandarin Chinese.  Incredible!

We were asked to go work with the youth at the Sunday School.  It was so fun to watch their energy.  After the church services, there were 3 people being baptized into the church.  One man was in his 60's and told us he had been waiting for the right moment to join the Church.  We are glad he did.  The other two told us the struggles and challenges they faced to gain their testimonies.

It was a long day at church.  We spent two hours on the road, 3 hours for the regular services, 2 hours for the baptisms.  We were so tired that after we got on the MTR (1st class coach), we went to sleep.  We didn't wake up until we passed our station.  It was so funny.  We grabbed our stuff and jumped out when we found out we were already almost to the China Border.  We hopped on the MTR going the other way and were home by 4 PM.

We spent the evening with the Wilsons.  We enjoyed a delicious dinner, then we shared the photos of our trips from the past 2 weeks.  It was a lot of fun.

The next temple break is from Nov. 28 through Dec. 12.  We are looking forward to it as Elaine and her family will be visiting us in Hong Kong.