Saying good-bye to July was to realize that our mission is almost half over with. While we are serving the Lord in Hong Kong, we see with our own eyes the mercy and love He has for all his children, including us. He has sent many guardian angels around us. We feel many of your prayers for us to keep us safe and help us to be good shepherd for His flock here in Asia.
For our P-day, Aug. 1, we hurried and cleaned up our apartment. Since it's only 450 square feet, it really didn't take long to clean. Afterwards, we took the Deans and headed for Shenzhen for a fun trip. We took the Deans to the tailor we've been using, Mr. Liu, in unit 5105. We had already bought cloth in Hong Kong, so it didn't take long for Mr. Liu to do some measurements to make the guys some dress slacks for work. Michele had some skirts done and I had a top and skirt made with a floral print. The price for the tailoring was reasonable enough that we could have custom made clothes costing about the same as ready bought ones. Masako, an LDS from Japan that we met at the temple, came and met us there. She's lived in Hong Kong for a while and was so willing to share what she knew. She took us to a good jewelry shop and showed us where to eat. She and I went on to the "Dafen" Art Village after we finished up in Luohu.
Masako and I took a local bus #306 (cost RMB$ 3, or US$ 0.45) for 30 minutes to get there. According to Wikitravel, this is what Dafen Art Village is:
"Dafen Oil Painting Village (大芬油画村; Dàfèn Yóuhuà Cūn), Dafen Village, Buji, 龙岗区布吉街道大芬社区 (Buses: 300, 372 and 357. Da Fen You Hua Cun (大芬油画村) stop). If
you do nothing else in your visit to Shenzhen, see Dafen. In 1988, a
Hong Kong businessman called Wong Kong, who had a business specializing
in reproduction art, decided that there was no future in Hong Kong and
set up in Dafen, even though it was not in the SEZ. Soon he was joined
by artists from all over China, some classically trained but many just
talented amateurs fresh from the paddy fields. And so Dafen was born. It
is set in an old Hakka village and consists of street after street of
shops selling art. Much of it is rubbish but some of China's best
artists also have studios in Dafen. For a few hundred Yuan you can
commission an artist to copy your favorite piece of art, your wedding
photo, or photos of your family. Insist on "A" quality - it costs a
little more but it's worth it. You can also get incredibly rapid framing
while you wait and inexpensive art supplies. There is a handsome modern
gallery exhibiting works by Dafen local painters. And don't miss the
experience of the Qi Xing teahouse, built round several 300 year old
Hakka houses with beautiful courtyards."
Dafen Art Village is huge with hundreds of shops. Masako introduced me to a couple of the artists that she met. They'd paint anything for you and they all seemed to do a very good job. Masako's two paintings, one on the "resurrected Christ" and the other "Queen Esther" were beautifully done. I think it would be hard to find one artist that you like since they all paint different things. Another thing I would be concerned would be the copyright issues. I have in mind to have the Hong Kong Temple done in oil. I was given some copyright free versions from some friends who took the pictures with their own cameras. I was very grateful for that. Elwin and I will certainly take a closer look to see which picture we like best and venture out to have an oil done.
Masako knows exactly where to eat too. We went to a little "hole-in-the-wall" dumpling shop and we each had 20 dumplings for RMB $8. The young lady rolled out the dumpling dough and made them fresh for us. They were delicious. I guess you can eat cheap in Shenzhen if you have Masako to take you around.
After we came back from Shenzhen, We had senior missionary Family Home Evening at the Wilson's. I have made a rotation chart and the Wilson are in charge of the food, Davis for the activities, and the Deans, spiritual thoughts. Lasagna was excellent, the dessert was cheese cake with blueberry topping. Hats off to Sister Wilson, it was excellent food. The spiritual message was from Brother Dean. He told of his ancestors' conversion story from Armenia. What a P-day!
This week finds us doing PM shift at the temple. We were delighted to meet a young couple from Mumbai, India. They brought their 2-year-old son to be sealed as an eternal family. The sacrifice they made to get to Hong Kong was amazing. We only could guess how much they had to save to make such a once-in-a-life trip. When the sister passed out in the temple, I only could guess that she was starving. We "happened" to have a pack of rolls, a jar of peanut butter, a jar of jam, some yogurts, and fruit around. She was happy when we offered it to her. A few missionaries found out about it and also offered some help too. It all worked out! Hallelujah!
We also met a mother from Sichuan Province, China, with her 18-year-old son who came to the Youth Conference last weekend. The mother prayed that her son would have the desire to serve a full time mission for the Church. She asked for special priesthood blessings and asked Elwin and myself to encourage her son to go on a mission. We know the son would do great because of this righteous mother. We continued to meet one or two people from China who took the 30+ hours of train ride to be in the House of the Lord. We also met a young couple from Thailand to prepare themselves for a temple wedding at the end of the year. They are both professionals and spent all day at the temple for 3 days. There is a special spirit about the Thai saints. They are so faithful. We are so happy to see them.
Then there were the Mongolian couple and their granddaughter who showed up at the temple on Wednesday. The sister has been in a wheelchair because of birth defect, born without feet. They must be in their late 60's, or early 70's. They don't speak a word of Chinese. Apparently they took a bus from Mongolia to Beijing. From there, they transferred to the train and rode it all the way to Shenzhen. With her in the wheelchair (no feet), her husband with poor health, and the granddaughter who is only 15 years old, they had a lot of faith to come all this distance to the Hong Kong Temple with all the challenges that they must have faced, without Chinese language ability to communicate, and having serious disabilities. One of the brethren from the temple went to Shenzhen to get them return train tickets to go home since they weren't able to buy any when they came. In the end, it all worked out. The Lord sure takes care of His children. I know there were guardian angels accompanying them too. We are learning more from these humble people than them learning anything from us. What a humbling experience this has been!
At church Sunday, Sister Zhen Jin was confirmed a member of the Church. She was baptized last week. A young lady, who just graduated from Hong Kong Technology and Science College, she was so touched by the Spirit. I went to sit with her after her confirmation and she was still trembling because she was so excited. It was a fast and testimony meeting, so we were blessed to hear many people's testimonies. They all talked about the mighty change the gospel has brought into their lives. As members of the Victoria III Branch, our mission is to continue to befriend these people and help them grow in the gospel. We can see they are teaching more to us than we are teaching them.
After church, all 8 missionaries were invited to come and have dinner with us. The menu is as follows: (this is to remind me of what I have made and not to repeat too much) Since we only have a very small kitchen, a few pots and pans, and a toaster oven, menu had to be planned to allow each detail to be carried out.
Teriyaki chicken (made a Yoshida like sauce and cooked it in the dutch oven b/c the toaster oven was too small to cook all the chicken)
Pork tenderloin: breaded and pan fried
scalloped potatoes: cooked the potatoes in the croak pot, made a cheese sauce for it
rice topped with stir-fried beef and green beans in curry sauce (hot)
rolls (3 packs of whole wheat rolls, 2 packs of croissants)
watermelon balls (quite a cooler for the hot days)
peach cobbler w/ice-cream
We love our missionaries and enjoyed our time together. Elwin started the conversation chain by asking each missionary to share success story of the week. It was cool!