Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A Magical Sunday (Oct. 23, 2011)

     It was pretty magical how the Asian Area Conference was conducted on this special Sunday, October 23, 2011.  All the saints in Hong Kong gathered in various stake buildings to hear the leaders of the Church speak via satellite transmission.  The whole Wan Chai Church Building was divided into different sessions to accommodate different languages, Cantonese, Mandarin Chinese and English.  There were signs posted everywhere so everyone knew where to go.
     Bishop Burton of the Presiding Bishopric  conducted the Conference.  The first speaker was Russell T. Osguthorpe of the Sunday School General President.  The second speaker was Ann M. Dibb, the second Counselor in the Young Women General Presidency.  Then Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke to us.  It was just like listening to General Church Conference.  After Elder Scott, our Asian Area President, Elder Perkins spoke to us.  It seemed as if he were in Salt Lake with the others, and yet we just saw him in the building in Hong Kong.  It was prerecorded making it a very smooth transition from one speaker to the next.  How technology has helped advanced the preaching of the gospel.  I wonder if King Mosiah from the Book of Mormon time would be astonished to see what we are doing today.

     After the Conference, our own Victoria III Mandarin Branch had a baptism for 2 young women, 胡騫予, 李夢夏 .  The missionaries have been working with them and it was so good to see them commit to the waters of baptism.  The missionaries are doing a fantastic job here.  The meetings are always full of investigators, who are referrals from members, or people from the mainland China interested in hearing more about the gospel.  It's a young branch as we see many young people, many are college students.
Sister Hu, Sister Li, Bro. Chow, Elder Chung
Sister Hu, Sister Li and the missionaries
    There were also 2 young missionaries who came from Hainan and Zhuhai to be ordained as missionaries.  They will be going to Provo for the Missionary Training for 9 weeks before going to Sidney, Australia for their mission.  Elder Hu's dad came with him which was very special as we are seeing member families from China now.  The scripture from Doctrine and Covenants 65:2 came to mind.
"The keys of the kingdom of God are committed unto man on the earth, and from thence shall the gospel roll forth unto the ends of the earth, as the stone which is cut out of the mountain without hands shall roll forth, until it has filled the whole earth."
Elder Hu, Sister Wong, Brother Hu, S/E Davis

      The week at the temple was very interesting as we welcomed 15 members from Thailand.  As you may have heard from the news, Thailand was flooded by the run off from tropical depressions (former typhoons) in the northern mountains which have culminated in one of the worst flooding in Thailand history.  75% of the country's provinces have been impacted with more than 2 million displaced from their homes.  As of today, (Oct. 24), Thai floods threaten larger areas of Bangkok as reported by the Wall Street Journal.
"The government has switched to a crisis mode as a massive run-off will arrive in the capital on October 26, coinciding with a high tide on October 28," the Flood Relief Operations Centre (FROC) said in a statement.

       We are expecting 50 members from Thailand in the coming week, but we are not sure if they will come now because of the floods.  Our prayers go to the people of Thailand.  We know the Church is right there along with the other charitable organizations to render help.
       Saturday, Oct. 22 was also a happy day for Sister Chung from Victoria III Branch who came to the temple for the first time.  It was a joyous occasion as many members came to support her and help her celebrate.

Sister Chung and some members of Victoria III BranchAdd caption

    It's been a busy, but fulfilling week, indeed!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Senior Missionaries and the Family Home Evening

October 10-16, 2011
     We hosted the October FHE at our apartment for the temple senior missionaries and the Hong Kong Mission Office senior couple.  We senior missionaries are almost as busy as the young missionaries and don't have a lot of time to spend together.  So, we decided that at least once a month we should clear our calendar and meet.  We have been doing this for a while.  
     Elwin and I stopped by the Hong Kong Mission Office to order some name tags and met the new HK Mission Office Missionaries.  They are the Kesler's from the Draper, UT, area.  They came to Hong Kong before their predecessors left, so they ended up staying at the Temple Patron Housing for almost 2 months.  It's like staying at a Fairfield Inn for 2 months.  I asked Sister Kesler what she missed the most and she said:  Mexican food.  So, we invited them to join us for the FHE and they were delighted to join us.  I told Sister Kesler I'd try to make some Mexican food for her.  So, it was decided that we'd treat everyone to a Mexican dinner.  It was a fun evening as I prepared the Mexican Feast which I practiced on the young missionaries the previous week.  The dinner menu included enchiladas, chicken tacos, baked potatoes w/nacho cheese, refried beans, pico de Gallo, salad, and chocolate chip cookies for dessert.  Since the ingredients for Mexican food were hard to come by, most of the dishes were homemade.  The senior missionaries ate less than half of what the Jr. missionaries did.  I could see Elwin's expressions that he might be eating leftover Mexican food for the rest of his mission.  The Spiritual thoughts were given by the Wilson's and the Deans provided the activities for us.  We enjoyed our evening together and look forward to the next one at the Dean's.

     The week at the Temple was a busy one as we helped with visitors from India, Mongolia, Cambodia, Thailand, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, China, the Philippines, and the US.  This truly is a temple for all of Asia.  We never knew what language we would be using until we saw who was attending.  The temple workers are amazing.  We have some who are trilingual, a lot of them speak both English and Cantonese.  Elwin and I speak English and Mandarin.  We seem to be able to cover most until the Mongolians, the Thai, the Cambodians and the Indonesians come.  I started putting greeting words in each of the languages on a cheat sheet and put it in our pocket, so we could at least greet the temple patrons in their own language.  Each group tries to bring a translator with them to make things go easier.  Except for the one time when an older couple (have to be careful with this term since most of them are probably younger than we are!) from Mongolia came a couple of months ago (posted on an earlier blog).  We had a heck of a time trying to talk to them.  The Office had to call Mongolia to get the communications going.  It was quite an experience there.

     It was a special Sunday at the Victoria 3rd branch as we had speakers, the Bradfords, from Victoria I branch.  Brother Bradford is a returned missionary from Taiwan and spoke Mandarin well.  His wife used a translator.  We are fortunate to have a wealth of people who come to visit and share gospel messages with us. 

     We have been visiting the Liu family on Sunday afternoons.  It has been a fun experience visiting with the family.  They live across the court yard from us.  They own 2 flats in that apartment complex and are the Dean's landlords.  Dr. Liu is a Chinese medicine doctor finishing up his internship in Guangxi Province.  We visited with him when he was home for the holidays.  While he's gone, we visit with Mrs. Liu and their 7-year-old daughter Cindy.  Elwin helps Cindy with her English lessons.  Mrs. Liu and I chitchat and I started teaching her English conversation.  What a delightful family we've met.  While he was home, he did some acupuncture on me and helped relieve the pressure on my varicose veins.  My left leg was swollen from being on my feet too much and after he did the acupuncture, he suggested that I should come back for him to perform some "blood letting".  That sounded like what people did in the 1700's, but the Chinese have been doing it for thousands of years.  I went back the next day and couldn't believe that it was done.  I had almost an immediate relief on my leg.  The puffiness and the pressure were gone almost instantly.  It was a traumatic experience none the less even though it worked.  I think Elwin and I are experiencing a lot of the culture in many ways that we never even dreamed about.  Dr. Liu and Brother Cheung all seemed to want us to go back to the States in better shape than when we came.  What great encounters these have been for us!  We'll never be the same again.