Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

Merry Christmas 2011 and a Happy New Year 2012 from Hong Kong!!

Dear Friends and Family,

We've been in Hong Kong for over a year now, and we will be heading home in early May.  However, we have somewhat mixed emotions about that eventuality.  We're are very grateful for the opportunity that we've had to serve the Asian Saints in the HK temple; we've met people here from all over south Asia,  China and Mongolia.  By observing the Saints from the various places, we recognize the blessing of the Church in their lives; they are a very humble and sincere people who have embraced the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and the implementation of the Gospel into their lives has helped lift them both physically and spiritually to a higher plane.
Last year started out well enough, but Elwin began having dizziness problems climbing long fights of stairs when going back to our apartment from church on Sundays.  A local cardiologist recommended a stent (remember that he had a triple by-pass before leaving St. George, delaying our original departure to HK).  He got the stent, but it did not solve the problem.  After much research on the internet about different drugs/supplements and consultation with our son, Kong, he cut out his Omega 3 capsules.  The majority of the problem disappeared as Omega 3 supplements helps to reduce blood pressure, and Elwin already has low blood pressure.  He can now sometimes climb steep hills when we hike.
We have been attending the Mandarin-speaking branch of the Church in Wan Chai and taught the Temple preparation class.  We've had nearly a dozen of our students attend the Temple since we started  last spring.  We have also set up a regular attendance schedule for branch members and initiated baptisms for the youth to do in the Temple.  It has been a great spiritual experience for everyone.
We went to Taiwan in June and visited many of Shirley's relatives; one of two living aunts has dementia so we could not get any family history from her.  One cousin had had some family history but it was destroyed in a flood last year; he is also suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.  We did learn, however, that her family is from Zhangzhou in Fujian province, directly west of Taiwan near the Chinese city of Xiamen.  Her Sung ancestors migrated to Taiwan three to four hundred years ago.  We hope to visit there before returning home but presently have no contacts with anyone there.

Speaking of genealogy, we've seen Chinese names of men dating back to 2300 B.C. This is all very interesting, but genealogies generally only follow a patriarchal lineage, so there seldom are records giving the names of wives or daughters. In fact, this was obvious at the time when some of our students at Shandong University three years ago did not know that their grandmothers have names. We told them to go home and learn of their families.

A highlight here has been the recent visit of our oldest daughter and her family to Hong Kong.  They came during the two week Temple closing for cleaning earlier this month, so we were free to show them Hong Kong.  It was a whirlwind holiday; Shirley had plans for every day of ten days of places to go and activities to do.  It was also interesting having nine people sleep in our small apartment; the bed and floors were covered by people with little space for moving around.  Everyone seemed thrilled about the experience.

What a great year we've had!  We've met many kind and wonderful people.  We've seen many people grow in the Gospel.  And guess what, we have too.  We are grateful for this time of year when we celebrate the birth of our Savior.  It reminds us of the peace and joy we experience when we rely on Him to soothe our hurts and mend our souls.  There are no words that can express the appreciation and love we have for Him.  May y'all have a very joyous Christmas and a wonderful new year.

With much love, Elder Elwin and Sister Shirley Davis 

Monday, December 5, 2011

A visit from Elaine and family

The long awaited day finally came.  Elaine and her family arrived in Hong Kong on Dec. 1, after being enroute for a very long time...but all were in good spirits.  So good to see all of them.

 Grandma took the children out to the playground.  Do you see how tall Megumi is!  Wow, we've only been gone for a year.

 Open meat market - they were bewildered!

 Open fish market - in shock to see them swimming around

 Just name the fish, the lady cleans it up for you

  Bus ride in Hong Kong
Friday, 12/2:  We took everyone, minus Elaine (home w/stomach flu), to Victoria Peak.  We rode MTR train to Central, then boarded the bus with Sister Yu to catch the tram up to the Peak.  
 Observation deck at Victoria Peak
(Noelle saw a teapot through an apartment window)

 The roots of a very old tree at Victoria Peak Trail

 Carving on July 19, 1949 by Matthew Cowley and party at the Peak Trail in Hong Kong

We came home that night to a delicious dinner made by our dear friends, the Liu's.  Mrs. Liu (Kam) didn't want us to take a chance eating out the first night and had her domestic helper, JieJie, make wonderful home-made food for us.  What a great friend!
Kam, Cindy and us
On Sat. 12/3, we met the Wong's (parents of Elaine's hosted student from Shenzhen) in Shatin, then took the double decker bus to the east coast of Hong Kong, Sai Kung.  We took a ferry boat to the HK Geo Park and had a great time visiting the park that was once a volcano millions of years ago. The volcano opening was 12 miles across when it was active!  Mt. St. Helens is just a pimple compared to that.
Mrs. Wong (Karina's mom) and Beauty (Karina's little sister)
 We were treated to a delicious seafood lunch.  You should have seen Noelle's eyes when she saw all the sea creatures in the water tanks, and we were picking which ones we wanted to EAT for lunch.  Needless to say, she had McDonald's instead, but Megu and Enoch tried every dish.  We were so proud of them.
Lots of seafood - abalone, clams, shrimp, fish, crab, calamaris,...
Sun. 12/4:  attended Vic III Mandarin Speaking Branch.  The Wiley's sang for us.  Then we were invited by the Dai's to have dinner with them.  Both Elaine and David served in the Fukuoka, Japan Mission with Naomi Toma Dai.  What a small world!  It was a very fun get together.

On Monday, 12/5, we went to visit the Ten Thousand Buddhas in Shatin.  There were more than 10,000 Buddhas, big and small.  There were also monkeys swinging around as this Monastery is located in the Monkey Mountains.  Also, there must be at least 1,000 steps to go up there.  We had a very delicious dinner at the Choi's.  Sister Choi made all our favorite dishes, including sweet and sour pork, steam fish, deep fried fish, and more.  So far I haven't cooked dinner since Elaine and her family arrived.  I could hardly wait to cook the kids something.

Tuesday, 12/6 was a big day as we ventured out to Lantau Island to see the world's tallest, outdoor, seated bronze Big Buddha.  We took the double decker bus #279X from Fanling to Tsing Yi.  From there we took MTR Tung Chung line to Tung Chung.   We took Exit B, crossed the street and rode the Ngong Ping cable car to Ngong Ping Village.  What a stunning view it was to see the Hong Kong Harbour, the airport, the South China Sea and the small islands under foot.  We arrived at the Ngong Ping Village, saw the Big Buddha and climbed the steps.  It was quite an experience for us all. 

  From Ngong Ping, we took a city bus to Tai-O Fishing village.  The ride was like a roller coaster.  The driver spared no one as he sped down the very narrow mountain road, with an oncoming double-decker bus brushing by us.  By the time we got to Tai-O, our hair was all standing up.  At Tai O we took the HK$20 per person boat ride (~25 minutes) to see the village from the water and it was our lucky day to see the pink dolphins popping out of the water around us.  The captain then took us around the village to see the stilted houses and the fishing boats.  What a special day that was.  

Wed. 12/7 was going to be a relaxing day to visit Noah's Ark at Park Island.  We took Bus 278X to Tsuen Wan and took a ferry ride there.  Unfortunately, the park was closed on first and third Wednesdays, and we only were able to walk around outside of the park.  But the kids found the beach to be almost as fun.  We went to Tsuen Wan to have lunch and did a little shopping there.  The boys were especially excited to find Pokemon at one of the Japanese department stores.  Here is a link to the Noah's Ark for future reference.
Thursday, 12/8 was a free day.  Elwin took the boys to the electronics mall and browsed through the amazing electronics there.  The rest of us took it easy and went to the Festival Walk Mall to see the 40-foot Christmas tree and the Christmas decorations all around the mall.  We all met at the Hong Kong Temple for the children to see where Grandma and Grandpa work.  It was a special experience.  

Friday, 12/9:  time to say good-bye.  The flight was at 8 AM.  So, we were out at the bus stop shortly after 5 AM to get on the airport bus.  Everyone was such a good sport to load the 7 suitcases and 7 carry-on bags.  What a wonderful trip we had with the kids.