Friday, December 30, 2011

Happy New Year!!!

Hi Everyone!

I'm soooo glad I got to talk to all of you on Christmas!  I'm glad you had a good Christmas day!  The house is looking great!  Wow!  I barely recognize it! 
Hahaha side note, I'm in the shop we e-mail from, with 5 other missionaries.  Someone's cell phone just rang with a super hard-core rapish hip-hop dance song (I don't really know what to call it).  It was so funny to see all the missionaries look up at each other trying to figure out 1) What we were hearing and 2) Whether we should dance or not.

Thank you sooooooo much for the card from our ward!!!  Wow!  I was so excited to read it.  The Browns did a great job with their drawing!  Hahaha so good!.  Other mail of note this week was Ashley's wedding announcement!!!!  She's getting married TODAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I can't believe it!  It's so exciting!  Their engagement picture is soooo cute!  Ah!!
Kelli and Nathanael, I hope you have fun at the New Year's dance!  Is it actually on New Years?  Because of the time difference, I'm not sure if "Tomorrow" actually means Friday or Saturday.  It's weird how that works huh?  I'll get to celebrate the New Year 14 hours before you!!
We got to go to the temple today!  It was so great!  It's really tiny!  It's a lot smaller on the outside than I expected, and on the inside, only one floor is actually the temple.  It's sooo pretty though!  I met Sister D. from Knoxville too!  She and Elder D. led the session.  She is sooo nice!
Yesterday, Sister C. had leadership training, so I was Sister L.'s companion (one of my MTC companions)!!!!!!!!  It was sooooo fun!  We took two of our recent converts on walks around the temple to get them excited for when they can go.  I had been praying all week that we would be able to teach well and understand Sister A. and Sister L., the ladies we took around the temple (especially since Sister L. is from Thialand and Sister A. is from Mainland so they both have accents that make their Cantonese hard to understand).  We did!  Can you believe it?!  Both of us have only been in Hong Kong 1 month (to the day) and we were walking around having a conversation with Chinese women.  Sister L. took us to lunch after and we were even able to have a small conversation with her.  She taught me some Thai.  It was kind of weird to be learning Thai through Cantonese, but it worked!  The gift of tongues is so real!!!  I have learned it's only this real when I really need it, and when I really desire it.  The rest of the time, Heavenly Father is going to make me work to understand and to speak, but that's good!  I know this because once Sister C. and I were teaching together and I struggled to understand what was being said.  I'm going to start praying specifically to understand in each of my lessons everyday.  I really want to be able to understand and contribute more to the lessons, and I know Heavenly Father can help me!

Last week was a bit rough, a lot of our investigators weren't answering their phones and we saw two of them in the mall on Saturday, but they really didn't want to talk to us.  This week we set goals for how many lessons we wanted to teach with a member present each day and we've been praying we can reach those specific goals.  Heavenly Father is doing miracles!  Monday we wanted two lessons, but only had one scheduled.  Then, Sister S., one of our recent converts who we are still teaching after baptism lessons, and Sister C. is also helping with her Biology homework, brought a friend, H., to our lesson so that she could have help with Bio too.  We shared a short message with both of them about prayer.  We met with them again on Tuesday and H. had prayed and really felt more peace about her Biology test!  We really hope we can keep teaching her, she seems really excited to learn more!!!  The Elders also gave us a referral for a woman we met last night, and we were able to teach 2 lessons while we were contacting with one of the Young Single Adults in our ward.  It's so amazing what Heavenly Father is doing! 
While we were contacting on Wednesday, we said Hello to a Filipino lady.  She doesn't speak Cantonese so we tried talking to her in English.  It was the most awkward thing ever!  "We are uh. . . . Missionaries. . . from. . ." (look at tag) "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.. . I am" (read tag again) ". . .Sister Nelson. . ."  Of course we didn't have an English Book of Mormon, but we wanted to give her one soooo bad!!!  Sister C. was in the process of writing down her number so we could have the international sisters send her a Book of Mormon when another Filipino lady walked up to us and said "Hi Sisters!!!" and then looked at her friend, "I'm a member of their church!" Hopefully she can explain things better than we did, I was so happy to get  back to talking about our Church in Cantonese again!  I really don't know how to do it in English!

Oh Questions!  Hou Faai! Sorry!  I'm running out of time!

1 – Do they have Seminary in your ward? Early Morning? Yes and Yes
2 – What is your primary mode of transportation? Bus and the train
3 – How are your shoes? Good choice? Good except the elastic on the brown ones broke, I took them to a lady to fix, on my first P-day.  She wasn't done last week, and now she is not answering her phone.  We think she went to Mainland for Christmas.  Pray that I can get it back soon, I'm getting sick of wearing black!!

I love you soooo much!!!

Happy New Year!!!
Sister Nelson

Thursday, December 22, 2011

"Happiest Worst Singers I've ever seen"

Hi Everyone!

We just got back from our mission Christmas activity!  It was so fun!  We had a white elephant gift exchange, gingerbread house contest, lunch and a slide show of the year.  I got both your packages!  Thank you thank you!!!!!  The housing elders also gave our apartment 4 comforters because we were FREEZING a few weeks ago, so when Elder N, the housing coordinator asked the apartment leaders if we needed more blankets I accepted!  I didn't expect comforters!!!! Whooo!!!! I'll sleep well  tonight!  Denim blanket + comforter = :)  It was kind of a joke to see 8 of us missionaries with our comforters and packages climbing onto the top deck of the bus and then walking around town.

– How do people in Hong Kong celebrate Christmas? Do they decorate? Have Christmas trees? Do the children talk much about Santa Claus?

The decorations are more of a commercial thing, so there are lots of decorations but not in every home.  Red and green are definitely American things.  I was all stressed out about what I was going to wear to the Christmas musical activity and caroling and Saturday's Ward activity.  But I realized at the Christmas Musical that accept for a few Santa hats, everyone looked normal!  It's taken me a bit to realize that HK isn't going to go on Lock Down like the US does, since lots of people aren't Christian, it's just any other day for a lot of them.  As for us, we have a baptism, 3 lessons (hopefully), a family home evening and hopefully we're doing some caroling with the Young Single Adults in our ward!

The baptism is for a young man the Elders have been teaching.  We were hoping one of our girls, A, would be able to get baptized too, but her dad decided last minute to take her family to Mainland for the weekend, so next week she's getting baptized!!! I'm sooooo excited!  She is 16, and every time we meet I am just blown away by her testimony especially when she tells us about the things she's studying in the Book of Mormon!!! 
- How do the people of Hong Kong seem to be doing financially? Middle class? Below or above middle class? 
I feel like lots of people dress nicer here because clothes are so cheap, but everything looks poor because land is so expensive and the apartments are old and tiny.  Compared to apartments here, my Liberty Square apartment is a MANSION!! and I mean that, 2 families of 5 sometimes live in the same square footage here.  Lots of apartments have three rooms, a front room with a bunk bed, or closet/desk/bed combo, a card table for meals, a stack of stools for company and stacks of storage bins; a Kitchen, stove, sink, small fridge, no oven; and a bathroom.  That's usually for families of 2 maybe three, but the whole apartment probably fits in our family room.  The nicer apartments usually have separate bedrooms and a center dining/family room, but it's still small.  I'm just amazed at how much is fit into a small space here!! I feel like I'm in the Jetsons sometimes with all the tall buildings!  

- Have you been to the temple yet?  
Nope, but Saturday, we're taking a lady in our ward to walk around the grounds.  I'm so excited because she's soooo excited to go!  My next p-day which will be next Friday instead of Thursday (due to training meetings) we get to go to the temple!!!

On Tuesday we went Caroling in Time Square!! It was so fun!  We had about 300 Mormon Tabernacle Choir CDs we were handing out.  It was pretty funny though because the Elders kept starting the songs super high, and out of key, so we sisters had a hard time singing because we were either screeching on the high notes or grumbling like basses. . . needless to say, we sounded *cough* Amazing!  I just hope no one thought the CDs were of us singing.  Lots of people stopped to take pictures of us or with us and tons of people were taking videos!  Honestly, I would check Youtube for "White People Caroling in Hong Kong," or "Mormon Missionaries Singing," or "Happiest Worst Singers I've ever seen."  Who knows maybe it made it online!.  I was worried I wouldn't have a voice on Wednesday, but I haven't had a problem!  The Lord's blessings!  

I feel like P-day was just yesterday, I'm trying to remember what else happened this week.  . . Oh!  Saturday was the Stake Musical activity.  It was really neat!  It's fun to see how much the church is the same where ever you go.  Seriously, I don't care what language or culture, it's the same and it's so comforting.  Not only is the gospel the same, but the people.  I am reminded of people from our ward all the time. 

Well, I think that's it!! I love you sooooo much!!
Merry Christmas!!!


Thursday, December 15, 2011

"Katch Eye Bang"

Note from Barbara:
If you would like to send Kasey a letter, her mailing address is posted on the right side of this page. It costs $0.98 to mail a letter. If you would like to send a short message to her, then post a comment to this blog and I will send your comments in next week’s email. To post a comment, click on the word "comment" at the bottom of each post. I will not be posting the comments to the blog, just sending them to Kasey.  She would love to hear from you!

Hi Everyone!

I'm so glad that the ward Christmas party went well!  Sounds like you got creative!  We have a gingerbread house competition next week so I'll have to remember your ideas!  Thank you so much for the Christmas ornaments in advance!  Wow!  I'm soooo excited!  There are several people I can think of already to give them to!  It is finally started to click, and I am really learning to love these people.  The past few lessons we've taught I've just been overwhelmed with the love Heavenly Father has for these people and I want so badly to teach in a way that they can feel the Spirit and want to accept this Gospel.  Not only that, but I want to be able to serve and help them and understand them better.  Even more motivation to learn the Language!!!  We're hopefully having our first baptism on Christmas!!!  Sister A, her sister was baptized about a year ago.  Her family might be going out of town, so we might have to move it, but I hope not!  I am so excited for her!  She has an amazing testimony!  She shared some of her thoughts about reading the Book of Mormon the other day, and I was just blown away!!! She is awesome!! We are also working with this lady who was baptized last year; we talked to her yesterday about enduring to the end and the importance of the temple.  Next week we're going to walk around the temple grounds with her.  She was so excited when I invited her to come!  Now, I'm so excited to go!  The temple is such a great blessing!  Heavenly Father really is preparing ways for His Children to hear His gospel!  We just started teaching Sister Ae, she has two sons who have a lot of energy so the first two lessons with her were a bit difficult, but last Tuesday we were able to teach her at the church while her sons were at school.  As we were teaching I realized we could help her by teaching about Joseph Smith and the restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ exactly the way we practiced teaching it during our companion study the night before!  It was incredible!  We try to teach each lesson to meet the needs of everyone we teach.  That can be hard, especially in a different language, so it really was a miracle that we had already practiced before! There are so many amazing people here!  I'll tell more at the end of my e-mail if I can!

It is really really amazing to have so much support from everyone back home.  Seriously, it means so much to me, I'm sitting in this small Indonesian travel shop in Hong Kong, almost crying, but I'll try to hold it in, it might freak the Elders out. . .

I'm trying to decide what I want to tell you about from the week!  Aaaiya!  I already told you about the people a bit, so food!  We had Pizza Hut last week!  I like it better here than in the US!  It's fancier. and there's more options.  We had a pizza with shrimp, scallops and some other kind of fish, it was really good! Sunday, we visited a family and they served us a sweet red bean soup that's kind of a desert here.  Sister C. said most foreign Missionaries don't like, I didn't think it was too bad, although at the end, my mouth was a bit dry so it was hard to swallow.  My intestines handled it too!  I was worried about eating that many beans at one time! Last Thursday, we went to Wankok (sp?) it's where all the touristy cheap shopping is.  While we were there Sister C. bought me something that sounds like "Katch Eye Bang" obviously not actually that, but it was a waffle with peanut butter, sugar and sweetened condensed milk folded in half to make a sandwich.  AHHH!! soooooo good!!  I've been craving them all week!  I've been really lucky so far, the members haven't force fed us, I've heard they do though and they LOVE making the white people eat!  Sister C. says she always gets out of it because even though she's not from Hong Kong, she's Asian, so I'm in for it sooner or later! 

Saturday we have a Stake Christmas musical!  The missionaries are singing Joy to the World, and I'm in a group of 5 missionaries singing "Who would Send a Baby."  I'm excited it will be good!

This week we also had exchanges.  I was with Sister Ch.,  who is from Hong Kong, but I surprisingly understood her Cantonese better than anyone so far!  I guess it's good to be able to understand a native!!!  It was good!  I learned a lot!  Especially since we stayed in TKO.  There are so many things that I didn't realize Sister C. always did and!  Wow!  I'm going to have to be more on top of things!

Language Success Stories:
1) Yesterday I made 2 phone calls on my own and scheduled both people!  They didn't even use English!  Another call though, Sister C. was listening with me, and then would tell me what to say, problem was after the call, I had no idea what I said!! haha
2) I understood more at coorellation meeting this week than I did last week!  I'm improving!!
3) I had a converstation in Sign Language on the bus yesterday.  It was a man and his wife, he had spent some time in the US, so he knew some ASL, and they were from Britain traveling in HK, I think. . . but I was able to understand quite a bit!! More than I can Cantonese, but that's ok.  It was sooooo fun!  

Well, I've got to go!  I love you all and hope you have a great week!!!!
Sister Nelson

Thursday, December 8, 2011

"You're sooooo tall!!!!"

Note from Barbara:
If you would like to send Kasey a letter, her mailing address is posted on the right side of this page. It costs $0.98 to mail a letter. If you would like to send a short message to her, then post a comment to this blog and I will send your comments in next week’s email. To post a comment, click on the word "comment" at the bottom of each post. She would love to hear from you!

Hi Everyone!
Here are the answers to your questions:

1 - How were your flights? We're you able to sleep on the plane?
My flights were sooooo good, I expected it to be miserably long, but it went by so fast. I was able to sleep quite a bit.
2 – What are the names of the other sisters in the apartment and where are they
from? Sister K. is from Mesa Arizona and Sister S. is from Hong Kong.

3 - How do you like your mission president and his wife?
They are amazing! President Chan is so great! He was very nice and spoke to us in English the first day, (it helped because some of the missionaries spoke Mandarin and wouldn't understand Cantonese.) He also pulled out a map of HK as we were driving to the mission home and explained where we were going. It was great! Sister Chan is so sweet and an awesome cook!! She fed us a lot while we were there!

4 – You mentioned that you have longer sleep hours? Is that true ALL the time? If so, that is AWESOME!!!!
Not longer, just different, we go to bed at 11 and wake up at 7 instead of 10:30 to 6:30
5 – How’s the food?
The food's not too bad, I had my first 2 Chan-outs this week. (That's meals with members.) Luckily they didn't force me to eat a lot. I've heard that's what they do. Yesterday we had Dim Sum, I don't know how to spell it, but pretty much there were a bunch of different kinds of meats and dumplings on a turntable and we would take what we wanted from the middle. I had to get over my germ a-phobia really fast because everyone just uses their chopsticks to get their food. Well, I can't use them well yet, so Sister S. and Sister C. were helping me get things from the middle of the table into my bowl. . . it was quite pathetic. At our dinner with the Chan family on Tuesday, Sister Chan spent a good 5 minutes trying to teach me how to use chop sticks. . . and I still couldn't!! At least people won't be able to feed me a lot for awhile, they'll probably lose patience before I can eat everything!!

Ok so Story time!!!! Last Thursday we were walking to district meeting and I noticed this group of 4 teenage girls starting at me. I said Hi and they responded, "You're sooooo tall!!!!" hahaha Then one of them handed her friend her cell phone so she could take a picture with me. Then ALL of them wanted pictures with me!! haha I felt like a celebrity!! It's crazy how tall I am here. People tell me that a lot! I have kind of an advantage I'm tall and I can speak Cantonese, that at least makes some people initially want to talk to me. I am amazed at how much they can understand! Can you believe it!!! I'm in Asia, speaking Chinese!!! This is seriously a miracle. I still don't understand a whole lot of what people say back to me, but it doesn't stress me out, I know I'll get it eventually and somehow I am able to understand enough. Heavenly Father is Amazing!!

My first Sunday at church was sooooo good!! The ward is very nice! I was able to introduce myself to a lot of the ward before the meeting and tell them that I just got to Hong Kong and I was pleased to meet them. I also bore my testimony, and I didn't understand much else!!! hahaha However I already know I'm going to love being in this ward! We have been able to have a member present at all of our lessons so far! It is amazing how much they support us. We're also starting a plan for Christmas time to have all of the members contact all of the less active members and invite them to come back to church. Elder H. one of the Tu Kwan O (our area) Elders is sooooooo on fire about this. I am sooooo excited!! There are about 125 people at Sacrament meeting every week, but there are another 200ish who don't come!!! Wow!!! If we even get 1/10 back, that would really strengthen the ward!

Last Friday we helped a lady hang some cabinets in her apartment, we talked to her a bit about the church and invited her to come for a tour of the chapel. She came to church on Sunday and we are now teaching her and her son! They are both awesome! It's a bit difficult because she has some hearing problems and doesn't natively speak Cantonese, so Sister C. has to translate a lot of what I say, but it is still so great to be able to teach!

There is a new 12 week training program for new missionaries. It's really great because we have an extra hour of companion study to practice teaching and language. It also means that Sister C. is already letting me take the lead in some of the lessons. It's intimidating especially since I can't understand a lot of what is being said, but it is amazing that I can try! She is a great trainer! She has lots of patience and is sooooo willing to let me practice and try teaching. I'm also starting to make phone calls!! I have made 3 successfully without having to hand the phone to Sister C! We also worked out a good system for now where I will make the call and talk for a bit, ask how the person is doing and then say, "Chan Ji Muih wants to talk to you." Then I hand the phone to Sister C and she schedules, answers questions and gives directions!

A little about the buildings in HK. Yesterday, we took the MTR to a part of our area, the train exit led us into a mall. When we finally made it out of the mall, I looked back at the building and realized there were huge apartment complexes on top of the mall!!! Aiyah!!! I think I may have seen trees on top of the mall too!! Remember that chapel Uncle Phil told us about? I got to see it on Monday for Zone meeting!! It's beautiful. It was crazy though because it's in a really busy part of HK Island so I was walking along the busy streets and enjoying all the shops and people and then BAM! I was in a church building! It was a crazy change. Elder N. and SIster L. from my MTC district are in my Zone, it was so good and crazy to see them! It's like a forbidden love. . but not really, just we have this specially bond from the MTC where we were always with each other, and now, we're not. . . It was sooo crazy!

I hope everything is going well for all of you!!! I love you sooooo much!!!

Sister Nelson

Thursday, December 1, 2011

I'm in Hong Kong!!!!

Kasey at the top of Victoria Peak on the day she arrived in Hong Kong.
Kasey's apartment

View from Kasey's apartment
Front door with a gate

Hello Everyone!!!
It's December first here!! Which is funny, if I'm doing the math right, it is for you too. So that's it!!!! I'm in Hong Kong!!!!!!!!! I can't believe it! I am seriously in the best mission on the face of planet Earth! It is amazing!! My companion is awesome! Her name is Sister C,.and she is from Tahiti. Her mom grew up in Hong Kong so she speaks really good Cantonese, but also speaks really good English, which has been a relief for my first day, but I'm so excited to speak Cantonese more. We landed in Hong Kong at about 10:30 yesterday morning (Nov. 30) and President and Sister Chan met us and drove us back to the mission home which is right across from the Hong Kong Temple!!! We ate lunch, and had an orientation and then the Area Presidents and the other office Elders took us up to the peak. It was pretty hazy, but still really cool! The best part was we got to talk to people on the way!! In Chinese!!! It was great! My first contact in Hong Kong was a teenage boy who obviously spoke English, but seemed to be humored by my trying to speak Cantonese. Then Sister N. and I started talking to another girl. We were struggling a bit to figure out what we could say in Cantonese so one of the office Elders helped us a bit and then we were fine. We taught her about prophets and Sister N. gave her a card about It was a amazing!!! She really understood what we were saying! After that we took the bus up to the Peak and I got to talk to a woman from Thailand. She is here in Hong Kong on "holiday." I really enjoyed getting to know her. After the peak, we hiked down a small path to a rock that was etched the year Hong Kong was dedicated. Then we took a bus back!! Talk about crazy! I was lucky enough to get to sit for the first half, but one of the other missionaries wasn't feeling well so I got to stand! Aaiya!! It was difficult and I thought I was going to face plant, but I made it! When I first sat down, the ladies I sat next to saw my name tag and said, "We already have a church." I wasn't going to just get up and move, especially on a crowded bus, so I asked if I could just practice my Cantonese with them. It was quite fun and they were really nice until one of them stopped talking and the other started speaking so fast I couldn't understand. Haha! I gathered that she was talking about prayer and that God loves His children and probably inviting me to her church. I knew I was right when she handed me a flyer for her church. I just told her how amazing it was that God loves all of us and how blessed I have been to be able to receive direction and comfort through prayer in my life. That is the most amazing thing about Cantonese, I only can say enough to simply state what I know is true and that's all that matters! When we got back to the church, I talked for a bit to this sweet lady who was there for English class. It was great for us to practice our new languages with each other. Elder B. taught me to say this phrase that goes, "Ngoh sik siu siu, baahn deui biu." It means I know a little and fake a lot. She complimented me on my Cantonese, so I used it and she loved it! Hahaha! I'm glad he taught me that, I think I'll use it a lot! That's actually something that has surprised me a lot, first the fact that people understand us, and second that they comment on how good our Cantonese is, then we tell them we've only been learning for 3 months!! Wow! It really is a miracle though! I can't believe how much we are able to communicate!!!
I was feeling great and super energized last night until dinner, and then the jet lag hit!! Haha! Luckily, we were able to go to bed early. We slept in the patron housing above the Kowloon chapel and mission office. Here the schedule is a bit different from most missions, we go to bed at 11 and wake up at 7 so we were able to get about 10 hours of sleep. I was so grateful! I'm still a bit off today, but hopefully I'll catch up soon! Today is P-day so this morning we met our companions. All of ours companions are so much like us. In fact, all of us sisters just happened to sit across from our companions at breakfast before we even knew who they were!! Tell you what though, it was weird leaving Sister L. and Sister N. I've spent my entire mission with them. But, I am soooooooo excited to work with Sister C. We had to get my HK ID and then we went to our Apartment. We live in Kwun Tong, but our area isn't Kwun Tong, I'm sorry, I still haven't figured out how to say the name of our area, let alone spell it!!! I'll hopefully let you know soon!! I think it's north of HK island, it's definitely north of Kwun Tong! We are just over one ward which is fantastic!! That means we can really get to know the members!! We live on the 17th floor of our building, and our apartment is probably no bigger than our front room, but I love it!!! The view from the garbage room is fantastic!!! Seriously though, all three of the pictures before the picture of our front door is from the garbage room of all places!! There is also a picture of our front door and the gate over it. I feel like I'm looking at a prison gate when I close it. Thank goodness I'm not actually!!! Wow!! I'm not sure what else to write! I'm pretty jet lagged today so my thoughts are a blur. All I can really think is how much I want to start talking to people and teaching them!!! Unfortunately we have to do some necessary things like unpack and buy food. However I am soooooo excited for weekly planning tomorrow!! We get to talk about all the people we will be teaching this week and all the awesome things we get to do!!!!! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH this place is amazing!!!!!!!
I'm soooo glad I got to talk to you for a bit! Thank you for your letters! I'm so happy to get them last night! Thank you Dad for your e-mail I love hearing about everything that's going on! I hope you all have an awesome week!!! I love you soooo much!!!!
Sister Nelson