Thursday, June 28, 2012

My Conversion Fireside

Hello Everyone!!!!

Happy 4th of July next week! What are your plans?

Well, I'll start with stories of today and then move on to last week. Sister K. and I (we're still together!!!) decided to get our hair cut today. So we went to a place in the mall below our apartment. They had three price options according to who would cut our hair, so I chose the most expensive since it was still less than $20 US. I was a little worried when a guy with spikey bleached hair and a huge gauge in one ear came to get me and led me into the back to get my hair washed. Hahaha It turned out ok. We don't think the workers quite knew what to do with us, because their English was obviously not very good, so it was a bit awkward but we're both happy with our hair cuts!

Sunday was the My Conversion fireside that happens at the end of each move. We obviously wanted to go, but we didn't think V., one of our investigators, would be able to come with us and everyone was busy. And we didn't want to take the time to travel down to Kowloon Tong if we wouldn't be able to have someone come with us. We prayed about it and felt like we should go, and it would be silly not to. So we did! I'm soooooo happy!!! Not only did this guy from Wales share his conversion story (in English) and some people sang 2 awesome hymn arrangements in a more African American Spiritual Style, but in Cantonese! But A,, she is a sister from my last area, TKO (she just started coming back to church when I got to Hong Kong), was there! After the meeting she ran up to me and gave me a hug and said she was looking for me and felt bad she missed seeing me at the last one. She just held my hand for a long time and told me how excited she was to see me. She said she goes to church when she goes to the main land and is still preparing to go to the Temple! I was soooooo happy! Not only that, but V. was there too! She also seemed really happy, it's awesome to see how well she is getting along with the youth. It will make her transition a lot easier when she can get baptized!

On top of that, I talked with Sister D. on Saturday night. Right now we're serving in each other's baby areas, and she had to update me on a recent convert. Anyway she told me about one of the girls, M., we met right before we left. Apparently, one of the ward members helped her find a better job so she doesn't have to work on Sundays. The other day she called the missionaries to ask if she could get baptized in August!!! It is such a blessing to know that my efforts aren't wasted and although I'm not perfect, Heavenly Father is still able to use me to help these people. There's the story in the Book of Mormon about when Alma sees his "brethren" and rejoices because they were "still [his] bretheren in the Lord." or something like that. I know that it is so true. There is soooooooo much joy in being reunited with people and knowing that we're both still on the same path, trying to keep the commandments and come closer to Christ.

My companions Sister H. and Sister K. are obviously very different. We are doing missionary work a bit differently, but we've already seen soooooooo many miracles!!!! Just little things like meeting people and things falling through, but we end up running into investigators. There is no one way to do missionary work, it all comes down to relying on the Lord.

We met with NMM last night. She is getting baptized on the 22nd!! I feel like she is expressing her faith more and more to us each time we meet. I love her soooo much!! She is hilarious and loves to talk, but she has gone from being Buddhist for 60+ years to believing in God, praying every day, and getting baptized. She is soooo cool!


1 - What have you noticed about the culture lately?
In our pool in our complex (that we don't swim in) the average Women's swimsuit is one piece, the average Men's swimsuit is a Speedo. The average swimmer is over 60. . . sounds like America!

2 – When do you get to meet the new Mission President?
Next Wednesday at 9 we have to prepare a 2 minute introduction about ourself.

I love you!!!!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

We had a really cool week this week. Humbling, but cool!

Wow!  Crazy Day!  Sister H. isn't my companion anymore!!!!!! Sad!  But the good thing is my companion is Sister K.!!! (She's my friend C. G.'s roommate) I'm excited!  She's super sweet and we've been friends since my first day in HK.  Sister K. had to come out of Macau today, so Sister L. moved to Macau, Sister H. is now with Sister L.'s old companion and Sister K. is with me!  Macau is just the wild card in our moves calls!  Actual moves calls are next Tuesday.  I'm almost definitely staying, otherwise Sister K. would be off-white washing a 3 ward area!!! Nuts!  But we don't know what will happen.  Sister K. is going to try calling the Assistants to the President tonight to see to what extent she can unpack her stuff, so we might have a better idea then.  It is also her year mark tomorrow, so we went with her MTC district to an Indian buffet, it was sooooo yummy but I am STUFFED!!! (not an uncommon feeling in HK! haha)  Luckily, we don't have correlation at the Chan's tonight.  I thought I was going to be amongst a ton of old missionaries that I didn't know, and then I realized that these are my brothers and sisters in the mission!  They're just starting to go senior companion and train too.  They're only 2 moves older than me!!! Yikes!!!  
Speaking of Senior companion, I'm senior companion right now.  It makes sense because I know the area and such, but I'm a bit worried.  The best way to have a companionship is not to distinguish, but I realized last move that there is a responsibility that comes with being a Senior companion and I really could feel Heavenly Father leading our companionship sometimes.  I'm a little nervous about how to fulfill my responsibility as a Senior companion when my "junior" companion is 2 moves older than me!  Yikes!  As with the last move, I know Heavenly Father knows best and miracles are in the future!!!!

Ok, I'll do your questions first.  

1 – Are you still running?  
Usually, we rotate between running and yoga days.  I'm not sure what Sister K. will want to do, but luckily Sister F. wants to get into running, so I might still have a running buddy!  If it doesn't look like I've been running, blame it on the 3 wards who all have members who LOVE to cook good food!  hahaha!!
2 – Do you have to get up earlier to run?  You get 30 minutes to exercise, right?  
We usually get up 20 minutes earlier because it takes awhile to actually get downstairs so we can exercise.

Thanks for sending me the updates from everyone!  Everything back home seems SUPER foreign to me right now.  America, short houses, grass, BYU, everything is just weird, but I'm sooooooo happy! 

This is our last week with President Chan as the mission president!  Crazy!!! I'm sad to see him go, but excited to see how the new mission president runs the mission.  I've heard a lot of people predict that he's going to do a lot of re-aligning and changing.  I'm excited for the chance to improve even more!  

We had a really cool week this week.  Humbling, but cool!  We have a lot of investigators right now, but a lot of them are busy or hard to schedule so we haven't had a lot of lessons.  We've also been trying to build a stronger relationship with our Sha Tin ward.  So these were the 2 big challenges of our weekly planning.  As we planned I felt that we could find 3 new people to teach last week.  That was a high number considering we haven't been able to find  one for the past few weeks, but we set it as our goal.  We also realized that if our Sha Tin members were too busy to meet with us, the least we could do is try to run into them while we were out working.  We asked a ward member for some suggestions for where there were a lot of members live and plan finding time in those places.  Then before we went finding we prayed not only to find people to teach, but that we could see our members and that they would see us out working.  We made a goal to find for at least 15 minutes every day and practiced simple ways to testify of the restored gospel simply and powerfully.  That sounds simple, but I noticed that our finding was more effective, we weren't as tempted to stay inside and make calls if it was raining (which it did) we went out and offered to help people who had forgotten their umbrellas!!! (It was so fun!)  Our finding was more sincere because we really truly wanted every person we talked to, to feel our love and joy.  We taught 1 lesson the whole week. . .  BUT!!!! on Saturday the Mandarin Elders met with a couple and taught them a lesson, but realized their Cantonese is better and gave them to us to teach!!! That's 2 new investigators!!  Sunday night we still didn't have 3 so we made a ton of calls!! Finally at 9:45 we needed to stop and plan. I was thinking about it that night and wondered why I felt like we could have 3 new investigators but didn't, then I realized that my calls that night had been more successful than ever!  Instead of expecting people to hang up, I was expecting them to listen and some of them did.  Maybe Heavenly Father didn't want us to have this goal so we could find 3 new people, but so that we could grow and improve.  This was such a testimony to me that missions aren't about the numbers, but we constantly need to be striving to improve.  Also, Heavenly Father knows soooooo well what we need.  Honestly, we have no idea what's best for us.  The best we can do is to rely on him and follow His guidance through the spirit and we will end up better, happier and more blessed than we could EVER imagine!  

I know this gospel is true.  It has to be.  It is changing people's lives so much!  Heavenly Father loves us so much and has given us a plan so that we can be happy and return to live with Him after we die.  He doesn't expect us to be perfect, but expects us to do our best and improve every day.  Because we are not perfect he has given us His son Jesus Christ to suffer for our sins.  Heavenly Father has promised that if we have faith in Jesus Christ, repent and improve each day, through baptism promise to always remember him and then keep this commitment through our lives, we will be worthy to live with Him.  What a blessing!  He has given us soooooo much guidance along the way.  Through prayer, scripture study, going to church and of course the guidance of the Holy Ghost, we can always know how to be on the right path and do Heavenly Father's will.  I know this is true and it brings me such happiness because I really don't have to worry about anything else!!!

I love you all so much and hope you have a great week!



Thursday, June 14, 2012

"Thank you for inviting the Spirit"

I saw this cake and decided that if I could I would send it to Dad for father's day!!!
This is what happens when we end up having to do all our studies at the chapel, and prepare for a music program, and eat dinner and lunch!!! Madness!!!
Sister H. and me in our new clothes!!!  We went shopping on P-day.  My dress was $15!!!
Yam Cha 2 Thursday's ago
(Barbara's note:
This is cow stomach!!!  It wasn't that bad actually.  I also tried octopus and squid. I kept going over to the Elders table to steal the interesting stuff, but they loved it!  I think that was because I was the only Sister missionary who would eat it!!!  Before Yam Cha, we use the hot water in the tea pots to clean our bowls and utensils and then we dump the water into a big bowl in the middle of the table.   We drink hot water becuase we can't drink tea!!!
Sister Missionaries!!!

The Elders!
Napkins hardly exist here, they just use tissue or even toliet paper!!
 The dead lizard we found in our apartment!!!
Pictures from my 6 months in HK birthday
 These are at the pier in TST.  Across the water is Wan Chi.  The Sydney Opera House looking building is the library and one of the really tall buildings close to the front was in the latest Bat Man movie.
Hi Everyone!!!

I'm glad for the promise of mail in the next little bit with family pictures!!! Yay!!!  I think that answers my question about the iPod.  They're 2000 HK here so not cheaper, and I haven't been super sure if I need one!!  (Barbara's note: Missionaries can use apps on their iPods to help them learn Chinese characters, so Kasey was trying to decide if she wanted us to send hers.  The Post Office doesn't allow iPods to be sent in the mail, so the problem is solved!)   I found some good books for writing characters and I'm working on a cheat sheet for writing thank you notes, so it should get easier as I go along!! Characters are coming so much faster now that I've stopped using the flash cards and I just use them to write notes and read scriptures!!! Translating the Primary songs for the music program helped too!!!

Well, the music program was on Saturday and it went sooooo well.  I love being a missionary because even when we don't have enough time to practice and prepare, things just work out.  Our pianist came up and gave me a big hug after and said, "Thank you for inviting the Spirit."  We didn't do much more than bear our testimonies and sing the melody of a few hymns, but it worked.  I know that the angels sing with us when we're asked to do things.  Somehow Heavenly Father makes it work out.  The other miracle was that our zone leader Elder F. "Died" (went home) last week so his companion has a Summer Missionary as his companion for the rest of the move.  This companion, Brother C., is 17 and he's from Hong Kong so he knows Cantonese and was able to help us read parts of the intro to the Book of Mormon!!! It's funny, he's not even a real missionary, but he's kind of our Zone leader (or companions with our Zone Leader) and the only native missionary in our entire zone.  I'm so excited I have someone I can ask my Chinese questions now!!!!

This week has been a little weird, we're in the middle of trying to find new investigators who will be willing to meet with us and do the important things like come to church and read the Book of Mormon.  We're also trying to improve our relationship with the Sha Tin ward, because we realized last week that between our baptisms in our other wards, we've only been in Sha Tin once and one Sacrament meeting since I got here!!! Oh no!!!  We are trying to schedule times to meet with the members to share a quick spiritual message.  We've got our work cut out for us, and busy or not, we're going to find ways for this ward to not only realize they have sister missionaries, but to like us too!!!!

Sorry it's shorter this week, I love you all so much!!!!!


Thursday, June 7, 2012

We found a dead lizard in our apartment the other day...

Ahhhh. . . We got to go to the temple today!!! It was AMAZING! There was at least one sister from each of our wards there. It was so neat to see. I don't realize how overwhelmed and stressed I am until after the temple when I feel sooooo light and happy! Since I will be hitting half-way soon! (Yikes!) I really took some time today to contemplate my mission and where I wanted to go in the next 9 months. I really felt a strong love for these people. Especially the sisters that were sitting next to me in the temple. I remembered that I really am making friends for eternity here. We really are sisters in Zion and that power is incredible! Every time I go to the temple, they always pray for the missionaries. That touches me every time because I know that there are over 100 temples across the world so every hour there is at least 1 if not many more prayers in the temple for the missionaries. It means so much to me.

Good news Y's Dad went to church last week!  Y. is in my previous area.  What a miracle!!! I often think if my whole mission were just for Y. it would be totally worth it!! I love her so much!!! But it's so much better because I have A., AM, AH and so many other wonderful people too!   As I go on with my mission I realize more and more how incredible our reunion is going to be in the Celestial Kingdom and there is no way I'm going to miss it!!!

We found a dead lizard in our apartment the other day, I found it under a skirt I had set on the couch! blech!

This Satuday is our music program in Tai Wai! I was freaking out a bit when our Bishop's counselor started talking to me about "dress rehearsals," dressing rooms, "being on standby 20 minutes early" "Costumes" and such. I was even more nervous when I realized we can't be at dress rehearsal because of English class and lessons and then I heard the first time we sang “A Child's Prayer” in Chinese. . . hahaha but after our 10th time through it didn't sound too bad. Whew!! They've put us very last, I don't know what they were thinking! I'm praying for the angels to sing with us and for everything to work out because I don't want to let our ward down! I feel like the expectations are a bit high!!! (Several people have told us how excited they are to hear "the missionaries perform" hahaha) I am actually really excited though!!!


1 – Why were you so down on your 6 month anniversary?
I don't remember exactly. . . those days happen, but there is a quote from this General Conference that says, "Most of what we worry about is not of eternal significance." I'm learning that more and more while I'm out here. I'm learning that whatever uncomfortable happens in the next hour usually doesn't even affect tomorrow, and that trials and discomforts that I face most definitely won't affect eternity. It's got to end eventually and the reward is always worth it.

2 – What have you noticed about the culture?
People don't like to touch food with their hands! We had cookies at FHE last night and every youth used a paper towel to pick up the cookie and then eat it. They use so much paper for wrappers here! They even put drinks at McDonalds in special plastic bags with handles!

3 – Will you have another interview with President Chen before he leaves?
No, probably not.

4 – Does he speak English or Cantonese when he meets with you?
English! His English is pretty good, but it makes for some funny moments when we can understand/express ourselves, but it works. It really shows his love for us for him to learn English so well to communicate with us.

5 – What do you generally do in the evenings?
If we don't have a Chang-out (which is about half the time) we have a lesson. On the rare occasions that we don't have either of those, we do finding until about 6:30 or 7 then we come home and eat dinner (1 hour) and then do calls and update our records about the lessons we taught that day. Sometimes we finish our studies if we haven't gotten them done yet. Usually the list of people we need to call and things we need to write down piles up, so those evening are pretty busy! We just hooked up our home line so it makes calls a LOT easier!!!