Thursday, August 30, 2012

One word describes this week: Full!!!

Happy Thursday and almost September!!!

One word describes this week: full!!! Monday we had Yam Cha. The elders both have summer missionaries so they ordered a ton of extra food. They didn't take into account that natives don't eat as much and can get away with it!!! Us foreigners on the other hand, are afraid to say no because we really don't want to offend or seem ungrateful. So it was up to me and the Elders to take care of it. . . by the end I offered things very specifically to the Summer missionaries so they couldn't refuse. It worked out well. Monday night was Family Home Evening and there is always a ton of good food! Then Tuesday night we went to a member's house and she made more dumplings and steamed buns than all the missionaries in the world need, plus vegetables, pork and oranges for dessert. She kept saying, "I was so busy today and cooked very simply and just a little." "Is that all you're going to eat? Help me finish it!" Oh man!!! I thought I would burst. Then Wednesday a member took our whole district and the Summer missionaires and the 2 youth that came finding with us to a delicious dinner. It was yummy, but I don't know if I'm ever going to be hungry again!! It's not as painful as when this happened right after I first moved here, which worries me, does that mean I'm eating more? I'm just working on my extra layer for winter. Warning: I might come home a bit rolly polly. Solution: I'll not stress about it now and sign up for the Halloween Half Marathon as soon as I get home!! hahaha

We were at the street market today and I was looking at some fruit that looked like tomatoes but pink. Then a lady turned to me and said "have you tried these?" she was so excited, "they're like tomatoes, but sweet! Here! try!" and handed us each one! She showed us how to eat it. It's like a cross between a tomato and a plum, but you don't eat the peel so you kind of pop it open and slurp it up. Then she said, "They're so sweet! It used to be you could only get them in mainland, but they found a way to transport them!" Ahhhh!! I bought some more (they were only 5 for 10 HK!!!) I'm so excited to try an exotic fruit from mainland!!!

1 - How are you doing with reading Chinese?
Eh not so good, President Hawks has encouraged us to focus on learning to speak, so I've been obedient. I'm realizing that I've wasted the past few moves trying to learn to read. I know enough to write a thank you note, (correction: I've written the characters for a thank you note down, so I can copy them) and I know enough to get around. Sister Lin knows characters so I don't have to worry as much right now!

2 - What have you noticed about the culture?
Well, I made dumplings and the older ladies I was with said they were very good!! I also learned to "mit" peel shrimp at dinner last night an they said I was very good at that too!! I'm a natural chinese chef!! *cough.

I'm not sure what else to say. This week has been a little harder. We have been doing a lot more finding, but I've needed it. I realized I've been getting prideful. This week I've been working harder to learn the language, praying more sincerely, trying harder to improve and trying to find ways to be even more obedient. We haven't had much success yet, but I just started changing. I would love to find a family tomorrow, but it might be better for me if Heavenly Father tried me for another week or so. We'll see. Finding did go a lot better yesterday. We had A., a young woman from one of our wards come with us. She is AMAZING!!! I learned so much from her!

M. officially moved from the area yesterday. It was sad to see her go, but I think the move will be really good for her to realize that the church is more than just the friends she makes there. V. should have gotten back from Mainland last night, we still haven't been able to get a hold of her. But if she's still up for it, we're hoping she can get baptized on Sunday!!! Please pray for her!!!!

Well, I think that's it! I'm going to send pictures!


My apartment 

 Birthday Celebration
 A Nelson Family water bottle!
Ingredients for Tim Tam Slams
 Sister Lin and Sister Nelson 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

. . . today was just tooooo good!!!

Hello Mom, Dad, Kelli Nathanael and Savanna!!!!

So when I left I had a little brother and two little sisters (or that's I what I tell people) where did they go?!!!!! Their pictures all look soooooo grown up!!!! And Kelli's going to College?!!! That's sooooo weird!! 

I'm glad school is going well for Savanna!  I sent some things to "sign" her cast you should get them soon.
(Barbara's note: Savanna had foot surgery and is in a cast for 6 weeks.  I asked Kasey to think of a way to "sign" Savanna's cast.  She made a stencil with her Chinese and English name.  It was a fun, easy way for Savanna's big sister to sign her cast.)
Thank you to everyone again for all of the birthday mail!!!!! I had 5 letters on my desk yesterday!!! 

Today was really cool! We had a mission tour this morning. Actually Elder Gong of the area 70 presidency, and Elder Wong of the 70, our Stake President and President and Sister Hawks visited our zone (they're "touring" all the zones this week.) I actually didn't know what we were going to be doing I was just told to be there. I wish I had known more so I could have prepared to learn even more, but it was still very uplifting and cool! All of the leaders spoke to us at least 1 time and then all of them bore their testimonies at the end. The especially neat part was that both Elder Wong and President Jsang (our stake president) are in our Sha Tin ward, so I'm already familiar with both of them - it was cool to see them in their church calling role, and not their everyday role.

We had a 20 minute leadership meeting before the conference with just the General Authorities, District leaders, Zone Leaders and trainers. Elder Gong had each of the leaders stand and talk about the success that was happening in the areas they were responsible for. He talked about how the 70, Mission President and Stake President hold different keys for missionary work. Then he had the trainers stand and he reminded us that we have a great responsibility. President Hawks has said this before but he reminded us that trainers build the mission and that we are very important and we need to think of what we need to do to help our companions be successful. I don't like it when they say that, but yet I do. I am totally incapable of training a missionary and especially since I've started training I've felt like I've been looked at under a magnifying glass. It is EXTREMELY humbling to know that this is my calling right now and very reasuring to know Heavenly Father will be with me if I will let him.

The trainings were really good. After the meeting, Elder Gong asked to have an interview with a few missionaries and I was one of them! It was very simple, but I don't think I will ever have the opportunity again to have a personal interview with a General Authority. I am just amazed with him and President Hawks!  Both have so much to do, so many missionaries to think about and coordinate, but whenever I talk with them I feel their love for me, individually, not just because I'm one of the missionaries and they love the missionaries, but because I'm Sister Nelson and I'm important. They also have a ways of asking me to bear testimony of the thing that I've been struggling with the most lately. Last time President Hawks asked me about my feeling about the Savior. This time Elder Gong asked me to share with him my testimony of the Book of Mormon. I've been struggling lately to really really feel and believe that it's true, even though I've known it before. As I started talking, several experiences from this week came to mind and I was reminded again that the Book of Mormon is true. It is amazing to me how many little things Heavenly Father can coordinate so that a book written hundreds of years ago can have meaningful, personal significance to me, one of 1,000,000,000s of people on the Earth today. I try to read the Book of Mormon for at least 10 minutes each day as part of my study and I'm trying to read it from beginning to end again. It's been a bit tough and I've not been understanding a whole lot lately, but I've decided to re-study the lessons in preach my gospel and started with the Restoration after I decided that's where I've wanted to start. Everything I've read in my daily 10 minutes has given me great insight to the restoration!!!! It's really a miracle that the Book of Mormon can answer our specific questions.

In his sharing Elder Gong talked specifically about 3 Nephi 11:10 where Christ says He is the Christ and has been testified of by prophets. He told of 2 missionaries in Mongolia. Since the Book of Mormon hadn't been translated into Mongolian yet, they translated this one verse and gave it to a family to read and pray about. With that one verse they gained a testimony of the Book of Mormon and changed their lives and came unto Christ. That is the power this book. It testifies of Christ and invites others to come unto Him. Christ knows us all individually so it makes sense that a Book that testifies of Christ can help us in our unique situation with our unique problems and challenges.

Ok, now I'm trying to remember the rest of the week. . . today was just tooooo good!!! We've been praying as a mission to be able to teach families and miracles are happening! We had a family come to our EEFY talent show on Saturday. I talked to the mom for a bit afterward and she seemed to really enjoy it and the people at church and said they would try to come to church. Also the referral from President Chan. Although the parents aren't interested we were able to have a really good conversation with their daughter about the church and how it could bless her and her kids.

I love you all so much!!!!


Thursday, August 16, 2012

Happy Birthday!!!

Mom, Dad, Kelli, Nathanael and Savanna!!!

I can't seem to go one week e-mailing without tearing up a bit, not because I'm homesick, but because I love hearing from you and every time I hear what is going on I realize how great my family is!!!
Wow!! School is starting already?!!! Crazy!!! Good Luck Kelli and Nathanael! I have this feeling the next few years are going to fly by too!

Thank you soooooo much for the birthday package!!!! I loved it and we had a good time last Friday!!!  I tried cooking the muffins in the rice cooker, and it didn't quite work, so I finished it off in the microwave to make sure the egg was cooked, they are still edible and yummy to me!!! (but they look gross so I can't share hahahaha!!!!!) It has been fun to have them for breakfast this week!! We all died when I opened the water bottle (Barbara's note: the water bottle is imprinted with a picture of our family)
.  Sister Lier, I think, laughed the hardest. One of our ward members got a kick out of it on Sunday! Thank you Grandma for the package too!!! I love the hat!! Tons of people sent me letters too!! I feel so loved!! (The elders in our zone haven't liked me much lately.  Things like "Sister Nelson the whole mailbox is for you" followed by a roll of the eyes come from them when or if I ask about the mail) Thank You! Thank You!!!

This week has been CRAZY!!! Good news, Sister Lin is finally unpacked!!!! (I think and hope!  She put her suitcases away last Friday so I think she is done)

EEFY (English Especially For Youth) takes about 4 hours everyday between set up and tear down, but we have been able to teach several people!! One is one of our Sha Tin member’s friend. We've taught her about the restoration.  Her mom and brother are coming to the talent show on Saturday!!!!! Yay!!! Maybe we'll get to teach a family!!  President Chan also found a couple for us to teach. Talk about intimidating!! Teaching with your former Mission President!!! Yikes!!! President Hawks has been encouraging us to pray for families, I've been forgetting sometimes, but Heavenly Father is already blessing us! I better start praying and working harder!!!

Another miracle! We decided to make string bracelets for EEFY today. Yesterday we went to a place in Sha Tin where I had seen embroidery floss before, but they didn't have any!!! So I walked around the store asking the ladies shopping there if they knew where I could buy some. One lady was trying to think of places and then was like, "I have a bunch in my apartment that I used for a project that I can give you. Wait here, I'll be back in 10 minutes." She came back with a HUGE bag of embroidery floss already cut in yard lengths!!!!! Miracle!!! I was standing there in awe trying to figure out how to get her contact info so we could send a thank you card (preferably hand-delivered with a Book of Mormon :) and then she left!!! But talk about miracle!! We spent 12 HK ($2US) on a project Elder Farnsworth handed me a 1000 bill for because I was expected to need the most money!! MIRACLE!!!!!

I had to call President Hawks about one of our investigators a few times these past weeks. It has been really interesting how he listens to the situation and then asks what I think we need to do, usually he says to do what I think is best. Sometimes he'll give a suggestion and he willingly answers my questions, but it is cool, humbling, and a good reminder to have him tell me that we're entitled to inspiration for our areas and he trusts that.

Things with Sister Lin are great. Our Summer Missionary "died" yesterday, and it has been nice to be companions with my companion! I am also being constantly reminded of my weaknesses, it's kind of ironic that as a trainer I feel the least like a good missionary I've felt since the MTC. I need the extra hour of companion study as much, if not more than she does!!

I love you all soooo much!! Thank you so much for your love and support! I think of you lots (especially now that you're on my water bottle!!!)



Friday, August 10, 2012

Leih Hou!!!

Hi Mom, Dad, Kelli, Nathanael and Savanna,

Wow! The time is flying!! You go back to school next week and it almost classifies as "the middle of August!!" Crazy!!! It's going just as fast here, moves seem to get shorter and shorter. Thank you for all the birthday wishes and cards and e-mails and love! I got your packages last week and the card from the ward yesterday. Thank you for celebrating for me too! (Seriously! I'm glad you did!) I haven't had a chance to open my presents yet (my companion was DEAD by the time we finally got home last night so we got her to bed as soon as possible! But tonight we're hopefully going to celebrate! Hahaha!

Thank you for telling me about Kristy's mission call!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Ah!!!! I'm sooooo excited she's going to an Asian mission!!!! AH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I'm glad to hear that Justin is doing well, I'm so excited for him.


1 - In Primary, the kids sing the HELLO song to kids that visit. The kids like to sing Hello in different languages. I'd love to teach them how to say Hello in Cantonese. Can you phonetically teach me how to say it? Would that work or is it too likely that I would teach them wrong without hearing it? Maybe it would be best to wait until our Christmas phone call. 

You should be fine reading it.  It's leih (like the things you wear to a luau or potato chips "lay") hou (like hohoho Merry Christmas) the hou is a rising tone if you want to worry about it, but it'll be fine if you don't.

2 - Tell me about your new companion. 

My new companion is AWESOME!!! Her name is Sister Lin, she is from Mainland, but moved to Australia when she was 21 for school. She speaks Mandarin but her English is perfect and her Cantonese is already super good too! She is 29 and already has her Master’s degree in Information Systems. She is absolutely adorable and I feel like she is going to be a very good missionary and a great companion! I am just sooooooo incredibly excited to work with her and learn from her. I'm going to have to keep reminding myself that I need to be a trainer and teach her things because I feel like there is already so much I can learn from her.

3 - Who are your roommates now? 

Sister Fernalius and Sister Lier. Two of my most favorite missionaries in Hong Kong!!!! I have a great companion and great roommates!!! I'm soooooooo happy!!!

4 - What are Tim Tam Slams?

Tim Tams are cookies that have a hard chocolate coat. You bite two opposite corners and then put one end in milk or hot chocolate and the other in your mouth and drink out of it like a straw. When it gets soggy, the goal is to slurp it into your mouth without using your hands. Rice bowls were meant for Tim Tam Slams!!! (I think that's why it's an Asian mission thing)

5 - If you were home, what would you pick for your birthday dinner? 

Fruit parfaits, Mandarin oranges and Chicken salad and homemade bread!!!

I have celebrated my birthday 5 times already!!! I feel so loved!

1) Sister Kelly bought me a cards case for my octopus card and couldn't wait to give it to me so gave me an early gift a few weeks ago,

2) Our un-birthday last Wednesday

3) Monday at FHE Sister Mak made a cake and asked if anyone had an August birthday. Sister Kelly ratted me out. Everyone who the cake was for (me, Bishop Mak, Sister Kelly (because she was leaving) Freddie who just got baptized) took a picture with the cake before we ate it and I think they sang, I don't remember.

4) Tuesday night was moves calls, and Elder Pofreman sent us on a Scavenger hunt. Turns out only the sisters actually went and the Elders all went to the Relief Society room.  When the sisters got back, they were waiting with finger painted signs, brownies, ice cream and root beer floats for me and Sister Far!! I have the best companion and Zone ever!!! (Sister Kelly was the mastermind)

5) Yesterday!!! Sister Hawks said she was going to call me, but President Hawks reminded her that we would be trying to get out the door with luggage so she told me when I saw her that President Hawks "saved" me. Our summer missionary Sister Chan, bought me a blueberry cheesecake and we ate it after correlation, and Sister Kelly played happy birthday on her iPod and we sang and danced in the morning.

6) Whenever I get around to ACTUALLY celebrating it with Tim Tam slams and a package!! Hahaha!
Yesterday was nuts!!! I feel so bad because Sister Lin's first day in Hong Kong was CRAZY!!!! That is why we e-mailed today because when we finally got home we had less than 10 minutes to leave again and didn't make it to e-mails on time and couldn't schedule another time because we had an appointment. 

Sister Lin and I are both learning together, because I honestly have NO IDEA WHAT I'M DOING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! but the good thing is Heavenly Father knows not only what He's doing, but what I'm doing too, and President Hawks reminded us to not focus on what we can't do, but on what we can. No one I know had a perfect trainer or was completely perfectly happy the first 2 moves of their mission, but I can do my best to explain and be patient and help my companion adjust.  It's still going to be hard for both of us, but the end result can still be good. 

Ok I've got to go so I can send some pictures! I love you all sooooo much and miss you I'm realizing more and more really how soon it is until I will see you all again (time is flying!) and it freaks me out!! 5 moves isn’t that long!!!


This is an excerpt from a snail mail letter that I received from Kasey last week.  It is really interesting:

In the church people talk a lot about how China is still closed to missionary work and how exciting it will be when it is opened.  China is more open than we realize.  People come down from Mainland every week just to get baptized.  At least weekly I hand a flyer or pamphlet to someone who lives in the mainland.  Our recent convert AH took Word of Wisdom and Family pamphlets to share with her family a few weeks ago.  There are Christian churches in Mainland, but they are run by the government.  Since our church won't allow the government to do that, we can't be established fully there.  The government likes our church because we obey the laws, so members are allowed to meet and have meetings.  I tell you what, when China opens fully it's going to be INCREDIBLE!

Almost everyone over 30 here is a convert.  Very few were born and raised in the church.  As such the member missionary work is incredible!  It is awesome and humbling how much members care for and love the missionaries (part of that is why I had pizza for lunch & dinner yesterday and I've barely eaten anything today and I'm still stuffed).  If I see someone new at church I just need to head in their direction and someone will introduce them to me.  Each investigator has a ward family and they are all excited for their baptism!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

I don't know who my companion will be yet, but I think her last area was the MTC!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Hello Mom, Dad, Kelli, Nathanael and Savanna!!! 

1 – How’s the weather? 
It's good sometimes it rains, sometimes it's hot and sunny sometimes it's a typhoon, it's normal weather. . . unpredictable!! 
2 – Do you have speculation for transfers next week?
I have this hunch that Sister Kelly is moving and that I will stay here.  I don't know who my companion will be yet, but I think her last area was the MTC!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
3 – Was the typhoon scary?  Did you have to stay in the apartment extra because of it?  
We had to go home "early" but we were planning on it any way because we hadn't done our studies or planning yet that day.  It was noisy hearing all the doors slamming around and there is quite a bit of tree damage, but other than that we're ok.

Ok back to question number 2:  I'm training next move!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  AHHH!!!!  I'm having a baby!!! hahahaha.  We called President Hawks on Saturday about one of our investigators and then he asked to talk to me and invited me to attend leadership training on Wednesday (which for sisters means you're training.)  I got off the phone and screamed.  Sister Far said she knew it was coming.  Anyway I am super excited!  Nervous of course, but I think I'm mostly afraid of my own imperfections and selfishness, but I am realizing more and more that this sister is not "my missionary," and I am not her trainer.  She is Heavenly Father's missionary and He is the trainer, I just need to do my best to not get in Heavenly Father's way.  Luckily enough He will help me.  Leadership training was yesterday.  It was really cool.  The meeting started at 8:15 but the Assistants didn't actually start until 8:45 they gave us that time to read the scriptures and prepare to learn.  President Hawks is Amazing!  I am so excited to have him as our mission president.  He took us 6 trainers into a separated room for 90 minutes and it was really cool to listen to him.  He talked a lot about focus.  Where is our focus?  Is it staying with in the bounds of rules or focused on Christ?  He reminded us that Heavenly Father is not so much concerned with where we are, but is more concerened with where we're headed so we need to be striving to repent and improve everyday.  I am so excited for this chance to learn and grow, I know it's going to push me to find habits and things that I need to change and then change them.  I am also nervous because we just got a summer missionary today and she will be with us for two weeks so she will be with us through moves, which might make things a bit stressful, but luckily she lives close to our apartment so it shouldn't be that hard to do what we need to with her.  (I hope and pray training and having a summer missionary at the same time will not affect either of their experiences.) 

M. is doing amazing!  I feel like things are really clicking for her.  She told us last week that she feels the church is true.  She's reading the Book of Mormon more and has even asked for english materials she can give her Philapina helper and to her daughter (who's 6 but her second language is Chinese, her English is great!!!)  Her mom came to church with her on Sunday and President Chan (our last mission president) and Sister Chan were so good at helping them!.  President Chan sat down with her mom and explained a lot about Christ and faith and even gave her a blessing to help her health problems.  M. took us and the Chans and her mom out to Yam Cha on Monday.  President Chan pretty much had a "missionary present lesson."  (instead of a lesson with a member present)  and did such a great job of explaining things to them.  It was sooooo cool to hear him teach.  At the end, Michelle invited her mom to watch "Finding Faith in Christ" with us (PS, I bought a copy today because Sister Far is dying and I always borrow hers.) and told her mom how much she wants her to come to church so that they can have an eternal family!!! She is AMAZING!!!  (Barbara's note:  When a missionary "dies," it means they are going home.)

A few weeks ago we met a girl, O., on the train and talked to her for a bit but didn't have time to exchange phone numbers.  Tuesday we met the Elders at a train station to walk together to a member's house.  Elder Chang pointed to a girl standing nearby and whispered to Sister Kelly "new investigator."  He meant nothing by it (he thought), but Sister Kelly went up and started talking to her.  Turns out it was O.!!!!! We were able to exchange numbers and she's coming to English Especially for Youth (EEFY)!!! We're meeting her for dinner tomorrow! I'm so excited!

EEFY is this week and it's been a bit stressful, but miracles are happening!  After the activity today we had a lesson with a member's friend who has come almost everyday, she is so cute and really seems interested.  T. came today which was a miracle because she had a baptismal goal for 2 weeks ago but has fallen off the face of the planet!!! It was soooo good to see her again! 

Confession:  I realized that next week I don't have time to celebrate my birthday (it's true Wednesday is going to be nuts with packing and I'm picking up a new missionary on Thursday, and I felt like it would be awkward to be like "Welcome to Hong Kong, it's my birthday.") and I really needed the socks that I knew were inside!!  So Sister Kelly and I decided to celebrate my birthday last night.  She bought ice cream and I started opening the packages, but when I saw everything so nicely wrapped I couldn't bring myself to open them and Sister Kelly couldn't let me do it, so she made me turn everything over to Sister Fernalius who she made promise to make my birthday not awkward next week.  I've made Sister Fernalius promise to let me buy the tim tam slam treats so that I can be a part of Celebrating my baby's first day in Hong Kong.  Hahaha I'm glad to know I'm taken care of, but that we're too busy to think too much about my birthday!

Ok, I'm going to send pictures the one out of the window is of a water war we had last week and I though you might enjoy a picture of me and Sister Darcey.  She gave an awesome sharing at leadership training yesterday. 

It's soooo good to hear how all of you are doing each week.  I look forward to your e-mails.  Thank you so much for being an awesome family and for your love, support and sacrifice!  you are all awesome!!