Thursday, September 27, 2012

Week 13: In which is crammed every stereotypical mission experience possible. Well, except a baptism.

Hello from the beautiful city of Kwun Tong! I have had one crazy week, that's for sure. I have so much to say that I'm having an impossible time even starting this email! So I'm reverting to list format, for my own convenience, as well as yours! Each item on the list will have a convenient heading; if you have no interest in that heading, you can just skip that part of the list! So you're welcome.

1. T-Shirt of the Week

I think I'll have to start a t-shirt of the week section of my email, because the t-shirts here are just too funny. This one was worn by a super tall, skinny, teenage boy with about ten piercings and a huge smile. It says, "God Bless the Teenagers of America." So don't worry, kids! People all over the world are praying for you!

2. Teaching English

We have Yingman baan (English class) every Wednesday night and Siupahngyauh Yingman baan (Children's English class) every Saturday morning. They are so fun! And after every class, we share a short, spiritual message. Last night's class was about family members, so naturally our message was about families! I especially loved siupahngyauh Yingman because the children here are absolutely adorable, it about kills me! And the children who come to our class are so well-behaved--true little ladies and gentlemen. Although, every now and then one of them will squeal or something, but even that is cute! We also do one-on-one tutoring with Dahng Jimuih's (Sister Dahng) children, which is quite an experience. Dahng Jimuih's husband is a member, and even though she isn't, she'll come with him to church every week. Let me tell you, that little boy has enough energy to power all of downtown for about 20 minutes! And he speaks about as fast as the MTR, so I can't ever understand what he's saying, regardless of the language he's speaking! But he is the most adorable thing, so I don't even mind haha.

Side note: A few of the members of our English class have expressed interest in learning, French, so I think I'll be starting a French class in a few weeks! I am excited out of my mind for this--my only problem is that every time I try to speak French, it comes out in Cantonese... So, we'll see what happens!

3. Cantonese

I think my language is improving a lot! I still understand less than half of what's going on; my new catchphrase is definitely 'Tengmhmihng.' It means, "I hear you, but I don't understand." Fortunately, most people here are really willing to help, especially the church members. My biggest language challenge so far has definitely been talking on the phone. I made my first phone call on my first night with Sister Taylor, and the only way I could get through it was just by laughing and apologizing and praying! I was inviting one of the girls we're teaching to an activity the following evening, and I wasn't sure if she understood that. But she showed up the next night, so it worked! On Monday night our apartment phone rang while Sister Taylor was in the shower. And the other companionship in our apartment (Sister Kelly and Sister Clements) didn't move. So I very timidly answered. (By the way, in Hong Kong, you always answer the phone saying, "Waih?" The first time I heard that, I thought it was so funny, because it sounds like you're asking them, "Why? Why are you calling me?" Well, maybe it's not that funny... Oh well.) And I think it was someone from the ward, but I still have no idea! We started out talking about attending church (I think), and then I said that I was excited to meet her and asked if she wanted to set an appointment (because I still have no idea who she is or why she called), but she said no. Then she asked me what I like to do, so I told her. And then she said some other things that might have been about church. So I told her I don't understand and we both laughed a lot. And then she said, "Bye-bye!" And that was it! And then I turn around, and Sister Taylor, Sister Clements, and Sister Kelly have all been listening the entire time haha. And they gave me a round of applause, congratulating me for surviving my first phone call!

Everyone has been really complimentary of my language. Well, except this one guy in the elevator who told Sister Taylor and me that our Cantonese smelled bad. I just smiled kindly at him. I know, very charitable, right? Well, I had no clue what he said haha, so it wasn't really charity as much as ignorance... But oh well!

4. Rain

HOLY COW! On Monday night we survived the craziest storm I've ever been in! The walk from our apartment to church is about 15 minutes, steep downhill and then steep uphill--slightly challenging with the best of weather. But this storm was incredible! My shoes were filled with water, the streets became rivers, and my umbrella was practically useless. We were soaked through by the time we got home, but it was so so so fun. The entire time I was grinning ear to ear, and thinking, "Wow. I am on a mission right now. I've imagined this for 21 years, and now I'm actually doing it. This is awesome."

5. Church

Church on Sunday was so great. I absolutely love our ward! They were so kind and welcoming. Sure, I had no idea what they were saying, but it all seemed like good things haha. I was asked to bear my testimony in sacrament meeting in front of everyone, and I was so nervous! But it wasn't nearly as hard as I expected. I just smiled, explained how much I loved them and wanted to serve them, and expressed my love for the Savior. The great thing about speaking Cantonese is that it makes me simplify my thoughts and helps me to really ponder what I'm saying and what I mean. After church, one of the members came up and told me that he knew I'd be a good missionary because I smiled all day! And turns out that's all I really need to do...

6. Today's awesome MTR experience

Today we took the MTR to the mission office. I always try to smile and make eye contact with as many people as possible, especially on the MTR. And I did this to one middle-aged man and he looked a little confused and then smiled back. Then I looked away and a little while later, I noticed he was watching me, so I smiled at him again. I got off at the next stop and thought nothing of it... Until I hear, "Hello, hello, hello, hello!" And after about the seventh or eighth hello, I realize he's talking to me! So I turn around and he says, "I want to meet with you. You seem very nice, and I need to talk to you. Can I meet with you later?" I was completely stunned, and then said, "Of course!" We gave him our number, and then he disappeared. So strange. But I know that they Lord put him in our path, and that something (The Spirit!!) urged him to talk to us.

7. In other news...

I ate pig's feet. I didn't know it at the time haha, but I did.

8. Yesterday

We taught 8 lessons in one day! Crazy!

9. I have such a testimony of missionary work.

This is the hardest, most emotionally exhausting thing I've ever done. Every day, I fight off feelings of inadequacy and frustration. But I also feel God's hand in my life. I feel so at peace, so right, so strong, like I can handle anything Hong Kong tries to throw at me. Wow, I love this. And want to be home. And wouldn't want to be anywhere else.

Well, my time is up, and I still haven't written about half the things I wanted to. I love you all so much. I miss you. I miss a lot of things, but God is helping me get through this, I just know it.

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