Hello from the beautiful Hong Kong Island! The sun is shining, the bus horns are honking, and the radio is playing (to our amusement/chagrin) Soldier Boy... it's going to be a beautiful day! This morning I bought groceries, some glittery, water-proof shoes and 2 adorable dresses for under $300, so I'd say job well done. (Dad, no worries, that's Hong Kong dollars.) Curry for lunch, as well as leftover duck liver and lotus root patties, and a member's house for dinner. Yes, I unashamedly say that I have it MADE. This is the life! I'm already used to the variety of reactions people have when they see us. You get the old people who always comment on how beautiful you are. You get the people who say your Cantonese is great, and then the occasional grumpy one who says it smells bad. You get the people who look anywhere but at you (to whom you ALWAYS say, very cheerfully, "Jousahn!") and then the people who stare you down and don't look away even when you look at them (to whom you ALWAYS say, very cheerfully, "Jousahn!"). You get the people who hit you in the head with their umbrellas (which they always carry, especially when it's sunny). And the great thing about being a missionary in Hong Kong is that you love all of them! And it's not even hard!
T-shirts of the week: The first one isn't ever going to be as funny to you as it is to me, because you'll never know how funny it looked. This sweet, tiny, hunch-backed woman, with a slightly crazed look in her eye, hobbled past wearing a baby-pink t-shirt with big, bold, glittery lettering: NAUGHTY.
And the second one reminded me of last week's: an older woman at church on Sunday wearing a shirt saying, "God save the girl! Please." I think it's the punctuation that makes it worthy of mention.
And I still don't quite understand what this last one means: It's the Monday stupid. I've come up with two possibilities. But, as any thoughtful author would do, I'll just let the reader come to their own conclusions.
We pray at least 30 times a day, and always in Cantonese. Before and after each study session, every time we leave or return home, before every meal, before we go street contacting, before and after each lesson, and whenever we need or want or think about anything ever. However, one time when it was my turn to pray, I said, "Dear Heavenly Father--I mean... What?!" I started in English and it sounded SO. WEIRD. And of course we both started laughing for about 10 minutes. Seriously, my Cantonese isn't great or anything, but English kind of weirds me out. And whenever I see white people I think to myself, "What are you doing here? You don't belong!" And the other day we ate lunch at a member's house and they pulled out--get this--shepherd's pie. Yes. SO WEIRD. I mean, it was delicious and I loved it and it reminded me of British Christmas at home! But it was still weird. I kept expecting to pull out a fish bone or a piece of mystery meat. But it was so normal, which was weird.
Unfortunately, ice cream is super expensive here: $70 for a tiny box of Dreyers. Good for my body, bad for my soul. But I've found another dessert to fill the gaping hole in my heart where ice cream has always resided: gatjai behng. They're basically thick, delicious waffles covered with peanut butter and some other sauce and powdered sugar, and they're only about $9. Wow. Life-changers.
We discovered the entire collection of Richard Rich's Animated Bible videos in the church library. And they're in English! So can you guess what we've been doing during our lunch hour... that's right! The first one was A King is Born, which is the one we have at home. And I was able to sing almost the entire "Miracle of Love" song by memory! (Which, by the way, is almost the same tune as Far Longer Than Forever, no lie. Look it up! And it's not really a surprise, because Richard Rich also did The Swan Princess.)
We get to go to the temple every 6 weeks, and our zone goes next week! I'm so excited, because the temple here is beautiful.
Sister Taylor continues to be amazing, inspiring, and powerful. When we teach, she is so bold but so loving, and those we teach really feel that love. Love is the biggest motivator, and I'm learning a lot about love and selfless service from her. She is so sneaky too, she always grabs my dishes and washes them when I'm not looking. But I'm catching on, and I'm not letting her get all the service blessings of this companionship!
This week has been a tough week, but also a really good one. I'm learning a lot, especially about humility. I constantly feel humbled. Not because of any particular experience or embarrassing moment. It's just that I have next-to-no idea what I'm doing. Sometimes I feel like I'm in a pitch-black room, fumbling around, trying to find the light switch or the door or something, but I know there are all these valuable vases scattered haphazardly throughout the room. I try to be so careful, because I don't want to knock anything down, but I also really need to find this stinkin' light switch! Fortunately, I know that the Lord knows where each of these valuable vases are, and he's not going to let me run into them. I love the verse in Doctrine and Covenants 6:34: "Therefore, fear not, little flock; do good; let earth and hell combine against you, for if ye are built upon my rock, they cannot prevail." The Lord knows my weaknesses, he knows my strengthes, and he knows my potential. He knows how to take those weaknesses and make them strengths. He knows how to take my strengths and use them to further his work and serve his children. I've had moments of doubt, fear, and (the worst) homesickness. But I can completely honestly say with David, "God is my refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will I not fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof." No matter what happens, I know my Heavenly Father loves me and is aware of me, just like he is for each of his children, no matter where they live, what language they speak, or how many unkind things they've said or done. My parents really, really want me to come back from Hong Kong one day. Well, the Lord wants us home infinitely more. He wants all of his children to come back to him, and he's shown them the way. And the way is Jesus Christ and his gospel. And what a blessing to be able to help his children home. I love it. I love it, and I miss home and my room and my cereal and my ice cream and English. But I'd never be anywhere else, no, not in a million, gazillion years. I'm doing the Lord's work, and that's all I want to focus on for the next 15ish months. I love you all!