Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Week 34: in which I learn some stuff and do some stuff and eat some stuff... oh yeah, and by the way, Helen got baptized!

It's true! She's baptized! Yesterday was such a good day! She was just glowing from excitement, and seemed like a little girl! How good it was to see her go into the water, a little nervous, a little uncomfortable (the water wasn't very warm...), and come out of the water so happy, so calm, and so sure of who she is. Baptism is such a blessing, a chance to start over, to be completely clean. Everyone deserves another chance, and I'm so happy that Helen took that chance! YAY baptism!

he work this past week was slower than usual due to Chinese New Year. It's a big family holiday, which meant it was almost impossible to schedule people. We spent some time with members and a lot of time trying to go finding. On Wednesday, we knew we'd have to spend most of the day finding, so we went up to Diamond Hill, 5 MTR stops away from Kwun Tong, and then we walked all the way back to the church, finding along the way! It was so fun! Diamond Hill, Choi Hung, Kowloon Bay, Ngau Tau Kok, and Kwun Tong. And we didn't use a map book at all! It was a great adventure, and we met some really good people.

One thing that I really like about Chinese New Year is that they have all of these little phrases that you say whenever you meet people; when someone says a phrase to you, you're supposed to say a different one back to them. The most common one is "Sanlihn faailohk" meaning "Happy New Year." And then there's "Santai gihnhong" which means "Body health." And then they get a little stranger and more fun! Like "Gunghei faatchoi" which means "Congratulations, make money." And then "Chingcheun seuhngjyu" meaning something like "years like springtime always around you." And how about "Yatfahn fongseuhn" meaning "sails have wind always," or (my personal favorite) "Yuyu dakseui" meaning "fish fish have water." That one's pretty clever too, because 'seui' means water, but it can also represent money, so it's a way of wishing people good fortune, but I always like to imagine a bunch of fish trying to swim in money. We missionaries have started translating them into English, and we'll say things to people like, "May your sails always have wind" and "May your fish always have water" or "May your fish always have money." And since a lot of people here understand English okay, they know what we're saying, but they don't always realize that we're alluding to those New Year's phrases. Maybe it's not that funny if you aren't actually here doing it... just trust me, it's funny.

So by Friday night, I was feeling pretty frustrated due to the lack of work. We taught very few lessons, spent all of Monday cleaning our apartment, and spent all of Thursday at a missionary meeting and doing studies. Then on Friday, the only lesson that we had scheduled didn't happen. So yeah, I was just bummed out and frustrated and trying not to let it bother me, but not doing a very good job. It was about 8 pm, and we were about to go home to make some calls and organize our records, but then for some reason we decided to just stay at the church and make calls there. And as we were doing that, the elders walked into the building with a girl and her mom. They'd been out finding, and they invited the mother and daughter to come in and take a tour of the building. And turns out, we'd met that girl the week before in a park and we taught her a lesson about prayer! So we showed them around the church and the mom said that she'd come to church when she had a Sunday off of work! And if that wasn't crazy enough, we saw the girl again the NEXT DAY in the market! I know that she's special, and that Heavenly Father is preparing her to hear the gospel. The elders had a miracle night too, because they went finding for 45 minutes and almost every single person they talked to was willing to come back to the church! So after the girl and mom left, they gave us another girl and her boyfriend! We showed them around the church and then talked with them for about 10 minutes about prayer! And then that girl came to church on Sunday, and we're seeing her again tonight! I love to see the miracles that come from finding.

Like I said before, we had a multi-zone training meeting on Thursday, and it was awesome. I learned so much, and one of my favorite things that our mission president said was (and I paraphrase), "We cannot be casual with missionary work. The world's values have changed, and to many, it's not cool to care too much. The world values casualness, comfort, and convenience. Those things aren't necessarily bad, but many people now value casualness over duty, comfort over hard work, convenience over obedience. I don't think the Atonement was casual, comfortable, or convenient. But Christ did it because it was necessary for the salvation of souls, and he loved us enough to do it. Missionary work is not casual, comfortable, or convenient, but it is also necessary for the salvation of souls. Do you love your fellowmen (and your Savior) enough to do it?"

So yes, sometimes this missionary stuff is awkward or tiring, and sometimes I get really grumpy or hungry. But wow, when you see someone get baptized, or you "just happen" to bump into someone that you met a week ago, or you see any other miracle or evidence of God's hand in your life, WOW are those little challenges worth it! This is so fun! I think of the poem by Elizabeth Barrett Browning:

Earth's crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God;
But only he who sees takes off his shoes;
The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries.

Life is full of miracles, and this time in Hong Kong has really opened my eyes to them. I love it! I love Hong Kong and Chinese and weird food and crazy people and normal people and cute little babies and street markets full of gross, just-slaughtered animals and my family and Heavenly Father and this church and the Book of Mormon and miracles and... well, you get the idea.

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