Monday, April 30, 2012


Leih hou ngohge pahngyauh tuhng gatihng!
It's been a fantastic week, and I'm once again greatful to have a day to rest and prepare! Our Zone now has sort of a weekend; considering P-Day follows the Sabbath. It's nice to have two ''free'' days in a row!
Anyways, its been fantastic! Last Tuesday Elder Nelson was the Presiding Authority at our Devotional, and last night it was the Manager of Missionary Services; Brother Swensen. Both gave fantastic talks, and last night we watched ''Legacy", it was so good! If you've never seen it, you are missing out! All the kissing is way gross, but it's worth it to watch such an awesome movie.
We've been teaching up a storm, and we've got 2 investigators right now:
A-Hei is a barber with a 10 y/o son. His wife died a few years ago, so he's way interested in the Plan of Happiness. He's always super tired, though, so he has trouble keeping his commitments to read and pray. He has a sincere desire to know the truth, though, so I know that he will be able to stay awake if we encourage and support him.
Soren is in his mid 20's, and is a student at HKU. His major is philosphy, so he knows a TON about other religions, but not so much about our's. He wants to know why we are here and what happiness is, which is exactly what we want to tell him! The only problem is that he keeps talking about philosphers, and we've got zero vocabulary in that area.
Speaking of Vocabulary; I'm right around 300 words! I figure that if I get 100 words a week, I will be able to communicate fairly well by the time I get to HK. Our language learning software is great, I love it so much! TALL really helps me prepare and learn so I can teach effectively.
This morning I gave some family names of women to a lady at the Temple and asked her to please make sure they got done. The crazy thing was; she was French! I had a nice little chat with her about when I needed them done by, and she made sure it happened. I love going to the Temple, even walking the grounds lets you feel some of the peace and tranquility that you experience inside.
The food here is still great; I get a wrap pretty much every day. It's essentially Subway in a giant pink or green burrito, I love it so much! There is a girl who usually works that line named Rebecca and (my family knows what's coming next!) she speaks French too! I'm getting to use my 2nd language SO much here, it's great! I wish Cantonese wasn't crowding it out so much, but hopefully talking with the new Missionaries that came in last week that are headed to France will help. Of course; goal #1 is Cantonese, but I still have a deep and abiding love for French.
Except for teaching lots, not much has happened. Thanks so much to all of you who have sent me letters and messages over! I love reading handwriting, but don't feel bad if you want to save yourself half a buck and use dearelder. I have a picture board thing, and I would LOVE to have an excuse to buy pushpins! If you want me to write to you, just send me a letter or dearelder message and I will respond on P-Day. Speaking of responding to letters; can someone get me Brent & LeAnna, Beki, and Tami & Mom's addresses? Also, it'd be cool to write to my Nampa cousins. I didn't write down any addresses; in that aspect I was unprepared! Oh yeah, please someone send me a dearelder with all the windows alt-codes for acute, grave, and the straight line one accents so I can do proper tones at the beginnings of these posts.
I love you all! Being here in the MTC is so great! I am so glad that I have to opportunity to serve the Lord! I know that He created the Plan of Happiness for one reason; to make us happy! It may be difficult for us to follow at times, but nothing else can bring us the kind of joy in this life that we can experience in the world to come! I know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God, and that an honest and prayerful study of it will draw you closer to Christ, give you greater faith in Him, and help you want to follow His example. I know these things to be true, and I saw them in the name of our Lord, Savior, and Older Brother, even Jesus Christ, Amen.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Blog Post #2 - A Surprise from the schedulers!

Leih hou ngohge gatihng tuhn pangyauh! It's been a great week that ended with a puzzling Sabbath. Because all the church schools just got out there has been a gargantuan influx of new missionaries, and our schedule got rearranged. Preparation Day is now Monday, and our Temple Time is 0630! My alarm goes off at 0620 every other day, but today it was 0600 so we could grab a sack breakfast and skidaddle on over to the Provo Temple! FYI: It has the same floorplan as the Seattle Temple. Anyways, my District always goes as a group, which isn't hard considering we're not even half a dozen.
As I said, this has been a great week! We taught our first investigator, A-Wai, for the last time and got him to agree to attend a baptism! The next day we found out that... He's our teacher! I don't know if they do this with every language, but it's a great idea! He knows exactly how each of us struggles, what our vocabularies are, and how comfortable we all are with teaching in Cantonese. Jeh Jimuih, whom we thought was our teacher, is pregnant and will be leaving us in a week or two.
The food here continues to be amazing, the Spirit is so strong here, and even though there are a TON of new missionaries, it's still easy to get around. My District is all doing really well, even with our new schedule, it was designed to keep us obediant! We have our Service Assignment at 0615 on Wednesday mornings, and Sacrament is at 0800. And I thought 9-12 was early! Every week everyone writes a 5 minute talk, and President Miller (the leader of our tiny congregation) ask a Sister and an Elder to give the talks they wrote! It keeps us accountable, because you never know when it's your turn! This week was repentance, and an Elder who just leaves for TX today and a Sister going to Manchester, NH gave their talks. They were both really good
At the Sunday Night Devotional Elder Allen, Managing Director of the Missionary Department, gave a such a good talk. At first he had us stand up for various reasons, like if we thought the food was good, if we thought it would be better in the field, if being a Missionary was what we thought it would be, if we had siblings who were serving, to point at our sibling if they were in the MTC with us, etc. There were a brother and sister here at the same time, I'm so going to have a daughter and then a son 2 years later so my kids can have that experience! The funniest thing he had us stand up for was if there was a special someone ("not your mother") back home waiting for us. Many missionaries stood up and he said "Well, the mail comes tomorrow; we'll see how many of you are left standing". I have never heard so many Missionaries laugh so loud. He got Dear John'ed with a wedding invitiation, which I expect from EVERYONE who gets married while I'm gone. I can't attend, but have the love in your heart to keep me informed!
Anyways, his talk was about, you guessed it, Missionary work. He related Satan trying to get us to go home like the drinking fountains in the older Church buildings. My LDS friends are rolling on the floor right now, but I'll explain for everyone else. There are always 2 fountains side by side, and they feed off the same source. If someone is drinking and you push the button on your side, their water pressure goies down and they have to bend lower to drink. If you then release your button they will get shot in the side of the face with water. Satan does the same kind of thing! He throws things at us Missionaries that typically aren't huge, but if we let them get to us can perturb and derail us. The thing to do is to deny him the satisfaction of pushing your buttons! Surround yourselves with good things so that you can crowd out the deciever's influences with righteous thoughts.
My cousin, Hermana Leavitt accompanied an Elder who sang a beautiful arrangement of "I Stand All Amazed", and then we watched "Joseph Smith: Prophet of the Restoration". What a powerful movie and song!
I'm so happy that I have this opportunity! I love the message that I get to teach so much, and I am so grateful that Heavenly Father sees enough good in me to allow me to go to such a special mission! I know that this is the Lord's Church, and that by following it's teachings we can draw closer to Christ than by any other means. I love you all, alnd I hope everything is going great for you. Thanks so much to all of you who have sent me letters and messages. I love you all, have a great week! 

Friday, April 20, 2012

Post !

I received Elder O'Gara's first email as I was traveling from my old home to my new home and only managed to get it posted on Facebook, I will do better! The idea is to put a notification on fb and the actual post here. Sincerely, Sister Kahuhu

Leih hou ngohge gatihng tuhn pangyouh! Greetings from Provo! My Preparation Day is Tuesday,  and I have 30 minutes to type this post.
This place is amazing! Everyone here is working together to bring the Word of God to the entire Earth! My District contains 5 Elders, Elders O'Gara (Ok) &  Brown (Baa), and Elders Templin (Taahm), Groesbeck (Gwo), and Jackson (Jim Jeunglouh). Our Cantonese class is a ton of fun! We are instructed by Sister Xie (Jeh Jimuih) for 3 hours, and have 3 hours to prepare a lesson and teach our investigator A-Wai. We started teaching on day 2, it was super intense! We are getting exponentially better every time we teach, the Gift of Tongues is evident in our lives!
I am the Senior Companion, which means that it's my job to be a good example to Baa Jl and to be on time. What a challenge! I'm really learning to take stock of what I have on me so that I don't have to look like a dummy when I leave my Cantonese books in my Residence Hall. Speaking of which; the living arrangments here are fantastic! I'm on the 4th (top) floor of building 3M, I feel more innovative all day! If you didn't get it then you didn't work with 3M products all summer. Anyways, I am on the top bunk and Baa Jl is on the bottom bunk, which sent some fear into his heart when I had one of my nightmares the other night. He thought it was an earthquake! We are rooming with our Zone Leaders, Johnson (Jeung) and Chang (Jong Jeunglouh). They have been here 6 weeks along with Sister Meldrum (Muih Jimuih), our Co-ordinating Sister. Everyone here is amazing, we all want the same things for the next 18-24 months.\
The food here is amazing! It's always good, and potatoes are always present in one form or another. Every Friday is Pizza Day, Sunday is Cereal for Breakfast, and every Wednesday and Sunday night we get BYU Creamery Icecream! The cafeteria is HUGE, and there is (usually) a wide variety of things to choose to eat.
My schedule is also amazing! I am kept so busy that I cannot possibly find time for homesickness! When I do have free time it's because I need to shower and change after gym time. I've ran around the track, used weight machines, and played 4-Square. We get an hour a day except for Tuesday and Sunday,  in which we are expected to find time to exercise on our own.
My Branch and Branch President are amazing! My Branch consists of all 8 Cantonese Missionaries, a dozen going to TX, and half a dozen or so going to Manchester NH, which makes us a remarkably small Branch. President Miller is super nice, and a major stickler for rules; which I love! They're called rules (not guidlines) for a reason! Silly Pirates! He served in Japan, but one of his councelors, Brother Larkin, served in Hong Kong, so he can speak our language! Everyone  gives super positive feedback, which is nice. Occasionally we are gently admonished, but it's necessary when it happens.
On Sunday and Tuesday nights we have Devotionals, which are awesomely spiritual! My first week was really stressful, but Elder M. Russel Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles was the featured speaker, and Elder Archuleta sang "The Spirit of God" in English and Spanish. His district is probably in Chile by now, I don't know their itenerary. After that we watched "The Testaments: Of one Fold and one Shepherd". It is such a moving video! I truly loved it!
Anyways 2:42 left! I love you all so much! Only my family can email me, but if you make a free account at you can pretty much e-mail me and I'll write back! Please send me letters, and I'd love a pillow tie! A CD player and headphones would be great, Cantonese learners are the only ones who can wear headphones. I love you all! I know that I am preparing to spread the Lord's Gospel, and I'm so grateful to have this opportunity! Stay strong, and no matter what you believe, just believe in it!
Love, Elder O'Gara

Sunday, April 8, 2012

A Missionary's Perspective on... Easter

       Last night I was asked to give a 10-15 minute this morning. Normally in the Church we're given 7 days to prepare, not 17 hours, but Missionaries are constantly called on to do impromptu talks and lessons. This is what I wrote, it took me about 3 hours.
       Gok wae hing dai dzi mui jo san. Welcome, brothers and sisters, and good morning. I’m Jonathan O’Gara, and I’ve lived in the Clark Ward for about ten months. I lived in Tacoma for 13 years, and went to high school in the Boise area. It’s good to be back where sunshine is a myth. On my 19th birthday I was called to serve in the China Hong Kong Mission, Cantonese speaking. I report to the Provo Missionary Training Center in 3 days, and I’ll be there for 13 weeks. I’ve come to love this ward, but I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t excited to leave you all behind for better things. 
       I was asked to speak on Easter from a Missionary’s perspective. In China, Christianity does not yet have a strong presence, which gives a unique opportunity for missionaries there. While the average person does not have any preconceived notions about the Church, they also don’t have much, if any, of a foundation in Christ. Because of that, it’s best for me to start at the very beginning; which is a very good place to start (even in an audience of dedicated Christians such as this). Easter takes places on the first sunday after the first full moon after the spring equinox. The symbols of Easter are all related to spring and rebirth. It is a holiday commemorating and celebrating the Atonement and Resurrection of Christ. We need the Atonement of Christ in our lives to enable us to return to our Heavenly Father. The Resurrection of Christ gives us hope that we too can be resurrected if we follow our Savior’s example. 
       The time that Easter takes place is no accident. It has an obvious correlation to the time of year when Christ was crucified, but the celebration of Easter was chosen to take place at this time for more subtle and symbolic reasons. 
       The nights, during the winter, are longer than the days. To everyone except night skiers, the winter tends to bog us down and be a bit depressing. In the darkest part of Winter, we celebrate Christmas, which reminds us of the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ. Christmas, a celebration of light, gift giving, and general merriment; always falls less than a week after the Winter Solstice, which is the shortest day and longest night of the year. This placing makes it an even more effective reminder of the light that Christ brought into our dark and fallen world. 
       Each day after Christmas is a bit longer and brighter than the last, and each night a bit shorter and less cold than the one before. This transition becomes most obvious at the Spring or Vernal Equinox, when the night and day are of equal length. From that day on, the days continue to grow in length (and the nights to become shorter) until the Summer Solstice. After a month of this symbolic and gradual return of hope and light, when people have all but shaken the depression and loneliness that comes with winter, we celebrate the Resurrection of Christ, the ultimate dispeller of doubt, grief, and fear. 
       Because we have so recently been plunged into the bitter cold and dark of winter, the gentle sun (or as it is here, the sunlit rainclouds) of spring seem brighter to us, the singing of birds is sweeter, the appearance of all sorts of baby animals brings a smile to our faces, and in our area we have the blooming of seemingly random patches of daffodils, the bright white or yellow flower that we treasure so much in the Pacific Northwest. 
       All of these things work together to lift our moods, rejuvenate our spirits, and to turn our minds to the Savior. The sunshine is warm, bright, and inviting, and is a symbol of the love of Christ. As we are drawn outside to begin planning garden plots, we are also drawn to our Savior. Basking in the warm glow of the sun while caring for the tiny lives inside of seeds, we become like Christ, who cares for us while under the watchful eye and guiding hand of our Heavenly Father. The love that Christ has for us illuminates our minds, allowing us to better understand His teachings and the teachings of His servants. Around this time of year, the sweet songs of birds herald the return of life to a once cold and dead world. After the harshness of winter they unceasingly sing out, proclaiming the return of light and life. By their songs we are turned to sing our own songs of praise to our Lord, who brought Eternal Life and Light to us, as long as we will strive to be worthy to obtain it. The spiritual darkness of the world is not the only thing cast out by His return, but also any darkness that we may have inside can be washed away by our Savior. As flowers rise from the cold tomb of the recently-frozen earth, we remember how our Savior rose triumphantly from His tomb, thus enabling us to come unto Him and and dwell with Him in the presence of our Father. The brightness of these flowers are like the brightness of our Savior, bringing life and light to all those who will put forth their hands and take it. We need only to put ourselves in the right places, and live worthily so that we can reach out when the time comes and obtain Eternal Life. 
       The Atonement of Christ is often viewed as taking place on the Cross at Calvary, where the Savior died to redeem us from the hands of Satan. While the events on Calvary’s Hill are the culminating moments of our Savior’s Atonement; the pain and suffering that occurred in the Garden of Gethsemane, when Christ bled from every pore to Atone for our sins, is the true keystone of the Atonement. His travails in the Garden and then willingly giving up His life created a perfect and infinite atonement between us and God the Father. Because Christ possessed infinite perfection, we are able to erase our sins in the eyes of the Father if we will apply the Atonement to our lives by repenting. 
       To many of us Repentance may seem like a chore, but as Elder D. Todd Christofferson said in Conference last October, Repentance is a divine gift from our loving Heavenly Father. Because we are all born into a fallen world in a carnal state, we will all sin. It is a part of this mortal life, but it is not part of how our Father lives. To approach Him, we must be clean and unspotted from the world. This cannot be done by any means invented by man, it can only be done by Repenting. The steps of repentance are to recognize we have done something wrong, to feel genuine remorse that we have caused the Savior and those around us pain, to reveal our transgression to the proper authority, be it our Father in Heaven, our parents, our Bishop, or civil authorities, to make an honest restitution (or repayment) to balance out the evil we have done, and to totally and completely forsake that sin, to eradicate it from our lives. This is not easy to do, especially with deeply ingrained addictions, but repentance is always better than living with sin and guilt. 
     After Christ gave up His life on the cross His body was laid to rest in the garden tomb. During this time He was hard at work in the Spirit world, organizing the Missionary efforts there. After three days, he took back his body in it’s new and glorified state, and taught his Disciples one last time in person before returning to the Father. His body was free from pain and sickness, and He shone with a visible light and a feeling of love and peace. 
       As His life was restored to Him, our life can be given back to us after we have passed on, if we lived worthily. We can also be rewarded with perfected bodies if we are righteous. 
       We need the constant companionship of the Holy Spirit to guide us through this life and back to our Father in Heaven. Without the guidance of the Holy Ghost, we would be quickly lost in the mists of darkness that exist in this world to distract and mislead us. However, as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we have been given the Gift of the Holy Ghost and the Book of Mormon to help us along the way. Both are blessings from the Lord, and to make each a part of us is necessary to obtain Eternal Life. We have been promised this blessing, and we can obtain it as long as we are worthy and fulfill the requirements the Lord has placed upon us. 
       I know these things are true, and I am extremely excited that I have the opportunity to teach them to others. In three days I will be embarking on the greatest adventure of my life, and I couldn't be more excited. I know it'll be hard, I know it'll be a ton of work, but I've been prepared for this, and I'm as ready as I'll ever be. I love all of you, and I'm so glad that I've had the opportunity to go 5 elementary schools, 4 middle schools, 3 high schools, and meet so many awesome people. I guess it's time to have my mom change all my passwords, see y'all in a couple!