Monday, May 28, 2012

Blog Post #7

Talofa Lava!
This week has been a lot of fun; we got 4 new Cantonese Elders and 2 new Sisters, as well as a District of 10 Stateside Elders. One of the Cantonese Elders and one of the Sisters may be coming with my District to Hong Kong; the Elder already knows a lot of Cantonese (born in HK), and one of the Sisters is from Sidney and is a native Mandarin speaker. All 6 are super awesome, and it's great to have people who mostly understand my ramblings!
Just to give a quick accounting, I've met up with Elder Frogley from Meridian, Elder Hardy from Nampa, Elder Oates from Vancouver, Elder Christman from Harriman, Elder Huebsch from Meridian, and Hermana Buzan from Vancouver. Also; I saw Elder Preece in an hour long video that taught me how to wash my hands and not eat dirt. As to people I only kinda know; I met Kathy Ward's niece who's going to somewhere Spanaphonic, a McClellan who's a distant relative of Courtney, and I brushed past a Rushton from Western WA, he looked like he could be one of our Rushtons.
I've had such a great week! We've got 2/3 investigators commited to Baptism, and all 3 are attending Church! It's so nice to be able to feel and teach by the Spirit! Our Devo last night was the Managing Director of the Missionary Department, and he related to us the experiences of a Navy fighter pilot with 309 takeoffs from a carrier, and 309 landings onto carriers (it's important that they match). You've got to be precise to land on one of those, and the moral of the story is this;
The sooner you correct your deviation, the better the chance you have of surviving.
Wow! How much of an awesome relation is that to the Gospel! That's what Repenting is all about! It's for correcting yourself so that you don't (spiritually) die! I love love love pilot stories, which is probably why I love Elder Uchtdorf. I also recieved another gem of knowledge as I was teaching a lesson to an investigator; faith in Jesus Christ is a 3 legged stool. The Bible is the first leg, or witness, the Book of Mormon is the second witness, and your own witness makes up the third leg. If you don't have all 3 then you can't truly draw closer to the Savior. You've got to daily examine and evaluate the 3 of them in order to become a true disciple of Christ.
I'm gonna leave you with that homework; I've got a few emails to send off. I love y'all, keep up the good work, fight the good fight, and remember to draw closer to Christ in everything that you do! I love y'all!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Photos up on facebook - by Elder O'Gara ;-}

Number Three was here on her way to a wedding in Idaho and helped me create a photo album on Elder O'Gara's facebook page. The first two photos are pre MTC, the rest are all in Provo. He has Always loved photographing flowers. Nature is nice but flowers are irresistible if he has a camera near! So I left in all the flower photos, and most have raindrops on them, another favorite. He Was born in Tacoma and spent his first 13 years there, rain is a fundamental part of his reality.

He provided all the captions, I only altered one - the first picture was simply labeled "April 10th". I changed it to: Last chance to donate blood, April 10, 2012

Jon's first time donating blood was near the end of his Junior year in high school, and he Loved it! "Mom! you can save 2 lives with each pint of blood!" Suddenly all previous plans for his Eagle project went by the wayside and he was doing a Blood Drive. One leader told him they weren't allowed any more but the Red Cross assured him they were, there were simply tougher guidelines. Eagle projects are to teach and reinforce leadership skills. Like how to plan, delegate, co-ordinate, etc. Much harder than just doing everything yourself. We moved 2 weeks before the Drive so that complicated things, he was contacting people from the new ward (area) as well as the previous three wards (areas) we had lived in. Short moves ;-} I was only allowed to drive him places, donate a pint and be one of the greeters at the actual event. No one was going to be able to say his Mommy earned his Eagle Scout badge!

In spite of various changes~ our move, the drive location changing the week before the event, etc. over 60 people showed up to donate blood. Some who came couldn't donate, 53 people donated resulting in 51 pints of usable blood and 26 of the people were first time donors! He was thrilled. The Red Cross people were happy, apparently they love first time donors. So, although I didn't know it until he sent the disc to me, I was not surprised in the least that one of the last things he did to prepare himself to serve the Lord would be donating blood. It is just who he is, when he believes in something it is with all his heart and soul and being.

Sincerely, Elder O'Gara's Mom

Monday, May 21, 2012

Blog Post #6: The Spanish Inquisition

No one expected it, because how could that happen? I'm refering not to the insanity that happened in Spain, but to us getting expelled from our 3rd floor room in the air conditioned 18M and getting moved to the basement of 7M. The reason? There is an influx of Spanaphonic Missionaries, and the powers that be like to keep all the similar language learners in one spot. So; 18M is pretty much exclusively populated by Spanish Speaking Missionaries, and all of us Asians are in one of the older buildings, which is actually better because there are less stairs, we're closer to the cafeteria, and we have a view of the mountains now, whereas before we were staring at the backside of a building. It's actually an improvement in most areas, it just hurts to get unceremoniously ejected from our home of 5 weeks.
Many people have been inquiring as to what actually goes on here, so I'm going to put up a condensed version of my schedule;
Tuesday we taught a lesson, had 6 hours of Chinese class, and listened to a devotional by Elder D. Todd Christofferson. It was so good!
Wednesday we taught a lesson, had 6 hours of Chinese class, and welcomed 8 vibrant and enthusiastic new Elders into the Zone. They are going to the Bible Belt, I don't envy them on that one.
Thursday we taught 2 lessons, had 6 hours of Chinese class, and gave the new Elders a tour of the Provo Missionary Training Center. We also taught them how to use their planners, and how to do a companionship inventory so that they can resolve their differences peacefully and in a manner that will help them to grow as Missionaries.
Friday we taught a lesson, had 6 hours of Chinese class, and did a Practice teaching. The point of it? Christ turned a couple fishermen into Apostles by using three words "Come Follow Me". Okay, there was a bit more, but that was the meat of His message. My summary of the Gospel? "God Wants (to) Help". In Chinese and French that's 3 words. (Sahn seung bongjoh and Dieu voudrait aider, respectively)
Saturday we had TRC, the Training Resource Center. We taught 2 lessons to real live Church Members who speak Cantonese, and boy did we teach! One is a bit less active, and we helped him understand just how vital it is to go to Church with a question, and with the resources to record your answer (more on that later)
Yesterday I had a Zone Leader Meeting in which my Companion and I talked about the needs of the Branch, then we had Branch Council, in which all 4 District Leaders and the Coordinating Sister came in and we all talked about the needs of the Branch, and then we had another meeting where the same group came in and received Leadership Training. It's also my responsibility to do short District Leader interviews, and then write comments about the weekly reports they give the Branch President. That's on top of the typical 3 hours of LDS meetings. But, it's actually nice to do so much of the administrating to ensure that everyone is following the rules, and it's even better to have the opportunity to Minister to these Missionaries and help them grow and progress; because that makes me grow and progress!
The Sunday Devotional was given by the President of the Provo Temple, and what a talk it was! He related pretty much everything we talk about outside the Temple to something we do inside the Temple. The Temple is just an expounding of what we learn at Church! If you truly love LDS Doctrine, then you can't help but love LDS Temple Work! It's all so connected because it's the same thing! Of course, because of the sacred nature of Temple Work we don't talk about it, but that's out of respect, not secretism. Have you ever heard the term "milk before the meat"? The Temple is like that; you've got to be able to process the very earliest of things before you can even hope to begin to maybe slightly understand the Temple.
I love this Gospel! I am so happy to have a loving Eternal Father; a Celestial and Omnipotent God who has given me so much knowledge and put me on this Earth when He did so that I can bless the lives of others! I can hardly believe that I have a loving Elder Brother, my Savior Jesus Christ, a God in His own right, who willingly sacrificed Himself so I, an overtalkative fly-fisherman, can have the opportunity to choose for myself! I am so glad that They gave me the Holy Spirit, a guide, comforter and helper to bring me peace and knowledge. I love you all so much, see ya in a couple!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Blog Post #5 Over Analysis, Intestinal Paralysis, and a couple Chi Di Gin's

Today at 5 the older District of Cantonese Missionaries left for the field. It does NOT feel like I've been here for 6 weeks yet, and I have a hunch that the next 6 weeks will also fly past! I've been learning and teaching so much that life has honestly become a blur of learning, teaching, and more learning. Which is good; I'm learning a tough language and going to a tough place.
One of my friend's uncles told me that the best way to prepare was to decide now to be as Chinese as possible. I eat with chopsticks, I try to abruptly end conversations when I'm done talking, but I'm not afraid to hug people or show affection. Unfortunately, my guts got in on the act; and I'm now either lactose intolerant or MTC lactose intolerant. All the food here is like a bomb to the gut, but the cramping that I've experienced after icecream is uncalled for! At first I just thought it was the MTC, but after my District expelled me from the classroom for... "expelling" in the the classroom, I decided to humor them and go on a milk fast. Unfortunately; it worked. So now I don't eat anything delicious or yummy, and I'm beginning to see why #5 hated life after we found out she had kidney stones.
Once again I spilled liquid bluing on my clothes! I tossed it; I obviously did something horrible to that company when I wasn't paying attention, cuz the vengance it's taking out on me is harsh!
Last night for our movie we watched a talk by Elder Bednar about not going on a mission, but becoming a Missionary; and it was SO powerful! If any of you are getting ready to go on a mission, change your mindset right now to preparing to become a Missionary! Any LDS young person from 19-25 can go on a mission, but it takes time, dedication, a sincere love of the Gospel, and huge amounts of faith to be a Missionary. People who go on missions teach lessons and baptize people, but Missionaries help bring others closer to Christ. Of course, this doesn't mean that if someone doesn't have any success that they are wicked. That's one reason, but it's more likely that the Lord is teaching them a lesson they need to learn to become an even better Missionary! We have a Workshop every Tuesday, and I haven't been to one yet that didn't feature a clip by Elder Bednar. I hope he comes here before I leave, he is such a powerful speaker! He and Elder Holland are on my wishlist, along with President Monson, but I also keep my fingers crossed for the Prophet to be the Presiding Authority at Devotionals.
Anyways, I'd like to thank everyone who sent me letters last week and the week before! I had so much mail last week that I only got to reply to half of you, so the lower volume this week has facillitated my ability to respond! If you'd like to make me a super happy missionary; please send me messages, tell your family to send them to me, and have your friends send them to me, especially if I don't know your friends! Also, send DearElder messages to Elder David Groesbeck and Elder William Jackson at my same address; they don't get mail as regularly as the rest of us. They get mail, and packages, but mail is an easy way to make people happy!
I'm still alive, still happy, still learning tons, and still loving becoming a Missionary! I am so glad to have this opportunity to serve! It's crazy to think that I'm 1/16 of the way through my mission already! I've begun to refer to my planners as "tablespoons", and if I'm lucky my "cup" will "runneth o'er"! Hahaha, I love making baking jokes! Keep praying for me and sending me messages, I love you all, even those I haven't heard from yet. Do y'all really think 9 hours of classes 5 days a week is an excuse? I'm doing more than that, and I find time to write! But I still love you all, and I hope that you are excelling in your majors! Just remember to stay righteous and the Lord will guide you!
I know this is the Lord's true Church. What does that mean? It means that the precepts we teach are doctrine. What does that mean? That by obeying them you can find joy, happiness, peace, and improvement like nowhere else. How does that work? Because God is our loving Heavenly Father. He sent His Son to make up for our shortcomings so that we can choose to return to Him. He wants to bless you, but he has to play by his own rules (which say blessings are recieved in accordance to your faith and righteousness). Exercise your faith! Pray nightly for guidance and inspiration, and write it when you recieve it! God wants recognition for the help He gives you, so acknowledge him and He shall direct your paths! I love you, talk to y'all next week!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Whirlwind of Excitement!

Hey, y'all!
I figured I ought to change it up every once in a while.
This week has been good, but this will be a short one. I guess I didn't turn my washer on soon enough, cuz the Liquid Bluing made all sorts of spots on all but 3 of my shirts. I've never had that happen, so any advice on how to nullify this problem would ROCK! Also, someone tell Ally Vande Merwe I met her cousin who's here right now; he's pretty cool.
We got to go to the Temple again, 3 of my favorite sisters are headed out to Billings tomorrow, the older Cantonese people will be leaving in 7 days, and I got called to be Zone Leader. I'm pretty much in charge of two dozen teenage guys and half a dozen young women, which is fun. I get to go knock on doors and tell people that it's quiet time/ past lights out and they are breaking the rules and won't receive any personal revelation cuz they're being disobedient. It's a lot of fun, I have like 4 meetings I go to throughout the week.
We didn't have anyone you'd recognize by name at the Devotional last night, but he was way good. He's in charge of some part of the Missionary Department; and gave a great talk about a waitress that was super enthusiastic about serving them the salad at Olive Garden. Her enthusiasm caused them to keep coming back and getting salad, which for most people is a pretty boring topic. I learned two big things from that
1: People are more attracted to your enthusiasm than your message. No matter what you're talking about; if you sound like Napoleon Dynamite no one will care.

2: Our message is WAY more exciting than any salad at any restaurant! If a server can get someone to buy lots of salad, shouldn't we be able to get people riled up over the prospect of getting Eternal Life for free (monetarily speaking)?
I love how much I get to learn here! Every day I know more that this church is true, and I am so glad I get to go and preach! I love you all, thanks so much for the 1/2 dozen letters I got this week, please keep writing to me and I'll respond on my Preparation Day! I love you all, keep on reading and writing!

And that is how he ended the email for his post ;-}  but I will add:

                                                                                    Love,  Elder  O'Gara

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Additions to Post !

I am adding here excerpts from a letter Elder O'Gara wrote 12 April 2012 which went the long way around the postal service to reach me! It will be in bits and pieces because most of it is in his first post.

Leih hou! Greetings from the greatest place on Earth! It's like being in the Temple 24/7 except I don't have to keep it down when I think of something funny. I am kinda concerned about the weather, you can't trust the clouds here.

The first day was a whirlwind of excitement, and it was kinda weird because we can't shake hands during flu season. I got my first flu shot today, and I'm going to start taking pills full of dead typhoid tomorrow.

Regarding his zone leaders: (they) have great senses of humor; they are perfect for us.

Regarding his 'classmates': I don't even remember their names in English half the time!

My class is 100% Cantonese, but Jie Jimuin (Sister Xie) will write on the board in English. Our other teacher is Gu Hingdaih (Bro. Kruggman), and he is really fantastic too. Both served in Hoeng Gong on their missions.

Tomorrow Baa JL & I are going to have our first visit with A-Wai, an investigator. Baa JL is going to do the door contact, we're both going to testify and I'm going to say a prayer, whidh is super exciting!

Here in the MTC the last 15 minutes of the day are quiet time. That's when we, as missionaries and servants of Christ, prepare to receive inspiration. It is profoundly spiritual, and such a blessing, especially for us who so desperately crave the gift of tongues.

I know that this church is true, that I am learning the true teachings of God, and that as I am faithful I will be extremely blessed. I am so happy to be a Servant of God!

Love, Elder O'Gara

ps You can put this on my blog. Please edit my info and remove my email address. xoxoxox