Thursday, August 30, 2012

Blog Post #20: Western Girls

Dear People Whom I Love,

I love you! This week I didn't make any huge mistakes with the language (I've gotten some coaching in regards to how to say fishing).

I've been very busy, as today is my Trainer's birthday, so instead of a rundown on my week; here's an interesting thing that proves that written Chinese is all just one big joke!

This is "west" or "western"

This is "girl" or "woman"

This is "need" the verb, or "needs" the noun

The slight difference is only because of how the computer displays the character. Someone, somewhere, a long long long time ago realized that white girls are very high maintenance, and payed homage to this well known quality of theirs by inventing this character to be the visual representation of the concept of "needing".

Of course, everyone has needs, not just white girls. The great thing about Heavenly Father is that He knows exactly how to fulfill your needs so that you will be in the best circumstances for you to learn and grow! I know He loves each and every one, He knows you all by name, He knows what all of you truly need, and He would LOVE to give it to you, if you will be humble, exercise faith and patience, and pray daily!

Have a great week!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Blog Post #19: "Get in Here!"

So my goof this week was only slightly rude! "Yap laih, yap laih" is a command, but sort of a softened command because it's repeated. I ought to have said "Cheng" mid-rising before it. I'll learn eventually...

I have had such a great week, but I regretably have no time to blog about it! Suffice it to say God is good, He is love, and He watches over His servants! I love what I'm doing, I love that I have so many friends getting home from their full-time missionary service, and I hope that even more will be heading out soon! I love y'all, and I hope everyone is happy, healthy, and well!

Elder O'Gara

P.S. Congrats to Morgan Kidd on finishing her novel! I'll buy a copy... In 2 years.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Blog Post #18: Barf Milk

I might as well just rename my blog "Misadventures in Cantonese"! It's such a fun language and such a fun place, and at least my major goof up wasn't profane this week!

In China people eat many kinds of pickles and drink many kinds of milk. You have to specify what kind of pickles (cabbage, carrot, kimchi, eggs {and you have to specify the animal the eggs came from} etc.), and you have to say goat or cow or buffalo or duck milk. Babies drink just milk, big kids drink cow or goat milk. For some reason Soy Milk doesn't have the word "Milk" in it.

Anyways, the word "cow" is pronounced "ow" with a low-falling tone. The word "to vomit" is pronounced "ow" with a mid-rising tone. Therefore, when instructing people on how to make Horchata (I'll tell you why next week), it is important to tell them to use "cow milk", not "barf milk". We all had a good laugh, and I also found out that cooked rice and raw rice have different words...

Anyways, I'm doing great! I spent a little longer that normal on my emails to family (I love y'all!) today, so I'm gonna wrap this up before too long.

Right now we've got Typhoon Signal One hoisted, which means pretty much nothing. In Cantonese we say "Sap Sap Seui" (sup sup soy) which basically means "No Big Deal". Typhoon Signals one and two are sap sap seui, three is a decent storm, eight is a minor hurricane. We do have wind that's throwing around shopping bags but, once again, sap sap seui.

Even though this language is tough and the weather is funky, I am still SO grateful to be out spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ to the AmAzInG people of Hong Kong! So many people here are so ready to receive the Word, and even though I can't articulate the peace this Gospel brings, they can feel it when I teach.

I know that God loves us! We are His children, and He, like any good father, has given us rules to keep us safe, healthy, and happy. Yes, they restrict us from doing some things, but does anyone really want to put their hand on a stove burner? I know I did when I was little, and I got horribly burned by it. Spiritual burns last a lot longer, and hurt a lot more. Even though the Gospel may not seem like fun all the time; it's there for a reason; to keep us safe! Follow the teachings of the Prophets, they are the Lord's words! I love y'all, have a great week!

P.S. No, there is no such thing as duck milk! But we do call butter "cow oil"

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Blog Post #17: The Lazy Fisherman

Cantonese is a tonal language. That means that the pitch of your voice changes a word, and that the trajectory of your pitch changes it more. So, when you go from a no tone language to a tonal one, there are, naturally, some words that you also mess up. They can be small and inconsequential, or huge and embarassingly funny for everyone around you.

For example; I tell people I love to go fishing. The problem is that fishing and the Cantonese equivalent of "the F Word" have only very subtle sound and tone differences that escape me. I usually get it right, but I sometimes get 60% puzzled, 40% mortified-that-you-just-said-that-in-public looks when I say "fishing".

The word for "lazy" is low-level, and the vowel is the "aw" from an East Coast person's "lawn mower". I found out that low-falling with the "aw" from my "lawn mower" (think "awesome") is not quite profanity, but NOT a word you use in the Church gym to explain why you can't come play basketball.

I love learning!

I also love families! When people learn the Gospel as a family they feel the Spirit more. Why? Because the Gospel is centered on families! Like we sang in Primary "God gave us families/ To help us become what he wants us to be!" It's so true! I've talked before about how, through the lessons of early childhood, we learn Eternal truths and principles. So, when this amazing learning environment finds the Gospel being taught within it, miracles start exploding into existence! Not only that, but miracles start to happen more and more as you search harder for families!

That's why families are so important to the Church, why so many of my amazing young friends are getting married in the Temple, because we believe that Families can be together forever because Heavenly Father has given us the Plan of Happiness. We can experience the joy of a happy home for the rest of forever with the people we love!

There are many people I know who do not come from happy homes, and no one's family is perfect. That is why I share this Gospel; because I know that you can have a perfectly happy family for Eternity. 

That's why, even though a very close friend's grandfather just recently passed away, I am still happy. Sure, I'm going to miss talking about his time in the Army and being an Olympic Skiing coach and all his other great stories, but I know that he's happy now, that he's free from the pain that plagued him for so many years, and that before too long he'll be able to enjoy life again with a perfect body.

I'm excited for the day that Grandpa Bob gets to teach me how to ski.

I love you all, and to those who have lost family members, whether Grandpa Bob last month, Grandma Verda years ago, or your loving husband a decade ago, you are all in my prayers, always. Have a great week, everyone, and think Eternally.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Blog Post #16: Mi Amigo

In 10th Grade I met a tall skinny ginger kid in Choir. We stood next to each other, sang the same part, chased the same girl for a week, and just had a great time of it.

In 11th Grade I somehow ended up at the same school 2 years in a row, and my new friend was still in Choir with me. We got to know each other really well, even to the point of man-hugging.

In 12th Grade we chased after the same girl for a month or so, went dumpster diving for pizzas, drifting in blizzards, TP'ing people's front doors, making midnight cream puff deliveries, making midnight nightmare deliveries, going to midnight premieres of movies, and cooked up delicious home-made bleu cheese toether... not at midnight. We had lots of fun, played with lots of fire, and spent buckets of time together, including planning Senior Prom.

I just read the email from my mother informing me that my best friend, Elder Brandyn (Thomas?) Pierce is going to be serving in the Mexico Culiacan Mission! I am almost crying with joy! My very favorite person from High School is going to be using his AP Spanish skills! Not gonna lie; I secretly wanted to train him, but I will get over myself when I get to welcome him back at the Boise airport in November of 2014. I TOTALLY call him for my sous-chef for my 22nd Birthday Dinner-Party! Get ready for Chinese-Mexican Fusion!

I love my friends so much! Valorie is Sealed for time and all Eternity, B-Dawg is buying short-sleeve shirts, Rob is probably also buying short-sleeve shirts, Deji Dahling is writing a book, and who knows what else is going on! Honestly, the class of 2011 is the Best Class Ever! Who else is being amazing? 

But I suppose you want to hear about me...

Last week my loving Heavenly Father lead me to 2 great families to teach! Our Mission President (AKA Boss) has asked us to focus on families, so we've been praying very hard about how to do this. We went to an area where we've never been before (TST is HUGE), and we found a family! Then, at English Class, we realized that Simon has a family (a son and daughter)! It's so good to see the Lord guiding you in your endevours, cuz trust me; I did NOT want to walk the hour to Kowloon Bay!

I went bowling this morning, an epic picture of my gutterball fit will be up next week (I forgot my MiniUSB adapter). I bought 3 pounds of chicken, and it looks like a lot to me, but I think that's about what the food pyramid says I should eat in a week. I am too busy (lazy) to find good veggie-saurus food in HK that's not in Buddhist monasteries on the tops of the mountains. No really, that's the only stuff I've been able to find that wasn't just plain-flavor soy protein nuggets. 

Going back to not-me; I met an Elder Welker who is a cousin to my like-named friends in Boise, we had a fun chat about them. I got one of the Summer Missionaries to sniff my Itch-Eraser; a stick of gelatinous ammonia to rub on mosquito bites, I really should have filmed his reaction, it was great! I also went on an exchange with Elder Hazen to HK Island, taught the father of a part-member family, ate great food at a member's home (century eggs are best in congee), and went on a boat! It smelled like salt and dead fish AKA my best and most fond memories of where I grew up.

My companion asked me what the difference between a Faithful Missionary and a Missionary of Great Faith is. I took a moment and chewed a Snickers (it was really a Vitamin C pill so my allergies are less), and thought about it. Here's what I came up with;

A Faithful MissionaryThis Elder or Sister wakes up on time every morning, exercises, studies, and diligently teaches and finds. This Missionary will return home happy because he or she has worked hard and brought many souls unto Christ. It is a great thing to be a Faithful Missionary for 24 or 18 months.

A Missionary of Great FaithThis Elder or Sister wakes up on time every morning, exercises, studies, and diligently teaches and finds. The difference comes in how the Missionary of Great Faith opperates. They constantly pray for guidance from the Lord, apply what they learn from studies, Church, meetings, and experiences, and seek to draw closer to Jesus Christ every day. This Missionary acts not just out of the love of God, but also because he or she has a deep and abiding faith that God loves the people they are serving, so they love them too. The Missionary of Great Faith returns home happy because he or she has worked beyond their mortal capacity to help bring souls to Christ. The Missionary of Great Faith also knows that the Full-Time Mission is merely preparation for parenthood and being a Home or Visiting teacher. They recognize that, even though they are only part-time now, they still have a calling to serve God with all their Heart, Might, Mind and Strength.

Rob, Brandyn, and everyone else preparing to serve; strive to be Missionaries of Great Faith. I'm not really that much older than you in Missionary terms, but I have already seen the difference there is between those who serve because they love God, and those who serve because they know God loves the people they serve. I'm not a Missionary of Great Faith yet, but I hope to be long before I come home May 21st of 2014 (that's a rough estimate). I know this Gospel can help everyone, and if you have the opportunity to share it at any time in any capacity, do it! I love y'all, have a great week!