Sunday, January 27, 2013

Blog Post #42: Even More Changes

Dear People,
In this Church our congregations are assigned by geographical boundaries. Sometimes, to accommodate the needs of various congregations (more leaders, more young people, etc.) these lines are redrawn. This happened yesterday and it's a HUGE game changer! Let me give a quick rundown of what happened. (In semi-map form!)

Sheung Shui Ward
Northern Border: Mainland
They lost about the southern third of their area, a region called Fanling. Those of you who follow these letters a bit too religiously will remember that that's where I live. They were the strongest Ward in our area, so no one feels sorry for them losing Fanling.

Tai Wo Ward
They got Fanling from Sheung Shui, which is a bonus to their Young Women's program, stole a few housing complexes from us, but lost Tai Wo Estate, which is a massive hit to their Young Women's program.

Tai Po Ward (Where I serve!)
We got Tai Wo Estate! There are some extremely powerful people there that will be HUGE in helping us teach lessons. We also lost a bit of our northern area, but we'll survive. Another massive gain for us was that we got the Chinese university of Hong Kong from Shatin Ward! It's a famous area for being successful for finding people, and I'm excited to have it be a part of where I serve!

Shatin Ward
As far as I know they only lost CUHK to us, which is okay-ish because they have such a powerhouse area anyways.

So, the next 19 weeks that I'm guessing I'll be here will be super awesome, and all this new territory we have to work with is really going to help us find more people and keep them in the Church! Nevertheless, pray for me, I'm going to have a lot of work to do out here!

I love you all, and I'm so glad that I have this opportunity to serve the Lord! I am so blessed to be in this area with Elder Roper, he has a lot to teach me and I have a lot to learn from him! I love the hour I get for Personal Study every day. It helps me understand this Gospel that I'm preaching, and I hope that you are taking time to study the scriptures every day. Even if it's just a few minutes in the evening, anything you can do to invite the Spirit of God into your life will help you become happier and better people.

I love all the things that I am learning out here! I am excited to be able to share them with the people of Hong Kong and with all of you, and I hope that what I write is uplifting as well as entertaining. I hope that everything is going well in America, and that all of you are happy and healthy and well!

Elder O'Gara

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Blog Post #41: Two Days Late...

And with only 2 dollars in my pocket!

Today is Wednesday in China, which may have some of you thinking, "Did Preparation Day change again?". No, well, only for this week. Our normal P-Day is on Mondays, but our Temples aren't open on Mondays because that day is set apart for families to be together. SO we changed our P-Day from Monday to today so that we could go to the Temple! Hooray!

We went at 9:00 and got out at about 11:15, and in the intervening 2 1/2 hours we went to Korean BBQ, because why not?

We paid $108 each, and 8 of us sat around a trio of 16 inch round grills and [feasted?] on [ate?] meat and veggies until we were stuffed. 

People tell me I don't include enough detail, so here's a blow-by-blow of the epic struggle.

Elder O' VS Food

Round 1
18 golf ball sized dough balls, covered in sesame seeds, deep fried, and then drowned in sweetened condensed milk
-Gone in an instant! I pounded them into oblivion until all that was left was a puddle of goop with sesame seeds floating in it.

Round 2
12 Baby Squid, soaked in chili sauce
-Although the hot chilies on the outside made me pace myself, a dozen calamari the size of my palm is hardly a challenge. I am, however, quite satisfied with how well I grilled them; I usually under cook fish and take one bite and have to throw it back onto the cooking surface.

Round 3
12 ounces of chopped mutton, soaked in Chinese BBQ sauce (soy sauce, sugar, more soy sauce)
-Didn't stand a chance! After tossing it around on the grill until it had gone from deep red to medium brown, I threw a little more soy sauce on top and ate it bite by bite, enjoying each mouthful of delicious fragrant sheep.

Round 4
4 coconut mochi balls, 6 sesame dough treats, some kind of fruit... gelatin?, a small order of fries, and a few deep fried wanton wrappers covered in honey
-I ended up eating on [one] coconut mochi and given [giving] the rest to Sister Clements (we went as a District), but everything else was amazing! Except for the fry sauce they had, it was just funky. But, at least they tried!

Round 5
A plate of watermelon and Dragonfruit
-No Comment Necessary

Round 6
A bowl (i.e. a pint) of French Vanilla and Chocolate Chunk ice cream. Not a pint each, but a pint total
-I had to slow down a bit, but overall I finished off the ice cream with little resistance. I did, however call it quits after this round, just to keep myself from gaining too many pounds.

There were also 2 glasses (a quart) of soymilk in there, but it was sickeningly sweet and I only drank that much because I thought it was the better, less sweet, less thick stuff they had last time. I was a bit disappointed in it.

Well, that was my Preparation Day!

 I have enough time to write an email to the President (Mission President), go home, do studies, and then hit the streets in a desperate attempt to burn off a few hundred of the few thousand calories I ate today.

I love you all, and I hope everybody is having a good time! 

If any of you have any suggestions for improving my Blog, by all means, share! I don't want to bore anyone!

Elder O'Gara

[Editorial notes are in brackets [  ] . He is losing his spelling/grammar more and more.  I have been correcting it but have decided that perhaps his readers deserve to read what I, his compulsive spell/grammar checking mother, read. That would be the untouched email I receive ~ with my 'improvements' in brackets.]     [kvk]

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Blog Post #40: Ten Minutes

Dear People,
I love you all! I don't have buckets of time, so here's a picture of noodles covered in brown fungus...

...Chicken Fajitas and Beef Potato curry I made from the stuff Numero Quatre left me...

...and $800 of food storage that I bought, just in case a rainy day comes around and our apartment is in trouble.

As you can see, I eat really well, even too well, but hopefully I'll learn self control and run more in the morning and get more fit. I love the work I'm doing, I just wish I had more time for aerobic exercise! Maybe I should run from person to person while I'm doing street contacting...
Elder O'Gara

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Blog Post #39: Not Really the New Year

Dear People,

I'm not going to say it, because it's still the 10th (Lunar) month. When all of China shuts down for a week, red (meaning Prosperity, not Communism) banners cover everything, and every flat surface is covered in cartoon snakes, THEN we'll talk about the New Year. 

Okay, so they do acknowledge it for business purposes, but if China didn't have to play by the rest of the world's rules to trade with them, we would probably use the Lunar Calendar exclusively.

Speaking of China...

Yup, that's it behind me! The tall-ish houses are still HK, but the really tall towers and the houses in the far back are all the Daaih Lohk! I'm a stone's throw from the one place every Chinese-Speaking Missionary wants to go, it's a pretty great feeling.

For the last day of December I went with many of my friends, including my buddy Elder WR Jackson from Wyoming, to the beach...

To have a BBQ!

I was too busy eating to take any pctures, sorry. It was delicious, though! We had lots of chicken, a little pork, a little beef, a pineapple, and some genius brought a durian. I forgot to take a picture of the durian, else I would put it on. I bought the smallest one and it still cost me $53, a quarter of my average weekly food budget! It's a good thing we're getting leftovers like CRAZY from all the people in our Ward, else I would be in trouble!

I really have been working, we've been able to talk to some amazing people, and we've got 4 people preparing themselves for Baptism! I pray for you all, many of you by name, and I hope you have a great week!

Elder O'Gara