Sunday, March 31, 2013

Blog Post #51: Not about Hong Kong

Dear People,

This has been an eventful week back in the United States, and let me just talk about my feelings on this subject.

First, my beautiful sister (Number 3) got married! She and her husband were sealed for time and all eternity in the Seattle Washington Temple last week, and I am so happy for them! My joy comes from the fact that I know our Father's Plan of Happiness for us, that through the ordinances of the Temple our family relationships can last far beyond the deaths of our mortal bodies.

Second, my good friend (Brother Howell) passed away. He left behind a young family and many students who loved learning about the Gospel from him in Seminary. I express my deepest condolences for his family, but I still hold my head high. My consolation comes from the fact that I know our Father's Plan of Happiness for us, that through the ordinances of the Temple our family relationships can last far beyond the deaths of our mortal bodies.

The Temple is the glue that holds eternity together. It is the binding force that God has given us to help us have everlasting joy and peace, and Eternal Life. People going to the Temple and making promises with God is why I was born in this church, why I stuck with this religion once I left home, why I chose to serve this 2 year Mission, and it is why I am driven every day to do my best.

Everyone knows that we don't talk about the specifics of the Temple, and that is because the things we do there are sacred, they take much time and patience to begin to comprehend, and not everyone is ready for them. Everyone, though, is ready for the basic message;
The Holy Temple, the House of God, is the solution to all of your problems.

With the Eternal perspective one can gain from pondering the teaching of the Temple; all trials and hardships seem minuscule, and true joy and happiness are understood not just be temporary feelings elation, but feelings that can last for the rest of forever.

I know that Brother Howell is not truly gone, and that we will meet again because he and I have both made promises with God.

I know that my sister and her husband can be together forever because of the promise they made with God.

I love the Temple, and if I had one wish it would be to see everyone that I love making their way there, no matter how long the path, difficult the climb, or drastic the repercussions. I know that the Temple is what we claim it to be, that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is what we claim to be, and that Joseph Smith is what he said he was.

The Temple is the House of the Lord, we are His people, and Joseph Smith truly was the means by which Jesus Christ restored His Gospel.

I know that what I have written is true, and I write this testimony of its truthfulness in the name of Jesus Christ,


Elder J.E. O'Gara

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Blog Post #50: A Proper Post

Dear People Whom I Love,

I've been neglecting my blog posts (which doesn't upset many more people than my mother, I'm sure), so I am going to endeavor to crank out a real update of my Mission for everyone else who is interested.

I am having the time of my life! We are teaching an amazing family, my companion and I get along great, and I love Tai Po!

The Wong Family is so good! They are the classic Chinese family; father, mother, son, and they are doing so well! They came to a musical fireside, and the last act was my Zone (14 Elders, 4 Sisters) singing the EFY Medley and then "Joseph Smith's First Prayer" in Chinese. After the fourth verse we all stayed up on stage while Elder Li stepped to the front and testified of the truth of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. As a Missionary looking at his last month of service, Elder Li is a powerful example of diligence, and the Holy Spirit could be easily felt as he spoke briefly on his last two years of spreading the Gospel. Mister Wong came up after the event and said "I want you to teach me that song!". I know he felt the power in it, too.

I am so glad I got to be the conductor for such an amazing choir! I'm not exactly sure why I was chosen, but I know that I was able to help others feel the love of God in their lives. There truly is NOTHING like Missionary Work! There is nothing better than being here! As hot, humid, and foreign as this part of the world is, I love being here because I am constantly supported by my Father's hand. I am lifted up by the mercy and grace of His Son, and I am driven by the desire to spread Jesus Christ's message to every soul in Hong Kong!

Jesus is the Christ!

He, through means we cannot understand, took upon Himself our pains, our sorrows, our grief, and all of our troubles, during the Atonement, and will do so today if we will just rely on Him! The simplicity of the Message should be the key indicator that it is true; a lie could not be so simple, yet so impossible to break. The fact that the statement "We believe that, through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved..." has stood, in one form or another, since the dawn of recorded history, shows how powerful it is! If it were a lie, it would have died long ago; and not be the driving force behind so much work for good in this world.
But none of that is the true heart of the message.

The core of our message is not the intellectual "good things come from good people", but the powerful witness that the Holy Spirit gives to those who hear the Word of God spoken in their ears, and then ponder the feelings they have in their hearts. What we really spread is the feeling of hope, love, and inspiration that comes from beyond this world and impels us to continue on, to teach and testify without ceasing.

I love this work! I know that it is truly the efforts of God to save His children! I write these things as an invitation for all of you to feel the Holy Spirit, to let the Atonement of Christ work in your lives, to heal you, and as an opportunity to come to know your Father in Heaven better than you ever could on your own.
I love you all, and I write this letter in the name of Jesus Christ,


Elder J.E. O'Gara

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Blog Post #49: Where are the girls?

Dear People,
One of the many things we do for service here is our weekly English Class (taught by Native Speakers!). Some are very boring, some are more entertaining, but all draw a mixed crowd of rowdy children, interested teenagers, slightly crazy people, and the occasional Expatriate.
A middle-aged gentleman from Russia who comes to the class here in Tai Po was originally contacted by the Sister Missionaries who serve in neighboring Tai Wo. He isn't creepy at all, but the Sisters are his best friends here, and he expects to see them every week.

So, last week, when he came in and the Sisters were running late he stopped, looked around, and in his thick Russian accent and medium-high Tenor voice exclaimed "Where are the girls"? It was perhaps the funniest thing that's happened here in HK, and we all had a good laugh about it.
Moving on to a very different but still very funny man is one of my flatmates. We'll refer to him as "Elder Goo". He is, of course, from the great state of Utah, and went to highschool with 2 of my other flatmates. Having 3 HS buddies and 3 non-Utah Elders all in the same house is probably a unique set of circumstances, but it means we're guaranteed to have a game of 3-on-3 basketball every morning.
Getting back to Elder Goo, in the following video he looks right at the camera at 1:05.
Yup, right there, looking straight at the camera, showing off his big blue eyes, is my flatmate. He's one of the funniest people I've met, and the only person that I've ever tried to tackle and been flat-backed by without any effort on his part. He's a solid block of a man, and not someone who should be charged while you're waiting for your teamates to get set up to catch a pass and make a lay-up.
Anyways, my time is about over, I love you all very much, and I hope that everything is going great in all the various parts of the world you live in!
Elder JE O'Gara

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Blog Post #48: Can God create a rock...

That He cannot lift?
Yes or no, it "proves" that He's fake. Sometimes I wonder about people's logic...

This question, and many more, were asked this week, but I'm out of time, so I'm going to have to sign out and go back into the blazing sunlight and cicadas.

Elder O'Gara

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Blog Post #47: Flashback

Dear People,
In the Mission Field we have books of records. Records of everyone we've sat down to talk with, all the times we've met with people who live in our congregation, and (theoretically) records of all the good places to eat, and the bad places not to eat at.

In my last area, TST, the record for the Chan family had a picture of a new Missionary sitting on the couch, eating chocolate, looking a bit surprised at the camera. Now he's my Companion!
Elder Chan is from my Baby Area, and he's awesome! He has great English (better than my Chinese), is super patient, and likes to randomly attack people when we're at home. He's pretty much the perfect local companion for me to have. He takes the work seriously, and he also takes P-Day seriously; it's a day to relax for 6 hours, then fill the last 3 with street contacting or dinner appointments.

I'm super excited to be with him, and I'm sure that he'll be a regular character in my posts. He doesn't like spicy food, so I'm going to have to turn down the fire when I cook for everybody on Mondays, but I think it'll all work out fine. He's an awesome guy, and I know that we're going to be great friends. He even taught me how to play an awesome card game that's the Chinese equivelent of BANG!, which is my favorite thing in the world (right next to butterscotch).

The work here is still going strong, after a week and a half of working with another companionship my area was suffering a little bit, but we're slowly having more success and meeting more people, so I have lots of hope for this area. Moves calls is tomorrow, but I doubt that'll affect me much. I hope all of you are having a great time, I know that many of you who have been sending me letters are having a great time! Congrats, Heidi!

Keep on praying for me, even though I can feel the hand of the Lord lifting me up and keeping me afloat I sometimes feel like my head is barely above water. Better to swim in the deep than the shallow. I know that this work is not only an opportunity for me to serve the Lord, but also a blessing.

My two years here is going to be the deciding factor for my whole life. The effort I put in here in Hong Kong is going to determine who and what I am for the rest of my life. I'm determined to put in as much as I can, so that I can become the best person I can. I'm glad that I'm here, learning how to be selfless, caring, patient, humble, diligent, and obedient to my leaders.

I hope you are all having an amazing time, and I'm excited to share my experience here with you.

Elder O'Gara