Sunday, June 30, 2013

Blog Post #64

Dear People,

Happy Monday! I am feeling really weird today, mostly because it's July! I was in Hong Kong last July, with Elder Ma, not knowing a single word of Cantonese. Now I'm in Hong Kong, but with Elder SugarBaby, and he's the one that doesn't know Cantonese! That's not true; his Chinese is pretty good, and he had the First Vision memorized a good five months before I did.

Welcome to the hot month! This one and August are the worst here in HK; but I've got my chin up because I know I'm going to sweat off about 20 pounds this summer. Unfortunately, I'll likely get it back in the winter, but it's like whatever. I'm happy to be here doing the Lord's work! I really do find joy in what I'm doing, it may not bring happiness or pleasure every moment of every day, but I go to bed happy every night... That I don't eat three McDonald's Fanta Float Freezes because they were $7 instead of the regular $10, and the promotion ended on Saturday, so you know we HAD to get our fill! I did enjoy it though, not gonna lie.

The work is still moving on, and I am still a very happy Missionary! One of the people we're working with is making truly miraculous progress; she just barely started reading the Book of Mormon daily, and now we're hoping that she'll find the desire to come to Church weekly. One other person we're working with is working on finding his faith in Christ, and by helping one of his friends come to Church they are progressing together!

I am so excited to be here, I love it, I love Jesus Christ, and I love the people I'm serving. Because I have the constant companionship of the Holy Spirit; I am protected from feeling crushing doubt or debilitating disappointments, because I know that God is my Father, and that He has what's best for me in store! Being a Missionary truly is a great thing!

Elder O'Gara

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Blog Post #63: Rain and Vegetables

Dear Friends and Family,

I only have 5 minutes, but all of my life right now consists of walking in torrential downpour and buying local (but not organic) vegetables at the local street markets. The work here has been going well, but really slow. However, on Friday we got a dozen phone numbers, which is pretty good! As we start scheduling and meeting them we'll see amazing things happening, and I am excited for that! Not much is new here, but I'll try to take many pictures to put on here.

I love you all,
Elder JE O'Gara

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Blog Post #62: Culture

Dear People I Love,

Last week we went to the Hong Kong Culture Museum, and it was pretty awesome. At first I was thinking "Yeah, whatever, I don't really want to go, but it's only 20 minutes away and only $10, and it'll make my companion happy, so whatever". My enthusiasm was pretty low, not gonna lie.

IDIOT! I had the time of my life! I already knew that I loved the Lingnan School and their painting style, but now I know that Gao Qi-Feng is my favorite artist that was ever born among the children of men! He blends the old-school chinese with more modern techniques in ways I didn't know existed!

rooster and chicken in the rain

 monkey in the moonlight

Until further notice, he's not only my favorite painter/artist in modern times, but he's who I want to be when I grow up. Especially bespectacled, and living in HK wouldn't be bad either.

There were other awesome things there (like finding out that Tai Po was the center for the resistance against the British when they tried to take the New Territories), and I'll probably go again when there's a cool featured exhibit! How many awesome things are in your backyard? Go find out! Go see a museum this week, everybody loves museums, it just has to be the right one!


On a Missionary note, I've been tearin' it up with Sugar Baby! We've been doing a lot of work trying to find and identify/bring back people who have fallen away from the Church, and while we haven't seen a ton of results yet, I know from my time in TST that miracles are right around the corner! Regardless of how long that takes, I'm still going to have a lot of fun here!

Yesterday during my Personal Study I was reading Alma chapter 49, where the good guys fortifying all the cities so the bad guys can't annihilate them, and I thought "What does this stuff have to do with me?". Then, out of nowhere, the the dews distilling from Heaven, I recieved personal revelation in an analogy.

You can't just say "I'm going to be strong in the faith of Christ and be protected", it doesn't work that way! You've got to strengthen every facet of yourself and ensure that it can withstand a war. In Preach My Gospel (kind of like the Missionary training book), there are a dozen or so Christlike Attributes that we're encouraged to study and develope, like Charity, Love, Patience, Humility, Faith, etc. Each of these parts of ourselves has to be strong enough by itself to withstand anything that Satan can throw at it. I'd love to elaborate more, but I'm out of time for today, so I'll leave you all to ponder it out for yourselves.

Elder J.E. O'Gara

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Blog Post #61: Tai Po 2

Dear People!

I'm staying in Tai Po! Because there are two sets of Elders in this ward; I'll just be staying with Elder Sugar Baby! I spent 5 months in Tai Po 1, and I wouldn't mind a bit if I spent 5 in Tai Po 2, which is not super likely, but very possible. Regardless, all that counts is here and now!

Last night I got the feeling that we needed to get out of the house and talk to people on the streets. We went out walking, and for about 20 minutes everyone said "I'm busy", "I'm unavailable", "I don't need your message", the usual things we get all day every day. I wasn't allowing my mood be darkened though, so we kept pressing on! 

Eventually we started talking to a kid who was walking his bike, and our conversation went like this;
Me: Hello! We represent the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints! Have you ever heard of us before?
Kid: I'm already a Christian, no need.
M: Really? We believe in Jesus Christ, too!
K: You say you do, but really you don't. Goodbye.
M: Whoa, wait a minute, explain why you don't think we believe in Christ.

His first issue was that we believe Jesus Christ was created by God, when the Savior in the Bible states that He has no end or beginning. I'm not familiar with that scripture, but both statements about the existence of Jesus Christ are true according to our doctrine, they just need to be properly understood.

Next, he got a smug grin on his face and asked the requirements to be saved. I took a deep breath and thought "Oh boy, here we go". His point was that Christ taught that we are saved through Grace and Faith, which we also believe. He didn't believe, however, that our Works have anything to do with it. I reminded him what the apostle Paul said about showing Faith through Works (I think that was Paul), and that if you really have faith you'll do something about it.

He asked me about people who are handicapped, who can't do anything to show Faith in Christ. Are they just damned? Of course not! Perhaps all they can do to act on their Faith is to be happy and to ponder the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and that's what they spend their time doing. I reminded him that he can only work out his own salvation, and that he has a set of abilities that God gave him to work with, and they include more than happiness and pondering.

He was stumped. Not because I'd killed him with the Bible or the Book of Mormon, not because I'd argued him into a corner that he couldn't get out of, but because I taught him the most basic forms of our beliefs that he had issues with, and he believed just like I did. The people that don't like the Church merely don't understand it, I've come to realize that.

He tried to get the final word by saying "Well, I still don't think you're Christians", and I asked him to stop. I testified of the Ministry, Atonement, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. I told him to set aside Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, Baptism, and everything else, and listen to me speak of Christ.

He is my older brother. He sacrificed Himself so that I could have the chance to come back to God the Father. He loves me, just as He loves all the people of this world. He is my Savior, and I choose to serve and follow him. There are some that claim to be Christian, that put on a mask of Christlike actions, but in their hearts they do not love the Savior. I am not one of them.

I am here because I love Jesus Christ. I have no benefits for being in Hong Kong except for serving Him. I don't need this language for the career I want. I'm not learning any of the technical skills I'll need later in life. I'm not making any connections that will help me accomplish the plan I have for my life right now. I'm here to show, through how I treat others, that I believe in and love Jesus Christ. You are allowed to believe what you want, but I believe in Christ.

Elder JE O'Gara

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Blog Post #60: Velveeta Lobster

Dear Friends and Family,

This week one of our amazing investigators tried to convince us that Lobster is really cheap right now, and insisted on taking us out to eat at a super nice restaurant in Tai Po. I was pretty skeptical at first, but she was insistent, and I know she makes decent money, so we went along with it.

Turns out that A; She was saying "Dragon Shrimp", not "Old Shrimp", so they were prawns, not lobster (lung ha and low ha, respectively), and B; They were indeed on sale! For about $9 US I got a prawn split in half and smothered in sautéed mushrooms and super hot velveeta, and my companion got one covered in garlic and spring onion. There was also a ridiculous amount of noodles covered in velveeta involved, along with some kind of foot-long grouper that was steamed with lots of garlic and spring onion.

The fish here is amazing! It's very popular to just gut a fish and then steam it, leaving on the head and fins. They serve it to you on a big platter, with some aromatic vegetables and something very much like soy sauce. I've become a master at digging out fish cheeks from their scaly faces (the cheeks are the smoothest, most delicious part).

We also had a Dim Sum buffet for lunch that day, which made me look like a wimp when I couldn't eat our friend out of house and home. As it is, we have a dinner appointment scheduled tonight, tomorrow night, and the next night, all thanks to Elder Goo leaving home.

The Tai Po Ward is fairly confident that I'm moving on Thursday, and the last time this happened; I did. So, my next post will be the name of whatever place I live, I hope you are as excited to find out as I am!

Elder O'Gara