Monday, August 26, 2013

Letter Home # 72: Water War

Dear People,

[A couple of weeks ago he started using the title "Letter Home" and it just occurred to me to stop putting "Blog Post" ... ]
This is "Bishop Mak, like Mak-Donalds", he's amazing, and wasn't afraid to take part in the water fight our ward had. The Missionaries weren't allowed to get involved, which was good because the fight escalated into a war very very quickly. I got some good action shots, I'll have to put those on the internet when I get home.

We had another baptism this week; Elder Healthy said it PERFECTLY and then got the guy baptized like a pro! I'm so proud of him, he's going to have a lot more people coming his way to get dunked.

I pray for all of you, especially those who I find out are having tough times. I wish I could be there in person to give hugs and comfort people, but I'm just going to leave that one up to the Holy Spirit for now.

I'm out of time, have a great week!
Elder JE O'Gara

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Blog Post #71: Best 2 out of 3

Dear People,

I come home in 8 months! I've successfully completed 66% of my Mission! 

You know what I did to celebrate?

I baptized a young woman!

 The guy that was supposed to baptize her set his alarm for 6:30 AM on Monday - Saturday, so when he didn't show up on Sunday; the Bishop decided Elder Healthy's Chinese isn't good enough to perform the ordinance of Baptism, and before I knew it I had 7 minutes to throw on the jumpsuit and get in the water! It was so awesome! The very special thing about this whole situation is that the young lady in the picture was my first Baptismal Interview, so I was all sorts of involved in this process! Also, the family on the right hand side is from Mainland, the oldest daughter did the 2 Week Summer Missionary program here.

It's been an outstanding 16 months, and the next 8 are looking like they're going to be even better! I love the pace of the work here in Tai Po (ten lessons a week is a bit slow in this Area), and I feel like this is going to be a place where I really find my leadership capabilities and learn to shine! During our weekly reports last night I felt like some old grandpa/veteran, telling people how to work better and not make my mistakes, it was surreal to hear vaguely wise words proceeding forth from my mouth.

I'm learning a TON about how to be a leader, how to report things coherently, and how to gently, subtly, lovingly pry information from people who are hesitant to share their issues. I feel like Jesus probably didn't have this much of a problem with it because people could just feel His love for them and just wanted to open up and let Him in on all their issues and challenges so He could help them understand the best solution. I'm trying to be like Him, but it's definitely not in the near future. I'm just going to keep working, smiling, praying, and studying the Master's way of ministering.

See, that's why I love reading scriptures! There's always that One Perfect Example of what to do in almost any situation, and then a bunch of examples of people trying to be like that in other situations, and through the whole thing there's an overarching theme of love, charity, and hard work to keep you wanting to be like that. I'm not sure if I'll ever go back to reading non-scriptural books again (I mean, Michael Crichton died years ago, so what else can there be?), there's just so much to learn from the Bible and Book of Mormon!

Anyways, my time on the computer is almost up, so I'm going to log out. I hope you all have a good one, and that things keep going great!


Elder O'Gara

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Blog Post #70:

Dearly Beloved Brethren (and Sisters),

Before moves calls my good friend Elder G. Sin told me that I "had a good one", referring to my assignment. So, what is it?
I am now in Tai Wai as the District Leader. We have four companionships; Shatin 1 (Zone Leaders), Shatin 2, Tai Wai Sisters, and us. Let me draw you a little word picture map to illustrate the two crazy things about this move.

Here is the train stations, in North to South Order;
Lo Wo - Sheung Shui - Fanling - Tai Wo - Tai Po Market - University - Fo Tan - Shatin - Tai Wai - Kowloon Tong - Mong Kok East - Hung Hom
Now, any of you who are long time readers and write letters to me have realized that my entire Mission Life has centered around this rail line. The Mission Home is at Kowloon Tong, I used to serve the last two stops, then I served Tai Wo, Tai Po Market, and University in my second area, and now I'm serving Tai Wai. I'm really hoping that I finish up in Tai Wai (the Elder I replaced had been here for the last 10 months of his Mission, so my 8 remaining isn't unreasonable at all) and keep to the KCR line.

The other weird thing is the "Tolo Curse". If you start in the Tolo Harbor Zone (the northeast 30% of Hong Kong), you will definitely come back, and if you got to Tolo for your second area you'll probably leave and then return. Apparently, I've got the Tolo Curse so bad that it won't let me leave! That's no really issue; my first Sunday in Tai Wai Ward we had 2 convert baptisms and I did my first Baptismal interview (she passed!).

As a District Leader, it's my responsibility to ensure that everyone who's been taught in Tai Wai or Sha Tin is ready to be baptized on the day that they've chosen, and that all the new Missionaries have a language study plan, are sticking to it, and that their Chinese is moving right along and not stagnating. I also call people periodically to make sure they get along with their companion, that they are following the rules, and at the end of the week I get to chat with them on the phone and get a report of their numbers for the week so that the Mission President can ensure everyone is doing their best out here (which we are).

Being District Leader isn't a HUGE deal, but there's a decent amount of responsibility that goes with it that I'll have to get accustomed to and learn how to deal with. So far it's pretty easy; check up with people, give them ideas to help them become more like Jesus Christ, and plan District Meeting. Now, District Meeting is the hurdle that I'm running up on that I know how to get over it, but never had the practice to do so. I've been in good District Meetings and less good ones, so I'm guessing all I have to do is follow the example of my past leaders and I'll be fine!

Now, my Kompanion is probably the most exciting thing about Tai Wai! Why? Because he's Korean (hence the "K" in Companion)! His family owns a couple restaurants in Provo, and he's told me all about making Kim Chi and his time working in a Sushi place and his awesome life that involved lots of Korean culture in Utah! He has zero accent, but he can speak what sounds like good Korean to me (as if I know anything but "hello"), and he'll occasionally read the Book of Mormon in Korean before bedtime. He's really funny, LOVES Greek mythology (he's already taught me a lot), and it one of the all round best people I've ever met. I will call him Elder Healthy, because, well, he's healthy.

I am so excited to be in such an awesome area as Tai Wai! Some of my favorite HK people are here, including the parents of one of my Missionary Training Center teachers! I am anxiously waiting for her to come home and tell me that my Chinese has improved.

One last thing; because of some house shuffling; I'm living in Mong Kok for the time being. I am about 3 blocks from the house I was "born" in over a year ago, and it's REALLY nice to know where all the stores, restaurants, and email places are in the vicinity of my new home! Tons of deja vu, I love it!

I hope all of you are having a great time! Keep praying!

Elder JE O'Gara

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Blog Post #69: Keep the Commandments!

Dear Loved Ones,

Okay, so I'm not going to be hitting any bookstores, but the very specialized wording contained in a short hymn was 100% covered by my knowledge of characters! Here's how it goes!

Keep the commandments; keep the commandments!
In this there is safety; in this there is peace.
He will send blessings; He will send blessings.
Words of a prophet: Keep the commandments.
In this there is safety and peace.


There you have it! I am officially at Kindergarten status! We have moves calls tomorrow, so next week I might remember to tell you all where I'm serving from August to October.. and I might remember to bring my card reader to attach photos of birthday party foods!

Elder JE O'Gara