Monday, September 30, 2013

Letter Home #77: The ID Card

Dear People,

Today we got Elder Healthy his temporary ID so that we can go back to the "DMV squared" status License Office in a few P-Days to get the real one. It's no big deal, and it is actually super non-convenient to lose the ID card here, so it's best that we get this taken cared of quick.

Quick Miracle Update!
Two of our boys fell off the face of the Earth last week, and yesterday they showed up for Church randomly! Everyone in the Ward treated them like celebrities, so hopefully we can give them new goals for being baptized. One committed to October 20th, the other isn't quite ready for a goal yet. Right now the Tai Wai Ward is scheduled to have 3 Convert Baptisms on October 13th, 1 on October 20th, and another on November 10th. The second boy who showed up for Church will also be in that time period, and I'm sure the Tai Wai Sisters will be able to find a woman or two that will want to be baptized during that time as well. I love Missionary work!

Elder JE O'Gara

Monday, September 23, 2013

Letter Home #76:Usagi means Bunny

Dear People,

I just lived through Severe Typhoon Usagi, a double-eyed monster that was the worst storm in 50 years. My rating?

Two thumbs down! Down on the Kowloon Peninsula (where my 13th story apartment is), she didn't really do anything! I've seen worse tropical disturbances. When I was doing the weekly call-in report last night my Zone Leader (Elder Gwo from my Missionary Training Center days) was legitimately afraid for his safety so he went into the bathroom (no windows) halfway through reporting numbers. The people out west got hit harder, but I'm not in contact with anybody in Kwun Tong, so I can't really report about that one.

Besides the weak storm, we had two special meetings this week! On Tuesday we had a Mission-Wide Leadership Training Meeting in which the 44 of us in attendance got 3 hours of time listening to (Elder) Larry Wilson, the Asia Area Seventy (the leader of Missionary work for all of the continent, except for Japan). It was really good, and I learned a ton about being a more Christlike leader. I took 3 pages of notes.

And if that wasn't good enough, on Friday the Tolo Harbor Zone and half of the Kowloon Zone (crazily enough, there were 44 Missionaries in attendance at that one as well) met with Elder Wilson again! I got 6 1/2 pages of notes from training we recieved, which brings me to almost 10 pages of notes for the week, not counting what I got during Personal Study. Not too shabby.

The most important thing I learned is that sincerity moves this work along, and sarcasm kills it. I'm afraid that I've been getting them rather out of balance recently, and it was good to be reminded gently that this isn't the work of Elder JE O'Gara, this is the work of Jesus Christ. It's easy to be Christlike when you're comforting a Missionary who's had a rough week or giving a blessing to someone that's got serious problems going on, but what really counts is the little interactions you have with people all throughout the day. If you don't instinctively do what Christ would, you're falling short of the expectation and need to correct your course. It's good to receive a reminder that my course is straying a bit, and I intend to act on it.

Elder JE O'Gara

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Letter Home #75: The Tai Wai Day

Dear People,

So, some of you "dear people" have been wondering what a Tai Wai day is like. I've decided to be boring and regurgitate my planner into this post.

0700 Wake up, run to MacPhearson Park, run around, do push ups, run back home
0730 Eat Cornflakes with soymilk and cheap protein powder, shower, iron my clothes, get ready for the day
0830 Read the Bible, Book of Mormon, etc for an hour
0930 Talk with my Komp about the things we need to do that day
1030 Start Language study and throw my beans into a pot to boil so they'll be edible for...
1130 Lunch! Virtually always at our apartment in Mong Kok
1230 Go to Mong Kok East Station, catch the train up to Tai Wai
1300 Get working! We usually do "street contacting", where we walk around a place talking to everyone we see and inviting them to learn about Jesus Christ and our message. We average 2 lessons a day, which is pretty good.
1830 Dinner, usually greasy duck on rice, but I also like sweet n sour pork on rice and eggplant/ground beef sludge on rice. All three are pretty traditional.
1930 We try to schedule a lesson with someone and get a member of our congregation to help us out.
2030 Beep our card at Mei Lam Estate on the special machine that gives us a $1 discount for walking 1 KM to Tai Wai Station
2100 Get home, right records of what we've done today and schedule people for the rest of the week!
2200 Write in my journal, brush teeth, clean up my desk & living room, and if there's time I'll play a round or two of Chinese Chess. I have no skill or tactics, but I don't always get smashed. But I usually do.
2300 Go to sleep, prepare to wash, rinse, and repeat.

Today is Preparation Day, so we're going to see if there's anywhere in the huge Langham Place Mall where I can get a couple new white shirts for a not-outrageous price. Please, wish me luck! I promise to do something cool one of these days, and post photos of it. I've got a plan for 10 month that should be pretty awesome. October?

Elder JE O'Gara

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Letter Home #74:Whole Grains and Lean Protein

Dear People,

I don't actually have any time to type today, but along with working hard, sweating lots, drinking close to a gallon of water a day, and preaching the word of God, I've begun to eat only whole grains and lean protein... for lunch. Breakfast is still cornflakes and dinner is still usually a rice box, but I try to have an overly healthy lunch to compensate for the grease I eat for dinner. Roast duck is always oily, right? It's not just an HK problem, right?

The work here is going marvelously well and fast, and if I can ever get enough time to write about it I will detail the typical Tai Wai Day.

Elder JE O'Gara

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Letter Home #073: The Temple and the Rain

Dear People,

So, in the LDS Temples there are a lot of older, loving, grandparent-type people that have the time to volunteer 8 hours a day and keep things running smoothly. When Sister Chan from our ward saw that we were there she gave us a delicious white swiss roll, think white cake with whipped butter on top, then rolled up. When she saw that we were sopping wet because we'd forgotten umbrellas, she told us to give her our suits so she could dry them.

While we were getting dressed in our white clothes (to symbolize peace and purity inside what is believed to be the literal house of God) a Temple Worker named Brother Lee came and asked for our suits. We passed them to him, figuring they'd throw them in the dryer.

Much to our surprise, when we got back our suits had been drycleaned and there was a pair of new white socks in the pocket of each jacket! They even thought about our sodden feet! Really, it doesn't matter what people say about Mormons, we LOVE to serve others! Also, there were a bunch of people from Mainland at the Temple, and a few from India, which was really cool to see. We had a good 4-5 countries represented there today!

We, unfortunately, didn't have a baptism this week, and there isn't one scheduled for next Sunday. We do have 4-5 scheduled for this month, so I'll hopefully be sending out some pictures of my Komp wearing his whites (I've baptized enough people, and I'll baptize my kids later, my Junior Companions can get the spotlight time from now on).

Beyond that, not much is new. We go finding a lot, eat "2 Grocery Rice" a lot (I used get 2 orders of Sweet & Sour Pork), and we do serious work! We also take wrong buses that get us home 4 minutes past curfew, soaked to the bone and all of our possessions ruined. It's a miracle that the phone and my camera survived, it really is.

Life is great, God is Good, and I love Hong Kong!

Elder JE O'Gara

[according to the Hong Kong Observatory Hong Kong got 2 inches of rain and nearby areas got as much as 4 inches. "The easterly airstream converged with a southerly airstream in the vicinity of the Pearl River Estuary this morning, bringing more than 50 millimetres of rainfall to the widespread areas of Hong Kong. Rainfall exceeding 100 millimetres were recorded over parts of the territory."