Monday, October 28, 2013

Letter Home #81: Move and Monkeys

Dear People,

But didn't I just get a new companion?

I did, and we are still together, and we are still serving Tai Wai, but now we live in Ma On Shan. It's a nicer house, and only 6:24 farther each way and $3.5 each way, and I get to live with Elder Mohk's MTC companion; Elder Samoa, and his trainer, Elder... Smiles. Yeah, that about describes my new flatmates. I'm the only non-Utah guy in the place, which makes me feel special. I'm not sure why, I'm pretty much going home to Utah (except that southern Idaho has more potato farms).

And the other part? MONKEYS! I really can't get enough of monkeys, and now that I know that there are some so close to my chapel I might go finding there a lot! Not really; they live around an old (and abandoned, as we discovered) village and the nearby water treatment plant, so it's not a prime area for proselyting. They are super cute however, and this big male missing his right arm perched on top of a fence and glowered at us until we went away. I bet he's got an amazing life story.


Back to Missionary Work!

Yesterday the twins were Confirmed and Received the Gift of the Holy Ghost! I didn't perform the Ordinance (although I think I feel comfortable enough with my Chinese to try), but I did get to stand in the circle that laid our hands upon their heads. The Baptism was the little sister first, but the Confirmation was in proper age order... Not that anyone can really tell whom is whom. They gave me two little 3 inch tall statues; a clear snake and a blue duck, and said "Thank you, we're gifting this to you". I asked them who was represented by the snake and who was represented by the duck and they just looked at each other like twins do and said "Uh, neither? It's just a gift". Sometimes I read too deep into the meaning of things.

Earlier this week Mr Ping Pong Star got back from his tournament in Mainland (when I asked if he won first place he half scoffed half chuckled and said "Of Course!" in English) and passed his Baptismal Interview! His great uncle (grand uncle? I don't remember the English for it) will baptize him next week, which will be amazing! He's probably one of the funnest people I've met here in HK, and hopefully one of these days we'll get around to playing table tennis together. Is it a good sign that I can't find time to play games with my investigators?

The work is moving along nicely; it was pretty slow last week, but it's picked up now and is moving along quite well! We're still looking for more people to talk to every day; but I know they're out there, somewhere, looking for the Gospel. I just have to remind myself of what we say on the harder days;

Every time a Hong Kong Missionary hears "I'm Too Busy!", another person gets baptized down in South America.

It helps me sleep at night; knowing that someone out there is having outrageous amounts of success and baptisms.

Elder O'Gara

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Letter Home #80: A week of fun

Dear People,

This week Elder Mohk and I had a lot of fun! Suit Season has officially started, so until the Prophet addresses us again and the General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is reconvened, we are a suit jacket wearing Mission! Now, don't any of you fret, it's forecasted to stay below 30 this week (and only hit 29 once!) [30 = 86] and the humidity is only going to hit 80%. Honestly, I feel glad for my jacket when it's the night time and we're contacting people; we get a fairly chill sea breeze off the Tolo Harbor.


This is my dog. I found him on the street and decided that he was mine. He was super happy to see me, which is another reason he's mine. He was too arthritic to walk the hour back to the Chapel (we took a bus), so I told him to stay there. We'll see if someone else has decided that he belongs to them when we go back to Kwong Yuen tonight.

This week we made chicken curry for dinner...

...and fried rice! Both were super yummy, and Elder Mohk is learning how to cook fairly quickly, I expect him to be a certified chef when he's done with his training.

That's about all for this week. There's been a lot of sweating, a lot of walking, a little bit of teaching, and a really good dinner last night that I totally forgot to take pictures of! Maybe next time, right? Let's hope so.

I love you all, have a great week, and remember to pray often; it's what allows God to speak with you!

Elder JE O'Gara

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Letter Home #79: I Love General Conference

Dear People,

I loved General Conference, but first let me show a photo of what occured after the afternoon session on Sunday.

I baptized the twins! Elder Healthy was supposed to baptize the younger one, but, wait, who's that?

Let me introduce Elder Mohk! He's yet to have been a whole week on the Continent of Asia, but he is jazzed to be here! The bowl of noodles ended up mostly uneaten, but that's because I ordered them too hot. I think I need to let my trainee make more of his own decisions...

Our first week has been full of fun, including Amandine, french beans with almonds and lemon juice. There's also been crazy people, anti-Mormons calling us on the phone, and the usual fun that happens here in HK.

Elder Healthy went to Macau to open a new companionship there. It's the land of many dinner appointments, even more cheap buffets, and a lot of bus riding with little walking in between. Remember how I was whining about being fat? Yeah, that'll be Elder Healthy when he gets out of Macau in 2 months.


Now, back to General Conference, and the two major revelations I received that I'd like to share with all of my readers.

The first is the Age Change that happened a year ago (I was in HK at that time as well). I dreaded it. We'd have a bunch of idiot kids junking up the Mission, breaking all of the infrastructure we've built with the wards and branches here, being obnoxiously disobedient, and generally making the lives of us older Missionaries harder.

On Saturday, however, I was reminded of the principle that "The word of God is a stumbling stone and a rock of offense to the wicked". That hit me with new clarity that it specifically refers to the Age Change. I had been showing my unrighteousness by showing my resentment, and had failed to remember the one thing that makes the Church so loved by some and so hated by others.

Our standards don't change.

The only difference between before and now is we've got 18 year old Elders and 19 year old Sisters. They are all still required to live the same standards of worthiness, receive the same preparation and training, and do the same work as us old fogies. They may be younger, there may be a maturity gap, but the work of God still requires people who follow the higher law as taught by Jesus Christ.

The second revelation I had goes back 8 years to a deep-seated uneasiness I've felt ever since I attended a youth meeting of another faith. At the end of the virtually universal Christian meeting of praying, singing hymns, and reading the Bible, we all sat in a circle and talked about our walk with Jesus. We don't talk about anything called that in the Church, and it threw me off. As the people with all complete and restored Gospel, oughtn't we to talk about this kind of thing?

We do, a ton actually, I just didn't realize it until I heard a speaker use the phrase "walk with Christ" in Conference this weekend. See, the kids at that meeting way back all those years ago in the sixth grade talked about how much they were drawing closer to Jesus, how much they were trying more to love Jesus, and a lot of other things focused on the Savior that we also talk about. The thing that threw me off, I just realized, was that all the talk was focused solely on Christ.

As Christians, we Mormons do focus a lot on Christ. Like the Book of Mormon says;

2 Nephi 25:26

26 And we talk of Christwe rejoice in Christwe preach of Christwe prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.
Our Eternal focus, however, is God the Father. We know that we can only return to our Father through the Atonement of Christ, that only through His redeeming grace can we receive everlasting happiness with our family members, but we keep in mind that the Savior is not the ultimate goal.

Returning to the presence of God, with the help of His Beloved Son, is our goal, the purpose of our creation, and the reason Jesus Christ atoned for our sins.

Now I'm beginning to understand it.

Elder J.E. O'Gara

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Letter Home #78: Eighteen Down, Seven Million to Go

Dear Beloved People,
I am rapidly approaching my 18 month mark! I have completed an entire Sister Mission! My official fly-home day is April 18th, 2014, but I plan on hanging out in Mainland with my father for a few days (but I'll be home for my brother's 37th birthday party). I am so fat!

Last week I went on a hike all the way up (but not across) Ma On Shan! I still have blue eyes! And a cut on my lip!

I made traditional Irish style potato pancakes called "fadge" every day last week as kind of a "Chef's Challenge". They are delicious, and easy to make once you mess it up three days in a row! Y'all can count on eating them for breakfast if you ever spend the night at the Elder O'Gara house.

I also made a cheese cake for my flat mates. Keebler Ready-Made Graham Cracker crusts cost as much as a Supersize Big Mac meal, not that I eat a lot of either. It had the texture of cottage cheese, but was still tasty! Thanks to my mom for the recipe! I am so fat!

I thought that horseshoe crabs were endangered and moray eels were threatened, but you can order both at the restaurant where a member bought us brunch today, so maybe I'm wrong.

Regardless, I'm loving life, loving the work, and loving my time here in HK! I'm ready to "crank it up to 11" for the next six months, we'll see how close I get to my goal of 7,000,000 baptisms! I've already been asked to suit up next Sunday, so I'll send pictures of that with my next letter home! I hope everyone in the States, Mexico, Germany, Mainland China, Morocco, and anywhere this is read are happy and well!


Elder Jonathan Enoch O'Gara (and Elder Healthy)