Sunday, November 24, 2013

Letter Home #85: My Favorite Color!

Dear People,


Finally, after the long wait, I get to make orange things again! HK doesn't believe in orange leaves, but they sure have pumpkins! And, at $15 for one that is the PERFECT size for a pie, I am SO making one for our Thanksgiving feast! And of course, you all know that I, the overly-Irish-for-how-Welsh-I-am chef, will be providing the mashed potatoes.



People have it in their heads that I'm the best cook in Tolo Harbor Zone (which, judging by how horribly I butchered Mac N Cheese from a box last night, I hope isn't the case) so I got assigned to do the turkey! I'm extremely excited, only slightly nervous, and REALLY glad my loving Dad taught me how to do poultry (sorry, Mom, there are no big paper bags to cook birds using your method), and that I've had ample chances to practice chickens and ducks!


That being said, let's have some Missionary-like words about Thanksgiving Day.

So, we all have many many many things to be grateful for, but this video put into perspective for me why I ought to be grateful for these things.

Ya see, I was taught to say "Thank you, Mommy", or "Thank you, Daddy", or "Thanks, Mrs. Wilson", whenever anyone did anything for me. However, as a kid I had no clue what at all went on in the world around me. The small home that was provided was indeed my world, and I truly believed that everything in it was for my own use, and all my needs would unquestionably be provided for, without hesitation. I was so unaware of how it all came to be.

Now, as a young adult, I'm starting to have that awakening, thanks to this amazing experience I'm having out here on my Mission.

I know how hard it was for my mom to keep an interesting amount and variety of food in the pantry and fridge. I'm painfully aware of how much it costs to replace a can of chocolate syrup that was supposed to last two months until someone drank the whole thing in one sitting. I'm aware of how long it takes to do laundry, and how expensive detergent and bleach are. I've had glimpses at electrical, gas, plumbing, rent, and repair bills, all of which are more than I can quite process.

I'm on the threshold of the oblivious world of childhood and the responsibilities of adulthood. The reality of providing is pressing upon me fast; I'm learning how much of a struggle it is to teach people the Gospel clearly, and can barely fathom the feat it must be to raise them at the same time. I'm more and more conscious of the pressure that's coming my way as I prepare to go home, get married, and have children.

And I am so excited to get there.

But I'm mostly looking forward to the 4 1/2 months I have left to forget myself, forget everything that lies ahead, and worry, ponder, and pray about the salvation of the people I teach. I'm glad that I have this time to be out here serving, and I'm more than happy to give up participating in the happiness going on in my family; because I know I'm doing something of Eternal worth.

That's what I'm most grateful for.

Elder O'Gara

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Letter Home #84: A Rough Week

Dear People,

It's been hard. All I know is that serious calamities are going down in the Philippines and I all I know is that they just got devastated. All I could read in Chinese was that there was death and raping, neither of which are things I like to hear about.

Thankfully, my mom sent me a news link saying all the Missionaries are accounted for, and the Church has cranked it up to 11 to get relief to those people. It's good to know that even though a lot of my friends who are serving out there were extremely distressed, they're all ready to jump into the Helping Hands vests and get to work.

It's been a great week here in HK. We had rain for half of last week (the outside edge of the storm that hit the Philippines), which brought back many happy Washington memories. I love grey skies better than blue, call me crazy.

We went to the Temple today, so time's a little short, but one of these days I might be able to crank out a high-quality sermon like my other Missionary friends send me.

Don't hold your breath, it could end up being a long time...

Elder JE O'Gara

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Letter Home #83: Equivalencies of Time

Dear People,

I left on April 11th, 2012.

Number 5 told Dad and I that she was pregnant at our last dinner together on April 7th, 2012, or thereabouts.

Now, the aforementioned baby just had his first Birthday Party.

What is going on in America?!?

Really, I'm constantly shocked at how the time here moves so fast and yet so slow! In my head he's still not really born yet, even though I get pictures of him monthly (kind of awkward, now that I put it down in type...), and 19 months have elapsed from that point? 19 months used to be a painfully long amount of time, and now it's just about nothing? I realized that we're almost done with this move, which is insane!


We had a Parting-the-Red-Sea Status Miracle this week; Elder Mohk and I only had 2 hours of street contacting time on Thursday because we had Weekly Planning, a Lesson, and a Dinner Appointment. Somehow, in those 2 hours we were able to follow the Lord's guidance well enough to find 2 young men who were willing to sit and chat about the Gospel, and then reschedule us for another meeting! I'd yet to see that much success in such a short period of time!

One of the kids met with us at the scheduled time, and the other didn't show up (which is fairly standard for HK people), but I'm confident that both of them will find the time to meet with us again very soon.

The Work of God Continues, and Worlds and Lives Abound,
Elder JE O'Gara

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Letter Home #82: Oops

Dear People,

Blame my mother.

She sent me lots of pictures of my family, and of course I had to email them and tell them how awesome they are, and then before I knew it I had 4 minutes left to type this.

Things are going well with Elder Mohk; we're working hard on training and pulling out power statements (because it's a bit redundant to tell someone you're a Missionary when they can plainly see that you definitely aren't a tourist). For some reason part of the culture here in the China Hong Kong Mission is to tell people you're a Missionary, and I've never really understood why.

PingPongStar was baptized by his great uncle yesterday, and when he came out of the water he hugged Uncle, and then did a jumping fist pump and said "Woo! Oh Yeah!". I've never seen someone be so excited to be baptized (or throw so much water out of the font)! He's a great kid (he's two years older than me...) and I hope that he goes to Japan for the Olympics so I can be super proud of my Recent Convert.

It'd be a dream come true.

Elder JE O'Gara