Monday, April 21, 2014

Week 17: So Many New Things!

This week I got to try a lot of new things! I got released as a Missionary, gave a Priesthood blessing to a lady in labor, held a less than 24 day old baby, and started filling out a job application. With all these new things coming at me, it's nice to have my old Facebook, my old friends, my old family, and my old lifestyle back.

But, it's not really what I expected it all to be. I realized that I'm new as well. The person I've become has never had this might free time, and it's kind of strange, to be completely honest. It's pretty boring to not have a regimented work schedule to go by, and I'm really hoping I can get this job so that I'll have something to do. Until then, I guess I'm just going to figure out how to become a normal human being again.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Week #105: Infinite Wisdom

Dearly Beloved Friends,

Yesterday was My Conversion Story, a Fireside in which all the departing Missionaries invite a friend to share their testimony and reason they joined the Church with about 100 people. The young man I invited found out the night before that he had to work the next day, which was a huge bummer, but I'll get over it. It was a really good meeting, and I got to see almost everyone that I've grown to love in the last two years.

This morning I had my final interview with President Hawks. His first question was "What's happening on Friday". Don't worry, I didn't say "An airplane ride", I said "Well, I'm going to figure out a Family Home evening schedule, and then get a job so that I can support my family, and then find Sister O'Gara". That, fortunately, was the right answer, or close enough to it that he nodded and smiled. He also asked "What have you learned so far?".

What have I learned? How to work hard? How to cook edible food? How to use bleach properly in the washer? The most important, by far, is something I learned from Elder Edward Dubé last April. He said "Never look behind you!". How much better of a person I've become doesn't matter. It's not going to help me or give me happiness and success. What matters is how much I'm going to change, comparing and contrasting my own habits and personality to the perfect example of Jesus Christ. I'll never match it, but if I'm trying my best I can't get off the right track.

After a little more question and answer, a little about careers, a little about beards, a little about staying active in the Church, he gave me golden advice on dating, a drop of his infinite wisdom.

"Be the kind of person the kind of person you would want to marry would want to marry"

It took me a second to fully comprehend that, even though I've heard it a million times in a million different ways. I think I like his phrasing best; it's tricky enough that you have to slow down every time you repeat it so that you don't mess up, which makes people think about it more. If I want to get married to an amazing young woman, than I've got to be an amazing young man, it's that simple. On that same topic, he quoted a scripture I would not have immediately applied to this situation.

Doctrine and Covenants Section 88, Verse 40 says "For intelligence cleaveth unto intelligence; wisdom receiveth wisdom; truth embraceth truth; virtue loveth virtue; light cleaveth unto light; mercy hath compassion on mercy..."

Once again, if you want to marry someone awesome, then be someone awesome! Opposites attract in many cases, I may marry an introverted young lady, I may marry someone who enjoys sitting at home knitting scarves, but I will never get married to someone who doesn't hold dear the same values that I do, and I can't find someone that will raise the kind of children I want without being that kind of person myself. I know, it's pretty basic logic, but I've never actually thought about it applying to me.

I've made a lot of great friends here in Hong Kong. A national Table Tennis Champion, a former Triad higher-up, a cook at a family restaurant, and most recently a Rocket Engineer who taught me another bit of wisdom.

He loved being a researcher, working for NASA for the decades that he did made him so happy. He'd go out with friends, learn and invent crazy things, and got awarded and recognized time after time again. Now that he's settled down, he really misses it, but being a father is so much better. There was not a single hint of wanting to go back to that life; he revels in the stories of his wild youth (well, if you count inventing a dozen new composite materials wild), but he is 100% dedicated to his wife and 3 children.

That's what I want to be; someone who lived a good, exciting, productive life, and then put it off to do what really matters; raise a family. Right now I'm looking at being a teacher, but there are sure to be many wild and crazy adventures along the road to that destination.

I keep getting that feeling of standing over a huge ledge, a threshold, a crossroads. Whatever happens next, what's happening now is just about over. This chapter is done, and the next book is being opened. There's decades of blank pages to fill in, and I have anywhere in the world to go to fill them up! It's exciting, it's terrifying, and I love it! Maybe I'll be a Choir Teacher, maybe I'll be a Chef on a Submarine, maybe I'll go into fashion design. Who knows! All I know is, things are about to change, and I'm going to be the one calling the shots.

Elder JE O'Gara

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Letter Home #104: Maybe a Mirror, maybe a Time Warp

Dear People,

This week I did really well on not thinking about home too much...

Until yesterday. All through the records in this area (Missionaries keep meticulous records of what we do, where we go, and who we talk to), is the name "Elder Ding". Well, yesterday a tall, attractive white guy walked into the Chapel holding hands with a short, attractive white lady. He said, "Hi, I'm Brother Ding", and my comp and I were both blown back by surprise. He's been home for about 7 years now and has 2 daughters, and his Cantonese is still good enough that he can talk easily with the members of the Church here and even interpret for his wife.

Even better, yesterday I got to bless the Sacrament. It was a great way to end my Mission (I still have a week, but next week is a two-day, Church-Wide Broadcast, so we won't have regular meetings until the 20th), and even though I got the wording wrong and had to redo it (it was my first time saying the blessing in anything except English), I still felt really happy to have one last way to serve the people I've been working with for the last two years.

That being said, I'm focusing hard on finishing strong. Today I'm finally hiking the Misty Mountain, so next week, my last post, I'll be able to post some AWESOME pictures!

Elder JE O'Gara

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Letter Home #103: Success Rising Amidst Failures

Dear People,

Two weeks ago I failed to clean my house, which resulted in a failure to climb the tallest mountain in Hong Kong. Then, last week, I totally failed to write a blog post. Why? I have no idea, but at the time I was surprised at how much extra time I had during emails... 

But something I didn't fail at?

Yeah, that's me, sitting in a not-so-flattering position, on the top of Castle Peak. It's not the tallest mountain out here, but it's certainly gorgeous, and the hike was more of a climb. I would put the climb at halfway through strenuous and grueling, and 100% awesome! If I had my card reader on me I'd upload a picture of me drinking a  coconut on that rock, but I've temporarily misplaced it.

Due to severe thunderstorms, there's been a lot of flooding in the New Territories, so my time is about up on the computer this week. We've got to go help some people clean out their flooded home, unless the rain is too severe so that we're not allowed to leave the house... Which might actually happen.

Don't forget your umbrellas!

Elder JE O'Gara

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Letter Home #102 was lost in the ether

I was on the I-pod exchanging emails with my son and developed technical difficulties which led me to exit and return and somehow I never received a letter home this week. I had been answering a question when things froze and I exited. When I returned the email on the page seemed to be from Elder Jonathan Enoch O'Gara but when I tried to scroll up to see the beginning it was replaced by the email I had been writing. I searched the trash, spam and searched email by his name, today's date etc. Nothing. I will let him know but am not sure he will be able to do two letters next week, we shall see. I expect 3 more 'Letter Home' posts. Sister Kahuhu aka mom

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Letter Home #101: Elder Healthy's Birthday!

Dear People,

Let's all wish a Happy Birthday to Elder Healthy! I haven't been his companion in 5 months, but he's still one of my favorite people, and I miss him occasionally!


Happy St. Patrick's Day! I can't really say that I'm celebrating (considering the lack of Shamrock Shake from McD's and Corned Beef & Cabbage sandwich from Mom), but I'm still enjoying myself by hiking the tallest mountain in Hong Kong with Elder Wong and 6 other Missionaries. I'll be sure to send you shots from "Big Misty Mountain", even if all there is to see is a lot of smog. Not gonna lie, I feel like Bilbo; about to set off into the Misty Mountains with a bunch of zany people I don't really know or trust, and I'm not exactly sure how this whole thing got started, but I have to go now...

It's gonna rock.

We found out that we're all moving to a new house today, so I slept on the roof to commemorate my last night in Kam Tin. My roommates called it camping, my comp called it bothersome (he has to sleep in the same room as me, Mission Policy), and I called it awesome! I woke up 30 minutes before my alarm, all energized, happy, and ready to go! I am going to have buckets of fun today, I can feel it!

Elder JE O'Gara

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Blog Post #100: Oops

Dear People,

Yeah, I forgot again, sorry about that. I hope no one was too worried. I am, after all, in the safest place on Earth.


I had Temple Day for the last time! I'll actually go one more time in HK, but that will be with the crew I came with, not with the people I'm serving with right now, so it'll be a bit different. Having this few days left is kinda depressing, I try not to think about it too much.

Speaking of which, I made a bow tie! I had a canvas bag with a ripped off handle and I thought "My mom taught me to be handy with a sewing needle; I ought to repair this!" Then I realized that it really is a nice shade of maroon and I promised myself I'll never wear a necktie again and one thing lead to another, and before I knew two and a half hours had passed, and, well...

Yeah, I may or may not end up having a massive party in April in which I turn all of my neckties into bow ties. Why? Because I like to sew, I like to make things, I like to repurpose things, and, most importantly, bow ties are cool.

But, all time traveling aside, I'm loving Hong Kong still. I'm not in America yet, and I'm grateful for it. I love everything I'm doing here, from knocking on doors in villages that were built before "We the People" were even born (really, there are two villages from early 1700's in my area) to knocking my bike's rear rim out of line (yeah, I'm not going to enjoy paying to replace that), and I don't want to leave it. I know that I'm doing what God wants me to be doing, I just wish I could do it for a little longer. Ya know what I'm saying'?

Life is good. Dog Lady is happy, Baseball Guy is loving the Gospel, and Elder Wong is still one of the funniest people ever. Imagine pure Internet distilled into a person, and then stretch it out to 6 feet tall, and you're pretty close to Elder Wong's personality.

I got my flight plans today, so I'm fighting the "trunky" really hard right now. Pray for me, I'm not looking forward to leaving.

Elder JE O'Gara

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Letter Home #99: The Man Called J.R. Holland (Part Two)

Dear People,

"I Love You".

Of all the words to open a talk with, he chose the right ones. You could feel his love for all of us in the way Elder Holland spoke. Lots of respect, heaps of admiration, and enough jokes to keep everything flowing nicely.

The first thing he talked about was the Mission itself. Mormons have no rite of passage, no Barmitzvah or Rumshpringer or test of Manhood; the closest we have is stopping life for 18-24 months and getting thrown in the deep end with concrete shoes on and told to walk on water. That's my analogy, not his, and it is essentially how I felt... feel. But yeah, he said that what we're doing now is a huge part of showing that we really want to be Latter-day Saints. He also pointed out that our Church has no logo. Some people know the Angel Moroni statue, some people know the dark blue Book of Mormon with it's golden lettering, but virtually everyone recognizes two young people walking down a jungle path in their Sunday Best as Mormon Missionaries. I suppose that two of us knocking on doors and interrupting dinner is a common theme in other places, but we don't do a lot of that here.

He talked about Prayer, how we're expected to do more than "your thirteen-year-old version of 'Now I lay me down to sleep'", we're expected to wrestle in the Spirit and pour our hearts out, which is how you solidify and make permanent the changes that happen on the Mission. At that same time he also pointed out that part of what keeps us in the Church is having faith. Here's an easy example; imagine 85,000 18 year-old-boys and 19 year-old girls being led by 450 retired couples. Yeah, that's literally what we've got going on, and instead of being a huge disaster, it works! Why? Because we've got God leading us.

The thing I liked best that he said was that the central part of our message, the core of everything we do, is the idea that God Speaks. He spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai, He spoke to Jerusalem through His Son, Jesus Christ; He spoke to Joseph Smith in 1820, and He continues to speak to this day! The Book of Mormon is our evidence for this claim, and after nearly 200 years of being published; it's still impossible to destroy. That's why it's so important that people understand our beliefs the moment we Missionaries start speaking to them; they cannot accept our Prophets, Leaders, Missionaries, or Scriptures until they first accept that God Speaks! Current Tense!

So, yeah. That's what I'm here to do. Help people understand that God Speaks, and if you are willing to listen, you'll hear it.

Elder JE O'Gara

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Letter Home #98: The Man Called J.R. Holland (Part One)

Dear People,

Last night I went to a Fireside, a conference of sorts, with Elder Jeffrey R. Holland as the keynote speaker. It was outstanding! He's a master of public speaking, and even though I was at a remote broadcast location (but still only an hour away from him), I felt so much power and authority in his words. He is truly an amazing person.

The best part, however, is that I get to meet him in person tomorrow! One benefit of being a Missionary is that lots of people take pity on me for being away from home, in a place where I can't read half of everything, and I've probably got parasites from the water, air, food, and living conditions. These people that take pity on me usually give me more food, but a two hour meeting with one of the fifteen most influential people in the organization I work for is just as good. I'll be sure to talk about it next week.


Elder Holland spoke for the 65th Anniversary of Missionary work in Hong Kong. He spoke of the early pioneers in the church from those times, and how all of us today are pioneers. Obviously it's in different ways; we don't wade through rice paddies to find people anymore, we don't build chapels with our own hands these days, and we certainly don't stumble across hidden villages in the jungle as often as they used to, but we are still pioneers in three specific ways.

First, like all generations of the Lord's people, we have been called to "flee Babylon", to leave behind the evils of the world, forge our path into the wilderness, and create our own bastion of virtue. In ancient times that involved leaving Egypt and wandering for forty years, but even Jerusalem fell. What makes us special today is that we have the call to turn against "Babylon", to fight it and to ensure that righteousness stands firm.

Second, we are pioneers because we live in the greatest period of time in the history of the world. We have the promise that our efforts will not fail, that we will succeed in establishing "Zion", the place of God's people, and that He will accept our efforts. We can take comfort in knowing that our homes can become strongholds of righteousness, places of safety against those who desire to bring us down.

Third, we are the first period of time called to prepare the Church to be recognized, endorsed  and accepted by Jesus Christ. No other group of God's people has had this challenge, and we cannot fail at it. We believe that Jesus Christ will come again to the Earth, and that He will personally require an accounting from each of us in furthering His work.

Hopefully the meeting gets put online somewhere so that you can hear his words.

The work is moving forward in Yuen Long. Soccer Star said the words "I want to be baptized" (the word for "want" being "要", the same character for "need"). He's scheduled for my last Sunday in Hong Kong, so it's looking like we're going to have a fantastic end to this chapter of my life. Dog Lady and Roommate are getting closer to baptism; we finally showed her in the Bible and Book of Mormon where it proves that animals do not burn in Hell (whoever dreamed up that false idea was an evil genius), so we're hoping we can give them a goal to be baptized. 

Overall, I love everything! My comp is great, my area is great, my bike is great. Everything is good. Let's just keep praying that I keep going strong and finish up with a bang!

Elder J.E. O'Gara

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Letter Home #97: And Then There Were Four

Dear People,

When I last wrote there were five of us living in the Kam Tin house, serving the greater Yuen Long area, taking guesses as to who would be the new Elder coming in to be Elder Wong's companion...

Joke's on us! I am Elder Wong's new companion! Kam Tin, as a Missionary Area, is officially closed! There wasn't enough work going on in Yuen Long 1 and Kam Tin to justify having 4 Missionaries running around, so they combined them and gave me a bike!

I cannot express my elation! Elder Wong is super energized, and the cousin of some people I enjoyed being around in my last area, so I'm pretty dang satisfied with how my last move is looking. Good area, good comp, not too much leadership responsibility, and a bike! With the cool weather warnings coming up, I feel like I'm serving in America!

But yeah, my Mission is right where I want it to be, I can't think of anything that would make it better, and I'm just really really happy to be here today! With all the fun and adventures I hear about back home, I'm glad I'm doing something worthwhile that will help me become a useful and contributing member of the human race. 

If any of you have any requests for souvenirs, email them to me or send me a little cash in an envelope if it's an expensive thing. Also, you can stop sending me packages; I'm afraid if they get held up in the mail I'll miss them. I'm almost home, so if there's something you want to give me put it in a closet for 60 days. No, I'm not counting, but part of my subconscious mind is hiding a ticking time bomb that's going to explode my brain if I don't baptize thousands before it hits zero. Please pray for my safety and sanity.

Elder JE O'Gara

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Letter Home #96: Shocked Disbelief

Dear People,

Last night I got a call from President Hawks, the man in charge of the 150 of us Missionaries here in Hong Kong. Here's how the call went;

Elder Salty: How do you say C-O-A-X?
*My phone rings*
Me: Oh crap, shut up right now!
Elder Salty: What happens?
Me: Hello, President Hawks, I am Elder O'Gara, how can I help you?
The Hawk: Hello, Elder O'Gara, are you on Facebook right now?
Me: No, Sir, I am not.
The Hawk: Good, because you haven't been authorized for that yet. Is someone back home doing Facebook for you?
Me: Actually, I recieved some additional revelation from the Lord instructing me to use Facebook for Missionary work.
The Hawk: Well, you might want to go back on that one (he chuckles).
Me: I asked my mother to friend my Recent Converts so I can keep track of them, so she's working it for me. Is there anything else I can do for you tonight?
The Hawk: Nope, just stay focused and stay off Facebook. Good night.
Elder Salty: BWAHAHAHAHA! I think that when you answer the phone you will die!

So yeah, my mom is trying to get me killed. It's like whatever, it's not the first time. [I am innocent, I always make it clear that it is NOT Elder O'Gara but his mother on his account! In fact some of you have msg'd with me on JE's account over the last year and a half.]


It was an eventful as stink week. [no clue folks, this is how it came] Elder Wong got sick for 4 days, and the day before he was scheduled to visit the Hospital; his companion got transferred to the office to be Housing Coordinator. So you know who got to go with him to sit in the E.R. Fever Patient Zone for 4 hours. Fortunately, I passed out and caught some z's while Elder Wong told Elder Handsome the story line of the entire Kingdom Hearts Series up to when Elder Wong left. And then he was in the exam room for literally 3 minutes. Fortunately, he's a local, so the visit only cost $100 HK (thank you, socialized medicine and taxes). 

But yeah, we didn't do a lot this week; everything is still closed from New Year, including every single Mom&Pop Restaurant in my area. The only thing I hate more than McDonalds is the fact that they upped the prices 50% on everything. These first world problems are killing me; I gotta move to Mainland.

But really, I might.

Elder JE O'Gara

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Letter Home #95: Dragon Horse Energy

Dear People,


Dragon Horse Energy! It actually means "I bless you to have the energy of a dragon and the stamina of a horse for this coming New Year", but if the Holy Ghost is coming down in the form of a duck, I can say strange things too, right?


This was a super fun week! We went up to Lok Ma Chau, which I thought might be a HUGE waste of time (an hour by bus each way), but I didn't feel the Holy Spirit telling me not to do it, so I did what every young-twenties guy does and went for it! We ended up (on our way to the lookout where you can see Shenzhen SUPER clearly) bumping into an older gentleman sweeping up firecracker dust (there's buckets of it lying around everywhere right now). Our Mission President had encouraged us to talk less about the Church and just learn about Chinese New Year. We awkwardly started a conversation about Chinese Culture, and he invited us in, introduced us to his wife, told us that he's the Dean of Faculty of the College of Technology at Hong Kong Polytechnic University (the Mission President's old job back at BYU), and then invited us back on Sunday night for a dinner with "50-60 faculty and students"!

You know we went!

It was awesome! We did Chinese BBQ (think BBQ forks, meat balls, fish balls, cocktail weiners, pork chops, sweet potatoes, etc), and then for dinner had what sounds like "Poon Choy". They take a bunch of cooked meats, throw them in a metal bowl, and then, right before serving, boil it so that everything is painfully hot! We had shrimp and clam meat on top of pork and chicken on top of pork skin and mushrooms on top of Daikon Radish, all in a salty peanut-based soup. I'm DEFINITELY going to celebrate Chinese New Year with Poon Choy for the rest of my life!

We chatted with around a dozen people, all of whom were terrified of us at first and then warmed up, including an Australian guy who grew up in a "strict Lutheran town". I'm pretty sure he's here to escape the clutches of Christianity... Ha! You gotta go to Mainland China for that one, boy-o! But he was super nice, and told us how impressed he is with "you guys' language learning program". I wasn't sure how to not sound like a whack-o while telling him it was the Holy Spirit that made it work, so I just told him something like "well, duh, we live and work out here!". Which is also a big part of why we have good language.

That's about it for this week; the work was slow on account of New Year sending everyone to Mainland. I can't blame them, it sounds like an awesome place!

Elder JE O'Gara

P.S. The nice Chinese Lady in this video taught me Cantonese. She's actually from Hawaii, but she served in Yuen Long years and years and years ago. It's kind of strange to see her here in my record books, not gonna lie.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Letter Home #94: Men

Dear People,

Yesterday was Ward Council, in which all the leaders of the various organizations in our congregation (Young Men's, Young Women's, Children's, etc.) got together and discussed the needs and challenges of the Yuen Long 1st Ward (we have 2 out here). The meeting was split fairly well (a slight male bias, but that's fairly standard for human beings), and we got some problems solved.

I realized, however, that sometimes men feel like they are getting disrespected if their ideas aren't fully considered by everyone in the room before a person responds. Maybe I'm just used to being the youngest kid in my family and the youngest person in the room, but isn't the point of putting your ideas out to have them broken down so you go pout in a corner until you concoct something worth recognition and implementation? I don't get it.


This week went SUPER fast, and I'm ultra-excited for the 4 dinner appointments we've got coming up and the big Deep Clean (AKA soak the entire apartment in bleach) coming up in response to the New Year! I'm not a Horse, but I get along with them a lot better than I do Tigers, so I have a feeling this will be a good year coming up!

Most importantly, I'd like to wish a big Happy Birthday to my favorite Desert Serving Missionary. It's good to be 21, isn't it?

Elder JE O'Gara

[editor's note: Elder O'Gara's mom is a Horse ;-]

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Letter Home #93: Building Momentum, Losing Omentum

Dear People,

Please forgive my poetry, but it's the only thing I could think of to put this week in one sentence.


Last week I started doing the workout plan that Number 5 sent me a little while ago. She made some comment about daring me to laugh, cough, or go up stairs after doing it, and I didn't believe her until I trudged up the stairs to the roof (that's where I like to work out) on the second day and almost collapsed! That was because of my legs, not my heart, don't worry. Even better, later that day I went on Exchanges in Kam Tin, and we rode the bikes for about 4 hours. At first my legs hurt, but then i pushed through that and I hit the magical zone of "Too Hurt to Feel It" and had a blast for the rest of the week! That's about all I've done fitness-wise.

And success wise?

WOW! Last night we met with Computer Genius, and he's usually quiet and awkward and uninterested in the lesson, but still agrees to meet with us. Last night it was obvious that he was more interested in the lesson and we actually had a good chat before the lesson. He thinks it's cool that I want to get cooking certificates (is that what we call it in English?) from a bunch of countries' best culinary institutes, which made me think that just maybe my idea of being a chef is a viable career.

Not only that, but everyone we've been working with is noticing the Gospel bringing them more happiness and fulfilled lives! I love it!

That's all the time I have, but I love you all, keep me posted on anything awesome!

Elder JE O'Gara

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Letter Home #92: Form of What?

Dear People,

Matthew 3:16 in the King James Version of the New Testament reads

 16 And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him:

So, when Adrian (who was only baptized two years ago) was reading this in Priesthood yesterday, he saw the character for "dove".


It's pronounced "Gaap", but he read "Ngaap"...

(That second character is "Duck").

We all tried really really hard not to laugh, but when the Young Men's leader couldn't stifle a snort we all broke out laughing. Adrian's a good kid, so he laughed with us, and I'm sure he's going to pay a lot closer attention in Chinese class from now on.


It was a WEIRD week; people were unusually available to meet, we had pretty good lessons, and then on the way to Church we were held up by a Water Buffalo being followed by four shepherd dogs.

No, really.

If I had anything besides raw, uncompressed HD video to put up you'd all be laughing at the picture of the massive steer that stood in the cross walk holding up pedestrian and vehicle alike for a good five minutes. I mean, I've made analogies to the Kam Tin area being the boonies of Ellensburg, which I know is a farming town, but to see a cow in the road was super strange. The fact that the farm dogs following him were all drenched (there's not usually dew on the grass this time of year) made me think that the poor guy'd ran from his tortured life up North, slaving away in a rice paddy, and just wanted to be free. 

THEN, we got to Church for a pre-meetings meeting (the only things Mormons love more than meetings is excuses to get us out of meetings) and no one we've been working with was there. After the pre-meeting meeting we called a gentleman we'd been praying would come to Church... and his phone was off. Crushed, we walked into the foyer to see K&D (brother and sister whom we were pretty sure would come) standing there chatting, which made us take heart that the day might not be a total waste.

THEN in walks Karen (I'll use her real name because it's my favorite girl's name) with her friend, A-K. That made us EXTREMELY glad. Then we had the meeting where Adrian talked about the Holy Ghost descending in the form of a duck, and after that a lady in our congregation came up and said "K&D's mom is here", and nonchalantly walked away. We thought she'd officially gone 100% crazy, because K&D's mom is the reason they're not baptized yet (she hates the Church). We asked D if his mom was at church, and he said, "Yeah, she didn't have to work, so she came", and he too walked off nonchalantly. We asked K and she did the exact same thing.

We were shocked beyond all belief.

She had a good time, and Sister J, our Ward Missionary (a normal person in our congregation that accepted a little more responsibility to help the full-time Missionaries) talked to her constantly through the entire 3-hour block, and I'm pretty sure they're friends now. We couldn't ask the mom how she liked the service afterwards because she was destroying someone on the phone, but I know she at least liked chatting with Sister J.

Last but not least, I got a Christmas package with hand-warmers in it from one of my best High School friends. "Hand-warmers" you say? "Doesn't Elder O' whine incessently about the heat" you ask? Thanks to my favorite Family member (my mom) sending me the forecast, I found out that we have five (count them 1-2-3-4-5) "Cold Weather Warning" days IN A ROW! I refuse to leave the house under 12 degrees [53.6°F] because it's so painfully cold, but, thanks to my not-so-secret-Santa, I have hand-warmers AND hot chocolate on a spoon to keep me happy. Merry Christmas, Bedford Falls!

Elder JE O'Gara

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Letter Home #91: 99 Problems

Dear People,

I have 99 problems, and making two year old pop culture references isn't one of them. My problems are the days I have left before I get ripped away from my beloved HK and sent back to the cold, dry, bland Idaho place.

I don't mind the idea of going home, I just wish it didn't mean leaving China. I love it, ya know? I'd love more than 3 1/3 months more in HK, but I have a few things to do in America.

Anyways, Temple Day was great, but I'm out of time because of it. It's a worthy sacrifice.

Elder O'Gara