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