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