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