Thursday, August 9, 2012

The End -- One Last Look

Dearest Everyone, 

I got to listen to the temple today in Cantonese--it was so clear and simple. I loved hearing it in, it FEELS like, now, my "2nd" native tongue. My brain translates all the English into Cantonese all the time, anyway, so to hear something I've heard so many times in the "original" (to me...?) language felt so right and happy. I can't really explain!
Pray for us; I never even guessed how confusing and happy and horrible and sad and hard but good yet stressful and still exciting it'd be, this last month.
Love to you all,
Sister D

The End

These are just a random sampling of all the joy I've felt in HK.

As an end note, I realized just how scary the thought of going back to white-people-land is to me this last Sunday night (headed to the Bishop's house for food! They were SO KIND TO US) when we got on a mini bus (seats just  16 people)--FULL OF CANADIANS! 

They're full time volunteers teaching English and Christianity but just for 5 weeks... and I felt so, so awkward and out of place. It could've been a big family... like 12 white people in the same place, it was so terrifying. 

Blondes EVERYWHERE... SO weird.  They all looked exactly the same.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Mighty, Mighty Miracles

Dear All and Sundry:
Last week at ward FHE the game consisted of pulling a TOTALLY-had-no-idea ge Sister Darcey up to the front of the cultural hall (full of 100+ people and one billion+ calories of delicious Chinese goodness), then sticking headphones in her ears and a microphone in her hand and making her SING ALONG to several MANDARIN pop songs that she'd NEVER HEARD IN HER LIFE and then having everyone there guess what song it was. It was like a bad dream. 

But painfully, hilariously real. People were on the FLOOR laughing at my horrible jabbered fake Mandarin lyrics... It was so bad. But the ward had a good time...
Sunday was hard because everyone thought I was leaving THIS Thursday instead of next--so they wanted pictures and gave me  presents and thanked me for my service and the whole time it was finally sinking in that I was LEAVING and this is NOT OKAY and you get the picture.

I came home from a 3 hour find that night with my summer missionary, made all the sisters dinner out of leftovers and wilted stuff as fast as possible (end of the month is rough for groceries situation, but God does provide!) and then I went in the other room to take a phone call from the zone leaders, so pulled my study door shut... hung up, sat on the floor and cried and cried. 

Sweat and tears just rolling along together... seriously, but it IS Devilishly HOT here. It hurts to be outside. We drink ... probably... checking my Batman water bottle... 750 ml x 7= ? Dad? How many liters is that?  A LOT of water a day. 4900 + 350 = 5250 maybe, then liters? 5 liters? maybe? A LOT, ok? (um... please don't put my math online).
Anyway. Monday night we had an amazing miracle: Y. came BACK! I texted her on Sunday night (for the billionth time, all unanswered,) to ask if we could teach her about the gospel this week, and she FINALLY texted back saying Tuesday might be ok!!! So on Monday we prayed with our summers and then I called her. She ANSWERED... but didn't say much. I chattered to her (myself...) in Chinglish about weather, church, her school, family, scriptures, clothes, food, Hong Kong, finally about how I was going to go home and was really sad. I asked her what to do--she said, "Pray."  hardy har har, but then she shared a neat experience with prayer! 

And THEN--Sister C was pretty much praying the whole time, and I was just trying to feel out what I should say or share to help her come back-- I finally kinda let it go and said, "well, don't wanna keep you too late" and she started sniffling, then crying, then BAWLING. Oh man, it was crazy.... drama. WE GIRLS! 

(Imagine the same tone as Derick used to say when we complained about how dumb men are: "YEAH, I agree! But don't have to marry one! YES!") 

But long story short I mentioned something she'd told me about cheung fan (this chinese noodle thing made of glutinous rice that is so delicious)--I'd told her I was going to miss it and she told me how to NOT miss it: "Just eat it every day until you leave la, then you not miss at all la!" I told her that even if I saw her EVERY DAY until I left, I would still not get sick of her :) 

And we were forgiven... and came to church Tuesday for 3 hours and Wednesday three times to see us, and it's just so good. It seemed like that episode of loss was so scary and sad  for so long (actually... only 9 days. but it FELT long!)  How must the Lord feel about us when we are lost.  

People are so funny. Our mission experience revolves around and delves so deep in people's lives, which makes it hard to see your work's "results". 

People are not numbers, and their process of developing faith and learning to sacrifice, to change themselves into something better, is so hard to write down or record or measure or understand. 

I am just grateful for the people and the relationships I've made here. I've loved and learned to love so much better and so much more, and I've sacrificed a lot to try to love people like God does. Most of the time I'm still at a selfish or prideful or in some way wordly level in my relationships, but many times here we get a glimpse of the purity of God's love.
The ward is so good to me and I've only been here for 11 weeks; I couldn't help feeling (when we took this picture) [NO PICTURE CAME] that I totally didn't deserve this much love. I didn't help anyone get baptized here, and even though I did my best and worked my tail off and served as well as I could--or at least TRIED to--did I really HELP anyone or support this ward or build up people's faith or anything? 

But I think that's what God's love is like. Undeserved, unmerited, but overwhelming and supporting and really does light a fire under you to serve more and be better and stand taller. 

As I get to know and refine my relationship with God (and people!) more, I realize how small my faith is, and how little I deserve the love and attention and aid I'm given--but it isn't depressing or demeaning. It's enlightening and encouraging, calling me to a higher standard with the constant call, "I am with you all the way." 

And I know that I am nothing-- As to my strength, I am weak, therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strenth I can do all things! Many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever. Or something close to that :)
Man, I couldn't find the picture of the ward taking a picture with me. Oh well, I'll show you in a week... (except for Elder D and Hermana A, I better not see you in a week!)
Love you lots,

Sister d

Friday, July 27, 2012

When You Jog In A Typhoon

... every direction is a headwind!" 

 Dear All:
I sang a hymn this week and burst out laughing in the last verse--but it's kinda not funny. I seriously need and am considering praying for, "More Longing for Home"--BECAUSE MY AREA AND MISSIONARIES AND INVESTIGATORS AND SPIRIT AND LIFE ARE SO AWESOME!!!

I got to experience Hong Kong's first Level 10 Typhoon in 13 years this week, but my own personal whirlwind began Friday with a big surprise from our dearly beloved Assistant to the President, Elder Cheung. He's a CHARACTER--a accomplished architect already, born and raised in England but 100% Hong Kong parents--so his Chinese is perfect and his English is British. He was my zone leader back in the New T's so we go way back... we lost our hair together in October-March... and he's dying (=ending his missionary service) with me! 

He's a PLANNER and likes things just so, and is a really great leader and designer. And I hope I get to see him after we get released some day--so I can punch him in the face!

I just gave all this background so you could picture more perfectly my shock when he texted me on Friday morning to ask, "Are you on your way yet?"

I texted back "Being on the way involves knowing where I'm GOING, Elder Cheung, WHAT DID YOU NOT TELL ME???" 

Just kidding, I texted back, "Where?"

And then he told me we were getting TWO summer missionaries (= with whom we will split ALL DAY LONG EVERY DAY) AND he would bring them to me in 10 minutes, since he might have overlooked the little detail that he needed to TELL ME about them!!!!!!!!!!! 

It was a pretty stressful 10 minutes; Picture Sister C and I alternately moaning, flipping through planners and worrying out loud, but when they got out of the AP's van---we just fell in love with them. 

Our worries were that Sister C would have a lot of trouble, because so far we've been unable to move past  "baby" mode and recognize we are a more responsible, confident, capable missionary (which she already IS, she just didn't NEED to be)--she relied on me way too much, and I was exhausted from having to be "super" senior companion. (This is all what she told me herself last night) . 

The amazing thing about summer missionaries is that now Sister C is SENIOR and, technically, TRAINING because our summers have never been missionaries before! IT'S AMAZING and teaching her SO MUCH through experience. It's... so awesome. I'm so much happier, she's so much happier, we're SO HAPPY. 

Principle:  The Lord provides (=forces) experiences to prove to ourselves that indeed, we are capable.

My summer mish. is amazing. She's super quiet, a little shy, just 1000% adorable HK young woman packed up into 80 pounds of cuteness and she has the CUTEST SMILE in the whole world so I spend all my time trying to make her laugh. 

[The typhoon begins here and so grab on and just whirl with her while we struggle to stay upright.]

We had the BEST EXPERIENCES EVER yesterday and the day before-- went LA finding after a typhoon morning (it got to a level 10~ =4 sister missionaries at 4 am NOT sleeping because the windows are screaming, it was SO COOL) (so tiring tho!) and met a golden, sweet and SMART 50's lady named Betty (who came the next day and totally understood the first lesson and I've only ever had to explain where the BOM starts in the Bible chronology ONE other time in my mission so I still don't know the Chinese name for King Zedekiah and that just totally describes her lesson--she was asking questions so fast we just couldn't even explain fast enough to suit her!!! and she's coming again tonight and wants to come to church and is SO PREPARED FOR THIS) on the bus on the way there, and THEN the lady was home and let us IN and I don't have enough time to explain it, but the story includes:
  • a really angry, REALLY large man wearing too little clothing in a wheelchair smoking, 
  • several cages of hamsters, 
  • one boy playing a loud kill-everyone video game, 
  • one summer missionary who, turns out, is scared to DEATH of cats, 
  • one (of course) of the evilest cats I've ever met in my life,
  • one sweet less active lady who hasn't come to church for years because her husband was confined to a wheelchair who REALLY needed our visit and 
  • one of Sister Darcey's arms mauled by above-mentioned cat. 
IT WAS SO AWESOME. As we went in (yes!! she let us in!!!) my summer froze and said, "Baahk Ji Muih! I'm scared of cats!" and I said, "...Pray!!" We ended up squatting on typical very-very low plastic stools with the TV turned off, the fan turned on (so we weren't breaking the word of wisdom, cough, cough!!) and singing them all three verses of "I am a Child of God" and sharing a great message.  The whole time I was trying to corral this evil weird Chinese stub-toed-snake-patterned cat so it wouldn't kill my summer missionary but I totally forgot that my cat at home is DECLAWED. 

OUCH! It was hilarious and awesome and my summer missionary will be scarred for life. My right arm will only be scarred for a couple days :D

Love always, pray for us!
SIster D

Typhoon II


Yet dear ones,
It hasn't all been roses, though. We've had to drop some investigators who need the gospel so bad because they yell, and I cry and it was so rough, but the members are so kind and tell me to stop worrying, that I am not a psychiatrist or a social worker, I'm a missionary.  But I still feel bad about people who need the gospel and Jesus Christ so much, but won't let Him into their lives.

In other news, another investigator has been giving us the cold shoulder and we finally figured out why.  In an odd twist, it has NOTHING to do with baptism, but it may be all about our attention to other teen investigators!!! ARE YOU KIDDING ME??! 

Last night's conversation about it.... so funny--Sis. C explaining to me the twists and turns of teen social persona.

Sister Darcey: "I never understood this in High School 101. How does this dumb relationship stuff work???"

Sister C: "So I make you jealous which makes you upset, so now you try to make me upset, no, jealous, so that I'll give you more attention."

Sister Darcey "This sounds like a Shakespearean comedy. How do they fix it in the plays... let see, if it's a comedy, somebody dies, and then somebody gets married..."

...ten seconds of silence...

Both of us:  screaming and laughing. If you can figure it out, you can laugh, if you can't, I'm NOT saying anything more...

But on Sunday after spinning through a ROUGH gospel principles class (the persons yelling at me and persons ignoring me and my weepy through the whole lesson, wondering if I'm making things WORSE or better here,) I had a miraculous twist during the Relief Society lesson that helped me recognize the Lord's plan is bigger than any Level 10 typhoon in my life.  

"For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man." Moses 1:39 

The teacher stood up and bore testimony of missionary work, as her big sister (whom I met at a party and made friends with, then invited to English class in Tuen Mun and then put her in contact with the sisters there) is now meeting with missionaries and progressing and coming to church and her friend (whom we only taught once and it didn't go well, then passed her off to the island sisters) is also progressing.  She has had the second lesson and is coming to church. WOW. 

I heard of whirls of miracles in other areas with people I first contacted and then passed to other missionaries-- C., T., and R., all coming to church and getting baptized now!!! Just seeing it all come together at the end--in THIS last whirlwind of a week. 

Even an investigator in Yuen Long who started meeting with us because of our (what we thought was  almost total waste of time) St Patrick's Day activity is now baptized! God Is SO AMAZING.

I'm so spiraling happy that I'm never coming home. Seriously. It just keeps getting better, every day is the BEST DAY EVER and I don't know how I can bear to end this rush. 

My calling, my people, my city, my ward, my summer, my missionaries, my heart aches as I feel that I can't leave this; it's a little death. 

But Sister Cook did testify that just like when I came out here and prayed to love the people, I'm gonna need to pray that God will lend me the courage and faith that I can go home and learn to love my life with this much joy when I get back--it's so hard. 
Like my heart is just breaking. 

Love always, and as always: Pray for us!
Sister D.

P.S.  Mom, you are NOT allowed to pray that the work won't progress so I'll come home!!! OR that I'll get fleas (already have em!), constipation (that too...) or worms of some kind (none!... so far). 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

To My Awesome Rabbit-killing Sai Lou (lil brudder)

I never wished you happy birthday!
I sent you a package! And because God is so awesome and merciful, I sent it about 2 weeks before your birthday!!! BUT... I don't think it got there yet. BUT WHEN IT DOES it's gonna be so awesome. I think you will love it!

So, happiest returns, my awesome rabbit-killing sai lou (lil brudder). I am so proud of you and I tell people about you every day. I know you're doing the right thing, keep serving your companion and smiling and glowing because you are SUCH a blessed child of God. Your humor and good attitude always remind me to smile more. I'm working on laughing more with my companion--And I'm trying to take myself less seriously and just laugh more. 

For example, one day when Sis C. was complaining that China doesn't have any American food she misses (I think she was talking about pickles) and trying to think of how she could find or get some American food,  I started belting out Phantom's "Music of the Night" but changed all the words-- "Let your mind start a journey to a strange new world, leave all thoughts of the life you knew before-----Just forget all about your cheddar CHEEEESE--Only then, can you become Chinese."

Etc, etc, it was hilarious. Good way to get across the point AND to laugh and feel happy about it :D

So laugh more. 
LOVE ya lots
Sister D