Sunday, December 30, 2012

Christmas 2012--December 16-30, 2012

Even thought Hong Kong is not a Christian country they really get into decorating the tall buildings on both sides of the harbor. One the buildings that done in all white lights was especially fascinating with  computer generated  animations of falling snowflakes, leaping reindeer, and Santa's sleigh pulled by reindeer going around the 100 story  building.

Our evening of the Nutcracker started with a potluck dinner at the home of Elder Gerriet Gong and Sister Susan Gong. Elder Gong is cutting toasted crab sandwiches made by Sister Gong. We also had  ham on homemade rolls, chicken, a variety of salads, and desserts.
 Elder Gong took our picture in front of their Christmas tree to show we had a traditional Christmas.
Part of the group heading for the performance of the Nutcracker Suite performed by Hong Kong Ballet Company at the Hong Kong Cultural Arts Centers. The costumes and scenery made the ballet truly magical.
Sister Gong organized all the female missionaries and employees into a bells choir for our Christmas devotional. I participated in the playing of Away in a Manager.
Our Christmas Day was spent with our Filippina sisters at a branch party. So no one had to cook we had McDonald's chicken wings and pizza. (Everything is open in Hong Kong on Christmas Day, much different than at home.) We played games. The senior missionaries were asked to the judges for a talent show. The sisters have beautiful voices.
 One of the traditions in the Philippines is the breaking of the Clay Pot which is filled with candy and money.

Pizza with chopsticks!

Sister Berna and Sister Lenie are heading to Canada to work as helpers there. 

The view from The Peak of Hong Kong's two tallest buildings. The taller building on the Kowloon side in the background is the one that was described above with the white Christmas lights. It is over a 100 stories tall.

 The 2 1/2 mile walk around the peak had some beautiful vegetation. Pictured is an India Rubber Tree which puts down aerial roots. When they reach the ground they take root and help support and nourish the whole tree. Since there aren't any native pollinators here in Hong Kong the tree does not get fruit on it.

Garnalee is pointing at the date of July 14, 1949, scratched into the rock by the group with Matthew Cowley when he dedicated Hong Kong for missionary work.

View from The Peak of Victoria Harbor.

 Tom and Garnalee at The Peak observation tower.

Evening was coming as we descended the mountain in the tram. We came down at a 45 degree angle backwards. It had been a gorgeous day and we enjoyed the sunshine and view.

We had a wonderful Christmas week and hope you did too.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Helping Others--December 9-16, 2012

The highlight of the week!! This is a family and missionary couple from Mynamar. They had traveled to the Hong Kong temple to do their own work and the work for ancestors. He is the branch president in Yangon, Myanmar, and the first member of the church from that country to attend the temple. Many miracles happened for this couple to make it to  Hong Kong. The missionary and daughter arrived at the temple at the same we did and needed help inputting names. Garnalee was privileged to help in that process. Tom was also privileged to help with the baptisms.  
Santa (AKA Tom) posed for a picture with the missionaries, Elder Li and Smith) just prior to his visiting with the members of the Victoria 2 Branch. The two young elders are working on a missionary media project for the Asia Area.
Day 2 of Santa's visit to the Victoria 2 Branch. We were smart this time and had all the girls gather round for a picture. Tom had a great time posing as Santa Claus and passing out bags of candy. He really hammed it up by pretending to receive a call from the weather elf giving him an update on the Christmas Eve weather forecast.
 This roasted pig was part of the dinner that was provided for all the temple workers at the Hong Kong Temple. The dinner followed a Christmas devotional with Elder and Sister Watson as the speakers. They spoke on remembering the real meaning of Christmas.
 Santa Claus is big business in Hong Kong.
 After our Temple workers devotional and dinner we went over to a large mall called Festival Walk. This tree sits in the center of the mall and is 30-40 tall. At the time we took the picture the lights were blue but we soon discovered that they changed from blue to red to green to white.

Welcome to Sugar Plum Land.!!

We couldn't resist taking this picture of the Hong Kong temple at night.

Our conference call this week was to train the couple missionaries on the use of In-Site, a powerful program for storage and sharing of documents--i.e. power point presentations, calendars, pictures. The idea being that when a missionary couple returns home there will be a store of translated resources for the  replacement couple. This program by one of our own senior missionaries, Sister Brenda Frandsen. All the information in this site is stored in a large computer bank in Salt Lake so the material will never be lost.

We went to see "The Hobbit." The movie was very good and we were glad we didn't go to the 3-D version.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Walled City, Wet Market, Big Buddha--December 3-10, 2012

It is Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012 so we decided to go exploring. Tom eyeing the world renowned warm egg tarts at Hoover's Bakery for only $5 HK each. They were very good.
As we wandered through the park where the Walled City used to be we saw these ladies doing Tai Chi with large red fans.

 Garnalee and Sister Bertin standing in a moon gate. Also note the beautiful mosaic walkway.
 This large rock formation and the whole park reminded us of the garden we visited in the Forbidden City in Beijing.
 This is a bronze replica of the walled city before it was torn down. The buildings were so close together that the interior buildings didn't receive any light. The buildings were constructed without footings. The apartments were 200 to 400 square feet. The old Hong Kong airport was nearby.
This is the remains of the South Gate into the Walled City.
 This engraved stone slab was mounted near one of the gates into the city.

After visiting the  Walled City we ventured over to the Kowloon Wet Market. We could buy fresh fish. Some were live in tubs. We could also buy frogs, turtles, and toads.
Squid anyone!!
The butcher would cut off the piece of meat you wanted or you buy one of the hanging pieces.
 Another shot of the open meat market. Fortunately in Hong Kong there are very few flies, at least that we have seen. I haven't been brave enough to buy meat this way.
A bit smaller than the sewing room many of us have. You could hire someone to make something for you or do an alteration.
 Crabs anyone!! We saw thousands of crabs invidiually tied up. They appeared to be alive.
 On Saturday, Dec. 8, we took the MTR (train) to Lantau Island to visit the Big Buddha statue and the Po Lin Monastery. This is the gateway leading to the monastery which is used today and visited by many Buddhists.
This giant 112 foot seated Buddha is the largest outdoor statue in the world. It seats atop a hill that we could see from several miles away.
 Guarding the way to the monastery there are 12 warriors representative of the 12 signs of the Zodiac each had a different weapon.
 Tom preparing to climb the 268 steps to the statue.
Whew! We're  halfway there.

 At the base of the Buddha there are six smaller bronze statues known as "The Offering of the Six Divas" and are posed offering flowers, incense, lamp, ointment, fruit, and music to the Buddha. These offerings symbolize charity, morality, patience, zeal, meditation, and wisdom, all of which are necessary to enter into nirvana.[2]

 The fence was made of ornately craved granite. In the background you can see how rugged the mountains are.

 Inside the base of the statue there is a museum. For a fee of $28 HK you could visit the museum. There were artifacts of some of the original written pray books dating back several hundred years.
 Along the staircase to the monastery were pots of beautiful flowers.
 Standing on the steps of the monastery with the statue in the background.
Of course there is always time for shopping in the dozens of shops.


For Fast Sunday, the Indonesian sisters took a turn at cooking for our Break the Fast meal. We expected them to nasi goering which is fried rice. Instead we had beef and seasoned rice and hard boiled eggs in a spicy sauce. The eggs are cooked with the beef. For dessert we had fruit in warm coconut milk. We get to experience different foods at our meals.
We had a wonderful Family Home Evening with the other senior couples. The couple in charge had downloaded several Christmas messages. It put us in the Christmas spirit.
We have been working on the goals for 2013 for Family History for the Asia Area. With the messages from conference there is a new focus and a greater push for ALL to do family history and then temple work.
We made a presentation to Elder Wilson and President Hawks on the value of using family history work as a missionary tool. We will training all of the young missionaries at the zone conference in February.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Indonesia Part Duah (2) Jakarta--November 26-December 2, 2012

 This little vehicle is called a bajai, which we rode in a couple of times in Jakarta. It was easier to get around in and the drivers knew the streets better than the taxi drivers.  We had bad luck with the taxi drivers in Jakarta both times we used them. When we went to the airport the driver took us to the wrong terminal but we don't know that until after we had several phone calls back forth with the Knorpps (the family history couple in Indonesia.)
 Our arrival at the Jakarta, Indonesia airport.
This is a couple of women and their children we passed as we were walking from our hotel to the mission home in Jakarta. They are all so adorable!

 We visited a large park called Taman Mini Indonesia Indah which is a culture-based recreation area. The park has an area depicting each of the 26 provinces which have very different clothing, architecture, dances, and traditions from each other. It is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the city of Jakarta. There were several church display (Muslim, Catholic, Protestant, and Hindu) but they were all closed. We decided a Mormon church display manned with missionary guide would be a great boon. We saw a wonderful film about Indonesia in IMAX at Taman Mini.
The Muslims are called to prayer five times a day when the drum sounds and there is also chanting that goes along with the sounding of the drum.
One of the areas we visited was for the Batak tribe which is located in extreme west part of the island of Sumatra.
We didn't see a lot of flowers but here is one.
 This building was a representation of the Batak people of Indonesia.

 After our day at Taman Mini we returned to the mission home where we had a wonderful dinner with some of the other senior couples in Indonesia. The guys all help wash and wipe the dishes.
The senior missionary couples of Indonesia we had the opportunity to spend some time with and attend their conference. We had the opportunity to share with the missionaries about family history work in Asia.
 We visited the ruins of several Hindu and Buddhist temples. At one of the larger ones, Prambanan, we had to wear a sarong. Here is Tom in his sarong. Tom loved the style but he doesn't think it will catch on in the US.
 Temple called Sandi.
 Temple at Prambanan. This temple was built in 900 A.D. and is called the 1000 temples because there were that many temples within the compound. This larger temple here was surrounded by 250 smaller temples. In 1966 there was an earthquake that destroyed many of the temples. So today all that you see are the piles of rubble where the small temples were and the large temple in the middle surrounded by four smaller ones that have been restored.
A mosaic on the walls at the hotel we stayed in Jogjakarta where the senior missionary conference was held.

While in Indonesia we had the opportunity to help train the missionaries on using family history in there work with investigators and reactivation of members.  We hope to use the same training with the missionaries here in Hong Kong. We will present our plan to President Hawks, the mission president, on Friday.
We had the opportunity to speak in two Sacrament meetings about the blessings that come from doing family history work.
Our Thanksgiving turkey centerpiece.

 The table all laid out the Thanksgiving food. A wonderful meal was had by all.
Everyone enjoying the company and food at our Thanksgiving gathering on Saturday, November 24. We arrived from Indonesia just in time! We dropped off the suitcases, put in a load of wash, and caught the bus to the Wan Chai building for dinner.

On Sunday, November 25, we met with representatives of the four area stakes to discuss family history. Two of the stakes had the stake presidents in attendance.  We asked them to discuss options for the family history center in the basement of the temple.