Sunday, January 27, 2013

Ocean Park--January 21-27, 2013

As we work in Asia it is humbling to hear of the sacrifices and journey that the members from other areas of Asia make to come to the Hong Kong Temple. The saints in Mongolia have a three day train ride each way. They have to bring their own food and bedding as they aren't provided on the train. We were told of one couple who sold their wedding rings and put the money into their temple fund. Another family went without lunch each day and put that money into their temple fund. We are truly blessed to live close to a temple.

Our week was spent finishing up the training packet we created for the new Family History missionary couples. We had hoped to use it during the layover of the Moulders who are going to be in the Singapore/Malaysia mission. However, their flight was changed and instead of coming to Hong Kong they were routed through Toyko. We were very sad to learn that.

Garnalee went shopping at the Ladies Market . On the street this women was writing Chinese characters on a large plastic sheet with white sand. She poured the sand between her fingers as she created the characters. It was fascinating to watch.
The new purses purchased at the Ladies Market.
Elder Li and Elder Smith have been working on our floor with a Public Relations project using the Internet. They post a weekly uplifting, spiritual thought for those who have signed up to receive it. Elder Smith was going home and so several of the couples took them out for a farewell lunch. They choose to go to The Flying Pan, a Chinese version of IHOP. As usual, elders can eat a huge amount of food. On their plates you will find a waffle, a huge pancake, a piece of French toast, bacon, ham, sausage, and two eggs. If all disappeared.
 The whole group at The Flying Pan. We think it is really frying pan but they can't say the "r" very well so they made it flying pan.
On our P-day, Saturday, we went to Ocean Park, a large amusement park popular in Hong Kong. Sister Hamilton took our picture in the tram as we crossed the mountain to the other side of Ocean Park. Senior citizens, like Tom, are free but I had to pay $280.
The Giant Panda having a lunch of bamboo shoots.

The view from the top of The Tower ride in Ocean Park. Our favorite attraction was the Grand Aquarium. They had 400 species of fish. There was one large area that had Hammerhead sharks and many other types of fish. The glass in the tanks was nearly two feet thick. It was beautiful. We weren't able to take flash pictures so we didn't get any pictures in the aquarium. After the Ocean Park we went to dinner at Outback Steakhouse with six other missionary couples.We were all going to see the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra perfrom a show called  Classic Broadway. It was a selection of songs from Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals including: The Sound of Music, South Pacific, The King and I, Carousel, and Oklahoma. The vocalists were from Broadway in New York City.  That is the fullest P-day we have had.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Nan Lian Gardens--January 14-20, 2013

Last Sunday, January 13, we were honored in the Branch for celebrating our 10th anniversary. They sang songs to us and gave Garnalee roses. They also honored Elder and Sister Kesler who are returning home at the end of January. We all sang "God Be With You Till We Meet Again" to them.

We had a new couple, Elder and Sister Dodson, arrive to take the place of  Elder and Sister Meehan. When a new couple arrives we stock their apartment with food items and provide them with dinner for several nights. We took them out to dinner on Tuesday evening.

We helped with a special project for Elder Gong this week. If the project is successful then if will be an important step in the work in Asia.

We have continued to work on the orientation guide we are developing for the new missionaries that arrive in Asia. Our test couple will have an eight hour lay-over in Hong Kong on Thursday as they head to the Singapore/Malaysia Mission. We will go to the airport to meet them; give them some brief training, as they will have jet-lag; take them to lunch; and maybe one sight seeing  trip. We will deliver the guide to them to review and use in Singapore.

Our monthly Senior Couple activity on January 19 was to Nan Lian Gardens. Front row L-R: Elder Victor, Elder Treasure, Sister Treasure, Sister Hamilton, Siter Heaps, Sister Kelly, Sister Watkins, Sister Castleton, Sister Jackson. Back row L-R: Sister Victor, Elder Harrington,l Sister Harrington, Elder Heaps, Elder Kelly, Elder Watkins, Elder Castleton, Elder Parry. Nan Lian Gardens is an area where every piece of land, rocks, trees, and water are placed according to the rules of Tang style. It was a very beautiful, peaceful, and quiet area.
 This worker is trimming each branch of the tree by hand.
 Tom in one of the areas of the garden.
 Tom and Garnalee at the pagoda.
Located across the street from Nan Lian Gardens is Chi Lin Nunnery, a large Buddhist temple, that was founded in 1934. The temple is built without the use of any iron nails and is the only style found in modern day Hong Kong.
 This is one of the large statues found at the Nunnery. There six of this type of statue located in the Nunnery. Each statue represented a different godly trait.
 One of the displays at the Garden was a rock garden. They were shipped down from China because of their unusual shape. Because of their unusual shape they are a great attraction. One buildings in the Garden has been dedicated to the display of the rocks.
Tom is always fascinated by bonsai trees so he took this picture. He wonders if the bonsai tree he bought before we came on our mission will grow this big.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

A Week in the Life of a Missionary--January 7-13, 2013

This week we thought we would share with you what most of our weeks are like. We arise each morning, Tom at 5:30 AM and Garnalee at 6:15 AM. We shower, read scriptures, have breakfast, pack a lunch, and head out the door at 8 AM. We walk along the Promenade for 30 minutes to the ferry to ride across Victoria Harbor. We then have about a 10 minute walk to the Asia Area Church Office Building arriving at about 9 AM. We read and answer  the emails that have arrived. Depending on the day, the emails can take a couple of hours. On each Monday morning we have a devotional with all the missionaries and staff in the building. We always have a 1 1/2 hour Skype call on Thursday with all of the other senior family history missionaries in Cambodia, Thailand, Taiwan, Indonesia, and Mongolia that it is our responsibility to decide what to train the other missionaries on. Also on Thursday evening we go to the Hong Kong Temple to serve. Each Friday Garnalee has Sisters' Institute where all of the sister missionaries come together to discuss one of the latest conference talks. We have been building a data base of family history lessons and training materials for the other senior missionaries. Our thought is that when we go home the replacement couple missionaries won't have to start from scratch as they will have a bank of materials to draw. Each Friday we have Senior Lunch where all the missionaries couples come together for lunch and then we take turns teaching a lesson from Preach My Gospel. We leave the office around 4 each day for the hour trip home. Because our washer/dryer is so small, we have to do a daily load of laundry and sometimes it is a load started as we leave in the morning and another load when we get home in the evening. Garnalee does the cooking and Tom washes and dries the dishes. We have Family Home Evening twice a month with the other couples. We meet with Elder Wilson of the Area Presidency once a month. We have a temple session, testimony meeting, and lunch with the Area Presidency once a month. On our P-Day (Preparation Day) of Saturday we have more laundry to do, clean the apartment, and try to do some site seeing. We have Branch responsibilities that take up most our Sunday. We enjoy a meal on the 1st and 2nd Sundays prepared by the sisters in the Branch. Woven around our responsibilities we developing training materials.

Saturday, January 12, 2013, we went to the Flower Market, Bird Market, and Goldfish Market. We saw many beautiful flowers, such as the orchids here. We could also have purchased Narcissus bulbs to plant.
 We saw many colorful birds and a variety of cages to keep them in. We purchased a cage and then a plant to put in it.
 Grasshoppers anyone! We saw these bags of grasshoppers that a bird owner could purchase to feed their bird. We also saw bags of other kinds of insects.

This parrot is gray with a pick chest. The birds were beautiful.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

2013 has arrived--December 31, 2012-January 6, 2013

At our weekly devotional, Sister Marsha Castleton spoke on the importance and prioritizing our lives. She reminded us of the story we had heard of comparing our life to a jar. In the jar we place rocks which represent family, our spouse, health, and children--the things that if everything else was lost our life would still be full.  Then pebbles were put in the jar which represent job, car, and house. Last sand was placed in the jar which is everything else--the small stuff. If the order is reversed and the sand is put in first then there isn't room for the pebbles and rocks. The same is true of our lives, if we put all the small stuff first then there isn't room or time for the things that matter most.

We spent an enjoyable New Year's Eve with the other senior couples having dinner at the Sweet Basil Thai restaurant and then a movie in our movie room.

Tom Skyped with Elder Taber in Thailand about the possibility of a second family history missionary couple coming to Thailand and where they would be located.  The discussion was then passed along to Elder Wilson.  The Area Presidency will make the final decision.

 For New Year's Day we decided to do some exploring. We pulled out a booklet of sights to see in Hong Kong we were given upon our arrival by Area Office and chose to go to Che Kung temple.

This is a temple that was built to honor Che Kung who was a commander in the Southern Song Dynasty. He was reputed to have saved the area from a plague in 1629. His birthday is celebrated on the second day of the Chinese New Year.
 There are relief pictures all around the courtyard of the temple.
Since it was New Year's Day there were many people at the temple offering prayers and burning incense. There was a four bladed fan inside the temple and a huge drum that people would spin or beat three times for good luck. The outside temple wall.

 Good Luck pinwheels that were hanging along one wall of the courtyard. The bigger the pinwheel the better.
There were eight of these statues around the courtyard of the temple.
Inside the temple there were 60 small statues who are patron saints over a particular year. The middle statue here is for Tom's year of birth. The one below is for Garnalee's.
This is the huge statue of Che Kung that is in the main hall of the temple. We discovered in reading about him that Kung means General so he is General Che.

Each morning as we walk to work along the Promenade we can see small boats on the water. One morning this week there was one close to the Promenade that we could get a picture of. As we the man in the boat was pulling a wire basket attached to a rope from the water. Tom thought maybe it was crabs in the basket. There were more wire baskets on the top of the boat.

One of the things we enjoy about serving in the temple each week is to see the families come from other countries to receive their temple blessings. Here is a member of the Church from India with his daughter and son.  Also pictured are Sister Treasure and Sister Castleton.

This week Tom and Garnalee celebrated their 10th wedding anniversary.

Tom spent a lot of time this week helping to write a farewell song for the Meehans who will return to Houston, Texas, next week. It is a mission tradition that a parody is written for the departing couple listing all of the things we remember about them. The tune that was chosen to use was Johnny Cash "I Walk the Line".
He did a great job.

We were given tickets to use on Saturday to view a display of gold jewelry from India at the Asia Society of Hong Kong. The building was formerly an armory where gun powder was manufactured, stored, and issued to defensive locations throughout Hong Kong by the British Army in the mid-19th century. Tom said the Asia Society building was a very peaceful place in the midst of chaos.