Sunday, February 24, 2013

Hastening the Work--February 18-24, 2013

We have had several of the Filippina sisters return home to the Philippines. They are following the counsel that Elder Oaks gave last year for the sisters to return home to their families. He told them that being here is an unnatural situation for them as they are away from their husbands and children. They were to come up with a plan that would allow them to return home.  When they go home the other sisters have a good-bye party for them. They love to sing and perform. So the singing can go for a l-l-long time.

We are helping Sister Gong develop lessons for a thematic approach to teaching English that will be used by the missionaries in the various countries of Asia. She is using Mormon messages as the basis. We have been offering ideas and editing.

We had the opportunity to hear the story of one of the members of the Mandarin speaking branch tell of his experience in escaping from Guangzhou, China. He had to try several times before he was successful. He told of the river he was trying to swim across being full of dead bodies.

It seems that the past week was spent answering emails and concerns from the missionaries. Garnalee knows that most of Monday was doing exactly that. As we are in charge of all the travel for the Family History missionaries in Asia, Tom spent Tuesday setting up a spreadsheet to keep track of their expenses.

This week there was a conference for all the Asia Area Mission Presidents. One of the wives is from Blackfoot, and she wanted a picture of the Blackfoot people. So of course we obliged her. Pictured are Tom and I; Dr. Bertin, the medical doctor for all of Asia. (He graduated from Blackfoot High School.  His father, Con Bertin was a counselor at BHS for many years.) President and Sister Clark (she is also a graduate of Blackfoot High School). Just to show what a small world it is, Sister Clark is the sister of John Hoge who lives in our ward. President Clark said, "I proposed to Sister Clark in Blackfoot.  Does that count?"

We attended the China Hong Kong Mission Conference on Friday morning. Elder David F. Evans, of the first Quorum of the Seventy and the head of missionary department, was here. He told us to check out the Church News tomorrow to see the announcement of new missions. He spoke for an hour and a half. He started off talking about the temple but he said his real message was on the Atonement which he spoke about for an hour.  He encouraged the missionaries to have their investigators read the Book of Mormon from the title page to the end rather than jumping around.

China Hong Kong missionaries waiting for Elder Evans and the Area Presidency to arrive for a picture.

Instead of doing some site seeing on Saturday, we decided to go see the movie Lincoln. It was a good movie.

We checked out the Church News on Saturday to discover that 58 new missions have been created around the world. The Lord is hastening His work.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Missionary Training--February 11-17, 2013

We had an easy week due to Chinese New Year with two days off. Chinese New Year is a big celebration in Hong Kong. All the senior couples were invited to spend Monday evening at the home of Elder and Sister Gong with the Area Presidency. Garnalee learned how to make dumplings which were part of the dinner that was served along with pot luck salads and desserts. We then played a couple of games. Since this is the year of the Snake one of the games was a Jeopardy game in which all of the questions were snake related. We then played a game where each team had to think of songs using a New Year related word. Two of the words was  "red" and "gold" since red and gold are the favorite New Year's colors. Some of the songs were Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, The Red, Red Robin Comes Bobbing Along, Red River Valley, etc. Both games were extremely fun. After the games we watched the huge fireworks display that lasted for 25 minutes. We saw amazing fireworks we had never seen before.

We visited the Hong Kong Space Museum and celebrated Valentine's Day early with an enjoyable evening at Outback with the Castletons.

The highlight of the week was spending Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday training the 100 full-time missionaries in Hong Kong and Macau about using Family History as a proselyting and re-activation tool. We taught them the doctrine of Family History along with how the Family History Consultant can become the new best friend of the new members and the returning members. We bore testimony of the importance of sealing families together forever.

We were in charge of the monthly Senior Missionary Activity. We decided to take the group to Lamma Island.

The missionaries enjoying a wonderful lunch at B&B Restaurant before we started our hike to the other side of the island.
 It's February and the trees are flowering.
 The view from the top of the hill on Lamma Island.
When we visited Lamma Island a couple of weeks ago we missed the Kamikaze Caves. These caves were used by the Japanese soldiers who occupied Hong Kong during World War II. From these caves they would launch attacks on Allied ships hoping to sink them. Tom had to wander into the cave trying to determine how far back it went . After about 50 feet and no flashlight he decided to return which was good since it was very muddy.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Happy Chinese New Year--February 4-10, 2013

Tom is still striving to learn Cantonese. Each Sunday we ride in the taxi to church, and we have to tell the driver pink building straight ahead. He decided to find out how to say that in Cantonese. He tested the phrases on three different people at church and nobody understood. He then asked how to say the phrases. He repeated it and they would say that's it! It sounded the same to him. As he says, "Cantonese is driving me crazy."

We spent 1 1/2 hours training the new Family History couple in Malaysia on Meeting Place, which is teleconferencing medium. It was very productive. W taught them about InSite, a site we use for storage of items.

We practiced and timed the Power Point presentation we will present to the full-time missionaries this week. We are going to train them about using Family History as a missionary tool in finding investigators and to bring back the less-active.

 Wednesday we went to Victoria Park which displayed acres of beautiful plants and cut flowers for the Chinese New Year. The Chinese decorate their homes at this time of year with flowers as they believe the flowers bring luck and good fortune.

This arrangement is made of Gold Berries. They are arranged in a cone-shape to be used as a centerpiece.
 Notice how inedible fruits look like the head of an animal. They can be arranged in pot, as the right picture shows, or left in the natural state to be hung.

Some of the beautiful flowers we saw.
 Orchids anyone?!
 These are  plum blossoms. Each flower used to decorate the home brings a different blessing.
 Mums in a variety of colors.

 Orchids are Tom's favorite and they in a variety of colors and are much different than the orchids we see in the US.
These small trees are seen everywhere for Chinese New Year. The orange fruit on them is some kind of citrus fruit.
 This tree is the same kind as the ones above. This was taken in front of the complex where we live. We left our complex Friday morning with no decorations around and returned home Friday afternoon to see the place all ready for the new year.
More Gold Berries used to make a bigger tree.

Below is the huge plum tree in our hotel lobby decorated with red envelopes that are used to give gifts of money at Chinese New Year.

Thursday's are usually our busy day. This week was our monthly Temple session and Testimony meeting with the Area Presidency. Tom and Garnalee both did the work for one of his family members. One of the sisters shared how her family has been blessed while they have been here serving their mission. We hope our children are being blessed while we are serving our mission. For our weekly conference call with the other Family History missionaries throughout Asia we did some additional training on how to use InSite and how to orient/train Priesthood leaders, Family History directors and consultants. Now that we have 2013 travel budgets for each of the countries in Asia, Tom worked up a spread to approve and keep track of senior missionary travel.

At our monthly meeting with Elder Wilson, Tom demonstrated how we use InSite to teach Family History missionaries. We also reported on how Family History is going throughout Asia. 

One of the highlights of the week for Garnalee, is Sisters' Institute held each Friday. We meet to read and discuss one of the messages delivered at the last General Conference. 

Several months ago we ordered "How Do I Start My Family History?" handouts that have a pedigree chart on one side and ideas on the other side. We wanted these to give to the missionaries when we do our presentation. They arrived on Friday. We were excited to see them as we had been told they wouldn't arrive until the end of the month. It does take a long time to get things here if they come by boat. 

Saturday we ventured out to find the 10,000 Buddhas Monastery in Sha Tin. There are actually over 12,500. This is the path we had to climb to get the monastery. The whole way was lined with life-sized in various poses. Tom stopped to pose along the path.
 Garnalee poses with one of the huge statutes we presume to Mrs. Buddha.
 This nine story pagoda is on the $100 Hong Kong note. We climbed tot he top of the continually narrowing staircase.
 View of Sha Tin from the 10,000 Buddhas Monastery.
 On the way back down the hill from the monastery we encountered a family of wild monkeys. They were jumping from tree to tree. This is a baby monkey.
We discovered the monkeys were jumping through the trees to get to this house where they were being fed. There is an area called Monkey Mountain not far from the monastery that will visit in the future and share.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Lamma Island--January 28-February 3, 2013

We spent Monday answering emails. As support missionaries we answer questions and recommend plans of action.

We have started drinking 2 teaspoons of unprocessed honey and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon mixed in mug of hot water just before bed. This drink is supposed to promote a better night's sleep. We will see how it works. Garnalee did some additional research and found that the drink is also good for weight lose. It is supposed to block the absorption of fat. We have noticed a difference in our desire for sugar.

Tom worked on his Priesthood lesson for Sunday. As the Elder's Quorum president he gets to choose the topic of the lesson on the first Sunday.  He decided to do it on fasting. He started on the spiritual side but also wanted to discuss the physiological benefits.

As we attend the temple each Thursday we have the opportunity to do the ordinance work for Tom's ancestors. We are grateful for the opportunity to offer those ordinances to others who didn't have that opportunity in this life.

We had the opportunity to do service on Friday. The Assistant Area Auditors were in Hong Kong for a training session. We helped to set up, serve, and clean up after the 25 attendees. We rode the ferry across the harbor and arrived in time to see the Symphony of Lights that is performed each night at 8 pm. There are laser lights on both sides of the harbor that are choreographed to music. It is an amazing show to see.

Chinese New Year starts next Sunday. There is a big parade where seats can be bought in bleachers. The tickets went on sale Saturday morning but you have to arrive early to get in line. Tom was all set to go buy tickets for us at 4:30 am but when he got up and said his prayers he asked if this was something we should participate in since it would be on a Sunday. He received an immediate answer that said, "Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy." So he climbed back into bed. Next year Chinese New Year starts on a Friday so we will go then.

We spent Saturday afternoon visiting Lamma Island. Lamma Island is the third largest island in the archipelago that makes up Hong Kong. This island has no motorized transportation on it so is very quiet and peaceful. We landed on the north side and walked to the southeast area of the island. This is the village of Yung Shue Wan where we arrived from Hong Kong.
 As we walked along the trail we came to a beach area on the island. There were people swimming int he water.
This is the Lamma Island Power Plant.
Looking out  at the South China Sea from the top of the hill on Lamma Island.
As we neared the end of our 3 mile trek above Sok Kwu Wan we saw the fish farms. This side of the island has many seafood restaurants and are known for the seafood they produce.  There was a hut on each of the farms where the family lived.
 The clothes drying and the mode of transportation on Lamma Island.

A small Chinese garden with a scarecrow protecting the produce. There was also many plastic grocery bags, balls of aluminum foil, plastic bottles, and baskets, all in an effort to discourage the birds. This is an example of the many garden plots that we saw.

We think that other Senior Missionaries will enjoy the outing to Lamma Island in two weeks as much as we did.