Sunday, March 24, 2013

Temple Blessings and Monkey Mountain--March 18-24, 2013

Meat is very expense here and sometimes the quality is suspect if purchased in a n open air market which we haven't done. Sister Treasure knew of a meat company in Aberdeen (not Idaho) that she had ordered meat from previously and she raved about the quality. So, several of the sisters ordered meat. We were able to order lean ground beef, beef roasts, ham, pork loin roasts, boneless turkey breasts, cheese, and bacon. The total cost was $4960, our portion was $1225 which is about US $153. I fixed one of our pork loin roasts for dinner on Wednesday and it was yummy.

Garnalee has been fighting a cold that seems to be going around the office. Many have had colds or a vicious intestinal virus. We were told that you know we are living in a petri dish here in Hong Kong.

We met with the Hong Kong Temple president, President Aki, Sister Aki, and the Temple Recorder, Brother Lee, trying to address the problem of people coming from other countries and needing help with preparing their own ancestors names for the temple work to be done. There is a Family History Center in the basement of the temple that is not being used because people in Hong Kong have home computers and can do the work at home. The Center is not convenient for the temple to use so it is going to be closed. We recommended that one of the computers be moved upstairs for patron use but that is dependent upon approval. We also discussed moving a computer across the street to Patron Housing for easier access by patrons from far away countries.

We watched a training video on changes in family history. Rather being called Family History Centers they're being called Discovery Centers. The hope is that people will connect to their ancestors through discovering stories about them and realize they are real people with real stories rather than just a name and a date on paper. A 19 year old consultant was shown helping one the families learn about their ancestor and then use the Church's new software to upload stories and pictures.

Tom is working on the lyrics for the going away songs for the Kellys and the Whiteheads. He is so good at it that Elder Jackson calls him Robert Frost.

Tom has had to have his suits that he ordered last fall altered. The Chinese food and all other types is agreeing with him too much.

The Ho family are receiving "both halves" of the  blessing. The Hos have four children, three of which are in the picture. The oldest is a girl, Melody, who leaves next week for a mission in Sydney, Australia. There are three boys aged 19, 18, and 16. The 19 year old (the boy in glasses) leaves on his mission to London, England on April 4. The 18 year old is going to submit his papers as soon as he completes his graduation exams. That will be three children in the mission field at one time. Tom witnessed the boys being baptized for 65 of their ancestors and the daughter and mother were baptized for about 100 more. What great blessings for a beautiful family. They are worthy of an Ensign article.

 For our Saturday P-day activity we decided to go to Monkey Mountain. We invited the Cowleys to go with us. The monkeys roam free around this mountain. There is an estimated population of 200+ monkeys in this area. This monkey was sitting on the fence as we arrived.
Mama monkey looking for fleas on her baby.
Elder and Sister Cowley taking a picture of the mama monkey and her young.We walked a tree trail that identified many of the unusual trees in China. The Monkey Mountain reserve is adjacent to Kowloon and Shek Lei Pui Reservoirs. We concluded our day with lunch at Pizza Hut and a marvelous cream puff from Choux Creme.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Another Busy Week--March 11-17, 2013

 Sunday, March 10, we had a Relief Society  Fireside in which President and Sister Berrett spoke on the doctrine of Christ from 2 Nephi 31. President Berrett has been the Church's attorney for the Asia Area. He and his wife have been called to be the India Bangalore Mission President.

Monday we spent the day day preparing for our meeting with Elder Wilson on Tuesday. We meet with him once a month to report on Family History in the Asia Area. On Tuesday we bid farewell to Doug and Linda Parry who are going home for her cancer treatment. On Wednesday we meet with Elder Wong about Family History work in Hong Kong and getting some direction from him on how we might help get family history work going in Hong Kong. We also celebrated Garnalee's birthday. She went to lunch with some of the other sisters. Tom took her out to dinner at Outback. He purchased her a cute birthday card with singing cows that sang her "Happy Birthday." I think that was the first time cows have sung to me!

Thursday morning we met again with Elder Wilson to share with him our conversation with Elder Wong, the Area Seventy for Hong Kong. After that meeting Tom decided to type in detail what we wanted to share with the Family History missionaries throughout Asia in our weekly call. We have decided to do this as it seems that at least one couple and sometimes more are unable to attend our conference call because of other commitments. We need to make sure that they are given the information we discuss and this is a good way of doing that. After work we grabbed a quick sandwich and soup and then went to our temple assignment.  The temple recorder, Brother Lee, asked us to come on Tuesday to start converting 10,000 names from PAF to New Family Search so the work can be done. Most of these names will be in Chinese so we will have to see how that goes. 

On Saturday we went to lunch with several other couples before we went to the "The Sleeping Beauty" ballet. Only two men went along with eight sisters. The music and set were both beautiful.

 Sister Whitehead, Sister Castleton, Elder Castleson, and Elder Treasure at our lunch before the ballet.
 Sister Cowley and Sister Watkins at the lunch.
 Tom and Garnalee at the lunch.
 Elder and Sister Treasure at the lunch. They are from Idaho Falls and live in Roy's ward.
 This moose head was hanging above our head at the restaurant where we had lunch.
 There is an area along the Promenade where a stage can be set up for performances. There was a student talent show we stopped to watch for a few minutes. The jumbo tron in the back was an array of at least 100 computers that simulcast the children's performances onto a 10 foot by 15 foot LED display.
The groups we got to see were kindergarten age. We couldn't resist taking a picture of one them.

Monday, March 11, 2013

New Responsibilities--March 4-11, 2013

Garnalee and some of the other sister missionaries went shopping at the Ladies Market in Mong Kok at the end of the day. This area is very typical Hong Kong with lots of people milling around on the streets. This corner food booth had lots of people lined up to make a purchase. We couldn't figure out what they were eating but the smell was disgusting. We had the unfortunate experience walking by this area twice.
 In Mong Kok there are always street performers.These two guys were juggling balls on their necks and feet.

 A picture of all the signs visible down the street.
Sister Alane Watkins and Sister Cowley are sure happy with their purchases.
Sister Marsha Castleton and I are also happy with the purchases we made.

Tom was home busily writing a farewell poem for Elder Doug and Sister Linda Parry. They are going home early for treatment after it was discovered that she had cancer. Tom has a real talent for writing that has been discovered by Sister Jenna Jackson.

The Family History senior missionary couple in Indonesia, the Knorpps, have a son who with his wife adopted two mainland Chinese girls ages six and nine. The Indonesian Knorpps were fearful that their son who had never been to Hong Kong might have difficulty getting to the airport and exchanging his money. They asked us to meet their son and stir him in right direction which we were glad to do.

Elder Gong and President Aki asked us if we would be available each Tuesday morning to be at the family history center at the temple to assist members who travel from other countries to the temple throughout Asia. We will help them in inputting names into Family Tree so that the names can be cleared for the members to do the ordinances for their ancestors. What a great opportunity that will be for us!

Garnalee had the opportunity to attend the A.S.I.A. Women's Conference that was held in Hong Kong. 199 women from 12 countries traveled to Hong Kong for the conference. We had the opportunity to hear Sister Lesa Stevenson whose husband is the Presiding Bishop of the Church, Sister Julie B. Beck, Elder and Sister Gong, and Elder and Sister Wilson. We were definitely spiritually fed on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Sister Julie Beck spoke about the publication Daughters in My Kingdom. It gave me insight into the importance of that book.

Sisters working on the service project of fleece blankets to be donated to the Hong Kong Crossroads Foundation for distribution in relief efforts around the world. These blankets are in high demand and much needed by children and families everywhere.

Tom celebrated his 66 birthday this week. Garnalee took him out for a birthday dinner.

 Tom was born in the Year of the Pig. We pass this pig everyday on our way to work as we walk the Promenade. He was to find a pig bigger than he is.

Along the Promenade they have stars for famous Chinese actors and actresses like Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee. They actually have a like size bronze statue of Bruce Lee. They also have these bronze statues of a movie production crew. Tom decided that Garnalee should be the star of the movie so he took her picture. Move over Sandra Bullock here I come!

We have been asked to select quotes from each of the speakers at the upcoming General Conference that will be used by the Area Presidency and Area Seventies.So we will have to watch and listen closely to conference.

Garnalee has been given a new calling in the Branch. She will be teaching the Gospel Doctrine class to the single Filippina sisters.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Bearing Testimony of Family History Work--February 25-March 3, 2013

This has been our view for most of the last two months. We have had a high humidity of  95-100%. The clouds have been extremely low blocking the view across the harbor.
 This area was all water a month ago. Rocky dirt from someplace has been hauled in on large barges with big cranes to move the dirt form the barge and drop into the harbor to fill this part and start construction for something. Fifty years ago the harbor was right outside our building which is a hundred yards from the water today. Some of the largest buildings in Hong Kong have been built where there once was water.
As we go around Hong Kong we see people out walking their dogs. The dogs are very pampered. They are dressed up in little outfits like children. A dogie stroller is provided so if the dog gets tired they can ride. There were three or four more dogs in front of this group.

This week we had the wonderful experience of helping an 85 year old man try to verify some information on his ancestors. He had chronicled his family in a beautifully bound book with 600+ pages.  He is Jewish and wanted to verify information about has grandfather and was hoping to find some information about his great-grandparents. The first record we found was his father on a ship manifest. He was delighted to see that image and he said, "That is my father's handwriting." We were then able to find information on his grandfather as a married man in the 1891 England Census. He knew his grandfather died in San Francisco in 1907. We then found his grandmother as a widow in the 1911 England Census. We weren't success in finding anything about his great-grandparents. We knew he was going to California in a couple of months and he thought he would to Salt Lake City to the Church's Family History Library there. He had been there before. He knew about the Granite Mountain vault where records are stored. He started asking us questions about why our church goes to all that effort and expense to secure records and store them. We had the opportunity to bear testimony to him of our belief in the eternal nature of families and of ordinances that needed to be done for each individual to progress. We also bore testimony to him that if the information was available the Lord would open doors and he would be able to find it.

Tom was given a copy of the 1965 Cantonese Sounds and Tones Guide for missionaries. He has decided to retype it because in 1965 all of the diacritical marks were written by hand. Today's computers can generate those symbols at the stroke of a key. The digitized version will be easily reproducible for future missionaries.

Jennifer and Chad both celebrated birthdays this week. Jennifer turned the BIG 4-0 and Chad is now 38.

Tom has spent a lot of time going over the budgets for the other family history senior missionary couples in Asia. He gives final approval for all travel.

We walk a 5-K each day along the Promenade. Tom then over indulges on snacks and wonders why he doesn't lose weight.

Saturday was misty, windy and cold. We didn't feel up to doing any sight seeing but we did have to go to the grocery store.