Monday, April 8, 2013

April 8, 2013 - Hong Kong!

Well I am finally in China! Weird, I know. Everything is so different here. I can hardly even begin to explain what everything is like here, but I will try my best to paint you a picture. I'll start with the flight here.
Flying was straight insane! The flight from SLC to LAX was pretty normal. All the missionaries were spread out on the flight so we all took advantage of talking to "real" people. Nine weeks in the MTC will do that to a person. haha. I sat next to a guy heading to Miami to do a video shoot for some wake boarding thing. He was part of the camera crew. He was way interesting and I loved talking to him about it, but as soon as I said I was a missionary, he put his hat over his eyes and slept the rest of the way. Looking back, it was sort of a precursor to how my first week in HK would be. haha. But the flight was good. First time in two months I could just sit and relax. When we landed, it was sort of crazy trying to get everyone where we needed to be. There were 13 of us heading to HK. We looked sort of like cattle just being herded through the airport. haha. We found the international terminal and called our families. Best phone calls ever. While in the international terminal, people really noticed us. Mainly workers. They said how they have been seeing more and more of us missionaries coming through. It was cool to talk to them and just give them a two or three minute talk on why we are all going to Hong Kong to teach about Jesus Christ. One lady named Kenny, not the craziest name I have run across since leaving the MTC, was so excited to see us because she is taking the lessons now. Seeing her enthusiasm really got me excited. The flight to Hong Kong was LONG! All the missionaries sat together but I was on the edge next to a young Filipino guy. The entire 17 hours he blasted techno music through his headphones and played poker on the little tv. haha. I bought sleeping pills, but they didn't help at all! I only managed to sleep for maybe two and a half hours. The rest of the time I just read or talked with some other missionaries. I really liked watching the world map and seeing our progress. We flew over Canada, Alaska, Russia, Korea, and China. I guess that is sorta cool. It was to me, haha! We got through immigration and met President and Sister Hawks along with the APs. President Hawks is the best! They were so excited to see us. I guess we are the largest group to ever come at once to Hong Kong! That record will be broken in 9 weeks by the new Cantonese missionaries, but still, sorta cool. We stayed in Patron housing of the temple the first two nights in Hong Kong, which is right across the street from the temple. It was small and pretty cramped. The four elders shared a room with the stake presidency from Thailand. There is only one stake in Thailand. Another random fact. haha. But the Thai members and their families were crazy. The stake president didn't speak any English really, but he just kept feeling my arms and saying, "Whoa!!!!!! You strong like wood! You rugby?" Hahaha. Talk about a confidence booster! That seriously happened like 5 times the two days we lived with them. haha. During those first two days in HK, we received some mission orientation and training. We also went and got our HK identity cards. That was another crazy experience.... but besides that, we went and tracted in a park for a while. I learned there that I don't know Cantonese. My teachers lied to me! haha. I can talk, but only about church. I can't understand really anything. We did that for about 4 or 5 hours with no luck. I guess that is pretty typical here in Hong Kong though. While doing that, we met a girl named Fish. Yes, Fish.... haha. Then we went back to the church and taught English class. It is a super good way to introduce people to the church here, because they are so school driven. So we taught English class and after, I got to help the APs teach one of their investigators. Day 2 in HK and I was already teaching! It was a way cool experience. I didn't understand much, but I knew when to bear my testimony and that is what I did. She was very impressed that a white boy like me knows any Cantonese at all. Most people here are impressed that we know any at all, but most don't give you the time of day to show them you know any. The next day we got our areas and our trainers. I am in Sha Tin, which is in the new territories, but is still super populated. Not compared to HK island, but there are still sooooooo many people here. My trainer is elder Kho. He is from Pleasant Grove, UT and has only been out for 2 months. His first language was Cantonese though, so he pretty much understands everything that is going on. His parents are both from Hong Kong. Our apartment is the size of maybe the office and laundry room combined with the pantry and bathroom. Really small. We live with the ZL so there are 4 of us in the apartment. Our kitchen is the size of like a bunk bed and the bathroom is even smaller! I can stand in the middle of our bathroom and be able to touch all for walls! It is small but I really like it. It is on the 4th floor of an apartment building that is on top of New Town Mall. So not super high up, but we have a good view of the Sha Tin area. We taught a lesson to two investigators, Avis and Peter. We helped them with their English, they have big tests this month, and then taught them about baptism. I gave them an invitation and they accepted! That was really cool. I was very excited. Again, I don't really understand a lot, but know what topic we are usually on. haha. When we are not teaching, we are finding people to teach so for about 7 hours one day, we walked the river in our area trying to talk to people. Not one person would talk to us that day! To make things worse, it rained. And by rain, I mean straight poured! Like nothing I have ever seen before! It was a crazy day. My legs sort of felt like you usually do after a day at Disneyland. Just super exhausted. Up to that point, jet lag was rough, but with days like that, I had no problems sleeping. Sunday was another fun day. We committed 11 investigators to come to church but only 4 showed. Sort of disappointing, but we did what we could. The bishopric invited me to bear my testimony first. It was super nerve racking, but it went well. I didn't say anything ridiculous because of my tones, so that is a win in my book. Church was hard because I have no idea what is happening and it's church. The stuff I should understand. It is hard because it is so fast. Chinese is fast! Soooo fast. Did I mention that it is fast?!? haha. But really though, everyone talks like they are the roadrunner around here. We have conference next week. I hope it was good! I'm sure it was. I guess it takes a week for the church to pair up translations into Cantonese so it is a week later here. Now it is P-Day! After I email, we have a training back at the mission home. I am interested to hear how all the other missionaries are doing in their new areas. I think I gave a pretty good overview of my first week in Hong Kong. It is overwhelming for sure. Everything is different, but I am sure I am going to grow to love it. It finally hit me, I'm a missionary now. I'm doing it! The life is crazy, but so rewarding. Food is a whole other story I will share with you later. I think I have eaten at McDonald's 4 times already.... haha. The cashier is named Fun. Yes, Fun. haha Crazy names in HK. Fish, Fun, Apple. The list goes on and on. But really the food is good. I will explain more later.
This work is true. I wouldn't be here if it wasn't. These people need to hear the gospel because it changes lives. They will hear it in time. Right now it is in broken Canotones, but that doesn't make it any less true. Romans 8 has stuck out to me this week. Nothing can separate us from the love of God. Nothing!
I love you all so much!
Elder Woodburn
Wuh Jeung Louh

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