Sunday, May 26, 2013

May 26, 2013

So everyone, another week in the books! It is crazy to me how the days fly by. It helps that we are busy. It takes it out of you, but that's why they call it work, right?

So this week was a shorter one since last week was a long one if we are talking about P-Days, but a lot has happened! I'll do my best to sum it all up. Easier said than done, trying to convey a weeks worth of missionary work in one email...

So this Friday we had the opportunity to hear from an Apostle of the Lord, Elder Neil A. Anderson! He was doing a tour of the missions in Asia and so he was able to stop by and speak to us. The meeting was on the island, which is a completley different world than good ole' 沙 田, that's for sure. So busy, so many high rise buildings, and most of all, sooooo many people. It blew my mind. The church has a 13 story church building there that serves as the Asia HQ for the church, so most of it is for that, but it has all the amenities of a regular church building too. All the missionaries in the mission were invited to the meeting. so we got a mission wide picture with Elder Anderson. He is actually really funny. He cracked tons of jokes. Sometimes we forget that they are just people too, minus the mantle of apostleship... haha. But really it was great as we got to shake his hand and have a quick exchange. Then he talked to us for about and hour. His advice for the China Hong Kong mission: Anchor your lives to Christ. I don't know about you, but it seemed like pretty good advice for everyone. He is a talented speaker, and the spirit he carries with him is undeniable. You can feel it as soon as he walked in to the room. As quickly as he came, he left. It was a quick meeting, but it was a good pump up for everyone. It seemed like everyone was ready just to go back to work, and so that's what we did. The meeting was great, a very special experience with an apostle of the Lord.

The next big thing this week was the baptism of Avis and Peter! It was one of the happiest times of my life. I had flashbacks to my first day in the area. We had the opportunity to teach those two and give them baptismal dates. It was a lot of work and prayer, but they made it! They are really special people and it has been so rewarding working with them. The ward has just adopted them right in. That is one thing about the wards I have seen here in HK, they really are just one big family. Avis and Peter are no exception, just two more to the family. Our stake president baptized them both. While they were changing, Elder Kho and I gave talks. I went first, thinking I wouldn't be able to go for long, but I gave a 10 minute talk all in Chinese!!! So cool. Everyone was just smiling, hopefully because they could understand me. Finally... haha. Avis and Peter bore their testimonies as well. They both did so well. They are solid. So awesome. Hard to describe just how great these two are. Again, one of the happiest days of my life, knowing I played a small part in helping these two experience the happiness the gospel gives.

Other than those two events, the week was pretty normal. Lots of time finding and teaching. Our area is really blessed right now. As for our other investigators... Harry is doing great! He came to the baptism and was able to really feel something. He even said himself he saw a change after the ordinance. He's golden! haha. As for Nick, he went back to mainland for a little vacation and won't be back until the first week of June. Hopefully he keeps his interest. Mainland has a tendency of killing peoples interest in the church. I'm sure he will stick with it though! Everyone is doing great! Calla is still going strong! She got a calling to be in the Primary Presidency yesterday! Striaght to the big leagues... haha. But really, callings are essential in making sure people stay active, and our Bishop is on top of it.

I'm sorry to report, or maybe not so sorry, that I didn't eat anything that weird this week. I was able to play it safe reasonably... haha The idea that authentic is better is false! The Wok in Fallon is not Chinese. If you have no clue what it is that you're eating, that's chinese food! haha. Like I said before, I am positive that I could eat anything. Even a bowl of mac and cheese. That's saying something since I hate cheese! But really, I think I am finally adjusting.

All is well in the land of ShaTin. Still humid and hot, the work is tough, I am still lost in a strange culture and language, but there is no where I would rather be. Thanks for all the support I get from you. It means more than you know!

Also a big congrats to my boy Skye for getting his call to Guatamala! Like his dad before him. The Barton legacy will live on! And Mitch is getting back this week?!?! Didn't he just leave? Time is weird.

Love you all,

Elder Woodurn
胡 長 老

May 22, 2013

So how is everyone doing today??? I'm sorry that my email is a little late, we had to move our P-Day because we went to the temple today! The HK temple was unreal.
So how is everything back at home? I really appreciated hearing from everyone. You all seem great!
So I have to apologize if my blog is starting to sound more like a tv show off the Food Network, but this week was pretty rough when it comes to food! I learned that Chinese people don't get sarcasm at all. Remember when I ate those baby pigeons? Well, we had them again at that same member's house. He uncovered them and said, "You said you like so much, I have to make again!" I'm working on getting rid of the sarcasm, my stomach will thank me. haha. Do you all remember that century egg stuff I told you all about before I left? Well, this was the week that I finally encountered it. It was hands down the worst thing I have tasted in my life! I have pictures I will send next week, but it is black and the yolk is green. Literally a rotten egg! The worst thing is that it ended up giving me food poisoning, so all of Thursday I was put out of commission. My stomach still isn't back at a 100%, but it's slowly getting there. Lastly, I had the chance of eating Durian. Durian is a gaint fruit that smells like a smelly old man. It tasted like one too. I don't know what is worse, the egg or this fruit. I'll take the fruit though. haha. That's it for food this week, it was pretty rough. The nice thing is I am pretty sure I can eat anything now. Only one way to go and that's up!

So what happened this week? We have been very fortunate to meet with a lot of new investigators this week. One we met a few weeks ago and his name is Harry. Harry looks a lot like an Asian Harry Potter so maybe that's where he got his English name? haha. But really, he is awesome. Loves reading and meeting with us. Elder Kho has been letting me teach most of the lessons to help my language, which can be rough, but Harry was really patient. We were even able to establish a baptismal date! So hopefully we can stay on the path to helping him learn more. Another new investiagtor we were able to meet with is Nick. Nick is from Mainland and just graduated University and is starting to work as a computer programmer. He is hard to understand just because his vocabulary is way refined, but he too is awesome! He is new to Christianity so we have had to start from the very very basics, but he is just soaking it up! All in all, our investigators are all doing great. ShaTin is a very blessed place to work in right now.

Guess what is this Sunday? Avis and Peter's baptism! We are getting ready for that. It has been very cool for me to see their progression. My first lesson in ShaTin was with those two when we established this baptismal goal. And now, here they are about to accomplish it almost two months later! They are great. Pictures to come this Monday!

What else is new in HK? Well summer has officially hit! It has been deathly hot! I am not used to this humidity at all! It may only be 90 degrees out, but add 95% humidity and you are basically in a sauna all day everyday. I knew it was going to be hot, but this hot?!? All is well, I am starting to adjust. I just can't imagine how cold it will be coming back to the states once I'm fully acclimated to this hot and wet weather! It has been raining a ton. Today we actually had black rain. That just means that it rained really hard. The streets tend to turn into rivers. I had no idea it was even possible to rain like it has been! Just one more thing to get used to I guess.

In all, I am doing great! I have been able to see some progress in the language which has been really encouraging. Lots of hard work matched with faith. Like I said, we are seeing a lot of progress as well with the people we have been working with.

I love you all and I hope that I am making you all proud.


Elder Woodburn

Monday, May 13, 2013

May 13, 2013 - Happy Mother's Day from Hong Kong

Another week come and gone! I can't explain how it happens, but every day is so full and demanding, then before we even know it, I am back in the Library reporting on another week in the promised land of ShaTin. Time can be weird. Not the first time I have said that, and probably wont be the last as a missionary.

So what all went down this week? Well, this week in Hong Kong is the DSE. All "seniors" in high school have their English oral test this week so we had a ton of opportunities to help them prepare for it. Teaching English is so fun for me because I'm fluent... Its nice. haha. But really, it is an awesome experience trying to help other improve. Along with all this English help, we have been able to teach a ton of people. It can be challenging, because of language, but I do my best to stay fully engaged and make it a learning experience for all of us. Peter and Avis have their test today. I am excited to hear how it goes. They are still right on track for their baptisms. The 26th of this month! It has been a cool experience for me to see their progress. As they have progressed in the gospel, it seems like all other areas of their lives have grown too. Just a bonus to all of this is what good friends they are to me. I can joke around with them and it is just so fun. I can't say a ton, but I know enough to give them a hard time. haha.

Aside from teaching, we have had the opportunity to meet and eat with a ton of members and their families. There are some crazy stories from these meals. Last night is a good example. We met with a family who had two dogs, Toffee and Barbie. Barbie loved me and it was so great. I do love dogs. But Toffee didn't care for me too much. At one point she tried to bite me. I was a little freaked out. haha The family just said in broken English, " Oh he playing! He love you, he just sensitive." The family was so great, but Chinese culture can just be a little different. They said I looked like a short and fat Tom Cruise. haha. I guess that's a compliment? Not totally sure. All in all, the members here in ShaTin are great. And I love our meals with them.

One funny story that happened on Saturday to the other Elders, that I have been lucky enough to be a part of is, They met a lady at the church. Turns out that she thought they were rich and could pay here credit card bill. So she asked them for $5000HK. they tried to explain that we don't have money and that we couldn't help her. They got her to leave, but has been calling them nonstop for the past couple days. She has offered us food, kisses, everything, if we can pay her bill! Crazy huh? haha. It may not sound as funny over email, but trust me, it has been really funny listening to her voice mails.

Everyone want a food update? Well this week wasn't that bad. Nothing too crazy, at least I don't think so. I ate this weird steamed octopus/chicken ball thing. It wasn't bad. Maybe I am finally getting adjusted.

The heat is something that I am still adjusting to! It is really heating up here in HK! I'm not quite sure what the temperatures are (no smart phone) but it is so humid. I die. Whenever we go to the church or a members home, they look at me then turn on the air conditioner. haha. Missing the dry Nevada heat, that's for sure.

All in all, it was a great week. Things in ShaTin are going well. Language is still a struggle, but you just try your best. That's all that is really asked. I am beginning to love it here. Still different, but you make the most of it.

That is one thing that I have noticed this past week, you just make the most of it. Things aren't always going to go your way, but as we put ourselves in the right places in the right times, things will work out. Not on our time, but on God's time.

To all the moms, and especially mine, Happy Mothers Day. Mom's are very special people. They do so much for us, a lot that goes unnoticed. I'm thankful for all the moms in my life that have helped me become the person I am today. I love you mom!

Well that's really it. Working hard each and everyday. That's what you do. Keep me in your thoughts and prayers, you are all in mine.

Elder Woodburn

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

May 6, 2013 - Another week in the Promised Land

As I sit here, trying to think all about the week and what I have done, I think back to reading all of Elder Tommy Stockard's emails home each week. He always started out by saying how it seems like he was just emailing home, that the weeks were really flying. That is exactly how I feel! Where did the week go? Is it already May? Have I already been in ShaTin for over a month? It really is crazy how quickly time passes, especially when you are busy. And yes, we are very very busy.

So does everybody want a little food update? This week I had the pleasure of eating duck feet. Yup, that's right. Don't get me wrong, duck can be great, but the feet? Unlike the pigeon, I couldn't find a way to enjoy it. But I did eat it, webbings and all! haha. Just thought I would let you all know how different the cuisine is. I guess that isn't normal, most of the older missionaries I live with said that they have never had them. So I am one lucky missionary.

But as for the rest of the week, it was a great one. Peter and Avis are doing awesome! They have their baptism coming up in a little under three weeks. The nice thing is, we meet with them a lot during the week to help their English because next week they have the HKDSE. It is kind of like the SAT back in the states. But we meet and teach English, then see how they are doing spiritually. Both are doing so well. Keeping all the commandments, reading and praying everyday. I felt like a proud parent to hear them say that! haha. At least I think this is how parents feel. Sunday, I was talking with Avis and I asked him what he was doing this week. He said he was going to go buy a suit. I wasn't sure I heard him right, so I asked, "A suit? What do you need a suit for?" He looked and said, "for my baptism! Gema!" Gema is a ending particle in Cantonese that is sort of like "duh!" haha. So they are really excited. It has been neat for me, because I have gotten to teach both of them, and see their progress. They have progressed so much. Truly a miracle. That's what the gospel is, the ability to change. The ShaTin ward is like a family, and they have just added two more with Avis and Peter.

Another awesome investigator is Harry. We met Harry for the first time this week while we were on exchanges. He said he would come to church that Sunday. On the dot, he showed up for church! It was awesome! Since Elder Kho didn't really know him, I talked with him mostly. That was super hard, because I still don't know Cantonese. If I could gauge my fluency, I would probably say less than 1%. The more I learn, the more I understand that I don't understand a thing. haha. But Harry was super awesome, super patient with me. I hope to be telling you all about Harry next week!

One of my least favorite times of the week is sadly church. Can I say that as a missionary? haha. But really, it can be tough because it is a marathon of words and grammar that I don't understand. Usually I would just zone out, try to catch a word or sentence hear or there. But this week I pulled out a little notebook and tried to catch and write down everything I didn't understand. It made things so much more enjoyable. Hopefully it will help me listen as well! Just a thought, I'm not sure that I have truly listened before my time in HK. Here, I need to focus on every single word and tone just to understand basic meanings and sayings. Think about this, have you ever truly listened? My answer is no, and that I am really working on it!

This Saturday, Elder Kho and I had the opportunity to teach English class. It is a great community service and a great way to meet members of the community. It was nice to speak English. haha. The people here catch on really quick. Probably quicker than I do with Cantonese! haha.

I am feeling great. That feeling has really come through struggles though. This is hands down the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. But with that, I don't know that I have ever truly been this happy. Weird to think that I have never been happier in a place that I can't speak or read or listen in. But I am. I am really happy! One thing that has also contributed to that happiness is work. I don't think I have ever really worked before either. But here and now, I am working my so hard. This is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity. I am doing it! I'll never get to be Wuh Jeung Louh again. So with that perspective, I have really been able to smile when things seem hard or tough.

The Lord loves all his people. That means me, you, and the people of Hong Kong! They are a special people.

I miss and think of you all often, but for now, I am on the Lord's errand.

Elder Woodburn