Monday, June 24, 2013

June 24, 2013 It's called Butterfly but I haven't seen any yet...

Fam and Friends!
How's it goin back in the states? Sounds like the All-American summer! Cool to see pics of Special-K right off the airplane. No sooner, he's back at school! Time flies.

So this week was really awesome, I'll start off with some Chinese cultural stuff first! So can anyone guess two of the Chinese' favorite things in the world? Tissues and Karaoke! Not what you expected? Haha. But for real, I thought it was just a ShaTin thing, but in every park, there are at least three or four people karaokeing and dancing. Mainly just the old women, while all the old men creepily just sit around and watch. It goes on here as well. Tons of it. So wherever you walk, you are within hearing distance of some old lady singing an old Chinese song. Kind of cool I guess. The other thing, tissues! the Chinese don't believe in napkins or paper towels, but everyone is carrying a pack of tissues at all times! We were finding on the pier and I was sweating a ton. I stopped and talked with this lady who took pity on me because I was so hot. She didn't really want to talk, but she gave me a pack of tissues. Charity in its finest! haha. but really, you use them a ton here. Just a couple things about Chinese culture. That's culture, right?

This is going to be a really short email, and I'm sorry, but time is short. All in all, things in WuhDihp are awesome. It has rained a ton, which has made finding people to teach tough, but nonetheless, we have a few new investigators. Nothing short of a miracle!

All is well in the land of Butterfly! Thanks for all the support and love from you guys. I couldn't keep doing this without it. I hope everyone learned something new from this email! Sorry no new news about the work! Until next week!

Elder Woodburn

Monday, June 17, 2013

June 17, 2013

How is everyone doing??? Seems like life is going great back at home for everyone! Big shout out to Logan and Baylee for getting their mission calls! Guatemala? Florida? What??? I have only been a missionary for about five months now, but I can honestly say it is a life changing experience. It continues to be, that's for sure!

So this week in Butterfly was tough. I think I mentioned this last week, but things are just in a different stage than my old area. We don't have a ton of investigators and the ones that we do have always fong ge fei gei (means left on the airplane, not sure why we as missionaries say that when we get stood up... haha) So we spent a lot of our time trying to make new friends and teach them. We also spent a ton of time visiting less actives and their families. Our bishop put a lot of emphasis on getting these people back to church. This week was the first time in my mission that we have knocked doors! Sounds funny, but it's true. Trying to visit less actives is a work in and of itself. First we head to their apartment building and try and convince the security guard to let us up. That can be tough sometimes. The funny thing is in America, we picture security guards to be these big tough dudes, but that isn't the case here. Most of the security guards here are old ladies, but they are still just as intimidating! Have you ever had an old Chinese woman yell at you, and you not understand a word she is saying??? Yeah, it's a thrill, that's for sure. haha. But we usually convince them to let us see our friends and we can go up. Most less actives aren't stoked to see us, but they usually let us in and we chat. I am so lucky that my companion is a bundai (native).  He knows at least 3 or 4 Chinese dialects and he used them all this week! We think of America as the world's melting pot, but HK is like the melting pot of China. I didn't even know all these dialects existed! So I was lucky that my comp is so knowledgeable! When he goes off in some strange language, I usually just try and smile and pretend I understand... An occasional laugh when they laugh usually does the trick. I'm probably not fooling anyone though, lets be honest. haha. Language is still a struggle, but its coming. I tried talking with this lady on the train and she just gave me a dumbfounded look. I asked her if she spoke Cantonese. Still just dumbfounded! I was really confused, so I asked Elder Fong if my tones were right. He said he understood what I was saying, its just that people here have no expectation of white people speaking Chinese. Just still trying! Another funny story happened this week too. Turns out the Cantonese words for "hungry" and "diarrhea" are the same, just with different tones. Yup.... I made that mistake this week.... That's all I will really say about that one... haha. Life of a missionary learning Chinese I guess.

We had an awesome fathers day activity at the church on Saturday. It was so much fun. None of our investigators came, but we had plenty of less active members there, so that was great to see. There was food and games, then a talent show. The missionaries in our district sang a couple primary songs. It was tons of fun. The cutest kid went after us, maybe 4 or 5 years old. He was carrying a hymn book, which I thought was sort of strange. He then proceeded to play "Redeemer of Israel" on the piano without a single mistake! Is that not insane??? I was in awe, along with the rest of the ward and missionaries!

Another week full of finding. It was rough because I think it rained almost everyday this week. Rain here is crazy. I haven't seen roads and sidewalks turn into little rivers the way they do here. Makes it kind of hard to stop and talk with people when the only thing they want to do is get out of the rain. But we try our best. Some people take pity on us and will talk, but not a ton. haha.

That's about it for the week. I wish I had more to say or tell you about, but it has just been a lot of hard work. No results yet, but those will come. I know they will. I am so lucky to have the family and friends that I do. Thanks for all your support, day in and day out!

Elder Woodburn

Welcome to Butterfly! June 10, 2013

Well this week has been jam-packed with changes. Transfers were earlier this week so I am no longer in ShaTin. I got moved to the New Territories! My new area is WuhDihp, which means Butterfly! My new companion is Elder Fong. He is a Hong Kong native who doesn't speak English... It has been quite an adjustment. He is awesome though. We both started our missions at the same time, so we are a really young companionship. Hopefully our time together will help my Chinese and him to learn a little English!

So my new are is really nice. The New T's are weird. By that I mean that they aren't stereotypical HK. It is a lot more forresty (that a word?) with huge buildings just coming out of the jungle. Butterfly is on the ocean, so we go to the pier to make new friends. It is beautiful! The salt in the air, the ocean breeze, and the sound of the waves make everything so much more pleasant in the heat of the Summer. I haven't been here for long, but I already love our area!

Since my companion is a native, that has resulted in a few funny things. His old companion forgot to update records before the transfer. So it was up to Elder Fong and I to get the job done. Its hard enough trying to record information about lessons and people when you weren't there, but this time it is even rougher. Elder Fong would tell me what he needed me to write down because he has almost no base in English. So I would listen to him explain the meetings and I would try and record what was important. This is all in Chinese may I remind you, so hopefully I got the gist of things. I wear many hats, and this week I was not only a missionary, but a translator! haha. Having Elder Fong is already helping my language a ton! He is a solid missionary. I have a ton to learn from him. He is a convert himself when he was a teenager. He is now 25! Serving a mission. Talk about an example!

Another thing that happened is there was a bit of a mishap when we had transfers. My suitcases wheels broke so we just ended up having to drag them to our new apartment. Turns out that will burn a whole in your bag pretty quick! I was unpacking and settling in when I noticed not only did my bags disintegrate, but a few white shirts as well! That's what P-days are for I guess. I am now in the market for some baggage and shirts... haha.

Our new apartment is really nice! Word in the mission is that it is one of the nicest apartments. We live on the 31st floor so we have quite the view. Luckily the air conditioner here works just fine, so no more miserable nights without it!

Butterfly is in a different stage of missionary work than in ShaTin. In Shatin, we always had people to meet with and teach. Not a ton, but enough that we stayed pretty busy. Here in Butterfly, the teaching pool is so small. That means that we spend almost our whole day out on the streets trying to meet new people. This can be exhausting, but it is also so rewarding. The last few days we haven't had a ton of luck trying to teach. One thing that does stick out is that even when people don't want to talk, they always make a remark about how happy we are. I think that's success. If people don't know anything else about our church other than that they have missionaries that are really happy, that is success. It can be hard, but smiles make all the difference.

All is well with all the changes that have taken place. There is a lot to do and a lot to learn. Hopefully by next week I will be able to tell you all about the people we meet!

Remember to always do the simple things. Little things lead to big things, whether positive or negative. Just some food for thought.

I think of you all often!

Elder Woodburn

Monday, June 3, 2013

June, already? June 3, 2013

Family and Friends!!! How is everyone? From what I hear, things are going great for everyone! Summer is always a lot of fun.

Summer in HK as a missionary is just a little different... Still fun, but I have never been this hot in my entire life. And according to our members, it is just going to get worse! It's a lot like a steam shower, only 24-7. Our AC broke for a day, so we had to sleep without it. Not much sleep that night... haha. But I'll quit complaining...

But it has been another great week in 沙田! The transfer is coming to a close this week. Elder Kho and I have had a great couple months. We have had 3 baptisms, which in Hong Kong is straight madness! We have really been working hard. But with all that success, there is a lot of rebuilding to do. Since we don't meet with Peter or Avis as consistently, we have had to do a lot more finding. Finding here is hard work, let me tell you. What is awesome though, especially for white people like me, is that the people here have no expectation of me being able to speak any Chinese! So while finding, I just try to spit out as much Cantonese as I know to get their attention. Surprisingly, it works really well. For only being in HK for 2 months, everyone here is taken back, which is a perfect time to explain why I am learning it. I have come a long way since April language wise. I was just noticing today how much I can pick up. Little stuff like understanding what someone on the bus is talking about makes me happy to realize I have progressed! My English is still good thankfully... haha, but I do notice as I write these emails that I have to consciously not use Chinese grammar... haha that's success. haha.

So besides all the finding that we have been doing, our investigator Harry has been doing great. What I love about Harry is that he always reads what we suggest. He even highlights his favorite parts! Isn't that cool? I think it is... haha. But Harry had the opportunity to come with us to a fireside in Kowloon Tong. It is where all the converts from the last few months come and share their conversion. Calla spoke and did a wonderful job! She is now in the ward's Primary presidency! But back to Harry... He just loved it. I had the opportunity to talk with him, and he talked about the feelings he had as everyone spoke. I tried to help him realize he is starting to recognize the Holy Ghost. He is on track to be baptized next month. We have total confidence in him staying on track. Harry is just a wonderful person, but different than the typical Hong Konger (is that what you call HK people?) He is really laid back and just does things he likes to do. He understands priorities and he never deviates from them. I have a ton of respect for him, especially in this aspect.

Avis and Peter where confirmed this week. It was a really cool experience for both of them. Elder Kho had the opportunity to confirm Peter. All around, it was another special day for them, that's for sure. I don't think I have ever been happier than when I see how much happier those two are now. It isn't just in the way they talk, but more in the way they look. It is hard to explain, but they are just totally new people. The gospel does that. It can make anyone happy knowing they now have a purpose. Missionary work is a happy work.

All is well in this part of the world! Twenty five(ish) new missionaries are flying into HK tomorrow. I am excited to meet them. All from good ole' Provo. The first weeks are extremely tough, so I am looking forward to being able to help empathize with them. It's hard, all around just different. But it's an adventure. Hopefully I can have a small impact on helping them adjust.

No food update, sorry! Only thing that is of note is we found the best Turkish Kabob place in the world. It is ridiculously delicious. Who would of thought? Come to HK, find great Turkish food. haha. They blast this weird hardcore Arabic rap music. A new genre to me... haha. Not in Kansas anymore, that's for sure.

I love you all. Your examples to me have been a great help. I couldn't do it without you. It's tough, but we all can do hard things! Until next week.


Elder Woodburn
胡 長 老