Elder Kyle M. Allen in Hong Kong

Read all about Elder Allen's adventures as a full time missionary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Saints in Hong Kong

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September 5, 2013

Well the work keeps on moving forward in a very, very, wet Hong Kong.  This past week has been nothing but wet, wet, and wet.  I need to send a picture of my shoes.  Last year I had trouble asking for anything for Christmas but this year it’s just one thing.  Shoes.  Every time I step in a puddle my shoes are just like instantly soaked.  I don’t even get the logic behind how fast they get wet.  The bottoms of these bad boys have many a mile on them.  Too many.  This week it got to the point where I can touch my sock through like the side/bottom angle.  It’s awesome.  I love them.  Just keep walking and teaching!  So this week I decided to take my P-Day on Thursday just to celebrate the game against the all and powerful Sacramento State.  I haven’t got a (Sun Devil Football) calendar this year… I don’t know whom they play week to week!  But I think it’s Sacramento State.  (He was right; the Sun Devils played Sacramento State on Thursday, September 5.)   Where to tailgate though!?!   (Kyle is referring to the fact that ASU sold the parking lot where we have always had our tailgate parties to a developer so we were wondering at the time where we would have our tailgate parties before the game.)  That’s the question I hear.  Good luck with that one!

This week you can mark two more things that I have eaten, Conch and Dried Fish Maw. To be honest I’m not sure what either of these are.   I’ve only heard of Conch because Sponge Bob uses a conch as his cell phone!!!  Ha-ha!  And the maw of a fish???  I don’t know… but whatever it is, it’s supposed to make my skin go bubbly.  The Chinese were super excited about it.  Neither one was very bad actually.  (Well I looked them up and conch is just what you think it is.  The insides of one of these conch shells.

Large shell with flared lip, viewed facing the opening, which is glossy and tinted with shades of pink and apricot

Kyle doesn’t say how his conch was served but apparently the Chinese like to prepare it stir-fried with a variety of vegetables. Looking for new dinner ideas? A recipe for this particular dish called “Conch with Pepper and Yamaimo Stir-fry” can be found here.

Fish Maw is an internal gas-filled organ found in most fish.  It is an air bladder which regulates water and oxygen flow so that the fish can ascend and descend in the water.   It is an excellent source of collagen, the main component of your connective tissue.  This means it is in your skin, tendons, ligaments, cartilage, bones and blood vessels. When you buy it dried (and you can buy it dried at Amazon.com – 100g for $19.84) you wash it and soak it for at least 4 hours (overnight is best) until it regains its soft, slippery texture.  When it is cooked it takes on the flavor of the surrounding ingredients within just a few minutes.  As a result it is considered a “texture” ingredient instead of a “flavor” ingredient. It is relatively expensive and thought of as a “luxury” item in Chinese cooking.   I knew you would want one so here is a recipe for Dried Fish Maw. (See picture below). Are you hungry yet?

This week was mission leadership council meeting and so Sister Hawks made homemade food.  For the first time in these 13 months or so I had a homemade green salad.  It was manna to the taste.  Kidding.  It was like mom’s dinner.  Oh that was so good.  Everything this week went okay.  Oh the real reason is obviously I went to the temple.  It’s good and all.  No new movie though.  I hear there is a new movie.

So I don’t know what I was thinking about last week when I was emailing but as soon as I got off I totally remembered about this crazy event that happened here last week.  I went to a pop concert!  It’s only my second one ever – and it was on my mission!  President Hawks said that us missionaries could go because the group (they are named Beyond 5 check them out) stands for good music and righteous living.  They make their own good music to inspire people in a good way. They were going around all of Asia performing at youth conferences  (4 out of the 5 band members are LDS) and such.  Well we got asked to do security for them.  Our missionary goal was to get as many contacts as possible to teach these people what the performers believe.  I just couldn’t believe we were allowed to go!  I think it was a success.  Only certain missionaries were allowed to go so it was a big privilege.

This week some funny things happened, along with being busy and wet.  For instance we picked up a new companion on Monday just for a day.  I’ll send a picture of him next week, but I didn’t bring my camera because we didn’t have an umbrella and so we were just getting soaked!  But anyway he was here from Monday to Wednesday because he needed to go the temple for his endowments!  He’s an Indian fellow that has already been serving a mission for about 3 months over there!  He says they average like 23 member presents and 5 baptisms a month over there every month!  Remarkable.  Anyway.  I thought it was going to be a big blessing to see how others worked and we were going out to lunch with a member after we helped give his Dad a blessing.  Well it turned out to be quite the experience… I have narrowed it to some quotes (to be done in an Indian voice)

1.  “How can I eat these noodles with these two pencils?”

2. “Where is the chicken that I can just grab and tear to pieces?”

3.  “I will NOT drink this water.”  (They serve hot water here – It’s supposed to be healthier…anyway there is no cold water anywhere here.)

4.  “Where is a Coke or a Mountain Dew man?  I will only drink something like that.”

4.  “How can you eat this crap?” (after 5 minutes)

Oh boy…. good thing the members weren’t good at English…. that was rough…

Anyway the business continues. I don’t feel like I’ve had a day off in 17 days!!!!  Today maybe.  We have to do a STAKE coordination meeting.  So like missionaries talk about their investigators, less actives, and recent converts in their wards right?  Well along with our own that we have to do like everyone else’s at a stake meeting!!!!!!!!!!! Its crazy! It’s tonight.  The problem is (and I shall welcome this problem any day) that we’ve been too busy teaching to have enough time to prepare!!!!  Let me tell you about my week…

This week was just another big blessing for us. For starters, A-Hung passed his baptismal interview yesterday!  We are very excited and if no problems come up everything will happen on Sunday.  He is very dependable and solid.  We had a lesson with him last week that really opened his heart to want to repent and talk more with us about repentance.  Ever since he told us some of the things that have happened to him in the past like having to spend just a couple months in jail 15 years ago, he has been more open and willing to just work with us.  He is a great man that wants to change and I have seen the Spirit change him. He went from never attending any church to coming to church every week for these past 8 weeks in a row. He was very sick on Sunday but stayed for the first two hours and then half of Sacrament Meeting.

The Ng Family came to church again!  We were so excited to see that.  The members that are helping them out are doing such an amazing job.  They even went out for ice cream last Saturday night just to talk and make sure they came to church on Sunday.  I think though for their dad to have more interest in the gospel his friend Rex has to sacrifice work time and go to church.  That’s how they were introduced to the church, through Rex and his wife.  We went and visited Rex and Erica (his wife) this past week at their request. They are a wonderful family.  Solid.  Cindy, Ben, and A-Po Ng love them both so things are off to a slow but good start with them.

Steven is doing well and looking well to be baptized on the 29th of this month.  The only problem is that he doesn’t have a strong fellowshipper in the ward since it is very hard to schedule him the night before or anything like that.  That is our top priority besides A-Hung’s baptism.  This past two weeks have been such a miracle with all these people and more that only time prevents me from speaking about them.

Another great miracle is Or Lan and Emily.  We went over to visit her on Friday and when we got there we met her previous church’s representatives.  We just sat down on the couch while they were at the table because the two representatives said they were talking to her.  Well they left without like acknowledging us or anything.  I heard them tell her “you should just come this week to our church.  It’s much closer for you which is important since your leg is bad and all.”  Well we had the best lesson with Or Lan and she is doing wonderfully in her calling as the Relief Society Secretary.  Apparently, they’ve already had some meetings besides those on Sunday and she attends them all.  She is great and the ward just loves them two.  Her testimony of the Book of Mormon and living prophets is one of power.

That is all for this week.  I have more stories but I thought I might share them with you this next week.  I love you all!  It’s game day!!!!!  The Atonement is real and it shows us the example of true forgiveness from all people.  Repentance.  That is the whole purpose of Christ’s mission right?  I love you all.  Keep your spirits up. Thanks for the support.  My back is okay… but the pain has moved to my butt.  If I stretch it wrong it feels like a piece of lightning is up there.  Well I’ll talk to you on Monday.  You bet I’m sporting my Maroon tie today!

Elder Allen


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My Aching Back

August 26, 2013

Well this week was such an excellent week for the Cheung Sha Wan Ward.  Just seriously, miracle after miracle.  However last night we finished doing numbers really late (ask a returned missionary they’ll know what it means) and so both me and Elder Liu had to take a shower and get to bed in a matter of like 10 minutes.  Well I was the second one to shower and it was like 10:56 and I was getting out of the shower (had a towel on of course) and when I stepped out I just hit the floor like there was no floor.  If that doesn’t make sense I slipped and my kidney/ hipbone took the brunt of it by hitting the bottom of the shower door – you know like on sliding doors the metal part that keeps the door in place?   Ya…. Well I couldn’t sleep last night because I just couldn’t find a good position but it seems to be getting a little better…. slowly…. like it was a hard fall everybody!  And I can’t walk without it hurting but who cares…. that’s not going to stop me…. I still made it to bed on time!   Ha-ha…. that was pretty funny… but I’m fine!   Just very sore today! It’s not as bad as my ankle (Kyle twisted his ankle playing basketball earlier in his mission.)  I don’t think… no, not as bad!  Okay well…. there must be opposition in all things and I think that was like the only thing that happened this week that was bad!  If that’s all the opposition is the I will funyihng it (welcome it!) I took a picture and I’ll send it next week.  The bruise today isn’t as bad…but as of right now I can’t run or jump.  Am I becoming an old man this fast?

 So we are just working our tails off these past few weeks.  We have had so little of time to do anything like finding but I think that’s a good thing right?  We are just teaching lesson after lesson.  It’s just such a blessing what’s been happening these past few weeks.  On Friday we had a half of an hour to go finding and for the first (and maybe only time) I felt really rusty doing it!  Both Elder Liu and I just didn’t know what to say.  But that’s okay.  Maybe things will settle down this week.  I can’t believe college football is already starting!  That is amazing! 

 No new news on the things I’ve eaten list.  I couldn’t have imagined that the list would be as big as it is.  But you never know what Hong Kong has up its sleeve.  No major typhoon.  No major rainstorm.  Pretty quiet on those fronts.  But on a side note, Settlers of Catan (a board game) is a missionary favorite over here.  I’m starting to get really good at it so you all better watch out.  Anyway… enough of that talk.  It sounds like everyone is doing really well back home which makes for one motivated happy missionary.  Sad to see Phyl come home but I’m sure he’ll do many great things at home.  (Kyle’s good friend Phyllip Curtis had to come home from his mission to Colombia and Los Angeles early because of his diagnosis with a chronic illness.)  Also I listened to a top 50 BYU talk by Jeffery R. Holland about loyalty.  Well…the whole reason why he talked about it was because in 1985 the BYU fans booed their quarterback and the great Beano Cook called it “the most disgraceful event of the college football season.”  He talked for a whole half of an hour! Basically if you boo your own team you have no loyalty at all to anything.  At least that’s the gist of it all.   Good words from him as the football season starts. He says, “Even the Pharisees didn’t boo other Pharisees.”

 As for my companion and I, we are doing excellent.  We are very busy and we love what we are doing.  I love this area and the people we are working with and getting them to become converted to the gospel and the Atonement.  We are seeing miracles and everyday we are stopping doing the little things that could be holding us back so bit by bit we are seeing all the miracles that come from being more and more obedient. We still have some things to work on but I really find a joy of knowing that something is wrong, fixing it, and seeing the blessings that come from that process.  I love working hard and staying busy.  (And I love hearing him say things like this!)

 This weekend seemed like one giant miracle to me.  It was just small thing after small thing that kept on leading to being happier and happier.  First it started with a less active named Alex.  Another Elder ran into him on the MTR one day a couple of weeks ago.  Well we haven’t been the best at calling him and when we did call him he didn’t answer.  But this time, he was very willing to talk to us and sounded very excited to meet us.  After that, we ran into him at an MTR station while we were going to another appointment!  He actually talked to us first because I had no idea what he looked like.  We had a good conversation with him, and then we had to say goodbye but we visited him the next day and he came to church for the first time in years yesterday.  When he bumped into us he even asked, “Do you think that God planned this and wants us to meet again?”  Wow that’s what I call a really cool story.  It’s nothing that we did either – its just following the spirit and being obedient.

We had a very rewarding day at church yesterday.  Erica Lee is a member in our ward and she brought her family friends to the primary activity and then to church.  For the first time in my whole mission we had a full family at church.  We taught them and the mom seems interested.  The dad didn’t sit in on the lesson, but the 2 sons Ben and A-Bo loved Young Men’s and Primary.  They are already friends with some of the people in the ward and played basketball with them today.  They seem pretty good and although it’s just a start, I’m excited to see what these next couple of weeks has in store for that family.  It’s weird though, both the parents really enjoyed church and even asked to read some of the scriptures in the classes.  They sang the hymns like normal but then we just don’t know why they weren’t as receptive to sitting down with us as we thought they would be.  But right now everything is fine and they rescheduled. They are friends with Erica because Erica’s husband and the father (A-Leung) are co-workers.  Erica’s husband, Rex, is less-active because of his work schedule so we have the faith that this will go well and help everyone involved.

 A-Hung is doing great.  His phone is constantly off but he shows up to all the appointments.  There is still a couple of things to teach him this week but he has a baptismal interview scheduled for Saturday.  We are very excited.  He has met a lot of members recently and every day for about 3 or 4 weeks now has made significant progress in the Book of Mormon.  Right now he is in the middle of Second Nephi.  A-Hung brings me a lot of joy and shows me an example of what being dependable and trustworthy means. When he says he’ll stop drinking tea, he’ll stop drinking tea. When he says he’ll read every night, I have the faith that he’ll read every night.

 Steven Lau is also in the middle of second Nephi and doing well.  The only problem is he wanted to check out other wards in Hong Kong.  He studied Mandarin as his major and so went to the Mandarin Branch yesterday.  We had no idea and I was shocked to get his phone call saying that he made his way to the Wan Chai church and he was about to go into the meeting.  I thought it might have been a problem because I was afraid he would go there instead of his home branch, but after church he called me and said that he didn’t feel as comfortable there as he did in Kowloon Tong and he was going to Kowloon Tong from now on.  He then apologized which shocked me again, and I reassured him that he didn’t have to do that.  I like Steven a lot.  He is a man of integrity.

 That’s is all the main stories for the week.  Time is cut a little short here.  I am the happiest I’ve ever been. I’m experiencing the greatest blessings right now…. all because of others.  Keeping commitments, coming to church, having an open heart.  It’s just an awesome time.  Broken back and all!  I love you thanks for all your support!  Have a good week! Don’t worry about me here!  Know that I have a smile on!  (Kyle doesn’t know this but I had been especially concerned about his happiness this particular week and having him say this at the end of his letter was an answer to my prayers.)

 Elder Allen