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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I Will Never Truly Leave

June 15, 2014

 

Who would’ve ever thought this place would be considered holy, but to me it is.  I remember my first day in Hong Kong…I thought I knew what missionary work was.  Then the sliding doors opened and this huge wall of humidity seemed to wipe away the easiness of being there and any thoughts that the next two years would be an easy ride disappeared.  Seriously that feeling of hitting that humidity was crazy, and an experience that I’ll remember forever.  (Elder Allen is used to heat but remember everyone in Arizona “it’s a DRY heat!”)   At that point I actually knew that I was finally serving a mission.  Man did I know nothing back then.  It is just incredible how much this city has taught me.  If God our Heavenly Father isn’t controlling His work here then I don’t have a single idea what is.  The miracles, the unexplained events, the people, just everything points to the fact that there is a God and He truly loves every one of us.  I’m sorry if these thoughts are random. I am reading it and I don’t understand what I am writing…it makes no sense.  But just trying to sum up the span of two years in one paragraph makes my mind go in a million different directions.

 

It will not be hard to remember my mission, not one bit.  In fact I feel like I’ve actually lived here longer than I have lived in America, and in a way that is just so true.  Sorry for all the random sentences.  I just can’t believe it’s over this week.  It’s too fast!  I had my “exit interview” with President Hawks this morning.  This was the first time in a very long time that I have even thought about what it will be like to be home.  He made me do it.  After a lot of talking, he asked,  “What’s next?” and I just started telling him my plans for the week and the people who are progressing this week and how to help them continue.  He stopped me and said that’s not what he meant and really… that’s the first time I had to say the inevitable.  What I will be doing in the near future is not hitting the streets finding or preparing for a meeting with the Stake President… it was stuff like going back to school.  I just can’t imagine being gone for two years.  What do you mean I haven’t been in Arizona for two years?  Already?! There is no way…I honestly feel like when I get back it will be May 24th, 2012, just a little day trip.  (Kyle entered the Provo MTC on May 23, 2012) I know a bunch of missionaries say this, but I mean it.  The expression goes “time flies when you are having fun” well if that’s the case the heat, the humidity, the investigators dropping, the anti, the finding all day, the weird eats, the mean culture, is just the most fun I’ve ever had.  Period.  And oh yeah, I haven’t even mentioned the thing called learning to speak Chinese!  Although this one feels like its been 3 years not 2.  Whatever the Cantonese did at the Tower of Babel was truly wicked….. (So happy to see that Elder Allen has not lost his sense of humor!)

 

This really just feels like another week.  And great things happen in the Lord’s service.  Hong Kong is a place of miracles.  Big miracles.  As long as the people want miracles they will happen.   Just some crazy things happened this week and the work, the area, and the zone are keeping up with this fast moving pace that has been coming around for the past couple of months.  I was on exchanges in Ma On Shan this week.  While finding,  Elder Dorman noticed there was a huge hole in his pocket and the phone was gone!  We retraced our steps, looked all around and everything, but a good 40 minutes passed by and nothing happened.  We went to sit down on a bench and evaluate what to do next.  The first thing to do was to pray, so we did.  Right after the prayer, this old shirtless man just walked up to us and said, “Hey is this your phone by chance?”  Just absolutely crazy!  We were not even close to the place where he found it or anything! He just happened to be walking by at the same time that we finished our prayer.  Well… evaluation over!  That’s it!  Plan A worked!  Plan B is not needed!  Tell me…how do you explain that, besides it being from the power of God?

 

It was a busy last Sunday here. The other ward had a baptism and we were put in charge of making sure the water was turned off the night before and checking to make sure the font had water in it for the 8:30 in the morning baptism. We checked at about 9:00 on Saturday night and the font was full!  Everything was good! But then at about 8 the next morning, the Sisters called us and told us there was no water in the tank!  None at all!  I’m sure it was plugged because we double-checked to make sure it was plugged, but something happened!  Well, we ran to the church and found it to be almost like a war zone or something. The font was on the highest pressure possible but it would definitely not be enough for the ceremony 30 minutes later.  The bishopric and missionaries made a row just passing buckets from the bathroom to the font.  It was hot and sweaty and there was just water everywhere!  However, we got it done! The person being baptized didn’t even notice (she was waiting for a friend to get there).  Great teamwork from everyone!

 

Church then was just crazy miraculous!  We have been working with Sister Ko for quite awhile now, and so have 2 other sets of missionaries.  Both of the other sets of missionaries dropped her because they thought she had no potential.  No, no, no!  These weeks of going over to their house was all worth it in the end!  For the first time this week she came to church!  It was just so rewarding!  We have worked hard with both Brother and Sister Ko and it was just so awesome to see them together at church.  We were so surprised when she showed up!  The night before she had been at the ward party and we thought that was good.  It seemed good for her to see the church and look around, but the Lord has other ideas. She came and from what I hear she liked it!  She is already friendly with some of the members from going over to their house, but this was just another level!  It is so awesome!  Sister Ko is going to be baptized.  I don’t know when, but it will happen.

 

Another crazy thing happened at church.  So last transfer the Stake President’s daughter introduced us to her friend.  At the end of the first meeting, I felt like just forgetting about that lesson and moving on.  He (his name is A-King) just had zero interest, worked in a pretty high position at another church, and didn’t even give us his phone number.  Well, we are in Sacrament Meeting and I see someone and at first I have no idea who it is, I just know that I’ve seen him before.  Well turns out it’s him!  In a white shirt and tie!  He stayed for all three hours (had to get the day off of work to do it) and wanted to meet with us after!  Turns out he has read everyday since that meeting and has read until Alma Chapter 19!  What?!   Are you serious?!  We beg for people to read just 5 minutes a day, literally beg, but he, who had no interest in ever seeing us again, sees us again and has read SEVERAL CHAPTERS A NIGHT!  A-King – I will never forget that first lesson! I’m not sure how it happened, but it did!  We didn’t have a lesson plan (because we had no idea he’d be there!) but since he has read the Book of Mormon, we could’ve gone 10,000 different ways.  He was telling us how the Book of Mormon supports the Bible and clarifies it!  When I tell that to most people, they don’t even have the slightest idea of what I’m talking about!  Just a great day!

 

Chau Sung Mou is doing great as well!  This week was the big lesson for him – the Word of Wisdom – and he scheduled us right at the last minute so we didn’t have a member with us.  However, the lesson was great!  He has already heard the Word of Wisdom from his member fellowshipper and is quitting smoking for good!  He used to smoke a pack a day and already he is down to 1 pack every 3 days! Some improvement there!  He has cut back on tea as well.  He is barely drinking any tea!  He is just so awesome! Definitely one of my favorite investigators I’ve ever taught.  He is in mainland until after I leave, so saying good-bye was pretty sad, but it’s not the end!  His faith is great and we will see each other again.  Someday…

 

Faith is an excellent thing. If we want the same faith, with the same results, then we do the same things.  If we want different faith, we do different things and if those things are good, our faith will start to grow within us.  Faith is just so awesome.  I learned more about faith from recently reading Alma 32 than I have reading it repeatedly over these past 2 years.  This is an amazing city and although I will physically leave, I won’t ever truly leave.  There is no chance under heaven that I will ever truly leave.  My heart is here, with the members, with the nonmembers, and most importantly, my heart is with a loving Savior who made a great and infinite sacrifice for every single one of us.  He will continue to pour greater blessings in Hong Kong, I’m just sad I won’t personally see them!

 

I love you all.  See you Friday.  Have Burger House ready.  (The Burger House is a little place in Miami, Arizona – on the way to Thatcher – that has delicious bean and cheese burritos.  I guess their burgers are pretty good too but I can never bring myself to order anything but the mexican food.  I guess Kyle feels the same way.)  Or anything Mexican.  Oh how I miss Mexican food, but mostly Burger House.  You are the best and remember that a mission is a family affair! You are ending something too, but we are all starting something together!

 

Elder Au Yeung Yat Fei

I asked Elder Kyle to send me a picture of Brother Chan, the man he admires so much as a great missionary, leader and teacher.  I thought it was fitting that this is the last thing that will appear on this blog that came in an email from Hong Kong.  This man has inspired my son to be a great missionary and to continue to do missionary work even when that is not his full-time calling.  I know Kyle will be forever grateful to him for being an example of the hard-work, diligence, enthusiasm, faith and creativity necessary to accomplish the Lord’s work.  I don’t know him but I am grateful to him as well.  He has inspired my son to be a better person, a better leader and a life-long servant of the Lord.  That’s what it is all about.  Thank you Brother Chan from the bottom of my heart!

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Brother Chan, a member of the ward named Johnny, Elder Brown and Elder Allen

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I Could Do this Forever

June 8, 2014

 What an awesome week!  And now it’s on to the last full week. I’m just saying that because I don’t know really what else to say here. It doesn’t feel different at all.  Not one tiny bit.  I could do this forever…and probably will.  This is just the best thing to be doing.  Ever.  This week I really did find myself just thinking, studying, and just having my mind wrapped around the concept of the importance of teaching. What a great responsibility it is!  The best leaders in the world are the ones who teach others how to be better than them and to be more like the Savior (I mean teaching in the church anyway.)  It is just an awesome responsibility that I really do in cherish in my heart.  It is just so fun seeing an investigator walk up to meet you, then go sit down for a lesson.  There is just no feeling like it.  It really gets me excited! The only thing is just keeping that excitement for the whole time!  I can’t wait to get back out to work!

 

This has been a pretty eventful week.  I went to Mission Leadership Council and had to get everything ready for zone training meeting after that!  So it was just a go, go, go type of week.  Both meetings were excellent!  I think everyone enjoyed zone training meeting and everyone, especially myself, had a new resolve to go out there and work a little harder and be a little more efficient. The mission encouraged us to make line charts to see how the different zones are doing in key indicators from month to month, starting last December.  It’s really quite amazing and I’m glad we did it!  Often times we think our progress is slow and has many setbacks, but over the last 6 months the numbers have gotten better!  A lot too! The whole mission is just steadily increasing right now and it’s amazing!   No other word to describe it.  At some point between February and March, when the mission was really focusing on unity towards achieving tremendously high goals for the future, is when the missionaries just exploded!  It is so awesome to be even a small part of it. Anyway, I’ve talked too long on a thing that probably doesn’t even make sense!  Oh well….

 

We had an awesome week.  I truly think the things going on here are awesome. We had a less active become fully activated again so that was awesome!  This ward is just the best at fellowshipping, especially less actives.  It starts with Brother Chan, the Ward Mission Leader. As soon as a less active comes in, he has someone ready to wave to them or even get up from where they are sitting and move to sit with the person that came.  It is just awesome.  Going to church on Sunday and not having to really worry about how the people who are going to come “fit in” with the ward is a big relief for me.  I am a stressful person so when; a) you don’t know who is going to come and b) you don’t know how they are going to feel when they come, it stresses me out!  But Sha Tin is on top of it!  Along with Chan Lim Kuk (the fully returned to activity member) we also had Ava come!  We have been really trying to work hard on getting Ava to come and she finally mustered up the courage to ask her boss for Sundays off!  I think the change came through the simple acts of service and the willingness to go and help her out when she needs it (even though her house is not in a convenient location and that’s saying something if it’s in Hong Kong.)  Well anyway, she asked her boss and miracles followed!  She got yesterday off, next week off, and 3 Sundays in July off! The ward members (especially the Bishop who is her home teacher) were very excited to see her.  She hadn’t been to church in like 1.5 months.  We have another really great week planned.  Ava will bring Bonnie (she was supposed to come this week but “was too tired”) and we already have some less actives planning to come!  It’s going to be another great week!  Brother Ko, the “recently-returned-to-activity” member taught Gospel Essentials class for the second time straight!  We visited them last week and his wife is doing better!  Her interest is growing!  It’s just that Christianity is so new to her, but he will do good things for them!  We invited them to start reading the Book of Mormon together.

 

We got to church yesterday and to our surprise, an investigator who we hadn’t seen in well over a month was there with his son!  We thought they were long gone from meeting with us again!  We even ran into his son while finding this week.  He was with his friends and didn’t even acknowledge that he knew us, and then all of the sudden the family is back in the ball game!  It was a crazy miracle!  As soon as sacrament meeting ended he went up to all the members he knows and started talking to them.  It was super crazy!  It could be nothing but the power of the Holy Ghost that is leading him back to church!  We have been trying to call him but after like a month of him not answering we stopped trying.  And then a couple of weeks later Michael Yau is back!  I can’t wait to start meeting with him again!  He is great!  Awesome miracle.

 

After getting confirmed last week Karen is doing super!  There was only one problem – the whole week she wasn’t answering the phone! We knew she was busy with testing this week but she has never not answered Tiffany’s phone calls or ours.  We were admittedly a little worried and then Sacrament Meeting started and she wasn’t there. But then about 10 minutes after the meeting started she came and to our surprise again, she brought her friend that came to her baptism!  She is just like a portable miracle machine!  Everywhere around her there are miracles!  After talking with her she actually did talk to Tiffany (the member) and everything was normal!  Missionaries I guess are just not in the loop!  Oh well!  Her friend has super good interest!  She will definitely get baptized in the near future.  Her name is Cherry and the lesson I think helped Karen a lot.  Karen always was comfortable at the surface, but Cherry was asking her pretty deep questions about her conversion and why she did it.  It really made Karen think harder and the outcome was just awesome!  Both were strengthened!  They are going to do great things together!  The ward really likes Karen.  They already asked her to speak in Sacrament Meeting…next month!  On July 20th!  Not even 2 months after being baptized and she is speaking!  It’s like jury duty or something! You get baptized and right away you are doing things!  I like it…

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Elder Brown, Elder Allen, Karen and her friend Cherry after finding out Karen had to speak in church! 

Have a great week everyone.  The gospel is happiness.  That is it.  I am happy.  Happier than ever before and it just grows.  I don’t know why but it is.  I love you all and have a great week! 

 

Elder Au Yeung

 

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Elder Allen and his good friend Elder Howell from “down the road.”


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The Dragon Boat Festival

June 1, 2014

Well today is just an awesome day to be in Sha Tin.  Well, an awesome week.  No an awesome year, and today is a big part of the reason.  Today is Dragon Boat Festival everybody!!! (Eating balls of sticky rice called zongzi, drinking realgar wine and racing dragon boats are the main ways the Chinese celebrate the Dragon Boat Festival. Here is a link to a Wall Street Journal article about this year’s festival.)

http://blogs.wsj.com/chinarealtime/2014/06/02/china-celebrates-dragon-boat-festival/#slide/1

It’s like the one holiday where Chinese people come together and streets are blocked off (you know it’s big if that happens) and they celebrate together!  For what?!  Who knows? (According to my online sources, the festival commemorates the death of the Chinese poet and minister Qu Yuan. Qu was a member of the Chinese royal house in the ancient state of Chu but was banished when he opposed the king’s decision to ally with the powerful state of Qin. While in exile he wrote a great deal of poetry. Twenty-eight years later when Qin captured the capital of Chu, Qu Yuan committed suicide by drowning himself in the Miluo River. The legend says that the local people then rushed out in their boats to save him or at least to retrieve his body. This is the origin of the dragon boat races. When the locals could not find him, they dropped balls of sticky rice into the lake to feed the fish and keep them from eating his body. This is the origin of eating zongzi.)  It probably has something to do with the lunar calendar and some Chinese dynasty. That’s where all Chinese holidays come from.  But anyway, after studies today we went and watched the end of people racing in dragon boats. It’s basically like canoes that are shaped like dragons! (Here are some pictures of the boat races that Kyle included in his email.)

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We were some of the lucky missionaries since by the time other people had to travel to Sha Tin to see the races, they were already over!  It was a good time and I took lots of pictures!  It was super awesome to watch! I mean not the most exciting thing, but it’s the closest thing to like a 4th of July parade that they do here! It was something that I have never experienced here! It really is a big deal! It’s one of the bigger holidays! We celebrate by eating things called rice dumplings. (That must be the zongzi. Here are some pictures I found online of them.)

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They are disgusting. That’s basically it!

Just another great week! Brother Chan is the best person ever!  He organized this activity where ward members come and we go visit the less active young single adults of the church.  Some of these people are very special to him!  One of the people we visited was someone who persevered through the SARS outbreak.  (The SARS – Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome – outbreak occurred between November 2002 and June 2003 in Hong Kong and was most severe during March of 2003. It resulted in 8,273 cases of SARS and 775 deaths. Despite quarantines and travel restrictions SARS spread to 37 countries as a result of this outbreak.) No church meetings, temple, or anything was taking place in Hong Kong, but she still wanted to make her date and be baptized.  Brother Chan said the circumstances were very scary and there were only like 6 or 7 people at the baptism.  The missionaries, the girl getting baptized, the bishop, and Brother Chan and like 2 other people.  Pretty scary time SARS was, so it must have been a big sacrifice to go outside during that time to attend a baptism.  He says it was one of the best times ever.  Well, we visited her but nothing happened.. yet.  The activity itself was excellent.  About 8 people came to go with the missionaries including the bishop and even less- actives!!  That was probably the best part.  The less-actives came to the activity whose purpose is to visit the less-actives! If that isn’t as productive as a church activity can be then I don’t know what is!

Some amazing experiences happened during it as well.  We missed visiting a name on our list while in this one area. We had already visited another less active in the same building, but somehow didn’t see that this person was in the same building.  We debated whether or not to go and visit her because time was really short.  Well we decided to just go for it.  We ran back to the building and got in the elevator.  There was another person that got in after us.  When I saw that she was going to the same level that we were going to I just knew it was this less active.  I don’t know why but I did!  And I think Brother Wong (my companion at the time) did too. We got out of the elevator and it was a little awkward when we stopped at the same door as this woman!  It was great though!  She was very nice and said that right now wouldn’t be the best time, but she scheduled us for tomorrow when her husband and son both have work off!  It was a great miracle!  But then at church, people got up and bore their testimonies about this activity (it really was an excellent activity) and I guess this same kind of experience happened 2 other times with different missionaries!  Crazy things happen when the ward unites for missionary activities!  I didn’t even know about those two other experiences until Sunday! No one came home and said any cool stories about it ! One of the people in the elevator asked, “Oh are you Chan Yue Sang’s people? (That is Brother Chan’s full name)  What a great man!

Karen got confirmed this week as well!  I’m surprised about how well she knows the ward and how well the ward knows her!  I wasn’t expecting that!  Even better is that she said these coming weeks she will start bringing her brother and her friend (the one that came to the baptismal service) more often to church!  She said they would’ve come this week, but they were in mainland for Dragon Boat Festival.  We saw her this week and she opened up a lot telling about how she was “antied” the first time around by her teachers at school so she never replied to Tiffany but then she said something “just made [her] want to try it again for [her]self.”  She said how she basically already knew the church wasn’t those nasty things her teacher was saying and so she wanted to see how it actually was and just never looked back since! It’s an awesome time for her! This past week was the first time she’s ever really talked for a long time and shared stories in detail. Before we would just ask question after question, waiting for something like this to happen and it finally did!  Right when we stopped asking questions!  Church was a little weak because of the holiday, but something else great happened!  Brother Ko, the recently returned to activity member, taught Gospel Essentials class yesterday!  It was so awesome!  He is doing well and we are visiting his family tonight!  I just hope Sister Ko is gaining an interest in church.  It would be hard coming from her background to being a devoted Christian right away, but I can totally see it!  She is totally ready for the gospel!

We really have had some great things happen with less-actives lately.  We have been running into a bunch just on the street and stuff like that!  It’s amazing how one run-in on the street or one phone call makes such a big difference!  After that they just start coming to church!  During the less-active activity we ran into and visited a less-active and her family and she came to church. Another said that they will come this week!  One day we were finding in Fo Tan.  It’s known for its factories etc. so not too much goes on at nighttime, however the Spirit led us there at nighttime!  It was starting to get late, when Ava Lau, the less active called. She lives in Fo Tan and was panicking for some reason.  Turned out she called a lot of people but no one could help her finish putting together this table that she bought.  If we were anywhere besides Fo Tan it probably would’ve been too late to go, so luckily we were where we needed to be!  We got there and the place was kinda a mess, but we helped her get through it.  I can’t believe she told me to drill holes in her wall. I’ve never ever handled a power drill before.

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Luckily everything turned out okay, we finished the table, and got home on time (with some running involved). The best thing is that her daughter and neighbor where there. Ava is really pushing for work off on Sundays and her company pretty much agreed to it! She has next week off and 3 weeks in July off! It’s great so hopefully she can get more! She told her daughter that they are going to church together!

The investigators are doing great!  We found 7 new investigators in a single day!  That’s a crazy amount!  The best thing was, they are all member referrals!  We didn’t do a single thing!  They all came to English class and the members wanted us to teach them so we gladly did!  They do have potential but once again, Dragon Boat Festival interfered so they were busy.  Elder Brown and I were talking and they really do have good potential since they are member referrals!  They are coming to English class (most have been twice already) so its good so far!

Have an awesome week! This is the best time to be serving here. There is no doubt in my mind! This is the Lord’s work. How else would all these things happen? And if this is the Lord’s work, it must mean that this is His church. He wouldn’t guide evil people to find these people that are ready to come unto Him.  I love you all and have a great week!

Elder Allen

 

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