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.)
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.)
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.)
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.
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!