About Us

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Navigating our Lives

Another great week as we navigate our lives through the difficulties and challenges, the back and forth, and the good and bad of missionary life. Some weeks are long but the days are short, yet other weeks are short but the days are long. None the less, at the end of each week we reflect and realize that the sum of the whole is a positive and productive experience. Each week seems to come attached with lessons learned and blessings recognized.

The work in the office seems so much the same each week that it is redundant to continue to write about it. But, it is what we do to move the work forward,  and seems to be agreeable to Heavenly Father because he continues to shower down blessings to us and our family.

We are continuing to get closer to implementing the CRM that will help the efficiency and consistency of the PA work here. We have much better communication with Salt Lake and can feel their commitment to the project. We hope to have it in place by the end of the year so that we will have time to train those that will be using it. If we can have January through March to implement and train, we believe that would be adequate for our purpose.

We (Karen) continues to publish a newsletter multiple times during the week containing news articles relating to information requested by the Area Presidency. I have encouraged her to include the baseball scores, particularly the Rockies, because I know that Elder Funk has a interest in that team’s success. I have not been able to convince her yet of the relevance but still have until the end of the month before the season ends.

We attended our weekly meeting with Paul Hansen, the Area Director of Temporal Affairs, and other Welfare Correlation Council members, including Humanitarian, Legal, and Financial representation. I can only share that we are active in helping the temporal needs of many in this part of the world. Karen and I are blessed to serve in an assignment that allows us to be aware of the good work that the offerings of the members of our Church are sustaining.

This week two of the Sisters in our Branch will be receiving their personal endowments. Although Sister Beckstead and I have enjoyed many hours in the Temple while serving here, this will be a first for us. We have not personally known any of those we have seen realize personal Temple blessings, so this week will be very special.

We attended a concert sponsored by the National Public Affairs Council featuring the Choir, “Songs of the Heart”. Those that participate in the Choir are church members from different Stakes here in Hong Kong. It was held in a very nice auditorium in Tsuen Wan. I would estimate two-hundred or more members attended and I must admit it was a very enjoyable and entertaining evening. The Choir has been performing together for twenty years and this was their last performance. In addition to the Choir singing there were performances by musicians and soloists. We were able to see a lot of old and new friends at the concert including Sheldon Poon.

We met with the other Senior Couples this week for a grand buffet at the Hopewell Center and feasted well beyond what our bodies have become accustomed too. It would not be an exaggeration to admit that the hour spent feasting led to more than twice or even three times that amount of time spent in our bodies recuperating. A good lesson on the concept of keeping desires and passions within certain bounds.

Our home away from home.  We love serving here in the Asia Area Office.     We love the people we serve with.  The Church Employees and all the other missionary couples are really fun people.

We've talked about Annie Wong before.  She is the Assistant Director of Public Affairs for the Asia Area.  We love working with Annie and consider her a wonderful life long friend.   For the first 3 months of our mission the position for a PA Director hadn't been filled.  During those 3 months we and Annie had to just wing it and figure things out!  Looking back,  it was fun.  Now we look back on things that happened during that time and we all just laugh!

Elder Jenson (left) serves in the Every Day Branch here in Hong Kong.  He has Church,  attends all    the block meetings,  and all  associated meetings and responsibilities every Tuesday through Saturday, every week.   Elder Thong (right) is the Auditor for the Asia Area,  a huge job!  These 3 guys love to hang out and have a good time!

Last Monday we went with all the other Senior Missionary Couples to have lunch at the Hopewell Center's Revolving Restaurant,  The Grand Buffet.  It had lots of American food and was delicious !  Lots of "every" kind of food,  but believe me,  I was only interested in the American food!  The restaurant is on the 62nd floor.  The view was great,  the food was great,  and the company was wonderful!

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Looking Back Over the Years

This week was another great week, typical of the past weeks we have experienced serving as Senior Missionaries in Hong Kong. I look back over the years and reflect upon how Karen and I would talk about someday serving a mission together and what I thought we would experience together as Missionaries. I naively thought we would experience a lot of the same of what I experienced as a nineteen-year-old Elder. After all, up until the time of my release, my Missionary service was the best two years for (not of) my life that I had lived.

I am embarrassed, now that we have served together close to a year, to admit that I could have thought it would have been the same in any way.

My first Mission is the time in my life when I developed the beginnings of a Testimony or the, “Light of Christ within us”. I gained a greater knowledge of the Gospel through learning, memorizing, and teaching lessons, reading the scriptures every day, and praying for help for things I knew I could not accomplish by myself. These things brought new light and understanding to me early in my mission. As my mission progressed I began participating in the conversion process of others, this exposed me to the Atonement of Christ, repentance, and forgiveness. Witnessing the physical, emotional, and spiritual change in someone embracing the Gospel by giving up old habits and committing to new concepts of obedience and sacrifice, brought into my soul even a greater and brighter light. These experiences with the lessons and feelings that came with them were an obvious model to me of a way of life that I could see would bring me and all those I love peace, comfort, and happiness in this life and the life to come.

A second mission as a Senior Missionary with a handpicked companion and a life full of blessings predicated upon a life consistent with lessons learned as a young Missionary cannot begin and end in the same place as the first mission. The lessons to be learned and the blessings in store today are not the same, our life’s dynamics are different, and so it is logical that our necessary experience’s will be different as well.

We have learned so much on our mission, beginning with the opportunity to be together twenty-four-seven. I think this is the first obstacle to a celestial marriage. How can we be together for time and all eternity if we can’t be together for eighteen months?  We have learned to love being together as days turn to weeks,  weeks to months,  and now  I liken the end of our mission to being expelled from the Garden of Eden. I am not sure that when we return that I will be ready to share Karen with others. Our mission has taught us to love each other in a way that we would never have known had we not served.

While serving here in Hong Kong we have had the opportunity to see each of our children and grandchildren through a special spiritual lens. A blessing that comes to those that are willing to serve.

We have received inspired thoughts and ideas of how we should spend our time and talents to bless the lives of our family that may have never been as clear to us as they are today while we are away. We have been blessed with the synergistic effect of receiving more Gospel knowledge, a clearer path to Heavenly Father in prayer, and all blessings predicated to the principle of obedience.

In looking forward to serving a mission together we could have only underestimated the experience. It just seems rather disingenuous on my part to think it was going be a similar experience to my first mission. It is so much better!!!!!!

Monday, September 4, 2017

Temple Experiences

This week was about Temple experiences, a third typhoon and possibly one of the reasons I’m in Hong Kong.

Two separate storms developed over the ocean into hundred mile an hour plus winds and serious amounts of water crashed into land masses within a hundred kilometers of Hong Kong within five days of each other. The first, a historic storm that measured 10 on the Hong Kong Warning System a spin off  of the Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale, the second storm measured 8. A third storm began to develop this week and the cautionary storm warning was hoisted indicating a storm to reach land this weekend. Computer models were projecting it to reach land within a hundred kilometers of Hong Kong making it a third typhoon in ten days to reek havoc here.  Fortunately, the storm moved north and landed a hundred and fifty miles north of Hong Kong. The force of these storms is so incredible that although we did not get the hundred mile and hour winds, we received buckets of rain which will cause flooding on the peninsula.

We had a group of twenty Laos members come to Hong Kong this week to attend the Temple. The patron-housing units were full of not only those from Laos but also members from India and Thailand as well. When we went to the Temple Wednesday evening for our weekly assignment we were told that there were eighteen first time endowments  on Tuesday as well as sixteen sealings. In our session, we had fifteen patrons representing all the above-named countries. The session was presented in Cantonese, the witness’s spoke mandarin and the rest of the company from Laos and India. The Patrons were very well prepared so they could perform  many Ordinances including Washings, Anointings, Baptisms, and Sealings that evening.

Sunday, we had another special Sabbath Temple Day. Although it was raining for most of the day, the hundreds of domestic workers that participated would not have had the opportunity if the storm had not moved north. (Another Mission Miracle)

 I had the opportunity to officiate in one of the sessions with Karen that was so full we brought in folding chairs to accommodate the faithful Patrons. It was a good session and another special Mission experience for Karen and me.  The Temple was busy all day with Endowment Sessions,  as well as baptisms,  sealings, and initiatory.

At the end of the session one of the Chinese Sealers and I talked for a while about the Chan family that I became acquainted with on my first mission. The Sealer remembered me from Rita and Alvin’s Temple Sealing because (he had sealed them). He asked me if I would approach the Chai Wan Ward’s Bishop and help him find Chan Gaa Yan’s Mother and Father. The Bishop knows that they have some age issues that would keep them from attending Church regularly but would like to assign them Home Teachers and maybe send the Priests with the Sacrament.

He then discussed Chan Gaa Yan with me and suggested that this may be the very purpose than I am here, to help him back into Church activity. It’s given me a lot to think about and I hope that if this is the case I’ll be able to find a way. (I think Nephi gave some council on this)

Sister Arago and Sister Rodriguez.  They are both from the Philippines and serve here in Hong Kong.  Melody is a member of our Saturday Branch.  She is going home to the Philippines to get married,  the members in our Branch had a shower for her after Church.   

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Two Typhoons This Week

This week was all about the weather. Monday was very warm and humid, the kind of day that you just want to sit in front of an air conditioner and try to quit sweating. About ten o’clock, Elder Sorenson called and invited us to join them and Chatterton’s for lunch at the YMCA buffet to celebrate Sister Sorenson’s birthday. We accepted the invitation and made our way to the YMCA and back to our apartment, riding the shuttle both ways, yet feeling as though we had run a marathon because of the effect the heat and humidity had on us physically. We stayed in the apartment the rest of the day,  Karen beat me without mercy in a game of Five Crowns. It’s the first time she has not shown any Missionary compassion in the last ten or so months.

Tuesday we left early for the office because Karen needed to be there early for a reason that I cannot remember or maybe never knew. We worked until around three o’clock when we realized we were both so tired we needed a nap. I suggested we find a couple couches in the building and take a nap but she suggested we call it a day and head back to the apartment. Of course, we cleaned up a few things and were back at the apartment within the hour. Karen and I laid down and slept for about two hours. When we woke we talked about how exhausted we feel in this heat. We checked our phones for emails that might have come during the time we were asleep and saw a strong wind signal had been posted by the whether service here in Hong Kong. It was a preliminary warning and indicated that a Typhoon was a couple hundred kilometers out and heading toward us.

Later that night around midnight it starting raining and the wind started howling outside our bedroom window. It increased in intensity every hour until the rain was so noisy pelting our window and the wind whistling and howling through our window it was impossible to sleep. At four-thirty Karen and I were wide awake and watching the storm warnings which were now indicating that a number eight typhoon warning would be issued in the next two hours.  Since it had calmed down for the time,  we decided to go for a walk before it hit hard.   We went out on the harbor promenade and walked for about forty minutes in a fairly cool and calm light rain. It was quite refreshing and well timed because just as we returned to our apartment the wind began to pick up significantly.

Shortly after our walk the number 8 signal was issued and we spent the rest of the day inside as the intensity of the storm increased to the point warranting the weather service to issue a number 10 signal. Before the end of the storm it became one of the strongest typhoons to hit Hong Kong in many years, making our serving our mission here historic. Kind of like when I was at the world series during the earth quake in San Francisco some years ago, or in West Yellowstone during the fires. Maybe even when Karen and I were near Mount Saint Helens when she erupted.

That was our Wednesday typhoon.  We repeated the same kind of experience again Sunday,  with a #8 typhoon.  Church throughout Hong Kong was cancelled,  we all spent a second day this week staying safe indoors.  Total typhoon count during our mission- Number 8 storms - 4.  Number 10 storms - 1.

In addition to mine and Karen's  study of the Book of Mormon and Preach my Gospel, I have focused on the Doctrine and Covenants in my personal study. As part of that I have read the first six volumes and about half of the seventh volume of the History of the Church. I am sure that I could have only read it as a missionary because of both the length and content. I could not have maintained the required discipline and focus to complete the project outside of the Mission Field.

I would recommend for any who are subject to doubt concerning the work of Joseph Smith to read this history. It is uncensored and not written to win favor but is full of sworn documents, notes and letters that are created as one lives and could be found following any one of our lives.
I will share one piece of the history for this blog.

"Brother Richards was very much troubled, and exclaimed, `Oh! Brother Taylor, is it possible that they have killed both Brother Hyrum and Joseph? It cannot surely be, and yet I saw them shoot them;' and, elevating his hands two or three times, he exclaimed, `Oh Lord, my God, spare Thy servants!' He then said, `Brother Taylor, this is a terrible event;' and he dragged me farther into the cell, saying, `I am sorry I cannot do better for you;' and, taking an old, filthy mattress, he covered me with it, and said, `That may hide you, and you may yet live to tell the tale, but I expect they will kill me in a few moments!' While lying in this position I suffered the most excruciating pain.  Soon afterwards Dr. Richards came to me, informed me that the mob had precipitately fled, and at the same time confirmed my worst fears that Joseph was assuredly dead. I felt a dull, lonely, sickening sensation at the news. When I reflected that our noble chieftain, prophet of the living God, had fallen, and that I had seen his brother in the cold embrace of death, it seemed as though there was a void or vacuum in the great field of human existence to me, and a dark gloomy chasm in the kingdom, and that we were left alone. Oh, how lonely was that feeling! How cold, barren and desolate! In the midst of difficulties he was always the first in motion; in critical positions his counsel was always sought. As our Prophet he approached our God, and obtained for us his will; but now our Prophet, our counselor, our general, our leader, was gone, and amid the fiery ordeal that we then had to pass through, we were left alone without his aid, and as our future guide for things spiritual or temporal, and for all things pertaining to this world, or the next, he had spoken for the last time on earth. "

History of the Church, Vol. 7, chapter 9

Our good friend Elder Jenson checking out the Harbor at our apartments.  This was early in the morning just as the storm was starting.   Needless to say he spent the rest of the day indoors.   This poor tree  is one of many we saw after the storm had passed.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

The Chan Family

This week started with another trip to Big Buddha. Elder and Sister Kendell, the Branch President and Wife of the Every Day Branch have not been able until recently find time to visit Big Buddha. Elder Kendell, who celebrated his eighty-third birthday last month, approached Karen and I and asked if we would take he and Sister Kendell because he did not feel comfortable going by themselves. We love the Kendell’s and were honored that they would invite us to be a part of their experience.

We had a big break-through at the office this week concerning the Opinion Leader data base or more accurately; a Computerized Relationship Manager (CRM). Salt Lake started the process of building the application and sent a picture of the Concept Plan. They also asked us to provide questions that the system will ask in each phase of the Business Plan Flow. It has been so long since I have even thought about the project that I had to go back and review all my old notes to remember what we were proposing. After reviewing and consulting with Tom Crockett, I was able to develop a response that I believe will be more than adequate for them to proceed with the build-out. (I sound like I’m a tech nerd!)

Karen was able to use some of her old job skills in proofing a twenty plus page program that will be used at a public concert here in a few weeks. Songs of the Heart, a choir made up of members here in Hong Kong, (Hong Kong’s version of the Tabernacle Choir) will be performing at one of the nice concert halls.  Besides the choir there are going to be quite a few musicians performing as well.  The program was created in Chinese, and then translated into English by a member who can speak English pretty well,  but needless to say the written English translation left a lot to be desired.   In the program each artist had a bio and the program included quite a history of everything and everyone.   When Annie saw it last week she gasped at the English translation and asked Karen to look at it. Karen spent the entire day editing spelling and grammar. Towards the end of the day I said to Karen, “have you noticed we haven’t said a word to each other all day”, this being strange because we sit in a cubicle side by side not more than two feet apart.  We didn't even leave for lunch,  we just grazed on office munchies all day.  She finished a short time later and can now say that she experienced the gift of translation while serving a mission.

The week was topped off with another experience with the Chan Family whom I had the opportunity to participate in their baptism as a young missionary. We were invited and attended the wedding of Rita Chan who is the granddaughter of the father that we taught forty-plus years ago.  As required by law,  the day started with a civil ceremony in the morning. Bishop Chan, Rita’s brother Lance, performed the ceremony in the Kowloon Tong Chapel. We then joined them across the street at the Temple for the Sealing and later at the reception. It was a great day and Karen especially liked being around the Chan family and all the babies and toddlers. She also enjoyed learning and participating in the Chinese wedding culture.

Coincidently, Alvin,  the groom's sister Haley,  was one of our Chinese language tutors before we came to Hong Kong.   We did not know this until the night before the wedding when Sister Chatterton called and told us that Haley was here to attend her brother’s wedding. It was also  interesting that while Haley was teaching us ,  she had me talk to her bother Alvin multiple times as part of the program. Each week we would talk to a native to help with our listening skills and Alvin at the time was attending BYU Idaho and convenient for Haley to exploit. So, it turns out that when I’m talking to Alvin, I’m talking to the future husband of the granddaughter of the man I was hoping to find when I came back as a Senior Missionary. (like there is such a thing as a coincidence)

Us with Rita and Alvin at the Kowloon Tong Chapel,  just across the street from the Temple where they were Sealed.

All the Chan family.   We are so grateful we've been a part of the Chan family's lives after finally finding them here in Hong Kong.

Lynn with Kevin Chan

Me  with Joyce Chan.  

Grandma and Grandpa Chan (where it all began)

One of the many Chinese traditions,  the bride and groom carving the roasted pig, (even a carving knife with ribbons).

Grandma and Grandpa Chan with 2 of their granddaughters,  Elizabeth and Michelle

Saturday, August 12, 2017

For the Strength of Youth

This week we were able to get a lot done in and out of the office.

We started the week out participating in a large FSY (For Strength of Youth)  activity that included a Youth Service Project.  Our purpose in attending was to take photographs, collect information for a Newsroom Article and to meet new Opinion Leaders. The event was wonderful with hundreds of youth participating in putting together school kits that will be distributed through Pak Oi, a large NGO  (Non Government Organization) that operates here in Hong Kong as well as in China. After the youth assembled three thousand kits in the Kowloon Tong Chapel there was a nice ceremony outside. Elder Meurs joined some of the youth to present to Senior Executives and Directors of Pak Oi the assembled kits. Pak Oi accepted the kits and announced that two thousand of the kits would go into China and one thousand would be distributed here in Hong Kong.

Part of our responsibility to support the Senior Couples serving in different countries outside of Hong Kong but inside the Area is to be their social support. When they want to talk about personal issues but have no one they can talk to in the villages or rural areas they live in they can always call us. This gives Karen countless opportunities to talk to other Senior Missionary sisters about their families. This week we made our monthly call to the Dowds who are serving in Cambodia. We talked for over an hour about everything but the things on our agenda. The highlight of the conversation was when I asked Sister Dowd why she was sending out emails at one-thirty in the morning and not sleeping. She complimented me in noticing and shared with us that she could not sleep so she got out of bed and left the bedroom because the computer was in the small living room adjoining her bedroom. She had been on the computer for about an hour when Elder Dowd came walking out of the bedroom toward the bathroom. She said Elder Dowd wears a mask over his eyes when he sleeps so he had this mask pulled up and he also takes out his teeth when he sleeps, so he trudges into the bathroom with no teeth and his mask half on and back to the bedroom without even noticing her. The four of us were laughing so hard while she is telling us this story and when she finished all that he could say was, “remember honey, it was for better and for worse.”

We heard another funny story this week. Tom Crockett’s wife called him at the office the other day and told him that the hose coming from the wall into the toilet tank was leaking so she called maintenance. So, a couple of Chinese guys came up to the apartment and she showed them the problem, they acknowledged the problem and turned off the water leading to the toilet and took off the leaky hose. They told her they would be back in three days with a new hose and that she could not use the toilet until they returned. She told them that would not work and they needed it fixed today. She could not get them to understand and they eventually left. On the phone, she strongly encouraged Tom to come home and help her because they needed a working toilet, so Tom left the office to rescue his wife. When Tom got to the apartment she took him in the bathroom and showed him the missing hose. He immediately called maintenance and told them that he needed them to come up to the apartment, three days without a toilet is ridiculous and they needed a solution. Five minutes later the same two guys knocked on the door and when Tom opened the door he gasped, one of the guys handed him a  bucket!  Tom thought they were suggesting they use the bucket,  when in fact,  they were suggesting they use the bucket to flush their toilet.  After all of this however,  maintenance fixed their toilet that evening!

This week we had an FSY Conference here in Hong Kong,  (For Strength of Youth).  The young men and women (and even some Primary children who joined in the service project),  prepared school kits for underprivileged children in China.  It was so cool.  This activity was the first day of their week long conference.

Elder and Sister Meurs were  honorary participants. They are wonderful.  Elder Meurs is a new member of the Asia Area Presidency.  He officially began his assignment August 1st,  but he's been here quite a bit the past couple of months.  They are from Australia.

This is Annie,  our Assistant Public Affairs Director.   Annie,  is a huge Minion fan,  and had been given these Minion glasses from someone who had just come back from the states. The other day we had a skype conference call with Salt Lake.  Dad and I were at our apartment,  Annie was at the office.  We were laughing so hard.  She didn't realize that we had her on our screen during the skype call.  It was so fun to show her this picture we took!

Saturday, August 5, 2017

The Weeks are Flying By

News Room articles occupied most of our office time this week, providing us a great opportunity to practice our patience skills. Every since the upgrade of our Corus software we have struggled with the alignment of text and photos. The placement of priority content such as top stories versus a feature story in different page locations has also been difficult. Software support is a logistical problem in as much as we are located on the opposite side of the globe from Salt Lake, so we just fiddle around on the computer until we figure it out. We spent the better part of three days struggling before we conquered this electronic monster, but in the end, we finished our task.

We attended our first monthly Temple/Testimony session with Elder Peter F. Meurs, our newest General Authority called to serve as the second counselor in the Asia Area Presidency.  Elder Meurs and his wife shared testimonies as well as E/S Harmon and E/S Nielsen. The Nielsen’s have completed their Mission as the Area Humanitarian couple and are being replaced by the Harmons.

This monthly meeting is always special but when you add the emotions of Missionaries coming and going it is even more special.

Paul and Susan Hansen, our Alpine neighbors  arrived in Hong Kong about ten days ago.  Paul has worked for the Church these last fifteen years and was relocated to Hong Kong by the Church with responsibilities for all temporal affairs as the Director of Temple Affairs in the Asia Area. We've been to  dinner with the Hansen’s a couple of times now, we're excited they're here.

This week I was reading in the fifth volume of the History of the Church and I ran across a teaching that I felt a need to share. In the context of; “Happiness is the object and design of our existence” Joseph Smith taught the following principle:

“A parent may whip a child, and justly, too, because he stole an apple; whereas if the child had asked for the apple, and the parent had given it, the child would have eaten it with a better appetite; there would have been no stripes; all the pleasure of the apple would have been secured, all the misery of stealing lost.
This principle will justly apply to all of God's dealings with His children. Everything that God gives us is lawful and right; and it is proper that we should enjoy His gifts and blessings whenever and wherever He is disposed to bestow; but if we should seize upon those same blessings and enjoyments without law, without revelation, without commandment, those blessings and enjoyments would prove cursing’s and vexations in the end, and we should have to lie down in sorrow and wailings of everlasting regret…”

Left to right -  Tom Crocket and his wife Cory (Tom is the Director of Public Affairs),  Annie Wong (Assistant Director),   us,  and our good friends from Alpine,  Susan and Paul Hansen.  Paul has recently started working for the Church here in the Asia Area Office as the Director of The Department of Temporal Affairs.  It's so fun to have Paul and Susan here.  We will be working closely with Paul.  It's been so fun to get together with he and Susan.