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Sunday, November 12, 2017

Next Week Will Be Better!

This week’s entry will be short because Karen has spent the week in the apartment with a Urinary Tract Infection, and I have been running all over trying to find what she needs to help her feel better. Elder Sellers (our mission Doctor),  has had her try three different antibiotics to fight the infection,  finally,  this last one seems to be working.

Tom and Annie have both been out of the office as well, so I spent as much time in the apartment this week as in the office. I did however have an opportunity to meet all the Area Service Center Managers at a Conference being held here in Hong Kong. 

We also attended the Temple Wednesday night, (which Karen probably should not have) and were asked to attend a Session as the Witness Couple. We don’t have the opportunity to attend the Temple often as Patrons so this was fun to experience the Temple in this capacity.

Karen and I were invited to speak in the Peninsula 3rd Branch Sunday, but Karen did not feel well enough to attend, so I spoke for about forty minutes and the Branch President made a few comments. I enjoy the confidence that we have as Missionaries to teach and testify without apprehension when called upon. A speaking assignment as a Missionary does not seem to carry the burden of the same assignment at home. We love to find opportunities to share the feelings of our hearts out here.

Karen’s starting to feel better,  so I’m sure that this next week will be better for her. A lesson for us that not every week as Missionaries can be “a walk in the park”.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Sui Kung Village

This week Karen and I were walking home on the promenade enjoying the beautiful lights of Hong Kong Island reflecting off the water in the harbor and realized that someday we will be leaving all this behind. We experienced a bit of separation anxiety before concluding the fallacy of the thought and realized the truth; that we will never leave this experience behind because going forward it will be a part of us forever.

This epiphany applies not just to the view we enjoy every night, but also to the many wonderful people, the culture, the food and even the smells, as well as every other “good or bad” experience we have enjoyed as missionaries on this side of the world. The Lord revealed to Joseph that all his experiences “shall be for thy good’, and we have lived to enjoy this lesson as Missionaries.

This week we visited Yuen Long, in the New Territories (they were called the New Territories the last time I was a Missionary here forty-years ago) not so new anymore. We found a hiking trail and walked towards China for a while and soon came to a river. The river similar in size, depth, and smell to the Jordon back home had a ferry service that we paid a fee and were carried across. The farrier rowed us across the river in this rag tag piece of junk that defied the laws of physics by floating. After we boarded he offered a disclaimer warning us that we may get wet, but the water was only a few feet deep. Of course, this was in Chinese and he seemed quite surprised when we responded to him in his native tongue.

In addition to our weekly Temple Assignment we attended our monthly Area Presidency Temple Session. This was different than any previous like session because the Area Presidency were all out of the country, so they were not able to attend. Our zealous District Leader claimed that someone told us that we should do it anyway, so we did. The Sellers and Beckstead’s provided lunch after, pizza, green salad, and doughnuts.

In the office we spent most of the week working closely with Annie, we really enjoy this part of our Mission. She is always making sure that we are having a good Mission and loves to side with Karen in helping me stay humble. She reminds me often of the Dog House video and that I should stay out of the dog house.

Speaking about staying out of the doghouse, we were talking the other night and we are hoping that all our children will be able to serve a Senior Mission because of the opportunity to spend so much time together. It is a wonderful blessing to spend time with your best friend in the Mission Field because it is an environment that is magical. You are in a realm of the world but not of the world, a place where we can escape the noise of mortality and find stillness.  We have experienced glimpses beyond the present into immortality and what we are promised if faithful.

I would caution our grandchildren that as they serve Missions that the growth experienced as a Missionary does not come fast. It comes slowly, day by day, hour by hour, through faith, obedience, love and a lot of hard work.  None the less, it will happen and just like us, before you leave your Mission you will realize that all the hard work, obedience, and love will lead you to experiences gained that will be a part of you forever.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Chan Family - Highlight of Our Week

This week flew by faster than the speed of light,  or so it felt. I had a WebEx conference scheduled for Friday morning with Salt Lake that I did not realize I missed until Sunday morning.

We were able to visit Sail Kung, this week with Elders and Sisters Salmon and Chatterton, a small fishing village located about eight miles northwest of Hung Hum. Although it is not very far it still takes an hour to get there by bus and a bus is the only way to get there. It is an interesting little village that has somehow resisted the changes that come with time. It felt as though we left the present and returned to the past several decades ago, as we walked through the small alleys and came to the central plaza of the village.  Fortunately, for us there was great food and we had a great lunch.

We had a fun call this week with the other PA missionaries. There are three couples including ourselves that have hit fill stride as Missionaries and all will be returning in the first quarter of next year. The Dowds in January, The Pollmanns in February and the Becksteads in March. Sister Dowd sent us a link with her great granddaughter.

Karen spent two days preparing meals with some of the other Sisters for the Mission President Seminar that the Area Presidency held this week.

It has been interesting for me to observe how the Twelve meet with all the Area Presidencies every six months to teach and counsel. The Area Presidencies around the world then meet with the Area Seventies, District and Stake Presidents then meet with the Bishops and Quorum Leaders who then meet with the Auxiliaries. Six months seems like a very short time to me for information, instruction, and policy to be integrated into such a large organization, but somehow, they are able to do it just in time to start the cycle all over again.  

This week was President and Sister Jones first week of everyday presiding over a full block of meetings. They handled it very well and will be great leaders for the next twenty-three months to the Sisters in the Branch here. I conducted the meeting Saturday and Karen said I only maid two mistakes.

We were given a challenge by one of the Chinese Temple workers a few weeks ago that we invite Grandma and Grandpa Chan to the Chai Wan Ward. They are old and have not been active for several years now and he thought that if we invited them they may consider attending. Later the Relief Society President of the Chai Wan Ward called and asked us if we would be interested in asking the Chan’s if she could visit them with us, and then the Elders Quorum President called and left a similar message. So, I talked with their grandson Lance and asked him what he thought they would be most responsive to. He suggested that I send a message to his mother and ask her to pick them up and meet us at the Ward, he also went on to say that this would help his family in several ways but did not elaborate nor did I ask.

This week I sent a message to his mother and she immediately responded that she could do it this Sunday. We met them at the Ward this morning and it was a wonderful experience. Lances mother showed up with Grandma and Grandpa and three great grandsons. The ward was thrilled to see them and embraced them with fellowship and love. Karen and I were so pleased to be introduced as their special friends from forty-plus years ago as they were recognized by one of the older members to Ward Members as some of the first members of  Chai Wan Branch.

Sai Kung Fishing Village.  Here you just buy your fish directly from the boat.  Not just fish,  but giant shrimp,  turtles,  and lots of other live sea creatures that I have no idea what they were.  They throw them in a sack, you take them home,  kill them,  cook them (sometimes!),  and dinner is ready!

A wonderful day having Brother and Sister Chan,  their daughter-in-law Joyce Chan,  and their great grandsons at Church with us.  Definitely the highlight of our week!

Monday, October 23, 2017

A Week with Many Changes and Challenges

This week we are at the office on our day off, at a time when I am usually sleeping. I am carefully weighing if it is a benefit to pick a wonderful righteous person to be my eternal partner. I am also considering calling for a vote for a role reversal on who gets to be the Senior Companion these next few months.

Every week begins with a Church employee/office missionary devotional followed by a district meeting. We never attend because we are the only Area Missionaries that have Monday as our prep-day. The others have Saturday, but because of our Saturday Church assignment we are never here on Monday. This week we are rolling out a new program that will involve all the Senior Missionaries, so Annie asked us to be here.

Because of the size and diversity of the Asia Area, Public Affairs are inviting each Senior Missionary Couple to choose a Country in the Area they would be willing to research and become familiar enough with that they can brief a member of the Area Presidency prior to a visit to that Country. We are providing a templet for the information that will be entered into a shared-drive that can be accessed through the internet. A vault of information developed by our Missionaries that will hopefully enrich their Mission experience through the process.

This week is a week of coming and goings. Elder and Sister Jones arrived, and he was sustained as the New Branch President  this last Saturday. Elder and Sister Parry also arrived and will be serving as another Legal Couple. Sister Parry said, “she is interested in and loves family history”.  She has previously served a Family History Mission.   She'll  be sitting in the office next to us. We hope she will share some of  her knowledge and know how with us. 

We had a farewell lunch with Sister Lee, who will be leaving the first week of November. The Sellers and Chatterton’s joined us taking her to the Cheesecake Factory,  and in sharing a special time with such a special person as Sister Lee. 

This week included a farewell party every day in the Everyday Branch for Elder and Sister Kendell.  With Elder Kendell’s release, I am now serving as the Second Counselor to Elder Jones in the Everyday Branch.

The week also included a monthly meeting with the Government Relations Committee as well as the weekly Welfare Coordination Council. There is a lot going on right now and humanitarian aid is much needed in this part of the world. There are a lot of Emergency Response demands such as floods, typhoons, draughts, and fires that are the results of natural events. These are difficult and emotional for us because of the suffering of the innocent and weak that are exposed to the natural consequences of such events. Unfortunately, we are also witnessing an ethnic purging that is atrocious. The Rohingya refugee crisis is a problem we have joined with a multiple of NGO’s for the relief of more than six-hundred thousand refugees in Bangladesh.

Saying goodbye to Elder and Sister Kendell was a special evening for all of us!

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Back to Normal after General Conference

This week everyone returned from Salt Lake, so the tenth floor was back to its crazy busy self. 

Annie had a birthday while she was gone so we took her to dinner for a belated birthday dinner Tuesday night. Jimmy Chan and his wife Jo were planning on meeting us at the Cheesecake Factory,  however, Jo was sick and couldn't make it,  but Jimmy and the three of us had a great meal together to celebrate Annie’s thirty-third birthday.

The Montagues were able to join our bi-weekly Senior Missionary Public Affairs call this week. This is a significant note that needs to be recorded in our Missionary Blog because it typically takes several weeks for us to be able to connect with a new Missionary couple. Getting the hard wiring and software installed and connected with new users online is usually a nightmare. The major issue discussed in the call was this year’s Christmas Campaign which will be the same as last year, “Light the World".

We also had a good meeting this week with Paul Hanson and the rest of the Welfare Coordination Council. Elder Evans attended and plans to attend whenever he is in town going forward. We had a backlog of projects to catch up on, if I remember right we reviewed eleven or twelve. The Harmon’s are doing a great job and each meeting are feeling more comfortable with their presentations. The humanitarian needs worldwide is more than we could have ever imagined prior to coming over here.

The Kendell’s will be leaving October 25th and are busy getting ready to meet the Jones who will be replacing them. The Jensen’s and ourselves took Elder and Sister Kendell out for dinner as a token of appreciation for all they have done here in the Filipino Branch. He has served as the Branch President and Elder Jensen and I have served as his counselors. After dinner the six of us went to a movie, “The Helper” a documentary about the domestic workers here in Hong Kong.

We were scheduled to speak in the Pennisula 3rd Ward on Sunday but Church was canceled because of the sixth typhoon we have experienced as Missionaries. This typhoon, Khanun caused a T8 storm signal warning which means everybody in Hong Kong stays home. This weeks typhoon was not near as strong as the last one and by Sunday night the weather was calm.

Enjoying the newly opened Cheesecake Factory with our friend Jimmy Chun,  and Annie (for Annie's birthday).

We love working with Annie in Public Affairs.  One of the many blessings we have from our mission is the wonderful friendships we've made.

Elder and Sister Kendell,  sitting across from Lynn and I,  and the Jensons.  The Kendells  will be leaving to go home next week.   We had a nice dinner together,  the Saturday Branch Presidency and wives). 

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Mid Autumn Festival

This week we celebrated two holidays, completed one assignment, started another, and enjoyed another week without any leadership in the office. I only mention this last item because it is so quiet every October and April during General Conference on the tenth floor. The lack of noise created by all the activity at the office gives us a chance to get caught up both mentally and emotionally. We never felt old until we accepted this assignment in this crazy busy environment we live in.

We were asked to do some research on why the Seventh-Day Adventist Church has been so successful with conversion growth in India. Neither Karen or I knew much about the Adventist Church so it was fun to learn about their history and beliefs. Of course, like any other student of this generation, we went right to “Google” for our source of information. We turned in an impressive report but have no idea of the accuracy of the content and included a disclaimer to protect our integrity😊.

We began working with the Montagues this week and their first effort to insert an article into Newsroom. They are so smart that it felt like we were being trained by them. After close to an hour of working together we ended the session and set up a time for another call next week. We expect that in this next call they will show us how the software works in the first few minutes and the rest of the call will just be time for a fun personal visit.

This last Sunday was China’s National Day. Several of the Senior Missionary Couple’s converged on Elder and Sister Cory’s apartment because of the beautiful view of the harbor they have. Each couple brought a desert and we enjoyed the firework display while devouring sugar.

Karen and I spent our off-day Monday with the Chatterton’s, in North Point browsing small local shops, and having lunch at Big Bite,  a good place for burgers and fries.   Karen ordered a root beer float will real ice cream and with my help she was able to eat just a small amount of it. We were supposedly looking for ribbon or something our wives wanted, but John and I were more interested in cheap electronic gadgets. I bought an LED light that plugs into a USB port for ten dollars HK,  (1.28 USD).  I am not sure how I will use it but it is really cool.

We worked in the office Tuesday and Wednesday morning. The office closed at 3:00 Wednesday and was closed all day Thursday for the Mid-Autumn Festival. We were asked if we could help out at the Temple on Thursday and had a very busy morning there.

That evening Karen and I walked along the promenade and could see families enjoying the holiday. The children were especially happy with their lanterns. I remember my first Mid-Autumn Festival years ago as a young missionary and tasting my first “Moon Cake”. Fortunately for me, I somehow survived and this time around was not tempted in the least to eat one. I talked Karen in to taking a bite just for the cultural experience.  She was quick to spit it out. You would think that after all these years she would quit listening to me.

A great day in Hong Kong.  Left to right:  Lynn and Karen,  Sister Alamanzor, Rowenalyn, Elder Jenson, Sister Jenson, Sister Bacolcol, Sister Kendell, Elder Kendell.  

It was so fun walking along the harbor during the Mid Autumn Festival. 

Saturday, September 30, 2017


This week we had some new experiences beginning with a new place to eat and a new Senior Couple arriving in Malaysia.

We enjoyed a great meal with one of the members of our branch who is returning to the Philippines next week. We treated Melody Avena to the Cheesecake Factory, which just opened about a month ago in Tshim Shao Tsui. It was like experiencing a bit of paradise to eat something that did not look, smell, or taste Chinese. Melody is retuning to get married and, as one Sister stated in her testimony Sunday, is going home to multiply and replenish the earth. 

Karen and Melody have become very close in the months that we have served in the Branch and is feeling bad that her friend is leaving but good that she can go home and live a life without being separated from those she loves.

The Montagues arrived this week from St. George to serve as the Public Affairs Senior Couple in Malaysia this week. We talked to them on the phone for a few minutes to introduce ourselves and are excited to get to know them better. We know that he is a retired Radiologist and that she is a stay-at-home-mom. They have six children and seven grandchildren. One of their grandchildren was born two weeks before they entered the MTC and one of their sons was married just two days before they entered the MTC.

Mary Rose Ellerma, one of the investigators that the Sisters have been teaching, asked me to baptize her this week. This was a very unexpected blessing for me because we were told in Salt Lake before we came that Public Affairs Missionaries seldom have an opportunity to perform a baptism.

In the Temple this week we experienced a Mongolian company of ten or twelve. In the group of men attending was a really old brother that could not hear and also a middle-aged brother that was blind. This created a few challenges but somehow it all works and we get to be a part of it.

We have been able to watch a few sessions of conference and are looking forward to seeing more.

I suppose that we have been guilty of framing a Senior Mission as nothing but fun in our blogs. It is easy in the social media age to glamorize our lives and not include some of the hardships that are also part of Missionary life. So, I’ll share some of the difficulties associated with the work we do. It’s sometimes hard to be a long way from home and we are not fond of a lot of the food or the effect that it has on our digestive tract.  Other than that,  things are great.

Lynn had the opportunity to baptize Mary Rose.  The sister missionaries, Sister Alamanzor, and Sister Bacolcols,   are amazing missionaries.