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Saturday, March 17, 2018

Farewell Hong Kong

One last great week of being Missionaries.
The week started with a special meeting with all the Hong Missionaries both old and young gathering together with Elder Stevenson, Elder Christenson and Bishop Causse. It was like other meetings we have enjoyed with Apostles and young Missionaries, very personal and insightful.
We heard from Elder EvansSister CausseBishop CausseElder Christenson and Elder Stevenson. Elder Evans shared personal relationships and experiences he had with the others. Sister Causse spoke of her family’s conversion and recited one sentence in Cantonese that she remembered from being a student here years ago. Bishop Causse reminded the Missionaries that he was here on assignment just as they were and the blessings received over a lifetime by fulfilling assignments received. Elder Christenson addressed the nature and role of the Holy Ghost as a member of the Godhead. He reminded the Missionaries that the Holy Ghost is significant in realizing all truth and the importance of seeking the spirit in all we do. Elder Stevenson brought a whiteboard into the room and taught the Missionaries how to teach a concept or principle, invite the investigator to live it,  and then to promise them a result. In his presentation he left the rostrum, attached a wireless microphone to his lapel,  then walked among the Missionaries teaching, asking questions, role playing and sharing personal experiences.

We believe there were many Missionaries that attended the meeting and will be sharing stories to their grandchildren about the time they spent with Elder Stevenson.
The next morning, we shared Dim Sum with the Hui’s, Wong’s, Ted Yan and Sellers. The Hui’s and Wong’s wanted to thank us for working in the Temple with them and celebrate our friendship.
Later in the day we were invited to dinner at Elder and Sister Sorenson’s apartment with the Fergusons. Sister Sorenson had prepared stuffed porkchops and they were delicious. This is the Sorenson’s second Mission and he promised that after this Mission he would teach us how to catch fish at Otter Creek.
The next afternoon we took all eight Filipino Sister Missionaries to lunch at Triple O’s. It’s a such a satisfying experience to watch these little Filipino girls eat hamburgers, fries or onion rings, and a milkshake. They are so loving, innocent, and pure.  As we realized this would be our last time to spoil them it broke our hearts.
We met Petts in TST at the clocktower at five pm for dinner. We arrived first and were able to see them before they saw us.  It was obvious that not much had changed since they left their Mission nine months ago. They looked just the same, sounded just the same and we enjoyed being with them just as much as we did while they were here serving their Mission.
The next day all the Area Missionaries went to the YMCA Buffet for lunch and we all got a pleasant surprise when everyone got a twenty-five percent discount on their meal because there was a March birthday in the group. After lunch we met Chatterton’s and went to the Lady’s Market for the last time, Mom and Marilyn wanted to make one last contribution to the hawkers of Hong Kong.
On Friday, we cleaned out our cubicle and had our last Friday Lunch with all our Senior Missionary friends. Elder Hyde prepared two crock-pots of home made clam chowder and two big round loaves of home made bread. After lunch we said goodbye and left the office for our final time.
We went home thinking our happiness tank was as full as it could be when we got word that Jess and Parker’s family just increased by one. The initial information we received was  that a healthy grandchild had been born and that Jess had done a super job.  No one dared share the gender with Karen. Parker had previously told Karen that the sex of our new grandchild would not be revealed to her until after she returned home. After what seemed a lifetime to my sweet wife Jess was well enough to share the news that the baby was a 6lb 4oz boy. 
This is the Mission that just keeps on giving.
The only thing we had left to do was attend our Branch on Saturday for one last time, at least that is what we thought.

Later that night we received an unexpected call from the Young Elder’s notifying us that Tina Augusta, one of their investigators would be baptized tomorrow and she had requested me to speak at her baptism. The baptism was being held in the same building we attend Church, it would be held before our church started.   It was just another blessing being added on to an already Mission full of blessings.
Saturday, we enjoyed a baptism, a confirmation, and a wonderful block of meetings in a Filipino Branch in the middle of eight million Chinese. It was our last hurrah as Missionaries and boy did the Sisters make sure we went out with a bang. After all of the meetings, they sat us in the middle of a room and we celebrated with song, dance and testimony  of the time spent together.
We left the building Saturday night knowing that our work here is finished. We also realized that we have completed our service here with honor.
We hope that our Mission  will be an example to all our children,  grandchildren, their children and their grandchildren.
The End

Brother Chan,  one of the security guards in the Office Building.  Such a fun person,  we'll miss him

Front Left to right:  Sister Sellers, me, Lynn, Brother and Sister Hoi, Elder Yan.  Back:  Elder Sellers, Sister Wong.  Elder Sellers was the missionary to Sister Wong's family when she was a little girl.

Sisters Salangad, Romero, Batista, Bannagad, Arago, Miranda, and Almanza

Welcome Griffin John Robertson.  We haven't met and we love you already!

Baptism day for Tina

Our Saturday Branch made our last day with them amazing!

Saturday, March 10, 2018

So Many Highlights this Week

We enjoyed our 75th week as Missionaries this last week and like the previous seventy-four it was a GREAT WEEK IN HONG KONG!!!
We started the week with a visit to Tai O on our P-day with Chatterton’s hoping to see a pink dolphin. Mom had hopes of seeing one and is disappointed in my lack of faith that pink dolphins exist. We ended the day playing games and were glad when Elder and Sister Salmon joined us.  It was a lot of fun, Elder Salmon is pretty sure Elder Gong will be called into the Quorum of the Twelve.
Tuesday, we and the Ferguson’s, who are coming home the first week of April, had our farewell lunch with the Asia Area Presidency. Elder Funk was curious as to whether or not we would make it home in time to see a spring baseball game. Karen replied that we had new grandchildren that are a higher priority.
We had dinner that night with Bishop Jimmy Chan and his wife Jo. They are a wonderful couple who I am sure will visit us in Utah. Jimmy and Jo will continue to be a strong asset of the Church here in Hong Kong for many future years.
We were assigned to speak in the every-day Branch this week which means you speak every day. So, we were the speakers in a Sacrament Meeting every day this week. We think that by the end of the week we knew our talks all too well and so did the Jones and the Jensen’s who had to hear them every day this week.
We went to the Temple and completed our last assignment as Ordinance Workers Wednesday night and after Officiating our last endowment session President Ng thanked us for our work and released us.
The next morning, we attended our monthly session as patrons with the Area Presidency. That night we had dinner with the Crockets and enjoyed the evening.
Friday, all the Senior Missionaries sang a farewell song to us at lunch time. Elder Ferguson wrote the lyrics to the toon of the yellow brick road. Sister Sellers accompanied on the keyboard and it sounded great. One of the blessings we have received while serving is making so many new friends.
That night we met Joyce Chan, her three children and their spouses at the Temple to do sealings. You would think that seeing the blessing of four generations come into the Church would be as good as it can be, but we learned this to be short sighted. We brought several family names that needed some work done including my grandfather’s brother Lane, and they brought some family names including Joyce’s grandparents on both sides with all their siblings adding potentially multiple generations of converts to the Church. It also allowed their family a chance to help us with our family. It was an indescribable spiritual experience and an incomprehensible way to end a Mission.
Heavenly Father truly saved the best for last.

Our visit to Tai O fishing village was fun.

I captured this pose of Lynn standing under a blow fish.

We love our friends Jimmy and Jo Chan.  It's been so wonderful spending time with them during our mission. 

Our last evening to serve as Ordinance Workers in the Hong Kong Temple

Highlight of our mission.  We spent the evening doing sealings with the Chan family.  This is the family that Lynn baptized in 1973.  We were so blessed to reconnect with them while were were here.  We've spent time in the home of Grandma and Grandpa Chan who are now in their 90's.  We've gone to lunch together with members of the family.  We were at the Temple Marriage of Rita and Alvin (couple on the left).  We went to the baptism and Lynn stood in the circle to confirm Lance's son a couple of weeks ago.  What a way to conclude our mission doing sealings for their and our family names.  Lynn Baptized 1st and 2nd generation  Brother Chan's.  Now being a part of ordinances for the 3rd and 4th generation,  and even their ancestors!  It doesn't get better than this.
Left to right:  Rita and Alvin,  Tracy and Lance,  Misty and Sheldon,  Us,  and Joyce.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Birthday Week

This week started with Karen’s Birthday! The Filipino Sister Missionaries and I pulled off a fun surprise party for her at our little apartment in Hung Hom. Four companionships of Sister Missionaries and two sets of Senior Missionaries knocked on our door with birthday cards and goodies to eat. Sister Chatterton brought a red velvet birthday cake and the Sister Missionaries brought mango floats. Karen had no idea and was surprised when everyone showed up.
The next day we spent the morning working in the office until lunch time.  We then went to lunch with the Fergusons. They will be leaving two weeks after us,   we wanted to have lunch together before we all left Hong Kong.
We also received an invitation from Elder Funk to join the Area Presidency and their wives for a farewell luncheon next Tuesday. It seems a little early to us for a farewell lunch but the Area Presidency and other Senior Area Directors will be leaving for Salt Lake soon to attend meetings associated with but held prior to General Conference.
Thursday, we had our first bi-weekly call with other Area Public Affairs Missionaries in Annie’s new office on her big screen TV. Later in the day we attended our weekly Welfare Meeting on the ninth floor. It was the third week in a row that I was listed on the agenda to give the opening prayer and the third week in a row that I have been late.
In the meeting there was a discussion led by legal concerning when and how we could help refugees migrating to different countries in the Area. There is a lot of state specific rules in the twenty-odd countries we work with from Mongolia to the north down to Timor Leste in the south.
Friday, we did some OLCRM training with the Montagues who are serving in Malaysia. The work-flow process was well accepted, and we believe it will be of great assistance to the Public Affairs work here going forward.
In the evening we were treated to dinner by Elder Stan Parry and his good wife Carol. We dined at a very nice Thai restaurant in Tsim Tsau Tsui on the Kowloon side.  The restaurant was located next to the Star Ferry Terminal with a harbor view and we were able to watch the sunset and the heart of the Island business district in Central light up across the water.
The next morning, we met the Cory’s who treated us to breakfast before church. They took us to the “Flying Pan” a western restaurant operated and named by a Chinese entrepreneur that thinks he named his restaurant after a western cooking utensil. This is one of the few places that you can find a western breakfast and the only place in Hong Kong that we know of that serves biscuits and gravy. This was also a farewell meal that Elder Tim Cory and his good wife Joyce wanted to have before we left.
We spent five or six hours in church and then were treated to another meal, this time with the Jones and the Jensens. We served in the Every-Day Branch Presidency with these two Senior Missionary Couples  in Wan Chai. It was another good meal, this time at the Outback Restaurant. We have been told that we will be released on the 17th from the Branch so this was another special occasion.
While eating dinner we discussed how excited the Branch members were when President Jones announced that President Nelsen and Elder Holland would be in Hong Kong on the 21st of April. They will be holding a special meeting in the Hong Kong Convention Center for all the members here in Hong Kong and because it will be on a Saturday night all the members in the Saturday Family will be able to attend.
Speaking of visits, Elder Stevenson with a member of the Presiding Bishopric and one of the First Quorum of the Seventy will also be visiting Hong Kong and hold a special meeting for all the Missionaries here on the twelfth of March. Fortunately for us it is before we leave so we will be able to attend.

A lot is going on right now including a lot of eating.

A surprise birthday visit from Chattertons,  Jensens and the sister missionaries!

Lynn's turn,  a birthday surprise for him!  Left to right:  Sister Bautista,  Sister Romero,  Sister Rodriguez,  Lynn,  Sister Salangad,  Sister Miranda,  Sister Almanzor,   Sister Nelsen.

Outside of Sweet Basil Thai Restaurant in TST

Going home on the Ferry

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Getting close to winding things up

President Kendell once described time spent in Missionary work as, ‘long days and short weeks”. This week we experienced a short week and short days, yet another fun week as Missionaries. As we near the end of our Mission it feels as though every hour of every day, “we are living the dream”.
Monday was a holiday here, so we just stayed in our apartment, made some Face Time calls, met Chatterton’s for lunch (at John’s favorite pork knuckle restaurant), then a tenacious game of five crowns at their apartment.
Traditionally the New Year is celebrated for two weeks, so the rest of the week was still being celebrated by the Chinese. We were in the office during the week working, mostly catching up on loose ends created by the change of leadership. Karen did attend institute but then didn't feel well enough for our Temple assignment, so upon the insistence of Karen stating that she would be fine left alone and the shortage of volunteers I attended by myself.
She felt fine the next day and we both attended our weekly Welfare Meeting. As I have mentioned before we enjoy being a part of this committee and recognize the blessing it is to us to be able to see all the humanitarian work the Church is involved with in Asia. It also gives us a glimpse of how the Church manages at a General Authority level.
The Area Presidency is going to hold a Mission President Seminar in Taiwan next week, so we helped Elder and Sister Hyde with several other Senior Missionaries prepare materials for the seminar.
President and Sister Funk joined us for lunch Friday to celebrate Sister Beckstead and Sister Seller’s February birthdays. They were both born on the 26th of February although Karen was several years later than Sister Sellers. (Sister Beckstead is not only the prettiest Sister Missionary in our group but one of the younger ones as well).

We ended the week with Branch Conference. President Holyoke and his wife attended with other District Officers. He was telling me that he is going home for a couple of weeks and that he lives in Cedar Hills. It sounds like he lives just a few streets west of the Sarah, so we’ll need to get is address so that we can see them after we come home.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Happy Chinese New Year 2018

We love Hong Kong,  it has become our home, it is where we live.
 We share a five hundred square foot apartment with one couch, one chair, four cereal bowls, two rice bowls,  and barely enough silver ware to set our small table. We take turns washing dishes after each meal usually consisting of a bowl of rice, a bowl of noodles or peanut butter and jam sandwich. Karen washes our clothes daily in a small machine made in Italy that both washes and dries up to three shirts at a time. The small oven provided is affectionately referred to as our “easy bake oven” and has the energy capacity and space to bake up to 8 cookies at a time at a temperature of 180 degrees Celsius in twenty to thirty minutes. The shower nozzle, with barely enough water pressure to force water up the pipe and out the nozzle, is aimed about four inches above my belly button. A height that makes a shower more of a gymnastic exercise for me but is just about right for Karen. We have one small bedroom measuring eight feet by twelve feet that Karen uses for her office and if I want to stay out of trouble, I never go in. Our master bedroom is just large enough for a queen size bed and a small wardrobe.  To get between the bed and the wall,  one has to stand with their back to the wall,  and do a side step across the width of the bed.
This humble abode is apartment 1615 in the “C” building at the Harborfront apartments in Hung Hom on the peninsula side of Hong Kong. Our daily schedule includes a walk on the promenade, personal and companion study, reading the Book of Mormon each morning together, and prayer before we head out. Each morning we walk several hundred meters to the bus stop, catch the #104 double-decker which takes us under the harbor through a tunnel and drops us off in front of the old Wan Chai police station next to the Church’s Asia Area Administration building. We office on the tenth floor which is the executive office floor with all the Area Presidency offices on the same floor.  We have 4 attorneys on the 10th floor also.   Everyone on the floor with exception of the us and the Yans are in nice offices, we on the other hand have deluxe cubicles. Karen and I share a cubicle; two thirds and the window for her,  leaving one third for me.
This week we went to Victoria park to the Chinese New Year Festival. It was crowded with people buying flowers, trees, bamboo, and pussy willows in preparation for the weekend of Chinese New Year. It is fun to share in another culture's holiday and observe traditions that have been practiced for centuries.
 After the park Karen and I split up with her attending a hot pot dinner with the other missionaries and me meeting up with Edward Lai and Jerry Yu for dinner in Fan Ling. Karen and the other missionaries met the Wrights who are new arrivals at dinner and said goodbye to the Thongs who were leaving the next morning. I was able to meet the Wrights at lunch the next day. We will miss Roy and Pricilla Thong here in Hong Kong but look forward to a continued relationship with them going forward.
Rebekah and David Stringham arrived this week and we were able to spend some time with them. We spent the better part of a day showing them around both the Island and the Peninsula. It was fun seeing Bekah happily married and full of life.
We  had a wonderful dinner with the Asia Area Missionaries and the Area Presidency the second night of the New Year. Sister Funk hosted it and went all out on the decorations and food. It was originally intended that after dinner we would watch the fireworks from the Funk’s patio on the top of the building,  but because of a terrible tragedy killing nineteen people in a bus crash this week the fireworks were canceled.
The third day of the New Year we were invited out to the Fan Ling Ward for a special baptism. Ethan Chan, the great grandson of a man I helped baptize forty plus years ago, was being baptized. Ethan is the fourth generation to receive baptism in his family. It was a wonderful blessing for me to be included in the circle when he was confirmed a member of the Church. It is surreal to me that something I was involved with so long ago could come back into my life after so many years of not even being aware of what was going on in this wonderful family. And to be able to share it with Karen and have her participate in this experience has sealed our Mission with a real sense of purpose. She will return now with a feeling of fulfillment and honor in the title of a returned missionary. She is a firsthand witness of the power and change associated with conversion and her involvement in helping four generations experience the love of God. I would have never served a mission if I had not met Karen, therefore I would have never met grandpa Chan.
Although Hong Kong has been our home for the last seventeen months we are ready to relocate back to a home near our children and grandchildren, our real home.

We are beginning to tie things up here and hopefully prepare a soft landing for the next couple that will be taking our place. The Mortenson’s from Houston will be arriving shortly after we leave. We have talked to them on the phone and believe they will accomplish things here that we have never even thought of.

Happy Chinese New Year 2018

Elder and Sister Chiu are Temple Missionaries here.  They are wonderful friends!

Saying goodbye to Elder and Sister Thong was hard.  They finished their mission,  we are really going to miss them!

Lynn's assistant from his days at Security National,  Bekah,  and her husband David.  We enjoyed getting to see them while they were here in Hong Kong

One of our favorite things we do here in Hong Kong,  taking the missionaries to lunch!  Front left - Elder Larsen.  Back right - Elder Cabrae,   middle -  Elder Earls, and front Elder Parker.

Baptism for Ethan Chan.  In 1973 Lynn baptized Ethan's grandfather and great-grandfather.  What a blessing to be gathered with their family,  4 generations now living the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Brother and Sister Wong live here in Hong Kong.  They serve in the Temple on Wednesday nights with us.  

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Visits, Service, and More

Another great week in Hong Kong!
This week we had visitors from the States. The Founders Group of Entrepreneurship & Technology from BYU,  the same group  we traveled to Africa with a few years ago.  They arrived on Saturday night and left on the following Saturday morning.   Among others that we knew, Lanny and Carla Smith, our neighbors from Alpine, were in the group visiting. We joined them all for dinner Sunday night in Wan Chai which for us was a fun reunion.
Monday, after leaving Karen still in bed I caught the bus over to Wan Chai to watch the first half of the Super Bowl with the Cory’s and Hansen’s in the Executive Conference room on the tenth floor.   I then left Wan Chai and caught a taxi up to the Peak and showed the Founders Group the rock with the date 7/14/49 scratched in it. It is the site that Mathew Cowley dedicated Hong Kong for the preaching of the Gospel. I then hustled back to Hung Hum to meet Karen and the Chatterton’s for lunch and a movie.
We were in the Temple early morning Tuesday and officiated a special morning session for the Founders Group. What a great opportunity for us to be able to participate in this manner with our friends visiting from the states. We spent the rest of the day in the office taking care of this week’s business because we knew that we would be spending more time this week with our friends.
The next day we met Lanny and Carla at their hotel in the morning and took them first to Mei Ho House. We wanted them to see a H-Block housing building,  and to familiarize them with the history of how the British responded to the huge migration of Chinese in the late sixties and early seventies.
We then went to Hung Hum and the wet market. This is a must stop tourist site that is guaranteed to make you gag. We then crossed the harbor and met Annie for a wonderful Thai lunch. Probably the best meal the Smith’s ate while in Hong Kong. After that we came back to Hung Hum to our apartment and visited until they needed to get back and meet their group for dinner. It was a wonderful opportunity to spend time with Lanny and Carla, they have been good friends to us for years.
Thursday, we took all six of the Filipino Sister missionaries out to lunch at Triple O’s. This has become quite the monthly tradition for us and we are going to miss this experience a lot. We insist that in addition to a burger and fries that each Sister order a milk shake with their meal. This is one of our favorite activities here in Hong Kong, spoiling the Filipino Sister Missionaries. Needless to say, we are one of their favorite Senior Missionary Couples.
Karen and Annie helped supervise a Missionary service project on Friday with a Charity here, Food-Link. This is a Charity sponsored by Wendy Gwok who is a very influential person here in Hong Kong that we have been developing a relationship with for most of our Mission. It was a big step and the beginning of a great new relationship.
Learned something interesting this week that we want to share. While in a meeting this week one of the Senior Couple Missionaries shared with the group that a Missionary Couple replacement for Cambodia will not be coming. Apparently while processing their Missionary application they failed the health exam. The doctor found a cancerous tumor on the Brother’s thyroid. Elder Evans commented that he has seen a lot of members lives prolonged  because they had committed to serve a Mission, and in the process of getting a call, a health issue was revealed that would otherwise not have been discovered in time for treatment. He mentioned that he has witnessed many members that  have had decades of years added to their lives to enjoy their posterity because of the medical exams during preparation to serve missions.

It was so nice having our friends Lanny and Carla Smith here.

Elder and Sister's service project bagging rice for the needy.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

More Mission Experiences

This week we bid farewell to Lisa and Ryan, spent more time than usual in the Temple, and ended the week with the Vienna Boys’ Choir.
Lisa and Ryan left Tuesday morning to return to the States. We already miss them but know we will see them and the rest of our family soon. We have less than two months left to serve and are beginning to feel the reality that we are in the home stretch of our Mission.
We worked in the Temple Wednesday evening as weekly Ordinance Workers with Patrons from Cambodia, China, and Hong Kong. The Cambodians are always a special session because most of them cannot read as a result of the Khmer Rouge Occupation.   They are all relatively young but are so attentive and so eager to learn when receiving their Endowment. We had a wonderful evening.
The next morning, we attended our monthly special Session with the Area Presidency. Because we will be going home soon Karen and I were asked to Officiate and Follow the Session.   After the Session we met for our small testimony meeting where Elder and Sister Tong shared their final testimonies before returning home this month. Elder and Sister Hyde then shared their testimonies as the newest Missionaries to arrive. President Funk then shared as part of his Testimony a story that we think is worth sharing.
He said that while sitting in the session he was pondering how wonderful the Temple is and how good it feels to be in the Temple. While thinking, he reflected to a time some years ago when he was released as a Stake President. In the process of selecting a new Stake President and all the distraction associated with the change he had neglected to renew his recommend knowing that it would expire in a few weeks. He attended the Temple a few days after the release and the worker at the front desk pointed out to him that his recommend would soon expire. Even with this reminder he forgot to renew his recommend,  and the next week went to the Temple with his now expired recommend. As he got out of his car in the Temple parking lot and began to walk toward the Temple it occurred to him that he did not have a current recommend. He knew, because he had been a Stake President, that without a current recommend he could not enter the Temple. He knew the worker at the front desk, he knew the Recorder the Assistant Recorder, and all the Temple Presidency personally and they knew him, but he also knew that without a current recommend that he could not enter the Temple. He went back to his car feeling terrible and made a promise to himself that he would never allow himself to be in a position again of not being able to enter the Temple.  
After our testimony meeting,  the Temple President then asked if any Senior Couples could help Friday morning because forty American couples were coming in from China. These couples all teach English in different Universities throughout China and can come to Hong Kong and attend the Temple once a year. We saw this as a good opportunity so we spent the morning in the Temple helping out.

The Vienna Boys Choir performed Saturday night at the Town Hall in Sha Tin and we with several other Senior Couples attended the concert. I was a bit apprehensive, but I thought it would be a special treat for Karen,  so I attended in support.  It was, after all, a once in a life time experience to hear them in Hong Kong.   I was pleasantly surprised that I enjoyed the performance, although not my preferred music genre, they were very impressive. Maybe all Karen’s effort over the years  is paying off and I am a diamond in the rough!  Actually,  we always enjoy all the activities we do with all the other Senior Missionaries!