About Us

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Sister Missionaries

This week in addition to our regular weekly activities we enjoyed a night of entertainment at the Hong Kong Coliseum. The Kendell’s, Chatterton’s and ourselves attended the International Military Tattoo, a show of Military bands from around the world. It opened with the flag raising ceremony and National Anthem of the People’s Republic of China. Two flags were raised in celebration of twenty years of the reunification of Hong Kong to her Motherland and the establishment of the SAR, Special Administrative Region, “One Country two Systems”. The pageantry and precision of the participants were spectacular. Bands from China, Mongolia, the Netherlands, Russia, the United Kingdom (Scotland), and the United States all participated. Karen and I learned first hand that the Netherlands have a fun sense of Humor and the Scotts have great respect for their Scottish legacy. The band from the Netherlands entered the arena on bicycles and the Scotts in Kilts. Playing an instrument while pedaling a bike is quite entertaining but it does not create the goosebumps of The Royal Regiment of Scotland emerging from a tunnel with the sound of drums and bagpipes playing the Ode to Joy.
We felt goosebumps a second time when the U.S. 7th Fleet Band marched into the arena dressed in their white uniforms and performed the T.V. theme song from “Peter Gunn”.  The Peoples Liberation Army/Navy and the Russian Bands marched with the high goose step that we don’t see on our side of the world. It was a very interesting evening as band after band displayed great admiration and respect to their respective Countries.

The finale featured all the bands coming out on the floor together with a choir of 500 voices performing from their seats, “Tomorrow will be Better”.

Saturday, after our block of meetings the Branch held a special activity recognizing three special Sisters. The first, Sister Amai will be leaving in a week to serve in the “Manchester, England Mandarin Mission”. She is a Filipino domestic worker that has been employed here in Hong Kong for the last five years. We love her and are excited to see her have this opportunity and know she will be a very special Missionary. The other two Sisters, Amenita and Baloyot are finishing their Missions this next week. Karen and I have made it a habit to take the younger Missionaries out to lunch or dinner so that we can get to know them better. We have enjoyed multiple opportunities with these two and are really going to miss them. They are both from the Philippines and will be returning to humble environments. Although they have been very good Missionaries we worry about what future opportunities will be available to them. It is hard because we have become so emotionally attached. There are three other Sisters who serve in a different branch that will be going home with them that we are close to,  and will miss as well.

The Branch activity was a good send-off with lots of food, song, and a great video presentation. Many hugs, tears, and photos were part of the evening as well as final testimonies declaring the love that is associated with Missionary work. We hope that these Sisters will do well returning to a life far short of the comforts that await us when we finish our service. We realize that if we don’t gain anymore from this experience than a sure knowledge of how blessed we are it was not for wont, and that the meek truly will inherit the earth.

This week we said goodbye to 3 Sister Missionaries.  Sister Baluyot (top) and Sister Amenita (bottom right),  have been serving here in Hong Kong and are leaving to return to the Phillipines.  Sister Amai (bottom left),  is from the Phillipines, she lives here in Hong Kong,  and is leaving this week to serve in the Manchester England, Cantonese Speaking Mission.  We love these Sisters.  They are always so happy, and they love serving our Heavenly Father.   What a blessing it has been these past 9 months to get to know and love them!

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Jacob Stewart Bennett

We continued to learn and grow this week as Missionaries serving in China, thousands of miles from our home and family. We experienced the harsh reality of being away from our children this week when our eighteenth grandchild was born. Jake came to us on the 6th of July and is doing his part in bringing a fair balance of the number of boys versus girls in our family. Although we could not be there it was a wonderful experience for us to see photos of all Shannon’s sisters and their families at the hospital supporting her. As parents of five very independent stubborn girls it’s hard to hold back tears when they gather in love and show Christlike compassion to each other. It’s a testimony that having mom’s wonderful example has taken root in our family and will flow into future generations forever.

We had a new experience at the Temple this week. In the past, we have participated in sessions narrated in Thai, Mandarin, Mongolian, Cantonese, and English. In addition, we have also experienced patrons speaking Russian, Vietnamese, Tagalog, and Indonesian. We can now add Khmer, the official language spoken in Cambodia. We worked with a group of fifteen or so Cambodian patrons this week and it was a spiritual treat. It’s hard to wrap our minds around the sacrifice and commitment required for members in this part of the world to receive their Temple Ordinances. The patrons that we met this week understand and except in all likeliness that they will never see the inside of a Temple again in their lifetime.

 With this knowledge, they come to the Temple with a determination to absorb all they can in the sessions they are able to attend in the few days they are here. It is a lesson to us to witness that because of the righteous desires of their hearts and through the influence of the Spirit their minds are enlightened and they learn in those few days what it takes most of us a lifetime to learn. They leave here stronger and better prepared for whatever challenges await them in their future lives. Our testimonies of the Temple Ordinances have grown significantly as we have participated in Temple work here in Hong Kong.

Each week we experience a good week with our Mission Companion. An immense benefit of being a Senior Missionary is that you bring your companion with you into the Mission Field.  Another is that in our case one of us will never be saddled with the burden of being the Senior. (you can guess which one of us wears the pants) We love being together 24/7 and getting the chance to remember why we fell in love, I’ve learned that if I were not already married to mom I would seriously be chasing her. Our Mission has confirmed to me what one of my High School friends told me years ago, “Lynn, when you got Karen you got the catch of West High School.”

Our newest Branch member,  Lynette.  She is amazing!

Our Sister Missionaries.  They are wonderful.  These Sisters  are from the Philippines.  They work really hard with the Philipino people.   

The men who patrol our apartment complex are all Gurkha soldiers from Nepal.   This is Jimmy.  They are all so nice and they love all of us senior missionaries who live here.  "Better to die than be a coward" is the motto of the world-famous Nepalese Gurkha soldiers who are a part of the British Army.   The weapon of the Gurkha is a special knife called a Khukuri Knife.  Lynn used to see these soldiers when he was a missionary here,  they carried their knives tucked in the back of their pants.   Jimmy told us that's how they carry them when they aren't on active duty.  Otherwise they carry them on their hips.   When Lynn asked Jimmy where his knife was,  he said they weren't allowed to carry them here,   they keep them at home.   The tradition is if you draw your knife,   you must draw blood,  if they don't draw the blood of another, they knick themselves on their hands and draw their own blood.  These soldiers  are very respected and it is fun to see them around here all the time.

Elder and Sister Funk invited the senior missionaries to a 4th of July Barbecue.  Their apartment is on the 11th floor of the Wan Chai building that includes a nice patio.  It was so fun.  

Best part of our week,  welcome Jacob Stewart Bennett.  Jake arrived on July 6th.  Congratulations to Shannon, Dave, Madi, Ryan, Abigail, Chloe, and Kaitlynn!   What a blessing to your family and to all of us!

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Reorganize and Refocus

This week Karen and I were able to organize and refocus on some of the responsibilities we are involved with here.

The following responsibilities are not in order of priority but listed as a record of how we spent a lot of our time here as Public Affairs Missionaries.

Corus was updated a week ago consistent to all requisite software, for all program developers annual assault to build a latest and greatest version. We missed the provided training that was held during working hours in Salt Lake and sleeping hours in Hong Kong. So, after hours of fiddling with Corus we were able to publish one syndicated article to Hong Kong’s English edition and two articles to Malaysia’s English edition.

We believe that after another day or two of fiddling with the new software, we will be able to begin training the Missionaries and Media Specialists assigned to other countries in the Asia Area. We will also be posting two syndicated and one original article each month to the Hong Kong Newsroom English edition.

News Brief:
As we have mentioned before we have been having trouble working with a new research and newsletter software called Meltwater that the PA department recently purchased. This is really Karen’s project and with Meltwater she puts out two to three newsletters a week. The recipients of these newsletters are the Area Presidency, Legal, Public Affairs and others as directed. These newsletters contain articles from various newspapers throughout the area reflecting issues requested by the recipients based on issues being worked on. It is an important role that helps keep everyone aware of what is being said and done regarding these issues in the various countries.  The software program was working well for a couple of weeks,  and then quit working. Karen has not been able to put anything out for a couple of weeks and has been working diligently with the computer techies at Meltwater, Hong Kong, and Salt Lake without any positive results. This week while laying awake one night contemplating the problem,  an idea of how to work around the problem and post the articles came to her mind.   The next day she was anxious to get into the office and find out whether or not her idea would work. You guessed it, it did work and she successfully delivered four news articles of helpful information. It really was quite impressive how she solved the problem.  She tested her idea first and it worked,  so she took her idea to our PA director Tom.  He was impressed with her idea and told her she could use it temporally until headquarters in Salt Lake has figured out a permanent solution.   I know I never would have figured it out.

Opinion Leaders:
We are still working on the Opinion Leader Database/CRM but are still on hold waiting for Salt Lake before we can move forward.  We are really anxious to get this done as it will help all of the countries to better organize and build relationships.

Fact Sheets:
I did some searching to update and better organize the information in the Fact Sheet files. We started a photo bank so that we will have easier access to photos needed for annual updates. We reconciled the numbers on the India and Nepal Fact Sheets to the Power Point presentation used by the Humanitarian Missionaries. There have been times in the past where members of the Area Presidency would experience embarrassment when during a presentation the numbers on the handouts were not consistent with the numbers on the screen. So, they have suggested that we and the Humanitarian department work a little closer together in this effort.

Public Affairs Missionaries in other Countries:
Each week we have a call with either one companionship or the entire team of Senior Public Affairs Missionaries. This week we were on a call with Carol Ng and the Humanitarian Senior Couple in Malaysia so we missed our call with the Dowds who serve in Cambodia. Which was our loss because they are always really fun to talk to. In our weekly meeting with Annie we talked about adding the National Directors in a weekly call going forward. The purpose of adding these calls is they need the same support and training we are now giving the Missionaries. Annie assigned us Cambodia, India, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Malaysia because they all have an English Newsroom edition. She gave us all of their contact information so we will be following up on that shortly.

We have two special projects that we can talk about, the first is the University Games which we have mentioned before. This week we confirmed that we have a minimum of five stakes in Taiwan that will be participating. The soccer team has reserved the following dates for us:
1)      Sunday, August 20 – Open to doing a fireside (details haven’t been planned yet)
2)      Tuesday, August 22 – Open to traveling to Central or Southern Taiwan to meet with members, but not both
3)      Saturday, August 26 @ 2-9 p.m. – North Taipei Stake: Face to Face Conversation, Soccer clinic, and Community Outreach Project; North Taipei Stake welcomes members from the other stakes to join.

We are expecting 60 or more kids to participate in the Community Outreach Project. We are teaming up with a non-government charitable organization that will be bringing at-need children to a soccer field where member children will join with them to meet the soccer players and be taught how to play. The team challenged us this week when they told us they could facilitate up to 100 kids.  This means we have some more work to do.

The Face to Face Conversation will be a format similar to the Studio “C” face to face that you can find on you tube. All the players are returned missionaries and will participate. We are being told that it will be broadcast live on Facebook.

The fireside is still being planned. The issue is will there be one large meeting or will they want to spit up the team and do multiple smaller firesides. The Stakes are meeting on this and we will be getting it finalized shortly.

The second project comes from our assignment as interim support for Malaysia. We are working with the Humanitarian Missionaries to provide Hepatitis vaccinations, a water pump, washing machines, and collaborating NGO’s for women’s shelters in four different cities in Malaysia. We had a long meeting this week and have the projects approved conditioned on what I would consider certain common-sense issues. We also are following up with young single mothers and caring for their new-born babies. We are hoping to make friends with this department of the Ministry so that we can gain credibility as a caring loving organization. We hope that as we do good things those in power will recognize us for who we are.

I should also mention that the week ended with a baptism and a holiday, (Establishment Day) with amazing fireworks.

July 1st celebration of "Establishment Day".  The busses coming into Wan Chai were backed up as far as we could see.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Mark and Rebekah's visit

We had a great week spending time with old friends.

This week Mark Ainscough and his wife, Rebekah visited Hong Kong as part of their Asia trip. Prior to arriving in Hong Kong, they had toured Beijing, Xian, and Guilin.

They came in Tuesday night and we met them in the lobby of their hotel. The Chatterton’s were with us and it was the first time in forty four years that the three of us, Mark, John, and I were here together. The six of us visited for a little over an hour in the lobby before we let them retire for some much-needed sleep after a long day of travel.

The Chatterton’s were tied up the rest of the week because their daughter Natalie, her husband, Doug and their four children arrived for a much-anticipated visit. They spent the rest of the week touring and playing with kids and grandkids.

Karen and I met Mark and Rebekah Wednesday morning and the four of us walked from their hotel on Nathan Road to our apartment in Hung Hom. We then took the MTR to Fanling, an area in the New Territories that both Mark and I served in as young Missionaries. It was the second area that I served in and the third area that Mark served. We were never in Fanling together but it was fun to visit because we thought that we might be able to find the old apartment. It didn’t take us long once we got off the train to see that the old village and farmland that we experienced was nothing like we remembered. The old rice paddies of our day were now sixty-story apartment buildings that were a small part of a metropolis. The only landmark we recognized was the name of a major highway, Jockey Road and it was no more than a two-lane country road when we last saw it. Needless to say, the apartment is long gone.

We then visited the Kowloon Tong Chapel, Mission Offices, and the Temple. The Temple is closed for refurbishing and will open next week which is unfortunate because the Ainscough’s had brought with them two names of ancestors that Mark wanted to do the work for in the Hong Kong Temple. It was fun to reflect with Mark that not one of these structures were here when we served as Elders. I shared with my friend the following history shared with me by Sheldon Poon concerning the dedication of the area, the mission and the acquisition of the ground that the Temple is built on;


In 1949, President Hilton Robertson and Elder Henry Aki with their wives were assigned to open the China Mission of the Church. Accompanying them to Hong Kong were Elder and Sister Matthew Cowley of the Council of the Twelve. President Robertson was the man who knew more about the Oriental people than any other man in the Church. He had earlier presided over the Japanese Mission in Hawaii for 4 years, and was currently a counselor in the East Provo Stake Presidency. On July 14, 1949, at the Victoria Peak on Hong Kong Island, Elder Cowley offered the prayer that officially opened the mission to the Chinese people. Mindful of President McKay's dedicatory prayer of 1921 in Beijing, Elder Cowley once again asked God to open up the way for the Gospel to be brought to that great nation. The missionaries were not able to enter China, because the communists had just taken over the whole nation and established the People's Republic of China.

For many years, we had no idea about the exact location at the Victoria Peak where Elder Cowley offered the dedicatory prayer to open the China Mission. It was not until after Elder Cowley passed away and Sister Cowley decided to clean up his personal history file at home and found a photo of them standing next to a piece of rock engraved with 7/14/49. She remembered that was the site at the Victoria Peak where Elder Cowley offered the dedicatory prayer. They were good friends with Truman Madsen of BYU. When she heard that Truman was going to tour the missions in Asia with other general board members of the Church, she gave that photo to Truman asking him to hand deliver it to the Mission President in Hong Kong. Truman Madsen was then a General Board Member of the Church Melchizedek Priesthood Committee. Later, it was Mission President Hinton who decided to give up one P Day on Monday, and have all of his missionaries up to the Victoria Peak to search for that piece of rock with 7/14/49 engraved. They found it.

Brief Church History in China and Hong Kong - Prepared by Sheldon Poon:

1853: Elders Hosea Stout, James Lewis & Chapman Duncan, the first missionaries called to serve in China.

1921: President David O. McKay dedicated China in Peking – January 9th.

1949: Elder Matthew Cowley opened the China Mission. Dedication took place in Hong Kong – July 14th.

1950: Two young men were called to serve in the China Mission – H. Grant Heaton & William Paalani.

1955: H. Grant Heaton at age 26 became the first President of Southern Far East Mission in Hong Kong.

1955: Kowloon-Tong Mission Home was purchased.

1956: Two of the earliest members (Li, Nai Ken and Nora Koot) served as full time missionaries.

1957: Total members was about 400.  My brother Tony and I were taught by missionaries – Malan Jackson and Lowry Bishop and were baptized in 1958 after going through 17 discussions in 4 months.

1960: Elder Gordon B. Hinckley was appointed to supervise the Asian area. Purchase of Kom Tong Hall.

1965: Tiu Keng Leng was the first chapel built in Hong Kong.

1965: Book of Mormon in Chinese was published.  D & C was in 1974.

1967: Yuen Long Chapel was dedicated by President Hugh B. Brown of the First Presidency.

1967: Cultural Revolution broke out in China with political instability, in forms of riots and bomb threat. Many missionaries were re-assigned to other missions. Some branches were needed to be consolidated.

1967: At age 22, I was called to serve as the President of Tsim Sha Tsui, the largest branch in membership.

1970: At age 25, I was called to serve as the President of Hong Kong District with 13 branches.

1971: Eliza and I were the first couple from Hong Kong to receive our endowment and temple marriage in the Salt Lake Temple. Right after our wedding, I was called by the First Presidency to stay behind and assist Professor Gary Williams of BYU to finish the translation of the endowment ordinances and prepare the Chinese scripts for use by Chinese members who didn't know any English.

1972: I led a group of 11 members from Hong Kong to the Hawaii Temple to prepare the Cantonese recording of the endowment ceremony.

1974: The Church bought the land in Homantin for the construction of the Hong Kong Stake Center.

1974: I led a group of 18 members, the first temple excursion group to Salt Lake City.

1974: The number of summer missionaries reached 93.

1975: President Spencer W. Kimball came to Hong Kong to preside over the first Area Conference. I was privileged to conduct the Press Conference with journalists from 15 local newspapers and magazines and a TV Station in attendance.

1976: I was called to serve as the President of the first Hong Kong Stake.

1980: Hong Kong Stake was divided into two Stakes, namely Hong Kong Island Stake & Kowloon Stake.

1984: Four Stakes were formed, adding the North Kowloon Stake and New Territories Stake.

1988: 85 local brothers and sisters joined the army of full-time missionaries, making up 50% of all missionaries in Hong Kong, served under President Charles Goo.

1991: The First Presidency requested the Asia Area Presidency to search for a temple site. In July, President Hinckley and Ted Simmons came to Hong Kong to choose the site for the Temple.

1992: TAI, Kwok Yuen was the first Chinese to be called as a General Authority of the Church.

1996: Hong Kong Temple dedication – May 25th & 26th:  President Hinckley, President Monson & Elder Wirthlin.


H. Grant Heaton of Salt Lake City with his companion William Paalani were called in 1950 as the first young missionaries to labor in the China Mission with headquarters in Hong Kong, which was the only safe place because of the British control. They just stayed for a short time and had to leave and finish their mission in San Francisco when the Korean War broke out in July, 1950. While in Hong Kong, Elder Heaton made friends with George Liu, who was a Catholic.

In May 1955 at age 26, H. Grant Heaton was called to preside and reopen the mission in Hong Kong, named the Southern Far East Mission. One of his challenges by President David O. McKay was to find and purchase a suitable site for the Mission Home property. He said, "I immediately started a search to look for an ideal place for our Mission Headquarters and had also asked George Liu to keep a look out for us".

Recorded from President Heaton's Journal:

George and I looked at several properties but none were satisfactory. Finally we found a construction site where a large condominium type apartment was being built. I decided to try to purchase one of the floors of this building. I wrote to the Church Building Committee, but receive no response. We found another home that we thought might be adequate for us. I wrote to the Building Committee again, but without any response . . . until after the building had been sold. I despaired of not being able to comply with both the British requirements and the Church requirements. Because we were not recognized as a Church in Hong Kong, we could not own property in the name of the Church. Because we were not registered there, we could not comply with the Church building requirements for title documentation.

In desperation I wrote directly to President McKay. My letter was a lengthy one. I explained the difficulty of communicating with the Building Committee. I explained the problem of land ownership in Hong Kong. I discussed the unstable political situation and the risky nature of real estate. I even discussed a recent article in a local newspaper about the fact that Hong Kong was a dying colony and that the British would abandon it because it was costing too much to support.

In a very short time I received a letter from President McKay in which he suggested that I enter into a conspiracy with him against the Church bureaucracy. He outlined a method for transfer of funds between him and me. If I found property that we desired to purchase, I was to send a cable to him at a special cable number (not Quickmere Salt Lake City) letting him know how much money I needed. He assured me he would have it wired to me at the First National City Bank of New York, Hong Kong Branch. I was instructed to purchase the property in my name, have trust deeds prepared to deed these over to the Church, but to hold these trust deeds private and not register them with any agency in Hong Kong. I was to keep them with me at Mission Headquarters.

President McKay also noted my concern with the political situation, and the risky real estate market. He said, "Brother Heaton, we are not in the real estate business, we are in the missionary business".

Shortly after this letter, I located a property that was acceptable, only because it was available. It was in Kowloon-Tong on Waterloo Road. I negotiated with the owner, an elderly gentleman. He spoke very little English, but we managed to discuss the price, and the method of payment. I asked him if he would accept an earnest money deposit. I explained that this was a normal procedure in the United States. He agreed and I gave him a check for HK$5,000.-

In the meantime, George Liu had also been looking for property. A Catholic Priest, Father Lee had told him of a piece of property, also in Kowloon-Tong area that was for sale. In fact the property owners, friends of Father Lee, were in some difficulty and needed immediate cash for the property. George called and asked me to come to see the property. I told him that I had already purchased a Mission Home site. George insisted. I still declined to go with him. Finally he plead that Father Lee had made the trip from Lantau Island to show me the property. I agreed to go see it.

Whereas the property I had committed to buy was desirable only because it was available, this property Father Lee showed me was more than perfect. On a scale of 1 to 10, this property was at least a 15. It was an old British colonial building, quite run down, but it had a swimming pool and two private wells, connected with a pump. This was very unusual. It was built for one of the Governors or his staff about 1936. It had survived the Japanese occupation. It was large, in comparison to other lots, and the price they were asking was somewhat less than I had agreed to pay for the other lot I had committed to purchase. I was in the depths of despair. I knew this new site was the one we needed. But I did not see how I could get myself out of the purchase contract of the other property.

I spent two very uncomfortable days trying to devise a way to get out of the mess I had created. Finally I decided to visit the man I had made a deal with. When I arrived at his home, there were two other young men with him. I supposed they were his attorneys or other advisors. He introduced them to me as his two sons. I was going to explain my situation and to ask if they would release me from our contract agreement and I would allow them to keep the deposit. But before I could make this offer, one of his sons interrupted me. He said he and his brother wished to apologize for the problem they had created. Their father had not consulted them about selling the home and they did not want to sell it. Would I be willing to take back the deposit and cancel the transaction?  I felt like shouting, weeping, and jumping up and down, but I kept my cool. I graciously accepted their apology and took back the deposit money.

Without any delay, President Heaton then immediately made the deposit payment to secure the purchase of this new property at No. 2 Cornwall Street, Kowloon-Tong arranged for sale by Father Lee. When it came to the question on final payment of this property, Father Lee was willing to act as the guarantor for this transaction. He said he's very familiar with the Mormon Church and knew that the Church could come up with the cash for this property. He further said that he used to live in Utah and had been trained at the Trappist Monastery in Huntsville, Utah.

The Hong Hong China Temple today is located at No. 2 Cornwall Street, Kowloon-Tong.

Continued from President Heaton's Journal:

It took a short time to complete the legal documents, and finalize the sale. There was still some problem with the Building Committee in the renovation of the home, but it was finally done.

Another exchange of letters took place during this time that became quite significant. In making application for certain renovation of the Mission Home, we had difficulty in getting permits for the work to be done. I visited the government department that issued permits and got nowhere at all. I was quite frustrated. I mentioned this to Father Lee and George Liu. They asked me if I had paid any "key money". I had not, and didn't know how to go about it. They told me to talk to the contractor who was doing the renovation. He informed me that the normal "key money" fee for this permit was HK$15,000.- (about US$2,200.-). I did not know what to do, so I again wrote a long letter to the First Presidency. I outlined the dilemma and asked for their advice. I received a very short letter back from President J. Reuben Clark. He thanked me for my letter, and informed me that the Church had been faced with this situation in other places, especially in South America. He informed me to, "pay the money, record it on your books as forced commission, and get on with the Lord's work". The money was paid and the work completed.

We knew that the Lord had blessed us in getting a Mission Home. He did not confide in me that He had a higher purpose for this property. When I learned of President Hinckley's report of his unsatisfactory search for a Temple site, and that in the middle of the night he was given the assurance that the Church already owned the property for the Temple, it brought back a flood of wonderful memories and thankfulness to God that He had been able to use us more than just to buy a Mission Home.

Following the purchase of the Mission Home, we were able to purchase several properties for the Church. Many of them were top floors of large apartment buildings. This would be built with a chapel, classrooms, living quarters for missionaries and a reception area. We also optioned the roof of the buildings. These were flat. We put a wire fence around the sides and used this area for our MIA activities.

President McKay never once failed to send funds when I cabled for them. He never asked questions, nor did he ask me to account for the funds. On two occasions, the Church Auditor, Brother Schmidt visited us. In auditing our books he never asked for any accounting about the properties we had purchased. I supposed that President McKay had not included him in on the conspiracy. From 1955-1959, we had no visitors from the Church General Authorities We sometimes felt that they had forgotten us, except for the fact that the First Presidency were always prompt to answer our letters.

When I was notified of my release, and was turning the mission affairs over to President Robert Taylor, I brought up the fact that I still had funds in my account for the purchase of two more apartment units. He seemed puzzled about this, so I did not tell him any more. I had the funds returned to President McKay.

After I returned home, I took a box that contained all the documents relating to the real estate transactions to the Church Legal Department. I was told to give them to Brother Snyder. He took the box, examined the contents for awhile, and then took it into another office. After a short while he came back where he had left me and asked if I had legal counsel. I informed him that I did not, and furthermore did not think that I needed any. I asked him if there was a problem with the documents I had brought him. He explained that they were not at all in order according to procedures of the Church. There was no proper accounting of funds nor any papers of approval for the purchase of the property. (After I had purchased property, I always sent the proper request in to the Building Committee. They disapproved every purchase I had already made). He informed me that misappropriation of funds was a serious matter and that I should obtain legal advice. He was very serious and I was a little concerned. I suggested that he give President McKay a call. (Thank goodness he was still alive). After a few moments, Brother Snyder came back into the room with a smile on his face. He said: "If President McKay says it is OK, then I guess it is OK!  I am sorry if I worried you". A week or so later, after a meeting I had with the First Presidency, President McKay came to me and gave me a hug and said: "We surely created a hornet's nest over at the Legal Department, didn't we?"

Without President McKay's support of our efforts in Hong Kong, and Taiwan, we would never have been able to get the work started and we would not have property for mission home or chapels. He was truly an agent in the Lord's work.

H. Grant Heaton
January 6, 1997

President Gordon B. Hinckley's account on the selection of Hong Kong Temple site:

President Hinckley said, the most significant experience he ever had in Hong Kong was the inspiration for the design of the Hong Kong China Temple.

President Hinckley was particularly anxious to finalize selection of a site in Hong Kong; and though he had scouted locations on several previous trips, in July 1992 President Hinckley made another quick trip there for the sole purpose of looking at property. The decision's weight pressed upon him, and he felt unsettled about what he saw and worried about what to do. But early in the morning the day after his arrival, he had an unusual experience: "Something very interesting came into my mind. I did not hear a voice with my natural ears. But into my mind there came the voice of the Spirit. It said, "Why are you worried about this? You have a wonderful piece of property where the mission home and the small chapel stand. They are in the very heart of Kowloon, in the location with the best of transportation......Build a building of (several) stories. It can include a chapel and classrooms on the first two floors and a temple on the top two or three floors....... I relaxed and went back to sleep." (see GBHJ, 26 July 1992). For two days as he inspected site after site, he said nothing about his impressions. Finally, after leading an intense search, he showed the others involved in the decision a sketch he had made of the idea that had come to him, and all agreed this was the way to proceed.

President Hinckley's original plan was to construct a building with sufficient levels, just large enough to accommodate the above features that he mentioned: The temple, chapel and classrooms, mission home and office, temple president's apartment and the baptismal font. But the Temple Department suggested to construct a taller building with more floors to fully make use of that 21,744 square feet floor area. So, the plans were submitted to the local government department concerned, but was disapproved, because of the zoning restrictions and civil regulations. (The Hong Kong International Airport was still located in Kowloon City District, right next to Kowloon-Tong). The Church Building Department then submitted President Hinckley's original plan for a lower building and that's approved.

Speaking at the Temple Dedication, President Hinckley said, "If ever in my life I felt the inspiration of the Lord, it's with this Building".

In addition to visiting these sights we were able to visit our offices in Wan Chai, have lunch with some of the Missionaries, have dinner at our favorite restaurant Al Dante’s, and end the week by visiting the Peak the night before the Ainscough’s flight home.

It was a great week and a great memory to be cherished as part of our Mission experience.

Elder Chatterton,  Mark Ainscough,  and Lynn.  The three of them entered the Mission Home together 44 years ago.   Mark and his wife Rebekah came for a visit this past week.  It was wonderful having them here,  and a great experience for these 3 to be together in Hong Kong again!

We took the MTR out to Fanleng (a 45 minute train ride),  so Lynn and Mark could find one of the apartments they lived in during their mission,  sadly,  it was gone.

Another great week serving in our Saturday Branch.  The sisters love performing skits!  They look for every opportunity to throw skits together for a FHE  activity.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Time Flies on this Side of the World

This week went by at the speed of light. I can't  believe how fast time flies on this side of the earth.

In August the US soccer team supported by BYU will be participating in Taiwan at the University games.  This is an event that will host 12,000 athletes representing 150 countries. The team and coaches are all returned missionaries and have contacted us hoping to participate in firesides, church meetings, clinics, and maybe even a service project while they are in Taiwan competing. We are currently acting as the liaison between the team representative and the Area Seventy, Country Affairs, and Communication Directors in Taiwan. It is fun to be involved with a project that is this big and will have an affect on so many people. Next to the Olympics this is the largest most inclusive global sports event held in the world and Karen and I just so happen to be right here in the middle of it.

I am stalled out with my Opinion Leader CRM project. After multiple conversations with Salt Lake and a conditional nod to move forward I prepared and submitted (as required) the concept in writing for a more formal review. I then reviewed via WebEx the written proposal with Salt Lake and answered questions form three Church employees that are directly involved with the work that would need to be completed on their end. Everyone involved seemed resolved to move forward but cautioned that there may be some pushback on issues regarding timing and security. I did not hear anything for a while so I sent a note and received a note back that one of the key players on the previous call was now on maternity leave, so we would need to bring one of her associates up to speed before we could move forward. We scheduled another WebEx and had another positive meeting. The person new to the project is very experienced with the software and understood almost immediately what I was proposing and how it would help us. Again, I received positive feedback and a commitment that the project has merit and would not only help us in Asia but it could be implemented in other Areas as well. The employees in Salt Lake are very busy and I did not hear from them for a couple of weeks and so I sent them a note. I received a note back last week that before they felt comfortable meeting with legal in Salt Lake they wanted me to get something from legal here, in Hong Kong, opining to the project. The Attorney here is currently in Utah attending his daughter’s wedding and will not be back until the second week of July. It's  okay though, I still have nine months before I go home.

Speaking of Salt Lake, Karen has also been hung up for a week or two with her News Briefs.   We converted to some new software recently and everything was going like clockwork until the newsletters just stopped being received by the recipients. It looked as though Karen had just decided to stop sending the briefs out to those that she previously had sent them to. (i.e. the Area Presidency) When Karen realized the newsletter was not going out she was mortified and quickly began an investigation as to how she could send something out and it get lost in an abyss somewhere.   She soon found that it had something to do with the Church’s security system so she contacted Church Headquarters. She has been working with Salt Lake the last few days trying to get it fixed. (The Area Presidency is happy to know that Sister Beckstead is not on strike.)

The work in Myanmar has progressed to the point where the Area Presidency has requested a Fact Sheet. It was our first request for a Fact Sheet since we put a process in place at the end of last year with the Departments of both Humanitarian and Records/Statistics. We were able to put it together, other than photos, in less than an hour which is far less time than before the new process. The Fact Sheets going forward will now be a relatively easy process for us and for those that follow us.

Karen and I have been aware but not directly involved in a fun project for several months that is finally gaining some traction. Annie has been working with multiple organizations here in obtaining rights to an electronic Chinese edition of the Bible. She has reached the point in her efforts that she has brought Salt Lake into the process. Karen and I participated in a call recently with Annie and Salt Lake and found it ironic that the person in Salt Lake that is helping us secure the rights to a Chinese version of the Bible is a direct descendant of Martin Harris. We are very confident that this faithful member will not have the same experience of losing a few pages during this process. Although we can’t help teasing Annie about it.

We are still spending time and resources on helping the victims confined to the shelters in Malaysia. Everyone here wants to be involved in some way of ridding the world of the insidious practice of human trafficking. It is as perverse and wicked as anything ever employed in the history of mans existence. Carol Ng met with Dr. Rajah in Malaysia yesterday and sent a note to Karen that it was a good meeting and will report on Tuesday. I am sure that this is something that we will work on for the rest of our lives let alone the rest of our Mission. To become aware of something like this makes me so grateful for the gospel and a testimony that that the good guys will eventually win in the end. I am so happy that circumstances worked out for me so that I found a place on the winning team.

Relief Society in the Saturday Branch,  and the Sister Missionaries hanging out after the block for a few minutes before they head out to their next appointment.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

The Chan Family- A Highlight of our Mission

This week we finished a speaking assignment to speak to each day of the everyday branch. Karen spoke about forgiveness and shared the following story as told by Elder David E. Sorenson about his father.
I grew up in a small farming town where water was the lifeblood of the community. I remember the people of our society constantly watching, worrying, and praying over the rain, irrigation rights, and water in general. Sometimes my children chide me; they say they never knew someone so preoccupied with rain. I tell them I suppose that’s true because where I grew up the rain was more than a preoccupation. It was a matter of survival!
Under the stress and strain of our climate, sometimes people weren’t always at their best. Occasionally, neighbors would squabble over one farmer taking too long a turn from the irrigation ditch. That’s how it started with two men who lived near our mountain pasture, whom I will call Chet and Walt. These two neighbors began to quarrel over water from the irrigation ditch they shared. It was innocent enough at first, but over the years the two men allowed their disagreements to turn into resentment and then arguments—even to the point of threats.
One July morning both men felt they were once again short of water. Each went to the ditch to see what had happened, each in his own mind reckoning the other had stolen his water. They arrived at the headgate at the same time. Angry words were exchanged; a scuffle ensued. Walt was a large man with great strength. Chet was small, wiry, and tenacious. In the heat of the scuffle, the shovels the men were carrying were used as weapons. Walt accidentally struck one of Chet’s eyes with the shovel, leaving him blind in that eye.
Months and years passed, yet Chet could not forget nor forgive. The anger that he felt over losing his eye boiled inside him, and his hatred grew more intense. One day, Chet went to his barn, took down the gun from its rack, got on his horse, and rode down to the headgate of the ditch. He put a dam in the ditch and diverted the water away from Walt’s farm, knowing that Walt would soon come to see what had happened. Then Chet slipped into the brush and waited. When Walt appeared, Chet shot him dead. Then he got on his horse, went back to his home, and called the sheriff to inform him that he had just shot Walt.
My father was asked to be on the jury that tried Chet for murder. Father disqualified himself because he was a longtime friend of both men and their families. Chet was tried and convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison.
After many years, Chet’s wife came to my father and asked if he would sign a petition to the governor, asking for clemency for her husband, whose health was now broken after serving so many years in the state penitentiary. Father signed the petition. A few nights later, two of Walt’s grown sons appeared at our door. They were very angry and upset. They said that because Father had signed the petition, many others had signed. They asked Father to have his name withdrawn from the petition. He said no. He felt that Chet was a broken and sick man. He had suffered these many years in prison for that terrible crime of passion. He wanted to see Chet have a decent funeral and burial beside his family.
Walt’s sons whirled in anger and said, “If he is released from prison, we will see that harm comes to him and his family.”
Chet was eventually released and allowed to come home to die with his family. Fortunately, there was no further violence between the families. My father often lamented how tragic it was that Chet and Walt, these two neighbors and boyhood friends, had fallen captive to their anger and let it destroy their lives. How tragic that the passion of the moment was allowed to escalate out of control—eventually taking the lives of both men—simply because two men could not forgive each other over a few shares of irrigation water. David E. Sorenson (https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2003/04/forgiveness-will-change-bitterness-to-love?lang=eng)
I spoke to the principal that you cannot exercise faith contrary to the plan of heaven as taught by the prophet;
“By faith in this atonement or plan of redemption, Abel offered to God a sacrifice that was accepted, which was the firstlings of the flock. Cain offered of the fruit of the ground, and was not accepted, because he could not do it in faith, he could have no faith, or could not exercise faith contrary to the plan of heaven. It must be shedding the blood of the Only Begotten to atone for man; for this was the plan of redemption; and without the shedding of blood was no remission; and as the sacrifice was instituted for a type, by which man was to discern the great Sacrifice which God had prepared; to offer a sacrifice contrary to that, no faith could be exercised, because redemption was not purchased in that way, nor the power of atonement instituted after that order; consequently Cain could have no faith; and whatsoever is not of faith, is sin.” (Smith, Teachings,pp. 58–59.)
The many domestic worker’s in Hong Kong are making great family sacrifices to be here. I believe that they need to find a spiritual answer as to whether the sacrifices they are making are contrary or not to the plan of heaven. I challenged them to meet with their Priesthood Leader and find a way into the Temple and the process of doing so would help them discover for themselves whether their sacrifices were of the nature of Cain or of Able.
We spent Saturday evening in Chai Wan with the Chan family. Grandpa and Grandma Chan are now in their mid-eighties but were easy to recognize after forty years. They were very hospitable and have continued to live in Chai Wan all these years. Their son Gaa Yan or Kevin and his former wife, Anita, joined us at his father’s flat with his two sons, three daughters, their spouses, fiancés, children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren,  and two of his nephews.  As we all gathered at Grandpa’s,  Karen and I had the opportunity to visit and meet each as they arrived. We all walked downstairs and had a wonderful dinner at a fancy Chinese Restaurant where we were seated around a huge round table. Among the eighteen-family seated around the table were three of his grandchildren that attended BYU Idaho, a son-in-law that attended BYU, and a son and son-in-law that are currently serving as Bishops.  There are 5 return missionaries in this family!  The fiancé of his granddaughter who are planning a Temple Wedding in August, a great grandson that is planning his baptism in February and all the rest actively serving and attending church. The only inactive family-member at the table is my friend, Gaa Yan, which we hope to facilitate a change before we come home. I hope that with a little love from an old buddy he will be susceptible to the spirit and find his way back into the lives of his family and the blessings associated therein.
On our way, home last night I could not help but reflect the time when Karen and I first met, and the long talks we had in the front of her house as she shared principles of the Gospel with me. Little did she know or how could she have foreseen that ultimately those same principles with the accompanying blessings would be shared half way around the world in Chinese to Grandpa and Grandma Chan. And now after forty years down to the fourth generation having received all the Saving Ordinances and Covenants of this Dispensation. The Chan’s and Karen are now forever bonded in love.

Lynn with Brother and Sister Chan 44 years after they and their children were baptized.  They were the first family Lynn taught.

Alvin (he is marrying the Chan's granddaughter Rita in August).  Following Chinese tradition,  he being the newest member of the family (adult member),  it is his responsibility to wash each dish, glass, and chopstick with hot water before dinner is served.  The restaurant has all the dishes ready including a little pot of hot water for this purpose.

Highlight of our mission.  Brother and Sister Chan with children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren!  They are such a wonderful family and blessing to the church here in Hong Kong.  After dinner,  the Chan's granddaughter Misty (shown holding her baby),  said to Lynn,  "Elder Beckstead,  thank you for bringing the gospel to my grandparents".

It doesn't get better than this!

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Serving in the Temple

This week included a holiday, three Temple days, and a birthday dinner with Elder and Sister Roskelley.

Monday, we spent the day with Chatterton’s and Sorenson’s on Lantau Island visiting the Big Buddha Statue, the Monastery, and the Temple of a thousand Buddhas. Karen and I had been there before, with Jill and Sarah, so we were the official tour guides. It was a lot of fun but it is starting to heat up over here and by the time we finished the day Karen was adamant that I put my clothes in the dirty clothes bag and not back in the closet!

The office was closed Tuesday because of the Dragon Boat Festival holiday. The Chatterton’s asked us if we could help out at the Temple because on holidays the Temple is open for a “half day” so that the domestic  workers can attend on one of their few days off work. This day for some reason was a record-breaking day of Temple attendance. The shift Karen and I were serving in  needed two additional rows of chairs brought into the room to seat extra patrons. 

We spent Wednesday in the office and then went to the Temple to work our regular weekly shift that evening. We got home late and then had to get up early to make an 8:30 a.m. Thursday morning session with the Area Presidency. This was a memorable session because I officiated and Karen followed with two General Authorities attending as patrons. We can both say without equivocation that it was very intimidating and we were nervous from the beginning to the end of the session. After the session, we met for a testimony meeting across the street at the chapel. Elder Funk and Elder Meurs shared lessons learned from President Monson and Elder Cook. One about fast offering contributions versus expenditures and the other about bringing Zion to the Saints in their lives and homes.

That evening Elder and Sister Jensen met us and four of the Missionaries for Pizza. Karen insisted that we needed two large pizza’s rather than just ordering one as suggested by Elder Jensen. When they brought out the pizza’s it took four people to deliver the two pizzas to our table. I am fairly certain we had enough pizza to feed a dozen or more missionaries and Karen swallowing her pride told Eder Jensen that we probably would have been fine ordering just one.

We ended the week having dinner with Elder and Sister James and Elder and Sister Roskelley. We met them at an Outback Restaurant here in Hong Kong and had a wonderful meal. It was Elder Roskelley’s birthday and we embarrassed him with an irreverent rendition of Happy Birthday! 

Elder and Sister Jensen,  Elder Belnap,  Elder Daplin,  Sister Miranda, and Sister Brojhan.  The other night we took the young Elders and Sisters out for pizza.  I insisted we ordered the large,  but I had no idea it would be this large......and we ordered two of them!  Yes we had leftovers that the missionaries were more than happy to bag up and take home.