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Sunday, December 18, 2011

Starting from Zero

Well I dont even know where to start for this week's email.

Remember how last week I told you how well my companion and I have been doing? Well It has only gone uphill since then.
Last week we taught 18 lessons just on the street, and got 15 new investigators. All of our other numbers such as investigators at church were also consequentially high.

Well a couple of days ago President Chan came up to me while I was on exchanges and congratulated me and told me how happy he is and how well we have been doing. He asked what our secret is for doing so well and my answer was the Book of Mormon.

When my companion and I have been out finding, we will bring around 6 BoMs with us with these little calendar bookmarks that we made that has everyday up until Christmas and a section in the BoM to read that day. They all have to do with Christ's birth or Christmas in some way. We just go out and ask people a little bit about Christmas then tell them we want to give them a present. We then ask if we can explain it a little bit and sit them down and teach the entire restoration focusing on the Book of Mormon. Sometimes we have had to come back within an hour of going out in order to get more Books of Mormon.

The best part? Most of the people have been reading! That has resulted in us being able to reschedule them and teach them more.

Well one day we were out finding at night on some roof of a random tower in Tsz Wan Shan. I have no idea how we got there because we were trying to find the bus station but somehow ended up on the roof of a tower... Well we were walking around and found two boys and two girls smoking. We went to talk to them and ask them what they were doing. They looked pretty guilty and just said, "smoking".  We kept talking to them and got the two boys' phone numbers then left. They didnt seem super promising. But that was a bad impression.
The next day we called them and they suprisingly rescheduled for that night to teach them. We showed up and they brought another friend. The day after that we taught them again and they brought two more friends. The day after that they invited us to go hiking up monkey mountain with them.
We had a really good time, and saw tons of monkeys. They are EVERYWHERE up there. It is really scary because they are the same Rhesus monkeys from Puerto Rico, and they just stand in the middle of the path and will not move for you so you have to try and walk around them. But if you get too close or look at them in the eyes they will start making noises and opening their mouth and lifting their hand up like they are gonig to hit you. There are a lot of little baby monkeys, but if you look at them the older monkeys will run or swing at you.
Well anyways, we taught these two kids (Lam and Tony) up in the mountains and committed them to be baptized. We told them we would have to teach them a lot of things including commandments before they could be baptized though.
Sunday they came to church and were able to stay after to watch a baptism. That just made them want to be baptized even more. But we knew it would be difficult and we had to bring up the Word of Wisdom in the next lesson. The hard part about Hong Kong is most of the teenagers here smoke and drink. These kids are only 16 but have been smoking since they were like 10.
A few nights ago we met them at a soccer field and were about to teach them but then 2 more of their friends showed up who we had never met before. We talked to them and they were interested in our message so Elder Palfreyman taught them and I went to a different bench with Tony and Lam. I was a little nervous because I was going to teach them the Word of Wisdom all on my own. But it actually went really well. They both said they knew they had to stop drinking and smoking. Tea and coffee were probably the biggest shock to them. Tony's mom makes him homemade tea everyday and he was nervous about telling her he couldnt drink it anymore because of his new religion. But I talked to them about the blessings and in the end we agreed they would stop drinking tea and coffe right away and that next week they would stop smoking and drinking.

They were both pretty down about this, but I think it went okay because they invited us to go fishing with them tomorrow. Well I called last night and they are both not drinking any tea or coffee, but next week will be the real test.
They both have so much faith though. They both say they know the Book of Mormon is true, and they say they know the Word of Wisdom is a commandment from God.
Lam's dad died a little while ago. It makes me so happy to have met him because he is sooo happy to know he can see his dad again, and he prayed once that his dad would accept the gospel in heaven.
I see miracles daily, but these two boys have really stuck out lately. Not only are they awesome investigators, but they have been giving us referalls left and right. It is good too because they are both really popular kids in their school, so nobody judges them at all and everyone respects them a lot.

I found some graffiti on a wall that says "Start from Zero". This is graffitied all over around an area in Lok Fu, and I am not sure what it is supposed to mean, but I took a picture with it. I was thinking about how the times that we have had the most success is often after we have the least. Part of it may be God humbling us, but I think part of it is that we realize we need to work even harder and step it up more. Now that we have had a great week that the entire mission has heard about (everyone is calling us or when they run into us they are mentioning they heard we are on fire and asking how we are doing it), I dont want to just sit back and relax. I want to mentally always be starting from "zero". Always be working and focused as I would if we had no investigators or no lessons that week. Never to stop once we reach our goals, but to keep going.

Well, have a GREAT week! Good luck with finals!
Love you all!

Love, Jordan

Got the Christmas Package. Thanks!

Thanks everyone for the Christmas package! A lot of the things in there will be very useful, and there were a lot of good food that you cant get in Hong Kong. (Like Snickers).

This week so far has been the most successful week I have ever had. We have been meeting really great investigators left and right. Yesterday we taught 7 full lessons on the street. That means 7 new investigators, 7 Books of Mormon passed out, and just in that one day we met the entire Zone's numbers for last week. In total the zone had 7 new investigators, 4 of which were ours and 2 that were the AP's. Tuesday we had 3 lessons and 3 new investigators, Monday we had another 3 with some other lessons with existing investigators. We have the opportunity to work hard from the moment we wake up until we go back at night to make calls.

We have been doing tai chi in the mornings for excersize ( I dont remember how to spell that word so it might be wrong..). I decided that probably tomorrow I am going to bring my camera and take pictures of the place we do it at and stuff so that when I send the memory card home with the package, you can see.

Speaking of the package. I realized there is no way it can get there before Christmas, so maybe it will be more of a Chinese New Year package. But I will send it ASAP so expect it sometime in the future.

We had a really cool experience on Saturday. We were in the chapel and a member came up to me and asked if I could come talk to some random kid that walked in.
I started talking to the kid and found out he is 18 and came down from mainland to take the SAT because he is applying to BYU for next year. He is from Nanjing which is up North and has a friend who is at BYU right now. I asked if he knew a girl I know from Nanjing and it turns out it is the same person. Crazy! But he decided to go to BYU because he says that he does not want to go to a school where everyone just parties all of the time, but he wants to go to one with morals. He already doesnt drink, smoke, drink tea or coffee (which is really rare for a chinese person, they LOVE their tea and cigarrettes.), and wants to go to a schoo lthat has his same personal standards. He looked up a lot about the church at home before coming to Hong Kong and then found where the temple was and wanted to go in and be taught all day Saturday. Unfortunately, he didnt understand that only members could go into the temple, so they sent him across the street to our chapel.
Well he had researched EVERYTHING he could about the church, he even was reciting the Missionary Handbook from memory to us. He told us that his mother did not want him to go on a mission but that he thinks it would be a good idea for him to serve one. He went to the Distribution Center with us and bought every single book there, and left with bags and bags of church books. He had never come into contact with the church at all, not even his friend from Nanjing is a member, but he researched it on his own and said he thinks it is one of the greatest things ever, and that it is right for him.
When he met us he acted like we were celebrities, he kept saying how amazing it is to meet us because he had read about us and knew we were called elder, and everything.
We were shocked, but it was really cool. Then we got in contact with the Mandarin Elders and showed him the Restoration and stuff until they got there. Later that day they told us he had cancelled his plane back to Nanjing so that he could go to church the next day in the Mandarin branch.
It was really random, but really cool to meet this kid. So next fall if you meet a Chinese kid at BYU whose English name is Franklin, tell him you know me.

Along with all of the really prepared people we have been meeting, we have met a lot of... other people as well. My new companion makes fun of me a lot because the first three days we were together, everytime we went finding something weird would happen, usually including a group of girls coming up to me and going on and on and on about how much of a lengjai I am. It is usually really good when people contact missionaries, but in these situations the best thing to do is just run. Just kidding, but we definitely have been avoiding all girls we see, because something about the weight I have gained or something has made me quite the attractive gwailouh (just kidding again). I also learned that Tagalog has a lot of similarities to Spanish. We always talk to Phillipinas because they are always so wililng to listen and come to church in the English branches. 
So now my companion is always giving me a hard time about being a lengjai. But soon I think I am just going to be a feihjai (fat boy). Because after 12 weeks of being in Hong Kong I have gained 15 pounds! (I may have already told you that, I cant remember.)
I think I may have acquired rice cheeks since I got here. People told me before my mission that I would get them, but everyone has been saying my cheeks have been getting fatter since being here. I am just going to come back a little chubby.

My Cantonese is getting pretty good.  And with all the work we have been doing, we have been talking a ton.

Well, I hope that you all have a great time finishing this last stretch of work and school (finals for madi and kylie) before Christmas Break.

Love you all!

Love, Jordan

Friday, December 2, 2011

New comp, new camera, and christmas stuff bought

Wooohooo! Today has been a grrreat day!

First, I got my new companion. I am staying in Sham Shui Po, and am now serving with Elder Palfreyman. He is a really really nice, kind of quieter kid. But I have heard he is willing to work hard. He actually went to BYU the first semester I went there and lived in Heritage Halls! He has only been here a few moves more than me, but he has been in international, so everyone told me i am going to probably have to help him with his Chinese. :S That makes me a little nervous, but I am pretty confident that everything will go well.

This next move will be amazing. I have a companion fresh out of international who is willing to work hard, and I set some personal goals to help myself improve as much as I can. So I have faith that we will see a lot of miracles.

Last Sunday a white guy showed up to sacrament meeting. He is from Suncrest in Draper and is in grandma and grandpa's stake! he said he will be coming to church again on sunday, and then he wants to take us to eat on monday. If he shows up, I will ask his name because I forgot it, but yeah.

It is SO LUCKY that you guys put money on my card. Thanks a TON. I got really sick this past week, and the mission doctor is in Thailand so I went to the hospital doctor. It wound up being really expensive. I had to pull my money out of my personal funds to use for the rest of the week. But now I got a refund from the mission for it. With that money I originally was going to buy an iPod because they are SUPER useful. But unfortunately my camera has been deleting pictures automatically, and although it is amazing for videos and underwater stuff, it doesnt have a flash, and cant really take pictures at night in Hong Kong (which are the coolest pictures). So I decided it was more important that I buy a new camera than an iPod. So I bought a very, very nice camera and Hopefully soon I can send some cool pictures from it. Maybe in the future I will think about getting an iPod. But I also bought some stuff to send home. It wont get home in time for Christmas. But hopefully not too far away. It is nothing special. I think next Christmas will be better because I will have more time to figure out what I want to buy. But I just got some stuff you can put up in the house and some Hong Kong shirts.

This move I have so many plans that will completely change the way missionary work is going in this ward. Before it was considered a relatively hard area. But that will all change soon. 

I have not gotten your package yet, but hopefully I will soon. We actually have been getting mail for a sister that already went home that was sent in May 2010! We think it must have gotten lost in the mail system somewhere.

I got my new suit! It is really really nice, I will have to take a picture with my camera and send it to you next P-day.

I have been really inspired lately to work harder than before. I now have a new companion, and at least 6 (maybe 12) more weeks in my area. So even though I was able to see success before, I want to put everything I have into missionary work now. Because when I am working hard, I have this feeling of happiness, like everyday is Christmas. 

Today has been pretty interesting. I am still sick (it is just a really bad bronchitis and a sinus infection), but me and Elder Palfreyman wanted to go to the market in Mong Kok to go shopping to buy stuff for our families for Christmas. Well he has been serving far away so he has no idea how to get around. I was able to find the market and then somehow by picking a random direction and walking in it, found the mong Kok library to email. I feel pretty confident right now because Mong Kok is super crowded and big, and I somehow have been able to navigate around it. 

I hope you are all doing well. I lately have found a real love for the Book of Mormon. I am noticing things that I never knew existed in it before. I hope you are all reading it daily. I am convinced that whether it is through something you actually read, or by a prompting from the spirit, you can receive an answer to pretty much any question you have if you have a daily habit of opening with a prayer, reading the book of mormon, then closing with a prayer. It just makes your whole day go so much better. Also, I cant believe I rarely used to say morning prayers when I woke up. The first thing I do when I wake up is role onto my knees and pray. This combined with scripture study just makes everything in the day go smoothly and gives me a peace that I dont think would be there otherwise.

The Hong Kong lifestyle is FAST. If you think that you are busy, you need to look at a Hong Kong person's schedule. They kids literally go to school all day, then pay tons of money to do tutoring at night and on weekends all day. When they dont have tutoring, they are working. Adults work work work. However, I have seen people with the BUSIEST lives ever make time to read their scriptures and do these easy things every day. Some of them eat 2 meals a day and only spend 20 minutes doing that because they need to get back to work. But somehow they make it work. I hope I never try to make the excuse that my life is too busy to do these simple things that0 give me peace and daily comfort.

Well, Have a fantastic first week of December! Also, Remember that you are all sons and daughters of a God! You have so much to look forward to in this life and the next if you keep the commandments and repent daily. No matter what situation you are in, the truth of who you really are and what you can someday become never goes away.

Love you all!

Love, Jordan

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you!
I hope you all eat a lot of turkey, pie, and everything else that is on the table.
Yesterday we had our mission thanksgiving party. It was a lot of fun. I got to hang out with my group from the MTC and eat all of the normal thanksgiving food. It wasnt as good as when mom makes it, and there werent any gluten-free pies, but it was still fun to have thanksgiving on the other side of the world.
The other day I went on exchanges to Tung Chung again. I may have already explained, but Tung Chung is the area that covers the entire Lantau Island and all of the surrounding islands. It is probably the biggest area, but is definitely one of my favorites. It reminds me so much of puerto rico because the little villages arent full of giant skyscrapers.
Elder Creamer and I had a lesson scheduled for pretty early in the morning, but when the investigator got there, our lesson plan changed.
Kelsie is a girl who is getting baptized on Sunday. She is about to graduate in accounting, and is SUPER HYPER. She speaks faster than I ever thought possible, and has more energy and is more random than anyone I have ever met. Well she showed up to the branch meeting house for the lesson then told us to go outside. Luckily Elder Creamer grabbed a Book of Mormon, because we wound up following her up some trail in the mountains in our suit to a place in the river where there is a big, clear pool of water. It turns out she wanted to take her graduation pictures at the Tung Chung baptismal font (nicknamed the waters of mormon). She threw her graduation gown on and procceeded to run around telling us to take pictures in the most random places. Some of the areas included her pretending to be praying on a rock in the middle of the river, then her about to fall off the rock into the river. It was super random, but actually wound up being cool because we were able to read some things from the Book of Mormon to her. We read about Alma and the waters of Mormon, and some other stories that were relevant. It was probably one of my favorite lessons ever.
On the way back from Lantau Island, we got off the bus on Hong Kong island. Elder Creamer told me to prepare myself, and took me into some little alley and down a staircase into a random basement. But in this basement I found THE AMERICAN STORE. It is like a mini costco with random american foods. They have Peanut butter M&Ms, cocoa pebbles, and YOO-HOO! There was one box of Yoo-Hoo and I bought it. The only problem with the store is it is all pretty overpriced. But I did not think it was possible to have Yoo-Hoo in China. I was obviously wrong.
Oh! So I have some pretty exciting news. Remember last week I talked about going to do Tai-Chi? Well we went on Monday morning to a park and were lookign for someone to teach us. We saw a guy under a pagoda who looked pretty good so we went up and asked him. He then set up a schedule for us for which days of the week to come and for how long. It turns out he was actually a legit teacher. The only problem is he wanted to charge us money for it.
But we were still willing to do it. So we returned the next day, only to find that he was not under the pagoda, but instead a different man was. This man walked up to us and said in Cantonese, " I know what you want. You want someone to teach you to do Tai-Chi. My student saw you talking to the other man yesterday, and because you are willing to learn, I will teach you for free." Then a lady showed up and called him Si Fuh. If you remember, the kung fu master thing in kung fu panda is called Master Si Fuh. That is because in chinese, Master is Si Fuh. So this guy was legit.
Well, needless to say, we have gone every morning and are learning how to achieve inner-peace and energy transfer through Tai-Chi under a Pagoda in China with a river looping around us, full of swimming fish and turtles. Pretty cool. I will have to have someone take pictures of us one of these times, because it is unbelievable how legit the entire thing is.
Moves are a week from yesterday, and soon we will find out who is going where. 
Most likely I will stay in Sham Shui Po ( I hope I will at least). But there is also a chance I will go somewhere else. I guess in a week you will find out.
I have SO many pictures I have to send. I think I will hurry up and buy a memory card so I can just send you the one I am using.
Well have a great week, and an amazing thanksgiving!
Also, Congratulations to Kylie for getting into BYU-I!
Love, Elder Jordan Roe Bingham

tai chi, kung fu, dancing, and transfers all coming up

Good morning! Well, I guess it's actually night there, so good night?
Sorry for the wait with the email, we had no time yesterday to really do anything. The APs asked us to watch kung fu panda 2 with them to approve it for everyone. -_-.
One of the greatest parts of this week was seeing Shirley at all of our activities and at church. She asked us where to find the tithing slips so she could pay her tithing, then asked where the bishops office was so she could have her temple recommend interview. It is so cool to see someone who was so prepared for the gospel finally get a chance to have it. She also brought her friend to our activity last night, so we are already getting good referrals from her. :)
While on splits we found a spot in Hung Hom on the waterfront where a bunch of chinese kids go and breakdance and stuff. My companion at the time had heard somehow that back home I liked dancing a lot, so we went and checked it out. Unfortunately, it started raining so there wasnt anyone there,but next time we are on splits in a few weeks, he wants to go back and go dance finding. It should be pretty interesting haha....
For morning exercise we usually do random stuff like running or just push ups or whatever. But one of the APs and I have decided we are going to start learning Tai Chi. All of the old people do it early in the morning in parks and stuff. In the past, missionaries have used their exercise time to go and ask the old people to teach them Tai Chi, and apparetnly it works. In some places you can even find people who will teach you Kung Fu. So when I get home I will be able to say that I learned tai chi and kung fu in china.
I learned early on in the MTC that a mission is NOT easy. But there are things that happen and things that I have been able to witness and learn that have made it already SO worth it. The best part is that I still have so much more time here to continue to learn and have these experiences.
With transfers coming up in a couple of weeks, as always the missionaries have been speculating a lot. Everyone keeps telling me that ANYTHING could happen with me. I could go international (even though they usually wait until later on in the mission because international hurts missionaries chinese), I could go Vic 1 (the international companionship in charge of all foreigners except for philipinas and indonesians), I could go up to the new territories or macau, or I could stay in my area and my companion could go somewhere for two transfers before he goes home. Usually new missionaries stay in their first area for a while, but because my companion only has two transfers left, anything could happen.
I hope everyone has a fantastic week!
Thanks for everything!
Love, Elder Jordan Roe Bingham

Monday, November 7, 2011

Baptism and the Gift of Tongues

Well first off, Shirley's baptism went soooo well. We were able to get so many investigators to it including her mom and friend. I only had to do it once :) (which apparently is not very common because if you say any of the words with the wrong tones, they will make you repeat it). When I returned to the room where everyone was sitting down, her mom who has never gone to church and has buddhist beliefs was crying and was super happy. It was a great opportunity to start teaching her, and her daughter right away helped us out with this. It is amazing how we set the goal to have 2 baptisms in October. At the time we had not even met the two investigators who wound up getting baptized. But somehow we were still able to meet our goal perfectly. We gave Shirley a triple combination after her baptism, and last night she called with all types of questions about the BoM, Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price because she has been reading them all.

The story of us meeting shirley is a miracle in and of itself. we told her the story about how we originally were going to go finding in a different area, but then Elder Jolley left his planner where we found her so we went back to get it and found her in that area right afterwards. Then she told us that she was on her way to her friend's house but then her friend called and said she couldnt hang out anymore so Shirley decided to walk around and find soemthing to do. She walked down a path she never erally goes down and saw me standing up on the wall. She was really confused because I was a tall white boy speaking Cantonese to people. Then I jumped down and scared her. She walked away but then had a feeling that she needed to come talk to me. And that is how we met.

Saturday we actually went finding on that same path again. I started talking to a guy who was willing to listen, but then he started yelling Kahp hyut gwaai!!! Which means vampire. He pointed at my fang teeth and started yelling saying I was just a vampire and was trying to get him to our church so I could suck his blood..... -_-   I told a native sister missionary this story and she said she thought I looked like a vampire too when she first saw me. So sometimes this whole long fang teeth thing gets in the way. But it was a pretty funny experience.

I also actually taught a lesson to a Colombian girl on this path. The entire lesson was in spanish because she didtn speak english. I have NO IDEA how she gets around Hong Kong. But she said she is teaching spanish here.

Ahh, so the gift of tongues part of the subject line is because I was given the gift of tongues by a mainlander who we found and who gets up at 5 in the morning to get on the train and come let us teach her every week. Teaching people who have never heard of God or Jesus Christ is INCREDIBLE. They have so much faith right away and are soooo humble and willing to keep commitments. Well anyways, she always brings us random things because she thinks she has to  in order to pay us back for the book of mormon we gave her. This week she gave us duck tongues....... They were really really weird. If you ever get the chance to eat them, you will understand. But they have lots of cartiledge and bone in them and are kind of in two symmetrical pieces. Very greasy, but really not that bad. In Hong Kong you learn to eat meat with bones in it. Every piece of meat has lots of bone in it so you just put the whole thing in your mouth with the chopsticks and suck the meat and anything not hard off of the bone and spit the pieces of bone out. At first it grossed me out. But now I dont even really think about it.

I also went to a members house and had octopus juice... It literally was a pot of water that they put a full octopus in and boiled until its.... "juice" came out. Then, they cut up the whole octopus and let it float around. It was kind of weird, but not TOO bad. Just not something I would drink when I am thirsty...

At a different member's home, he gave us ice cream which is very rare and expensive. But he put a nice treat in with it. Turtle jelly. It was sooo weird. Not too good. Someoen said they make it by pretty much just grinding up turtle shells and mixing it with gelatin. I am amazed that I am continuing to find incredibly weird food here.

I went on exchanges twice this week with the same person. The first was because we had District exchanges, the second was because they had a big leadership training meeting and both of our companions went. We went to his area which is Tsim Sha Tsui. It is really big city and pretty much just like in the middle of new york city. But then we went by the waterfront which was more calm. He played soccer in High school adn so did his companion, so they go soccer finding a lot. He told me that when I came I needed to bring my soccer shoes and clothes.

We went to a soccer field RIGHT on top of the water. It was the coolest field I have ever played on. It was all cement like most fields here, but had a big fence around it and bleachers and everything. The only problem is that if you kicked the ball off on 3 of the sides, it would go into the water. We actually found some really good potentials there. Apparently they have been able to get a ton of investigators by finding them this way and then inviting them to their own soccer games that the young men in the ward do. So then they are surrounded by members and afterwards they teach them.

In hong kong they have a system at most fields where you show up to the field and find elevenish other people waiting on the sides. Then when the game going on ends, you play the team that won or if they are done, the other team. It is pretty much just 24/7 pick up soccer.

Today we went to a pretty cool field for our multi zone activity. Every zone came except for international and the few missionaries in macau. We played soccer, kickball, rugby, and other things. It was a giant real grass field on top of a mountain.that overlooked kowloon. For some reason every soccer field here is super epic and makes me feel like I am playing in a video game or some movie or something.

Well gotta go. Love youall! Have a great week!

Love, Jordan :)

Sanfuh (exhausting)...

This week has been quite exhausting. Every single day we have had an average of 3 lessons and 2 new investigators which is REALLY good. I would enjoy it even more though if I didnt get sick :/ I got some type of cold or something that I am hoping is on its way out right now. But that hasnt slowed us down at all. We have sooo many great new investigators who seem like they are really prepared for the gospel. I am really excited to see what happens with all of them. We have at least 7 new investigators coming to Shirley's baptism on Sunday, so that will be awesome.

As I learn the language better and realize that I dont make as many mistake anymore, and even if I do, thats how I will learn, I have become more outgoing with the ward and people we meet. This has made them more outgoing as well. Yesterday a girl came up to me and told me my face was getting fatter. I guess this must be the "rice cheeks" that everyone was telling me I'd come home with. Then a recent converts 4 year old son decided that my name was Feihjai which means "Fat boy." Hahaha so first I was too skinny, now I am getting fat apparently. I guess it is a little bit of an improvement from what all of the other Chinese call me. They love trying to read and speak English. Often when we stop people to talk to them the conversation will go something like this (if they are school-aged and know a little bit of english), "Hello, how are you?" "I am 16" "Wow, How is your day" "My name is cucumber (or whatever random word they choose for their english name)." It is pretty entertaining to speak English to them.

Most people when they try to read me English name read, "Erder....... Beckham!!! Like the Football player!!!!!!". I just smile and say uhh.... close enough. They all are convinced I am realated to David Beckham. It doesnt help that the character for my last name "Bik" is the same character for David Beckhams last name, and it is not common at all for other people to have that character.

Oh, I ate some more weird food this last week. I tried one of those duck eggs that they let the duck fetus grow a little bit, then bury the egg and let it sit underground forever. It was pretty gross. I also ate a lot of chicken feet which were suprisingly good. Better than the cow stomach and petrified duck eggs.

There is a huge group of Thai people right now living in patron housing above our chapel. They dont speak English or Chinese and so communication is quite difficult since all I know how to say in Thai is: Yes, no, under, hello, bye, I dont understand, and I love you. Sometimes I can understand what they are saying jsut by their body language and some words that are a little similar to mandarin, so I can respond to them and answer some questions. But it isnt effective, and I am pretty sure they are under the impression that after we are done being missionaries in Hong Kong we will go be missionaries in Thailand.. I have no idea where they got that idea or why they think that, but according to them, they cant wait until I am in Thailand serving in their ward... haha.

I continue to just love it here. If I didnt already have a good plan for education back home, I think going to college here would be so cool (as long as I had LDS friends who came with me). There is never a boring day here. Something unpredictable or just really crazy always happens.

Mom would be proud because they eat something they call Choi here. It literally means vegetable, but it is basically any leafy plant related to Kale. So they eat baby kale, pak choi, kale, etc..... and I eat it every single day when I make fried rice or eat somewhere because it is in everything. Although I miss mom's juices and smoothies, I am at least still getting my kale in.

Well, today we have three lessons after P-day ends that we have to teach, Sunday is Shirley's baptism, and we have a huge pool of great investigators. So things have really progressed since I first got here and they only had 1 investigator in their pool (who left to Mainland China and we havent ever even heard from her).

I was talking to the APs the other day and I guess that technically we have the biggest mission in the world. Our mission includes the entire country of China. But we are not allowed to go into mainland China, so our actual proscelyting area is pretty small. But we still get so many people from mainland who come down for a few days just to get baptized, then go back up and join their local branch up there. I dont think anyone realizes how well the work really is doing in China. They always talk about "when China opens up", but even with not being allowed to proscelyte in Mainland China, things are on fire up there for not being able to solicit religion or even tell friends about it. Especially close to the border in Guangdung.

Maybe I am a little full of it, but I really feel like I am saving China one day and person at a time, and I am loving it.

Have a FANTASTIC week. Love you all!!

Love, Elder Jordan Roe Beckham... I mean Bingham

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Elder Bingham on "Watching People's Lives Change"

This week my younger district from the MTC got here to Hong Kong. That means I have been here for 6 weeks already! It definitely doesnt feel like it has been that long.
On Sunday we had our first baptism!! He has been coming to church for 2 years but the missionaries dropped him forever ago because he wasnt willing to get baptized or progress. But we started meeting with him and this time he was ready. :) It was such a cool experience. Also, in the next ward who meets in our building, Po Siu got baptized. He is the guy with all of the tattoos and ear gauges and stuff. They combined the baptismal services and it was really humbling to see them bearing their testimonies and watch them get emotional before and after their baptisms.
Shirley is still on track to get baptised in a week and a few days! She is so awesome because most people here (even members) are really apprehensive towards aknoweledging us (Im sorry my English is getting really bad and I realy dont know how to spell that) on the street or letting people know that they have takled to us or anything, because they are worried about what people might think. But despite all the opposition from her friends and family, Shirley is always inviting everyone she knows to cometo church with her or to go to her baptismal service. Last night after we called her, before she hung up we heard someone ask, "who was that you were talking to?" and she said, "Oh that was the missionaries that have been teaching me in the church I am getting baptized in."
My main story I want to talk about today actually is about a kid who we met that has blown my mind. When I first met him I just thought feijai (punk). He has long hair, earrings, likes to act all tough and everything. He came with us to a fireside and had to leave halfway through to go smoke. But then he came back in. We were kind of suprised. Afterwards I was talking to him and getting to know him really well. Originally I thought he just wanted to meet with us to learn English, but he told me that he really wants to learn about our church and the things we teach.
The next day I called him and he told me to call him everyday because when I call, he gets a really warm feeling that he also got when he prayed and asked God to help him get his life together.
We met with him yesterday and tought him a lesson. He opened up to us and told us about his life. His mom had an affair with some guy who lives in Taiwan, and her husband doesnt know that this kid is his son. His mom then gambled away all of their money and left them. His dad drinks all day and is not very good to him.
When this kid was younger, he said he felt super lonely and sad so he started drinking and smoking and doing lots of things to make him fell better. But he told us that he now realizes these things are just making his life fall apart more and more. He said his dream in life is to  go to humanitarian work around the world.
He then told us how he pretty much has a problem with every commandment. He has huge law of chastity and word of wisdom problems. He told us that he has tried to stop these things but never could, so he prayed to God to help him get through these things.
He really believes that God sent us to him so that we can help him. He wants to get baptized so bad, but knows he needs to change his life first. We gave him a plan to fix everything, and set a baptismal date for December 25 (christmas).
His humility and meekness amazes me. He is the nicest kid who just wants a better life and is willing to do anything to get it. He saw the pictures of our families and told us he wishes he had a family. We talked a lot about that and about life in general. It was one of the best lessons I have ever been a part of.
I am so excited to see the transformation in his life. I jsut hope he stays faithful and willing to do what we ask him. Because even though he has so many issues, he is really golden because he already has a testimony that what we teach him is true, and he really wants to let it change his life.
Well I love you all!
Love, Elder Bingham

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Courage and Sacrifice

Well this week has probably been the most rewarding week yet. Let me just start off with an entry from my journal from Tuesday night.

"I am sitting in my apartment looking out the front windows of the Hong Kong temple at the distant laser show over the bay. It is just foggy enough to see the lasers perfectly, but not so foggy that it keeps me from seeing that far. Tonight Shirley (the girl who approached me on the street a few weeks ago) had her baptismal interview by President Chan, and he came out happily exclaiming that she is very "jeunbeihou" (prepared) for baptism.

Monday night we met with her and she said that after General Conference she wanted to be baptized on the 30 of this month like we asked her the first time we taught her. We were very happy and asked her if there was another time that she could meet with us this week because in order for that to work, she would need her baptismal interview this week. She said that she didnt becuase her work is crazy this week, and asked if she could be interviewed that night. We ran out of the room and called the nearest DLs ZLs and APs but nobody was in the area. They told us we could jsut have the bishop do his interview first. So Shirley left and we called the bishop. This was when things started to go wrong. Elder Jolley got off the phone with a distraught look on his face and said that the bishop had heard that Shirley had a mental illness and that he didnt know if she even needed to be baptized. He wanted President Chan to do her interview.

Now here is a little background. More than 25 percent of people in Hong Kong have a mental illness. Shirley had expressed to us before that she takes medication for depression. But she is completely normal and would never know. Also, Chinese people overreact to mental illnesses because there are so many crazy people.

We were very frustrated at this point, and called presdient Chan. He told us that if he says she is ready, then he is the one who has the authority to approve her to be baptized, so just for the bishop's sake, if we could get her in for an interview with him, that would just solve everything.

We called Shirley and told her that she needed to meet with us again this week. She was just barely able to get work off for Tuesday night to help her dad teach social dance. But she said that she was willing to do the interview instead.

Tuesday night she came in and was so happy. She went into the interview and as I already wrote, President Chan said she was very prepared. She came out with a huge smile on her face and as we were filling out the records, asked if I would be the one to baptize her. So I am pretty excited about that."

So that was a pretty good night. But the night before (monday) was also very good. As we were talking to Shirley, she told us about how all of her friends and family try to tell her bad things about our church but that she knows they arent true because of the feelings she gets when she meets with us and reads the book of mormon and prays. Also, her medicine makes it super hard for her to wake up in the mornings, and that is why she had to get a new job that was later at night. But that even though she feels really sick on Sundays when she goes to church, it is so worth it to her.

She is like many others here. She faces so many challenges and things that could easily keep her from the church, but she makes sacrifices and has the courage to fight through them.

Because many people are a mix of buddhist, daoist, and confucianist, they view christianity as an evil western thing. So there are so many members and investigators who have to take so much ridicule and things for what they know is true.

There is a man who is 100 years old that missionaries found two years ago when he was 98 in the mountains in a little hut. He has to walk a crazy distance to get to church, so he made an electric wheelbarrow thing that he rides to church every Sunday. There is an investigator in Prison that has been meeting with the missionaries for the past 4 years in prison and has the strongest testimony ever. He writes the missionaries who visit him and tells everyone the first thing he is doing when he gets out is going straight to an LDS chapel and getting baptized. The things that people are going through and the reasons they have not to accept this gospel or live it are so overwhelming sometimes, but they are great examples of truly converted people.

This week we have a baptism. Hoh Hingdaih is his name. He is soooo great. He knows everythihng is true. He has been coming to church for 2 years now but the missionaries dropped him about 1.5 year ago because he would not get baptized. We started meeting with him and he said he was just waiting for someone to invite him to baptism. Then next week is stake conference but the week after we have Shirley's baptism. Things are going so well here.

In other news, I caught a little tiny gecko in the temple right outside our hallway. Also, I have gained 10 pounds in the 5 weeks I have been here. 5 WEEKS?! I just realized thats how long its been. Time is FLYING here. But anyways, the weight gain can be attributed to the great food and members who are convinced it is their calling in life to make all of the missionaries here obese. General conference was crazy. In between sessions all of the members pull out big things of food. Chicken, soup, rice of course, and whatever else they have made. They all just sit in a big cultural hall and walk around giving their food to people. It was convenient because our investigators hadnt eaten yet and were very hungry. So they were able to get to know the members very easily.

I took some cool pictures and videos, but I left my cord in the Wan Chai chapel so I will have to send them next week.

Thanks for all of the prayers, letters, and other things. I love you all and hope you have a great week!!

Love, Jordan

Monday, October 10, 2011


This week was quite an adventure!

First, once the typhoon was gone, we got asked to go help in international.

International is an area that anyone can go in. It actually isnt an area though. It consists of teaching the foreigners in Hong Kong. there is Victoria 1 which is for all foreigners, then there are all of the other international missionaries who focus on Phillipinas and Indonesians. There are wards that have church every day of the week in the Wan Chai chapel (the most amazing chapel, and the second most expensive building the church owns, only to the tabernacle.). This is because the Phillipinas and Indos here are "helpers". they are basically maids or servants in a way.

On certain holidays, every helper gets off. so they go to the Worldwide which is a strip of sidewalk with banks and stuff everywhere. So last saturday we went and helped at Worldwide.
There were Phillipinas EVERYWHERE. It was CRAZY. Missionaries would try to get them to come with us onto the subway which tgoes to the wan chai chapel. It is pretty easy, because they are so humble and willing to listen.

Elder Ward (my temporary companion) and I had not found anyone. But then I saw one and I just had the thought to make a beeline over to her. She looked nervous but stayed. I started telling her about our church in English mixed with the little Tagalog I have learned. Then she said that she knows about our church already. She said she got baptized 7 years ago in the Phillipines, but then came here five years ago and hasnt gone to chruch since. She said once she didnt go for a year, she just felt horrible about going back because she felt guilty and worried they would get mad at her or something. Then, she stopped talking to her family because her family are all members and she felt ashamed when she talked to them.

After assuring her that God still loved her and cared about her so much, we finally convinced her to come with us back to the chapel. We got there just in time to see a convert baptism, and hear the testimony of the new member. The spirit was really strong. Then there was an hour before church started. So we brought her into a room and taught her a lesson. We taught about the iron rod. There were people who tasted the fruit of the tree of life but then left and were lost in the darkness. But we told her we had found her and brought her back to the iron rod and all she had to do was grab on again and feel the lvoe of God and try hard never to let go again. People were crying, and the spirit was so strong. Then she stayed for church and met the members there (who are all amazing at fellowshipping). It was really really cool to here her talk about how she feels like she had returned back home and felt feelings she has missed for so long.

Then on Monday, I went on splits to Tung Chung which is an area that has all of Lantau Island. It is a HUGE island with the big buddha, airport, etc... But there arent very many people there. It is a giant mountainous jungle with fishing villages and buddhist temples. It was really cool. I ran into Preacher Jim, a preacher who is very very nice to missionaries and gets to know them very well, but is very clear that he thinks we are wrong. Everyone says that someday he is going to give up preaching and the things he is doing because he is going to recognize that we really are right, and he is a good guy so he will be a great member. He is from Oklahoma and moved here seven years ago. Doesnt speak any chinese, but somehow gets around because he lives in more English areas.

So before I started my mission, I googled Cantonese rap. Mostly just because I wanted to see what cantonese sounds like. The first result was Jin. I was familiar with him because he is one of the smartest rappers ever. He can freestyle very very well and is really clean. But I guess he grew up in the USA to chinese parents so he speaks fluent English and Cantonese.

Well apparently a few missionaries have been able to teach him here. When he sees missionaries he calls out, "elders! elders!" Then tells them he has some time and wants to learn more about the Plan of Salvation. This started a year and a half ago. But he is constantly traveling and nobody has been brave enough to get his number to try and schedule him more. But I guess he is super supportive and loves the church. Supposedly, on his last Cantonese CD, he has a lot of songs about how smoking and alcohol and swearing are bad, and then at the end of the CD, he says, "I am really glad I have been able to be in Hong Kong a lot lately. While I was there, I met some people who have changed my life. They taught me about God's plan for me and my wife, and I am so grateful for them." He sounds pretty golden to me. So I am really hoping I find him sometime. Because theres no way I am going to let him get away without scheduling him more so that I can try to get him to progress and get baptized and stuff. Pretty random though.

Finally, I have realized that Hong Kong is the perfect mission for me. They have something very common here. Jing sahn behng which is 'energy sickness".  It is basically a really bad anxiety mental disorder that aroudn half of the people get here. In fact, one of our investigators has it and wants to find a better way to deal with it than medicine because it makes her sick. I have been amazed by how my own personal experience with what was exactly the same as this jing sahn behng has been able to help me help these people. God can do anything, especially if we humble ourselves and have faith that he will help us.
I wish I had more time, because the miracles and things I see here are incredible, and they are constantly happening, but next week I should have more time to send a letter to you with more. (I actually sent one last week as well.).

I love you all, and pray for you daily. I dont think I will ever stop being amazed by EVERYTHING here. The food, the people, the city itself, and especially the amazing experiences that come from hard work and exact obedience.

Well I hope you have a fantastic week! Thanks for your prayers!

Love, Jordan

Monday, October 3, 2011


Well today has been an interesting P-day. I woke up, but nobody was really doing anything. Apparently that is because we are now all on lockdown in our apartments because a signal 8 typhoon is currently hitting us. I didnt think it looked that bad outside until I looked out and realized no cars or people were anywhere, and there were trees and trash cans and stuff all over the roads. Luckily, because we live right across the street from the mission office, president Chan gave us permission to drive one of the vans from the basement of the temple to the mission office and hang out here until the typhoon passes. So while the rest of the mission is cramped in their tiny apartments all day, we are here with a basketball hoop, movies, and internet to email home :) Apparently people have already been killed this morning. But we will be completely safe so I'm not worried.

This week was soooo great. Sunday was a crazy day. We showed up and our new investigator who approached me last week showed up. She looked really pale and tired so we were a little worried. She couldnt stand up because she kept saying she was dizzy. Then in our next class she looked up and said, "Mhsyufuhk" Which means she wasnt feeling good. So she went outside for a little bit. We thought she would go home but she came back in a few minutes later. After the class we told her she could go home and sleep, but she said she wanted to go to relief society. So she went and then after church we didnt see her. 
Later that day, we called her and she was very happy. She said that in the third class, she was feeling very sick and thought shed need to go to the doctor. But then she felt something tell her that it'd be okay and that she would stop feeling sick. Suddenly, she stopped feeling sick, and she asked us if it was the Holy Ghost who told her that. We were obviously very happy and told her it was. :) Today we are supposed to teach her again, but with the Typhoon we will see what happens.

Then, there was a man who looked kind of scruffy who showed up. He looked  kind of embarrassed as he approached me after sacrament meeting. His white shirt was dirty and unbuttoned, and he pulled out a tie from his pocket and quietly told me that he didnt know how to tie it. So I took it and tied it for him then gave it back. 
Later, he invited us over to his humble apartment in a chyun. (chyuns are the giant skyscraper complexes that have thousands of small apartments that are tiny). I found out he was an inactive member. We shared about how even after we are following God's commandments, he will test us and give us trials to strengthen us. We showed him pictures of our families, adn he showed us the pictures of when he was baptized, with the missionaries who baptized him years ago. It was so cool because I could see him remember the feelings he had when he was baptized. 

After church, Taahm Jimuih, a member, approached us with a girl who had shown up at church from mainland China. She had heard about the church from her fiancee who is a member and has read the book of mormon and learned as much as she could up there. She was in Hong Kong for a few days and came to church and agreed to meet with us every day until she had to leave. We met with her a few times and it was so cool to see someone who wanted to be baptized so bad but couldnt because of the circumstances. Because she had not first contacted the mainland church headquarters, we could not have baptized her while she was here. But we made arrangements for her to get baptized in New Zealand because she was planning on going on a trip there with her fiancee's family, and then get married in the temple. :D

Every day here is an adventure. We walk through jungly areas, big city areas, markets, little alleyways and staircases everyday. It is weird walking through the big wet markets. There are just live fish everywhere, octopi, squid, chickens, random guts from weird animals, fruits and vegetables, and more. Yesterday while walking through one, we heard a chicken making crazy noises so we looked over just in time to see it get clamped down and suffocated to death. 

This is the prettiest place ever. In the day the jungly areas are cool, and in the night, all of the big city areas are lit up and busy. If you are somewhere in TST or on the Island, then all of the buildings light up and have laser shows and stuff at night. I think if you guys (mom and dad) took a trip out here either at the end of my mission or with me after my mission someday, you would be amazed. 

I hope soccer, school, and everything else continues to go well.  It just continues to be an adventure here every single day. 

I love you all!

Love, Jordan

Monday, September 26, 2011

Climbing and Jumping Off Walls in Hong Kong

Well, it is another exciting morning in the Mong Kok public library. But at the moment it is about 9:30 PM Wednesday night for all of you. 

First off, last P-day was great! We just walked around with some of the other trainers and kids from my MTC district. We went to Ladies' Street which is a street that is barely wide enough for you to walk through because all over the street are these little shop things like the ones in Mexico. But instead of Luchador masks and Jackets, they were selling evrything that I would have loved to have back home. They have Supras which are about 130 dollar shoes for 20 bucks (which was just the starting price they were asking for, so I probably could have gotten them for 5.), Bapes shirts, Jerseys of every kind, games, belts that smelled good and had different flavors, watches, ties, belts, and just about anything you want. I refrained from buying anything though, since 1 I dont really have a use for any of it at the moment, and 2 I am running quite low on funds because Gluten-Free food is pretty expensive in comparison to other food. (But in american money it is still really cheap. For example, if you go to McDonalds, you can get a Big Mac meal for $2.50.)

The people here are so interesting. They are very, very honest. For example: They love seeing pictures, so everytime you meet anyone, they ask for family pictures. I was showing someone mine, and they said wow you have such a beautiful mom, such a handsome dad, such beautiful sisters, and such a cute little brother. Why are you so ugly? I was shocked, and not sure whether to laugh or come up with a fake excuse, like I was adopted or something. It was pretty awkward.

Because we didnt have any investigators when I first came, we have gone finding a lot. That means we have gotten lost a lot. But it is really fun. People are always busy so we usually have to find creative ways to go finding. For example, the mission president came out a while ago and said that if you are good at sports such as basketball, you can go sports finding. This means you go put on your basketball clothes, then go to all of the courts around and challenge people, and say if you beat them, they have to let you teach them. It is pretty effective since people here LOVE basketball, and love playing white people, but are significantly shorter. So I feel like a pro at basketball here. They also play soccer, and ping pong. So that is fun.

Yesterday while finding, Elder Jolley and I were on a busy path. We decided to spread out and he would try to get all of the people going one way, and I would get everyone going the other. This meant that I would have to talk to everyone on my own without his help if I didnt understand something. At first it was very difficult because nobody would stop to talk (except for the people who are amazed that a white person is speaking Cantonese. But they usually just want to test your Cantonese skills and dont want to learn anything.). So I decided to stand up on a stone wall in the middle of the path. I started pointing at people and talking to them so they knew I was talking to them. It was a litte more effective. Then when I got someone to stop (probably out of confusion), I would jump off the wall and make a beeline to them and try talking some more. Although I was able to get more people to talk to me, not many wanted to sit down and listen to a lesson. 

But then one time I jumped off of the wall to talk to some kid, and I accidentally jumped right in front of some girl. She looked shocked so I said sorry then procceeded to the boy. He didnt really want to talk so I went back. I still had not gotten to teach any lessons, and I had only been able to get a few phone numbers and appointments for later in the week. But then I noticed the girl came back around and walked up to me and asked for my phone number. I was a little weirded out because nobody does that, and I wasnt exactly sure what to say. So I just explained who I was and what I was doing. Then asked if we could share a message. She agreed so my companion and I sat down and taught her for a while. She was extremely receptive and agreed to meet with us today to learn more. It is crazy how at the end of every time we go finding, no matter how successful or unsuccessful we are up until that point, we always find someone golden right as we are preparing to go back to the apartment. I think its just God testing our endurance. We have had SO MANY things like that happen because we stay out in the heat finding the entire time we plan to.

The members in our ward are awesome. They help us out so much. The bishop's son and daughter both are just giving us referrals left and right. The first week, the son brought a friend to church, then last week the daughter brought a friend to church who we were able to teach afterwards and scheduled a time to meet with her again sometime later this week. Then, they gave us some referrals and next Sunday they are bringing a whole family to church. I know it is not easy in Utah to really do things like this since everyone is Mormon, but I encourage you all to do whatever missionary work you can do. This may mean just being a good person and example to those around you. People notice how you act, and form opinions based on that.

I love it here so much. I really really really wish all of you could experience it with me. It's such an amazing place. 

Every day is an adventure. Sometimes we go to areas higher up on the mountains, where lots of people havent seen missionaries before. The reactions we get out of people there are priceless. They just stop and say, "What?! You speak Cantonese?! Thats impossible!" Then when I tell them I started learning it 3 months ago, their jaws drop and they say, " Wow, you are so smart." It kinda balanced out all of the ugly comments. But I explain that it's only because I have God's help.

Last week we got 8 new investigators. Double what our entire District got the week before. We are doing really well, and it is just so much fun.

I love you all and hope you have another great week!

Love, Elder Jordan Roe Bingham

Thursday, September 15, 2011

News From Hong Kong After One Week in Country!


Hong Kong is incredible! The food is amazing, the people are interesting, and it is nice and humid and warm.

So Last week we had 0 investigators. Before I came, the Elder had medical things so they were always out of commission. Now, we have... Idk how many, but a good amount.
Finding is a blast! We basically walk around and talk to everyone we see.
Cheuns are these groups of skyscrapers that people live in. In the middle of every cheun is a plaza thing where they have chinese chess boards, ping pong tables, basketball courts, etc... Those are the best areas to go finding.

Two days ago while finding, we were walking past these stone ping pong tables, and some old guy yelled out "Momuhngau". Which means Mormon church. So we turned around and he was laughing and so we started talking to him and then they invited us to play ping pong with them. We told them if we win then they have to let us teach them... Well neither of us won. I lost by two points... So I guess it wasnt meant to be.

Chinese people are very superstitious. Unfortunately, Momuhngau also means "Devils gate". So that adds to the thinking that we are a cult. Also, the Chinese book of mormon happens to have exactly 666 pages in it :/    Woops. Whoever made that translation should have added an extra blank page in there somewhere.

My ward is really cool. But kinda crazy. there are a bunch of crazy girls who are super loud and I can hardly understand what theyre saying when they all are talking at once. They are amazed that I know spanish for some reason. All they ever want me to do is speak spanish. Then they go, "Wooooow".
The young men LOVE basketball. so every Saturday and Tuesday night we have sports night. they bring their friends and we bring investigators and play basketball. I never considered myslef good at basketball until I got here haha :)
They also LOVE the NBA. So my Jazz jersey amazed all of them. In fact it amazed them so much that when Sunday came around, they all came to the investigator class we were in for sunday school, and kept asking about the few NBA games I have gone to. They just couldnt get over how cool that was. It was pretty difficult talking to them about it because of my Cantonese, but luckily the bishops son John has pretty good English because he has gone to the USA a lot.

Speaking of Sunday, I bore my testimony and introduced myslef to the ward. I didnt really know how to start so I said, "Josahn" which means good morning. I was pretty surprised when the entire congregation yelled back, "Josahn".
They all just stared up at me the rest of the time nodding their heads. So hopefully that means they understood me and I didnt mess anything up too bad. :)
there was a random white business man who showed up before sacrament. He looked online to find a chapel and found ours and was passing by the area and wanted to go to church. He took my comp and I's picture in front of our chapel and told us he was going to send it to oru parents. So mom may or may not get a picture of me from some random guy. According to the other missionaries, this is a very common occurance.

Monday and Tuesday were Mid-autumn festival. A holiday complete with dragons, parades, and mooncakes. Mooncakes are these lotus paste things with old raw duck egg inside of them. The missionaries here all dont like them, but I didnt mind them so much. This lady at church was trying to feed me one, so I finally ate it. She was laughing so hard because afterwards I smiled. I couldnt figure out why that made her laugh so hard. She kept pointing at my teeth and grabbing other ward members. Apparently they think my vampire fang teeth are hilarious.

A recent convert, Tomoko was in the elevator when I was going upstairs. She was just staring at me, then almost in a scared voice said, "Hou Gou". Which just means "Very tall". I thought it was pretty funny.

Whenever I get onto the double decker busses or MTR subway, I feel like a giant. I look all around me and I can see from one wall to the other. I am at least a foot taller than the next tallest person.

While finding in Wong Tai Sin, I saw this boy. I swear I knew him from somewhere. He looked like a Chinese version of someone I know. Not sure who though. Well anyways, he was walking so I approached him and then we asked if he had a second to sit down at a bench and listen to our message. He agreed so we taught him for about an hour. This experience is nothing short of a miracle, but at the same time is an extremely common occurance. Among all of the people blowing us off left and right, there are always a few people really willing to listen to us. I love it.

The members here are so awesome. A family with an inactive teenage son invited us over for dinner the other night. We showed up to this big cheun and went up to their apartment. Inside their humble abode, there was a little table FULL of food. We would eat, and they just kept bringing out more, and it was GOOD. There was fresh shrimp with the eyes and everything, squid, octopus, fish balls, these rice paste candy ball things, mooncakes, ice cream, mochi ice, chocolate fondue, a big hot pot full of stuff, dragonfruit stuff that looks like a bunch of little floating eyes, sushi, and a ton more. It was soooooooooooooo good. They are sooo incredibly humble and nice. It made me almost want to cry.

My favorite drink ever is Melon milk. It is this soy/melon milk stuff that is incredibly good. You can buy it in asian supermarkets in utah. I would suggest trying it.

Mainlanders are some of my favorite people. Many times while finding we will run into people that jjust by their looks we can tell are from mainland China. Some speak cantonese if they are from the south, others only speak mandarin. Luckily, elder jolley and I can kind of speak a little mandarin. Him more than I. But I remember the first night meeting a mainlander. She was amazed at what we were doing in Hong Kong and jsut kept syaing, "Thank you for your amazing spirits, they are just so warm feeling." That, as you know is the spirit.

I have already used my arabic a little bit here even though I am not in International. The international elders apparently say that is incredibly useful if I ever go international. Also, they have been teaching a few Spanish speakers from columbia. Pretty cool stuff.

People here are amazed that we know Cantonese. Because NO white people know cantonese according to them. They meet me and they say how long have you been learning cantonese. I tell them three months and they are shocked. they start freaking out like crazy saying its way too good for only three months. Even though I know its not that good. most of them say something along the lines of, " I have been studying English for 10 years and I cant speak it at all. But you have learned cantonese for 3 months and know it so well."

Well I am off to a buffet where you grab raw meat and your table is a giant round hot stove thing that you cook it on before eating it. So have a great week! hopefully I can send pictures, if not I will just send you my SD card sometime with pictures and videos on it. Love you all!

Love, Elder Bingham

Saturday, September 10, 2011

First Letter From Hong Kong...He's definitely not in Utah anymore!

Leihdeih Hou!

Wow, I am not exactly sure what to say. I am in kind of a daze still. We got to Hong Kong yesterday and did some fun stuff like went up to Victoria Peak on a cable car thing and contacted lots of people. Today, We got our areas and trainers and I am currently serving with Elder Jolley in.... I forgotwhat it is called. But it includes a few different places like Mong Kok and Kowloon Tong which means I live in the temple! For the next 12 weeks I will be living on the second floor of the temple with the APs and right next to the mission president. Apparently it is the nicest apartment in the mission by far.

Hong Kong is the coolest city I have ever been to. I dont know how to explain it. It is basically a really tropical jungle with a bunch of skyscrapers everywhere. It is SUPER busy all of the time, and the people are really friendly for the most part. I just wish I could understand what they are saying. But luckily my trainer speaks perfect Cantonese. We go everywhere using public transportation. The MTR is a really fast subway system that runs under Hong Kong. It is really effecient and easy to use. We use our Octopus cards for everything like that. They are cool because they work for just about everything here, and it has some electronic chip in it so we dont even have to take it out of our wallets. You just slide your wallet over the readers.

I met some really cool people here already. One of them was a Vietnamese boat dweller. They were the refugees who came over from vietnam a long time ago and lived on boats next to each other. His parents died during it all because apparently it was super dangerous. So we taught him about the plan of salvation and how he can live with them again. I also met someone from Israel who only spoke Hebrew and a little bit of English. He was interesting. It is really cool how many different stories you hear here in Hong Kong.

So today I ate at a restaurant for the first time. I had some rice noodle soup thing with fish balls and octopus balls. They make those just by grinding up octopi and covering them with some potato flour stuff just like they do with fish balls. they were all pretty good. Some of the other things I could have put in my noodles were bamboo fungus, black fungus, and a bunch of other things in chinese that I dont know what they are.

The scariest part about this place so far is that most of the people expect me to know Cantonese because most of the missionaries here speak it fluently. So they know that Mormon missionaries can speak it. They will just start speaking really fast and I usually just look at them and say, "Ngoh sik gong siusiu gwongdungwah yanwaih ngoh ngaamngaam leihjo heung gong." Which means I speak a little bit of cantonese because I just got to hong kong. Then my trainer usually helps me out.

Elder Jolley is really nice and helpful. He is from Salt Lake and only has four transfers left here. I feel like it will be really easy to get along with him, but I really miss my MTC district already because we became really good friends. Most of the other elders in my MTC district are all going to areas where they will live with 2 or 3 others of us. In fact I think me and one other elder are the only ones not with someone we know.

Lets see... I am sure there is so much I can talk about, but I am still a little bit in shock and I think youd have to be here and experience it yourself.

I had a really good version of lemonade at lunch. It is called lemon water and was basically water with lemon slices in it, and a bunch of this sweet honey-like syrup in it.

The people here are always willing to talk to me if I explain that I just got here and want to practice my Cantonese. Hong Kong people love helping others if its something they know they can help out with.
It is really loud here. There are always cars honking, people yelling, music playing, etc... Luckily our apartment is quiet because it is inside the temple.

I am not really sure what to expect. I am a little intimidated by everything. But all of the older missionaries here seem to know exactly what theyre doing and how to get around and stuff so I know with time I will be fine.

It is SO weird to think about all of you back in quiet little Utah right now. I just looked out the window behind me and all I can see is a jungly hill with tons and tons of skyscrapers all over it.
I have been to lots of different places I feel like, but none of them are even close to Hong Kong. It feels kind of like New York City mixed with Puerto Rico. But a lot more Asian.

I got Dad's dearelder! I think they print it off somewhere in utah and just mail them here. It was really awesome to have gotten a letter already.

According to my trainer, it is a lot different than the MTC. There, everyone gets lots of random letters from a lot of random people all of the time. Once we get out here, he said people dont want to pay the extra 54 cents and wait a few weeks so not many people ever get letters unless they have a girlfriend or something.
We are going to go grocery shopping right after we finish emailing. It will be interesting to see all of the weird food and stuff there. I have already seen a lot of it, but according to my trainer, this is just the beginning. Then tonight we are going to go finding. So I will be walking around just talking to random people for a few hours.
I can tell my body is kind of in fight or flight mode because of how different everything is, but I cant wait until someday I am going to be like all of the older missionaries who seem really accustomed to all of this.

Hong Kong feels like a whole different world than Utah or anywhere in the United States. I am amazed that cities like this exist and I never really knew it. Well I did, but I never really understood it.

Well, I will try to send some pictures, but if it doesnt work, I will figure it out next week. Until then, have a great week!  Love you all!!
- Bik Jeung Louh

Monday, August 22, 2011

Words From a Veteran to the New Guys...Hang in There!

I only have 3 weeks left here which is crazy.

I feel like I have been here forever and not long at all at the same time. But regardless, I feel ready and more excited than ever to go to Heung Gong. I have learned how to say hello and things like that in like 15 different languages since I have been here because I hear lots of different missionaries speaking.

Also, Cantonese is not that different than Mandarin. A lot of words are, but lots of words are also really similar. I know how to bear my testimony in Mandarin from hearing the Mandarin elders speak in it and being able to pick up some of the words and learn the others from context. But Cantonese is a lot harder.

I was reading my journal a few nights ago and it was weird to read the first few days I was here how my days were. They seem way easier and like I am used to it now. Also, I rarely feel homesick or sad at all. I still pray every Wednesday for the new missionaries coming in. Because I thought I was prepared and that it'd be a breeze. But then it really hit me that I am in this for the next two years. It wasnt until a few days later that I think I was fully not only okay with it, but excited about it. Then after about week 4, I stopped feeling like I wanted to be outside the MTC fence every Friday night when I was going to bed at 10 30. Haha :) it is crazy how different I feel now.

Today we wanted to switch things up a little when we went to the temple. So we decided to do initiatories. As one of the Cantonese Elders said, "I feel like I could be superman after coming out of that." Pretty cool stuff.

well thanks for everything!

Love ya!

Love, Jordan

No More You-Tube! Now it's General Conference Cantonese!

I have started listening to General Conference talks in Cantonese because it is fun to try and see what I understand out of them. This one I understand most of. Here is the link to a video of it.

8 Weeks Down, 4 To Go!

Leih hou, ligo sinke haih feihseung keihgwai.

This last week has been pretty interesting. Well, as interesting as the MTC gets. I am sure and I hope that my weeks are more eventful when I get to Hong Kong. But I guess I´ll have to wait 4 weeks to find out.

I guess I´ll start off with kind of a depressing, but really not that depressing at all message (if that makes any sense). Most of the letters I got in this past week have been kind of sad. Most of them relate to unfortunate things that have happened or are happening to people, and none of these things really seem fair at all. I remember back in January and February wondering what I had done to deserve my anxiety, and I really did not think it was fair that I was experiencing that. In the end I was able to learn a lot from it and come out a better person, but not all sad stories have happy endings. Or at least not from what we can see.

I thought about that a lot this week. Why are certain people plagued by things like mental illness, not having self worth, and other things like that while others (like me) have been able to get out of those situations. You may say it is faith related or something else, but often things happen that really are just plain not fair.

After I first got to the MTC, one thing I tried figuring out through reading the scriptures and stuff is what happens to those people who have mental illnesses that cloud their judgement and make their lives miserable if they do something drastic. I know we cant judge people because only God has that right and ability. However, it really bothered me because my friend who this happened to was on my mind. I remembered something I had heard about the people involved with 9 11. For some reason, after the planes crashed into the towers, people were jumping out of windows from high up with no chance of survival. Nobody understood why they did this. The people did not think it was sure death for them if they stayed inside the buildings, so people didnt understand why they jumped out of the windows. After 9 11 happened, scientists discovered that the inside of the towers had become incredibly hot. So staying inside of the buildings was incredibly painful. So were these people who jumped out of the towers wrong to do so. (sorry for some reason this keyboard´s question mark doesnt work.)  I read 1 Nephi that the Lord will have mercy upon his afflicted. I dont know if the context applies to the same thing I was looking for, but for some reason this scripture gave me comfort and since then I really havent worried about it. God is merciful. That is why he gave us the atonement and gives us so much.

Anyways, like I was saying, there is so much in life that just isnt fair. We can try to think of reasons why these things happen, but we wont always be able to come up with the answer. It is kind of the sad truth of life. But that is not what is important. Whats important is that this life is only a small point on our eternal timeline. God is all powerful. He could stop every unfair thing from happening. But He doesnt. Life doesnt have to be fair, because there is so much more that God is offering us than just this short mortal life.

So when unfair things happen, try not to sweat it. Just keep doing the best you can do, and whether you are rewarded in this life or not, you will be blessed for the good you do here in the life to come.

Sorry if that was a downer at all. It actually makes me really really happy. Because it makes me realize how real the life after this is, and the happiness I can have if I continue to do the right things.

Well moving on past that, we were talking in class this week about Hong Kong again, and some of the things our teacher did there. She told us about giant spiders that are all over. Supposedly their webs are really strong and dont break like normal spider webs. But the worst part is the spiders are HUGE. A kid in our class told about when he was there how a spider was on his friends shoulder so he screamed and ran to his friend and hit it off as hard as he could. He said the only thing he could compare it to is hitting a baseball. It was so big and just solid. Then they talked about the huge bees in the forest and all of the other freakishly big bugs and weird things there.

The new district came in a week ago. There is an elder from Australia, one from Salt Lake, and a sister from Idaho somewhere. They are all pretty nice, but it is kind of obvious they are still kind of in shock. They are all pretty quiet. The one from Salt Lake is going to Toronto Cantonese speaking, but the other two are going to Heung Gong. Right now I am kind of in the awkward limbo between being super excited to get out of here, but also worried because I really dont know as much of the language as I would like to.

Everyone, with school, work, sports, etc... starting up again, dont get too caught up in it all to let it distract you from what is most important, and from just having peaceful moments when you can think and not worry about anything. That doesnt mean all of those things arent important because they are, it is more about taking time from the least important things to do this, or finding time to do it when you dont have to be doing anything else.

Sorry I dont have time to write more responding to the dearelders. Hopefully I get time tonight to reply to all of your letters. But if not, know I love you all and really appreciate all the letters.

Love, Elder Bingham
Ngoi, Bik Jeung Louh