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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