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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