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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Gung Hei Faat Choi!!

Gung Hei Faat Choi!!
That actually means, "Congratulations, you're rich." Or something like that. But it is one of the most common things heard during Chinese New Year here in Hong Kong. Everyone says it to each other.
First of all, I want to thank you so much for your prayers. Last Friday we had a miracle day. We were out finding new investigators and we taught a bunch of kids on the street, then an older guy came up and wanted us to teach him. He also bought us food at McDonalds. Then a kid waited on the other side of the glass from where we were sitting in mcdonalds and after we were done, he wanted us to teach him.
The crazy part is that our "Anti" problem actually helped us with the older man. He has no religious background and doesnt know anything about God or Jesus. But he had heard that we were very evil people and he approached us wanting to know the truth and asking about what we really do because it didnt make sense to him. He was confused that we spend 2 years of our lives going on missions to help people. He said that if that is really what we are doing then we are the opposite of what everyone says about us. He was also amazed that we are able to learn Cantonese so fast. He was complaining that he has studied English his whole life but cant say anything more than introducing himself. It is amazing what different methods God uses to prepare people for us.
This week was so much fun. Proscelyting is ineffective on Chinese New Year so President Chan pretty much made all of Chinese New Year a long P-day. Monday we deep cleaned our apartment and it was GROSS. We took everything like the beds and stuff apart and cleaned everything. We killed hundreds and hundreds of bugs. And so far it has taken care of our bug problem... The only problem is that we are not completely done cleaning so the rest of today we will hopefully finish that up.
Monday we also got a call from someone in the Bishopric who I asked about Chan Baak. I dont know if you remember, but awhile ago I emailed you guys talking about a man who lives in a village in the mountains. he is 100 years old and invented his own car out of lawnmower pieces and stuff. Well I found out he was in Tai Wo ward but hasnt come to church for a few months. Brother Yeung told me that members go up and take care of him every week and I asked if he could show us how to hike up there so we could go every week and give him the sacrament. He was ecstatic and monday he took us up.
Chan Baak lives all alone in a deserted village. When he was younger he fought the Japanese in some war. Then he somehow ended up on Communist China's most wanted list and so he fled to Singapore. While he was there, his entire family was killed. His wife was tortured but there is no proof of her ever dying, so they cannot do the temple work for her yet. Then he moved back to Hong Kong into that village and everyone else there died but him. Then two years ago two missionaries in our area went exploring in the mountains and found him. He said he had been waiting for them and so they went up three times a week and taught him everything then baptized him. He says he is not sad about his family because the Holy Ghost tells him they can all live together someday because they have accepted the gospel in heaven.
Tuesday we went to BIG BUDDHA. The giant buddha statue on Lantau Island. The entire mission including President Chan went. It was soo cool. Except it was too foggy for us to even see the top of the buddha while standing right in front of it, so I wasnt able to get any pictures. hopefully next year I can. But the fog definitely gave the whole village and buddha a cool/creepy feel.
Yesterday we went with the Tai Po ward to a beach and had a barbecue and bonfires where we roasted fish balls and octopus tentacles and stuff. It was really fun and pretty, but when I went to eat something off of my metal stick, my lip touched a red hot part so now I have a burn scar from it. I did get some really good pictures from that, but I will have to send them another time because the place we went to email doesnt have USB ports....
Things are definitely getting better. We are starting to have a lot of success and we are having a lot of fun doing it. I have started learning how to read Chinese characters, so i can kind of read a lot of those, which is helpful for reading menus in restaurants and stuff (not to mention the Book of Mormon in Chinese. But I am not that good yet).
I just love being here. The people here are the best, the food (not all of it) is the best, the language and culture is incredibly interesting, everyday is an adventure. The best part of it is that while I am enjoying all of that, I am being a missionary and helping people everyday not just in ways that will influence the happiness of their lives here, but also that will help them in eternity.
Thanks for all of your prayers and for everything you do!!
I love you all!!
Love, Jordan

Monday, January 30, 2012

Ups and Downs (From Jan 18th)

The subject line may be a little misleading. What I mean by Ups and Downs is that this whole week has been one big up, but there have been a few unfortunate things that have happened.

I guess I can start by telling a little about the areas. The chapel is in Tai Po. It is a little city that is smaller than anywhere in my last area. Then the rest of the places in our area are out in the middle of nowhere up on mountains. I was reading a real estate sign that said there are more than 60 villages in just one of our areas. The other one has even more.

We have been doing a lot of finding lately. But neither my companion or I have any idea where anything is in our area. We have two of the biggest areas in the mission. His last companion didnt ever really leave the main city area and so we have just been exploring a ton lately. 

It has been good, except for we have run into a HUGE problem. EVERYONE in our area things we are some evil cult who was sent to China to do horrible things to the people here. There are rumors about us everywhere, and it does not help that in every school here they have had assemblies about the "mou muhn gaau" and how evil we are. Our latest task has been the APs asked us to find out the names of the schools so president chan can come visit them.

When we are walking around finding, people will literally duck their heads and run as fast as they can past us, then we can hear them talk about how scary that was. Luckily, we have been able to still find a few new investigators and have been able to help the few investigators they have. But it is only a matter of time until they face anti. Hopefully they come talk to us about it instead of just disappearing once they hear it.

Well anyways, we have had some fun exploring for villages. This morning at 3 in the morning we woke up and went to a mountain and hiked it to try and find a village that we could go finding in for our P-day morning.

At about 6 in the morning we found one. I took some pictures. It was half deserted, but there were still some old people living there. It literally was in the middle of nowhere, and I have no idea how the people got there or their houses. Then, we had an extremely traumatic experience.

While walking through the village, we walked by a box. out of the box popped two little kittens. They were meowing and walked up to us purring and pushing against our legs. I took some pictures of them because they werer really cute. Then we were trying to find some sign of human life and the cats followed us. The Sheung Shui missionaries came with us that morning and Elder Mariano really liked the cats but was worried about them getting lost because they were following us. We finally lost them and kept walking. We found a road and walked across it and heard a noise coming towards us. We saw a makeshift car/tractor thing booking it down the road. Right before it came, one of the kittens ran across the road and CRACK! It went right under the wheel. It made us all want to throw up it was so sad and gross. We decided we were all too exhausted from hiking and so we hiked to the closest main road abuot an hour and a half away and took a taxi back home. I have been scarred for life.

I have been eating weirder food than normal. We live right up against mainland, I have pictures from the roof of our apartment looking into Shenzhen. I have heard that up here there is some weird food. I heard right.

I was running kind of low on money for the month so I spent the rest of it on groceries so I wouldnt have to eat out because its cheaper to cook our food. Well that was a bad idea. 

We walked into our apartment the other day and it was INFESTED with cockroaches. They were everywhere. They were in the couch, on the counters, in the cabinets, and even frozen ones somehow in the freezer and fridge in our food. I have no idea what happened but we have spent the last few days killing them left adn right. Every night before I go to sleep I kill tons of bugs and spiders and stuff on the wall and ceiling above my bed because it creeps me out sleeping with them right above and next to me.

So now I have no food adn barely any money. I feel really bad, and the other kids in our apartment are doing the same thing, but could you maybe put some money in my account so I can eat food that has not been infested by bugs? :/ I am really sorry and next time I will not buy all my groceries at once now that I know what can happen outside of the temple apartment.

So with the little money I have I have been eating at really cheap street vendors. I have been getting some type of chopped up sea creature dumplings in soup with snake and cow skin floating around. Its really not too bad so I cant complain. But I only have enough to buy about three more days of food. Today I am going to try and buy some groceries with it and hope that it doesnt get infested like the food i bought last week....

Luckily we will be deep cleaning our apartment next week. So hopefully we will kill allof the bugs....

I have been exhausted with everythign going on lately. Elder Mariano said it is extremely rare for President Chan to have a missionary go senior before he is on his 7 to 12 move. So sometimes I wonder why I am on my 4th and in an area like the one I am in. But I am very very grateful because of how much I am learning, and how much I am needing to rely on the Lord for our success. Because we try to do all we can, but we couldnt have any of the success we are already having without His help.

I love you all and hope you have a fantastic week! 

Love, Jordan :)

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Dai po, tai wo, and senior (From Jan 11, 2012)

Wow! Well this week will change my mission.

We had moves calls on Tuesday night to find out where we are going.
They made us try and guess until we got it right... I never guessed

I am going to Tai Wo and Dai Po with Elder Marrott, the kid in one of
the first pictures I sent from hong kong up on the peak overlooking
hong kong. I am also going senior companion after just 3 transfers as
junior... Tai Wo and Dai Po both meet in the same building, but there
is only our companionship in charge of both of them because both areas
are really struggling..

The APs talked to me last night and told me that this area really
needs help and so they were trying to figure out who to put up there.
They were originally thinking an older missionary who is pretty fluent
in Cantonese and who could help things up there, but they said they
have really seen my leadership skills and skills as a missionary this
transfer, so they are moving me up there because they think I can help

Needless to say, I feel pretty nervous, and I definitely think there
are missionaries who have been here longer and are more capable. But
hopefully we can have a lot of success up there and make it so its not
considered an area that needs help.

So we will live up in Fanling which is the farthest North apartment in
the mission. It is the closest to mainland, and you can actually see
mainland from our area. We kind of will be up in the boonies, except
for there are some areas with big markets and a lot of people. But
most of our area is all old villages and things like that. A lot of
the villages in our area are up the mountains so when the missionaries
go up to them, they arent required to wear their white shirts and
ties, because it is quite a hike.

I am going to miss my old area SO MUCH. But I am excited to go to Dai
Po/Tai Wo. The last few days we met with our investigators for my last
time. Some of them are progressing so well. The one who is in the
Triad was one of my favorite lessons ever because he really has
progressed so far and so fast, and it was really cool to listen to him
talk about how much his life is changing..

I am pretty shocked still about all the changes, so I am not sure what
else to say. But next week I will have gone to church and explored the
area a little bit, so hopefully I will have more.

My companion and I have the youngest companionship in the mission by
far. The next youngest companionship has someone in our group and
someone who has been here almost a year. Everyone in the mission that
I have talked to about it is shocked, and I am sure all eyes are on us
right now. We could either kill the "struggling" area or we could have
tons of success and bring it back. And I am not going to let these
areas go more downhill.

Well, hopefully next week I will have some interesting stuff to write
about. Have a fantastic week!

Love you all!

Love, Jordan

Cheung Chau (From Jan 5th)

Wow, what a week/day. The problem is that I cant really remember much from this week because today so much happened. So I will just start with today. 
Our zone decided to do a zone activity on Cheung Chau, a little island you have to take a ferry to get to. It is the COOLEST place I have ever been to here. It is pretty small so in about an hour you can probably walk from one side to the other. There are lots of trails, caves, jungles, and other stuff; but there are also some villages that are really cool. They consist of buildings, apartments and stuff with narrow little streets in between. Everyone there rides bikes to get around because there is no room for cars on any street on the island. The police, firefighters, ambulances, etc... are little motorcycle/tractor things that are small enough to go on the roads. Then on the outskirts of these villages are tons of shanty houses made out of tin roofs and things like that. You can look right into the peoples houses and watch them eat or do whatever theyre doing.
Cheung Chau is really well known for being one of the most haunted places in Hong Kong. I guess it started a long time ago when there was some pirate that had a huge fleet and about 50,000 other pirates working for him. he used to hide all of his treasure inside of a cave we went through on the island. There are many legends stemming from that alone. On top of that, besides Tin Shui Wai (they made a movie about it called "city of sorrows", and it is the smallest mission area in hong kong), it has had the most amount of suicides. But most of them have happened since 2000. They also have an annual festival where thousands of people come to the island to watch people do crazy acrobatics and different balancing things.
If mom and dad are able to come to Hong Kong to pick me up, this little island is somewhere we will HAVE TO go to. It honestly is the coolest place I have ever been to in my life.
I got the Ward Christmas CD yesterday! It was so great to hear Sam, Kylie, and Madi's voices! The girls did a great job on the song! It was also cool to hear at the beginning when it announces the missionaries and where they are serving. It was so cool to hear the names of all the kids in our ward who are right by my side doing the same work all over the world! I am proud of all of them and hope that the ones who are turning 19 soon will go on missions too. What could possibly be better than devoting all of your energy and time into one thing: Helping other people improve their lives through the gospel!
I actually havent put too much thought into my new area, because I am still focusing on the one I'm in. But I had a dream I was going to somewhere on Hong Kong island or in the zone at least.
I was talking to the APs last night asking them how to even more effectively help the people we meet with understand the importance of the things we want to teach them. Because we have gotten about 50 new investigators these last 6 weeks, and most of them are doing well, but I just want them all to progress. They told me that I just need to keep doing what I am doing, and not to change at all, especially when I go to my new area. I am a little concerned because there are a few areas that are really slow right now and the older missionaries in those areas would be difficult to work with because for whatever reason they just dont have the reputation for being very motivated. With all of the succuss Elder Palfreyman and I have been having, we have been under the spotlight a lot lately, and I am afraid they are going to send me with a companion who doesnt have the motivation to go out and work. It is difficult while Junior Companion because if your senior comp doesnt want to work, sometimes no matter how much you try and motivate them, it doesnt work. I have been so lucky to be paired up with a companion this move who is willing to work and who has definitely treated me just as much as senior as him. That is how it should be I think. But I will just have to remember that someday when I go senior.
Eh whatever, it isnt important to dwell on that. This week we were walking around and found ourselves in a really cool chinese graveyard where we met some really cool kids. But the craziest thing right now is that we have an investigator who is a part of the Triad. He wants to really change his life, but he has not been living the best life up til this point. It is pretty crazy. I hope he gets baptized because he is a really good guy.
Well, I dont have much time and I feel really bad because there is a native missionary sitting right next to me. (him and I are really really good friends) and he is a convert so his parents arent very supportive. Well he was only on emailing for about 5 minutes because he didnt have any from anyone. He is now trying to listen to videos on and write in his journal. But he doesnt speak any english so he really doesnt understand what the videos are saying.
Talk to you all next week!!
Love, Elder Jordan roe bingham

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year!

Happy New Years!!

First off, it was GREAT to be able to speak with you all on the phone. I loved hearing about everything from how many presents Sam gave justin to the color of madisons room. In five months I will talk to you all again!

My Companion and I have been a little afraid that I would be moved, because when an area is having a lot of success, they often change the companionship so that others can come in and experience it, and so that those companions can teach others or help other areas out.
Well, this week it was confirmed.
President Chan was talking to me about how wonderful things have been going and the APs and him have been telling me how proud they are of me.
Later that night we got a call from President Chan. He told us that I would be leaving the area and that my companion would be training because the area is doing so well, and there are a lot of new missionaries coming in.
I was not too happy about this, but its okay because I know that wherever I go I will love it and have the opportunity to meet more people and teach them about the gospel.
Monday we helped with International. It was sooo much fun. My companion for it (Elder Carey) is hilarious and mixing that with the Phillipinas who just love to laugh and have fun made it quite the day. We were able to find 4 new investigators, bring them back to the church, teach them, and have them go to church. It was so much fun.

Yesterday I went Sports finding for the first time in a while. We played basketball with some kid for a little bit and then sat him down and taught him. But then we found a group of 6 boys playing soccer and asked if we could play with them. We played for a while without saying much, but then when I felt like the time was right I told them who we are and asked if we could all go sit down on some bleachers while I share our message. It wound up being one of the most interesting lessons I have ever taught. I stood up in front of them and tried to get all of them involved. It wasnt hard because they were all asking really good questions. We were able to give them all Book of Mormons and reschedule them again.
After the lesson, it just amazed me how we were able to take 6 teenage boys off of a soccer field to sit down for 45 minutes and listen to our message. We have not been telling many other people in the mission about these experiences because we are already being put in the spotlight enough from President Chan and the APs using us as an example. But when we go out finding, we have faith that we are going to have success. We pray for it everyday, and our families often pray for it as well. So there is no reason why we shouldnt be ablet to. We went from bringing 1 or 2 books of mormon out with us when we went out for the day to stuffing our bags as full as possible with them.

This experience being a missionary is changing my life in so many ways. I feel like I have been blessed so much while being here, and the blessings just keep coming. I have learned to trust and have faith. If you do everything you can, and pray hard for God to help you out, he will make up for what you fell short on. This can apply to every part of life, not just missionary work.

With the New Year coming up (even though chinese new year will be a lot more fun here), I want you all to think of some specific things you can do daily to change yourself for the better.
I have a paper hanging above my desk with all of my personal goals for this move, and the things I would do daily to achieve them. I am happy to say I have achieved them, and so in a couple weeks in my next area I can do the same thing and figure out what else I want to change. We can never be perfect, but we can always be improving ourselves and progressing. that is the purpose of this life after all.

Well, I love you all and hope you have a great New Years!!

Love, Jordan

Merry Christmas!! (Sorry, I'm posting this a week late...Dad)

Merry Christmas!!

Today we had our mission Christmas party, which one of the missionaries in my group pointed out, marks our 6 months of being on our missions. I feel like I just started a month ago, the time FLIES by. It was really fun because we had a white elephant thing and ate a giant roast pig (they just brought out an entire pig, head and everything like in movies.), then watched a slideshow that they put together. It made me realize how great being a missionary is, especially in such an amazing mission. They are going to order a bunch of DVDs with the slideshow on it for us. I will probably send one home. I feel like when I go home someday and watch those slideshows, it is going to be pretty rough. I know I will miss Hong Kong and being a missionary tons. I really love all the people I am around. The investigators, the missionaries, and the members. I just cant even imagine if I didnt have this privilidge to be here. I would be missing out on the greatest experience in the world.

There was one part of the Christmas party that I could have done without. President Chan got up and was talking about how there was one companionship that has been on fire getting new investigators and helping them progress, and how we all need to learn how to do that. He then asked Elder Palfreyman and I to come up to the stage and show everyone how we do it. We explained a little bit, then did a role play with president chan being someone we meet on the street. While it is nice to know that we really are doing so well, both my companion and I felt that the recognition in front of the entire mission was a little too much. Also, it is not anything we can credit ourselves for doing, as God is putting these people in our paths, and the spirit is the one converting them.

But I have been blown away by how much success we are having. We have been getting new investigators and teaching strreet lessons EVERYWHERE. Kids are walking up to us and saying, "Hey I have seen you before talking to my friends, what do you have to tell me that can help my life."

We have not even been trying to get any new investigators because we have PLENTY that we are trying to focus on. But whenever we go to meet with an investigator they bring their friends or someone approaches us, or we feel prompted to go talk to someone on the way.

We are being blessed right now and I am so happy. My comp and I get along really well even though we dont have most of the same interests or anything. But we are both willing to get out there and do what it takes to help these people.

Our two investigators who have given us countless referrals, Tony and Lam, are doing sooo well. We went fishing with them last friday which was AWESOME. I dont have my camera because they used it to take pictures of the activity today. But I am excited to send some pictures from our fishing trip. I caught two little fish. But my favorite part was sitting down on the rocks right on the edge of the harbor and teaching these two kids that have been forever changed because of the book we gave them a couple of weeks ago. They read it every single day and are so proud of that. They want to change their lives and stop doing the things that are keeping them from being baptized.
Their biggest problem has been smoking. But Tuesday we checked up on them and one said he had went from 2 packs to 7 the day before, and the other only had 1! since then the one who smoked 7 has been going down 1 or 2 a day and the other one hasnt smoked at all!

It is important that we call them or meet with them everyday to make them feel accountable to someone, but the best part is that they are using prayer and the Book of Mormon to get through this. When they feel the craving to smoke, they read the Book of Mormon to get rid of it. We have been giving them verses to read everyday, but especially the one who is not smoking anymore just keeps reading and reads page after page everyday.

Who would have ever thought that these two kids we met on some rooftop smoking would develop such a love for the Book of Mormon?

Last night we had a Zone Caroling Find in our area. It was fun because while the Zone caroled on this busy path, my companion, I, and a few other missionaries walked around talking to people. In two hours we passed out over 20 books of mormon and got 8 new investigators.

While I was talking to these two boys, a lady walked up and in Cantonese said to them, "Hey! Kids! Dont you know who you are talking to?! Those people are MouhMuhnGaau! (It is their way of saying Mormon, but is a lot more negative than when people say it in English. Members never say they are MouhMuhnGaau.) Get away from them!" I turned to her and said, "Excuse me? We are here teaching how families can live together forever, and how to find Eternal Happiness through Jesus Christ. So if you want that, I can spend a few minutes talking to you, otherwise dont try to stop other people from finding more happiness in life." She got a horrified look on her face because I dont think she knew that even the white missionaries can speak and understand Cantonese. The two boys were just like, "wow she is crazy." and it didnt affect them at all. But it is just sad when people are misinformed or hear and believe rumors about the church then try to spread it to people who are interested.

Actually, the biggest problem going on lately is that the high schools in Hong Kong have been anti-ing the kids. They will have assemblies where the principal gets up and talks about how we are devil worshippers and how we kill people or whatever the heck they think they can tell the kids to try and keep them away from us. But nothing is stopping missionary work from moving forward here. President Chan takes some stake or area presidents with him and goes to the schools that we find out are doing that and march in and talk to the principals. I am so grateful to have a mission president who is so humble and kind, and pretty quiet. But then when something like that happens he is bold and is not afraid to face those people and tell them what they are doing is wrong.

Love you all!

Love, Elder Jordan Roe Bingham